Monday, November 22, 2010

"Suicide Blonde" by INXS

On this day in 1997 Michael Hutchence - lead singer and front man of the energetic Australian rock band INXS - was found dead in Room 524 of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Sydney's tony Double Bay neighbourhood, apparently the victim of an accident which had occurred while he was engaging in autoerotic asphyxiation. Hutchence and his bandmates were then in the midst of the final leg of a tour in support of their recently released 10th studio album Elegantly Wasted.

As is usually the case with an untimely death - especially one which occurred under mysterious circumstances - Hutchence's death has not only created more questions than answers but resulted in a lengthy legal rigamarole as well.  It also gave the above former good-time song morose undertones - even before the overdose of Hutchence's longtime love and baby mama* Paula Yates in September 2000.

*With whom he had a daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily - who now lives with Yates' ex 'Saint' Bob Geldof for some reason.

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Pop History Moment: The Killing of JFK

The dozen or so times I've watched this seem to bear out the prevailing opinion that the President was shot twice, or at least by two people: once or twice in the chest from a long distance (probably by Lee Harvey Oswald) and once again in the head at close range, probably by the driver of the car, Secret Service Agent William 'Bill' Greer.

This enduring mystery and the concomitant obfuscation it engendered plagues the American psyche still...

Yet it also seems like the truth could potentially reveal itself at any moment; the principal players are all dying off, and surely one of them one day, in some kind of morphine-induced stupor, will confess all they know in order to lighten their soul's load as it prepares to leave its death bed. Not that it matters, except in bringing closure; it won't bring him back, nor will it undo the many grave injustices that were committed in its doing.

When John F. Kennedy was assassinated on this day in 1963 the larger portion of the American Dream died with him; as with the previous killings of Lincoln (and, to a lesser extent, those of Garfield and McKinley) the idea that anyone who assumes the highest office in the land - if they are able to grasp the American imagination, or bring about any substantive progress - can and will be killed for doing so, has almost certainly discouraged many great visionaries from even attempting it, leaving the field wide open for the merely ambitious, grasping, or power-hungry.

For all his faults as President, Kennedy brought into office a sense that hope can prevail; his murder only proved that hope, like happiness, fame, or power, is but fleeting. Anyway, his role over the more than forty years since he was killed as Holy Martyr to the Republic is one which is more enduring than any eight year Presidency could ever hope to be.

Any assassin (or assassins) who wished to snuff out President Kennedy's light on that cold sunny Friday in Dallas only succeeded in making it burn brighter.

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POPnews - November 22nd

[Joseph Stalin refused to attend the Cairo Conference if Chiang Kai-shek was going to be there; he only had a few days to sulk, though, as the Tehran Conference was soon organized to keep the big diva in the loop.]

498 CE - After the death of Anastasius II, Symmachus was elected Pope in the Lateran Palace, while Laurentius was elected Pope in Santa Maria Maggiore; Laurentius was supported by Byzantine Emperor Anastasius, but Symmachus had the support of the more powerful Theodoric the Great, King of the Goths, and so prevailed.

1573 - The Brazilian city of Niterói was founded by the Tupi chief Araribóia - who, following his conversion to Roman Catholicism in 1568, would later be re-named Martim Afonso after the Portugese explorer Martim Afonso de Sousa; nevertheless, Niterói remains the only Brazilian city to have been founded by a non-assimiliated non-Christian Brazilian Amerindian.

1574 - Chile's Juan Fernández Islands were discovered by accident, when Juan Fernández was blown off course during a voyage from Peru to the Chilean city of Valparaiso; the islands were later home to Alexander Selkirk, whose four-year exile there following a disagreement with captain of the St. George William Dampier inspired Daniel Defoe's novel Robinson Crusoe.

1718 - Pirate Edward Teach (better known as Blackbeard) was killed in battle off the coast of North Carolina during an engagement with Lt. Robert Maynard.

1830 - Having defeated the Tory government of the Duke of Wellington at the polls, Earl Grey of the Whig Party became Britain's Prime Minister when he was invited to form the United Kingdom's next government by King William IV.

1869 - The tea clipper Cutty Sark was launched from Dumbarton, in Scotland; one of the last clippers ever to be built, it remains one of only three such 19th Century vessels still surviving to this day despite a fire aboard it in May 2007.

1935 - The China Clipper left Alameda, California, with a cargo of more than 110,000 pieces of airmail; it arrived in Manila on the 29th. The first trans-Pacific airmail delivery was nearly a failure when the plane couldn't clear the Golden Gate Bridge (then still under construction) and pilot Edwin C. Musick had to make a daring pass under it to avoid crashing.

1943 - US President Franklin D. Roosevelt, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, and Chinese leader Chiang Kai-Shek met at the Cairo Conference to discuss ways to defeat Japan in the ongoing War in the Pacific.

1975 - Juan Carlos I was declared King of Spain following the death of Francisco Franco.

1977 - British Airways inaugurated regular Concorde service between London and New York.

1987 - An unknown person wearing a Max Headroom mask intruded upon the signals of two Chicago telelvision stations; neither WGN-TV nor WTTW were ever able to determine who had committed these acts of piracy.

1988 - The first prototype of the B-2 Spirit stealth bomber was revealed.

1989 - Lebanese President Rene Moawad was assassinated when a bomb went off near his motorcade as it passed through West Beirut; no investigation into the attack has ever been carried out.

1990 - Margaret Thatcher resigned as Prime Minister following a political assassination at her party's conference, in which she failed to retain the leadership of Britain's Conservative Party.

1995 - Pixar's Toy Story was released, making it the first all-CGI animated feature; today it remains one of the best, but because of its script, not the CGI.

2002 - Anti-Miss World protests in Abuja, Nigeria, killed 100.

2003 - England won the Rugby World Cup.

2004 - Ukraine's Orange Revolution began, eventually unseating Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych in favour of Viktor Yushchenko, amid charges that the former had poisoned the latter with dioxin.

2005 - Angela Merkel was elected Chancellor of Germany, the first woman to ever hold that post.

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