Tag Archives: media

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 – April 19

1791 – Richard Price died.  British moral philosopher and preacher in the tradition of English Dissenters, and a political pamphleteer, active in radical, republican, and liberal causes such as the American Revolution.

He fostered connections between a large number of people, including writers of the Constitution of the United States. He spent most of his adult life as minister of Newington Green Unitarian Church, where possibly the congregant he most influenced was early feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who extended his ideas on the egalitarianism inherent in the spirit of the French Revolution to encompass women’s rights as well.

In addition to his work as a moral and political philosopher, he also wrote on issues of statistics and finance, and was inducted into the Royal Society for these contributions.

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1928 – Alexis Korner born.  Blues musician and radio broadcaster, who has sometimes been referred to as “a Founding Father of British Blues”

A major influence on the sound of the British music scene in the 1960s, he was instrumental in bringing together various English blues musicians.

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1933 – Jayne Mansfield born. American actress in film, theatre, and television, a nightclub entertainer, a singer, and one of the early Playboy Playmates. She was a major Hollywood sex symbol of the 1950s and early 1960s.

Frequent references have been made to Mansfield’s very high IQ, which she claimed was 163.  She spoke five languages, including English,  fluent French and Spanish, German that she learned in high school, and she studied Italian .

 Reputed to be Hollywood’s “smartest dumb blonde”, she later complained that the public did not care about her brains: “They’re more interested in 40–21–35,” she said.

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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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Almanac – March 23

1956 – Pakistan became the first Islamic republic in the world.

Despite this definition the country did not have a state religion until 1973, when a new constitution, more democratic and less secular, was adopted.

Pakistan only uses the “Islamic” name on its passports and visas.

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1964 – Peter Lorre died.  Austrian actor.

Lorre caused an international sensation with his portrayal of a serial killer who preys on little girls in the German film M (1931).

He later became a popular featured player in Hollywood crime films and mysteries (in particular with Humphrey Bogart and Sydney Greenstreet), and, though frequently typecast as a sinister foreigner, became star of the successful Mr. Moto detective series.

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Almanac – March 19

1649 – The House of Commons of England passed an act abolishing the House of Lords, declaring  that “The Commons of England [find] by too long experience that the House of Lords is useless and dangerous to the people of England.”

The House of Lords did not assemble again until the Convention Parliament met in 1660 and the monarchy was restored.

It returned to its former position as the more powerful chamber of Parliament—a position it would occupy until the 19th century. As usual in any cess-pit, the biggest chuncks always float back to the top again.

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1928 – Patrick McGoohan born. American-born actor, brought up in Ireland and Britain, where he established an extensive stage and film career, with his most notable roles in the 1960s television series Danger Man and cult favorite  The Prisoner, which he co-created, and  wrote and directed several episodes of .

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Almanac – March 01

1692 – In Massachusetts, a female slave named Tituba who had been accused of practising witchcraft confessed, leading to further accusations and the outbreak of mass hysteria known as the Salem Witch Trials.

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1893 – Nikola Tesla gave the first public demonstration of radio in St. Louis, Missouri. The principles of his wireless work  contained all the elements that were later incorporated into radio systems before the development of the vacuum tube.

He initially experimented with magnetic receivers, unlike the coherers (detecting devices consisting of tubes filled with iron filings which had been invented by Temistocle Calzecchi-Onesti at Fermo in Italy in 1884) used by Guglielmo Marconi and other early experimenters.

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1927 – Harry Belafonte born. American singer, songwriter, actor and social activist,  dubbed the “King of Calypso” for popularizing the style with an international audience in the 1950s.

Throughout his career he has been an advocate for civil rights and humanitarian causes (which got him blacklisted during the McCarthy era)  and was a vocal critic of the policies of the George W. Bush administration.

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1948 – Burning Spear (Winston Rodney) born. Jamaican roots reggae singer and musician.

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1952 – First release on the Sun Records label – Driving Slow by Johnny London

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