Tuesday, January 15, 2013

... just take the first step.

Most Americans believe that Martin Luther King, Jr, was born on the third Monday in January, but in our eagerness to celebrate the reverend’s accomplishments, we are overlooking two classic icons of American culture whose birthdays occur in the same week.

Unlike the venerable Reverend King, these two figures represent not the American Ideal but the American Reality and, as such, deserve our recognition. Therefore, in the tradition of President’s Day, that floating amalgamation of Lincoln’s and Washington’s birthdays that has at last become a kind of collective presidential birthday, let us choose one day this week to celebrate not only the two individuals whose identities will be revealed in a moment, but everything they represent. Let us take this one day a year to acknowledge all that is great in America, as personified by Charles Nelson Reilly (1/13/31) and Charo (1/15/51).

Why are they important? Because they represent everything magnificent about America in the last century, everything grand and glorious about our unique blend of liberty, commercialism, and shiny red sequin dresses. Charles Nelson Reilly made a career out of a weak chin, a few peculiar facial expressions, and a whiny sound that cannot be done justice on paper (but sounded something like "neeyeh!").

It might be said that Charo made her fame the old-fashioned way, by wriggling around in scanty clothes, but then how does one account for the millions of women who’ve shaken their hoochies and shimmied their coochies before and since with nary a guest appearance on Love Boat? No, Charo wasn’t simply a titillating nymphet, but a titillating nymphet who yelped and squealed like a dog in heat.

Very well, you say: maybe Charles Nelson Reilly made his fortune off a weak chin and "neeyeh," and maybe Charo made hers off a yelpy squeal, so what? What’s any of this got to do with America? Who cares?

I care and you should care. The important thing isn’t that they made their particular fortunes by means of those particular eccentricities, but that they were ABLE to do so. Our nation is great not because people like Charles Nelson Reilly and Charo succeed here, but because they CAN succeed here. It’s important to support the ideals of liberty and justice and equality before the law, but it’s just as important, nay, perhaps more important to celebrate the reality that we’re more than Democracy’s standard bearer, more than the defender of oppressed peoples, more than the "last best hope" we are unbelievably silly! We’re sillier than any other nation on the face of the earth, and it’s time to stop being ashamed. It’s time to stand up for silliness, and that is what I believe

(I only wish Valerie Perrine had been born on the same week - it would have been the perfect trifecta.)

January 15, 1967 -
Ed Sullivan, when he wasn't fall down drunk, swore a lot. He swore that his arch-rival, Walter Winchell was a goddamned bastard. He swore that his 'so called friend' J Edgar Hoover was a goddamned transvestite but surprising spry in his cha-cha heels. And he swore that those goddamned filthy limey boys , The Rolling Stones, would never return to his show.

Sullivan sobered up, looked at his rating when the Stones last appeared on his show and permitted that boys back on The Ed Sullivan Show, on this date.

They were forced to change the lyrics of Let's Spend The Night Together to Let's Spend Some Time Together.

January 15, 1971 -
George Harrison unintentionally rewrites the song He's So Fine and releases it as My Sweet Lord on this date .

Harrison had "subconsciously" copied the old Chiffon song indeed.

Silly Beatle.

January 15, 1974 -
America once again, found it's thrill, on Blueberry Hill.

The first episode of Happy Days (series) aired on this date. Potsie sets Richie up with that Mary Lou slut.

As I'm sure you all remember, the Happy Days Pilot was shown as a segment of Love American Style.

January 15, 1977 -
The Coneheads at Home, featuring Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtin, debut on Saturday Night Live on this date. For those of you too young to remember, The Coneheads at Home, was a recurring sketch on Saturday Night Live featuring a family of extraterrestrials with cone-shaped heads, from the planet Remulak, posing in the suburban United States as immigrants from France.

(Sorry, this is not the original appearance of the Coneheads)

The inspiration for the Coneheads came from a proposal by comedian Dan Aykroyd about pin-headed lawyers. This idea was shot down by the producers, fearing it might be offensive. A later trip to the Easter Islands in the South Pacific and the haunting images of stone head monoliths inspired Aykroyd to pen the series drawings that evolved into the Coneheads.

January 15, 1981 -
Let's Be Careful Out There

Hill Street Blues premiered on NBC on this date.

The opening credit sequence was shot in Chicago, while the episodes were shot in Los Angeles. Location scouts said it was hard to find L.A. locations for the show because the locations could not have visible palm trees. The pilot script said the show took place in an unnamed Midwestern city. Throughout the show's seven year run, the exact name of the city was never mentioned.

Today in History:
January 15, 1759 -
The British Museum, one of the largest and most comprehensive in the world, opened to the public on this date.

Maybe someday they'll return the Elgin Marbles back to the kids in Greece (but that's another story.)

January 15 , 1892 -
A little magazine in Springfield, Massachusetts, first published the rules for a brand new game that involved tossing a ball into a high-mounted peach basket.

This was, of course, the precursor of what is today known as "Peachbasket,"

still as popular as ever in Springfield, Massachusetts.

January 15, 1919 -
In Boston an explosion opened a tank of molasses and the cylindrical sides top-pled outward knocking down 10 nearby buildings. 2 million gallons of molasses oozed onto the streets and killed 21 people. Another 50 were injured.

So yes, apparently, there are people slower than molasses in Boston.

January 15, 1943 -
Just outside of Washington, DC in Arlington , VA, The Pentagon was dedicated as the world's largest office building on this date.

It covers 34 acres of land and has 17 miles of corridors.

Think what you could do to the DC sewer system if you could have a co-ordinated flush of all the toilets in the building?

January 15, 1947 -
A passerby spotted the nude body of Elizabeth Short, a 22 year old actress in a vacant lot near Hollywood. Her body, cut in half, was bruised and beaten. Grass had reportedly been forced into her vagina, and she had reportedly been sodomized after death. The case was dubbed The Black Dahlia murder and over the years as manner as 50 men and women have confessed to this gruesome crime yet it has never been solve.

For those of you with stronger constitutions than mine, you may go to here to view truly horrifying actual crime scene photos (you sick puppies.)

January 15, 1953 -
An out-of- control, 16-car train, Train #173, the Federal-Express train, suffers a near-catastrophic brake failure and crashed through the railroad terminal at Union Station in Washington, DC. on this date.

Thanks to the quick thinking and action of the engineers, there were only 87 injuries and zero fatalities.

Coincidentally this is the fourth anniversary of airline pilot Sully Sullenberger and his crew 's miraculous ditching into the Hudson River.

January 15, 1967 -
The Green Bay Packers beat the Kansas City Chiefs in Superbowl I on this date.

Much to the dismay of television historians, all known broadcast tapes which recorded the game in its entirety were subsequently destroyed in a process of wiping, the reusing videotape by taping over previous content.


January 15, 1983 -
Meyer Lansky, retired Jewish organized crime genius, (rumored to have photographic proof that J. Edgar Hoover was a homosexual; conspiracy theorists believed this was the reason Hoover wasn't aggressive in pursuing organized crime), died of a fatal nosebleed at Mount Sinai Hospital on this date.

It is not clear where Lansky's estimated $300 million fortune went.

Once again, what a way to go!

January 15, 2001 -
Happy Birthday Wikipedia.

Wikipedia was formally launched on this date, as a single English-language edition at www.wikipedia.com (now found here.)

And so it goes.

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