Thursday, June 03, 2010
Birthday wishes go out today to the Gratuitous Brunette-worthy Kelly Jones - lead singer, front man, and founding member of Welsh rockers Stereophonics - who was born on this day in 1974. Here he lends his gravelly, soulful vocals to what had once been a well-respected if somewhat obscure Sixties classic...
Handbags and Gladrags was initially released by the band as a single in 2001; it became so popular it was added to later pressings of their third studio album Just Enough Education to Perform. The album's fourth single, it became one of three to reach the Top 5 in the UK from that release alone, giving the band a respectable follow-up to 1999's Performance and Cocktails. It also appears on the band's greatest hits compilation, 2008's Decade in the Sun.
The song was written in 1967 by Mike d'Abo, then lead singer of Manfred Mann, and was covered by Chris Farlowe that year and Rod Stewart two years later (appearing on his 1970 album An Old Raincoat Won't Ever Let You Down in an arrangement by d'Abo himself, who also played piano on the track); it's also been used by the BBC series The Office, where it was performed by Waysted vocalist Fin - as well as by the series' star, Ricky Gervais (in character as David Brent). Likewise it has been covered by such diverse acts as Brian Marshall, Mary Coughlan, and Engelbert Humperdinck.
The song's message is one of trying to find worth in the deeper things in life, and not just being concerned with clothing labels, brand names, and similar shallow pursuits. It takes some doing to take such a message seriously from a collector of vintage clothing (as Jones is) but today I choose to be sincere instead of cynical, and so I've decided to just enjoy the damn song...
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I'm the first to admit that if Anderson Cooper looked like Harry Knowles I wouldn't give him the time of day; visible from space whether on satellite from CNN Headquarters in New York or simply sunning himself on the beach at Montauk, the original silver fox will be blowing out 43 very lucky candles tonight.
Gee, I hope he's up to it - that's an awful lot of blowing.
A n y w a y... Few people realize that the host of Anderson Cooper 360° - who was born on this day in 1967 - was born with a silver spoon in his mouth; the younger son of prominent aesthete Wyatt Emory Cooper and serial monogamist* and perennial tabloid fodder Gloria Vanderbilt, Cooper's exposure in the media began early: as a baby he was photographed by Diane Arbus for Harper's Bazaar, and he made his debut on The Tonight Show in September 1970, appearing with his mother at tha age of only 3.
His father died of a heart condition in January 1978, and his older brother Carter Vanderbilt Cooper famously committed suicide in July 1988 by jumping from the 14th-storey terrace of his mother's Manhattan penthouse apartment. It was that event, more than any other, which Anderson Cooper credits with sparking his interest in journalism...
*Cooper was her fourth and last husband; she has been romantically linked to numerous others.
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When Ernest Lawrence Thayer's poem Casey at the Bat was first published (under the pseudonym Phin) by the San Francisco Examiner on this day in 1888, surely not even the poet himself could have foreseen the enduring firestorm of popularity his work would generate. In fact, it would be years before he would even break his silence regarding its authorship, so unwilling was he to be associated with doggerel despite its mass appeal.
Almost the moment it appeared, the poem became a phenomenon... Stage actor DeWolf Hopper (future husband of gossip maven Hedda Hopper) was the first to gather acclaim for his recitations of it in vaudeville, a tradition kept alive by Jackie Gleason on television four generations later; the poem has also spawned sequels and parodies galore ranging in tone from the manic iconoclasm of MAD Magazine to the gentle social satire of Garrison Keillor.
Disney released this animated version, narrated by Jerry Colonna, as part of its 1946 film Make Mine Music.
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On this day in 1937 the Duke of Windsor - formerly Edward VIII - married Mrs. Wallis Simpson at Chateau de Cande, near Tours, France. While their wedding was an ostensibly private matter, their affair had riveted the world's media for months, culminating with his abdication in December 1936. Pointedly, the dethroned King chose what would have been his father's birthday* for the deed...
The bride's pale mauve** dress, designed by Mainbocher, was widely copied; pointedly, no members of the Royal Family attended the ceremony, which was photographed by Cecil Beaton.
*George V died in January - 19 weeks before what would have been his 71st birthday.
**A colour he dubbed 'Wallis blue'.
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[The holiest of the gurdwaras in Sikhism, the Harmandir Sahib was no stranger to unrest when, on this day in 1984, Indian troops fired upon it, causing extensive structural damage as well as killing 83 soldiers and 492 civilians in the process; it was nearby in April 1919 that Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer ordered British troops to open fire on a peaceful protest during what came to be known as the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, at which official estimates claim 379 were killed with 1100 wounded, although some unofficial reports had 1,526 fatalities in that earlier clash.]
350 CE - Usurper Nepotianus, of the Constantinian Dynasty, proclaimed himself Emperor and entered Rome at the head of a group of gladiators. His reign lasted just 28 days, whereupon he was killed by Marcellinus, a general in the service of rival usurper Magnentius.
1326 - The Treaty of Novgorod delineated the border between Russia and Norway in Finnmark, which is today the northernmost county in Norway.
1621 - The Dutch West India Company received a charter for New Netherlands from the Republic of the Seven United Netherlands.
1770 - Mission San Carlos Borromeo de Carmelo was founded by Junípero Serra in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.
1888 - The San Francisco Examiner first published the poem Casey at the Bat, which was written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer.
1935 - A thousand unemployed workers boarded freight cars in Vancouver, beginning an historic protest trek to Parliament Hill in Ottawa; the so-called On-To-Ottawa Trek was met with harsh reprisals along the way by local authorities - most notably at the Regina Riot on that year's Dominion Day - but did succeed in discrediting the do-nothing* government of Prime Minister R. B. Bennett's Conservatives at the polls on October 23rd. While most of those involved found little relief for their downtrodden state under his successor - the redoubtable Liberal Mackenzie King - the defeated Bennett (shown, looking typically smug, at left) decamped to the United Kingdom, where in June 1941 he became the first and only Canadian Prime Minister elevated to the House of Lords by King George VI on the advice of Prime Minister Winston Churchill; while there he served as Viscount Bennett of Mickleham (in the County of Surrey) and of Calgary and Hopewell in the Dominion of Canada.
*Which in French is called laissez-faire, and best pronounced 'lazy... feh!'
1962 - A chartered Air France Boeing 707, Chateau de Sully, crashed after an aborted takeoff from Paris, killing 130; at the time it was the largest single airplane accident to date.
1963 - Pope John XXIII died; he was succeeded by Paul VI on June 21st.
1965 - Gemini 4 - the first multi-day space mission by a NASA crew - was launched.
1968 - Valerie Solanas, misandric author of The SCUM Manifesto*, attempted to assassinate Andy Warhol by shooting him three times at his New York City studio, The Factory; she also shot and slightly injured art critic Mario Amaya and would have shot Warhol's manager Fred Hughes as well only her gun jammed. Warhol's injuries were serious enough that they would plague him throughout the rest of his life - he was forced to wear a girdle, for instance, and after any exertion his wounds would bleed - although he refused to testify against her in court; she received a three-year sentence for the attack. The incident is dramatized in the 1996 film I Shot Andy Warhol, in which Solanas is played by Lili Taylor and Warhol by Jared Harris; the film was directed by Canadian Mary Harron.
*SCUM was an acronym; it stood for 'Society for Cutting Up Men.'
1969 - During the so-called Melbourne-Evans Collision off the coast of South Vietnam, the Australian aircraft carrier HMAS Melbourne cut the US Navy destroyer USS Frank E. Evans in half, killing 74 American sailors.
1979 - A blowout at the Ixtoc I oil well in the southern Gulf of Mexico caused at least 600,000 tons (176,400,000 gallons) of oil to be spilled, making it the worst oil spill to date - although it will likely be surpassed (and then some) by the spill caused by the explosion that sank the oil rig Deepwater Horizon in April 2010.
1982 - The Israeli ambassador to the Court of St. James's, Shlomo Argov, was shot on a London street; although he survived the attack he was permanently paralyzed.
1984 - During an ill-considered attempt to arrest Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale, the Indian Army stormed the Harmandir Sahib - the Golden Temple near Amritsar which is the most sacred shrine of Sikhism - during Operation Blue Star, which was personally organized by Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.
1989 - Iranian spiritual leader and theocratic dictator Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini died; he was succeeded the next day by Ali Khamenehei.
1990 - American punk rock legend Stiv Bators died in Paris after being hit by taxi while drunkenly crossing the street; although his friends took him to the hospital, he left voluntarily after several hours without being seen by a doctor, and later died in his sleep of a concussion. He was 40.
1991 - Mount Unzen erupted on Japan's southernmost island of Kyūshū killing 43 people, all of them either researchers or journalists.
1998 - During the Eschede train disaster an ICE high speed train derailed in the German state of Lower Saxony, causing 101 deaths - surpassing the death toll of the May 1971 Dahlerau train disaster to become the world's deadliest train crash.
2007 - USS Carter Hall (LSD-50) engaged pirates after they boarded the Danish ship Danica White off the coast of Somalia.
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