Saturday, March 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Ron Jeremy


Under normal circumstances, Ron Jeremy is not someone I would imagine myself liking, let alone even knowing about; he does, after all, appear in those weird pornos that have - get this! - women in them*. But every interview I've seen of his impresses me all the more, to the extent that I may even someday avail myself of his memoirs and documentary to learn (and, no doubt, be impressed) even more.

Born on this day in 1953 in Bayside, Queens, Jeremy first began appearing in adult films in 1979, having attained a bachelor's degree in education and theatre and a master's degree in special education. Ironically, it's his education (as much as his other - ahem - endowments) which best suits him for working with porn stars, many of whom are lovely people I'm sure but rarely possessed of that all-important three-digit IQ**.

Having appeared in hundreds (maybe thousands) of pornos, Jeremy was the ideal creative consultant for Paul Thomas Anderson's 1997 film Boogie Nights - which is as much a tribute to the 1970s and the sun-drenched vistas of southern California as it is to the laughably amateurish films which combined the two with a frenzy of tanned limbs thrown in for a bit of variety.

*A fad, surely, or a 'flash in the pants' at very least.
**You can always tell which ones are the smart ones, because they inevitably get involved either directing, or producing, or both - since that's where the money is.

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"New York, New York" by Liza Minnelli

Live from Radio City Music Hall in New York City, Liza Minnelli's electrifying performance of just one of her theme songs was the highlight of a program called Night of A Hundred Stars, which originally aired in March 1982 and to which I was glued for the entire evening the night it was first on.

New York, New York was written for her by the creative team of Kander and Ebb, and is the theme from Martin Scorsese's 1977 film of the same name; in fact, she can be considered their muse, since they also wrote Flora the Red Menace, Cabaret, and The Rink with her in mind.
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"Copacabana" by Liza Minnelli

Originally aired in November 1979, Episode 414 of The Muppet Show features much quintessential zaniness, and opened with Liza Minnelli's rendition of Copacabana, a song originally made famous by Barry Manilow and written by Jack Feldman, Manilow, and Bruce Sussman.
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Happy Birthday Liza Minnelli

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Liza Minnelli is one of the first non-royals to have been famous from the day she was born, on this day in 1946; her mother Judy Garland was then (and indeed, still is, at least in the opinion of the Pop Culture Institute) possibly the greatest singer-actress in history, and her father Vincente Minnelli was an equally esteemed film director. They met on the set of Minnelli's film Meet Me in St. Louis (1944), which was a triumph for both of them.

As Hollywood royalty their greatest triumph, however, was a little black haired bundle of neuroses named Liza, whose abundant neediness was an adjunct of her mother's and whose frantic desire to entertain has endeared her to three generations of gay men, with their equally frantic desire to be entertained. Although her first appearance onscreen was as a toddler in her mother's film In the Good Old Summertime (1949), her career is considered to have begun with the 1963 revival of the Broadway musical Best Foot Forward; she won her first Tony Award two years later for Flora the Red Menace.

Yet Minnelli's life has been a rollercoaster of tragedy and triumph; her mother died in 1969, when Liza was just 23, and because of the mess her estate was in Liza was forced onto the concert circuit to pay off her debts. Smash concert appearances and great film roles (such as her Oscar-winning turn as Sally Bowles in the 1972 musical Cabaret) were offset by bouts with addiction, health woes, and terrible marriages; they say women like to marry men like their father, which Liza did well enough when she married Peter Allen, who was a fan of her mother's in the usual mold. In recent years Liza has continued entertaining thanks in part to a recurring role on the instant-classic sitcom Arrested Development.

Still, in an industry which eats its young, there is much to be said for survivors, and in that regard Liza is in an elite group, alongside Cher, Bette Midler, and Patti Labelle, with whom she has more in common than career longevity - she has the undying affection and therefore eternal protection of the Gay Mafia.
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Pop History Moment: FDR's First Fireside Chat


On this day in 1933 President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the American people on radio for the first time since his Inauguration the previous week; it was to be the first of his so-called Fireside Chats, with which he so often soothed frayed nerves during the worst days of the Great Depression...

In all FDR delivered 30 such addresses on issues as diverse as the New Deal and its stated aim of relieving the economic situation, the impending war in Europe and then later the ongoing war in Europe; the last one was delivered in June 1944, announcing the fifth War Bond Drive. He died the following April, six months after having been elected to an unprecedented fourth term of office.

The text of the first Fireside Chat - in which the President explains the Banking Crisis - is available here, while all the rest of them are available behind the image.
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Jack Kerouac on "The Steve Allen Show"

I've posted this clip before, but I enjoy it so much I've decided to post it again on what, let's face it, was never gonna be Jack Kerouac's 89th birthday; it features a performance of On the Road by Kerouac on The Steve Allen Show in 1959.
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POPnews - March 12th

[It doesn't really matter what I write here, does it? In fact, I can even forego a caption altogether since the succulent image of this Girl Scout cookie - called a Samoa, probably because once you have one you want samoa - came on screen. Well, just click on the image and you can enjoy one or two (boxes, let's face it) as soon as those short little legs can carry her and her iconic badge-studded sash/unflattering green smock combo to your home or office.]

1832 - Filippo Taglioni's ballet La Sylphide had its première performance at the Paris Opéra.

1868 - Henry James O'Farrell attempted to assassinate Queen Victoria's second son Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, during a royal visit to a Sailor's Home at Clontarf (near Sydney) by firing a revolver into his back. Not only was he unsuccessful, it was only the quick actions of the Prince's police escort who saved O'Farrell from suffering rough justice on the spot; after two weeks in hospital the Prince returned to England, having made a full recovery, whereas his putative assassin wasn't so lucky. He was executed on April 21st despite the insanity plea of his barrister Butler Cole Aspinall and even the intercession of the Prince himself!

1881 - Andrew Watson made his Scotland debut as the world's first black international football player and captain.

1894 - Coca-Cola was sold in bottles for the first time, allowing busy people the opportunity to get tooth decay and diabetes without having to waste time standing at a counter in a drug store.

1912 - The Girl Guides (later renamed the Girl Scouts of the USA) are founded in the United States.

1913 - On the first Canberra Day (today celebrated in the Australian Capital Territory on the second Monday in March - same as Commonwealth Day) the future capital of Australia was officially named Canberra by Lady Denman, wife of the Governor-General; Melbourne would remain the temporary capital until 1927 while the new capital was still under construction.

1928 - California's St. Francis Dam - built as part of the Los Angeles Aqueduct - failed, killing 400 people in Santa Clarita.

1930 - Mahatma Gandhi led the Dandi March 200 miles from Sabarmati Ashram to the sea at the village of Dandi to protest the British monopoly on salt.

1938 - Nazi troops occupied Austria during the Anschluss; the country's annexation was declared the following day.

1947 - The Truman Doctrine was proclaimed to help stem the spread of Communism.

1967 - Suharto assumed the Presidency of Indonesia, having taken over from Sukarno.

1968 - Mauritius achieved its independence from Britain; on the same day in 1992 the country became a republic within the Commonwealth of Nations.

1969 - Beatle Paul McCartney married photographer Linda Eastman at London's Marylebone Register Office.

1971 - The March 12 Memorandum was sent to the Demirel government of Turkey, prompting their mass resignation; this second coup in the history of modern Turkey came 11 years after the first one.

1993 - 13 bombs exploded in Mumbai, killing about 300 and injuring hundreds more; the attacks are thought to have been plotted by Dawood Ibrahim, head of the organized crime syndicate D-Company.

1994 - The Church of England ordained its first female priests.

2003 - Zoran Đinđić, Prime Minister of Serbia, was assassinated in Belgrade.

2004 - South Korea's President Roh Moo-hyun was impeached by its national assembly, a first in that country's history.

2005 - Tung Chee Hwa, the first Chief Executive of Hong Kong, stepped down from his post after his resignation was approved by the Chinese central government.
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