Tag Archives: Alabama

Almanac – May 03

1469 – Niccolò Machiavelli born.  Italian historian, politician, diplomat, philosopher, humanist and writer based in Florence during the Renaissance. He was for many years an official in the Florentine Republic, with responsibilities in diplomatic and military affairs.

He was a founder of modern political science, and more specifically political ethics. He also wrote comedies, carnival songs, and poetry. His personal correspondence is renowned in the Italian language.

He was Secretary to the Second Chancery of the Republic of Florence from 1498 to 1512, when the Medici were out of power.

He wrote his masterpiece, The Prince, after the Medici had recovered power and he no longer held a position of responsibility in Florence.

His moral and ethical beliefs led to the creation of the word machiavellianism which has since been used to describe one of the three dark triad personalities in psychology.

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1932 – Charles Fort died. American writer and researcher into anomalous phenomena.

Today, the terms Fortean and Forteana are used to characterize various such phenomena. Fort’s books sold well and are still in print today.

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1940 – Conny Plank born.  German record producer and musician.  

His creativity as a sound engineer and producer helped to shape many innovative recordings of postwar European popular music, covering a wide range of genres including progressive, avant-garde, electronic music and krautrock. His immense catalog of work has greatly influenced modern studio production and engineering techniques.

As a musician, Plank is credited on albums by Guru Guru, Kraan, Cluster, Liliental and Os Mundi.

He collaborated with Dieter Moebius on five Moebius & Plank studio albums recorded between 1979 and 1986. The Moebius & Plank sound foreshadowed techno and electronica and influenced many later musicians.

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1963 – The police force in Birmingham, Alabama switched tactics and responded with violent force to stop the “Birmingham campaign” protesters. Images of the violent suppression are transmitted worldwide, bringing new-found attention to the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

The Birmingham campaign was a movement organized by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC) to bring attention to the unequal treatment that black Americans endured in Birmingham.

Led by Martin Luther King, Jr. and others, the spring 1963 campaign of nonviolent direct actions culminated in widely publicized confrontations between black youth and white civic authorities, and eventually led the municipal government to change the city’s discrimination laws.

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Almanac – February 04

1913 – Rosa Parks born.  American civil rights activist. On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, Parks refused to obey bus driver James F. Blake‘s order that she give up her seat in the colored section to a white passenger, after the white section was filled.

Parks was not the first person to resist bus segregation, others had taken similar steps in the twentieth century, but NAACP organizers believed that Parks was the best candidate for seeing through a court challenge after her arrest for civil disobedience.

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1968 – Neal Cassady died.  Major figure of the Beat Generation of the 1950s and the psychedelic movement of the 1960s.

He served as the model for the character Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac‘s novel On the Road, in which the narrator, Sal Paradise (the personification of Jack Kerouac) states to the reader, “He  (Moriarty/Cassady) was simply a youth tremendously excited with life, and though he was a con-man, he was only conning because he wanted so much to live and to get involved with people who would otherwise pay no attention to him…Somewhere along the line I knew there’d be girls, visions, everything; somewhere along the line the pearl would be handed to me.”

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1975 – Louis Jordan died. Pioneering American musician, songwriter and bandleader who enjoyed his greatest popularity from the late 1930s to the early 1950s. Known as “The King of the Jukebox”, he was highly popular with both black and white audiences in the later years of the swing era.

With his dynamic Tympany Five bands, Jordan mapped out the main parameters of the classic R&B, urban blues and early rock’n’roll genres with a series of hugely influential 78 rpm discs for the Decca label. These recordings presaged many of the styles of black popular music in the late 1940s, 1950s and 1960s, and exerted a huge influence on many leading performers in these genres.

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2009 – Lux Interior died. American singer and a founding member of The Cramps from 1976 until his sudden death in February 2009 aged 62.

When asked why he continued to play live well into his middle age, he told the LA Times:

    “It’s a little bit like asking a junkie how he’s been able to keep on dope all these years, It’s just so much fun. You pull into one town and people scream, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you.’ And you go to a bar and have a great rock ‘n’ roll show and go to the next town and people scream, ‘I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you.’ It’s hard to walk away from all that.”

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Almanac – December 01

1761 – Marie Tussaud born. French artist known for her wax sculptures and Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum, which she founded in London.

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1940 – Richard Pryor born.  American stand-up comedian, actor, social critic, writer, and MC,  known for uncompromising examinations of racism and topical contemporary issues, which employed colorful vulgarities, and profanity, as well as racial epithets. He reached a broad audience with his trenchant observations and storytelling style. He is widely regarded as one of the most important and influential stand-up comedians of his era:

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1947 – Aleister Crowley died. English occultist, mystic, ceremonial magician, poet and mountaineer, who was responsible for founding the religious philosophy of Thelema. In his role as the founder of the Thelemite philosophy, he came to see himself as the prophet who was entrusted with informing humanity that it was entering the new Aeon of Horus in the early 20th century.

According to one biographer the cause of death was a respiratory infection. Crowley  had become addicted to heroin after being prescribed morphine for his asthma and bronchitis many years earlier.  He and his last doctor died within 24 hours of each other; and newspapers would claim  that Dr. Thomson had refused to continue his opiate prescription and that Crowley had put a curse on him.

Some accounts say a Mr. Rowe witnessed Crowley’s death along with a nurse, and reported his last words as “Sometimes I hate myself”.  Another account  had  Crowley dies pacing in his living room. Supposedly a witness  heard a crash while polishing furniture on the floor below, and entered Crowley’s rooms to find him dead on the floor.
Yet another account reported a sudden gust of wind and peal of thunder at the (otherwise quiet) moment of his death.

 Readings at the cremation service in nearby Brighton included excerpts from Crowley’s works, among them his poem Hymn to Pan, and newspapers, ever non-controversial reporters of plain facts,  referred to the service as a Black Mass. Brighton council subsequently resolved to take all the necessary steps to prevent such an incident from occurring again. Given that that would require another Aleister Crowley, its unlikely that it ever could occur again.

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1955 –  In Montgomery, Alabama, seamstress Rosa Parks refused to give up her bus seat to a white man and was arrested for violating the city’s racial segregation laws, an incident which leads to the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

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1986 – Lee Dorsey died.  African American pop/R&B singer. Much of his work was produced by Allen Toussaint with instrumental backing provided by the Meters. He also boxed, quite successfully,  under the name Kid Chocolate. He contracted emphysema and died  in New Orleans, at the age of 61.

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Almanac – November 13

1850 – Robert Louis Stevenson born. Scottish novelist, poet, essayist, and travel writer. His most famous works are Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. A literary celebrity during his lifetime, Stevenson now ranks among the 26 most translated authors in the world.

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1887 – Clashes took place between police and demonstraters in Trafalgar Square, London, at a meeting called to protest against a ban on open-air meetings and to call for the release of an Irish MP who had been supporting a rent strike.
Two demonstraters were killed on what became known as Bloody Sunday.

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1956 – The US Supreme Court ruled that bus segregation in Montgomery and all of Alabama was illeagal.

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1963 – Margaret Murray died.  British Egyptologist and anthropologist. Primarily known for her work in Egyptology, she is also known for her propagation of the Witch-cult hypothesis, the theory that the witch trials in the Early Modern period of Christianized Europe and North America were an attempt to extinguish a surviving pre-Christian, pagan religion devoted to a Horned God.

Whilst this theory is today widely disputed and discredited by historians like Norman Cohn, Keith Thomas and Ronald Hutton, it has had a significant effect in the origins of Neopagan religions, primarily Wicca, a faith she supported.

One of the earliest women to make a serious impact upon the world of professional scholarship,  she was also an ardent feminist, being actively involved in the Suffragette movement. From 1953 to 1955, she was the president of the Folklore Society.

She died of natural causes, aged 100.

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Almanac – September 15

1907 – Fay Wray born. Canadian-American actress most noted for playing the female lead in King Kong. Through an acting career that spanned 57 years, Wray attained international renown as an actress in horror movie roles, leading to many considering her as the first “scream queen”.

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1928 – Julian “Cannonball” Adderley born. Jazz alto saxophonist of the hard bop era of the 1950s and 1960s,  remembered for his 1966 single “Mercy Mercy Mercy”, a crossover hit on the pop charts, and for his work with trumpeter Miles Davis, including on the epochal album Kind of Blue (1959).

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1963 – The 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama was bombed on Sunday, September 15, 1963 as an act of racially motivated terrorism. The explosion at the African-American church, which killed four girls, marked a turning point in the U.S. 1960s Civil Rights Movement and contributed to support for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

 Bobby Frank Cherry, Thomas Blanton, Herman Frank Cash, and Robert Chambliss – members of United Klans of America, a Ku Klux Klan group – planted a box of dynamite with a time delay under the steps of the church, near the basement. At about 10:22 a.m., twenty-six children were walking into the basement assembly room to prepare for the sermon entitled “The Love That Forgives,” when the bomb exploded. Four girls, Addie Mae Collins (age 14), Denise McNair (age 11), Carole Robertson (age 14), and Cynthia Wesley (age 14), were killed in the attack, and 22 additional people were injured.The explosion blew a hole in the church’s rear wall, destroyed the back steps and all but one stained-glass window, which showed Christ leading a group of little children.

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1968 – The Soviet Zond 5  spaceship  launched. It was to become the first spacecraft to fly around the Moon and re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere.

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1983 – Prince Far I  died. Jamaican reggae deejay, producer and a Rastafarian. He was shot at his home in Kingston, Jamaica, during a robbery and died later in hospital.

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