Tag Archives: 1958

Almanac – June 17

1631 – Mumtaz Mahal died during childbirth. Her husband, Mughal emperor Shah Jahan I, spent the next 17 years building her mausoleum, the Taj Mahal.

 

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1939 – Last public guillotining in France: Eugen Weidmann, a convicted murderer, was guillotined in Versailles, outside the Saint-Pierre prison.

The “hysterical behaviour” of spectators was so scandalous that French president Albert Lebrun immediately banned all future public executions.

 

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1958 – Jello Biafra born. Former lead singer and songwriter for San Francisco punk rock band Dead Kennedys, now focused primarily on spoken word.
He is a staunch believer in a free society, who utilizes shock value and advocates direct action and pranksterism in the name of political causes,  known to use absurdist media tactics in the leftist tradition of the Yippies, to highlight issues of civil rights and social justice.

 

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Almanac – March 28

193 – Roman Emperor Pertinax was assassinated by Praetorian Guards, who then sold the throne in an auction to Didius Julianus.

Claudius Sulpicianus, prefect of the city, father-in-law of the murdered emperor began making offers. When Julianus, having been roused from a banquet by his wife and daughter,arrived in all haste, he was  unable to gain admission to the auction, so stood before the gate, and with a loud voice competed for the prize.

As the bidding went on, the soldiers reported to each of the two competitors, the one within the fortifications, the other outside the rampart, the sum offered by his rival.

Eventually Sulpicianus promised 20,000 sesterces to every soldier; Julianus, fearing that Sulpicianus would gain the throne, then offered 25,000. The guards immediately closed with the offer of Julianus, threw open the gates, saluted him by the name of Caesar, and proclaimed him emperor. Threatened by the military, the Senate declared him emperor.

Julianus was killed in the palace by a soldier in the third month of his reign , his last words were “But what evil have I done? Whom have I killed?”

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1871 – The Paris Commune was formally established in Paris.  In a formal sense, it acted as the local authority, the city council (in French, the “commune”), which exercised power in Paris for two months in the spring of 1871.

However, the conditions in which it formed, its controversial decrees, and the indiscriminate violence with which it was brutally suppressed make its brief tenure one of the more important political episodes in the history of working class revolutions.

 The Paris Commune existed before the split between anarchists and Marxists, and is hailed by both groups as the first assumption of power by the working class during the Industrial Revolution.

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1958 – W. C. Handy died.  Blues composer and musician, widely known as the “Father of the Blues”.

Handy remains among the most influential of American songwriters. Though he was one of many musicians who played the distinctively American form of music known as the blues, he is credited with giving it its contemporary form.

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1994 – Eugène Ionesco died.  Romanian / French playwright and dramatist, and one of the foremost playwrights of the Theatre of the Absurd.

Beyond ridiculing the most banal situations, Ionesco’s plays depict in a tangible way the solitude and insignificance of human existence.

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Almanac – March 24

1834 – William Morris born. English textile designer, artist, writer, and libertarian socialist associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and English Arts and Crafts Movement.

He founded a design firm in partnership with the artist Edward Burne-Jones, and the poet and artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti which profoundly influenced the decoration of churches and houses into the early 20th century.

 As an author, illustrator and medievalist, he helped to establish the modern fantasy genre, and was a direct influence on postwar authors such as J. R. R. Tolkien.

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1897 – Wilhelm Reich born. Austrian psychoanalyst, a member of the second generation of psychoanalysts after Sigmund Freud, and one of the most radical figures in the history of psychiatry.

During the 1968 student uprisings in Paris and Berlin, students scrawled his name on walls and threw copies of his book The Mass Psychology of Fascism at the police.

He moved to New York in 1939, in part to escape the Nazis, and shortly after arriving there coined the term “orgone” – derived from “orgasm” and “organism” – for a cosmic energy he said he had discovered, which he said others referred to as God.

In 1940 he started building orgone accumulators, devices that his patients sat inside to harness the reputed health benefits, leading to newspaper stories about sex boxes that cured cancer.

Following two critical articles about him in The New Republic and Harper’s, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration obtained an injunction against the interstate shipment of orgone accumulators and associated literature, believing they were dealing with a “fraud of the first magnitude.”

Charged with contempt in 1956 for having violated the injunction, Reich was sentenced to two years in prison, and in June and August that year over six tons of his publications were burned by order of the court, one of the most notable examples of censorship in the history of the United States.

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1919 – Lawrence Ferlinghetti born.  American poet, painter, liberal activist, and the co-founder of City Lights Booksellers & Publishers.

Author of poetry, translations, fiction, theatre, art criticism, and film narration, he is best known for A Coney Island of the Mind (1958), a collection of poems that has been translated into nine languages, with sales of over one million copies.

Although in style and theme Ferlinghetti’s own writing is very unlike that of the original NY Beat circle, he had important associations with the Beat writers, who made City Lights Bookstore their headquarters when they were in San Francisco. He has often claimed that he was not a Beat, but a bohemian of an earlier generation.

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1935 – Carol Kaye born.  American musician, best known as one of the most prolific and widely heard bass guitarists in history, playing on an estimated 10,000 recording sessions in a 55-year career.

As a session musician, Kaye was the bassist on many Phil Spector and Brian Wilson productions in the 1960s and 1970s.

She played guitar on Ritchie ValensLa Bamba and is credited with the bass tracks on several Simon & Garfunkel hits and many film scores by Quincy Jones and Lalo Schifrin. One of the most popular albums she contributed to was the Beach Boys Pet Sounds.

She also played on this –

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1938 – Holger Czukay born. German musician, probably best known as a co-founder of the krautrock group Can.

Described as “successfully bridging the gap between pop and the avant-garde,” Czukay is also notable for creating early important examples of ambient music, for exploring “world music” well before the term was coined, and for being a pioneer of sampling.

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1958 – Elvis Presley was drafted into the U.S. Army as a private at Fort Chaffee, near Fort Smith, Arkansas. He announced that he was looking forward to his military stint, saying he did not want to be treated any differently from anyone else: “The Army can do anything it wants with me.

Fellow soldiers have attested to Presley’s wish to be seen as an able, ordinary soldier, despite his fame, and to his generosity. He donated his Army pay to charity, purchased TV sets for the base, and bought an extra set of fatigues for everyone in his outfit.

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