Jan 7, 2017
January 7. In 1887, Thomas Stevens made the first world-wide bike ride, riding 13,500 miles in three years. In 1924 at age 26, George Gershwin completed “Rhapsody in Blue.” In 1949, the first photograph of genes was shown at USC. In 1955, Marian Anderson became the first African-American to sing at the New York Metropolitan Opera. In 1963, Gary “US” Bonds sued Chubby Checker. In 1979, Vietnamese troops seized Phnom Penh, toppling the brutal regime of Pol Pot. In 1990, the Leaning Tower of Pisa was closed to the public due to too much leaning. Happy Birthday, Zora Neale Hurston, Butterfly McQueen, Vincent Gardenia, Katie Couric. It’s Victory from Genocide Day in Cambodia. Mission: Don’t fall down. Don’t allow genocide.
Dec 31, 2016
Saturday Morning Post. December 31. In 1687, the first Huguenots set sail for the Cape of Good Hope, where they later created the South African wine industry with the vines they took with them on the voyage. In 1841, Alabama enacted the first dental legislation. In 1897, Brooklyn, NY, spent its last day as a separate entity before becoming part of New York City. In 1907, the first New Year’s Eve celebration was held in Times Square (known then as Longacre Square). In 1946, President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II. In 1970, Paul McCartney filed a suit to dissolve the Beatles. In 1999, Russian President Boris Yeltsin resigned. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin was designated acting president. In 2009, both a blue moon and a lunar eclipse occurred. Happy Birthday, Henri Matisse, Elizabeth Arden, Simon Wiesenthal, Odetta, Gabby Douglas. It’s International Solidarity Day. Mission: Set sail for the Cape of Good Hope.
Dec 24, 2016
December 24. In 1814, the War of 1812 ended. In 1826, there was an eggnog riot at the US Military Academy. In 1948, the first completely solar-heated house was occupied in Dover, MA. In 1965, a 100-lb meteorite landed on Leicestershire. In 1985, Fidel Castro said he quit smoking. Happy Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights. Merry Christmas. Mission: Shine brighter! Survive this insanity.
Dec 17, 2016
December 17. In 1538, Henry VIII was excommunicated by Pope Paul III. In 1791, the first one-way street was established in New York. In 1862, General US Grant issued General Order #11 expelling Jews from Tennessee, Mississippi and Kentucky, supposedly in an attempt to shut down the cotton black market, which, of course, was blamed on the Jews. The order was revoked a year later. In 2002, McDonald’s reported its first financial loss in 47 years. In 2014, Cuba and America re-established diplomatic relations. Happy Birthday, John Greenleaf Whittier, Erskine Caldwell, Penelope Fitzgerald, Paul Butterfield, Eugene Levy. It’s International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers, as well as Saturnalia, a holiday that started with a sacrifice at the Temple of Saturn, followed by a public banquet, private gift-giving, continual partying, and a carnival atmosphere that overturned Roman social norms. Mission: Overturn social norms—wait until after January 20.
Dec 10, 2016
December 10. In 1869, women were granted the right to vote in the Wyoming Territory. In 1898, the Spanish Civil War was officially declared over and Cuba became independent of Spain. In 1909, Selma Lagerlof became the first female writer to win the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1931, social activist Jane Addams became a co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize—the first American woman. In 1958, the first domestic passenger jet flight took place from New York to Miami. In 1964, MLK Jr received the Nobel Peace Prize—the youngest person ever. In 1967, Otis Redding and his band died when their plane crashed into a Wisconsin lake. In 1992, Senator Packwood apologized for being offensive toward women, but refused to resign. In 1996, Nelson Mandela signed into law a new democratic constitution in South Africa, completing the transition from white-minority rule to a non-racial democracy. And in 2016, the American people woke up to more shady, deleterious, and unacceptable Donald Trump bullshit. How much can we bear? Happy Birthday, Emily Dickinson (only 7 poems published in her lifetime), Melvil Dewey, Dorothy Lamour, Carolyn Kizer (Fred?). It’s International Human Rights Day. Mission: Resist. Revolt against the revolting.
Dec 3, 2016
Saturday Morning Post. December 3. In 1833, Oberlin, the first truly co-educational college, opened. In 1910, the neon lamp debuted at the Paris Motor Show. In 1931, Alka Seltzer entered the market. In 1967, the first human heart transplant was performed in Cape Town by Dr. Christian Barnard. In 1999, Tori Murden became the first woman to row across the Atlantic alone. In 1964, over 800 students at UC Berkeley were arrested for protesting UC’s decision to forbid protesting. In 1976, Bob Marley was shot twice in an assassination attempt, but played a concert 2 days later. In 1984, over 3800 people were killed by a Union Carbide pesticide plant leak in Bhopal, India. In 1992, the first text message was sent via the Vodafone network. Happy Birthday, Ellen Swallow Richards, Joseph Conrad, Jean-Luc Godard, John Cale. It’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities. Mission: Stop fucking around. Be a human.
November 26. In 1789, the first Thanksgiving was celebrated in America. In 1863, President Lincoln declared Thanksgiving a national holiday. In 1940, Nazis forced 500,000 Polish Jews to live in the Warsaw Ghetto. In 1941, FDR changed Thanksgiving to the fourth Thursday in November instead of the third Thursday. In 1942, “Casablanca” had its New York World Premiere. In 1970, the most rain ever recorded (1.5 inches in one minute) fell in Basse-Terre, Guadeloupe. In 1973, Nixon’s personal secretary, Rose Mary Woods, took responsibility for erasing 18 ½ minutes from a key Watergate tape. In 1992, Queen Elizabeth II volunteered to start paying taxes and she also took her children off the public payroll. In 2000, in another US election travesty, George W. Bush was declared the winner in Florida, even though he wasn’t and AGAIN, the President-Elect won while losing the popular vote. Happy Birthday, Bat Masterson, Eugene Ionesco, Charles Schulz, Tina Turner, Roz Chast. Mission: Wipe off the bullshit.
Nov 19, 2016
November 19. In 1850, the first life insurance policy was issued to a woman. In 1863, Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address. In 1881, a meteorite landed in a village near Odessa, Ukraine. In 1943, the Nazis murdered 6000 Jews at the Janowska concentration camp in Lviv, Ukraine. In 1959, production was stopped on the Edsel. In 1990, Milli Vanilli was stripped of their Grammy due to recording fraud. Happy Birthday, Dick Cavett, Sharon Olds, Ann Curry, Gail Devers, Savion Glover. It’s World Toilet Day. Mission: Let’s not throw 240 years of progress down the toilet. (A well-placed meteorite?)
Nov 12, 2016
November 12. In 1859, Jules Leotard performed the first flying trapeze act in his self-designed outfit. In 1927, Leon Trotsky was expelled from the Soviet Communist Party, leaving Stalin in total control. In 1936, the Bay Bridge opened to traffic. In 1940, “Fantasia” was released by Walt Disney. In 1954, Ellis Island closed after processing over 20 million immigrants. In 1970, the Oregon Highway Division rather unsuccessfully exploded a rotting, beached sperm whale in Florence, sending small chunks of whale flying all over Florence. Happy Birthday, Juana Ines de la Cruz, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Auguste Rodin, Neil Young, Tonya Harding. Mission: Build bridges not walls. (Pope Francis)
Nov 5, 2016
November 5. In 1831, slave leader Nat Turner was tried, convicted and sentenced to death in Virginia. Turner was executed six days later. In 1872, Susan B. Anthony was fined $100 for attempting to vote in the presidential election. She never paid that fine. (You better not fuck around.) In 1895, the first American patent for an automobile was granted to George Selden. In 1974, Ella T. Grasso was elected governor of Connecticut, the first woman in the U.S. to win a governorship without succeeding her husband. Happy Birthday, Eugene Debs, Sam Shepard, Peter Noone, Bill Walton, Tilda Swinton. It’s Love Your Red Hair Day. Mission: VOTE. Then henna your hair.
Oct 29, 2016
October 29. In 1390, the first witchcraft trial took place in Paris. In 1618, Sir Walter Raleigh was beheaded. In 1792, Mt. Hood was named after Samuel Hood, a British admiral known for his service during the Revolutionary War. In 1863, the International Red Cross was founded. In 1901, the assassin of President McKinley (Leon Czolgosz) was electrocuted. In 1929, the Wall Street stock market crashed. In 1941, 10,000 Lithuanian Jews were shot in the Kaunas Ghetto (having a Lithuanian grandfather, I can only assume some of my relatives died this day). In 1945, ballpoint pens went on sale at Gimbel’s in NY for the first time at $12.50/ea. In 1960, Ali (Cassius Clay) won his first fight. In 1966, the National Organization of Women was founded. In 1971, Duane Allman was killed in a motorcycle crash. In 2012, Hurricane Sandy hit the east coast. In 2015, China announced the end of the one-child policy. Happy Birthday, Fanny Brice and Zoot Sims. It’s National Cat Day. Mission: Based on the history, I’d say stay home and snuggle with your kitty.
Oct 22, 2016
October 22. In 4004 BC, the world was created according to the Ussher chronology (Ussher was the Archbishop of the Church of Ireland). In 1879, Thomas Edison tested the first electric light bulb. In 1939, the first televised pro football game was telecast. (Brooklyn defeated Philly.) In 1957, the first America casualties were reported in the Vietnam War. In 1961, Chubby Checker performed “The Twist” on the “Ed Sullivan Show.” In 1964, Jean-Paul Sartre was awarded but refused the Nobel Prize in Literature. In 1966, the Supremes became the first all-female group to put out a #1 album (“The Supremes a Go-Go”). In 1976, Red Dye #4 was banned. Happy Birthday, Franz Liszt, Doris Lessing, Timothy Leary, Robert Rauschenberg, Annette Funicello. It’s Wombat Day. Mission: As Leary said, “You are only as young as the last time you changed your mind.”
Oct 15, 2016
October 15. In 1815, Napoleon went into exile. In 1847, JANE EYRE was published. In 1864, Glasgow, Missouri, surrendered to the Confederacy. In 1883, the Supreme Court struck down part of the Civil Rights Act, allowing discrimination based on race by individuals and corporations (WHAT????). In 1951, “I Love Lucy” premiered on CBS. In 1956, FORTRAN, the first modern computer language, was shared with the coding community for the first time. In 1966, the Blank Panther Party was created by Huey Newton and Bobby Seale. In 1968, Led Zeppelin made its official debut. In 1969, the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam was held with over two million demonstrating nationally. Happy Birthday, Nietzsche, Victoria Spivey, Barry McGuire (The eastern world it tis explodin', Violence flarin', bullets loadin', You're old enough to kill but not for votin', You don't believe in war, but what's that gun you're totin'). It’s Global Handwashing Day, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day and Spirit Day. Mission: Clean, cry, soar. And do not believe we’re on the eve of destruction.
Oct 8, 2016
October 8. In 1633, the Massachusetts Bay Colony formed its first government. In 1860, the first telegraph line went in from San Francisco to Los Angeles. In 1871, four square miles of Chicago burned in the Great Fire. In 1892, Sergei Rachmaninoff first performed “Prelude in C# Minor” in Moscow. In 1906, the first permanent wave for hair was demonstrated in London. In 1941, the Germans broke ground on Birkenau. In 1966, the US government declared LSD illegal and dangerous. In 1967, Che Guevara was captured in Bolivia. In 1971, Lennon’s “Imagine” was released. In 1982, “Cats” opened on Broadway and ran for the next 18 years. Happy Birthday, Faith Ringgold, Harvey Pekar, Johnny Ramone, CeCe Winans, Bruno Mars. Mission: Fly (anyway you can). Imagine there's no countries. It isn’t hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for. And no religion, too. Meow.
Oct 1, 2016
Saturday Morning Post. October 1. In 1880, Thomas Edison began the commercial production of electric lamps. In 1891, Stanford opened (Go Indians, I mean, Cardinals.) In 1908, the Model T first went on sale for $850. In 1946, 12 Nazi officials were sentenced to death, 7 were imprisoned and 3 were acquitted in Nuremberg. In 1957, “In God We Trust” was added to US currency. In 1961, Roger Maris hit his 61st home run, breaking The Babe’s record of 60. In 1964, the Free Speech Movement began in Berkeley. In 1969, “Abbey Road” was released in America. In 1970, Jimi Hendrix was buried in Seattle. In 1982, the first CD player came on the market. In 1989, Denmark introduced the world’s first legal same-sex civil union. In 1991, Michael Jackson’s white crystal-beaded glove was stolen from the Motown Museum in Detroit. Happy Birthday, Vladimir Horowitz, Jimmy Carter, Julie Andrews, Tim O’Brien. It’s International Day of Older Persons and World Vegetarian Day. Mission: Trust yourself. Shine your light.
Sep 24, 2016
September 24. In 1890, the Mormons renounced polygamy. In 1932, Gandhi agreed to the Poona Pact, reserving seats in the legislature for the “Depressed Classes” or Untouchables. In 1955, Judy Garland made her TV debut on “Ford Star Jubilee.” In 1957, President Eisenhower sent federal troops to Little Rock, AK, to enforce school integration after Arkansas’s Governor Orval Faubus called in the Arkansas National Guard to prevent the nine courageous students from entering. (Read Warriors Don’t Cry—an excellent memoir about this whole event written by Melba Patillo Beals.) In 1962, the US Court of Appeals ordered the University of Mississippi to admit James Meredith. In 1968, “The Mod Squad” premiered. Happy Birthday, Blind Lemon Jefferson, F. Scott Fitzgerald, Jim Henson, Janet Weiss. It’s National Punctuation Day!!!! Mission: Justice for all! And learn how to use apostrophes, America.
Sep 17, 2016
September 17. In 1394, all the Jews were expelled from France. In 1787, the Constitution of the United States was signed by delegates. In 1849, Harriet Tubman escaped from slavery. In 1964, “Bewitched” premiered. In 1983, Vanessa Williams became the first black Miss America—temporarily. Happy Birthday, William Carlos Williams, Hank Williams, Sr., Anne Bancroft, Ken Kesey, Orlando Cepeda. Mission: Establish justice, insure domestic tranquility. Eat the damn plums.
Sep 10, 2016
September 10. In 1846, the sewing machine was patented by Elias Howe. In 1943, Germany occupied Rome. In 1953, Swanson began selling TV dinners. In 1963, 20 black students entered public schools, ending a standoff between the feds and one of the original dickfaces, George Wallace. Happy Birthday, H.D., Adele Astaire, Roger Maris, Jose Feliciano, Misty Copeland. It’s National TV Dinner Day and World Suicide Prevention Day. Mission: Savor that succotash.
Sep 3, 2016
September 3. In 1783, the Revolutionary War was declared over with the signing of the Treaty of Paris. In 1838, Frederick Douglass boarded a train in Maryland as a free man. In 1939, Britain and France declared war on Germany after Germany invaded Poland on September 1. In 1944, Anne Frank and her family were placed on the transport train to Auschwitz. She died at Bergen-Belsen six months later. In 2013, hunters in Mississippi caught a 727-pound alligator. Happy Birthday, Sarah Orne Jewett, Ferdinand Porsche, Kitty Carlisle, Cherry Wilder, Valerie Perrine. Mission: Stop fighting!
Aug 27, 2016
August 27. In 1660, the books of John Milton were burned for being treasonous by order of King Charles II. In 1859, petroleum was discovered in Titusville, Pennsylvania. In 1889, the metal clarinet was patented. In 1938, Robert Frost, in a fit of jealousy, set his papers on fire to distract the audience at an Archibald MacLeish reading. In 1965, Elvis Presley had the Beatles over to hang. Happy Birthday, Man Ray, Lester Young, Alice Coltrane, Cesaria Evora and Tuesday Weld. Mission: Act your age, not your shoe size.