I recently visited Providence, Rhode Island, which has been “weird since 1636,” according to my grandson’s T-shirt. Providence was founded in 1636 by renegade preacher Roger Williams, who was forced to flee Massachusetts because of religious persecution. Williams purchased land from the Narragansett Indians and started a new settlement with a policy of religious and political freedom.
My favorite travel book, Atlas Obscura, includes one entry for Rhode Island. It seems Roger Williams was buried in an unmarked grave on the family farm, remaining there for 177 years. Then Providence community leader Zachariah Allen led the effort to locate and disinter Williams’s remains and move them to a more proper memorial.. When they dug up the grave and opened the coffin, they couldn’t find a trace of Williams’ bones. Instead, they found a vaguely man-like apple tree root. They assumed that the root had eaten Williams and then taken on his form. The tree root is on display at the John Brown House, Providence’s oldest mansion.
Most likely, though, the weirdness in Providence comes from the fact that Howard Phillips Lovecraft, known as H.P. Lovecraft, was born in Providence on August 20, 1890, and died there March 15, 1937. Lovecraft was a prolific writer of chilling horror stories, many of them inspiring such movies as Re-Animator, From Beyond, Dagon, and Necronomicon, His more famous short stories include
"The Call of Cthulhu" and "At the Mountains of Madness," His stories were often published in
He also inspired modern-day stories by such authors as Stephen King (The Shining), John Carpenter (In the Mouth of Madness), Robert Bloch (Psycho), Clive Barker (Hellraiser) and Anne Rice (interview with the Vampire).
The Vision Bleak, a German horror metal band, dedicated the album "Carpathia, A Dramatic Poem" (2005) to Lovecraft. They also made other references, such as a track called "Kutulu!". Other rock bands have also paid musical tribute to HPL and the Mythos, most notably Metallica in "The Thing That Should Not Be" and the 1960's American band H.P. Lovecraft.
Lovecraft was known to remain awake for as much as 36 hours straight without showing signs of fatigue or irritability. He was also notorious for being a prolific letter writer scripting somewhere between 40,000 to 100,000 letters within his lifetime.