Friday, March 11, 2011

"Stay (I Missed You)" by Lisa Loeb

Birthday wishes go out today to Lisa Loeb - the pixie-ish, bespectacled singer-songwriter whose breakthrough debut single Stay (I Missed You) marked the first time a performer hit the #1 spot without benefit of a recording contract.

Loeb has since parlayed her five best-selling albums into her own non-profit foundation; the Camp Lisa Foundation helps underprivileged kids have the experience of a lifetime by sending them to summer camp.
share on: facebook

Pop History Moment: The Bombing of Atocha


Estacion Atocha, the main railway terminus in Madrid, was first opened by Spain's Queem Isabella II in February 1851; 40 years later the original edifice was destroyed by fire, and extensively rebuilt in its current glass and wrought-iron form by Alberto de Palacio Elissagne, who'd collaborated with Gustave Eiffel. In 1977, during the country's transition to democracy following the death of Franco, the area was the site of a massacre of labour leaders; in 1992 the old station was taken out of service and repurposed for commercial use, the centrepiece of which is an indoor palm garden (shown above) and a new station was added to the complex.

It was at this new station on this day in 2004 when Spain got its first taste of modern terrorism, having spent the previous thirty years getting over being governed by it; al-Qaeda inspired operatives set off a coordinated series of 7 suicide bombs aimed at disrupting the morning commute, killing 191 people and wounding 1,755 - exactly 911 days after the attack on the World Trade Center in New York City.

The following day Spaniards in their millions took to the streets in protest, still thinking the bombing had been the work of Basque separatists with the ETA; three days later there was a General Election, at which the ruling right-wing People's Party was defeated by the Spanish Socialist Workers' Party, owing in large part to Prime Minister José María Aznar's mishandling of the situation. Not only had he supported the war in Iraq (which many in Spain felt was to blame for the attack), he then blamed the ETA for the bombings (when it was already clear that it had been the work of jihadists); he'd also asked King Juan Carlos I to postpone the election which His Majesty, being better versed in constitutional law, refused to do.

Today there is a 'virtual shrine' at the front of the station, which was unveiled by the King and Queen and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero on the third anniversary of the attack; within its cylinder are contained thousands of messages of condolence. Visitors to the site may also leave their handprints via special computer consoles.

share on: facebook

Remembering... Betty Hutton

I must confess, when I heard she'd died - on this day in 2007 - I thought she was already dead... I hate it when that happens!

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketFor fans of the brassy and manic female performance of musical comedy, Betty Hutton is it. During World War II she was America's Incendiary Blonde, whose high-voltage performances inspired - among others - Debbie Reynolds who, as a child, used to entertain her family by miming to Hutton's records (which goes a long way towards explaining Debbie's popularity amongst drag queens).

No broad ever played it broader than her, but her ego got the better of her, and she burnt through her share of the limelight fast, leaving behind a legacy of film and recordings that is long overdue for rediscovery. Few people, for instance, know that Bjork's biggest hit (at least chart-wise) was It's Oh So Quiet, which is a remake of Betty Hutton's song Blow a Fuse.

Buy or rent her best known film The Miracle of Morgan's Creek tonight, just for the scene in which Betty stutters her character's name - Gertrude Kockenlocker; I'm ashamed to admit, it always cracks me up.
share on: facebook

"Girls and Boys" by Good Charlotte

On the birthday of Good Charlotte's guitarist Benji Madden and singer Joel Madden I'm glad to post this live version of the band's biggest hit - Girls & Boys, from their 2002 album The Young and the Hopeless - rather than the official video, which is unavailable for a reason I'm already tired of bitching about.

Good Charlotte was one of a cadre of bands who rose to prominence in the early years of the 21st Century, among them the band's mentors Lit and Blink-182; in the brothers Madden's case, their rise was accompanied by their well-photographed flirtations with such tabloid show-offs as that blonde one (for Benji), as well as Hilary Duff and babymama Nicole Richie for Joel.
share on: facebook

POPnews - March 11th

[Try as they might to imagine they'd achieved dominion over the Earth, the Victorians were too often let down by their early attempts at civil engineering; one such event was the flood caused by a dam failure at Low Bradfield, which destroyed 800 houses and killed 240 as it swept inexorably down the River Loxley toward Sheffield.]

1708 - Queen Anne withheld Royal Assent from the Scottish Militia Bill, apparently; it was the last time a British monarch vetoed legislation.

1801 - Eccentric, tyrannical Paul I (the son of Catherine the Great) was assassinated by a group of thirty Russian nobles led by Count von Benningsen (on the orders of the Tsar's most trusted advisor, Count Peter Alekseyevich Pahlen) after refusing to abdicate; he was succeeded by his son Alexander I.

1824 - The United States War Department created the Bureau of Indian Affairs, which ought to give one some idea of the US government's attitude towards its indigenous peoples.

1845 - In New Zealand, Chiefs Hone Heke and Kawiti led 700 Māoris to chop down the flagpole and drive settlers out of Kororareka owing to the British settlers there having breached 1840's Treaty of Waitangi; the incident would cause the so-called Flagstaff War.

1848 - Louis-Hippolyte Lafontaine and Robert Baldwin became the first Prime Ministers of the Province of Canada to be democratically elected under what was then a uniquely Canadian interpretation of the Westminster system known as responsible government.

1851 - Giuseppe Verdi's opera Rigoletto made its debut at La Fenice in Venice.

1861 - The Constitution of the Confederate States of America was adopted.

1864 - The Great Sheffield Flood - the worst man-made disaster in English history - killed over 240 people when the newly-built Dale Dyke Dam broke; these events have formed the basis for Phil Parkin's 2004 documentary The Forgotten Flood.

1867 - Giuseppe Verdi's opera Don Carlos debuted at the Paris Opéra.

1872 - Japan's Meiji government officially annexed the Ryukyu Kingdom into what would become the Okinawa prefecture.

1888 - What later became known as the Great Blizzard of '88 began along the Eastern Seaboard of the United States, blanketing parts of New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts and Connecticut in more than 100 cm of snow, shutting down commerce and killing more than 400.

1927 - Samuel Roxy Rothafel opened the Roxy Theatre in New York City.

1941 - President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed the Lend-Lease Act into law, allowing American-built war supplies to be shipped to the Allies on loan.

1959 - The original Broadway production of A Raisin In The Sun by Lorraine Hansberry - and starring (among others) Sidney Poitier, Ruby Dee, and Louis Gossett Jr. - opened at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre in New York City.

1985 - Mikhail Gorbachev became Soviet leader following the death of Konstantin Chernenko.

1990 - Lithuania declared itself independent from the Soviet Union during the so-called Singing Revolution.

1993 - Janet Reno was confirmed by the US Senate as the first female Attorney General of the United States; she was sworn in the following day.

1996 - John Winston Howard became the 25th Prime Minister of Australia; his would be the 2nd longest term in Australian history - only Sir Robert Menzies served longer - lasting until December 2007, when his Liberal/National coalition was defeated at the polls by the Australian Labor Party, led by Kevin Rudd.

2006 - Michelle Bachelet was inaugurated as the first female president of Chile.
share on: facebook