I borrowed my 9 year old daughter's MP3 player yesterday while I was out shopping and found a bunch of Talking Heads tracks (I don't remember putting them on there.) And it got me to think - Al Green vs. Talking Heads:
Which is the sacred? Which the profane?
Today in History:
August 9 378 (Or what ever the hell the date was on the calendar they were using at the time) -
Valens, the Roman Emperor of the East, led an army of 30,000 men against a horde of Visigoths outside Adrianople, on this date.
The Romans got off to a good start, but soon the Visigoth cavalry returned from its foraging mission. The Roman infantry was no match for the Visigoths on horseback and two-thirds of the Romans, including the Emperor, were slaughtered.
Military strategists were at last compelled to acknowledge that guys on horses were stronger than guys who weren't on horses. This was the most significant development in western warfare since the discovery of the big stick, and European warfare was permanently and irreversibly altered in favor of guys on horses. This also set the stage for the Fall of the Roman Empire and a serious movie role for actor and thug Russell Crowe.
August 9, 1492 -
Rodrigo Borgia allowed the Cardinals of Rome to inspect his genitals (a practice subsequently bequeathed to Bishops). Only after he had proved to the Cardinals' satisfaction that he was, indeed, a man, was Mr Borgia permitted to be Pope Alexander VI.
As the historian Orson Welles observed in The Third Man: "In Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love -- they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock."
Rodrigo Borgia had earned the papacy the old-fashioned way: through nepotism and bribery. Once he had it, he turned it into a family institution. His two legitimate children, Cesare and Lucrezia, were alternately married off to cement alliances, divorced or widowed to initiate hostilities, or dispatched with poison to conduct diplomacy.
When out of town on business, he left in Lucrezia in charge of the Papacy. In gratitude, she bore him a son.
(Many scholars repudiate this charge, insisting that the Pope could not possibly have fathered his own daughter's child. They assign paternity to Lucrezia's brother Cesare.)
By 1503 Alexander VI had expanded Rome's powers considerably and was therefore poisoned. Three years later Cesare died while fighting as a mercenary in Spain. Lucrezia died in 1514 from complications of pregnancy. That was more or less the end of the Borgias, and the Papacy has become less and less interesting with the passing of every year since.
August 9, 1945 -
Because of the dense cloud cover over Kokura, USAF Maj. Charles Sweeney diverts his B-29 Bock's Car to the designated secondary target, 95 miles to the south. There he drops "Fat Man" -- a 22 kiloton Atomic Bomb -- over the city of Nagasaki, population 270,000. The blast kills 24,000 immediately, but another 46,000 perish from radiation-related illnesses over the next four months.
Interesting side note that has surfaced. The government secretly paid New York Times Science Reporter William Laurence to cover the story from the government side. Laurence referred to the bomb as, A thing of beauty to behold, this 'gadget'. Laurence was the only journalist that the US gov't permitted to witness the bombing of Nagasaki. He is also credited with coming up with the term "Atomic Age".
Soon after the bombing in Japan, new began to leak out concerning a strange sickness, "Disease X" that was killing the Japanese civilians after the bomb dropped. To counter the growing horror over these accounts, the government invited a group of reporters to visit the government's atomic test site in New Mexico.
On Sept. 9th, Laurence dutifully reported from New Mexico that the U.S. government "gave the most effective answer today to Japanese propaganda that radiations were responsible for deaths even after the day of explosion..."
Laurence went on to receive the Pulitzer Prize in 1946 for his reports on the bombing. A formal request has gone to the the Pulitzer committee to strip William L. Laurence and the New York Times of their prize.
August 9, 1960 -
Harvard professor Timothy Leary consumes seven Psilocybe caerulescens mushrooms in Cuernavaca, Mexico. Five hours later, the self-described atheist experiences a "fullblown conversion experience" next to a swimming pool.
It is Leary's first drug trip.
August 9, 1969 -
Charles Manson and his band of "children" committed the first in a series of grisly murders high in the Hollywood Hills today. The unfortunate victims, including Sharon Tate were probably not the intended target of this crime.
Rumors have it that Charlie was looking for record producer Terry Melchar (Doris Day's son) who turned him down for a record contract. Melchar was away and rented the house to Tate at the time.
August 9, 1974 -
After President Richard M. Nixon resigns from office, his successor, Gerald Ford, assures the American people that their "long national nightmare is over."
As they did not drive a wooden stake through his heart, Nixon did not die and was left to roam the earth for several more decades.
August 9, 1995 -
Jerry Garcia died of a heart attack at Serenity Knolls near Novato, California, on this date.
He had checked himself into the drug rehab center a few days prior, in hopes of kicking his longstanding heroin habit.
And so it goes.