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Almanac – April 22

1616 – Miguel de Cervantes died.  Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright.

His magnum opus, Don Quixote, considered to be the first modern European novel,  is a classic of Western literature, and is regarded amongst the best works of fiction ever written.

His influence on the Spanish language has been so great that the language is often called la lengua de Cervantes (“the language of Cervantes“).

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1922 – Charles Mingus born.  American jazz double bassist, composer and bandleader.

Mingus’s compositions retained the hot and soulful feel of hard bop and drew heavily from black gospel music while sometimes drawing on elements of Third Stream, free jazz, and classical music.

Yet Mingus avoided categorization, forging his own brand of music that fused tradition with unique and unexplored realms of jazz.

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1923 – Bettie Page born.  American model who became famous in the 1950s for her pin-up photos. Often referred to as the “Queen of Pinups“, her jet black hair, blue eyes, and trademark bangs have influenced artists for generations.

Page was “Miss January 1955“, one of the earliest Playmates of the Month for Playboy magazine. “I think that she was a remarkable lady, an iconic figure in pop culture who influenced sexuality, taste in fashion, someone who had a tremendous impact on our society,” Playboy founder Hugh Hefner told the Associated Press.

From 1952 through 1957, she posed for photographer Irving Klaw for mail-order photographs with pin-up, bondage or sadomasochistic themes, making her the first famous bondage model.

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2002 – Linda Lovelace died. American pornographic actress who was famous for her performance in the enormously successful 1972 hardcore porn film Deep Throat.

She later denounced her pornography career and became a spokeswoman for the anti-pornography movement.

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Almanac – January 11

1928 – Thomas Hardy died. English novelist and poet. A Victorian realist, in the tradition of George Eliot, he was also influenced both in his novels and poetry by Romanticism, especially by William Wordsworth. Charles Dickens is another important influence, and, like Dickens, he was also highly critical of much in Victorian society, though Hardy focused more on a declining rural society.

While Hardy wrote poetry throughout his life, and regarded himself primarily as a poet, his first collection was not published until 1898. Initially therefore he gained fame as the author of such novels as Far from the Madding Crowd (1874), The Mayor of Casterbridge (1886), Tess of the d’Urbervilles (1891), and Jude the Obscure (1895).

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1906 – Albert Hofmann born.  Swiss scientist known best for being the first person to synthesize, ingest, and learn of the psychedelic effects of lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD).

Hofmann was also the first to isolate, synthesize, and name the principal psychedelic mushroom compounds, psilocybin and psilocin. He authored more than 100 scientific articles and a number of books, including LSD: My Problem Child.

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2007 – Robert Anton Wilson died. American author and polymath who became at various times a novelist, philosopher, psychologist, essayist, editor, playwright, poet, futurist, civil libertarian and self-described agnostic mystic.

Wilson described his work as an “attempt to break down conditioned associations, to look at the world in a new way, with many models recognized as models or maps, and no one model elevated to the truth”. His goal being “to try to get people into a state of generalized agnosticism, not agnosticism about God alone but agnosticism about everything.”

Among Wilson’s 35 books, and many other works, perhaps his best-known volumes remain the cult classic series The Illuminatus! Trilogy (1975), co-authored with Robert Shea. Advertised as “a fairy tale for paranoids,” the three books–The Eye in the Pyramid, The Golden Apple, and Leviathan, soon offered as a single volume—philosophically and humorously examined, among many other themes, occult and magical symbolism and history, the counterculture of the 1960s, secret societies, data concerning author H.P. Lovecraft and author and occultist Aleister Crowley, and American paranoia about conspiracies and conspiracy theories.

Wilson and Shea derived much of the odder material from letters sent to Playboy magazine while they worked as the editors of the Playboy Forum. The books mixed true information with imaginative fiction to engage the reader in what Wilson called “guerrilla ontology” which he apparently referred to as “Operation Mindfuck” in Illuminatus!

The trilogy also outlined a set of libertarian and anarchist axioms known as Celine’s Laws (named after Hagbard Celine, a character in Illuminatus!), concepts Wilson revisited several times in other writings.

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2010 – Mick Green died. English rock and roll guitarist who played with Johnny Kidd & the Pirates, Billy J. Kramer with The Dakotas, and from the 1970s with reformed versions of The Pirates, a band well able to give the young guns of Punk a run for their money.

His ability to play lead and rhythm guitar simultaneously influenced a number of British guitarists to follow, including Pete Townshend and Wilko Johnson.

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