Amoeblog

October 15th

Posted by Whitmore, October 15, 2007 06:15pm | Post a Comment
                                                                                                      

1815 - Napoleon I of France is sent into exile on Saint Helena somewhere out there in the Atlantic Ocean.

1878 - The Edison Electric Light Company is incorporated.

1888 - The "From Hell" letter possibly sent by Jack the Ripper is received by investigators. Also known as the "Lusk letter," the letter is postmarked October 15 and was received by George Lusk . Upon opening the small box he discovered half a human kidney, probably from Catherine Eddowes, the fourth victim. Who ever wrote the letter also claimed to have fried and eaten the missing kidney half. Though, through the years, some have contended that it may have been a sick practical joke.

1894 - Alfred Dreyfus, an up and coming artillery officer and Jewish, was arrested for spying. So begins the Dreyfus Affair. He was pardoned in 1899 by President Emile Loubet while serving time in prison on Devil's Island. New evidence, actually old evidence that was covered-up by anti-Semitic army officers, found him innocent of all the charges and in 1906 Dreyfus was officially exonerated by a military commission.

1917 - On this date, just outside of Paris at Vincennes, Dutch exotic dancer, courtesan and spy  Mata Hari, was executed by firing squad for being a double agent and spying for Germany. Many have argued that Mata Hari never really was a double agent and was used as a scapegoat by the head of the French counter-espionage, Georges Ladoux, who had recruited Mata Hari to be a French spy. Of course later Ladoux himself was arrested for being a double agent. The facts of the case have remained a bit hazy, the official documents concerning the execution were sealed for 100 years, and more details won’t be revealed until 2017.

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Photographer Al Chang 1922-2007

Posted by Whitmore, October 9, 2007 10:28pm | Post a Comment

Al Chang, an Army cameraman who was twice nominated for a Pulitzer Prize has died. He chronicled the conflict in both Korea and Vietnam, witnessed the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (where he worked as a dockworker), and was even awarded the Purple Heart for being wounded in the line of duty in Vietnam, past away in Honolulu, he was 85. He is best known as the photographer who captured one of the most iconic images of the 20th century. That image shows a U.S. infantryman weeping in the arms of another soldier. Taken on Aug. 28, 1950, the photo shows Army Sgt. Bill Redifer comforting fellow soldier Vincent Nozzolillo, who has learned that his replacement has been killed, while in the background another corpsman sifts through casualty reports, looking strangely detached. The photograph was featured in Edward Steichen's "Family of Man" exhibit in 1955 at New York's Museum of Modern Art. This portrait of anguish, grief and comfort has become one of the most enduring images of the Korean War, often called the forgotten war.

August 13th in music history

Posted by Whitmore, August 13, 2007 05:20pm | Post a Comment

In a senseless act, legendary saxophonist King Curtis, born Curtis Ousley, is stabbed to death in front of his New York City brownstone on Friday August 13, 1971, during one of New York City’s nastiest heat waves.  King Curtis was carrying an air conditioner into his apartment at 50 West 86th St. when he got into a scuffle with a group of men standing on the stoop doing drugs. He asked them to move, but during the subsequent argument one of them, Juan Montanez, pulled out a six-inch dagger and stabbed Curtis in the heart.


The attack was witnessed by Aretha Franklin and Sam Moore who were meeting Curtis to discuss a recording session he was to produce. Curtis was rushed to Roosevelt Hospital, but was dead on arrival. Four days later the funeral was held, Jesse Jackson performed the service. Curtis' band, The Kingpins, played an hour long version of 'Soul Serenade' and Aretha sang the spiritual 'Never Grow Old.' Here are some of the hits he played sax on:

Hang up My Rock and Roll Shoes - CHUCK WILLIS - (highest charting) #24
The Stroll - DIAMONDS - #4-
What Am I Living For - CHUCK WILLIS - #9
Yakety Yak - COASTERS - #1
Along Came Jones - COASTERS - #9
Charlie Brown - COASTERS - #2
I Cried a Tear - LAVERN BAKER - #6
Little Egypt - COASTERS - #23
Tossin’ and Turnin’ - BOBBY LEWIS - #1
Peppermint twist - JOEY DEE  - #1
Respect - ARETHA FRANKLIN - #1
I Heard It Through The Grapevine - GLADYS KNIGHT & THE PIPS - #2

Some of King Curtis’s solo singles:

Soul Twist - #17
Memphis Soul Stew - #33
Ode to Billy Joe - #28
 
In 1990 Curtis Mayfield, best known as the lead singer for The Impressions and for composing the soundtrack to the blaxploitation film “Superfly,” is paralyzed from the neck down in an onstage accident after high winds cause a 600 pound lighting rig to fall on him at a concert in Brooklyn, New York at the Martin Luther King Music Festival. Eyewitnesses described the moment as “A small twister of some sort tornado-like, just came out of nowhere.” He was 48 years of age at the time of the accident.

But one great earth shaking event did happen on this day, though it would go unnoticed for years and years, Willie Mae "Big Mama" Thornton records the original version of  "Hound Dog" in 1952.

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Lenny Bruce

Posted by Whitmore, August 3, 2007 04:30pm | Post a Comment

Lenny Bruce
Last night I bought a first edition hard bound copy of Lenny Bruce’s How to Talk Dirty and Influence People, and this morning I realized it was the anniversary of his death… as they say (whoever they are) “there are no coincidences ..."

Anyway, on August 3, 1966, Lenny Bruce -- legendary stand-up comedian, author, social critic and satirist of the 1950’s and 60’s (born Leonard Alfred Schneider, October 13, 1925 ) was found dead at the age of 40 in the bathroom of his home at 8825 Hollywood Boulevard. The LAPD immediately announced that Bruce died from an overdose of narcotics, probably heroin, and that has been a universally reported fact ever since. However, the official report admits that the cause of death was unknown and the analysis inconclusive. Take that Wikipedia!

Dick Schaap eulogized Bruce in Playboy, with the memorable last line "One last four-letter word for Lenny: Dead. At forty. That's obscene."

Phil Spector, who once described Bruce as “my Socrates,” said Lenny Bruce died from "an overdose of police."

Side Note: I was going to include the entire script of  “Thank You, Mask Man,” but I’ll save that for his birthday in October. Those who might be offended will have to wait a few months. Sorry.

Here are some of Lenny Bruce’s jokes, comments and philosophies. Enjoy.

“If Jesus had been killed 20 years ago, Catholic school children would be wearing little Electric Chairs around their necks instead of crosses"

“Take away the right to say ‘fuck’ and you take away the right to say ‘fuck the government!’”

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Tuba's, Urban Spacemen and the Bonzos

Posted by Whitmore, August 2, 2007 10:35am | Post a Comment

I've never met a man I didn't mutilate. I only wish I had said that first.
I might be happier today.

A funny thing happened on the way to listening to some Bonzo Dog Band vinyl. I think I’ve finally found an answer to the ol’ question “When did the attitudes of the free wheelin’ 60’s shift in the 70’s, and is there an exact date when it was nailed into the proverbial American forehead?” I think the answer lies in the sound of a tuba.

Side Note: not only am I something of a record geek, I’m also a closeted history geek, and I kind of believe in what philosopher George Santayana once said: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to have it shoved up their friggin’ asses!” (Okay, maybe it didn’t go quite like that)

Of course there was a difference between the late 60’s and the early 70’s. Perhaps not a great defining difference (at least not until disco hit big), but let’s say as different as “I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter” compared to “Blue Bonnet” margarine, or olive oil to canola oil. Actually ignore that part. But there was a slight imperceptible change in attitude somewhere early on in the 70’s and I believe I‘ve uncovered, for my thesis, the linchpin date.

Of course it just dawned on me not everyone knows The Bonzo Dog Band. Created in the early 1960’s by British art-school students (art school, where all great bands begin!) the Bonzos started out playing mostly traditional jazz, early century novelty and British music hall songs.

Later they combined those elements with rock, adding touches of psychedelia and dadaism to confound the public at large. They released about 4 or 5 albums, and toured the US with The Who and The Kinks. Eventually they were aligned with Monty Python's Flying Circus, having met several future members on the set of the children's television show, Do Not Adjust Your Set, where the Bonzo’s were the resident house band. They disbanded in 1970 but had one reunion album released in 1972. There you have it … in a nutshell.

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