Sunday, October 17, 2010

Pop History Moment: The Death of Pierre Laporte

On this day in 1970, members of the Chenier Cell of the FLQ announced that their high-profile hostage Quebec Minister of Labour and Vice-Premier Pierre Laporte had been executed; their communique to police referred to Laporte derisively as the 'Minister of Unemployment and Assimilation'. True to their word, Laporte's body was found strangled to death, stuffed into the trunk of a stolen car and abandoned in a wooded area near Saint-Hubert Airport, a few miles south of Montreal.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketMembers of the Chenier Cell - Paul Rose, Jacques Rose, Francis Simard, and Bernard Lortie - were all arrested on November 6th, at their hideout; all but Lortie escaped, only to be recaptured in St. Luc at the end of December. Though all four were charged with the murder of Pierre Laporte, and in March 1971 each of them were sentenced to life terms for their part in the crime, the last of them had been released into the community by 1982.

In the years since, Paul Rose (who was the cell leader) has tried to run for federal office for the NDP, which caused the national party to sever its ties to the provincial arm in the 1990s*; Rose is still active in the trade union movement and occasionally works as a radio commentator. Jacques Rose is an independent contractor and supporter of the separatist movement. Francis Simard has since written several books on the October Crisis, one of which Pour en finir avec octobre has been made into a movie by Pierre Falardeau. Bernard Lortie has kept a low profile; alas, not quite as low as Pierre Laporte...

*Decimating the gains for that party made there in the 1970s by leader Ed Broadbent.
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"Sikidim" by Tarkan

As I am ever on the lookout for music from around the globe (not to mention super hot guys performing that music!) at some point since I began this blog I stumbled across Tarkan; this song of his has seldom been off my iPod since...

From one of Turkey's most famous pop singers, Tarkan Tevetoğlu, this song Şıkıdım (Shake) is apparently taken from his 1994 album A-Acayipsin, and also appears on his 2006 English-language debut album Come Closer.
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Gratuitous Brunette: Montgomery Clift

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After a decade spent distinguishing himself on the Broadway stage, Montgomery Clift - who was born on this day in 1920 - arrived in Hollywood in 1948 only to distinguish himself there too; his debut in Red River brought a new credibility to Westerns, the acting in which hadn't generally involved any psychological depth up to that point.

Clift's career prior to 1956 combined his angelic looks, massive talent, and inner turmoil to guarantee box-office gold; opposite 19 year-old Elizabeth Taylor in A Place in the Sun (1951) they fairly light up the screen, and in From Here to Eternity (1953) he added his considerable skill to what was already a powerhouse ensemble.

It was in May of that year, however, during principal photography for the antebellum epic Raintree County, that Clift was involved in a car accident which left him in chronic pain, his looks shattered... Before long they were calling his 'the longest suicide in Hollywood', as he added addiction upon addiction; while co-starring in The Misfits (1961) with Marilyn Monroe, she was quoted as saying that he was 'the only person I know who is in worse shape than I am.' Yikes!

Well, for what it's worth he managed to outlive her by four years, finally dying in July 1966. Ever since, armchair psychologists have attempted to understand Clift's torment, and most have put it down to his sexuality. Although he had always had affairs with both women and men, those who knew him best (like Taylor) felt that if he could have just found a nice man and settled down, he might have had at least a chance to be happy.

Just his luck, then, to be trapped in Hollywood, where nice men are said to be in as short a supply as quiet lives...
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Happy Birthday Margot Kidder

No matter how boring the movie she's in - and she's been in some real doozies! - you can bet she'll never be boring in it; whether it's because of her charisma or because her sheer viewability rivals that of Christopher Walken, well, who can say? Maybe it's a little bit of both.

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketVaulted from obscurity* in 1978 - when she was cast to play Lois Lane opposite Christopher Reeve in Superman - it turns out Margot Kidder really just hated the attention. As her fame grew so did her reputation for being difficult; as her reputation for being difficult grew her fame shrank... Problem solved! Or so it would seem, anyway. After clashing with director Richard Donner during Superman II, for instance, her part in Superman III was cut to less than five minutes. She got considerably more screentime in Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, though. For what it's worth...

Whether the demons she's battled were the by-product of fame or within her all along (and whether the fame she found was toxic in and of itself or whether she was merely allergic to it) Margot Kidder is still with us, and therefore still likely to turn up in the strangest places; better yet, she's just as likely to be endearingly kooky - and cussing up a storm - when she does!

*AKA Canadian show business... >shudder<
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"My Oh My" by Aqua

Birthday wishes go out to supercute multi-ethnic pop phenom of yesteryear, René Dif - who was so effective in providing male vocals to Danish pop combo Aqua, and whose growly vocals have been in residence on my iPod ever since they first hit my CD player in the waning years of the 20th Century...

My Oh My was actually released as a single before Barbie Girl made the band an international sensation, owing to the litigiosity and corporate piggery of Mattel, Inc.; since I've already posted Barbie Girl here (on Barbie's birthday, natch!) I thought this video's jaunty pirate motif might make it most ideal to post in this Hallowe'en season. The song, of course, originated on the band's 1997 album Aquarium; although sung by René Dif and Lene Nystrøm Rasted, it was written by their fellow band members Claus Norreen and Søren Nystrøm Rasted. The video, like all five the band made in support of this album, was directed by Peder Pedersen.
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POPnews - October 17th

[Owing to a subway series between the Oakland Athletics and the
San Francisco Giants during the 1989 World Series, Game Three
- scheduled to be held at
Candlestick Park on this day in 1989 -
had to be cancelled; it also marks the first time an
American earthquake had been televised.

1091 - A tornado devastated central London.

1346 - Scotland's King David II was captured by England's King Edward III in Calais following the Battle of Neville's Cross and imprisoned in the Tower of London for 11 years before his country could afford to have him ransomed.

1456 - The University of Greifswald was established, making it only the second oldest such institution in northern Europe.

1604 - German astronomer Johannes Kepler began observing a supernova in the constellation Ophiuchus, which later came to be known as Kepler's Star, despite the fact that the spectacular phenomenon had first been observed in northern Italy on October 9th.

1610 - France's King Louis XIII was crowned at the cathedral in Rheims.

1660 - The Regicides who had ordered the death of Charles I in 1649 - among them Adrian Scroope, Thomas Scot, Gregory Clement - were themselves executed at Charing Cross.

1806 - Haiti's despotic Emperor, Jacques I, was assassinated.

1814 - The London Beer Flood occurred at the Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road in the London parish of St. Giles, killing nine.

1860 - The first playing of The Open Championship (referred to outside the UK as the British Open) was held at Scotland's Prestwick Golf Club; nowadays, of course, Britain's premier golfing event rotates between nine different courses. For the record, the winner of that first tournament was Willie Park, Snr., who was awarded a championship belt for his efforts.

1931 - Al Capone was convicted of income tax evasion, apparently.

1933 - Albert Einstein, fleeing Nazi Germany, arrived in Princeton, New Jersey.

1956 - The world's first commercial nuclear power station was officially opened by Queen Elizabeth II at Sellafield, in the English county of Cumbria; when it was finally shut in March 2003 the main reactor had been in continuous operation for nearly 47 years.

1961 - As many as 400 Algerian protesters were massacred by the Paris police at the instigation of Nazi collaborator Maurice Papon, then chief of the city's Prefecture of Police.

1965 - The New York World's Fair closed after two years.

1967 - The musical Hair began its long run off-Broadway at the Public Theater.

1979 - Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

1980 - Queen Elizabeth II became the first British monarch to be received at the Vatican when she visited Pope John Paul II.

1989 - The San Francisco Bay Area was badly shaken by the Loma Prieta earthquake, a 7.1 magnitude reminder of the Earth's power which occurred at 5:04 PM local time, during that day's rush hour.

2005 - Stephen Colbert's The Colbert Report debuted.
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