Sunday, June 13, 2010

"Sing, Sing, Sing" by Benny Goodman Orchestra

Musically, the 1930s truly was the age of giants. Here is the Benny Goodman Orchestra performing their signature tune Sing, Sing, Sing at the Hollywood Hotel in 1937; in addition to Benny Goodman himself on the licorice stick, Gene Krupa plays a mad beat (seemingly with two golden arms*) and Harry James a cool trumpet solo as well. It is said - and not just by me, either - that this song is the anthem of the Swing Era, a song which is continually being rediscovered by subsequent generations, one whose frantic patter has been quickening heartbeats for 70 years.

Goodman died on this day in 1986, but lives on thanks to the miracle of technology.

*Krupa, of course, being the subject of the 1955 film
The Man With the Golden Arm, starring Frank Sinatra as the man who liked him some drumming but liked him some heroin more.

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"Sharing The Night Together" by Dr. Hook

This smooth bit of AM Gold is in honour of Dennis Locorriere, who crooned Dr Hook to chart dominance in the Seventies; Sharing The Night Together appeared on the band's 1978 album Pleasure and Pain, eventually spending 22 weeks on the US charts, peaking at #6.

Now, when it comes to sharing nights together, that's what I call stamina...
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"Countless lives inhabit us..." by Fernando Pessoa as Ricardo Reis

Countless lives inhabit us.
I don’t know, when I think or feel,
Who it is that thinks or feels.
I am merely the place
Where things are thought or felt.

I have more than just one soul.
There are more I’s than I myself.
I exist, nevertheless,
Indifferent to them all.
I silence them: I speak.

The crossing urges of what
I feel or do not feel
Struggle in who I am, but I
Ignore them. They dictate nothing
To the I I know: I write.

* * *

Vivem em nós inúmeros;
Se penso ou sinto, ignoro
Quem é que pensa ou sente.
Sou somente o lugar
Onde se sente ou pensa.

Tenho mais almas que uma.
Há mais eus do que eu mesmo.
Existo todavia
Indiferente a todos.
Faço-os calar: eu falo.

Os impulsos cruzados
Do que sinto ou não sinto
Disputam em quem sou.
Ignoro-os. Nada ditam
A quem me sei: eu escrevo.
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In Memoriam: Fernando Pessoa

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Of all the oddball poets (admittedly, quite a large group) Fernando Pessoa's reputation as one of the oddest of them all is well-earned; while many writers ply their craft under false names, Pessoa assumed entire false identities, which he called heteronyms.

Personally, I had never even heard of him (obscure Portugese poets who've been dead for 70 years get so little press in Canada) until I was introduced to him by my friend Laura Cardoso, who was in the same writing group as me. She referenced him in a poem she wrote for me, in part because she'd noticed I did something similar.

Thanks to these heteronyms, it's virtually impossible to know anything about his real life, which may have been the point. One of these personae is obviously homoerotic; so is that Pessoa, attempting to flesh out that part of human experience, or is it a sad closet case's plea for help?

It may be both; it may be neither... Who the fuck knows with a poet, eh?
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"Buddy Holly" by Weezer

Birthday wishes go out today to Rivers Cuomo, uber-cute front man for alt-rock wunderkinds Weezer; here they perform their 1994 single Buddy Holly in the kind of pop cultur-iffic alt-universe of which we at the Pop Culture Institute can't get enough. Art house auteur Spike Jonze has dropped the band into an episode of Happy Days, complete with a cameo by original cast member Al Molinaro!

Released on what would have been Buddy Holly's 58th birthday (had the musician survived The Day the Music Died) the single appears on the band's debut album Weezer, sometimes called The Blue Album; despite what is in every sense an artistic tour de force*, though, according to Cuomo himself the song almost didn't make it onto the album.

*The single was produced by New Wave legend Ric Ocasek, after all!

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Pop History Moment: Elizabeth II Shot At

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOn this day in 1981 17-year-old Marcus Sarjeant shot at Queen Elizabeth II as she rode Burmese* during the annual Trooping the Colour ceremony in London. The Queen never lost her composure, and easily quieted her equally reliable mount.

The would-be assassin was readily apprehended, at which time it was revealed he had been shooting blanks; he was later sentenced to five years in prison, of which he served three, and was released in 1984.

'I did it because I wanted to be famous,' he said, apparently in his own defense.

*A gift to Her Majesty from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1969, Burmese was bred at the RCMP Stud in Regina - home of the famed Musical Ride. Since 2005 the Queen can be seen riding Burmese in perpetuity; a statue in front of the Saskatchewan Legislature commemorates their special friendship. Burmese was retired in 1986, and died in 1990.
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POPnews - June 13th

[The daughter of France's King Henri IV and his second wife Marie de Medici, through her daughter Henrietta, Duchess of Orléans Charles I's queen is related to French monarchs Louis XV, Louis XVI, Louis XVII, Louis XVIII & Charles X plus such modern-day luminaries as Diana, Princess of Wales , Prince William, Prince Harry, and Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall as well through the illegitimate children of her son, Charles II. Despite being such a pivotal figure in history - every bit as much as Queen Victoria if not more - Henrietta Maria has been written about very little, and understood even less...]

1525 - Martin Luther married Katharina von Bora, openly defying the celibacy doctrine decreed by the Roman Catholic Church on priests and nuns in the most boring way imaginable.

1625 - England's King Charles I married French princess Henrietta Maria; not only would she become the mother of two kings (Charles II and James II) she would also be the grandmother of two queens (Mary II and Queen Anne) as well as William III - who, according to rumour was both a king and a queen - besides.

Photobucket1777 - At the outset of the American Revolution the Marquis de Lafayette (who during the subsequent French Revolution renounced his title in a fit of Republicanism and became plain-old Gilbert de Motier) landed near Charleston in order to help the Continental Congress to train its army, which he did as an unpaid volunteer. Some idea of the closeness between the has-been Marquis and the would-be President George Washington can be gleaned from David A. Barry's book Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship That Saved the Revolution, which will have to do until I decide* to take up writing slash fiction.

*Or am driven, out of sheer desperation, more like...

1798 - The Mission San Luis Rey de Francia was founded in what is now Oceanside, California.

1881 - The USS Jeannette was crushed in an Arctic Ocean ice pack and sunk under the command of George W. DeLong; owned by James Gordon Bennett, Jr., owner of the New York Herald, the Jeannette had been sent North to look for an overdue expedition aboard the Vega.

1886 - A fire devastated much of Vancouver; on the same day Bavaria's King Ludwig II was found dead in Lake Starnberg, south of Munich. Most historians feel the two events aren't related - and even a paranoid bastard such as myself can't force any connection, but I'll probably keep trying anyway...

1898 - Yukon Territory was formed, with Dawson chosen as its capital; the capital was moved to Whitehorse following World War II, to little effect.

1927 - A ticker-tape parade was held for aviator Charles Lindbergh down Manhattan's Fifth Avenue upon his return to New York City from Paris following his historic transatlantic flight on May 20th.

Photobucket1935 - In one of the biggest upsets in championship boxing, the 10 to 1 underdog James J. Braddock (shown, at right) defeated Max Baer at the Madison Square Garden Bowl in Long Island City, New York, making him the heavyweight champion of the world. Braddock's life was reverently inhabited by Russell Crowe in Ron Howard's 2005 biopic Cinderella Man; he was joined by Paul Giamatti as Braddock's manager Joe Gould and for once Squinty McCokeface doesn't ruin the film by playing Braddock's long-suffering wife Mae, although the unflattering - and inaccurate - portrayal of Max Baer (otherwise well-played by Craig Bierko) nearly does. 

1942 - The US government opened its Office of War Information.

1955 - Mir Mine - the Soviet Union's first diamond mine - was discovered.

1966 - The US Supreme Court ruled, in Miranda v. Arizona, that the police must inform suspects of their rights before questioning them; Justice John Marshall Harlan II didn't agree, nor did Justice Tom C. Clark, or Justices Potter Stewart and Byron White for that matter. Oh that wacky Warren Court!

1967 - U.S. President Lyndon B. Johnson nominated Solicitor-General Thurgood Marshall to become the first black justice on the US Supreme Court following the retirement of Justice Tom C. Clark.

1977 - Convicted Martin Luther King Jr. assassin James Earl Ray was recaptured after escaping from Brushy Mountain State Penitentiary three days earlier. 

1982 - Fahd became King of Saudi Arabia upon the death of his brother, Khalid. 

1983 - Pioneer 10 became the first man-made object to leave the solar system when it left the orbit of Neptune. 

1991 - Boris Yeltsin became Russia's first popularly elected President.

1996 - The Montana Freemen surrendered after an 81-day standoff with FBI agents.

1997 - A jury sentenced Timothy McVeigh to the death penalty for his part in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.
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