Saturday, January 8, 2011

A bright star shone in the Tupelo night sky

letting all know that Elvis the King was born on this date in 1935.

As I always say - lay your hand upon the screen and feel his power emanate from your loins.

I want this as my new theme song

I wish Freddy could come back to hear this.

Also Happy Birthday Davy Jones (no, not that one)

I wonder what happened to those spiders from Mars?

January 8, 1973 -
Carly Simon received a gold record for the single, You're So Vain on this date.

It's pretty much agreed upon that she is singing about David Geffen. Unless, of course, it's about Warren Beatty or David Bowie or Cat Stevens or James Taylor or ...

Today in History -
The Battle of New Orleans took place on January 8, 1815, and was the final major battle of the War of 1812. American forces, with General Andrew Jackson in command, defeated an invading British Army intent on seizing New Orleans and America's vast western lands.

Unfortunately the war ended with the signing of The Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814. News of the peace would not reach New Orleans until February.


The only 'recognized' monarchy to reign in the United States died on this date.

Joshua Norton was a businessman in San Francisco in the 1800's. In the 1840's, just before the Gold Rush, he tried to corner the market on rice and failed. He went from being very wealthy to being destitute overnight and the experience completely shattered his reason. A couple of months after this event, he put on a formal admiral's uniform, complete with gold braid and epaulets and strode in to the office of the newspaper. He handed the editor a large, official looking proclamation which stated in quite formal language that, due to popular demand, he hereby declared himself Emperor Norton I of San Francisco, California, and Mexico. He bade all his subjects show him loyalty and the other courtesies due a person of such eminent stature.

From the pictures of Emperor Norton, it is immediately apparent that this guy has gone around the bend and ain't coming back. His eyes pointed in different directions, and neither one quite caught straight ahead. His uniform was formal to the point of almost gaudy and, at the same time, it was quite apparent that he and soap were not of regular acquaintance.The editor, with a rich sense of humor, decided to publish the proclamation on the front page of the newspaper, in all seriousness. The citizens of San Francisco, being what they are, immediately decided that this sounded like a good idea and, by unanimous acclamation, accepted Norton as their Emperor. It is undoubtedly the only time in history they ever had an unanimous vote on anything.

He reigned for about forty years. During that time he ate in all of the finest restaurants and slept in the finest hotels for free -- because he was the Emperor. He had three seats permanently reserved in the front row of the San Francisco opera house -- one for him, and one each for his two dogs. Twice a year he would review the police and fire departments as they paraded by, and then he would make a grand speech to the assembled crowds. He printed his own money, which was accepted in business establishments around San Francisco as legal tender. When bicycles first came out, they got him a bicycle, too, and he looked all the more daft because of it. When one of his dogs died, 10,000 people turned out for the funeral to console their grief-stricken emperor. When the Civil War rolled around, he graciously offered his alliance and military support to Abraham Lincoln, who politely declined.

Make no mistake about it, the Emperor Norton was as good a loony as you have ever run across and I can't help feeling that a man who was that intelligent must have had some idea of just how completely nuts he really was.

Now here's the problem. During his reign as Emperor, Norton came up with three major ideas:

1) He called upon the other leaders of the world to join him in forming a League of Nations where disputes between nations could be resolved peacefully.

2) He suggested that parts of San Francisco Bay be filled in to make more room to build.

3) He proposed that a suspension-span bridge be built across the spot where the Golden Gate stands now. He even laid out a complete design that looks remarkably close to the bridge that was built sixty years after he died. He correctly predicted that only a suspension span bridge would have the strength to span such a large stretch, and the flexibility to stand up under the extreme stress which would be placed on such a structure. He did this at a time when the only suspension bridges ever built were rope bridges in remote parts of Africa.

Of course, when he proposed these ideas, the response was long and uproarious laughter -- the Emperor was up to his old tricks again. In time, all of his ideas became reality. At the time, no one believed him.

On the evening of January 8, 1880, Joshua Norton collapsed on the corner of California Street and Dupont Street (now Grant Avenue) while on his way to a lecture at the Academy of Sciences. His collapse was immediately noticed by another citizen who raised the alarm, and "the police officer on the beat hastened for a carriage to convey him to the City Receiving Hospital."Norton died before the carriage could arrive.

The following day the San Francisco Chronicle published his obituary on its front page under the headline Le Roi est Mort (the King is Dead.) In a tone tinged with sadness, the article respectfully reported that, "On the reeking pavement, in the darkness of a moon-less night under the dripping rain, Norton I, by the grace of God, Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico, departed this life". The Morning Call, another leading San Francisco newspaper, published a front-page article using an almost identical sentence as a headline: "Norton the First, by the grace of God Emperor of these United States and Protector of Mexico, departed this life."

When the initial funeral arrangements were made a pauper's coffin of simple redwood had been procured for the departed. However, the members of the Pacific Club (a San Franciscan businessmen's association) deemed this to be completely unacceptable. After establishing a funeral fund, the members rapidly raised a sufficient amount to purchase a handsome rosewood casket and arranged a suitably dignified farewell. Reports indicated that respects were paid "by all classes from capitalists to the pauper, the clergyman to the pickpocket, well-dressed ladies and those whose garb and bearing hinted of the social outcast." Norton's funeral was a solemn, mournful and large affair. Some accounts report that as many as 30,000 people lined the streets to pay homage, and that the funeral cortege was two miles long. He was buried at the Masonic Cemetery, at the expense of the City of San Francisco. The day after his funeral, January 11, 1880, the San Francisco skies were blackened with a solar eclipse.

January 8, 1992 -
George Bush, sick with the stomach flu, decides not to excuse himself at a Tokyo state dinner. He vomits in the lap of the Japanese Prime Minister while cameras are rolling, to the great amusement of everyone except the Prime Minister.

Sushi, anyone?

And so it goes.

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