I was wandering the web, studying ridiculous conspiracy theories, keeping track of the stock market, and wasting an otherwise perfectly fine Friday evening, when I decided to research this date in history, May 23rd. And not surprisingly, it’s kind of scatologically interesting:
1701 - Infamous Pirate, Captain William Kidd, is hanged in London for his crimes on the high seas.
1900 - Sergeant William Harvey Carney becomes the first African-American to be awarded the Medal of Honor, for his heroism in the Assault on the Battery Wagner during the Civil War, some 37 years after the fact.
1929 - The first all-talkie Mickey Mouse cartoon, The Karnival Kid, is released.
1934 - Notorious folk heroes/bank robbers/FBI most wanted/eventual 1960’s movie anti-heroes, Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow are ambushed and murdered on a desolate road near Bienville Parish, Louisiana by a posse of four Texas and three Louisiana police officers.
1958 - Mao Tse Tung starts his "Great Leap Forward" movement in China.
1960 - Israel’s Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion announces that Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann has been captured. Eichmann will be executed two years later on June 1, 1962.
1960 - "Cathy's Clown" by the Everly Brothers topped the pop-charts and will stay there for 5 weeks.
1966 - The Beatles release their eleventh single “Paperback Writer;” it will go to Number One everywhere in the world, even Canada.
1968 - Not that it was a good idea, but the Beatles open their second Apple Boutique at 161 New Kings Road in London.
1971 - And though I don’t believe this because I saw them in about 1977 when I really wasn’t old enough to get into the Whisky -A-Go-Go, the legendary rock group, Iron Butterfly -- creators of the 17:05 opus “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” disbands.
When I was growing up, my grandmother had a pretty good record collection. She owned all the albums you’d expect from a former party girl-Hollywood starlet-blonde bombshell who liked her mixed tropical drinks: Yma Sumac, Chaino, Esquivel, Julie London and of course every Martin Denny, Arthur Lyman and Les Baxter you could find at the May Company on Wilshire and Fairfax. And when I got little older, I dug a little deeper and conveniently found all her stag party albums on Fax Records featuring cover art of lovely and beautifully naked women, and at age eight discovered the musical charms of Terri “Cupcakes’ O’Mason! … but I digress! The best records she owned, that for me have stood the test of time, were the Tom Lehrer Albums.
Music historian, record geek and novelty song guru, Dr Demento, has called Tom Lehrer “the best musical satirist of the 20th Century”. Even Mr. Lehrer, a Harvard Graduate, who taught mathematics at UC Santa Cruz until retiring in 2001, has been somewhat amused by the longevity and impact of his music career, though he retired from that vocation back in the Sixties. He’ll be the first to point out that his ‘career’ consisted of 109 live shows and the writing of 37 songs in a twenty years span! But these aren’t just any old songs! Songs like “Poisoning Pigeons in the Park”, “I Hold Your Hand in Mine”, “The Masochism Tango” and “The Vatican Rag” are all timelessly classic, (at least in my interpretation of the construct called the space-time continuum, being three-dimensional and timelessness plays the role of the fourth dimension-- actually I should just ask a mathematician about that…)
…all to undo the stressful day at work. (By “we” I mean the royal we, of course – I wasn’t assisted by a gang or nuthin’. Gangs are terrible at helping people relax. Have you noticed? Like, when you’re sitting under a cork tree and smelling the flowers, a gang – say like, a gang of Japanese whalers – will amble by and be like:
And you’re all, “Japanese dudes, I’m just trying to smell the flowers!” Or, you’re picking at some rhyolite in hopes of discovering an opal to polish and give your sweetie during the famous aria from “Gianni Schicchi”…
…and the two of you lock eyes and, in that one moment, you know that you’ve always been lovers – that every sonnet and song that’s ever been penned for love – have been about the two of you, and the devotion that binds you beyond the restraints of bodies and time and a gang of Crips, some Grape Street Crips say, come along and cause you to accidentally drop your foot-long hoagie over the balcony seating and it lands on Princess Diana’s head (this is before she’s died, obviously) and they’re all, “Gee whiz, we’re sorry. We were just hoping to find some slobs to curb,” and you’re all, “If you think any Bloods are gonna be caught at a Verdi opera, you’re crazy! Come back next month when there’s a performance of ‘Peter Grimes’ – they’re all over that Britten sh*t!” and they’re all, “Thank you. Sorry about your butty,” and you’re all, “Huh?” and they’re all, “Butty – it’s a British slang for sandwich,” and you’re all, “Oh yeah. Okay,” and there’s an awkward moment when they don’t leave but no one says anything and then they finally get the hint and go away but by then the People’s Princess is in your face and yelling at you and being totally unreasonable and for a moment – just for a moment – you think to yourself, “Just you wait, girl – you’ll get yours.” But you feel bad immediately afterwards because no one deserves to die in a car crash. Nobody.