Friday, August 13, 2010
Birthday wishes go out today to the man partially responsible for one of the more wonderful one-hit wonders of the Eighties, Feargal Sharkey.
Written by accomplished hit-maker Maria McKee, it was nonetheless Sharkey's version of A Good Heart which went to the top of several international pop charts, including Australia and The Netherlands as well as the UK; although McKee wrote the song about her relationship with Benmont Tench - keyboard player with Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers - like any good pop song its message is universally relatable. It probably helps that for the first few weeks it was in heavy rotation almost everyone thought it was being sung by a woman, anyway.
The track achieved its greatest notoriety when Sarah Ferguson said it was her favourite in an interview on the eve of her wedding to Prince Andrew; the fact that it disappeared from the radio almost overnight is entirely a coincidence.
A n y w a y... Try as he might, Sharkey's quaver was unable to make so much as a peep with his follow up, You Little Thief, which - get this! - was written by Benmont Tench in reply to Maria McKee's original salvo and is also, in my arrogant opinion, a much better song. To quote Bart Simpson: 'George Burns was right... Show business is a hideous bitch goddess.'
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[As this map shows, the Aztec city of Tenochtitlan was a marvel of
civil engineering; alas, it was built by ignorant pagans, and so
it had to go. Currently it - and Lake Texcoco, in which it was
built - now reside several layers beneath Mexico City.]
1521 - Hernan Cortes finally succeeded in capturing the Aztec capital, Tenochtitlan, having destroyed much of it in the process of a ten-week siege; the city would be rebuilt - albeit far less efficiently - along the lines of a Spanish city, and many of Mexico City's problems today (chief among them a copious and stable water supply) can be traced to this event.
1553 - Michael Servetus was arrested for heresy in Geneva at the instigation of John Calvin; although Servetus was many things - including one of the most learned men of science and medicine of his day - he hadn't yet learned that being smart was (and still is) a pretty good way to fall foul of religious authorities, whatever their denomination. Following a brief show trial, Servetus would be burned at the stake on October 27th (which I'm sure is what Jesus would have done).
1704 - During the War of the Spanish Succession, English and Austrian forces commanded by the Duke of Marlborough and Prince Eugene of Savoy were victorious over those of France and Bavaria led by Duc de Tallard, Ferdinand de Marsin, and Maximilian II Emanuel at the Battle of Blenheim. For his efforts, Marlborough was awarded the Park of Woodstock by Queen Anne and given £240,000 to build a house within it; to this day Blenheim Palace is the only palace in Britain not held in trust for the Nation by the Royal Family, and still serves as the seat of the Dukes of Marlborough.
1792 - France's King Louis XVI was formally arrested by the National Tribunal, declared an enemy of the people, and imprisoned at the Temple; he would soon be joined there by his queen Marie Antoinette, his heir (the erstwhile Louis XVII), his daughter Princess Marie-Thérèse, and his sister Madame Élisabeth.
1814 - The Convention of London - a treaty between the United Kingdom and the United Provinces - was signed by Robert Stewart, Viscount Castlereagh and Hendrik Fagel in London.
1913 - Otto Witte may or may not have been crowned King of Albania; his training as an acrobat, which should have more than qualified him to rule, somehow didn't, although his megalomaniacal fantasies later made him something of a celebrity in Germany*.
*Who knew Germans could be so entertained by the megalomaniacal fantasies of a mad man? Go figure...
1918 - Opha Mae Johnson became the first woman to enlist in the United States Marine Corps; more than 300 others followed her on that first day alone.
1920 - During the Polish-Soviet War the Battle of Warsaw began; it took the army of the Second Polish Republic - commanded by Józef Piłsudski, Tadeusz Rozwadowski, and Władysław Sikorski - twelve days to defeat the Red Army troops of Leon Trotsky, Mikhail Tukhachevski, and Semyon Budyonny.
1937 - The Battle of Shanghai - the first of the twenty-two major engagements fought between China's National Revolutionary Army and the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War - began.
1940 - The second phase of the Battle of Britain began, when Luftwaffe fighters bombed British coastal airfields as part of Unternehmen Adlerangriff, or Operation Eagle Strike.
1960 - The Central African Republic declared its independence from France.
1961 - Berliners awoke to find their city divided.
1968 - Alexandros Panagoulis attempted to assassinate the Greek dictator Colonel Georgios Papadopoulos in the town of Varkiza, south of Athens.
1973 - Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was elected Prime Minister of Pakistan.
1977 - At the so-called Battle of Lewisham protesters opposed to Britain's far-right National Front clashed with the neo-fascist group during an attempted march from New Cross to Lewisham in southeast London; despite employing their fancy new riot shields for the first time ever in the UK outside of Ulster - shields which would become a common enough sight in British streets over the next decade - 55 of the more than 3,000 members of the Metropolitan Police on hand that day were among the 111 injured, while more than 200 arrests were made from among the more than 5000 National Front supporters present and the 400 or so members of the Socialist Workers Party opposed to them taking their bigoted, ignorant hate-mongering to the streets.
1979 - The roof of the uncompleted Rosemont Horizon near Chicago collapsed, killing 5 workers and injuring 16.
1985 - Three-year-old Jamie Gavin became the youngest person ever to receive a heart-lung transplant, at London's Harefield Hospital.
1991 - The Prince of Wales resigned as patron of the Museum of Scotland all a-flap over architecture or some damn thing.
1996 - Belgian sex offender Marc Dutroux, his wife Michelle Martin, and Michel Lelièvre were arrested on suspicion of kidnapping 14-year-old Laetitia Delhez; all were eventually found guilty in June 2004, and sentenced to terms of life, 30, and 25 years, respectively.
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