Jul 22, 2017
July 22. In 1376, the Pied Piper of Hamelin led the rats out of Hamelin. In 1893, Katharine Lee Bates wrote “America the Beautiful” inspired by the view from Pikes Peak, CO. In 1926, Babe Ruth caught a baseball dropped from an airplane at 250 feet. In 1933, Caterina Jarboro became the first Black prima donna of US opera history, singing “Aida” at the Met. In 1979, Little Richard, then a reverend, warned against the evils of rock & roll in a California revival meeting. In 2000, astronomers found a 17th moon orbiting Jupiter. In 2009, the longest total solar eclipse (6 minutes/38.8 secs) of the 21st century occurred over Asia and the Pacific. Happy Birthday, Emma Lazarus, Edward Hopper, Stephen Vincent Benet, Tom Robbins, Albert Brooks, Rufus Wainwright. It’s Ratcatcher’s Day. Mission: You know who they are so GET ‘EM OUT OF HERE.
Jul 15, 2017
July 15. In 70, Titus breached the walls of Jerusalem. In 1410, the Poles and Lithuanians (my people!) defeated the Teutonic knights at Tannenburg. In 1834, the Spanish Inquisition was officially disbanded after 356 years. In 1838, Ralph Waldo Emerson discounted the divinity of Jesus, declaring him a great man but not God, in a speech at Harvard Divinity School. The Protestant community was outraged. In 1901, 74,000 steel workers in Pittsburgh went on strike. In 1910, Alzheimer’s disease was named after Alois Alzheimer. In 1922, the duck-billed platypus arrived in America (Bronx Zoo). In 1972, NASA’s Pioneer 10 became the first spacecraft to enter the asteroid belt. In 2006, Twitter was launched. Happy Birthday, Rembrandt, Emmeline Pankhurst, Iris Murdoch, Vivian Malone Jones, Linda Ronstadt. It’s Elderly Men Day. Mission: Save your outrage for the outrageous. Honor our old men.
Jul 8, 2017
July 8. In 1099, 15,000 starving Christian soldiers began the siege of Jerusalem by marching in a religious procession around the city as its Muslim defenders watched. In 1776, Col. John Nixon gave the first public reading of the Declaration of Independence in Philadelphia. In 1865, the machine gun was patented. In 1889, John Sullivan defeated Jake Kilrain in the last championship bare-knuckle fight (75 rounds). In 1969, Twister was patented. In 1932, the Dow Jones Industrial Average bottomed out at 41.22. In 1962, Ne Win besieged and dynamited the Rangoon University Student Union to crush the Burmese Student Movement. In 1969, Marianne Faithfull took an overdose of barbiturates on the set of “Ned Kelly.” Happy Birthday, Kathe Kollwitz, Billy Eckstine, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, Raffi, Angelica Huston, Beck. Mission: Don’t use religion as a weapon. Biggest hypocrisy of all. (Also, please leave it out of American government.)
Jul 1, 2017
July 1. In 1863, the Battle of Gettysburg began. In 1874, the first American zoo opened in Philadelphia (“Zookeeper’s Wife” is excellent, by the way. Saw last night.). In 1881, the first international telephone call was made between New Brunswick, Canada, and Maine. In 1909, Thomas Edison began manufacturing “A” alkaline storage batteries. In 1941, Bulova Watch Company sponsored the first TV commercial. In 1946, the US exploded a 20-kiloton atomic bomb near Bikini Atoll. In 1963, zip codes (Zoning Improvement Plan) were introduced. In 1979, Sony introduced the Walkman. Happy Birthday, George Sand (Amandine Aurore Lucile Dudevant), Estee Lauder, Twyla Tharp, Debby Harry, Missy Elliott. Mission: Hello? Ban the bomb.
Jun 24, 2017
June 24. In 1374, a sudden outbreak of St. John’s Dance caused Germans to hallucinate and jump and twitch uncontrollably until they collapsed in Aachen. In 1664, New Jersey was founded. In 1812, Napoleon invaded Russia. In 1869, Mary Ellen “Mammy” Pleasant officially became the Voodoo Queen in San Francisco. In 1916, Mary Pickford became the first female film star to sign a million-dollar contract. In 1938, a 450-metric ton meteorite exploded and landed near Chicora, PA. In 1964, the FTC required cigarette manufacturers to include health warnings on their packaging. In 1982, the Supreme Court ruled no President could be sued for damages while serving as President. (Why not? We’ve got a case.) In 1997, the US Air Force declared the alien spacecraft crash in Roswell, NM, in 1947 was fake. In 2012, Lonesome George, the last known Chelonoidis nigra abingdonii (Galapagos tortoise) died. Happy Birthday, Ruth Randall Edstrom, Harry Partch, John Ciardi, Robert Reich, Hope Sandoval (Mazzy Star). Mission: Look up. Then dance.
Jun 17, 2017
June 17. In 1244, 24 carriage loads of the Jewish Talmud were burned in Paris ordered by Christian theologians. In 1631, Mumtaz Mahal died during childbirth and her husband, the emperor Shah Jahan I, spent the next 17 years building her mausoleum, the Taj Mahal. In 1876, 1500 Sioux and Cheyenne led by Crazy Horse beat back General Crook’s forces at Rosebud Creek in Montana Territory. In 1885, the Statue of Liberty arrived in New York City aboard the French ship “Isere.” In 1950, the first kidney transplant was performed in Chicago. In 1963, the Supreme Court banned the required reading of the Lord’s Prayer in public schools. In 1972, five White House operatives were arrested for burgling the DNC offices. In 1987, the dusky seaside sparrow became extinct. In 1994, OJ Simpson was arrested for murder. In 2015, nine people were killed at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston SC by a White terrorist. In 2017, America continued to do absolutely nothing about guns except act like a baby. Happy Birthday, Igor Stravinsky, MC Escher, Ruth Graves Wakefield (the creator of the chocolate chip cookie) John Hersey, Venus Williams. Mission: Stop it!
Jun 10, 2017
June 10. In 1902, the see-through envelope was patented. In 1903, Crayola wax crayons were developed. In 1920, the Republican convention endorsed women’s suffrage. In 1935, AA was founded in Akron. In 1943, the ballpoint pen was patented. In 1947, the first Saab rolled into existence. In 1964, the US Senate ended a 75-day filibuster against the Civil Rights Act. In 1966, Janis Joplin debuted at San Francisco’s Avalon ballroom. In 1967, Israel and Syria agreed to o a cease-fire in the Six-Day War. In 1991, Jaycee Lee Dugard was kidnapped in South Lake Tahoe, remaining captive for 18 years. Happy Birthday, Gustave Courbet, Joao Gilberto, Saul Bellow, Judy Garland, Maurice Sendak. Mission: See through.
Jun 3, 2017
June 3. In 1098, Christian Crusaders (is this not an oxymoron?) seized Antioch, Turkey. In 1856, Cullen Whipple patented the screw machine (uhh, now known as the Trump administration). In 1889, the first long-distance electric power transmission line in the US was completed from Willamette Falls to downtown Portland. In 1937, the Duke of Windsor married Wallis Warfield Simpson. In 1938, the German Reich voted to confiscate “degenerate art.” In 1943, US Navy sailors and Marines clashed with Los Angeles Latino youth in the Zoot Suit Riots. In 1965, Edward White became the first American to do a spacewalk, leaving the Gemini 4 capsule. In 1970, Har Gobind Khorana and colleagues announce the first synthesis of a gene from chemical components. In 1989, government troops in China forced protestors from Tiananmen Square after a 7-week occupation. Happy Birthday, Raoul Dufy, Josephine Baker, Allen Ginsberg, Suzy Quatro, Rafael Nadal. It’s Opium Suppression Movement Day and World Clubfoot Day. Mission: Put the opium pipe down! Make some degenerate art instead.
May 27, 2017
May 27. In 1647, America executed its first so-called witch, Alice Young. In 1668, three colonists were expelled from Massachusetts for being Baptists. In 1907, the Bubonic Plague broke out in San Francisco. In 1941, the Bismarck was sunk, killing 2100 German soldiers. In 1964, 11 boys were suspended in Coventry England for having hair like Mick Jagger. Happy Birthday, Amelia Bloomer, Isadora Duncan, Rachel Carson, Siouxsie Sioux, Left Eye. It’s Slavery Abolition Day and the beginning of National Reconciliation Week. Mission: Don’t wear a neck scarf while riding in a convertible. And watch the new Rachel Carson documentary on “American Experience.”
May 20, 2017
May 6. In 1527, Spanish and German troops sacked Rome, signaling the end of the Renaissance. In 1840, the first adhesive postage stamp went on sale in Great Britain. In 1877, Chief Crazy Horse surrendered in Nebraska. In 1915, Babe Ruth hit his first major league home run. In 1937, the Hindenburg crashed and burned in New Jersey. In 1954, Roger Banister broke the four-minute mile. In 1960, Eisenhower signed the Civil Rights Act of 1960, which attempted to ensure justice in voter registration procedures. Happy Birthday, Sigmund Freud, Orson Welles, Sonia Rykiel, Willie Mays, Angela Hernandez Nunez. It’s International No Diet Day. Mission: Eat well, no limits. You need strength for the new Renaissance. Oh, and what about those voter registration laws???
May 20. In 1506, Christopher Columbus died a pauper. In 1609, Shakespeare’s sonnets were first published. In 1830, the fountain pen was patented. In 1873, Levi Strauss began marketing blue jeans with copper rivets. In 1930, the first airplane was catapulted from a dirigible. In 1932, Amelia Earhart became the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic. In 1940, the first “campers” arrived at Auschwitz. In 1941, Germany invaded Crete. In 1961, a white mob attacked the Freedom Riders in Montgomery. In 1978, Mavis Hutchinson (53) became the first woman to run across America. In 1989, Gilda Radner died. Happy Birthday, Honoré de Balzac, Henri Rousseau, Joe Cocker, Cher. It’s Josephine Baker Day and National Awakening Day in Indonesia. Mission: Dress up and dance for national awakening.
May 13, 2017
May 13. In 1821, the first practical printing press was patented. In 1861, Britain declared its neutrality in the American Civil War. In 1873, Ludwig Wolf patented the sewing machine lamp holder. In 1888, slavery was abolished in Brazil. In 1917, the Virgin Mary was spotted in Portugal. In 1954, “The Pajama Game” debuted on Broadway. In 1958, VP Nixon’s limo was battered by rocks in Caracas. In 1960, hundreds of UC Berkeley students protested against a visit by the House Committee on Un-American Activities. In 1989, groups of Chinese students occupied Tiananmen Square. In 1995, Alison Hargreaves became the first woman to conquer Everest without oxygen or a Sherpa. Happy Birthday, George Braque, Daphne du Maurier, Mary Wells, Stevie Wonder, Stephen Colbert (He is on fire these days!) Mission: Stamp out all this un-American activity. Impeach now.
Apr 29, 2017
April 29. In 1429, Joan of Arc led Orleans, France, to victory over Britain. In 1672, rubber was patented. In 1852, the first Roget’s Thesaurus was published. In 1913, Gideon Sundback patented an all-purpose zipper. In 1945, Dachau was liberated. In 1967, Ali was stripped of his boxing title for refusing to be inducted into the Army. In 1990, the destruction of the Berlin Wall began. In 1992, the Rodney King riots began in Los Angeles. In 2003, Mr. T sued Best Buy. Happy Birthday, Constantine Cavafy, Duke Ellington, April Stevens, Tammi Terrell, Daniel Day-Lewis. It’s Day of Remembrance of all the Victims of Chemical Warfare, Sean. It’s International Dance Day. It’s March for Climate Day (N. Williams and Stanton at noon). Mission: Victory over THE WHITE HOUSE. It’s enough already. March for sanity.
Apr 22, 2017
April 22. In 1864, Congress passed legislation allowing “In God We Trust” to be inscribed on one and two-cent coins. In 1915, at the Second Battle of Ypres, the Germans debuted poison gas. On the same day, the New York Yankees debuted pinstriped uniforms. In 1952, the first nuclear explosion was shown on live network TV (Nevada test). In 1966, the Troggs’ “Wild Thing” was released. In 1969, John Lennon changed his middle name from Winston to Ono. In 1970, the first Earth Day was observed. Happy Birthday, Vladimir Nabokov, Rita Levi-Montalcini (1986 Nobel Prize winner in Physiology), Yehudi Menuhin, Charles Mingus, Louise Gluck. It’s Earth Day. Mission: Honor our Mother.
Apr 15, 2017
April 15. In 1784, the first balloon was flown in Ireland. In 1850, San Francisco was incorporated. In 1865, Abraham Lincoln died. In 1912, the Titanic sank in the North Atlantic. In 1923, insulin became available for the diabetic. In 1945, British and Canadian troops liberated Bergen-Belsen, where Anne Frank and her sister had died of typhus only weeks before. In 1947, Jackie Robinson played his first major league game for the Brooklyn Dodgers. In 1953, Pope Pius XII gave his approval for psychoanalysis. In 1964, the first Ford Mustang rolled off the showroom floor. In 1996, Jerry Garcia’s ashes were scattered under the Golden Gate Bridge (a small portion were scattered in the Ganges also). In 1998, Pol Pot died, evading prosecution for the deaths of millions of Cambodians. Happy Birthday, Leonardo da Vinci, Henry James, Bessie Smith, Claudia Cardinale, Emma Thompson. It’s Jackie Robinson Day, International Day of Culture and World Art Day. Mission: Let art and culture be your psychiatrist. Then float.
Apr 8, 2017
Saturday Morning Post. April 8. In 1093, Winchester Cathedral was dedicated. In 1730, Shearith Israel, the first synagogue in NYC, was dedicated. In 1820, the Venus de Milo was discovered on Milos. In 1864, the US Senate passed the 13th Amendment, abolishing slavery (so to speak). In 1873, oleomargarine was patented. In 1939, Italy invaded Albania. In 2002, Suzan-Lori Parks became the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama. Happy Birthday, Guatama Buddha, Carmen McRae, Jacques Brel, Barbara Kingsolver, Julian Lennon. It’s International Romani Day. Mission: Use butter. Find art. Fund art.
Apr 1, 2017
April 1. In 1578, William Harvey discovered blood circulation. In 1748, the ruins of Pompeii were found. In 1778, Oliver Pollock created the “$” symbol. In 1924, Hitler was sentenced to five years in prison for high treason. (Too bad it wasn’t 50.) In 1929, Louie Marx introduced the Yo-Yo. In 1933, Nazi Germany called for a boycott of Jewish businesses (Step 1). In 1970, President Nixon signed a bill banning cigarette advertisements on TV and radio. In 1976, Apple Computer began. In 2001, the Netherlands became the first country to legalize same-sex marriage. In 2004, Google announced gmail. Happy Birthday, Sergei Rachmaninoff, Alberta Hunter, Maria Polydouri, Debbie Reynolds, Gil Scot-Heron. It’s Fossil Fools Day and Edible Book Day. Mission: Eat a fossil fool. There are many.
Mar 25, 2017
Saturday Morning Post. March 25. In 1776, the Continental Congress decided to give General George Washington a medal. In 1807, Britain abolished the slave trade. In 1811, Percy Shelley was expelled from Oxford for publishing The Necessity of Atheism. In 1900, the US Socialist Party was formed in Indianapolis. In 1902, 567 students were found guilty of “political disaffection” in Russia and exiled to Siberia. (Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.) In 1911, 146 women were killed in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire in New York. (The owners were indicted for manslaughter as women were stuck behind locked doors—but acquitted. They did have to pay damages to 23 families.) In 1954, RCA manufactured its first color TV and began mass production. In 1957, US Customs seized Ginsberg’s Howl on obscenity grounds. In 1965, MLK Jr. led a march of 25,000 from Selma to Montgomery’s capitol. In 1969, John and Yoko held their first Bed-In for Peace in Amsterdam. In 1985, Prince won an Oscar. In 1998, an Oregon cancer patient was the first known to die under the dotor-assisted suicide law. Happy Birthday, Simone Signoret, Flannery O’Connor, Gloria Steinem, Aretha Franklin, Elton John. It’s Revolution Day in Greece, Struggle for Human Rights Day in Slovakia and Tolkien Reading Day. Mission: Revolt, resist, read. And celebrate these fabulous birthday people.
Mar 18, 2017
March 18. In 37, Caligula was proclaimed emperor of Rome. In 1673, Lord Berkley sold his half of New Jersey to the Quakers. In 1766, the Stamp Act was repealed. In 1818, the US Congress approved the first pensions for government service. In 1931, Schick introduced the first electric shaver. In 1940, Hitler and Mussolini met and decided to work together. In 1945, 1250 bombers attacked Berlin. In 1965, Russian cosmonaut Leonov became the first human to walk in space. In 1986, the US Treasury announced that a clear, polyester thread was to be woven into bills to thwart counterfeiters. In 1990, the first free elections took place in East Germany. In 1994, four guns and 25 boxes of ammo were confiscated from Kurt Cobain after his wife, Courtney Love, called police fearing he was going to commit suicide, which he did 3 weeks later. In 1998, Michael Jackson and his son went shopping for toys in Munich. Jackson dressed as an Arab woman. Happy Birthday, George Plimpton, John Updike, Susan Tyrrell, Bonnie Blair, Queen Latifah. Mission: Take a walk in someone else’s shoes. Dress like an Arab woman.
Mar 11, 2017
March 11. In 537, the Goths began their siege on Rome. In 1302, Romeo and Juliet were married. In 1818, Frankenstein was first published. In 1969, Levi-Strauss started selling bell-bottoms. In 1986, Popsicle ended the twin-stick frozen treat model in favor of the one-stick model. In 1990, Lithuania became the first Soviet republic to declare independence from the Soviet Union. In 1993, Janet Reno became the first female attorney general. In 1993, North Fucking Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Happy Birthday, Wanda Gág, Ralph Abernathy, Harvey Mandel, Bobby McFerrin, Nina Hagen. It’s Johnny Appleseed Day. Mission: Grow something.