The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice there is little we can do to change until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.

Daniel Goleman

BLINDSPOTS

VINTAGE SURVEILLANCE EQUIPMENT FROM THE 50’S, 60’S & 70’S

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Hound Dog Bug Detector And Phone Sweep Unit, 1950’s/1960’s

The Hound Dog Bug Detector And Phone Sweep was state of the art portable countermeasures for the 1960’s. If you owned a set, almost every detective agency in town wanted to see it and “barrow them.” They were made by R. B. Clifton and cost what would be about $2000.00 for the set by today’s standards. The Hound Dog was a portable RF bug detector which is shown on the left. The Phone Sweep was a tone sweeper that would let you remotely sweep a phone to turn on any hidden microphones which the unit could then detect. This was state-of-the-art countermeasures for the 1960’s. There were many countermeasures services that offered remote tone sweeping of telephone lines in these days. There were some agencies that even offered monthly remote tone phone sweeping services for a monthly fee.

Via Spy & Private-Eye Museum.

SHOOTERS DELIGHT: TEN CAMERA GUNS FROM AROUND THE WORLD

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THE MAMIYA “FAST ACTION CAMERA”

According to some reports, over 740 police officers were injured in the violent riots that broke out on May Day, 1952 in Tokyo, Japan. Many police officers were injured while simply trying to take photographs of the protesters and as a result, authorities demanded a camera that would be easy to aim without raising it to the eye. The Mamiya “Fast Action Camera” was their answer. Thirty units were delivered to Osaka police headquarters in 1954 but in the trails surrounding the riots concern was raised that the Fast Action Cameras could be confused with real weapons, frightening future subjects with unpredictable results (ie. hurling stones at the photographers), and thusly, the whole idea was scrapped and the pistol cameras were never put into any real on-the-street use.

One of these turned up on E-Bay a few years ago – the asking price? $25,000. (Via)

MUSHFAKES: PRISON DIY INGENUITY

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“Mushfaking” is prison slang for the construction of any contraband object made from whatever materials are at hand.

“Mushfake” is a very interesting word. It seems to have first appeared in underworld slang back in the early 19th century in England. “Mush” by itself was, in that period, slang for an umbrella, from its similarity in shape to a mushroom. The verb “to fake” during the same period was criminal slang for “putting something in shape to sell by covering its defects.” So a “mushroom faker” or “mushfake” was a con artist who repaired discarded umbrellas just enough to make them briefly functional and then sold them on the street, preferably during a downpour. Anyone who has ever bought one of those $3.00 umbrellas in a New York City rainstorm will recognize the racket. You’re wet again two blocks later.

Imported to America fairly quickly, “mushfaker” became hobo slang for an itinerant tinkerer or handyman. “Mushfakers” repaired pots and pans as well as umbrellas, but “mushfaking” was considered an occupation of last resort and “mushfakers” occupied the lowest rung of hobo society. By the 20th century, “mushfake” had become prison slang for making useful objects out of cast-off or less-useful materials. Ironically, a good “mushfaker” is probably a lot more popular in prison than on the street.

~ The Word Detective

From a  home made shotgun constructed out of bed posts to  jail house hot plates made from a brick, below are some of the best mushfakes that we have uncovered over the past three years of running Criminal Wisdom.

HYSTERICAL LITERATURE: THE ORGASM AS ART

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In his latest project, Hysterical Literature, photographer Clayton Cubitt takes a beautiful woman, places her at a table in front of a black backdrop and gets her to read from her favorite book while an unseen accomplice below the table attempts to bring the woman to orgasm with a vibrator. The results are an intimate, sexy experience that captures a beauty rarely found in most modern pornography.

“The only important elements in any society are the artistic and the criminal, because they alone, by questioning the society’s values, can force it to change.”

Samuel R. Delany | Empire Star (1966)

EMPIRE STAR