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…)