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The True Genius Shudders at Incompleteness
January 19, 2010 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Every year since 1949, an unidentified man has visited the grave of Edgar Allan Poe on the 19th of January (Poe's birthday) and presented cognac and three red roses in the writer's honor. This year, for no known reason, the "Poe Toaster" did not make an appearance. One possible explanation for his absence has already emerged. (Previously and previouslier.)

The original Poe Toaster paid his last birthday visit to Poe's resting place in the 1990s. The new Poe Toaster (identity also unknown, but possibly a son -- or sons -- of the original) left statements at Poe's graveside that displeased many, notably messages interpreted to be critical of French non-involvement in the Iraq War, and (perhaps more galling -- and confusing! -- still) of the Baltimore Ravens.
posted by kittens for breakfast (55 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
WHAT? EDGAR ALLEN POE IS DEAD?

Then who is this hack?
posted by filthy light thief at 4:30 PM on January 19, 2010


I think that "that hack" is dead by his own admission.

"The worst part of turning 201? The stench of my own decay as I rot in a moldy coffin unfit for even a dung beetle."
posted by GuyZero at 4:31 PM on January 19, 2010


Shhhhh...it's twittermancy.
posted by kittens for breakfast at 4:32 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


Nah, he's just a little beetle-juicy.

(Maybe the Poe Toaster actually finished the bottle of cognac all by himself this time)
posted by filthy light thief at 4:34 PM on January 19, 2010


Given the tragedy of drink in Poe's live, that bottle of cognac always struck me as being in questionable taste.

Also wasted on someone in no position to enjoy it.
posted by IndigoJones at 4:34 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The Poe Toaster is gone? This sounds like a job for Doctor Strange.
posted by The Whelk at 4:36 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


I'm just going to post a link to this word because I like it.

Poetaster
posted by empath at 4:39 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


If you tape a buttered Poe Toast to the back of a black cat, you get an especially creepy levitating cat.
posted by qvantamon at 4:48 PM on January 19, 2010 [8 favorites]


Is it just me, or are others bothered by visions of battling hordes of wannabe Poe Toasters next year? THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE.
posted by mwhybark at 4:55 PM on January 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE.

So many people ending up trapped in walls you guys.
posted by The Whelk at 4:58 PM on January 19, 2010 [6 favorites]


So many people ending up trapped in walls you guys.

Sounds like you're really taking them all to cask.
posted by Servo5678 at 5:05 PM on January 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


Poe Toaster: You put the bread in and push down the handle. The cops come and chat with you while slowly a realization dawns: you can hear the toast. The sound is growing and growing...surely the police must hear it and be toying with you! Finally you wrench up the handle and cry "HERE IT IS! THE POPPING OF THE HIDEOUS TOAST!"
posted by DU at 5:07 PM on January 19, 2010 [22 favorites]


IT'S THE RINGING OF HIS HIDEOUS CELLPHONE!
posted by The Whelk at 5:08 PM on January 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


Mmm ... cognac-toasted poe taters.
posted by nonspecialist at 5:08 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


get off my telestream DU
posted by The Whelk at 5:08 PM on January 19, 2010


The original Toe Poster.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 5:09 PM on January 19, 2010


Don't worry Bart you wont learn anything.
posted by The Whelk at 5:13 PM on January 19, 2010


popping of hideous toast >> ringing of hideous cellphone
posted by DU at 5:14 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


says you.

Would you look after my cat for the weekend? He's a sweetiepie and pretty independent, but I worry, he's only got the one eye.
posted by The Whelk at 5:17 PM on January 19, 2010


For future reference, if you are going to mysteriously visit a dead icon's grave with a tribute every year on the anniversary of his/her death, you *must* reveal your identity in your will. That's just common courtesy.
posted by misha at 5:20 PM on January 19, 2010 [7 favorites]


nonspecialist: "poe taters."

that's an immuringly hideous thought that is.
posted by mwhybark at 5:20 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Would you look after my cat for the weekend?

nevermore
posted by DU at 5:23 PM on January 19, 2010 [2 favorites]


LMAO! */wipes tears from eyes. Excellent thread, folks.
posted by njbradburn at 5:34 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I like how he leaves a half-bottle of cognac. It better be half-full, rather than half-sized.
posted by mek at 5:58 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Fun fact: Poe lived most of his life in Philadelphia. He happened to fall down and die in a Baltimore gutter though.

Other famous people Baltimore tries to take credit for who are more rightfully associated with other cities include Babe Ruth.
posted by drjimmy11 at 6:06 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


THE TELLTALE TATERS
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:09 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


> I like how he leaves a half-bottle of cognac. It better be half-full, rather than half-sized.

It's half empty, of course.

> Fun fact: Poe lived most of his life in Philadelphia. He happened to fall down and die in a Baltimore gutter though.

He's spent far more time in Baltimore than anywhere else.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 6:17 PM on January 19, 2010 [3 favorites]


Damn interesting post. Thanks kittens.
posted by Taft at 6:22 PM on January 19, 2010


ChurchHatesTucker: He's spent far more time in Baltimore than anywhere else.

Well, by now he has.
posted by Kattullus at 6:32 PM on January 19, 2010 [10 favorites]


Poe lived most of his life in Philadelphia. He happened to fall down and die in a Baltimore gutter though.

I'm probably just going to link to this every time this discussion comes up.
posted by Rangeboy at 6:34 PM on January 19, 2010


By the way, a new old portrait dissimilar to the iconic goth we are all so familiar with is going on the block. The estimates are insultingly low.
posted by IndigoJones at 6:54 PM on January 19, 2010


It would not be unusual for David to don a cape if the situation called for it," says Alvarez.

What situation doesn't call for it?
posted by krakedhalo at 6:59 PM on January 19, 2010


.
posted by lester at 7:06 PM on January 19, 2010


What situation doesn't call for it?
I can think of a few occasions...
posted by Pink Fuzzy Bunny at 7:09 PM on January 19, 2010


But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token...

Sorry, couldn't help myself. I'll go on to bed now, shall I?
posted by dilettante at 7:10 PM on January 19, 2010


.
posted by furtive at 7:16 PM on January 19, 2010


The estimates are insultingly low.

$50K seems pretty on par for a meh watercolor of that vintage by an unknown artist, even one of a famous person.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:19 PM on January 19, 2010


Agh, this post is killing me, but I can't say why.

I will say, in the interests of full disclosure, that the late David Franks was my friend, tormentor, regular mentor, collaborator, antagonist, sociopath, and a genius of a kind you meet once in a lifetime if you're very, very lucky. He talked me into tilting at more than a few of his windmills, and they were amazing, crazy windmills, even when I wanted to kill the guy (and I had to laugh that there was almost certainly a voicemail from me on his machine, saying "David, I'm going to come up there and murder you," while the police were investigating the scene of his demise). As I go through his archives in the process of rebuilding his website, I'm so sad I won't have him hanging over my shoulder, complaining that I'd added a space to his peculiar punctuation, or calling me at three in the morning (which he'd mistaken for three in the afternoon) to ask me how one goes about renting a helicopter.

I think maybe I'll stop by Poe's grave tomorrow and leave a penny, just because.
posted by sonascope at 7:38 PM on January 19, 2010 [21 favorites]


I would think it would be a bit difficult to toast Poe, what with getting his remains into the toaster and all.
posted by bwg at 8:16 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


You would have to cut him up into smaller poetions.
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium at 8:36 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is [a knit] Edgar Allen Poo, who is standing like that because he has just released "the tell-tale fart". He is, naturally, in front of the House of Flusher.
posted by estlin at 8:42 PM on January 19, 2010


sonascope: "he late David Franks was my friend, tormentor, regular mentor, collaborator..."

I would say you have a leg up for next year, then. Got a cape?
posted by mwhybark at 10:56 PM on January 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


It's half empty, of course.

When it comes to booze, I'm always optimistic.
posted by mek at 4:52 AM on January 20, 2010


Fun things always seem to happen with Poe. I still think fondly of the time a Poe bust was stolen in Richmond, VA and turned up at a rather sleazy bar.
posted by JanetLand at 5:31 AM on January 20, 2010


It might be worth pointing out (and if I'm wrong about this, sorry), that David Franks was responsible for the incredibly cruel but also cripplingly funny "Telephone Prayer" segment on Joe Frank's programme - he calls someone up pretending to be a preacher and convinces them to repeat after him an increasingly bizarre and surreal prayer. The victim obviously knows that they are doing something very strange, but is incapable of resisting.
posted by Grangousier at 5:38 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


Aha! Here it is!
posted by Grangousier at 5:39 AM on January 20, 2010



Other famous people Baltimore tries to take credit for who are more rightfully associated with other cities include Babe Ruth.


baltimore, birthplace of elvis.
posted by sgt.serenity at 6:09 AM on January 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


This David Franks character, he makes me laugh:

"In one routine he appeared in a wheelchair as a disabled poet, solicited donations from the crowd, then thanked everyone, stood up and walked off the stage."
posted by mwhybark at 6:33 AM on January 20, 2010


Other famous people Baltimore tries to take credit for who are more rightfully associated with other cities include Babe Ruth.

Baltimore is also the birthplace of The Hoff.
posted by electroboy at 7:28 AM on January 20, 2010


I'd like to call dibs on The Poe Toasties as the new name of my band.
posted by tuckshopdilettante at 9:33 AM on January 20, 2010


David's "Crippled Sex Symbol" act was even more intense than the obits described. He'd show up in a limo, usually, escorted by two to six beautiful young women in crisp white nurse costumes who'd accompany him in, sometimes carrying his wheelchair up or down stairs (see poetdavidfranks.com for a great picture of him, accompanied by the late, great Edith Massey, who he performed poetry with in a giant tilted bed, and Dreamlander Sue Lowe, circa 1978). He'd proceed to do his act, some of his spoken word pieces, and attendants would either carry March of Dimes cards or collection cans around the room, soliciting help for the helpless, then, midway through his last piece, he'd get up, empty the cans or cards into his pockets, and walk off.

Sometimes people got it. Often, people were outraged. In LA, back in '78 or so, he was attacked in the press for his "deceit" and practically run out of town on a rail.

In other performances, he'd have gangs of angry women storm the stage, tear his clothes off, and haul him away, as he continued reading his poetry.

People remember Andy Kaufman and the other great pranksters of his ilk, but David should be in that pantheon. Hell, he was Root Boy Slim's regular opening act. He was up to this kind of stuff even in his last years, after a cancer diagnosis, writing beautiful, lyrical music and poetry, and still up to tricks. Sorting through his things in search of an article I needed to type up for his website, I found a stack of those cardboard donation stand-up cards.

"David, did you steal these?"

"Oh yes."

"What are you planning to do with them?"

"I put them in envelopes and send them to the Republican Party, marked 'donation'. I mean, that's what they're doing, anyway, stealing from the poor to give to the rich."

I rolled my eyes, but not long afterward, I was helping him sort through his mail and found several receipts for donations, in amounts of about what those cards would yield, from the RNC, along with the tax deduction notices and nice little happy thank you notes.

You are such a jackass, I thought, squinting at him, but we need jackasses, probably more than ever.
posted by sonascope at 4:02 PM on January 20, 2010 [3 favorites]


Grandgousier: That telephone prayer piece, done under his "Davis Black" monicker, was actually from when he was working as a dial-a-prayer operator down in New Orleans. The fact that it gradually speeds up wasn't manipulation, either—the battery in David's tape recorder was running out, and the happy accident was that, when played back with good batteries, the recording seemed to get faster and faster. He loved those kind of completely unpredictable celestial interventions.

There's also a hilarious companion piece where he's called a woman and said that he was coming, and would be bringing spirits, which makes you uncomfortable, even as you can't stop laughing.
posted by sonascope at 4:22 PM on January 20, 2010


Eric Woolfson, writer of The Alan Parsons Project's "Tales of Mystery and Imagination" and a musical of his own based on Poe's life, passed away in London in early December. It's the only evidence I need.
posted by OneOliveShort at 4:33 PM on January 20, 2010


$50K seems pretty on par for a meh watercolor of that vintage by an unknown artist, even one of a famous person.

Compare it to the $662,500 realized last year for a copy of Poe's first book and it comes off as an absolute steal. That for a book that's not even a unique.

I have sent for thee, holy Friar
But t'was not with the drunken hope, etc etc

posted by IndigoJones at 5:16 PM on January 21, 2010


More Franks:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123747163&ft=1&f=1057

Andrei Codrescu on ATC, Feb 15, 2010.

I was tooling along the intertubes when Codrescu's gumboid-romania accent began telling stories about some guy named "David," with a penchant for poor judgement and wild antics in the service of a disruptive and humorous aesthetic. "Hunh," thinks me, "that sounds like it must be David Franks."

And so it was.

Sonascope, you should assemble a post on your friend without linking to your site-in-progress. He's clearly worthy.
posted by mwhybark at 4:53 PM on February 15, 2010


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