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In 1909, New York City businessman G. Herman Gottlieb was looking for a way to make a quick buck. He found it in a wooded section of Northern Manhattan, where wild catnip grew. After harvesting two baskets full of the plant, Gottlieb headed downtown to Harlem, intending to sell the product to residents with pampered felines.

As the history blog The Hatching Cat recounts, what Gottlieb didn’t know was that the neighborhood was also home to plenty of feral cats with voracious appetites. As Gottlieb made his way around the neighborhood, a handful of stray cats seized upon some leaves that had fallen out of his basket and began writhing and rolling around on the ground. Soon, even more kitties joined in, and “jumped up at his baskets, rubbed themselves against his legs, mewing, purring, and saying complimentary things about him,” according to an August 19, 1909 article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Gottlieb tried to frighten the cats away, according to The Washington Times’s account of the event, but the persistent animals wouldn’t budge. “All of them, rich and poor, aristocrats from the sofa cushions near the front windows and thin plebians from the areaways struggled mightily to get into the two baskets of catnip,” the Times wrote. Soon, Gottlieb found himself surrounded by somewhere between 30 and 40 cats, each one of them clamoring for his goods.

When he eventually spotted a policeman, Gottlieb thought he’d found an ally against the cats. Instead, Sergeant John F. Higgins promptly arrested Gottlieb for inciting a crowd. (“Why don’t you arrest the catnip?” Gottlieb asked him, according to the Times. “That is collecting the crowd. Not I.”)

Trailed by several cats, Higgins and Gottlieb made their way to a police station on East 104th Street. But when they arrived, authorities couldn’t decide whether or not the salesman had actually broken any laws.

“We can’t hold this man,” Lieutenant Lasky, the officer who received the arrest report, said. “The law says a man must not cause a crowd of people to collect. The law doesn’t say anything about cats.”

“The law doesn’t say anything about people,” Higgins replied. “It says ‘a crowd.’ A crowd of cats is certainly a crowd.” Amid this debate, a station cat named Pete began fighting with the invading felines, and, with the help of some policemen, eventually drove the catnip-hungry kitties out of the building.

Gottlieb was eventually released, and even driven home in a patrol wagon—all while being chased by a few lingering cats, still hot on the trail of his now regrettable merchandise.

[h/t The Hatching Cat]

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For $666, You Can Spend Halloween Eve in a Recreated Alcatraz Jail Cell 

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Looking for hair-raising Halloween plans? If dungeon-themed haunted houses aren’t scary enough for you, a tourist attraction in San Francisco is offering visitors the chance to spend the night in a simulation of the city’s infamous Alcatraz prison, according to Money.

Located on Fisherman’s Wharf, the San Francisco Dungeon recreates local history and legends using sets, special effects, and actors. Now, locals and visitors alike can pay $666 to reserve a private overnight stay in the Dungeon’s “Ghosts of Alcatraz Suite”—a reconstructed jail cell that accommodates up to four people—on October 30 and October 31.

The cell includes four twin beds, pajamas, midnight snacks, and a spooky bedtime story from a “dungeon resident.” Breakfast is also provided the next morning, along with a goody bag.

This isn’t the first macabre experience offered by The San Francisco Dungeon: As Eater San Francisco reports, the group also launched a pop-up “rat café” in 2017. A parody of cat cafes, the rodent-themed eatery allowed patrons to play with rats in a basement, following a light meal of coffee, tea, and pastries.

Sleepover reservations for the Ghosts of Alcatraz suite will be accepted starting Friday, October 13, at 10:13 a.m. EST. They’re available on a first-come, first-serve basis, so book your stay early through Booking.com if you’re curious about what it would be like to spend a night locked up in the Big House.

[h/t Money]

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Why People Walked Differently in Medieval Times

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A whole lot about medieval life would feel foreign to us now. No indoor plumbing, no toilet paper, no comforters, and a whole lot of blood letting. But you might not expect that you’d have to walk differently, too.

As this video spotted by Boing Boing points out, life in medieval Europe did not include well-soled shoes. If you had shoes, they were likely glorified leather socks. And to protect their tender feet from harm, people had to tread more carefully, unlike those of us whose cushy rubber soles allow us to stomp around modern cities.

Recorded in Germany’s History Park Bärnau, an open-air museum that explores life between the 9th and 13th centuries, this video by Roland Warzecha illustrates the mechanics of movement in Western Europe prior to 1500. (Warzecha runs a martial arts school devoted to historical European swordsmanship in Hamburg.)

The medieval step was much more toe-focused. Instead of hitting the ground with the heel, medieval European strollers stuck out their feet like ballerinas, touching the ball of the foot down on the ground first before putting their full weight down. This lighter step takes more muscle effort—Warzecha says he’s developed killer calf muscles after doing it for six months—but allows you to feel any potential obstacles before you put your whole body weight on top of them, lessening the chances that you’ll injure yourself on a rock or a piece of wood or even a hidden snake. If you touch your toe to the ground first, you can always lift your leg back up and avoid stepping down harder on that sharp rock/snake, but if you hit the ground with your heel first, it’s harder to jump back.

Around 1500, people began to wear more structured shoes, allowing them to walk with slightly less trepidation on uneven or litter-filled ground. And because people are, no matter what the time period, lazy, we began favoring the heel-first walking method.

In the modern era, people who don’t wear shoes still tend to walk this way. A small subsection of runners use this so-called “forefoot running” as well, which tends to cut down on knee injuries (but isn’t without its negative effects, either). They probably have awesome calves, though.

[h/t Boing Boing]

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