Tag Archives: Dada

Almanac – May 17

1866 – Erik Satie born. French composer and pianist,  a colourful figure in the early 20th century Parisian avant-garde.

His work was a precursor to later artistic movements such as minimalism, repetitive music, and the Theatre of the Absurd.

In addition to his body of music, Satie also left a remarkable set of writings, having contributed work for a range of publications, from the dadaist 391 to the American culture chronicle Vanity Fair.

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Almanac – April 02

742 – Charlemagne born. King of the Franks from 768, the King of Italy from 774, the first Holy Roman Emperor,  called the “Father of Europe” (pater Europae),  his empire united most of Western Europe for the first time since the Roman Empire.

His rule spurred the Carolingian Renaissance, a revival of art, religion, and culture through the medium of the Catholic Church. Through his foreign conquests and internal reforms, Charlemagne encouraged the formation of a common European identity.  Both the French and German monarchies considered their kingdoms to be descendants of Charlemagne’s empire.

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1725 – Giacomo Casanova born.  Italian adventurer and author from the Republic of Venice.

He was, by vocation and avocation, a lawyer, clergyman, military officer, violinist, con man, pimp, gourmand, dancer, businessman, diplomat, spy, politician, medic, mathematician, social philosopher, cabalist, playwright, and writer. He wrote over twenty works, including plays and essays, and many letters. His novel Icosameron is an early work of science fiction.

He has become so famous for his often complicated and elaborate affairs with women that his name is now synonymous with “womanizer“.

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1891 – Max Ernst born. German painter, sculptor, graphic artist, and poet. A prolific artist, Ernst was a primary pioneer of the Dada movement and Surrealism.

Ernst developed a fascination with birds that was prevalent in his work. His alter ego in paintings, which he called Loplop, was a bird. He suggested that this alter-ego was an extension of himself stemming from an early confusion of birds and humans.

 He said that one night when he was young he woke up and found that his beloved bird had died, and a few minutes later his father announced that his sister was born. Loplop often appeared in collages of other artists’ work, such as Loplop presents André Breton.

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1928 – Serge Gainsbourg born. French singer, songwriter, poet, composer, artist, actor and director. Regarded as one of the most important figures in French popular music, he was renowned for his often provocative and scandalous releases, as well as his diverse artistic output, which embodied genres ranging from jazz, chanson, pop and yé-yé, to reggae, funk, rock, electronic and disco music.

Gainsbourg’s extremely varied musical style and individuality make him difficult to categorize. His legacy has been firmly established, and he is often regarded as one of the world’s most influential popular musicians.

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1941 – Dr. Demento born. American radio broadcaster and record collector specializing in novelty songs, comedy, and strange or unusual recordings dating from the early days of phonograph records to the present.

He is credited with introducing new generations of listeners to artists of the early and middle twentieth century whom they may not have otherwise discovered, such as Haywire Mac, Spike Jones, Benny Bell, Yogi Yorgesson, and Tom Lehrer, as well as with bringing parodist “Weird Al” Yankovic to national attention.

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2003 – Edwin Starr died.  American soul music singer. Starr is most famous for his Norman Whitfield produced Motown singles of the 1970s, most notably the number one hit “War”.

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Almanac – January 08

1697Last execution for blasphemy in Britain; of Thomas Aikenhead, student, at Edinburgh. He had been indicted in December 1696, the indictment reading:

That … the prisoner had repeatedly maintained, in conversation, that theology was a rhapsody of ill-invented nonsense, patched up partly of the moral doctrines of philosophers, and partly of poetical fictions and extravagant chimeras: That he ridiculed the holy scriptures, calling the Old Testament Ezra’s fables, in profane allusion to Esop’s Fables; That he railed on Christ, saying, he had learned magick in Egypt, which enabled him to perform those pranks which were called miracles: That he called the New Testament the history of the imposter Christ; That he said Moses was the better artist and the better politician; and he preferred Muhammad to Christ: That the Holy Scriptures were stuffed with such madness, nonsense, and contradictions, that he admired the stupidity of the world in being so long deluded by them: That he rejected the mystery of the Trinity as unworthy of refutation; and scoffed at the incarnation of Christ.

Thomas Babington Macaulay said of Aikenhead’s death that “the preachers who were the poor boy’s murderers crowded round him at the gallows, and. . . insulted heaven with prayers more blasphemous than anything he had uttered.”

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 1843 – Frederick Abberline born. A Chief Inspector for the London Metropolitan Police and was a prominent police figure in the investigation into the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888. As such he’s been represented (sometimes not very authentically) in numerous works of literature, cinema and television.

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1880 – Joshua A. Norton died. The self-proclaimed Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I, was a celebrated citizen of San Francisco, California, who in 1859 proclaimed himself  Emperor of the United States  and subsequently Protector of Mexico. Although he had no political power, and his influence extended only so far as he was humored by those around him, he was treated deferentially in San Francisco, and currency issued in his name was honored in the establishments he frequented.

Norton collapsed at a street corner, and died before he could be given medical treatment. The following day, nearly 30,000 people packed the streets of San Francisco to pay homage.

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1896 – Paul Verlaine died. French poet associated with the Symbolist movement. He is considered one of the greatest representatives of the fin de siècle in international and French poetry.

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1897 – Dennis Wheatley born. English author whose prolific output of stylish thrillers and occult novels made him one of the world’s best-selling writers from the 1930s through the 1960s. His Gregory Sallust series was one of the main inspirations for Ian Fleming’s James Bond stories, but he’s perhaps better known for titles such as The Devil Rides Out, To The Devil – A Daughter, and  The Ka of Gifford Hillary. He even had a crack at the nascent UFO market (Star Of Ill-Omen, 1952).

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1935 – Elvis Presley born.

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1947 – David Bowie born.

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1948 – Kurt Schwitters died. German painter who  worked in several genres and media, including Dada, Constructivism, Surrealism, poetry, sound, painting, sculpture, graphic design, typography and what came to be known as installation art.

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1981 – A local farmer reported a UFO sighting in Trans-en-Provence, France, claimed to be “perhaps the most completely and carefully documented sighting of all time”.  

Renato Nicolaï, a fifty-five year-old farmer, heard a strange whistling sound while performing agricultural work on his property. He then saw a saucer-shaped object about eight feet in diameter land about 50 yards (46 m) away at a lower elevation.

According to the witness, “The device had the shape of two saucers, one inverted on top of the other. It must have measured about 1.5 meters in height. It was the color of lead. This device had a ridge all the way around its circumference. Under the machine I saw two kinds of pieces as it was lifting off. They could be reactors or feet. There were also two other circles which looked like trapdoors. The two reactors, or feet, extended about 20 cm below the body of the machine.”

Nicolaï claimed the object took off almost immediately, rising above the treeline and departing to the north east. It left burn marks on the ground where it had sat.

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Almanac – November 18

2347 BC – Some say this was the day Noah’s Ark came to rest on the mountains of Ararat. Some also say that Noah was then  600 years old.

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1803 – The Battle of Vertières, the last major battle of the Haitian Revolution, was fought, leading to the establishment of the Republic of Haiti, the first black republic in the Western Hemisphere.

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1922 – Marcel Proust died. French novelist, critic, and essayist best known for his monumental À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time; earlier translated as Remembrance of Things Past). It was published in seven parts between 1913 and 1927.

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1926 – George Bernard Shaw refused to accept the money for his Nobel Prize, saying, “I can forgive Alfred Nobel for inventing dynamite, but only a fiend in human form could have invented the Nobel Prize”.

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1936 – Don Cherry born. African-American jazz trumpetist whose career began with a long association with saxophonist Ornette Coleman.

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1952 – Paul Eluard died.  French poet and one of the founders of the Surrealist movement. During World War II, he was involved in the French Resistance, during which time he wrote Liberty (1942), Les sept poèmes d’amour en guerre (1944) and En avril 1944: Paris respirait encore! (1945). He later embraced communism, and when he  died,  from a heart attack, his funeral was organized by the Communist Party.

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1953 – Alan Moore born. English writer primarily known for his work in comic books, a medium where he has produced a number of critically acclaimed and popular series, including Watchmen, V for Vendetta, and From Hell. Frequently described as the best graphic novel writer in history, he has also been described as “one of the most important British writers of the last fifty years”.

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1976 – Man Ray died. American modernist artist who spent most of his career in Paris, France. He was a significant contributor to the Dada and Surrealist movements, although his ties to each were informal. He produced major works in a variety of media but considered himself a painter above all. He was best known in the art world for his avant-garde photography, and he was a renowned fashion and portrait photographer. Ray is also noted for his work with photograms, which he called “rayographs“.

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1978 – In Jonestown, Guyana, Jim Jones led his Peoples Temple cult to a mass murder-suicide that claimed 918 lives in all, 909 of them in Jonestown itself, including over 270 children.

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Almanac – November 01

HALLOWTIDE.
An old Scottish proverb has it that when Hallowtide falls on a Wednesday ‘…the men of all the Earth will be under affliction.’

1762 – Spencer Perceval born. The only British Prime Minister to have been assassinated [so far].

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1889 – Hannah Höch born.  German Dada artist. She is best known for her work of the Weimar period, when she was one of the originators of photomontage.

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1907 – Alfred Jarry died. French writer. Best known for his play Ubu Roi (1896), which is often cited as a forerunner to the surrealist theatre of the 1920s and 1930s, Jarry wrote in a variety of genres and styles – plays, novels, poetry, essays and speculative journalism. He died  of tuberculosis, aggravated by drug and alcohol use. It is recorded that his last request was for a toothpick.

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1918 – Banat Republic founded. a short-lived state proclaimed in Timişoara on November 1, 1918, the day after the dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Recognized only by Hungary, the republic was invaded by the army of neighboring Serbia on November 15. The next year, its territory was divided primarily between Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes and Romania.

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1922 – The last sultan of the Ottoman Empire, Mehmed VI, abdicated.

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Almanac – October 02

OLD MAN’S DAY

Braughing, near Bishops Stortford, Hertfordshire.Reign of Elizabeth I.

As the coffin of one Matthew Wall, a local farmer, apparently deceased, was being carried to the church, a bearer slipped on some dead leaves and it was dropped.
To the suprise (and probably terror) of mourners, the corpse was revived by the jolt and subsequently made a full recovery, living on to a ripe old age.
In gratitude he instituted a dole to be distributed on this day.

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1869 – Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi born. Commonly known as Mahatma Gandhi, was the preeminent leader of Indian nationalism in British-ruled India. Employing non-violent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for non-violence, civil rights and freedom across the world.

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1890 – Groucho Marx born.  American comedian and film and television star,  known as a master of quick wit and widely considered one of the best comedians of the modern era. His rapid-fire, often impromptu delivery of innuendo-laden patter earned him many admirers and imitators. He made 13 feature films with his siblings the Marx Brothers, of whom he was the third-born, and  also had a successful solo career, most notably as the host of the radio and television game show You Bet Your Life. His distinctive appearance was  carried over from his days in vaudeville and  included quirks such as an exaggerated stooped posture, glasses, cigar, and a thick greasepaint mustache and eyebrows.

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1968 – Marcel Duchamp died.  French artist whose work is most often associated with the Dadaist and Surrealist movements. Considered by some to be one of the most important artists of the 20th century, Duchamp’s output influenced the development of post-World War I Western art.

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1959 –  The Twilight Zone premieres on CBS television in the USA.

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Almanac – September 16

1400 – A meeting of Welsh rebels at Glyndyfrdwy, Merionithshire, declared Owain Glyndwr to be the rightful Prince of Wales, sparking a 10-year rebellion gainst Henry IV.

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1498 – Tomas de Torquemada, monk and first Inquisitor-General of Spain, died.  Notorious for his zealous campaign against the crypto-Jews and crypto-Muslims of Spain, he was one of the chief supporters of the Alhambra Decree, which expelled the Jews from Spain in 1492. About 2,000 people were burned at the stake by the Spanish Inquisition between 1480 and 1530. In modern times, his name has become synonymous with the Christian Inquisition’s horror, religious bigotry, and cruel fanaticism.  In 1832, his tomb was ransacked, his bones stolen and burnt to ashes.

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1886 – Hans Arp born., German-French sculptor, painter, poet and abstract artist in other media such as torn and pasted paper, Arp was a founding member of the Dada movement in Zürich in 1916.

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1925 – B.B. King born. American songwriter, vocalist, and  blues guitarist.Rolling Stone magazine ranked him at No. 6 on its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

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1934 – Dick Heckstall-Smith born.  English jazz and blues saxophonist. He played with some of the most influential English blues rock and jazz fusion bands of the 1960s and 1970s, including Blues Incorporated, The Graham Bond Organization, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Colosseum.

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1977 – Marc Bolan died. English singer-songwriter, guitarist and poet,  best known as the frontman of  T. Rex. Died in a car smash.

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