Tag Archives: gay culture

Almanac – May 08

1891 – Helena Blavatsky died.  Russian-German occultist who, along with  Henry Steel Olcott, established a research and publishing institute called the Theosophical Society.

Blavatsky defined Theosophy as “the archaic Wisdom-Religion, the esoteric doctrine once known in every ancient country having claims to civilization.” 

One of the main purposes of the Theosophical Society was “to form a nucleus of the Universal Brotherhood of Humanity, without distinction of race, creed, sex, caste or color”. Blavatsky saw herself as a missionary of this ancient knowledge.

Blavatsky’s extensive research into the many different spiritual traditions of the world led to the publication of what is now considered her magnum opus, The Secret Doctrine, which collates and organizes the essence of these teachings into a comprehensive synthesis. Her other works include Isis Unveiled, The Key to Theosophy and The Voice of the Silence.

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1911 – Robert Johnson born. American blues singer and musician.  His landmark recordings from 1936–37 display a combination of singing, guitar skills, and songwriting talent that has influenced later generations of musicians.

His shadowy, poorly documented life and death at age 27 have given rise to much legend, including the Faustian myth that he sold his soul at a crossroads to achieve success.

As an itinerant performer who played mostly on street corners, in juke joints, and at Saturday night dances, he had little commercial success or public recognition in his lifetime.

Johnson’s records sold poorly during his lifetime, it  was only after the reissue of his recordings in 1961 on the LP King of the Delta Blues Singers that his work reached a wider audience.

Johnson is now recognized as a master of the blues, particularly of the Mississippi Delta blues style, and  is credited by many rock musicians as an important influence; Eric Clapton has called Johnson “the most important blues singer that ever lived.”

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1920 – Tom of Finland born.  Finnish artist notable for his stylized androerotic and fetish art and his influence on late twentieth century gay culture.

 He has been called the “most influential creator of gay pornographic images” by cultural historian Joseph W. Slade.

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Almanac – February 03

1927 – Kenneth Anger born.  American underground experimental filmmaker, actor and author of two controversial Hollywood Babylon books. Working exclusively in short films, he has produced almost forty works since 1937, nine of which have been grouped together as the “Magick Lantern Cycle“, and form the basis of Anger’s reputation as one of the most influential independent filmmakers in cinema history.His films variously merge surrealism with homoeroticism and the occult, and have been described as containing “elements of erotica, documentary, psychodrama, and spectacle.”

 Anger himself has been described as “one of America’s first openly gay filmmakers, and certainly the first whose work addressed homosexuality in an undisguised, self-implicating manner“, and his “role in rendering gay culture visible within American cinema, commercial or otherwise, is impossible to overestimate“.  He has also focused upon occult themes in many of his films, being fascinated by Aleister Crowley, and is a follower of Crowley’s religion, Thelema.

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1959 – Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, The Big Bopper   and pilot Roger Peterson died in an aircrash near Mason City, Iowa – “The day the music died” according to Don McClean.

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1967 – Joe Meek, English innovative music producer extrodinaire, shot his landlady and then himself. The date may not be coincidence – he was obsessed with Buddy Holly and claimed to have received messages from him from beyond the grave.

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Almanac – November 07

1492 – The Ensisheim Meteorite, the oldest meteorite with a known date of impact, struck the Earth around noon in a wheat field outside the village of Ensisheim, Alsace, France.

The meteorite was an LL6 ordinary chondrite, weighing 127 kilograms; it was described as triangular in shape, and it created a 1 meter deep hole upon impact.The fall of the meteorite through the Earth’s atmosphere was observed as a fireball for a distance of up to 150 kilometres from where it eventually landed.

Sebastian Brant (1458–1521), satirist and author of “Das Narrenschiff” described the meteorite and its fall in the poem, “Loose Leaves Concerning the Fall of the Meteorite”

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1687 – William Stukeley born.  English antiquarian who pioneered the archaeological investigation of the prehistoric monuments of Stonehenge and Avebury, work for which he has been remembered as “probably the most important of the early forerunners of the discipline of archaeology”

Becoming involved in the newly fashionable organisation of Freemasonry, he also began to describe himself as a “druid”, and incorrectly believed that the prehistoric megalithic monuments were a part of the druidic religion. However, despite this he has been noted as being a significant figure in the early development of the modern movement known as Neo-druidry.

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1872 – The ship Mary Celeste sailed from New York, eventually to be found deserted.

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1879 – Leon Trotsky born. Russian Marxist revolutionary and theorist, Soviet politician, and the founder and first leader of the Red Army.

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1908 – Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were reportedly killed in San Vicente, Bolivia.
Two Americans certainly seem to have died in a shoot-out with the authorities, but their identities have never been confirmed, and there seems to be evidence that both outlaws returned to the USA and lived on at least into the 1930s.
Their real names, incidentally, were Robert LeRoy Parker and Harry Alonzo Longabaugh.

Hollywood, of course, re-wrote history in time honoured tradition…

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1913 – Albert Camus born.  French pied-noir author, journalist, and philosopher. His views contributed to the rise of the philosophy known as absurdism.

He wrote in his essay “The Rebel” that his whole life was devoted to opposing the philosophy of nihilism while still delving deeply into individual freedom. Although often cited as a proponent of existentialism, the philosophy with which Camus was associated during his own lifetime, he rejected this particular label. In an interview in 1945, Camus rejected any ideological associations: “No, I am not an existentialist. Sartre and I are always surprised to see our names linked…”

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1991 – Tom of Finland died.  Finnish artist notable for his stylized androerotic and fetish art and his influence on late twentieth century gay culture. He has been called the “most influential creator of gay pornographic images” by cultural historian Joseph W. Slade.

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