Sunday, August 29, 2010

"Send Me To The 'Lectric Chair" by Dinah Washington

Dinah Washington's 1957 album The Bessie Smith Songbook - from which this song, Send Me To The 'lectric Chair, is taken - cemented her reputation as Queen of the Blues. The Pop Culture Institute would like very much to recommend it to our readers, except it's still only available on cassette*; that in itself is pretty much the major cause of the blues around here today. Well, that and the fact that this gifted singer with the distinctive voice only lived to the age of 39.

Born on this day in 1929, Washington had joined Lionel Hampton's band by 1944, made herself a sensation by the mid-Fifties, and was dead of an accidental overdose by December 1963.

*Our older readers will remember cassettes as being the only way to efficiently steal music prior to MP3s.
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"Over The Great City" by Edward Carpenter

Over the great city,
Where the wind rustles through the parks and gardens,
In the air, the high clouds brooding,
In the lines of street perspective, the lamps, the traffic,
The pavements and the innumerable feet upon them,
I Am: make no mistake--do not be deluded.

Think not because I do not appear at the first glance--because the centuries have gone by and there is no assured tidings of me--that therefore I am not there.
Think not because all goes its own way that therefore I do not go my own way through all.
The fixed bent of hurrying faces in the street--each turned towards its own light, seeing no other--yet I am the Light towards which they all look.
The toil of so many hands to such multifarious ends, yet my hand knows the touch and twining of them all.

All come to me at last.
There is no love like mine;
For all other love takes one and not another;
And other love is pain, but this is joy eternal.
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In Memoriam: Edward Carpenter

By the dawn of the Victorian Age the Industrial Revolution had rapidly unmade the world as it had existed unchanged for centuries, causing a sea change in every aspect of Western life; the Victorians, then, became determined to solve the considerable troubles brought about by moving a large segment of the population from the countryside to cities to staff the Establishment's factories before those problems manifested themselves as a revolution. Edward Carpenter's essay Civilisation, its Cause and Cure was much-discussed following its publication, especially amongst the chattering classes, another group born in this era, making him a renowned social philosopher at a time in British history when social philosophy was an increasingly favoured pastime.

PhotobucketBorn on this day in 1844, Carpenter was initially on his way to a comfortable if boring life in academe and the church when his gradual dissatisfaction with such a life manifested itself in a growing bohemianism. Instrumental in the foundation of the Fabian Society (and its successor, the Labour Party) Carpenter was able to use his considerable powers of persuasion to bring his many famous friends around to his way of thinking with regards to vegetarianism, psychotherapy, and sexual liberation.

Carpenter certainly practiced what he preached; after 1898, he shared his life, his home, and his bed with George Merrill, and as early as 1908 Carpenter's writing had taken on the still-taboo subject of homosexuality. Although his later work probably affected his career in life - and even to a certain extent his legacy following his death in June 1929 - it was in death that Carpenter exerted his greatest influence; by giving generations of professional homosexuals the impetus for one of the greatest social changes in history - namely the erosion of homophobia - Carpenter's words have shaped today's gay community, a concept foreign to many of his contemporaries but one which he was among the first to elucidate.
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"If That's Your Boyfriend" by Me'Shell NdegéOcello

Birthday wishes go out today to Me'Shell NdegéOcello, who burst onto the scene in 1993; aside from her talent (and her talent for the controversial quip in interviews) the reason for her meteoric rise was likely due to the fact that she was the first act (other than Madonna) signed to Madonna's Maverick Records.

If That's Your Boyfriend (He Wasn't Last Night) first appeared on her 1993 album Plantation Lullabies; its funky, old-school sound was the ideal antidote to grunge, but backing it with a seriously stylish video was just gilding the lily.
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POPnews - August 29th

[The islands of the St. Kilda archipelago, off the west coast of Scotland, were purchased by Lord Dumfries in 1931, and bequeathed to the National Trust for Scotland in 1957. Although they'd been occupied for nearly 2,000 years, currently the only residents of the islands are seabirds (including Northern Gannets, Atlantic Puffins, Northern Fulmars, as well as the endemic species the St Kilda Wren), the St Kilda Field Mouse, and military personnel.]

1350 - During the Battle of Winchelsea (or, if you prefer a more Continental flavour, Les Espagnols sur Mer) the English navy of 50 under King Edward III and his heir the Black Prince defeated a Castilian fleet of 40 ships commanded by Don Carlos de la Cerda. 

1475 - The Treaty of Picquigny ended a brief war over the supposed claim to the French throne by the English king... As a result France's Louis XI paid England's Edward IV a very kingly sum of 75,000 crowns and a yearly pension thereafter of 50,000 crowns. The French King also ransomed Queen Margaret of Anjou (wife of Henry VI) with 50,000 crowns and many other English lords as well; among them only Richard, Duke of Gloucester (later Richard III) refused the pension owing to his opposition to the treaty. 

1498 - Vasco da Gama decided to depart Calicut and returned to Portugal. 

1526 - At the Battle of Mohács the Ottoman Turks led by Suleiman the Magnificent defeated and killed Louis II - the last Jagiellonian king of Hungary and Bohemia - as well as his commander Pál Tomori. 

1786 - Shays' Rebellion - an armed uprising of Massachusetts farmers - began in response to high debt and tax burdens. 

1825 - The Kingdom of Portugal recognized the independence of Brazil when it signed a treaty to that effect with the United Kingdom; in reality, the Empire of Brazil had been independent of Portugal (with a Portugese prince serving as Emperor Pedro I) since September 1822, which is the date Brazilians celebrate on their Independence Day. 

1842 - The signing of the Treaty of Nanking ended the First Opium War. 

1882 - English cricket died, at least according to those who care about such things, like the renowned wits at The Sporting Times, who wrote the sport's obituary; when Australia beat England at Lord's Cricket Ground for the first time it was the scandal of its age. The Ashes, a biennial tournament between the two countries, commemorates this event. 

1885 - The first motorcycle was patented by Gottlieb Daimler. 

1907 - The Quebec Bridge - spanning the Saint Lawrence River west of Quebec City - collapsed during construction, killing 75 workers. 

1911 - Ishi, considered the last Native American untouched by white culture, emerged from the woods near Oroville in northeastern California; most of his people, the Yahi, had been wiped out by the Three Knolls Massacre in 1865. 

1930 - The last 36 resident of the Scottish offshore island of St. Kilda were relocated to Morvern; among the many works of art inspired by this event is a song by folk-rockers Runrig, whose song called Edge Of The World appears on their 1991 album The Big Wheel. 

1943 - Following the imposition of martial law during the Nazi occupation of Denmark, the Danish Navy scuttled 32 of its larger vessels to prevent their falling under German control; half of the scuttled ships were eventually salvaged, though, but they deserve props for having at least made the effort. 

1944 - The so-called Slovak National Uprising took place as 60,000 Slovak troops turned against Nazi occupation. 

1966 - The Beatles gave their last scheduled concert at Candlestick Park in San Francisco, following which the controversy accompanying their opposition to the Vietnam War caused them to retreat back into the studio, where they recorded a string of hugely popular albums - including Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Magical Mystery Tour, The Beatles (aka The White Album), Yellow Submarine, Abbey Road, and Let It Be - before finally breaking up in 1970. 

1970 - At a rally in East Los Angeles held by the Chicano Moratorium against the Vietnam War, a police riot killed three people, including journalist Ruben Salazar. 

1991 - Sicilian Libero Grassi, a clothier from Palermo, was killed by the Mafia after taking a stand against paying the extortion (or 'pizzo') demanded to protect his lucrative business, Sigma. Grassi's spirited defiance of organized crime in what is arguably its capital city - in addition to writing broadsides for the Giornale di Sicilia, he'd gone so far as to identify the men who'd been extorting him by name - made him a celebrity throughout Italy; so popular was he that as many as 10,000 people took to the streets to protest his killing. Salvatore 'Salvino' Madonia - whose father, Francesco Madonia, was patriarch of the area's Resuttana family - was later arrested, convicted, and jailed for his murder. 

2005 - Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast of the United States; hardest hit was the Mississippi Delta, while much of New Orleans was devastated. The city has been in turmoil ever since... 

2007 - A United States Air Force nuclear weapons incident took place at Minot Air Force Base and Barksdale Air Force Base.
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