Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Don't smoke 'em, if you got 'em

World No Tobacco Day is observed around the world every year on May 31. The member states of the World Health Organization created World No Tobacco Day in 1987. It draws global attention to the tobacco epidemic and to the preventable death and disease it causes.



It aims to reduce the 3.5 million yearly deaths from tobacco related health problems. Since 1988 the WHO has presented one or more World No Tobacco Day (WNTD) Awards to organizations or individuals who have made exceptional contributions to reducing tobacco consumption.


May 31, 1975 -
The first single from the Isley Brothers hit album, The Heat Is On, Fight the Power, was released on this date. (The song is notable for the use of the word bullshit, which is usually censored during radio airplay.)



Often thought of as a song about the black experience, Fight The Power is more of a general statement on rising above the powers that be. The youngest Isley Brother, Marvin, explained in a 1976 interview with Blues & Soul: "We don't close ourselves away like some entertainers do – we listen to the radio, read the newspapers and generally get into what's happening out there in an attempt to reflect the world as it is. With The Heat Is On, we wanted to be as funky as possible musically, and yet for the lyrics to say something unusual. 'Fight The Power'? Well, we decided not to be passive, to take a stand. And we met hardly any resistance because that power could be anything – we all have our different conceptions of what it is to each of us. And just letting it out – about the bullshit that does go down – is something that everyone wants to do."


May 31, 1976 -
Tom Waits begins a two-week stint performing at Ronnie Scott's Club in Soho, London, England, run by Pete King, on this date.



The experience inspired Waits to write The Piano Has Been Drinking (Not Me)(An Evening with Pete King). Waits recorded this song, along with the rest of the album, Small Change, a month after this stint was complete.


May 31, 1976 -
Ten years after it appeared on The Beatles' Revolver album, Capitol Records issues Got To Get You Into My Life as a single on this date.



A British rock group called Cliff Bennett & The Rebel Rousers released this song as a single around the same time it appeared on The Beatles Revolver album. Bennett & The Rebel Rousers were an opening act for The Beatles on their European tour in early 1966; since there were no plans to release Got To Get You Into My Life as a single, Paul McCartney encouraged them to record it and produced the session. Earth, Wind & Fire recorded a funky new version for the 1978 movie Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band. Beatles producer George Martin was in charge of the music, and the soundtrack was a success, but the movie, which starred Peter Frampton, The Bee Gees and Aerosmith, was a huge flop. Earth, Wind & Fire's version of this hit #9 in the US.


May 31, 1980 -
Casablanca Records released the Lipps Inc./ Steven Greenberg song, Funkytown, on this date.



Lipps Inc. (pronounced "Lip Synch") was formed especially for this song. The vocals were by Cynthia Johnson, who was Miss Black Minnesota 1976. The group continued to record until 1985 with a changing lineup, but they failed to see the success they'd had with their first hit.


May 31, 1983 -
After a break in which David Byrne and Jerry Harrison release solo albums and Chris Frantz and Tina Weymouth form Tom Tom Club, Talking Heads return with their fifth album, Speaking In Tongues.



It contains their biggest hit, Burning Down The House. Talking Heads drummer Chris Frantz and bass player Tina Weymouth, married since 1977, are big fans of funk. When they went to a P-Funk show at Madison Square Garden in New York City, the crowd started chanting, "Burn down the house, burn down the house" (this is before The Roof Is on Fire), which gave Frantz the idea for the title.


The first Seinfeld episode (referred to as episode #2 The Stakeout) created by Larry David and Jerry Seinfeld premiered on Thursday, May 31, 1990 on NBC-TV. The show often described as "about nothing" was not an immediate success.



After the pilot was shown, on July 5, 1989, a pickup by the NBC network did not seem likely and the show was actually offered to Fox, which declined to pick it up. However, Rick Ludwin, head of late night and special events for NBC, diverted money from his budget, and the next four episodes were filmed.

I wonder what ever happened to those guys?


May 31, 1999 -
The VH1 documentary series Behind the Music began airing nightly with their premiere episode The Red Hot Chili Peppers: Behind the Music.



Anthony Kiedis and Flea (bass guitar) first met when they were both 15 and attending high school together. (20 years after the program, the band is still going strong.)


Today's moment of Zen


Today in History:
May 31, 455 -
Petronius Maximus, emperor for less than three month, was having an extremely bad day. News reached Rome that Vandals were planning on sacking Rome (besides vigorous bouts of sodomy; sacking was the favorite pastime for Vandals.) The level headed Petronius attempted to organize an orderly evacuation of the Senate and his cronies. Panic, unfortunately set in and Petronius Maximus was completely abandoned by his bodyguard and entourage and was left to fend for himself.

As he rode out of the city on his own, he was set upon by an angry mob who stoned him to death. His body was mutilated and flung into the Tiber.

Sometimes, it isn't every worth getting out of bed, even if you're the ruler of all the known world.


May 31, 1678 -
The lovely young Lady Godiva, aged 17, rode naked on horseback through Coventry, England, to protest the high tax rate established by her own husband, Earl Leofric of Mercia. Her protest worked and he lowered taxes.



While I can't say whether or not the MAGA crowd strongly endorse this type of civil disobedience, I'd like to remind the ladies out there that taxes are pretty damn high just about everywhere these days.


May 31, 1819 -
Keep your face always toward the sunshine - and shadows will fall behind you.







A great New Yorker and even greater poet, Walt Whitman was born on this date.


May 31, 1859 -
The iconic clock in the clock tower attached to the Palace at Westminister first began to keep time on this date.



The name Big Ben is often used to describe the tower or the clock but it's actually is the name of the carillon inside. The tower itself was formally known as St. Stephen’s Tower until 2012, when it was renamed Elizabeth Tower on the occasion of Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, celebrating 60 years on the British throne. Unfortunately, because of the pandemic, the work which had been scheduled to end at the end of this year, now stretches into 2022.


May 30, 1879 -
The Gilmore's Garden in New York City is renamed Madison Square Garden by William Henry Vanderbilt and opens to the public at 26th Street and Madison Avenue.

Originally it was a railroad passenger depot located at East 26th Street and Madison Avenue, the New York and Harlem Railroad, before they would move in 1871. Then, with tented roof, it would become P.T. Barnum's Great Roman Hippodrome. In 1876, the theatre became Gilmore's Garden, after Patrick Gilmore, a band leader. The building under his name housed flower shows, pedestrian marathons, the first Westminster Kennel Club Show in 1877, beauty contests, and concerts. Owned by the Vanderbilt family, William renamed it Madison Square Garden in 1879, continuing to present a variety of shows; boxing, track and field, and Barnum back with the elephant Jumbo. The first building had a capacity of ten thousand and was open-air.


May 31, 1889 -
Relentless rain and inadequate maintenance causes the South Fork Dam to fail, unleashing a 35-foot-high wall of water on Johnstown, Pennsylvania.



The wall of flood water grew at times to 60 feet high, tearing downhill at 40 miles per hour, leveling everything in its path and killing 2,209 people.


May 31, 1895 -
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, head of the Battle Creek Sanitarium, patented corn flakes on this date. The good doctor believed in a vegetarian diet and a regimen of exercise. The good doctor also believed in proper elimination. At his sanitarium, Kellogg made sure that the bowel of each and every patient was plied with water, from above and below. His favorite device was an enema machine that could run 15 gallons of cold water through an unfortunate bowel in a matter of seconds.



Every water enema was followed by a pint of yogurt — half was eaten, the other half was administered by enema “thus planting the protective germs where they are most needed and may render most effective service”. The yogurt served to replace the intestinal flora of the bowel, creating what Kellogg claimed was a squeaky clean intestine.



You'll never look at a carton of yogurt the same way again.


May 31, 1902 -
The Treaty of Vereeniging was signed on this date, canceling the Bore War for lack of interest.

(The Bore War should not be confused with the Boar War, which was much more exciting on account of tusks.)


May 31, 1957 -
The House for Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) convicts the playwright Arthur Miller of contempt of Congress, on this date.

He had refused to answer two questions at a hearing before the committee:

1. "Can you tell us who were there when you walked into the room?"
2. "Was Arnaud D'Usseau chairman of the meeting of the Communist party writers which took place in 1947 at which you were in attendance?"

Although he testified frankly about his own relationships with persons of Communist bent or membership, he said that his conscience had forbidden him to tell about others.


May 31, 1963 -
Nun Nu Thanh Quang, a Buddhist monk, immolated himself on this date at the Dieu de Pagoda in Hue, Vietnam.

That has got to hurt.


May 31, 1969 -
The National Legume Collective negotiated intensely all through the early part of 1969 with John Lennon and his new wife, Yoko Ono to record their new promotional song, Give Peas a Chance. The agreement ends abruptly when the organization actually heard Ms. Ono's voice.



John Lennon and Yoko Ono then decide not to waste the experience and record Give Peace a Chance, the first single recorded by a solo Beatle, from their hotel bed (not as a political statement as some have argued but because of the bloated feeling from eating a non-stop diet of peas for the past five months).


May 31, 1996 -
Timothy Leary died quietly in his sleep on this date, thereby failing his intended mission of killing himself live on the Internet.



On a brighter note, a longstanding Moody Blues prophecy was fulfilled.


Before you go - I would be remiss if I didn't remember to wish one of our bunkies a very Happy Birthday!

Hope you've enjoyed your Birthday weekend Jim



And so it goes.

Monday, May 30, 2022

It shouldn't just be about beer and BBQ

Patriotism is not short, frenzied outburts of emotion, but the tranquil and steady dedication of a lifetime. – Adlai Stevenson





Memorial Day is a United States federal holiday that is observed on the last Monday of May. It was formerly known as Decoration Day. This holiday commemorates U.S. men and women who have died in military service to their country. It began first to honor Union soldiers who died during the American Civil War. After World War I, it expanded to include those who died in any war or military action.



One of the longest standing traditions is the running of the Indianapolis 500, which has been held in conjunction with Memorial Day since 1911.


May 30, 1939 -
John Ford's bio pix of President Abraham Lincoln, Young Mr. Lincoln starring Henry Fonda, Alice Brady, Marjorie Weaver, and Arleen Whelan, premiered in Springfield, Illinois on this date.



Henry Fonda originally turned down the role of Lincoln, saying he didn't think he could play such a great man. He changed his mind after John Ford asked him to do a screen test in full makeup. After viewing himself as Lincoln in the test footage, Fonda liked what he saw, and accepted the part. He later told an interviewer, "I felt as if I were portraying Christ himself on film."


May 30, 1956 -
RKO Radio Pictures released Fritz Lang's late period film-noir classic, While The City Sleeps, starring Dana Andrews, Vincent Price and Ida Lupino (with whom you don't fuck with) on this date.



According to Film Noir historian Eddie Mueller in the commentary for Where the Sidewalk Ends, Dana Andrews was drunk during the entire production of this movie. (It was already established, by Andrews himself, that he was an alcoholic during the 1950s.) Ironically, his character is drunk throughout half the film.


May 30, 1964 -
The Beatles first single, of their own material, Love Me Do, release in England in 1962, hit # 1 on the Billboard 100 in the US on this date.



The Beatles recorded versions of this song with three different drummers. At their first Parlophone audition in June 1962, Pete Best was still their drummer. When they recorded it on September 4, Ringo was their drummer, but when George Martin decided it would be the single, he had them record it again a week later.



At this session, he used a session drummer named Andy White and stuck Ringo with the tambourine. The version with Ringo drumming was released as the single, but the version released on the album had Andy White's drumming. Ringo didn't pitch a fit when he got bumped at the session, but was very upset and felt real insecure, especially since The Beatles had just fired a drummer.


May 30, 2003 -
The Academy Awarding Pixar Animation Studios and Walt Disney Pictures film, Finding Nemo, voiced by Albert Brooks, Ellen DeGeneres, Alexander Gould, and Willem Dafoe, premiered on this date.



Andrew Stanton pitched his idea and story to Pixar head John Lasseter in an hour-long session, using elaborate visual aids and character voices. At the end of it, an exhausted Stanton asked Lasseter what he thought, to which Lasseter replied, "You had me at 'fish.'"


Word of the Day


Today in History:
May 30, 1431 -
Convicted of heresy by the English (see May 23), 19-year-old Joan of Arc got an extreme hot foot as her punishment in Rouen, France, on this date.



Pope Benedict XV canonized her in 1920.


May 30, 1593 -
Noted English dramatist, spy and buggerer (a famed pastime of English and Irish playwrights), Christopher Marlowe was either:



a: murdered in a tavern brawl on this date, or,
b: faked his death and assumed a new identity as William Shakespeare, noted English dramatist, spy and buggerer.


May 30, 1806 -
Andrew Jackson couldn't wait to marry his wife, Rachel Donelson Robards.

He was so impatient that he had married her before she could obtain a legal divorce from her first husband, Captain Lewis Robards - so technically she was a bigamist and an adulteress. His political opponents made much of this fact. Dueling over a horse racing wager and his wife's honor, the future President took a bullet in the chest from fellow lawyer Charles Dickinson on this date in 1806.



The slug shatters two ribs and buries itself near his heart. Then it was Jackson's turn to fire; his shot managed to sever an artery, technically breaking the rules of the duel. Dickinson died a few hours later, the only man Jackson ever killed in any of his 103 duels.

The bullet that struck Jackson was so close to his heart that it could never be safely removed. Jackson had been wounded so frequently in duels over his wife's honor that it was said he "rattled like a bag of marbles". At times he would cough up blood, and he experienced considerable pain from his wounds for the rest of his life.

I suppose that's what love was like in the 19th Century.


On May 30, 1889, the world’s 'first bra' was invented.



Breasts are an important feature among mammals. They allow mothers to nurture their young through protracted infancies. No infancy is longer than that of the human species, especially that of the American male, which often lasts until death.



Breasts are more than just moving diner for the young, however. On humans at least, they also have valuable recreational value. Nothing else has the nutrition, entertainment, and sheer jiggle value of the human breast (although Jell-O™ does come close).



Naturally, men couldn't leave anything with the power, appeal, and nutritive value of breasts in the hands of women, literally or metaphorically. From the very dawn of human history, therefore, breasts have been in men's hands.



In 2500 BC, the Minoan women of Crete were believed to have worn a special garment that lifted their breasts entirely out of their clothing. (Like another popular story of ancient Minos, this is believed to be half bull.) By the rise of the Hellenic (Greek) and Roman (Roman) civilizations, however, women were wearing tightly bound breast bands to reduce their busts. This style persisted until 476 AD, rightly referred to by historians as the Fall of Rome.

As history progressed, the popularity of breasts rose and fell, heaved and plunged, lifted and separated. Each new culture found a new way of exalting or obscuring the breast, according to their inclinations. By the nineteenth century in Europe, breasts were being pressed together and thrust upward by means of whalebone-fortified corsets. The strain was unbearable. Something had to give.

On May 30, 1889, the world’s first bra was invented. To tell you the truth, I’ve lost all track of where I found that date but I do know, however, that corset maker Herminie Cadolle invented the Bien-être in 1889, and that this “health aid” was the first garment to support breasts from the shoulder down instead of squeezing them up from below.

Marie Tucek patented the first “breast supporter” in 1893 (separate pockets for the breasts, with straps that went over the shoulder and were fastened by hook-and-eye closures). Yes, the first documented  over the shoulder boulder holder.



New York socialite Mary Jacob Phelps invented a modern bra in 1914 (with two handkerchiefs, some ribbon, and a bit of cord) to accommodate a sheer evening gown. Ms. Phelps sold her invention, which she called the brassiere, to the Warner Brothers Corset Company in Bridgeport, Connecticut, for $1,500 in 1914.

The US War Industries Board encouraged the assimilation of the bra in 1917 by encouraging women to stop buying corsets, thereby freeing up nearly 60 million pounds of the metal used in them. (That was a lot of girded loins.) During the 1920s, a Russian immigrant by the name of Ida Rosenthal founded Maidenform with her husband William. The Rosenthals grouped breasts into cup sizes and developed bras for women of every age.



So it doesn’t really matter what happened on May 30, 1889. It only matters that I’ve gotten you to read the word breast about twenty times in the last several paragraphs.

Now you know.


May 30, 1896 -
The first car accident in the United States happened in New York City on this date.

Henry Wells from Springfield, Massachusetts was out joy riding his Duryea Motor Wagon, careening along the streets at 18 mph, when he collided with with a bicycle ridden by Evylyn Thomas, New York native. She was brought to Manhattan Hospital with a broken leg.


May 30, 1908 -

Melvin Jerome Blanc, the prolific American voice actor, performing on radio, in television commercials, and most famously, in hundreds of cartoon shorts for Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera during the Golden Age of American animation, was born on this date.





He is often regarded as one of the most gifted and influential persons in his field, providing the definitive voices for iconic characters such as Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig and Barney Rubble among hundreds of others. His talents earned him the nickname, The Man of a Thousand Voices. When he died he had "That's All Folks" inscribed on his tombstone.


May 30, 1922 -
The Lincoln Memorial was dedicated on this date.



The Memorial walls feature a typo. The north wall of the monument building features an inscription of Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, a speech originally delivered in March 1865 at the tail end of the Civil War. Lincoln’s memorable incantation, “With high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured,” concludes the first paragraph of the inscription, though with a minor error: The word “FUTURE” is misspelled as “EUTURE,” a blunder that remains visible despite attempts to correct it.


May 30, 1966 -
Surveyor 1, the first US spacecraft to land on an extraterrestrial body (the Moon), was launched from Cape Canaveral, on this date.



The hovercraft successful soft landed in the Ocean of Storms on the Moon on June 2, 1966. Surveyor 1 transmitted 11,237 still photos of the lunar surface to the Earth by using a television camera and a sophisticated radio-telemetry system.

May 30, 1971
-
The US space probe Mariner 9, the first satellite to orbit Mars, was launched on this date.



Over the years, it will send more than 7,000 pictures of the planet back to Earth.The images revealed what appear to be ancient dry riverbeds on the surface, suggesting the presence of water on Mars at some point in the past. Mariner 9 photographed the entire surface of Mars.


May 30, 1989 -
Chinese students erected a giant statue called "The Goddess of Democracy" in Tiananmen Square on this date.

The statue was put up as part of the ongoing student protests in Tiananmen Square, and was brought down by tanks just five days later.

(Once again, I'm not winning any fans in China.)


Before you go - If you didn't get a chance to catch the sunset last night, don't worry -

Manhattanhenge happens again tonight at 8:12 pm EDT.



And so it goes.

Sunday, May 29, 2022

Look to the skies

It's the start of Manhattanhenge time again (today and tomorrow.) For all of you Illuminati conspiratorialists, ponder the fact that many of Hip Hops multi-millionaire performers are New Yorkers. Also consider that the two times of Manhattanhenge happens to correspond with Memorial Day and Baseball's All Star break.



Manhattan's grid was originally proposed in 1811, by Gouverneur Morris, surveyor John Rutherfurd, and New York State Surveyor General Simeon De Witt, four years after the city council appointed them "Commissioners of Streets and Roads," charged with master-planning the city's expansion from its dense base on Manhattan's southern tip.



(the dates Neil refers to in the video were for 2013 only.)

Because of the work of the The Commissioners' Plan of 1811, the orderly plan of the grid like layout of most of Manhattan occurred, we were able to see the spectacular setting of the sun which aligns with the east-west streets, fully illuminating every single cross-street for the last fifteen minutes of daylight (best bet according to The New York Times is actually tomorrow at 8:13 P.M. EDT - please be careful to watch out for the traffic.)


May 29, 1936 -
Fritz Lang's crime thriller, Fury, starring Sylvia Sidney and Spencer Tracy, opened on this date.



Fritz Lang
claimed that MGM did little to promote the movie and that, as a result, it did poorly at the box office; in fact, it was one of the studio's highest grossing movies of 1936.


May 29, 1942 -
The movie Yankee Doodle Dandy, starring James Cagney, premiered at a war-bonds benefit in New York on this date.



Joan Leslie portrays Mary Cohan, aging from 18 to 57 throughout proceedings. Leslie turned 17 during the production of the film. The fact that she was still attending school during production caused numerous delays.


May 29, 1954 -
During the first 3-D craze of the 50s, Alfred Hitchcock releases his masterpiece, Dial 'M' for Murder, on this date.



Warner Bros. insisted on shooting the movie in 3-D, although the craze was fading and Alfred Hitchcock was sure the movie would be released flat. Hitchcock wanted the first shot to be that of a close-up of a finger dialing the letter M on a rotary dial telephone, but the 3-D camera would not be able to focus such a close-up correctly. Hitchcock ordered a giant finger made from wood with a proportionally large dial built in order to achieve the effect.


May 29, 1957 -
Try to follow along - On November 3, 1954, Japan released Gojira (Godzilla), the greatest fever dream and anti nuclear proliferation film ever made. On April 26, 1956, an American version of the film, Godzilla, King of the Monsters, was released. It had 40 minutes of the original excised (mostly the content dealing with World War II or the anti-nuclear message,) and had 20 minutes of the masterful deadpan stylings of Raymond Burr.



The American version did so well that Kaiju O Gojira (Godzilla, King of the Monsters) was released in Japan with Japanese subtitles on this date and did very well.


May 29, 1961 -
Ricky Nelson's song, Travelin' Man hits No. 1 on the Billboard Charts on this date.



Depending on the criteria, Travelin' Man could be the song with the very first music video. Ozzie Nelson realized that whenever he had Ricky sing on their show The Adventures Of Ozzie And Harriet, Ricky's record sales shot up the next day, so Ozzie tried to work it into the plot whenever Ricky had a new record out. As Ricky became popular and the demand for his songs was overwhelming, Ozzie realized that working his singing into the plot was going to be impossible, so Ozzie filmed Ricky singing Travelin' Man, superimposed some travelogue scenes over the film and tacked it onto a show episode at the end. Viola! The music video was born.


May 29, 1961 -
Daniel Petrie's film adaptation of Lorraine Hansberry's stage play, A Raisin in the Sun, starring Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, John Fiedler, and Ivan Dixon premiered in NYC, on this date.



There was a tense and antagonistic relationship between Sidney Poitier and Claudia McNeil during the making of this film. The tension between the actor and actress had first developed when they played these parts in the play on Broadway. McNeil felt that film should adopt her character's point-of-view, a stance supported by the Playwright Lorraine Hansberry, while Poitier believed his character's struggles should be the focal point of the film. The actor and actress' distaste for one another never quite diminished, and Poitier wrote many years later that he believed that McNeil hated him.


May 29, 1965 -
The Beach Boys single Help Me Rhonda became the No. 1 hit on the Billboard charts, making it their second chart-topping single, on this date.



This was the first Beach Boys single where their guitarist Al Jardine sang lead. The song was written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love. Wilson explained to Goldmine in 2011: "We did two versions of 'Help Me Rhonda.' We did one with the ukulele and we did one with guitars. We chose to use the guitar version. I heard myself singing lead on it originally and then I turned it over to Al. I produced the Beach Boys so I decided who would sing lead. I just had a sixth sense about who should sing what songs. Some of the songs I wrote specifically for Mike, Al and Carl to sing."


May 29, 1969
-
Crosby, Stills & Nash release their eponymous debut album, on the Atlantic Records label, on this date.



The album had two Top 40 singles, Marrakesh Express and Suite: Judy Blue Eyes, which peaked respectively at No. 28 the week of August 23, 1969, and at No. 21 the week of December 6, 1969, on the US Billboard Hot 100.


Another album from the back shelves of the ACME Library


Today in History:
May 29, 1453 -
Constantinople was taken by Ottoman Turks on this date, after a fifty day siege led by Sultan Mehmet II. The city defense of 10,000 men was no match for a force of 100,000 armed with heavy artillery.



It is the final gasp of the Eastern Roman (Byzantine) Empire.

Why is this important, you may well ask - it really isn't (this event is considered the end of the Middle Ages) but then again, neither is most of history.


Patrick Henry was born on May 29, 1736. Mr Henry was an American patriot best known for never having been able to make up his mind. Asked the simplest question, Mr Henry found himself befuddled for days. It therefore came as no surprise to anyone who knew him when, given the choice between liberty and death, he famously pronounced that either would be welcome.



History records his vow at St. John's Church in March of 1775 as "Give me liberty or give me death!" Eyewitnesses and other contemporaries claim he actually said, "Liberty, death, whatever, let's just wrap this puppy up."


May 29, 1913 -
Imagine, if you will, you live in Paris and that after a hard day of not working and drinking heavily (it's what most of the idle rich did in Paris at the time, in between bouts of sodomy, while they waited around for Marcel Proust to finish writing that damn book he was working on - but that's another story), you were dragged to the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. Tonight, the Ballets Russes was going to perform a new ballet, Le Sacre du Printemps (The Rite of Spring) with the international star, Nijinsky, the choreographer. You might have been expecting a brief snooze but what you got was a full out boxing match (not unlike an evening at the Boston Pops).



The complex music and violent dance steps depicting fertility rites first drew catcalls and whistles from the crowd, and there were loud arguments in the audience between supporters and opponents of the work. These were soon followed by shouts and fistfights in the aisles. The unrest in the audience eventually degenerated into a riot. The Paris police arrived by intermission, but they restored only limited order. Chaos reigned for the remainder of the performance, and Igor Stravinsky (the composer) himself was so upset on account of its reception that he fled the theater in mid-scene, reportedly crying. Fellow composer Camille Saint-Saëns famously stormed out of the première, (though Stravinsky latter said "I do not know who invented the story that he was present at, but soon walked out of, the premiere.") allegedly infuriated over the misuse of the bassoon in the ballet's opening bars.



I hate when they misuse the bassoon.

Stravinsky ran backstage, where Sergei Diaghliev, was turning the lights on and off in an attempt to try to calm the audience. Nijinsky stood on a chair, leaned out (far enough that Stravinsky had to grab his coat-tail), and shouted numbers to the dancers, who couldn't hear the orchestra (this was challenging because Russian numbers are polysyllabic above ten, such as eighteen: vosemnadsat).



Although Nijinsky and Stravinsky were despondent, Diaghilev (the ballet's impresario) commented that the scandal was "just what I wanted". The music and choreography were considered barbaric and sexual and are also often noted as being the primary factors for the cause of the riot, but many political and social tensions surrounding the premiere contributed to the backlash as well.



It was quite an evening.


In the early morning hours of May 29, 1914, the Canadian Pacific ocean liner Empress of Ireland was cruising the St. Lawrence, headed for Liverpool. Traveling the opposite way was the Norwegian collier Storstad, weighed down by a full load of coal.



The British passenger ship collided with a Norwegian freighter and sank, taking 1,012 passengers and crewmen with her, within fourteen minutes. At the time, it was considered one of the worst disasters in maritime history.


John F. Kennedy was born 105 years ago today in 1917, and is best remembered for telling Berliners "I am a jelly-filled donut" speech, delivered in Berlin (either that or "I am a small brimmed hat, usually worn in early spring" or "I like cheese"), an axiom that many Americans found problematic in the face of increasing cold war tensions, imminent nuclear war, an escalating presence in Vietnam, the troubled state of race relations, and the ubiquitous threat of poisonous snakes.



Mr. Kennedy should not be faulted for his mangling of the phrase, he was a pill-popping, philanderer (engaging in sexual congress with Hollywood starlets, two and three at a time) in constant pain from Addison's disease and shouldn't have been expected to stay on point in a foreign language with so many other things on his mind.



Born on the same day but several centuries earlier (in 1630), England's King Charles II was best known for the saying, "Give me back my throne."


May 29, 1953
Sir Edmund Hillary and Sherpa mountaineer Tenzing Norgay were the first people to reach the summit of Mount Everest, on Tenzing Norgay's (adopted) 39th birthday.



Following his ascent of Everest, Sir Hillary devoted much of his life to helping the Sherpa people of Nepal through the Himalayan Trust, which he founded. Through his efforts many schools and hospitals were built in this remote region of Nepal.



And so it goes.

Saturday, May 28, 2022

I guess we need to be aware of this

Today is Menstrual Hygiene Awareness Day. The German based NGO WASH United wanted to raise awareness that over 1.25 billion women who do not have access basic sanitary conditions during their period. Given the fact that a little more than half the world's population are women and on any given day, more than 800 million women between the ages of 15 and 49 are menstruating, it is an issue that effects everyone.







OK, I got through this without running, screaming from the room.


May 28, 1929 -
Warner Bros released the film On With the Show! on this date. It was the first movie shown to be fully in color and fully in sound. (The color version of the film seems to have been lost; there is only a B & W print in existence.)



It was the second movie produced by Warner Brothers, and helped start the Technicolor revolution.


May 28, 1953 -
Walt Disney's first animated 3-D cartoon in Technicolor, Melody, premiered on this date



Originally there was going to be an entire series of Adventures in Music shorts but in fact, only one other was made: the Academy Award-winning Toot, Whistle, Plunk and Boom.


May 28, 1966
Percy Sledge's song When A Man Loves A Woman hit no. 1 on the Billboard charts on this date.



Percy Sledge said that when he originally sang this, he had in mind Lizz King, his girlfriend of three years who left him for a modeling job in Los Angeles. Said Sledge: "I didn't have any money to go after her, so there was nothing I could do to try and get her back."


May 28, 1966 -
Ike and Tina Turner released the classic song River Deep, Mountain High, on this date. (Although this is credited to Ike and Tina Turner, Ike had no part in the recording process. Turner was paid $20,000 up front to made sure that he was not in the studio during the sessions.)



It had been over a year since Phil Spector produced a hit record, and he went all out on this one. When it flopped in America, he was shocked and very upset. He announced his retirement, went into seclusion and stopped working until 1970, when he returned to the studio to work on The Beatles Let It Be album and produce solo works by George Harrison and John Lennon.


May 28, 1989 -
Marvin Young (Young MC, who is now 55 years old) an economics major at University of Southern California released his Grammy Award winning album, containing the hit Bust A Move, on this date.



Flea from The Red hot Chili Peppers played bass on this song and appeared in the video, but he didn't reap the rewards. He explained to Bass Player magazine: "I have a bitter taste in my mouth about that, because I feel as though I got ripped off. The bass line I wrote ended up being a major melody of the tune, and I felt I deserved songwriting credit and money because it was a #1 hit. They sold millions of records, and I got $200! Afterwards, my lawyer told them, 'You should throw down Flea some cash,' but the record company said, 'We told him exactly what to play.' No one was even in the room at the time but me and the engineer! It was ridiculous, but I learned from it."


May 28, 1993 -
The action comedy Super Mario Bros., a live adaptation of the popular Nintendo game starring Bob Hoskins as Mario and John Leguizamo as Luigi, debuts in US theaters, on this date. The movie is a huge flop but is noted for its stunning visual effects.



In his 2007 autobiography John Leguizamo states he and Bob Hoskins hated working on the film and would frequently get drunk to make it through the experience. Both men apparently knew the movie would turn out bad, so they simply tried to make the best of it. He also stated he felt one of the biggest reasons the movie turned out the way it did was because the directors wanted a more "adult" movie while the studio, considering the source material, was looking for a children's film.



Don't forget to tune into The ACME Eagle Hand Soap Radio Hour today.


Today in History:
May 28, 1503 -
The Treaty of Everlasting Peace between Scotland and England was signed culminating in the marriage of James IV of Scotland and Margaret Tudor (sister of Henry VIII) on this date.



Once again the European sense of time prevails and the treaty would actually last only 10 years.


On May 28, 1743, Joseph Ignace Guillotin was born in France on this day. Later he became a doctor. As a politically active humanitarian, he was understandably disturbed by the grisly executions of the French Revolution. He was sure people could be killed more efficiently, and he proposed a device to do just that (Antoine Louis devised the gismo.)

Dr Louis' machine sliced the victim's head off by means of a heavy, suspended blade rushing down a pair of side rails onto (or more accurately through) the victim's neck. Not only was it quick and painless: in those dull years before cable, it was also great entertainment. Dr Guillotin enjoyed watching the youngsters scampering playfully about the machine, fighting for the severed head.
 

 During the rough weather that followed the French Revolution (known to meteorologists as "The Rain of Terror") it became necessary to purge the Republic of all obstacles to the welfare of its people. Sadly, most of those obstacles were people themselves, and there were a damned lot of them.



Drunk with power (a lingering effect of the Bourbon era) and armed with Dr Guillotin's seal of approval, the government succeeded in eliminating thousands of such obstacles quickly and effectively, in a way that made the children laugh and sing right up to the moment that their own heads were sliced off.

Dr Guillotin probably died of natural causes and was not eventually guillotined (as many believe,) thus robbing us of the possible existence of a moral to his story.

(Readers seeking morals, however, are advised as always to conduct their searches elsewhere.)


May 28, 1892 -
The Sierra Club was founded, with naturalist John Muir its first President, on this date.



It would later become the United States' largest grassroots environmental organization.


May 28, 1897 -
Jell-O was introduced, fifty-two years after Peter Cooper (inventor of the Tom Thumb engine) received the first U.S. patent for a gelatin dessert, on this date. Pearl B. Wait, a carpenter and cough medicine manufacturer from LeRoy, New York, produces varieties in strawberry, raspberry, orange, and lemon fruit flavors, dubbed Jell-O by his wife, May Davis Wait.



When sales turn out to be poor, Wait sells his Jell-O business for $450 to his neighbor, Orator F.Woodward, who had founded the Genesee Pure Food Co. two years earlier. Success will come slowly, but with Woodward’s creative sales and sampling strategies, Jell-O began will begin to catch on. In 1902, when he launches his first advertising campaign in Ladies’ Home Journal, sales will reach $250,000. So remember there's always room for the juice of boiled calves hooves.


May 28, 1930 -
The Chrysler Building, the premier Art Deco skyscraper in New York City, had it's opening ceremony, on this date. Standing 1,047 feet (319 meters) high, it was briefly the world's tallest building before it was overtaken by the Empire State Building in 1931. With the construction of One World Trade Center, it was been again relegated to the third tallest building in New York City.

The skyscraper, designed by architect William Van Alen, was originally built to house the Chrysler Corporation. The groundbreaking occurred on September 19, 1928. At the time, the builders of New York were engaged in an intense competition to build the world's tallest skyscraper. The Chrysler Building was erected at an average rate of four floors per week and no workers were killed during construction. Just prior to its completion, the building stood about even with the rival project 40 Wall Street, designed by H. Craig Severance. Severance quickly increased the height of his project by two feet and claimed the title of the world's tallest building (this distinction excluded structures that were not fully habitable, such as the Eiffel Tower).



Van Alen secretly obtained permission to build a spire that was hidden inside the building during construction. The spire, measuring 125 feet (58.4 meters) long and composed of Nirosta stainless steel, was hoisted to the top of the building on October 23, 1929. The added height allowed the Chrysler Building to surpass both 40 Wall Street and the Eiffel Tower as the tallest building and the tallest structure in the world. It was also the first man-made structure to stand taller than 1,000 feet (305 meters). The steel chosen to cap the building was Krupp KA2 "Enduro" Steel (you may buy me a drink after you win a bar bet with that bit of knowledge).



In less than a year, the Chrysler Building was surpassed in height by the Empire State Building. Van Alen's satisfaction was further muted by Walter Chrysler's refusal to pay his fee.


May 28, 1944 -
The thrice married, former prosecutor, businessman, transvestite, former Republican mouthpiece for an inveterate liar from the state of New York, and inveterate drunkard and butt dialer Sir Rudolph William Louis Giuliani III, was born on this date.



I have nothing else to say about this man - he should live well and be healthy.


May 28, 1959 -
America launched a Jupiter rocket on this date, containing a rhesus monkey named Able and a squirrel monkey named Miss Baker. After experiencing nine minutes of microgravity, the capsule successfully returns to Earth with both monkeys intact.



However, Able died during surgery to remove his electrodes. Able was then stuffed and mounted and is now on display at the Smithsonian Institute of Air and Space Museum.



There is no truth to the rumor that Miss Baker went on to carry on a long term dalliance with President Kennedy and Frank Sinatra.


May 28, 1972 -
The virtually exiled King Edward VIII, (styled the Duke of Windsor by his brother King George VI in 1936,) died on this day in 1972 in Paris. He was buried at Windsor Castle. It was the first time that his widow, the Duchess was a royal guest of the Queen.



According to Sarah Bradford, the royal biographer, the Queen Mother, who had for 36 years resented the fact that the Duke's undying love for the horse faced, possible transvestite Mrs. Simpson had put her husband on the throne right at the threshold of war and had condemned him to an early death (She conveniently forgot that her husband was a very heavy smoker from early adulthood and that his family was prone to cancer), was very solicitous about the senile Duchess and took care of her during the funeral. The Queen did not weep for her uncle, but, strangely enough, when the Duchess followed him in death 14 years later, the Queen did weep at her funeral.


May 28, 1987 -
German teenager Matthias Rust lands his Cessna in Moscow's Red Square, buzzing the Kremlin on the way in.



He serves 18 months in prison for this prank, which also costs the commander of the Soviet Air Command his job.

Oops.


Don't forget, tomorrow starts Manhattanhenge viewing (the rain should clear up by sunset.)

(more on this tomorrow)



And so it goes.

Friday, May 27, 2022

Just in time for Memorial Day Wekend

The Popsicle was first made (but not patented) in 1905 by Frank Epperson on this date (he was only 11 years old at that time.)



If only we could create a frozen concoction that mixes ice and alcohol - oh wait a minute that's a Frozen Margarita, never mind - keep celebrating the Popsicle.


May 27, 1930 -
Howard Hughes' multi-million dollar war drama, Hell's Angels, premiered in Los Angeles, on this date.



The entire movie had been filmed as a silent, minus a soundtrack, by Howard Hughes in 1928. Greta Nissen had the role played later by Jean Harlow. When sound equipment became available, Hughes decided to re-shoot the whole film as a talkie.


May 27, 1933 -
Walt Disney classic take on The Three Little Pigs, premiered on this date.



The commercial tie-in with Esposito's pork sausages during the original screenings of the cartoon wasn't such a big hit though.


May 27, 1933 -
The seminal pre-Code Warner Bros. musical film directed by Mervyn LeRoy, Gold Diggers of 1933, starring Warren William, Joan Blondell, Aline MacMahon, Ruby Keeler, and Dick Powell, (and choreographed by Busby Berkeley) premiered in the US on this date.



Joan Blondell said that making musicals was tougher than a straight dramatic movie because cast and crew would frequently work from 6:00 in the morning until midnight and all day on Saturday.


May 27, 1964 -
From Russia with Love, the second spy film in the James Bond series, was released in the US on this date.



Hoping for an end to the Cold War, producers Albert R. Broccoli and Harry Saltzman didn't want James Bond's main enemy to be Russian, so for the movie version, his nemesis is the fictitious criminal organization S.P.E.C.T.R.E., seeking revenge for the death of their operative, Dr. No.


May 27, 2005 -
DreamWorks computer-animated film, Madagascar, with voices by Ben Stiller, Chris Rock, David Schwimmer and Jada Pinkett Smith is released on this date.



Sacha Baron Cohen improvised the line "It's got a gecko on it", and all of the following dialogue related to the gecko. The filmmakers found it so funny that they went to the extra work of creating a CG gecko for the shot.


May 27, 2006 -
Guillermo del Toro's fantasy film about the Spanish Civil War, Pan's Labyrinth, premiered at the Cannes Film festival, on this date.



The English subtitles were translated and written by Guillermo del Toro himself. He no longer trusts translators after having encountered problems with his previous subtitled movies.


Another unimportant moment in history


Today in History:
May 27, 1923 -
Henry Kissinger was born in Fuerth, Germany on this date.



50 years later, (America Favorite Freely Roaming War Criminal - according to your political beliefs) Dr. Kissinger received the Nobel Peace Prize for quitting the Vietnam War.



Henry also proved that outliving your enemies is the best revenge.


Other birthday celebrants include:

Never give in and never give up.





Hubert Humphrey, Vice President under President Lyndon B. Johnson, and presidential candidate, was born on this date (1911).


A man who limits his interests, limits his life.





Vincent Price, actor, was born on this date (1911).


People forget the punk thing was really good for women. It motivated them to pick up a guitar rather than be a chanteuse. It allowed us to be aggressive.





Siouxsie Sioux (Susan Janet Ballion,) singer, songwriter, musician and producer was born on this date (1957).


I try to put myself into unusual and difficult situations as often as I can in order to capture the element of struggle in the music.. ...







Neil Mullane Finn, singer/songwriter and musician was born on this date (1958).


May 27, 1937 -
The Golden Gate Bridge, arguably one of the Wonders of the Modern World, connecting San Francisco with California's Marin County opened to pedestrian traffic on this date.



More than 200,000 made the first-day trek.

Harold Wobber had the good grace to wait until August 7, 1937, to take the first leap into eternity. Wobber supposedly turned to a stranger on the walkway and said,"This is as far as I go" then took his last step.


May 27, 1939 -
Detective Comics Number 27 featuring Batman, DC Comics debuted its second superhero on this date. The superhero is Batman, who will go on to be one of the greatest commercial successes in the comic industry.



This issue also marks Commissioner Gordon’s first appearance. According to creator Bob Kane, his inspirations for Batman were Superman, Leonardo da Vinci’s design of a bat-like glider, and two films: The Mark of the Zorro and The Bat Whispers.


May 27, 1941 -
The British sank Germany's elusive, pocket-battleship Bismarck, then the largest warship commissioned, on this date.



The destruction of the battleship was reported on the front pages of newspapers around the world. Only 110 of her crew of 2,222 survived the sinking.


May 27, 1942 -
A couple of Czech assassins ambush the car carrying Reinhard Heydrich and toss a grenade into the front seat on this date.



The man who headed the Wannsee Conference was mortally wounded in the attack and died of septicemia a week later. The Nazis retaliate by obliterating the Catholic village of Lidice, Czechoslovakia and its inhabitants.


May 27, 1977 -
After the pressing plant initially refuses to duplicate the record and the printer refuses to make the covers, Virgin finally releases God Save the Queen by the Sex Pistols in time for the monarch's Jubilee celebration on this date.



Popular belief is that this song was "banned" by the BBC and most other broadcasting outlets. In truth, the BBC didn't ban records, but made programing decisions based on its standards and enforced certain rules, like barring product mentions. The BBC's Radio 1 did exclude the song from their playlist, and some major retailers (including Woolworth's and WH Smith) refused to stock it, but by labeling it taboo the song became even more marketable, and it sold an amazing 150,000 copied the first week it was released.


May 27, 1993 -
Five people were killed and 37 wounded when a Fiat Fiorino exploded outside the Uffizi Gallery Museum in Florence, Italy on this date.



The car bomb (a combination of PETN, T4 and TNT, kids don't try to make this at home) also manages to obliterate three priceless artworks and substantially damage thirty more. The bombing appears to have been the work of the Sicilian Mafia.

Once again, if you are going to borrow money from unscrupulous sources, remember to pay your vig.


May 27, 1995 -
During the third jump of an equestrian event in Charlottesville, Virginia, Christopher Reeve was thrown headfirst over his horse on this date.



Reeve broke his neck in two places, instantly rendering him a quadriplegic, unable to move or breathe without assistance.


With this being the start of the Memorial Day Weekend and many COVID restrictionshave been thrown to the wayside, some of you bunkies will be on the road this weekend. Your old pal wants to remind you, once again:



(also hit the road before 2pm or after 9 pm today.)



And so it goes.