Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In Memoriam: Geronimo

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It seems that the good old Skull and Bones society at Yale - you know, Dubya's old drinking and coking and whoring buddies - regularly desecrate the remains of the Chiricahua Apache leader Geronimo, born on this day in 1829; reportedly, it is his skull they kiss during their initiation.

Of course, it's all just a rumour; just because the skull was stolen from Geronimo's grave at Fort Sill in 1918 - and just because it happened on Prescott Bush's watch - is a meaningless coincidence of the sort members of the Bush family have always worked mightily to erase from the public consciousness.
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Pop History Moment: The Assassination of Nikolai Bobrikov

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketOn this day in 1904 Finnish nationalist Eugen Schauman (shown, at right) assassinated Nikolai Bobrikov, the Russian Governor-General of Finland.

What makes this particular event notable for our purposes - apart from its utter obscurity - is the fact that it's mentioned in the 1922 novel Ulysses by James Joyce; being so noted in a hugely influential novel makes this obscure killing legitimately pop.

The novel takes place on this day in 1904, the same day as the killing; fortunately for him Leopold Bloom has an airtight alibi.
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What's The Occasion? Bloomsday!

Bloomsday is the day in 1904 described in James Joyce's acclaimed novel Ulysses; as it happens, this day in 1904 turned out to be a most extraordinary day indeed for Leopold Bloom and his soon-to-be fiancee Nora Barnacle as they perambulated into and around South Dublin's Ringsend neighbourhood (which was then a separate village).

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketYeah... I've still never read it. But I will, I swear. It's been right at the top of my read queue for several years now, staring at me with its phone book thickness, enticing me with the writerly cred I stand to gain by actually being one of the few to slog through it.

See, it's one of those things, like Waiting for Godot; listening to people rave about the thing for years kind of has me spooked that it'll never live up to the hype. I imagine it's how those poor PC people feel about Macs; I mean why else would you cling to some ugly out-moded piece of crap that doesn't work? I can only hope that, when I finally get down to reading it, Ulysses is as amazing as any of the Macs I've owned.

Still, whether you've read the book or not, today is the day to be in Dublin, as the city comes alive(r) with pub crawls and public readings to honour one of its favoured sons and his landmark work of Modernist literature. The event has been growing in popularity every year since it was first held in 1954; many of the events are sponsored by the James Joyce Centre.
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"Talk Of The Town" by The Pretenders

Musically The Pretenders have always alternated between punkish hardness and wistful sentiment; whereas Bad Boys Get Spanked would be a prime example of the former this, then, would be one of the foremost (and first) examples of the latter. Released on both of the band's 1981 albums, Extended Play and Pretenders II, Talk of the Town features some of guitar god James Honeyman-Scott's finest early work*; the video shows the band performing the song on Top of the Pops in 1980.

Honeyman-Scott (known as 'Jimmy') died on this day in 1982**, but not before successfully recruiting his eventual successor - Robbie McIntosh - at a band meeting two days before his death; at the same meeting founding band member Pete Farndon was famously dismissed for his rampant drug use. Farndon died ten months after his best mate Jimmy, leaving fellow founder Martin Chambers and later addition Chrissie Hynde to carry on without them.

*Although, given that he died at the age of only 25, all his work could be said to be early work.
Echoes of Jimmy's work have reverberated through rock and pop music ever since, and can be heard in the jangly genius of Johnny Marr, among other places.

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POPnews - June 16th

[Fortress Louisbourg was a ruin when, in 1961, the reconstruction of about one-quarter of the site was undertaken at the behest of Victor Malm; with as many of its original stones as possible, and availing themselves of the labour of unemployed coal miners who were specially trained in 18th Century building techniques, the archaeologists, historians, engineers, and architects responsible for one of Canada's most popular National Historic Sites have managed to plausibly recreate what fort life must have been like in Colonial Cape Breton Island in the 1740s.]

1487 - The Battle of Stoke Field - considered the final battle of the Wars of the Roses - pitted the Yorkist forces of the pretender Lambert Simnel under John de la Pole, Earl of Lincoln (who died in battle on that day) against those of the Lancastrian usurper Henry VII.

1745 - Sir William Pepperell captured Nova Scotia's French-held Fortress Louisbourg during the War of the Austrian Succession.

1755 - The French surrender to the British at New Brunswick's Fort Beauséjour during the French and Indian War would eventually lead to the expulsion of the Acadians from Nova Scotia - a time in Canadian history known as the Great Upheaval.

1858 - Abraham Lincoln delivers his House Divided speech in Springfield, Illinois.

1883 - At the Victoria Hall Disaster 183 children were crushed or trampled to death during a stampede at a theatre in Sunderland.

1891 - John Abbott became Canada's third prime minister.

1897 - A treaty annexing the Republic of Hawai'i to the United States, was signed, although the Republic would not be dissolved until a year later, when - under the terms of the Newlands Resolution - it became the Territory of Hawai'i.

1903 - The Ford Motor Company was incorporated.

1904 - Irish author James Joyce began a relationship with Nora Barnacle, and subsequently used the date to set the actions for his 1922 novel Ulysses; in the literary world - and especially in Dublin - today is traditionally regarded as Bloomsday.

1911 - A stony meteorite weighing 772 grams fell to Earth near the Wisconsin town of Kilbourn, damaging a barn.

1924 - China's Whampoa Military Academy was founded.

1958 - Imre Nagy, Pál Maléter and other leaders of 1956's Hungarian Uprising were executed.

1963 - On the Soviet Union's Vostok 6 mission, cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova became the first woman in space.

1967 - The three-day Monterey International Pop Music Festival began in Monterey, California.

1976 - The Soweto Uprising - initially a non-violent march by 15,000 students in the Johannesburg township of Soweto - turned into days of rioting when police opened fire on the crowd, killing 566; the anniversary of the massacre is now commemorated as Youth Day in South Africa.

1977 - Oracle Corporation was incorporated by Larry Ellison, Bob Miner, and Ed Oates as Software Development Laboratories (SDL) in Redwood Shores, California.

1989 - Imre Nagy, the former Hungarian Prime Minister, was reburied in Budapest - 31 years to the day after his death.

1997 - At the Dairat Labguer massacre in Algeria, 50 people were killed by some 30 guerrillas; the massacre has been attributed to Islamist groups such as the GIA.

2008 - On the first day they were allowed to marry in California, many gay couples tied the knot throughout the state; despite the fact that their marriages were later ruled invalid by the passage of Proposition 8, their relationships remained intact - no doubt much to the chagrin of the haters responsible for denying as many as 18,000 couples their civil rights.
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