Forget brass knuckles, spiky shoulders, or nail-heels, I just want brass fingernails now. Ephemeral NY’s recent post on girl gangsters of 19th century turned me onto a Wikipedia rampage (how else am I going to waste time while my hair dries in the morning?) Turns out there’s ton of information on legendary ass-kicking criminal ladies of late 1800s Gotham (who all had awesome names — Hellcat Maggie? Battle Annie, the “most-feared brick hurler of her time”? Gallus Mag, who bit off the ear of Sadie the Goat, who was a fucking pirate in the Hudson?)
My best friend Arthur always jokes about wanting the return of violent 70’s New York (presumably we’d all be hanging out with Debbie Harry and Stephen Sprouse in unheated lofts on the Bowery - somehow just seems more romantic than the reality of getting mugged living in a half-heated loft/brownstone in Bushwick today.)….but personally I’m way more into late 1800’s corrupt Tammany Hall Manhattan riddled with Irish-Catholic-vs-WASPy gang fights and filthy tenements, half-constructed museums and bridges, booming journalism and muckraking exposes, suffragists and saloons… why didn’t they give us THIS stuff in history class? It makes me depressed that I spent childhood falling asleep over multiple-choice tests under fluorescent lights and now I’m in my 20’s Wikipedia-ing 1870’s gangsters in my spare time instead of DOING ANYTHING PRODUCTIVE WITH MY LIFE.
At the end of the day of course it’s all still just violence based on ignorance, racism, hate, blahdyblahblah, ethnocentric, blahdyblah racist, blahdyblah disease and lady pirates aren’t that romantic, but come on, cut me some slack here. WE’RE TALKING ABOUT ONE-EARED BRASS-NAILED LADIES IN TORN DRESSES AND LACE-UP BOOTS RUNNING AROUND MY STREETS WITH PISTOLS TUCKED INTO THEIR CLEAVAGE. This shit is AWESOME.