Tag Archives: The New York Times

Almanac – March 20

235 – Maximinus Thrax  proclaimed Roman emperor.  Most likely  of Thraco-Roman origin, and  the first emperor never to set foot in Rome.
But really he’s here because I love his name…

MAXIMINUS THRAX ! Say it loud and say it proud…

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1915 – Sister Rosetta Tharpe born.  American singer, songwriter, guitarist and recording artist.

A pioneer of 20th-century music, Tharpe attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings that were a mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock and roll accompaniment.

 As the first recording artist to impact the music charts with spiritual recordings, she effectively became the first superstar of gospel music and known as “the original soul sister”.

She was an early influence on iconic figures such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Johnny Cash.

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1936 – Lee “Scratch” Perry born. Jamaican reggae producer noted for his innovative studio techniques and production values.

Perry was one of the pioneers in the development of dub music with his early adoption of effects and remixing to create new instrumental or vocal versions of existing reggae tracks.

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1943 – Gerard Malanga born. American poet, photographer, filmmaker, curator and archivist.

He  worked closely with Andy Warhol during that artist’s most creative period, from 1963 to 1970. A February 17, 1992 article in The New York Times referred to him as “Andy Warhol’s most important associate.

Malanga was involved in all phases of Warhol’s creative output in silkscreen painting and filmmaking. He acted in many of the early Warhol films, including Vinyl, Chelsea Girls, and Kiss; and co-produced Bufferin (1967) in which he reads his poetry, deemed to be the longest spoken word movie on record at 33-minutes nonstop.

 In 1966, he choreographed the music of the Velvet Underground for Warhol’s multimedia presentation, The Exploding Plastic Inevitable.

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Almanac – March 02

1717 – The Loves of Mars and Venus –  the first ballet performed in England – made its premiere at the Drury Lane Theater in London.

The creation of choreographer John Weaver,  the story of the ballet was derived from Greek mythology, although Weaver’s immediate source was P.A. Motteux‘s play, The Loves of Mars and Venus.

The role of Venus was performed by  Hester Santlow, who was highly regarded for her beauty, dancing, and ability as an actress. Although it is not certain, many believe the role of Mars was performed by the French dancer Louis Dupre.

At the time, most classical ballet was nearly devoid of dramatic content, and Weaver sought to change that using  dancing, gestures and movement to convey the plot and emotions of the ballet, without relying on spoken or sung text.

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1825 – Roberto Cofresí,  one of the last successful Caribbean pirates, was defeated in combat and captured by authorities.

Better known as El Pirata Cofresí,  he  was the most renowned pirate in Puerto Rico, and his life story, particularly in its Robin Hoodsteal from the rich, give to the poor” aspect, has become legendary in Puerto Rico and throughout the rest of Latin America. It has inspired countless songs, poems, books and films.

The entire town of Cofresí, near Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic, was named after him.

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1900 – Kurt Weill born. German composer, active from the 1920s,  in his later years in the United States. He was a leading composer for the stage who was best known for his fruitful collaborations with Bertolt Brecht, with whom he developed productions such as his most well known work The Threepenny Opera, a Marxist critique of capitalism, which included the ballad “Mack the Knife“.

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1930 – D. H. Lawrence died. English novelist, poet, playwright, essayist, literary critic and painter . His collected works represent an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. In them, Lawrence confronts issues relating to emotional health and vitality, spontaneity, and instinct.

Lawrence’s opinions earned him many enemies and he endured official persecution, censorship, and misrepresentation of his creative work throughout the second half of his life, much of which he spent in a voluntary exile which he called his “savage pilgrimage”.

At the time of his death – from complications of tuberculosis –  his public reputation was that of a pornographer who had wasted his considerable talents. E. M. Forster, in an obituary notice, challenged this widely held view, describing him as, “The greatest imaginative novelist of our generation.”

Later, the influential Cambridge critic F. R. Leavis championed both his artistic integrity and his moral seriousness, placing much of Lawrence’s fiction within the canonical “great tradition” of the English novel. Lawrence is now valued by many as a visionary thinker and significant representative of modernism in English literature.

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1933 – The film King Kong opened at New York’s Radio City Music Hall.

Variety thought the film a powerful adventure. The New York Times gave readers an enthusiastic account of the plot and thought the film a fascinating adventure,  although the   film’s subtextual threat to Aryan womanhood got Kong banned in Nazi Germany.

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1942 – Lou Reed born. American rock musician, songwriter, and photographer. He is best known as guitarist, vocalist, and principal songwriter of The Velvet Underground, and for his solo career, which has spanned several decades.

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1991 – Serge Gainsbourg died. 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 – his 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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Almanac – January 10

1654 – Nicholas Culpeper died. English botanist, herbalist, physician, and astrologer. His published books include The English Physician (1652) and the Complete Herbal (1653), which contain a rich store of pharmaceuticaComplete Herbal l and herbal knowledge, and Astrological Judgement of Diseases from the Decumbiture of the Sick (1655), which is one of the most detailed documents we have on the practice of medical astrology in Early Modern Europe.

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1776 – Thomas Paine published his pamphlet Common Sense, anonymously , signed “Written by an Englishman“, and it became an immediate success in the early days of the American Revolution.

 In relative proportion to the population of the colonies at that time, it had the largest sale and circulation of any book published in American history. Common Sense presented the American colonists with an argument for freedom from British rule at a time when the question of seeking independence was still undecided.

Paine wrote and reasoned in a style that common people understood. Forgoing the philosophical and Latin references used by Enlightenment era writers, he structured Common Sense as if it were a sermon, and relied on Biblical references to make his case to the people. He connected independence with common dissenting Protestant beliefs as a means to present a distinctly American political identity.

Historian Gordon S. Wood described Common Sense as “the most incendiary and popular pamphlet of the entire revolutionary era”.

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1927 – Fritz Lang‘s  German expressionist science-fiction film Metropolis released in Germany. The film was met with a mixed response upon its initial release, with many critics praising its technical achievements while deriding its simplistic and naïve storyline.

Due both to its long running-time and footage censors found questionable, Metropolis was cut substantially after its German premiere; large portions of the film were lost over the subsequent decades.

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1961 – Dashiell Hammett died. American author of hard-boiled detective novels and short stories, a screenplay writer, and political activist. Among the enduring characters he created are Sam Spade (The Maltese Falcon), Nick and Nora Charles (The Thin Man), and the Continental Op (Red Harvest and The Dain Curse).

In addition to the significant influence his novels and stories had on film, Hammett is now widely regarded as one of the finest mystery writers of all time  and was called, in his obituary in The New York Times, “the dean of the… ‘hard-boiled’ school of detective fiction.

Time magazine included Hammett’s 1929 novel Red Harvest on a list of the 100 best English-language novels published between 1923 and 2005.

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1976 – Howlin’ Wolf died. American blues singer, guitarist and harmonica player. With a booming voice and looming physical presence, Burnett is commonly ranked among the leading performers in electric blues; musician and critic Cub Koda declared, “no one could match Howlin’ Wolf for the singular ability to rock the house down to the foundation while simultaneously scaring its patrons out of its wits.

A number of songs written or popularized by Howling Wolf—such as “Smokestack Lightnin'”, “Back Door Man”, “Killing Floor” and “Spoonful”—have become blues and blues rock standards.

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