Somewhere out there, either in the skies of California or many miles beyond - floating down the Thames, wafting across the Mississippi, bobbing over the Sargasso sea, - there is a gigantic inflatable pig that belongs to the Pink Floyd frontman. And he wants it back.
Waters' giant pig balloon was last seen on Sunday, during his closing performance at the Coachella festival. As Waters played Pigs (Three Different Ones), the two-storey-tall dirigible was released over the crowd.
Contrary to what you'd think, this is not the first time that a giant pig zeppelin has gotten away from Waters. During photo sessions for Pink Floyd's 1977 album, Animals, a helium-filled pig made a break for it from above Battersea power station. Flights were cancelled as the pig passed near Heathrow Airport, on its way to the dark side of the moon.
But this time, Roger Waters wants the pig back. Coachella organisers are offering a reward of $10,000 and four lifetime tickets should anyone find the blow-up porker. How to get in touch with them? Email firstname.lastname@example.org, naturally.
Flying high in the friendly skies - The pig at Coachella
As some of you know, I don't like pigs. I don't like to eat them, I don't like to touch them, and I certainly don't like the idea that some Bunyanesque replication of one is lurking in my sweet United States of America.
I am personally offering a sum of $12 to anyone who can prove that the pig has been destroyed. I don't know if I'll be able to sleep until then...
Tonight is Walpurgis Night. Saint Walpurga was, supposedly, an 8th century nun whose relics were transferred on April 30th and her name was given to the holiday. As frequently happened during Christianity's spread across Europe, this was merely an instance of co-opting and Christianizing a much older holiday.
Before Saint Walpurga was dreamed up, 30 April was known as day that Odin died attempting to retrieve the knowledge of the runes and, ever since, the barrier between the world of the dead and the living is at its weakest on this night. For this reason, Odin's faithful build bonfires, play drums and (nowadays) shoot off guns tonight to ward off evil. In some German-speaking areas, tonight is known as Hexxenacht because on this night witches are said to mount their broomsticks and fly from near and far to Brocken Mountain where they "hold revels with their Gods."
In rural Bavaria, children sometimes play pranks-- wreaking destruction on gardens, TP-ing homes, smearing toothpaste in places unintended by the manufacturer, and writing graffiti. In the Rhineland boys bring trees hung with colored streamers to the houses of girls they like. A tree decorated only with white streamers indicates dislike for the recipient. In southern Sweden children gather greenery at twilight and adorn their homes. In Finland, they drink sparkling wine and sima (a mead) and burn strawmen imbued with ill-will and bad luck. In Estonia and Germany, girls dress as witches and make merry.
I really wanted to spend this blog talking about the new releases from our old favorite bands Def Leppard and White Lion, but there are some other more important albums out this week that might have more people excited. Both Madonna and Portishead have some highly anticipated albums coming out today. I wanted Madonna to have to battle with Mariah Carey for the #1 album of the week, but Mariah came out a couple of weeks before Madonna, so we are left with Portishead instead to battle it out with Madonna-- a much better competitor I think.
So yes really, Def Leppard and White Lion both have albums out today. And there is a new Brett Michaels on the way as well. It has been over 20 years since White Lion released their second album Pride back in 1987. The album featured the massive song "When the Children Cry." You really could not get away from that song back then. The album did really well and I remember being obsessed with it myself. I ordered the cassette of it along with Hysteria by Def Leppard from one of those record clubs that shipped you like 7 albums for 7 cents. Hysteria was Def Leppard's fourth album but it also came out in 1987. This was the album that really got me obsessed with Def Leppard. I was listening to the deluxe reissue version of Hysteria a couple days ago. I always forget until I listen to it, but the album is still amazing. I still have every song memorized. I am sure the album was overplayed for many and there are still many people out there scarred for life because of this album, but I really do love it. I could probably live my life without listening to White Lion again, but that one song still gets me whenever I hear it.
Just in case you were trying to remember 1987, Madonna did not release an album that year. It was the year after True Blue and we were all still in love with "Papa Don't Preach" and "Live to Tell." We had no idea of the controversy that lied ahead of us with Like A Prayer in another couple of years. I am sure there were a lot of Def Leppard fans out there that did not like Madonna, and I am sure they are still out there, but I really did love them both. I was young and really did just love myself some popular radio music. These albums made a huge impact on my life and are still somehow a part of me. It is a bit crazy to think that 20 years have passed since then, but they all have new albums out this week. I have not ventured into the new albums from White Lion or Def Leppard, and I might just skip them altogether so I can keep my memories somewhat sacred. But Madonna has been quite the busy lady since 1987-- it does really seem like her last album just came out. She seems to be always ready with a new one just when you have finished the last one. You have either worn it out or been sick of it since it came out and finally got it out of your head. I have pretended to not be a fan of Madonna a couple times over the last 20 years, but I just can't resist her or her music. She got me back then and I have not really been able to shake my love of Madonna. I have had mixed feeling about the last couple albums. I always sort of love it and like many of the songs, but I also always hope for a bit more that I get. I do respect the lady for continuing to be relevant and make albums that sound different than the last. The new album is mostly a Timbaland and Justin Timberlake album, but it is also most definitely a Madonna album. Justin Timberlake would not really exist without Madonna, so if you think about it that way, she is just using the people that she influenced to help her create a new album. I have been trying to get coworkers to place bets on what album will come out on top at Amoeba this week. Madonna will most certainly have the top album in the country this week. But I have my faith that Portishead will win the competition at Amoeba. Although based on first day sales today, the race will be much closer than I thought.
Earlier today (April 29th, 2008) Albert Hofmann, the Swiss born scientist best known for synthesizing Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (aka LSD), died of a heart attack. He was 102 years old. Two years ago in 2006, coinciding with his hundredth birthday, there was an international symposium (see clip below) -- with a good deal of publicity surrounding it at the time -- on his mind altering creation.
In addition to synthesizing LSD in 1938, Hoffman, known as the "Father of LSD," was also the first to synthesize psilocybin -- the active constituent of 'magic mushrooms' in 1958. He was also the author of several books including The Botany and Chemistry of Hallucinogen and LSD: My Problem Child. Additionally he wrote in excess of a hundred scientific articles.
Born in Baden, Switzerland in 1906, Hofmann graduated from the University of Zürich with a degree in chemistry in 1929 and went to work for Sandoz Pharmaceutical in Basel, Switzerland. This involved years of laboratory research which led him on to the study of Claviceps purpurea (ergot) and ergot alkaloids. This led his research to spend a few years working his way through the lysergic acid derivatives. He eventually arrived at synthesizing LSD-25 in 1938.
According to sources after minimal testing, LSD-25 was set aside as Hofmann continued with other derivatives, only four years later in 1943, re-synthesizing LSD-25 because he felt he might have missed something the first time around. And on that day in April of 1943 he was the very first human to experience the effects of LSD after accidentally ingesting a tiny amount of the mind-altering drug. Although he stopped working in research several years ago, Hofmann continued to write and work as lecturer and spokesman on psychedelics right up until the time of his death.