Sunday, March 06, 2011

"I've Got the Music in Me" by Kiki Dee

Although birthday gal Kiki Dee costarred in one of the first music videos ever made - Don't Go Breaking My Heart, a duet with Elton John - for obvious reasons* I've chosen to go with this solo performance of I've Got the Music in Me, which was a single of hers two years before that, in 1974.

*'Embedding disabled by request', nyah nyah nyah...

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Remembering... Anton Cermak

On this day in 1933 Chicago mayor Anton Cermak died, succumbing to the injuries he'd suffered during an attempted assassination of President-elect Franklin Delano Roosevelt by Giuseppe Zangara nineteen days earlier at Miami's Bayfront Park; Cermak's selfless acceptance of his fate is evident in his famous, oft-quoted words to Roosevelt: 'I'm glad it was me instead of you.'*

Cermak had been serving as Alderman for Chicago's 12th Ward (better known as Bridgeport, the home base of future mayors Richard J. Daley, Michael Bilandic and Daley's son Richard M. Daley) when he decided to run for higher office in 1931 against 'Big Bill' Thompson. Thompson's attempts at nativist baiting during the campaign would backfire; Chicago voters, it turns out, were more comfortable voting for an immigrant than their hugely corrupt American-born incumbent - who was seen as being soft on organized crime, a major problem in the city at the time - and sent Thompson packing.

While not in office long enough to put much of a crimp in the style of the Chicago Outfit, Cermak was crucial in bringing black voters into the Democratic Party in Chicago by convincing the hugely influential politician William L. Dawson to abandon the party of Lincoln in favour of the Democrats; Cermak worked tirelessly for Roosevelt during the 1932 election in other ways as well, although why he happened to be in Miami on that fateful day is one fact history has chosen to with-hold from me.

All told, three people were injured and two died as a result of Zangara's actions - none of them the President-elect, whose life may have been spared even as Cermak's was taken, when Lilian Cross, the wife of a local doctor, struck the assassin's arm with her purse.

Cermak's shooting is commemorated today near the spot where it occurred by a plaque bearing his courageous (if possibly spurious) sentiments. He was interred in Chicago's Bohemian National Cemetery, and has been honoured by the renaming of that city's 22nd Street - a major east-west artery - Cermak Road; in 1943 a Liberty ship, the SS A. J. Cermak, was also named after him.

*Like so many other legends, of course, the story may have been entirely fabricated; apparently the relationship between Cermak and Roosevelt was strained at the time of the shooting, and the whole story came from the imaginations of Chicago aldermen "Paddy" Bauler and Charlie Weber. Another theory, first touted by eyewitness Walter Winchell, was that Cermak had been the intended target all along, related to the hard-line he'd been taking on organized crime - a theory now thought to be entirely without merit.

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"Another Brick in the Wall" by Pink Floyd

Birthday wishes go out today to David Gilmour, charter member of Pink Floyd and part of the creative team behind that band's 1979 rock opera The Wall; although primarily the story of Roger Waters' struggle with alienation, The Wall in all its forms - concept album, live concert, and film - struck a chord in early Thatcherite England.
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Happy Birthday Alan Davies

Originally a stand-up comic, Alan Davies rose to prominence in Britain as the star of Jonathan Creek; it took a super smart quiz show, though, to turn his sweet, slightly daft persona into an internationally recognizable brand...

PhotobucketAs the permanent panelist on QI, Davies is the ideal foil for Stephen Fry - common where Fry is posh, silly where Fry is serious, and possessed of just enough arcane knowledge to amaze and delight audiences (and occasionally even Fry himself).

Born on this day in 1966, Davies' mother died when he was only six, leaving his father to raise the three Davies children on his own. Accomplished at his studies, Davies began his stand-up career at the local Labour Club in Whitstable, near where he attended the University of Kent.

In January 2007 Davies married Katie Maskell, a former literary agent; in December 2009 Davies and Maskell announced the birth of their first child, a girl named Sophie.

Aside from a blip of bad publicity involving an altercation with a homeless man outside London's Groucho Club later in 2007 which resulted in his being banished from the premises, Davies' amiable reputation remains unscathed whether presenting such shows as Teenage Revolution or starring in others like Whites.

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Pop History Moment: Ghana Celebrates Its Independence

Photobucket - Video and Image Hosting

On this day in 1957 the people of the British colonies of Gold Coast, the Empire of Ashanti and British Togoland joined to become the first black country in Africa to celebrate the end of colonial rule and a new era of independence; the newly minted nation was to be given its old name - Ghana. Tens of thousands of newly-minted Ghanaians took advantage of a nationwide holiday to join their new Prime Minister Kwame Nkrumah at the festivities in Accra, the capital, which a decade earlier had been the site of nationalist rioting.

To do the duty, the Palace sent the Queen's beloved aunt, Marina, Duchess of Kent, who unveiled the Independence Monument in addition to the usual lowering of the Union Jack and raising of the new flag which is the symbolic centrepiece of most such ceremonies. She was also present at the swearing-in of the country's new Governor-General, Sir Charles Noble Arden-Clarke. His position would be abolished three years later when Ghana severed its ties with the Commonwealth at the beginning of its inevitable descent into chaos and corruption, a trend not reversed until the election of the current President, John Kufuor, in 2001.

Her Royal Highness is shown here in her Coronation Portrait, taken just a few years earlier, in 1953.
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"The Bitch Song" by Bowling for Soup

It was my hope to mark the birthday of Jaret Reddick - the lead singer of one of my favourite bands, Bowling For Soup - with the video for High School Never Ends, or possibly the video for 1985, or maybe even the video for Punk Rock 101. In fact, given my predilection* for posting videos, I might have even posted all three of them today, since as I've said they are one of my favourite bands...

Instead I've come up against the band's record label - whose decision to engage in unethical business practices and potentially even breaking the law** but just generally being douchebags by stifling fair use - so none of those videos can be embedded. Since encountering my arch-enemy and favourite foe has given me ample time to bitch, I suppose it's apt that one of the few Bowling for Soup videos I can actually embed is called The Bitch Song.

The Bitch Song was actually the band's second single, from their fourth album 2000's Let's Do It for Johnny!, released two years before their biggest hit to date, Girl All the Bad Guys Want.

*A fancy word meaning 'fetish'.
**Fair use isn't the law, even though it should be; turns out the government is too busy wasting its time trying and failing to stop drug use and gangland killings and similar impossible to solve shit to deal with important issues like allowing me to post whatever video I want on here.

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POPnews - March 6th

[Robert Jenkins Onderdonk painted The Fall of the Alamo, or Crockett's Last Stand in 1903, depicting the struggle for control of the Alamo Mission at which Davy Crockett, James Bowie, and William Travis all died, on this day in 1836. Today The Alamo is a major tourist attraction in the Texas city of San Antonio.]

1046 - Naser Khosrow began the seven-year journey through the Arab world which he would later describe in his book Safarnama.

1447 - Tommaso Parentucelli became Pope Nicholas V following the death of Eugene IV.

1521 - Ferdinand Magellan arrived at Guam, more or less the midway point of his attempted circumnavigation of the globe; although he wouldn't make it (he was killed at the Battle of Mactan in the Philippines six weeks later) his first officer Juan Sebastian Elcano and three others of the original 55-man crew made it back to Spain in 1525.

1788 - The Royal Navy's First Fleet arrived at Australia's Norfolk Island in order to establish a penal colony there.

1834 - The village of York in Upper Canada was incorporated as Toronto; it became the center of the universe some time in the 1950s.

1836 - Following a 13-day siege by an army of 3,000 Mexican troops during the Texas Revolution, the 187 Texas volunteers defending the Alamo were defeated and the fort taken; more than any victory, the American defeat by Antonio López de Santa Anna at the Battle of the Alamo has been used to define the American experience, especially during that country's expansionist phase.

1853 - Giuseppe Verdi's opera La Traviata - based on the 1848 novel La dame aux Camélias by Alexandre Dumas, fils - premiered at the Teatro la Fenice in Venice.

1857 - The US Supreme Court made a ruling in the Dred Scott v. Sandford case, decreeing that persons of African descent could never be citizens of the United States; the decision was written by Chief Justice Roger Taney.

Photobucket1899 - Bayer registered aspirin as a trademark; like many companies - such as Kimberly-Clark and Kleenex - Bayer has been less than vigilant in defending their rights in this instance, and aspirin has entered the common lexicon as the generic name for any ASA product. Most notably, Bayer's wonder drug was one of the last useful products ever created by a pharmaceutical company that actually helps more than it hurts; you take aspirin to relieve a headache, not to get one from worrying about whether you'll suffer anal leakage as a result of taking it.  Lest you think I've gone soft on Big Pharma, Bayer is also the company most likely to bring about an end to human life, thanks entirely to their work with bee killing pesticides.

1901 - An anarchist attempted to assassinate Germany's Kaiser Wilhelm II in Bremen.

1902 - The Spanish football club Real Madrid was founded.

1927 - Fritz Lang's masterpiece Metropolis was released in the US.

1951 - The treason trial of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg opened.

1953 - Georgy Maksimilianovich Malenkov succeeded Josef Stalin as Premier and First Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union following Stalin's death the previous day.

1964 - The Nation of Islam's Elijah Muhammad officially gave prizefighter Cassius Clay the name Muhammad Ali - which means 'beloved of Allah' - as well as renaming Malcolm X.

1970 - Suspected murderer Charles Manson released the album Lie: The Love & Terror Cult to help finance his defense; since his conviction in the August 1969 Tate-LaBianca murders, proceeds from its sale have gone to help victims of violent crime in California.

1981 - After 19 years presenting the CBS Evening News, Walter Cronkite signed off for the last time.

1992 - The Michelangelo virus began affecting computers.

2007 - Former Vice-Presidential Chief of Staff and White House aide I. Lewis 'Scooter' Libby, Jr. was found guilty on four of five counts of perjury and obstruction of justice; he was later sentenced to 30 years in jail and fined $250,000.

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