Thursday, February 2, 2012

Happy Marmota Monax Day

Groundhog Day, February 2nd, is a popular tradition in the United States. It is also a legend that traverses centuries, its origins clouded in the mists of time with ethnic cultures and animals awakening on specific dates. Myths such as this tie our present to the distant past when nature did, indeed, influence our lives. It is the day that the Groundhog comes out of his hole after a long winter sleep to look for his shadow.

If the day is cloudy and, hence, shadowless, he takes it as a sign of spring and stays above ground.

BTW, the damn vermin Phil saw his shadow but Staten Island Chuck (apparently his cousin) did not, so six more weeks of inane psychobabble!!!

Today in History:
February 2, 1826 -
Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (b.1755), French lawyer and epicure, died on this date.

His famous work, Physiologie du goût (The Physiology of Taste), was published in December 1825, two months before his death.

James Joyce was born on February 2, 1882. Mr. Joyce was one of many drunken Irish geniuses who got the hell out of Ireland as soon as he could afford a passport.

Mr. Joyce wrote Ulysses, a famous book perhaps most notable for the fact that few people ever actually read it.

Gertrude Stein was born a day later, eight years earlier.

She wrote books that were much easier to read than Mr. Joyce's yet made even less sense.

Congestion Advisory
In 1626, Dutchman Peter Minuit bought the island of Manhattan for $24. People often joke about that, but twenty-four bucks wasn't such an unreasonable price. It was a lot of money back then, and it's not like Mr. Minuit just turned around and built Times Square. Manhattan was a big rock in the middle of cold rushing waters and the weather was awful, even for a Dutchman. It wasn't even a city until February 2, 1653, when it became New Amsterdam. It had a population of 800 at the time.

Eventually it was renamed New York, which, according to the 2010 census, has a population of more than 8.3 million. This represents an increase of more than one million percent. At this rate, by the year 2319 New York will have a population of over 80 billion.

Anticipate more traffic.

February 2, 1793 -
Czech composer Franz Kotzwara, who penned The Battle of Prague, visited a prostitute in Vine Street, Westminster named Susannah Hill. After dinner with her in her lodgings, Kotzwara paid her two shillings and requested that she cut off his testicles. Hill refused to do so. Kotzwara then proceeded to tie a rope around the doorknob and then his neck and proceeded to have vigorous sexual intercourse with Hill. After it was over, Kotzwara was dead.

His is most likely the first recorded death from erotic asphyxiation.

Kids, don't do this at home, unless you have adult supervision.

February 2, 1901 -
Following a custom she maintained throughout her widowhood, Queen Victoria spent Christmas at Osborne House on the Isle of Wight. She died there from a cerebral hemorrhage on January 22, 1901, at the age of 81. At her deathbed she was attended by her son, the future King, and her oldest grandson, German Emperor William II. As she had wished, her own sons lifted her into the coffin. She was dressed in a white dress and her wedding veil. Her funeral was held on this date and after two days of lying-in-state, she was interred beside Prince Albert in the Frogmore Mausoleum at Windsor Great Park. Since Victoria disliked black funerals, London was instead festooned in purple and white.

When she was laid to rest at Frogmore Mausoleum, it began to snow. Victoria had reigned for a total of 63 years, seven months and two days - the longest of any British monarch.

February 2, 1913 -

The new Beaux-Arts style Grand Central Terminal in New York City opened on this date. The cost to construct Grand Central Terminal was a staggering $43 million. The price was offset by the sale of "air rights" over the enclosed facility.

Many majestic buildings were constructed including the Waldorf Astoria Hotel. For many years, the elevators in these buildings would be powered by third rail current provided by the New York Central. The railroad needed to invest in electrifying its rails, and carve deep into Manhattan's bedrock (workers would ultimately excavate 2.8 million cubic yards of earth and rock).

And if your lucky, my brother might have just driven your train into the station.

February 2, 1964 -
The GI Joe doll made its debut on the market as a popular American toy on this date.

It would be several years before GI Joe would be released with his Kung Fu grip. Even though GI Joe is 12" of fighting machine - Joe is genital-less - so the grip is useless.

February 2, 1971 -
Idi Amin assumed power in Uganda, taking the government from President Milton Obote. One of his favorite pastimes seems to have been eating the brains of live prisoners. Also while in office, he eats one of his own sons.

How lovely

February 2, 1973 -
The regular run of the musical series, Burt Sugarman's Midnight Special premiered on NBC-TV on this date.

Among the acts that appears on that first show were The Byrds, Ike and Tina Turner Revue, Rare Earth and George Carlin.

February 2, 1979 -
Sid Vicious, bassist for the Sex Pistols, died in his sleep of a heroin overdose on this date.

He was waiting to stand trial for the stabbing death of his girlfriend, Nancy Spungen.

And so it goes.

Now even Amy Sedaris (a David Letterman fave) is getting into the act -

Come on, for a minute, you though Joe was going to drink the Downey.

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