On this day in 1841, President WIlliam Henry Harrsion died after just one month in office. His doctor at the time believed he died of pneumonia. The prevailing rumor for most of history since was that he became sick after refusing to wear a jacket on his cold, rainy inauguration day on March 4, 1841. This has since been rejected by historians, as he is not documented to have shown symptoms until March 26. I can’t believe the remedies of the day like Castor Oil, Virginia Snakeweed and leeches weren’t able to cure him.
In 2014, after examining the notes of his personal doctor, a new theory has been widely accepted: Harrison died because the White House water supply was downstream from the public sewage system and he succumbed to septic shock. In other words, he drank the shit in the water in Washington D.C. Now that’s gross.
Philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche is famous a number of things, but one thing about him has always stuck with me. Towards the end of his life he had a complete mental breakdown that required him to be cared for around the clock by family members until his death at age 56. The breakdown is rumored to have been initiated when he witnessed a horse being flogged in the town square of Turin, Italy. Nietzsche was so overcome with emotion that he began to cry and threw his arms around the horse’s neck and never said anything that made sense ever again. The incident is recounted in the 2011 Hungarian Film ‘The Turin Horse’. I’ve never seen the movie, but is sounds smart to reference it and be aware of its existence.
Some days, I can really understand where Nietzsche was coming from. I recently had to pull the car over when Sarah McLachlan’s “Building a Mystery” came on the radio. I think it was the part in the second or third verse about waking up screaming that got me.
On this date in 1925, The New Yorker published its first issue. I don’t know that I’ve ever bought an issue, but I have read some of the stuff that has been made available to me gratis. Most of the stuff I don’t really understand and the stuff I do understand I find to be pretentious. At least I think it’s pretentious if I actually do understand it. I guess it’s not really targeted to the likes of me. I was once reading out loud in an AP History class in high school that was probably over my head and pronounced the word “Hitherto” as “High-There-Toe.” All those bastards who laughed at me are probably chuckling at a New Yorker cartoon right now.
Author’s Note: I misspelled pretentious in two different fashions while drafting this piece. Look for a Mnemonic Spelling to come!