Thursday, February 03, 2011

Happy Birthday Your Serene Highness

Well, the Internet Photo Gods have forced me to play dirty... In failing - yet again! - to provide me with a picture for this post I was forced to subvert their considerable will and derive my own*; such is my zeal for royal stories that only my own poverty prevented me from getting on a plane and buggering off to Liechtenstein to get a proper one**...

PhotobucketNot that I would have necessarily been able to get one even then; despite what could be an enormous global profile, the wife of Liechtenstein's Prince Maximilian - they were married in both Vaduz and at Manhattan's Church of St. Vincent Ferrer in January 2000, and have one son, Prince Alfons, born in May 2001 - maintains the discreet semi-anonymity of the true socialite. While such decorum is the norm in almost every royal house in the world, if ever there was a non-Windsor capable of a Windsor-style (not to mention Windsor-sized) splash it's Princess Angela.

The world's only Blatino Princess (despite what you might hear to the contrary from the bodegas of East LA to voguing competitions across Harlem) the Panamanian Angela Brown - who parlayed a degree from New York City's Parsons School of Design (as well as one of that institution's Oscar de la Renta Gold Thimble Awards) into a title with the Princely Family of Liechtenstein - is a woman with clear celebrity potential. Think of the Rania-like charitable appeals such a woman could launch, the enormous positive impact she could have in a post-Obama world, the enormous good it could do for Liechtenstein, the Diana-esque sensation she could make...

If you cannot, Your Serene Highness, I certainly can***. Call me...

*It's happened only one other time, February 29th 2008, on the birthday of James Ogilvy - but if I keep having trouble finding pictures I may have to begin resorting to this extreme measure more frequently.
**Now that I think of it, I could have contacted the Swiss Consulate in Vancouver...
**Also, I work cheap. I mean fifty grand a year and expenses cheap - especially with a job title like 'Blogger-Royal' and a grace-and-favour apartment at Schloss Vaduz. Plus I'm enormously deferential and a major-league brown-noser - in other words, the ideal courtier!

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"Peggy Sue" by Buddy Holly

Buddy Holly was top of the bill on The Winter Dance Party, already a seasoned veteran at the age of 22; in addition to Peggy Sue - shown here in a dire piece of kinescope from a December 1957 episode of The Arthur Murray Party, which was nevertheless the best clip available to me - Holly was known for the singles That'll Be the Day, Rave On, Oh Boy!, and Maybe Baby.

His death cut short a promising career, a career which is nonetheless still being accorded accolades to this day, including the obligatory biopic, 1978's dubiously truthful The Buddy Holly Story, which starred the dubiously human Gary Busey.
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"Chantilly Lace" by The Big Bopper

At the ripe old age of 28, he was the eminence grise of The Winter Dance Party, and poised to take the music industry by storm as well, having already thought of the idea to wed music and pictures in a form we would today recognize as the video.

Equally attuned to the show as well as the business of show business, J. P. Richardson once broadcast continuously for five days, two hours and eight minutes, playing 1,821 records and taking showers during five-minute newscasts; during the marathon, he lost 35 pounds (16 kg). Radio station KTRM paid its star DJ $746.50 for his overtime and when it was all over he slept for 20 hours.

His enormous stamina temporarily sapped by a cold, and tired of having to squeeze his defensive lineman's frame into a narrow bus seat, he bargained his way onto the Beechcraft Bonanza that would claim his life on this day in 1959, along with the lives of his friends Buddy Holly and Ritchie Valens. The subsequent crash meant his wife would have no husband, his daughter no father, and his unborn son a career for life.

Born two months after the Big Bopper met his end, Jay P. Richardson now tours the country as the Big Bopper Jr., including an annual gig at the Surf Ballroom, where his father had last performed. The crown jewel of his set - Chantilly Lace, which was the third most played song of 1958 - is seen here performed by the old man himself on American Bandstand, complete with an introduction by Dick Clark!
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"La Bamba" by "Ritchie Valens"

His career while he was alive lasted just eight months, not long enough to gain him much in the way of on-air exposure; which is why I've had to resort to a clip from the 1987 biopic La Bamba in this instance.

Nevertheless, the impact Ritchie Valens made with just three hit singles - Come On, Let's Go, Donna, and La Bamba - is still being felt today, as he was the first performer to bring a Latin feel to rock and roll. So while no one seems to have his appearance on American Bandstand or The Ed Sullivan Show available, at least we have a couple of minutes of easy on the eyes Lou Diamond Phillips - expertly lip-syncing La Bamba, to the musical accompaniment of Los Lobos - for a genuine pop culture experience...

Only 17 on this day in 1959 - The Day the Music Died - Valens has been posthumously awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and has been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as well as the Rockabilly Hall of Fame.
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Pop History Moment: The Day The Music Died


Whomever it was planned the itinerary of The Winter Dance Party should have had their head examined; the tour of early rock and roll notables was to cover 24 cities in 21 days, but leapfrogged all over the map, making travel between locations a logistical nightmare. The solution was obvious to Buddy Holly, who arranged for a Beechcraft Bonanza to fly between gigs, rather than spending hours a day in a bus traveling back and forth across the freezing Midwest. Holly was a driven, ambitious sort who didn't have time to waste.

After playing an extra gig at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, Holly was anxious to do some laundry, and since the laundromat in Clear Lake was closed he was in a hurry to get to the next one, in Moorhead, Minnesota so he could at least have clean socks to wear. Having chartered the plane and acquired the services of a pilot, Roger Peterson, Holly arranged for Waylon Jennings to accompany him.

J.P. 'The Big Bopper' Richardson had gotten a cold while on tour, and so asked Jennings if he could take his seat on the plane, to which request Jennings acquiesced; it would prove to be one of his smarter career choices. When Ritchie Valens heard that Holly and his bandmate Tommy Allsup were going up in a small plane, on a lark Valens decided he wanted to go; there was a coin toss as they were set to leave the Surf Ballroom for the airport, which Valens 'won'. A final seat was promised to Dion DiMucci of Dion & The Belmonts, who balked at paying the steep $36 charter fee, and stayed behind.

Shortly after 1 AM on this day in 1959 the plane took off from the Mason City Municipal Airport bound for Fargo, North Dakota, (just across the Red River from Moorhead, and the nearest airport). The pilot hadn't filed a flight plan, intending to do it while in the air. Two hours later, when they had yet to arrive, they and their aircraft were reported missing. The following morning a local pilot by the name of Jerry Dwyer (owner of the missing plane) set off in search of them, but he didn't have to go far.

He found the wreckage eight miles northwest of the airport in a cornfield belonging to Albert Juhl, debris and passengers scattered over 570 feet, the pilot - also dead - trapped inside. Ironically, the night before, Dwyer had seen the lights of the plane descending nearby, but unaware that it was his plane thought nothing of it.

No one will ever know why Peterson, who had recently failed his instrumentation test and wasn't rated to fly at night, agreed to pilot the flight; maybe it was youthful braggadocio, perhaps he was simply starstruck, or he may have been looking for a story to tell his grandkids. What we do know well enough is that four young men died that night, due to 'pilot error'.
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POPnews - February 3rd

[Following the devastating fire which destroyed the Centre Block of Canada's first Parliament building (shown above) the cornerstone of the current structure was laid by Governor-General Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught in September 1916, and was completed in 1927, with the construction of the Peace Tower. More recent additions to Parliament Hill have included the Centennial Flame and an equestrian statue of Elizabeth II, Queen of Canada, astride her famously Canadian mount Burmese.]

1112 - Barcelona's Ramon Berenguer III and Douce I of Provence were married, uniting the fortunes of those two states.

1488 - Portugal's Bartolomeu Dias landed in Mossel Bay after rounding the Cape of Good Hope, becoming the first known European to travel so far south.

1509 - The sea-going Battle of Diu - pitting the forces of viceroy Dom Francisco de Almeida against those of (among others) Mahmud I, Sultan of Gujarat, during the Portuguese-Mamluk War - resulted in a victory for Portugal, as well as greatly increased European trade in Asia.

1787 - The Shays' Rebellion, an armed rebellion in Western Masachusetts led by Daniel Shays, was crushed; the so-called Shaysites were essentially farmers opposed to crippling taxes.

1809 - The Illinois Territory was created.

1834 - Wake Forest University was established in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

1867 - Prince Mutshito became Emperor Meiji of Japan.

1870 - The Fifteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, granting voting rights to citizens regardless of race.

1900 - Governor William Goebel died in Frankfort, Kentucky, having been shot on January 30th shortly after his election; he was sworn in the following day on his death bed, and remains the only US governor to be assassinated - although no culprit was ever found and no one ever claimed responsibility. Goebel was succeeded by his Lieutenant-Governor, J. C. W. Beckham.

1913 - The Sixteenth Amendment to the US Constitution was ratified, authorizing a federally imposed and collected Income Tax.

1916 - Fire destroyed the old Centre Block of Canada's Parliament Buildings in Ottawa, built in 1878; the Library of Parliament was spared the devastation by its massive iron doors, as were the East and West Blocks by their distance from the conflagration.

1918 - The Twin Peaks Tunnel - which, at 3,633 meters (11,920 feet), is still the longest streetcar tunnel in the world - opened for service in San Francisco.

1931 - The Napier Earthquake - still the worst natural disaster in the history of modern New Zealand - killed 258.

1947 - Percival Prattis - executive editor of the Pittsburgh Courier - became the first African-American issued a pass to the press gallery at the US Capitol, apparently.

1958 - The Benelux Economic Union was founded, which created a testing ground for a later European Economic Community.

1966 - The Soviet Union's unmanned Luna 9 spacecraft made the first controlled rocket-assisted landing on the Moon, touching down in the Oceanus Procellarum.

1967 - Ronald Ryan became the last person executed in Australia, when he was hanged at Pentridge Prison, near Melbourne.

1989 - Paraguay's ailing dictator Alfredo Stroessner - in power since 1954 - was ousted in a coup led by his former ally Andrés Rodríguez.

1998 - Karla Faye Tucker became the first woman executed in Texas since 1984; try and guess who signed the order, refused to commute her sentence, then mocked her on national television.

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