Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Brian Eno

Send for an ambulance 
Or an accident investigator
He's breathing like a furnace
So I'll see you later, alligator
He'll set the sheets on fire
Mmm, quite a burning lover . . .
You have to make the choice between 
The Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch and me
From Eno's 1974 album, Here Come the Warm Jets.

The "Paw Paw Negro Blowtorch" was A. W. Underwood, an African-American man from Paw Paw, Michigan, who supposedly had pyrokinetic abilities.

From Dr. L.C. Woodman's 1882 letter to the Michigan Medical News:

I have a singular phenomenon in the shape of a young man living here, that I have studied with much interest. . . . [H]is gift is that of generating fire through the medium of his breath, assisted by manipulations with his hands. He will take anybody's handkerchief, and hold it to his mouth, and rub it vigorously with his hands while breathing on it, and immediately it bursts into flames and burns until consumed.

Dr. Woodman claimed in the letter to have performed comprehensive testing to verify Underwood's powers.  Click here to read his entire report.  Skeptics later suggested that Underwood would hide a small piece of phosphorus in his mouth, which he would spit out into the handkerchief while pretending to blow on it.  The heat from his breath and his rubbing his hands together would ignite the phosphorus, which burns at about 85 °F.

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