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For whatever reason, I had a fantastically difficult time taking the Metro home from Gallery Place today, even though I make the trip all the time. First, I got on the Green Line in the wrong direction. Having switched, I got on the train going in the right direction, but it was a Yellow Line, so I had to get off at Mount Vernon Square. Then I finally got on the right train, but because I was used to counting the stops from Gallery Place missed mine, and wound up in Columbia Heights where I had to wait a long time for a southbound Green train to show up. When I got on, I think I located the source of the trouble. There was this bald old man in the car and he had . . . horns.

Well, not exactly horns per se, but two clearly noticeable bumps in the top of his head located about where horns would go and of appropriate horn-like girth. Horn stubs, in other words. Weird. And then there's this.

April 3, 2005 | Permalink


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I've seen that devil on the Red line before!

Posted by: ganymede | Apr 3, 2005 7:38:45 PM

The New Disease is not intended to be a hoax. Its writers are not medical professionals, and the syndromes it reports on are semi-fictional. These syndromes exist at the horizon of what is possible. They occupy territory indicated, but as yet unexplored, by medical science. These diseases are not real, but by semantic contagion we expect they will become so.
Fantastic site. Utterly fanciful as it confesses, but just beautiful.
I do wonder what your horn-man had, though. Are you sure he was with you only on the last train? Perhaps he's been watching you for quite some time...

Posted by: Mithras | Apr 3, 2005 7:40:11 PM

Jesus Christ! That's is the most horrible thing I've ever seen on a living body. The really weird part? 'Patients in advanced stages report increased energy and virility, and flashes of insight.' WFT?

Posted by: Garamond12 | Apr 3, 2005 7:40:28 PM

Here's an interview with Kim White, the artist who created the "New Disease" site. Page 7 of the PDF mentions the project:
KW: My newest piece is an online journal called The New Disease (http://www.columbia.edu/~kw96/), a collection of fictional nonfiction—stories about diseases like Geusis Nervosa, a taste delay syndrome which afflicts anorexics and bulimics; an STD that’s communicated through the ear from phone sex; and a new club drug called ‘thrax, made from a non-lethal strain of anthrax. We are interested in how the reader can affect the narrative and, conversely, how the narrative affects, or infects, the reader, and we wanted to address narrative in the web environment, where the story can be added to, montaged. The New Disease is essentially collaborative, much more so than anything else I’ve done. Working with design and visual elements is usually an integral part of my process, but with The New Disease, I made a conscious decision to turn over the site design entirely to Mike. Devin and I did the writing and purposely did not include author taglines on the pieces we wrote. In a very real way, we are also collaborating with the readers (via the “talk back” sections). The intent here is to produce a work that does not privilege authorship. I am also interested in how self-definition evolves in terms of a medical condition, and vice-versa. But this is a theme that runs through all of my work. I have a collection of prose poems that imagines the body transforming and mutating to manifest something that is happening below the surface. I have this very romantic notion of the body as expressive object. The prose poems explore a kind of magical realism of the body. I think this shows up in The Minotaur Project as well. The senses serve as interface between inner and outer. Those liminal zones, where a transaction between a self and a world takes place, are particularly interesting to me because their significance is largely overlooked, yet our humanity hangs on them.

Really fascinating IMO.

Posted by: Mithras | Apr 3, 2005 7:45:54 PM

Tho probably not relevant, I had heard that the next step after piercings, cosmetic surgery, tattoos, branding was implants and surgical prosthetics. Horns are popular.

Went googling, can't find pictures. Crazy kids. I approve.

Posted by: bob mcmanus | Apr 3, 2005 7:47:33 PM

I was once at Gallery Place and found myself a bit early for a meeting (had to go on from GP to L'Enfant Plaza). There was a blind fellow who needed some help getting somewhere on the green line. I offered to help him, took his arm and immediately put him on a train going the wrong direction. Luckily I was accompanying him, so I could explain my mistake and get him redirected, but he obviously thought I was an idiot, and that any further directions from me should be confirmed with someone, anyone else. All turned out well, but I felt like a fool (except I ended up a bit late for the meeting).

bald fellow with horns, you say?

Posted by: David | Apr 3, 2005 7:47:38 PM

bob mcm -- I've seen accounts of the horn implants -- what's implanted is often a bolt, to and from which a wide variety of horns and other decorations may be added or removed. And one day they may be very useful for a toupee!

Posted by: David | Apr 3, 2005 7:49:34 PM

Have you heard of this eye jewellery? Eugh...

Posted by: TJ | Apr 3, 2005 7:52:25 PM

There ya go -- Steve Haworth, Body Modification Artist.

He's given horns to a few different people, it seems.
Mike with hornsthEnigma, with big horns but he's blue so you would have known if it were him.Another Mike with lots of horns, or bumps, or something.

I'm glad I live in such an interesting universe!

Posted by: Mithras | Apr 3, 2005 8:14:59 PM

You see, Matt? That's what you get for daring to criticize the Pope. The Devil is already after you.

Posted by: Bruce Moomaw | Apr 3, 2005 8:28:59 PM

The bald guy was clearly an alien, and you had a senior moment. Well, Maybe several I guess.

Posted by: knobboy | Apr 3, 2005 8:42:42 PM

Calm yourself, and have a look at the Michelangelo sculpture of Moses in Rome (S. Pietro in Vincoli.) Note that the man has horns-- which I was always told was fairly common in representations of Moses, then and earlier-- the explanation being that Italian mistranslations from the original Hebrew confused the Hebrew word for "radiance" to "horns." So forget all the medicobabble-- the guy you saw was Moses. Take off your hat.

Posted by: Peter Staten | Apr 3, 2005 9:31:37 PM

...he makes a strange apparition with his white hair, wizened face and five-inch horn growing from between his eyes.

“Like I said, I almost cut it off, but thanks to god for Elias come along and talked me out of it.”

Giles invites me to visit the Church of New Hope, where services are held every Tuesday, Thursday and Sunday evening in the basement of the Elks Club...

The Elks will rise again....

Posted by: JimPortlandOR | Apr 3, 2005 9:50:06 PM

Sorry, but I didn't read that article...I got distracted by the article on "telephonicophilia" though it didn't have the Penthouse Forum ending I was hoping for.

Posted by: tom f | Apr 3, 2005 9:51:02 PM

You should have titled this "Horny!" instead.

The medical journal does indicate increased virility for this diagnosis, after all.

Posted by: Carla | Apr 3, 2005 10:05:42 PM

Rex Church isn't very old, but he does have horn implants. You usually see him in Portland, OR, but maybe he's in Columbia Heights trying to convert the 16th & Columbia Moonies to sweet rational satanism.

Posted by: swag | Apr 3, 2005 10:32:39 PM

Rex Church isn't very old, but he does have horn implants. You usually see him in Portland, OR, but maybe he's in Columbia Heights trying to convert the 16th & Columbia Moonies to sweet rational satanism.


Posted by: swag | Apr 3, 2005 10:33:09 PM


An exhibit at the Museum of Jurassic Technology in L.A.

Posted by: mistersmed | Apr 3, 2005 10:37:00 PM

The man with the horns had me a little perturbed too until i realized the simple explanation: DC is a hotbed of satanism. If you don't believe me, maybe you'll believe these guys.

Posted by: FreeMan | Apr 3, 2005 11:25:36 PM

Matthew Yglesias, blogger. He thinks he's put some money on his Metro card and swiped it to get on the Green line. But he's really bought a one-way ticket -- to the Twilight Zone.

Posted by: Rod Serling | Apr 3, 2005 11:41:57 PM

I have an eerily similar story. I was taking the metro from Dupont Circle to DCA a couple of weeks ago, but for some reason the door of the car I was in didn't open at Gallery Place -- we stood there helplessly watching people getting out of the cars next to us, figuring our door would open any second, but it never did. Had to get off at Judiciary Square and wait for another red line train to take me back to Gallery Place. At Gallery Place I jumped onto a train that was already waiting at the platform, but it turned out to be a green line train, and I had to change again at L'Enfant Plaza.

I'm afraid I didn't notice whether Hellboy was riding the trains that day as well....

Posted by: Dave | Apr 4, 2005 1:23:10 AM

Maybe there's tons of people out there with horns, but most happen not to be bald, so you'd never know.

Posted by: Phoebe | Apr 4, 2005 1:39:39 AM

That wasn't the Devil. It was Moses.

Posted by: MonkeyBoy | Apr 4, 2005 2:20:37 AM

oops. I hadn't added the link to a pictures of Moses in the Chambers of the House of Representatives and Senate office subway, which depict him with horns.

Posted by: MonkeyBoy | Apr 4, 2005 2:23:40 AM

So you saw a horny old man. Big deal.

Posted by: ostap | Apr 4, 2005 8:37:59 AM

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