Amoeblog

Shifters and sugarcubes -- Happy Bicycle Day!

Posted by Eric Brightwell, April 19, 2013 03:53pm | Post a Comment
Albert Hofmann Bike Ride Blotter 1943

Today marks the day that Swiss chemist Albert Hofmann discovered the properties of LSD, on 16 April, 1943, and rode his bike home.

THE DISCOVERY OF LSD

Sandoz Laboratories - Basel, Switzerland (demolished)
Sandoz Laboratories - Basel, Switzerland (demolished)

Albert Hofmann first synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) in his Basel laboratory in 1938 working for Sandoz Laboratories whilst studying scilla and ergot in an attempt to purify and synthesize the active constituents for use as pharmaceuticals.

siberian scilla
Siberian scilla (image source: Digging RI)

He set aside his discovery for five years at which point he accidentally absorbed a quality through his fingertips and reported feeling dizzy, intoxicated, stimulated and seeing kaleidoscopic shapes and colors when he closed his eyes.


HOFMANN'S TRIP AND BIKE RIDE

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Angeleno Heights - Los Angeles' Victorian (and Craftsman) Oasis

Posted by Eric Brightwell, December 16, 2010 03:00pm | Post a Comment

ANGELENO HEIGHTS
 Angeleno Heights Sign  Pendersleigh & Sons Cartography's map of the Mideast Side
                                                                                       Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of the Mideast Side

Angeleno Heights is a neighborhood in Los Angeles' Mideast Side. It's the second oldest suburb of the city after Bunker Hill (which is no longer suburban). After the Victorian homes of Bunker Hill were razed in the 1950s, Angeleno Heights became the largest concentration of Victorian homes, or "painted ladies" in the city.

Map of Angeleno Heights
Pendersleigh & Sons' Official Map of Angeleno Heights

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The roots of jazz - ragtime

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 24, 2009 04:48pm | Post a Comment
Although for most people the strains of "The Entertainer" and other rags now primarily evoke quaint, scratchy images of silent films projected at the wrong speed, when ragtime first appeared around the 1870s, it was the soundtrack of Missouri's whorehouses, parlors and gambling clubs.

st. louis 1870
St. Louis in the 1870s

Ragtime was also one of the first truly and distinctly American musical forms. After cakewalk, ragtime was one of the first global music crazes. That Ragtime's cradle was the river towns of the Missouri Valley shouldn't be a surprise. Missouri, located at the center of the country, has long been and remains a crossroads of cultural exchanges. No state borders more than Missouri and noted ragtime musicians came from all the neighbors and spread to them (except Nebraska and Iowa, states whose people are known to be deaf to the joys of melody and dance). The character of ragtime -- drawing from folk, European and American marches, minstrelsy, spirituals and other forms -- connects Europe, Africa and North America, town and country, classical and popular, black and white.

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The roots of jazz -- cakewalk -- Amoeba's Jazz Week

Posted by Eric Brightwell, August 21, 2009 08:00am | Post a Comment
A performative, competitive dance known as the chalk line walk first appeared around the 1850s on the plantations along the Gulf Coast. Its origins lay in the African-derived dance known as the bamboula -- also the name of a drum -- and it was performed in New Orleans, where on Sundays slaves were allowed to congregate. In their limited freedom, they not only danced the bamboula, but also dances like the pile, chactas and the carabine in Congo Square and at their masters' homes. Louis Moreau Gottschalk, a local creole composer was inspired by the dances and wrote "Bamboula, dance des nègres, Op.2" in 1848. By the 1850s, the bamboula's popularity had spread to Florida, where it possibly mixed with the dance traditions of the Seminole. It eventually developed into the cakewalk, which quickly became popular throughout the Gulf Coast. 

congo square

Whereas the minstrelsy craze of the 1840s-1860s was the first major cross-racial American musical exchange, cakewalk's heyday from the 1850s-1890s was probably the second and importantly, a reversal. Minstrelsy was a product of white musicans seeking to simultaneuosly imitate and mock black customs, but cakewalks were initially produced by black performers imitating and mocking whites. Thus began a long history of back and forth musical and cultural dialogues that have been behind nearly every significant innovation in American music.

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