Tag Archives: Los Angeles

Almanac – April 11

1890 – Joseph Merrick died. English man with severe deformities who was exhibited as a human curiosity named the Elephant Man. He became well known in London society after he went to live at the London Hospital.

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1930 – Anton LaVey born. Founder of the Church of Satan as well as a writer, occultist, and musician.

He was the author of The Satanic Bible and the founder of LaVeyan Satanism, a synthesized system of his understanding of human nature and the insights of philosophers who advocated materialism and individualism, for which he claimed no supernatural or theistic inspiration.

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1935 – Richard Berry born. American  singer, songwriter and musician, who performed with many Los Angeles doo-wop and close harmony groups in the 1950s, including The Flairs and The Robins.

He is best known as the composer and original performer of the rock standard “Louie Louie”. The song went on to be a hit for The Kingsmen becoming one of the most recorded songs of all time, however Berry received little financial benefit for writing it until the 1980s, having signed away his rights to the song in 1959.

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1981 – A massive riot in Brixton,London,  a by-product of the effect on the area of the  policies of the Thatcher government –  high unemployment, high crime, poor housing, no amenities — in a predominantly African-Caribbean community.

The Metropolitan Police began Operation Swamp 81 at the beginning of April, aimed at reducing street crime, largely through the repeated use of the so-called sus law, which allowed police officers to stop and search any individual on the grounds of mere ‘suspicion’ of possible wrongdoing.

Plain clothes police officers were dispatched into Brixton, and within five days almost 1,000 people were stopped and searched under this law. There was intense local indignation at this, since the vast majority of those stopped by the police were young black men.

The riot resulted in almost 279 injuries to police and 45 injuries to members of the public; over a hundred vehicles were burned, including 56 police vehicles; and almost 150 buildings were damaged, with thirty burned. There were 82 arrests. Reports suggested that up to 5,000 people were involved in the riot.

Not suprisingly perhaps, Brixton was one of the first places where Thatcher Dead street parties broke out.

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Almanac – March 09

1763 – William Cobbett born.  English pamphleteer, farmer and journalist, who was born in Farnham, Surrey. He believed that reforming Parliament and abolishing the rotten boroughs would help to end the poverty of farm labourers, and he attacked the borough-mongers, sinecurists and “tax-eaters” relentlessly. He was also against the Corn Laws, a tax on imported grain.

Early in his career, he was a loyalist supporter of King and Country: but later he joined and successfully publicised the radical movement, which led to the Reform Bill of 1832, and to his winning the parliamentary seat of Oldham. Although he was not a Catholic, he became a fiery advocate of Catholic Emancipation in Britain.

Through the seeming contradictions in Cobbett’s life, his opposition to authority stayed constant. He wrote many polemics, on subjects from political reform to religion, but is best known for his book from 1830, Rural Rides, which is still in print today.

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1895 – Leopold von Sacher-Masoch died.  Austrian writer and journalist, who gained renown for his romantic stories of Galician life. The term masochism is derived from his name.

During his lifetime, Sacher-Masoch was well known as a man of letters, a utopian thinker who espoused socialist and humanist ideals in his fiction and non-fiction.

Most of his works remain untranslated into English. The novel Venus in Furs is his only book commonly available in English… and also (coincidently ?) the name of a song by the Velvet Underground – see John Cale, below.

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1930 – Ornette Coleman born.  American saxophonist, violinist, trumpeter and composer. He was one of the major innovators of the free jazz movement of the 1960s

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1942 – John Cale born.  Welsh musician, composer, singer-songwriter and record producer who was a founding member of The Velvet Underground.

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1994 – Charles Bukowski died. American poet, novelist and short story writer. His writing was influenced by the social, cultural and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.  It is marked by an emphasis on the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women and the drudgery of work.

Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over sixty books. In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife“.

Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”

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Almanac – September 4

1781 – Los Angeles, California,  founded as El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora La Reina de los Ángeles de Porciúncula (The Village of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels of Porziuncola) by 44 Spanish settlers.

1957 –  Little Rock Crisis – Orval Faubus, governor of Arkansas, called out the National Guard to prevent African American students from enrolling in Central High School. They were initially prevented from entering the racially segregated school , and then attended after the intervention of President Eisenhower. It is considered to be one of the most important events in the African-American Civil Rights Movement.

1998 – Google founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two students at Stanford University.

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