Sunday, March 13, 2011

"Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo" by Bloodhound Gang

Birthday wishes go out today to Spanky G, one of the founding members of - and former drummer with - alt-pop funsters Bloodhound Gang; Mr. G(uthier) and his fellow Gang-mates parted ways in 1999, during the recording of the band's breakthrough album, Hooray for Boobies, which contained the uber-catchy hit The Bad Touch.

Prior to the huge success of their breakthrough hit, though, Bloodhound Gang was offending uptight people with this paean to cunnilingus, Kiss Me Where It Smells Funny, which originally appeared on the band's 1997 2nd album One Fierce Beer Coaster. Undoubtedly my favourite song of theirs, though, is Foxtrot Uniform Charlie Kilo - from their 2005 reunion album Hefty Fine, and was written by the group's bassist Evil Jared Hasselhoff.

In keeping with the anarchic spirit of this blog and the 'fuck-you' spirit of the band, Spanky G had nothing to do with this number.
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Pop History Moment: Mata Hari Makes Her Debut

She wasn't the first woman to use her sexuality to improve her opportunities in life, nor would she be the last, but Mata Hari just might be the first to be famous for it, at least in this media age; for all her fame, though, little is known about her except her name and her reputation - and what you think of her reputation says far more about you than it ever could about her...

PhotobucketWhether, for instance, you think of her as a strong, determined woman who did what she could to survive as long as she could in a world which was in every way allied against her or whether you think of her as a mercenary slut with no sense of right or wrong you'd be partly right and partly wrong in either case, for she was undoubtedly both of these and yet neither, since neither opinion quite grasps either the subtleties or the complexities of the way she chose to move through the world.

Born Margaretha Zelle in Holland in August 1876, at the age of 18 she married a Dutch naval officer named Rudolf MacLeod and soon enough found herself in Java, then a Dutch possession. Following the death of their son in 1899 the couple moved back to Amsterdam, and divorced in 1903. Alone in the world and still a young woman, she removed herself to Paris, adopted a Malay stage name (Mata Hari means 'Eye of the Day') and on this day in 1905 took to the stage with an act that was remarkable for its exoticism - along the way concocting an equally outrageous offstage identity to match.

From dancing nude or semi-nude in front of a statue of Shiva it's not a very great leap to doing other stuff nude or semi-nude in front of a flesh-and-blood industrialist - in her case Emile Etienne Guimet; from there it was a saucy game of leapfrog over generals and politicians to the Crown Prince of Germany, a man denied the chance to be Wilhelm III by a little matter called World War I - the same war that would also provide her own downfall.

Less than a dozen years after she elevated exotic dance to an art form - one for which Paris would thereafter become renowned - she was under lock and key in one of that city's jails, accused of being a double agent. Whether she was or not (there remains some doubt) she made an excellent scapegoat; in October 1917 she faced a French firing squad and blew them a kiss before they blew her away. By then, of course, her infamy had become fame; they could take her life, only by then her life had taken on a life of its own. The French government is set to open its file on her in 2017, after which we may learn more; in the meantime we may luxuriate in her myth for another few years.

So strong was that myth that the best-known movie made about her life could only have starred a woman equally exotic, equally mysterious: Greta Garbo. In many ways, while the film fails to grasp the facts of her life, it conjures the spirit of it perfectly, so even though film Mata Hari (1931) is a hot mess, it's also a hot mess, y'know?

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"Colors" by Crossfade

If you know me (and now, even if you don't) you know that all you need to do to earn my eternal gratitude is to be nice to me... You don't even have to be all that nice, either; I mean, just don't be a total jerk and I'll tell anyone who'll listen how great you are in perpetuity...

The entire reason this video is being posted here today, then, is that during my tenure as a night porter, birthday boy Ed Sloan - lead singer of Crossfade - was nice to me; turns out a couple of $5 tips and the occasional friendly nod in my direction is all it takes to earn yourself some prime real estate on the Pop Culture Institute. Hopefully this admission won't subsequently lead to a rash of celebrity abuse aimed in my direction; I guess, only time will tell.

Anyway, this song - Colors - originally appeared on the band's self-titled 2004 debut album, and is my favourite from that collection, which I purchased with the largesse supplied to me by its vocalist.
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POPnews - March 13th

[Although mentions of Uncle Sam first occurred during the War of 1812 - when he was a counterpart to the British John Bull - this more common representation first appeared in 1917, when J. M. Flagg created it for a US military recruitment poster, which itself was based on a similar poster of Britain's Lord Kitchener, designed by Alfred Leete.]

1138 - Cardinal Gregorio Conti was elected Antipope as Victor IV, succeeding Anacletus II.

1781 - Sir William Herschel discovered the planet Uranus, along with a raft of puerile jokes.

1845 - Felix Mendelssohn's Violin Concerto was premièred at the Gewandhaus in Leipzig, featuring soloist Ferdinand David.

1852 - Uncle Sam made his debut as a cartoon in the New York Lantern, according to The New York Times.

1881 - Tsar Alexander II of Russia was killed* near his palace when a bomb was thrown at him by Ignacy Hryniewiecki, with the radical group Narodnya Volya, who also died in the attack; it had been the fifth attempt on the Tsar's life.

1884 - Troops loyal to Mahdi Muhammad Ahmad led the siege of Khartoum, which would continue until January 1885 when the commander of the city's defense - Charles George Gordon - was killed.

1897 - San Diego State University was founded.

1900 - British forces occupied Bloemfontein, in the Orange Free State, during the Second Boer War.

1920 - The Kapp Putsch briefly ousted the government of the Weimar Republic from Berlin.

1921 - Mongolia, under Baron Roman Ungern von Sternberg, declared its independence from China.

1925 - A law was passed in Tennessee known as the Butler Act which prohibited the teaching of evolution in that state's schools; the law would later be challenged during the famous Scopes Trial.

1943 - Nazi forces began liquidating the Jewish ghetto in Kraków under the supervision of SS-Sturmbannführer Amon Goth, who sent 8,000 to the Plaszow labor camp, ordered some 2,000 whom he deemed unfit to work summarily executed, and sent the remainder to Auschwitz; among the survivors of this horrific event was famed film director Roman Polanski.

1947 - The musical Brigadoon opened on Broadway at the Ziegfeld Theatre, where it ran for 581 performances.

1957 - Cuban student revolutionaries stormed the presidential palace in Havana in a failed attempt on the life of President Fulgencio Batista.

1962 - Lyman Lemnitzer, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, proposed committing either simulated or real acts of terrorism or other false flag operations against US forces in Guantanamo Bay (only to then blame them on Cuba) to Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara in a document called Operation Northwoods; not only was the proposal rightly scrapped but President John F. Kennedy refused to re-appoint Lemnitzer to his position. Far from being forced to live the rest of his life in disgrace, Lemnitzer later served as Supreme Allied Commander of NATO.

1969 - Apollo 9 returned safely to Earth, having successfully tested the Lunar Module.

1986 - Microsoft made its initial public offering.

1996 - At the Dunblane Massacre in Dunblane, Scotland, 16 children and 1 adult teacher were shot dead by a spree killer named Thomas Watt Hamilton, who then committed suicide.

1997 - India's Missionaries of Charity chose Sister Nirmala to succeed Mother Teresa as its leader, apparently.

*Although Russia was then on the Julian calendar - meaning this event took place on March 1st for them - Pop Culture Institute is on the Gregorian calendar; we therefore always try to post POPnews events accordingly.

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