April 30, 2009

Lester Bangs: Nothing dies, it just comes back in different forms...

Regarded by many as the greatest rock journalist who ever lived, Lester Bangs died on April 30, 1982 due to a lethal drug interaction (non-recreational), which is also what killed Nick Drake 8 years earlier. 
Bangs, who was based in Detroit Rock City, wrote in the Gonzo style, similar to Hunter S. Thompson and beat authors of his generation.  He brought rock n' roll back to a human level by not kissing the asses of the rock stars he was interviewing.  He would usually start his interviews off with an insult and take it from there.  Since most famous musicians were getting treated like idols or heroes, he decided they needed a kick in the ass, and that rock n' roll wasn't about fame or money or celebrity, but about expressing real, visceral emotions and nothing more; this applied not only to music, but to a way of life, how anything could be seen as "rock n' roll".    Attaching the music to any other ideology (capitalism and the music "industry") was basically a load of shit, which he liked to expose in his writings.  

Famous for writing about MC5, the Stooges, Gang of Four, Blondie, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Bowie, Lou Reed, and many others, Bangs made a name for himself pretty quickly.  He wrote for Rolling stone in the late 60's and early 70's as a freelance writer, but was fired due his "disrespect" for the musicians he was interviewing, i.e., he didn't want to play ball with the money-making machine.  One of his first articles in Rolling Stone was about how MC5's Kick out the Jams was a bunch of crap, which set a precedent for his later work.  He then went to work for Creem magazine, a supposedly more progressive and grass-roots run publication. However, Creem was criticized as being run by yet another douchebag, said Bangs in his last known interview, comparing the owner of Creem magazine (at least in my opinion) to a personality akin to Bruce Dickenson in the SNL skit featuring Blue Oyster Cult and the famous cowbell.  Creem magazine first coined the terms "punk rock" and "heavy metal", and despite Bangs criticism was responsible for giving punk rock, post-punk, and new wave music it's first real exposure in terms of reviews Bangs also went on to write for the Village Voice in New York.

Lester Bang highlights: His article on Brian Eno, entitled, Brian Eno: A Sandbox in Alphaville (1979), quotes Eno as saying, "I'm terribly attracted to women with ocular damage".   His famous interview with Lou Reed, entitled, Let Us Now Praise Famous Death Dwarves (or how I slugged it out with Lou Reed and stayed awake), involved getting Lou Reed drunk and watching him drift into a stupor.  Lines from that interview include: "...Lou's sallow skin almost as whitish yellow as his hair, whole face and frame so transcendently emaciated he had indeed become insectival. His eyes were rusty, two copper coins lying in desert sands under the sun all day with telephone wires humming overhead, but he looked straight at me. Maybe through me...".  

In addition, Bangs notoriously disliked Bryan Ferry and David Bowie, who he believed used rock n' roll to satisfy their egos (Bowie? Ego?), not caring about the significance of the music apart from themselves and perhaps all the sex they could have by being famous rock stars.  I personally like their music, but I can see the possibility of this being the case for Ferry and Bowie, as well as lot of other musicians nowadays.  Fame and fortune are powerful motivators, and spectacle and image are powerful tools of persuasion.  

For more info on Bangs, check here and here, but not here.

April 29, 2009

Los Angeles, Your Library is on Fire!

On April 29th, 1986, a fire broke out in the Los Angeles Central Library which completely destroyed 400,000 books. The remaining 1.7 millions books were smoke damaged, including 700,000 books which were also water damaged.

Firefighters fought fervently for forever, feuding with the fire, finally forcing it to fade into alliteration. The source of the fire was quickly chalked up to arson, but over 20 years of investigation later we still don't know who actually started it. I feel deep down in my heart that there's at least one retired LAPD officer with every scrap of library fire paperwork piled up at home, post-it notes pasted to the walls running from one end of the house to the other (with lines linking one to the next, circles designating the more important ones), and a divorced wife that just couldn't take it any longer.

Another fire broke out later that year, on September 3, 1986, destroying the contents of the music department. The arsonist in this case was never caught either. Copycat arsonist? Disgruntled librarian? Dismantled Libertarian? Arsonist from first fire? The devil summoned accidentally by somebody playing heavy metal albums backwards?

The work that the firefighters did in the April 29th fire was well commended, and properly so. They were able to save over 85% of the library's contents and the majority of the library's structure itself, through hard work and just doing their job. A prior estimation made by the national experts on library fires, as well as a former L.A. City Fire Department Chief Engineer, predicted a fire of this type in the LA Central Library would result in a complete loss.

Maybe the fire was set by somebody trying to prove the library fire experts wrong. Or, maybe it was the library fire experts themselves seeking to prove themselves right, inadvertently proving themselves wrong. We will probably never know.

April 28, 2009

Mutiny on the Bounty

April 28, 1789, was when the orignal Mutiny on the Bounty occurred aboard a Royal Navy Ship.  Lieutenant William Bligh was commanding the Bounty while en route to the West Indies after collecting "breadfruit" plants from Tahiti.  The plants were to be raised in the West Indies as a sustainable source of food for the slaves there, only no one knew the slaves would hate the food and not eat it when it arrived (oops!).  Anyways, a seaman aboard the Bounty named Fletcher Christian decided he was "in hell" and needed to get his mutiny on, so he came at the Lieutenant in the night with 18 men, forcing Bligh and a handful of others into a dingy, which was cut loose from the Bounty.  What caused Christian to lead the mutiny was perhaps his madness, his greed, Bligh's bad nautical jokes, his divorce to the ship's cook, his divorce to the land (arr!) or the fact that he had quit smoking the same day and was all out of nicotine gum.  I think it was his last name, which was a word associated with general madness for ages past (ouch).  

Anyways, Bligh made it to Tofua Island, where one of his men was stoned to death by natives. Christian and the mutineers sailed to Tubuai, one of the small islands in French Polynesia, but that didn't work out and they returned to Tahiti for the stiff drinks at the Raccoon Lodge.  Bligh ended up sailing the small dingy to the Dutch East Indies and ended up commanding voyages for breadfruit again (still a waste of time because the slaves were never going to eat the fruit). Good one, Bligh!  I think you need to stop focusing on cats playing synthesizer in space and get your head in the game!

Christian and the mutineers thought their collective name was a great band name and decided to settle on Pitcairn Island in Tahiti and play surf rock all day.  They cleaned out the Bounty and burned the ship down to nothing to avoid getting caught. They married the Tahitian islanders and had children, but their long-term plans didn't pan out because the natives never liked the band name or being treated like slaves, and ended up revolting against them in 1793. After the death of Christian, the power vacuum gave way to other leaders and soon an alcoholic beverage was brewed, which caused drunkenness and oppression of the women, who in turn revolted numerous times to no avail (sorry ladies).

The island was left without another ship on it's coasts until 1808!  Damn!  In 1825, the last mutineer (John Adams) was granted amnesty for his mutiny, and Adamstown has remained the capital of this land ever since.  This success story was brought to you by the Raccoon Lodge, where happy hour starts at ALWAYS!  

April 27, 2009

Expo 67, Montreal

Expo 67, an official BIE (Bureau of International Expositions) World's Fair, opened on April 27, 1967, in Montreal, Canada. The fair was timed to commemorate Canada's centennial year. During it's six month run, the fair was attended by more than twice Canada's total population (50,306,648 attended Expo 67 when Canada's population was only around 20 million).

The Expo holds the World's Fair record for single day attendance of 569,000 human beings on the third day after it opened. It holds the record for most Canadian baseball teams named after it (Montreal Expos). Expo 67 was a resounding success, despite costing Canada over 200 Million when all was said and done. This was actually a lot less than what was originally expected due to the large attendance that came out to get Wayne Gretzky's prepubescent autograph.

April 26, 2009

Ranger 4 crashes into the moon!

On April 26, 1962, Ranger 4, an American spacecraft designed to transmit lunar images back to earth, crashed into the surface of the moon at a fucking ridiculously fast 9600 km/h.  Damn!  

The strong-fisted leader of the project had no comment on the crash, but later went on to vent to a fellow project manager.  The only images returned by the Ranger 4 are few, but some alien life was found in these close up photos: here, here, here, here and here.

The path to the moon was later realized by this man, who went on to show us all what the moon was really all about.

April 25, 2009

Red Hat Society day - this isn't not your grandma's social club!

The Red Hat Society is a social organization founded by Sue Ellen Cooper, a woman from Fullerton, Californ I.A., who as a gift one year gave to her friend a red fedora hat (probably not red from the blood of slaughtered babies, but I'm not ruling it out) and a poem (again, probably not covered in baby blood) written by Jenny Joseph:

"When I am an old woman I shall wear purple
With a red hat that doesn't go and doesn't suit me."

The gift created a bit of buzz, and as a request Sue Ellen gave the same gift to several more of her friends. Eventually, equipped with the poem as a shopping list, the rest of the group went and purchased "one... let me see... purple. and one red hat. and a suit. Wait, no, that's the verb form... one purple and one red hat, please!"

The group refers to itself as a "dis-organization" meant to encourage hanging out, getting silly, drinking some tea, being creative, and creating friendship in middle age and beyond. The red hats and purple outfits are worn exclusively by women over age 50, although the group is open to members younger than that who are required to wear a pink hat and lavender attire to the events until reaching their 50th birthdays.

April 25th is the official Red Hat Society day.

April 24, 2009

The Trojan Horse

Apparently, on April 24th, 1184 BC, the Achaeans entered Troy by using the famous "Trojan Horse" strategy.  At least this is the traditional date referenced by "Wikipedia".  

Once inside Troy, the Achaeans jumped out of the wooden horse, opened the gates for the rest of the Greek Army, and destroyed the city in one fell swoop, thus ending the famous Trojan War.  Damn!  All the fav's were there: Odysseus, Achilles, Agamemnon, Greater Ajax, Lesser Ajax, and 2X-Ultra Ajax.

The proverb "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth" is often misconstrued as being associated with the trojan horse, but this assertion is verifiably bullshit.  It is true that if one had looked the trojan horse in the mouth, they might have got a poison arrow in their forehead or chest, but the true meaning of the phrase dealt with examining a horse's teeth (usually through the peanut butter test) when getting one as a gift.  Apparently that wasn't okay back then.  Today it would be like asking how much something costs when receiving a gift, or asking where something was bought and if they had a gift receipt, "just in case the gift doesn't work out".       

But, uh, back to the lecture at hand, perfection is perfected, so I'm a let'em understand, from a young G's perspective, the trojan horse was a marvel of military ingenuity.  To this day, the Greeks use trojan horse's in all their military tactics, which is why they are ranked 27th in global military strength, barely beating Taiwan.    


April 23, 2009

April 23, 1985: Coca-Cola Announces New Coke

Before Israel vs Palestine, before Ford vs Chevy, before Dennis vs Mr. Wilson, before Marmaduke vs. Garfield, before God vs Jesus, before Noah vs Unicorns, before Tornadoes vs Trailer Parks, before Heroin vs Speed; before all other conflicts (though not in chronological order, or any order i've actually considered) there was Pepsi vs Coke, two giants in the cola industry who continue to battle for king of the cola market to this day.

Over the hundred + years that they've been competing with each another there have been many attacks, strategies, and maneuvers designed to give one market dominance over the other. During one of these battles, New Coke happened.

On April 23, 1985, Coca-Cola announced that they would be switching the formula in Coca-Cola to a new sweeter, smoother formula that would put sunglasses on America's grandmas and teach their breakdancing dogs to slam dunk basketballs. Coke had been losing a lot of the youth market to Pepsi, who had the color blue on their side. At first, America's coke drinkers smiled and bought it up. But some Americans (those who are willing to allow themselves to be deeply offended by a drink) became deeply offended by the drink. This small portion were very vocal about their feelings, stating that Coke's formula was sacred, American, something which should not be muddled with. The rest of the coke drinking population, who never thought to put further significance on the soft drink than just cost and flavor, were suddenly put into defensive positions, forced to justify their support of the new flavor to the cranky New Coke haters in strict, uncomfortable panel discussions reminiscent of the McCarthy era.

Even if I am exaggerating a bit (I was six years old when the new flavor was introduced, so I was too busy smoking weed to pay any real attention), the backlash to New Coke was immense. Within months, Coca-Cola announced that they would be re-introducing the original formula as Classic Coke, which is the coke we drink to this day, but not exactly the coke we were drinking before new coke. When Coke brought it back, they replaced sugar with High Fructose Corn Syrup, but America was so happy to have their old formula back that they didn't notice, or didn't care.

Taking away and bringing back America's favorite drink was the smartest thing Coke ever did. Coke continues to be the number one soft drink in America, and has enjoyed a market share well above what it was before introducing New Coke. There are 2 popular conspiracy theories related to New Coke. The first has to do with their replacement of sugar with corn syrup, mentioned above. The second claims that the Coca-Cola company introduced New Coke and discontinued the old formula with the intention all along of bringing the old formula back. The company denies both theories: "We're not that dumb, and we're not that smart."

Meanwhile, Pepsi stands by, waiting for the right time to drop their next attack: New Classic Crystal Pepsi Extreme!

April 22, 2009

On your Marks, Get set, LAND!

The Land Run of 1889 happened on April 22, at high noon.  It is said that 50,000 people lined up to get a piece of the 2 million acre pie. Some wily codgers even hid out in the acreage beforehand to get an illegal head start.  Had they not done so, they'd have merely been bitter codgers.

The Run probably went down like this (America to Joe Settler):
"Oh, why hello there?  Would you like some land settler?  Yes?  Well, why didn't you say so earlier?  You've just been standing there, looking confused and hungry.  We just happen to have some of the finest land in this god-fearing country over there in that 2 million acre lot. Yes, just right over there, next to the bouncy house and used cars.  Now, your options are as follows: on one hand you have free land for your family and a future of prosperity, while on the other you have starvation, death by scalping or smallpox.  To each his own, I say!  

Now that you're on board, what you want to do is run out there, waaaay out there, at high noon, and then once you get somewhere you might have to kill some fellow countrymen for a good position, but after that's taken care of - "voila" - it's your land son!  It's simple and easy, aside from the risk and probable murdering you'll have to do, but hey, I won't tell (wink).  Watch out for ninjas and sickos too.  They seem to be everywhere these days.  Yeah, I know this whole thing is a great idea - that's why I thought of it fuckface!  That's right, where I am pointing: LAND!  You eyeballing me boy?  Hey, just playing, partner!  Now go get 'em you sick bastard!" 

Thus, manifest destiny was set in carbonite forever.

April 21, 2009

Seattle World's Fair: Cold War served up Hot!

By the time the Seattle World's Fair (also known as The Century 21 Exposition, which IS where Century 21 Real Estate took their name from) rolled around, everybody was sure the Russian's were well on their way to building the world's biggest space needle. Therefore, on April 21, 1962, when America pulled back the giant space curtains to reveal 605 feet of pure unadulterated needle pointing straight up at the sky, the world dropped a collective gasp of shock and awe, pointing at the thing like they'd finally found waldo. There it stood, unarguably the most beautiful thing ever made, ready to co-star with Kelsey Grammar in the 90's sitcom Frazier. The Russians quickly bombed a large building in the center of their town, claiming that their 607 foot space needle that they'd worked so hard on had been sabotaged by free-thinking russian hippies who didn't want no part in no stinking cold war.

But the Seattle World's Fair wasn't built around the unveiling of the space needle. In fact, vice versa. That's right, flip it: The Space Needle was build for the Seattle World's Fair! This was the first World's Fair after World War II, and it was important to America that their space program be shown to be superb and wonderful and the best so America could be crowned Kings of Space once and for all.

Century 21 Exposition had visions of a future that went sci-fi and advanced without departing from what was socially exceptable in the 1950's: Affluence, automation, consumerism, and American power would grow; social equity would simply take care of itself on a rising tide of abundance; women would still be confined largely to the domestic realm; the human race would master nature through technology rather than view it in terms of ecology.

In terms of their vision of the future, the fair was a bit of a failure. But in terms of the space race and the needle, America takes all. The fair ended in a grand ceremony where lady liberty was given a second crown, this one for King of Space, which she wears to this day.

April 20, 2009

4-20 WEEd $MookE1 FOoL!

This one is too easy.

April 20, XXXX was, and will continue to be, the day countless youths first got to know the effects of the sweet cheeba smoke.  Surely, an individual walked into your friend's house or college dorm (if you lived a sheltered life) and began talking all sorts of logic to you about having a good time and how you needed to take a hit from his obscenely large glass bong.  The cheesy glass art on the bong probably made you flinch at first, but after the first hit, you somehow began to find aesthetic merit in the wide-eyed frog and melting mushroom design, feeling as if "you got it" and had joined a new club.  This appreciation was short-lived, as you were then pressured into taking another hit to impress the red-eyed, crusty-lipped guy next to you, who kept smiling even though he had a good deal of food in his mouth.  Then, you and your cohort thought it was a good idea to make quesadillas and watch late night television in another room. However, in the midst your crazy-high, you forgot to take care of the bong and ended up causing a small fire.  Someone's dad was not happy that from what I remember.  

Anyways, Conan O'brien was especially good that night, and you surely thought his microphone was actually instead his penis, and he was sitting their interviewing someone with a huge erection in some fucked up universe where that wasn't a big deal.  Due to the noise of laughing, you became paranoid and thought you got a visit from a weird authority figure, but he ended up being imaginary.  He will later return during other experiences.  At least that's what 4-20 has always meant to me.  

April 19, 2009

Steve Gutenberg the Cat Turns 2!

My cat, Steve Gutenberg, turns 2 today! What exciting news this is for the Valley Village neighborhood I live in. Why, everybody came out to attend! Sarah Silverman (the character from her show) as well as her gay neighbors, baked him a cat food cake that caused Steve Gutenberg to purr for a good 5 minutes (Sarah Silverman told me later, in secret, that she baked the cake, but they agreed to take equal share because they let her take part in a cake they cooked for a neighborhood dog a few months ago).

Some neighborhood cats tried to crash the party, but Steve Gutenberg sent them away with a powerful hiss that was reminiscent of Steve Gutenberg the actor on the set of Cocoon, who famously didn't get along with walrus mustached co-worker Wilford Brimley and his gang, The Lawn Bowlers. "Later," my cat told them. "Come back later and I'll share some leftovers with you. But for now, Alley Cats, let me share this party with Valley Village's finest. No offense."

The party ended a little earlier than planned, Steve Gutenberg the cat went a little bit overboard with the catnip and started dancing like Snoopy with a lampshade on his head. At first some people thought it was cute, the way cats with cones on their heads are universally adorable, but after a few minutes when it became apparent that the cat Gute was just not in any state of mind, the people left with polite smiles on their faces and scandalous stories brewing in their brains.

You're a fine cat, Steve G! Stay who you are!

April 18, 2009

'dems Brits be comin!

During the American Revolutionary War, we all remember reading about Paul Revere's famous "Midnight Ride", in which he warned the "Yanks" that "the British are coming!"  This particular event happened on April 18, 1775, and involved Paul Revere and William Dawes riding from Boston to Lexington to warn John Hancock and Samuel Adams of the advances of the British Army and their intention of arresting them and seizing the weapons stores in Concord.  At least that's what the history books want you to believe.  I heard from a homeless man on a street corner that Revere was a member of Sons of Liberty, a gay nightclub just outside of Boston, and he worried that the British might arrest Hancock and Adams, the nightclub owners, and rode to Lexington with a furosity he usually reserved for "Bear Night" at the Sons of Liberty.  However, the term "Midnight Ride" was a historically correct label, as Revere often cruised the streets around that time with Dawes - looking for "you know what".  Yeah, that's right, SEX!  In addition, Paul and William both had extensive DJ experience, and were able to use their recognizable and perfectly timed sound effects to awaken the sleeping masses from their slumber.

Long story short:
After some rambling about the apocalypse and insipid tourettes-style cursing at a passing car (he kept yelling "fuck you, punk!"), the homeless man concluded his story/tirade with: "So, you see, Revere became famous because Dawes wasn't as flamboyant or as much of a whore, and Dawes was also a Nazi".  I don't know if it was the stench of bad breath and Miller High Life, or the tart and lingering smell of his body odor that convinced me, but I believed every word he was able to barely, incomprehensibly mutter, and I still do to this day.  I tend to have a soft spot in my heart for the whack-jobs of the world.

April 17, 2009

I Went With Some Friends To See The Flaming Lips

by Mr. Benji Hughes!

I went with some friends to see The Flaming Lips
It was the greatest show I ever saw
We'd been planning the trip for a couple of months
And I just couldn't wait to get it on
It was April 17th
It was Thursday night
It was raining just a little but we didn't mind
We had some drinks in the bar at the Haywood park
Sent walking Jason on a beer run, 'cause it was getting dark
Then we checked into our rooms and started eating mushrooms
Jessica and Elle dropped by
We got directions to the club from the man at the door
And we rode down through the streets
Charlotte people on tour

Standing in a little line when we realized Mark had been taken too much, taken way too much MDMA
And later that night while the band played
I held the girl that I love in my arms
And most of my friends
And we all took turns holding Mark

Sometimes I almost forget how great that night really was
Then I talk to Mark and he can't remember anything at all

April 16, 2009

Cold War gets it's name

April 16, 1947 was the first time the term "Cold War" was used to describe the tensions between the Soviets and the U.S.  The term was coined by Bernard Baruch, a U.S. financier and advisor to Harry Truman, during a speech to the South Carolina legislature.  The visions of post-war reconstruction following World War II were clearly conflicting between Soviet Communism and Western Capitalism.  The infamous "Iron Curtain" remained in place until the end of the Cold War in 1991 - the Berlin wall being the most notable and graffitied example of this border.  To this extent, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was initially created to "keep the Russians out", said NATO's first Secretary General and known ladies-man, Hastings Lionel Ismay, who liked to dress up as the NATO mascot to sike everyone up before each meeting.

The term "Cold War" had numerous meanings throughout it's use, first referencing the fact that no direct conflict between the two superpowers had taken place and the barrels of U.S. guns were cold and depressed, second being that the Soviets always gave the U.S. the cold shoulder whenever they'd come by to shoot hoops or talk about life, and third being that nuclear shelters were usually made of concrete and lacked proper heating, so everyone was cold all the time.  All other meanings for the term "Cold War" are found here, here, here and here.  


April 15, 2009

A Bullet for Crockett

Original Airdate: April 15, 1988

Guest Starring: Jesse Borrego and Martin Ferrero

The episode opens with a drug deal, Crockett and Tubbs buying from a couple Columbians. Phil Collins' "In The Air Tonight" slowly builds. Neither side is willing to part with their part of the deal first, and so a "columbian standoff" ensues. Four more columbians appear holding guns, giving the columbians the advantage. "Columbia six, Miami two," says the leader. Crockett, in his always calm and casual manner, glances around at the six Columbians. "I put a hundred thousand to win on Miami," he says, and a number of Miami police offers reveal themselves from the shadows. Crockett and Tubbs dive behind some cover, a short gunfight passes, the head Columbian darts for his Porche where his girlfriend is waiting. Crockett and Tubbs give chase in their maximum sweet white Ferrari Testerrosa. The Porche screeches to a stop at a train station, the head Columbian and his girlfriend run up to the top platform, Crockett and Tubbs run after them. Another short gunfight, and Crockett sneaks around to the other side. "Freeze!" he shouts. The Columbian turns, points his gun at Crockett, two gunshots ring out, and the Columbian falls. Crockett runs over, checks the body to make sure he's down. He kicks the Columbian's gun away from his body, then puts his own gun away. As Tubbs comes up the stairs, holstering his own gun, the Columbian's girlfriend steps out of the shadow, with her own gun. "This is for Ricky," she says, and shoots Crockett in the chest. Crockett falls off the edge of the platform towards the tracks, Tubbs calls out in anguish, a train approaches, Tubbs runs and dives down to make sure the train doesn't get him. It doesn't. Just a bullet. A Bullet for Crockett.

April 14, 2009

Sex, Lies and the inception of Videotape

Videotape was first demonstrated on April 14, 1958, at the National Association of Radio and Television Broadcasters (NAB) convention in Chicago.  The 2" Quad tape format replaced the "kinescope" and "electronicam" technology that had preceeded it, surely due to the funny naming of the previous technology.  However, videotape was first played on a device called a "Quadruplex", which isn't much better.  This technology led to the creation of a smaller video cassette, and video cassette recorders (VCR's) in 1971, which I used to tape the film "Wizard" on TV when I was 9 years old.  I think I recorded over Flight of the Navigator, which was so 1986 at that advanced time in my life.  ANYWAYS, the use of the videotape for television broadcasting died in the 1980's as the superiority of the videocassette took over.  Over the past 10 years, video cassettes have given way to the use of digital and HD video.  At any rate, as technology reinvents itself to the point where the machines eventually enslave us all, we'll harken back to the days of yore, when we could control our "electronicams" and agreements could be made with robotic allies

Oh yeah - here are the SEX and LIES.

April 13, 2009


April 13th, 1953 was the birth date of project MK-ULTRA where the CIA sought out techniques of mind control and hypnosis to rival those which had been used in the Korean War by the Soviets, Chinese, and North Koreans on American Prisoners of War. The project continued on through at least the late 1960's, used american citizens as test subjects, and experimented with different kinds of drugs, most notoriously LSD. The CIA was interested in using these techniques on their own captives, as well as figuring out a way to use these techniques to manipulate foreign leaders. They later tried to invent a scheme to drug Cuban cigar smoker Fidel Castro.

A couple of well known subjects of the MKULTRA experiments were Unabomber Ted Kazynski and Merry Prankster Ken Kesey, author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. James "Whitey" Bulger, Irish mob boss, volunteered for testing while serving a prison term for armed robbery and hijacking, in order to lessen his sentence. For the most part, however, the experiments were performed without the subjects knowledge, drugging their food, drinks, cigarettes, whatever way the unknowing person could be dosed without knowing about it.

The project was kept secret until 1975, when an investigation by the Church Commitee (led by Senator Frank Church), and another one by the Rockefeller Commission, brought their findings before Congress. The overall investigation was hampered, however, by the fact that CIA director Richard Helms had ordered all MK-ULTRA files destroyed in 1973.

April 12, 2009

Skull Valley lives up to it's name

On April 12, 1968, Skull Valley was the cite of a nerve gas accident resulting in the death of several thousand sheep.  This accident is also known as the "Dugway Sheep Incident" and "Skull Valley Sheep Kill Fuck".  Apparently, the stars and stripes, brilliant and cunning as they are, were experimenting with chemical and biological weapons at Dugway Proving Ground, just southwest of Salt Lake City, Utah.  The nearby ranches surrounding the complex were where the sheep were exposed to the silent but deadly VX gas.  The US Army did not accept full blame until 1998, even though all "studies" showed evidence of the gas in the sheep themselves and all areas where the sheep were found dead (oops!).  Apparently, the police sent novelty rescue cars of different kinds to the scene, but they were of no help and merely served a comical value for the ranchers that loved their sheep and had to lug the carcasses home to prepare the VX-Brand sheep meat and VX-Brand sheep wool for the public.  Neighbors were no help either.  Funerals were held for each individual sheep soon after the incident.

April 11, 2009

Apollo 13 Launches!

April 11, 1979, at 13:13CST, the Apollo 13 launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Brevard County, Florida. 2 Days into the mission, while on the way to the moon, a short in the electrical system caused an oxygen tank to explode, causing both oxygen tanks to fail and also causing an extreme loss in electrical power. The crew on land and in space worked together to figure out a way to bring the astronauts home safely. The original goal of the mission was a moon landing, but that had to be scrapped in favor of not killing the astronauts. They used gravity from the moon to sling the ship back around towards earth, conserved power and managed to bring everyone back safely. The famous phrase "Houston, we have a problem" is actually a misquote from the mission, when Commander James A. Lovell said "Houston, We've Had a Problem".

Superstitious people have associated the belief that 13 is an unlucky number with the mission. The mission began on April 11, 1970 (4/11/70, the individual numbers adding to 13) at 13:13 CST from Complex 39 (three times thirteen). The mission's problems began on April 13, and the mission itself was called Apollo 13. Other coincidental appearances of the number 13 connected to the mission included the explosion occurring at 19:13 CST, and a post-flight estimate that, had the explosion occurred on the ground, repairing the damage would have cost $13 million. In a feature on the making of the Apollo 13 film, Jim Lovell pointed out that NASA has never had another spacecraft numbered 13. However, in NASA's preliminary schedule for the return to the moon, an upcoming spaceflight is to be called Orion 13.

April 10, 2009

The Beatles: So Long and Thanks for All the Money!

The Beatles, England's popular reggae band from the 1960's, first revealed their plans to break up April 10th, 1970, when Paul McCartney made a public announcement to the world that they would no longer be making the music together that they had been making for such a long time, music that had caused so many girls to faint, and so many cover bands to receive drink tickets good for beer or well drinks but not too many, as an over abundance of alcohol would cause them to act irrationally and possibly if not probably ruin the entire show, those talentless wangs.

The break up was met with a lot of sad eating of depressing pot brownies, where the entire nation observed 15 minutes of respectful high (and some, less disposed to the regular digestion of marijuana, observed a day and a half of respectful high). Jesus Christ returned from his lair to announce that he was finally #1 again. John Lennon married a skinny Japanese woman and a million older brothers reached a level of maturity where they could finally admit that the Beatles made some damn good songs, even if they were a bunch of wankers.

I know it's impossible, Beatles, but please get back together.

April 9, 2009

The Mercury Seven

The Mercury 7 was a group of 7 astronauts chosen by NASA, appointed April 9, 1959. They were Scott Carpenter (the tough one), Gordon Cooper (the crazy one), John Glenn (the party animal), Gus Grissom (the short fuse), Walter Schirra (the sexy one), Alan Shepard (the ladies man), and Deke Slayton (the nerd).

The Mercury 7 were narrowed down from a group of 69 military pilots chosen for their experience and physical stature. Due to the small size of the space capsules, candidates could be no taller than 5'11" and no more than 180 pounds. They were chosen to run missions for Project Mercury, America's first human spaceflight program. Nine manned spaceflight missions were run by six of the Mercury seven. Only Deke Slayton, the nerd, didn't run a mission due to heart problems, and a subatomic wedgie.

The Mercury 7 were responsible for many space firsts, including the first manned flight to orbit the earth. On top of all that, Scott Carpenter later went on to work on the Navy SEALAB program, living at the bottom of the ocean for 30 days, receiving supplies from a dolphin! I hereby nominate the Mercury Seven as true American All Stars.

April 8, 2009

Venus de Milo found on Melos

The famous Venus de Milo statue was found on the Aegean island of Melos on April 8th, 1820.  The statue was sold to France by Greek peasants and put in the Louvre in 1821, where it still exists today.  The missing arms of the statue originally led to replacements, but they have since been removed.  Other great statues, many of which actually have arms, were surely passed up for the Venus de Milo.  The mighty Truckules and the stoic Brosophocles were almost certainly among those left behind to remain cult favorites, and will probably resurface during VH1's hit series, "I love the Hellenistic Age: 80 BC".  The Venus de Milo has clearly taught us that we should respect all things without arms, and that ideally technology will find a way to eliminate the need for them altogether.

April 7, 2009

IBM System/360: The Computer of the Future!

The IBM System/360, the computer of the future, was a revolutionary new mainframe computer system first announced April 7, 1964 by International Business Machines Corporation (sometimes referred to as IBM, usually referred to as Big Blue), which was to be the first family of computers designed to cover the full range of applications, from small to large, both commercial and scientific. It was capable of performing the most minute tasks, like toggling, to the most advanced tasks, such as calculating the results of simple arithmetic.

As somewhat of a result of the System/360, we saw our first laptop PC, the IBM 5100, and almost started World War III.


April 6, 2009

North Pole - Conquered!

On April 6, 1909, Robert E. Peary claimed to be the first person to ever reach the geographic North Pole. Technically he didn't "discover" the pole, but rather only "attained" it, but that was still a good deal of work. He was given the Thanks of Congress, as well as other nice gifts for his achievement. Peary kept a diary during his expedition, which has helped further legitimize his claim to reaching the pole. His observations match modern scientific data regarding such a journey to the north pole at that time, finally putting to rest the years of speculation that it had indeed been "others" who had first visited this area.  His journey went on to inspire many fascinating ice-related events, especially those starring Jason Bateman and Alyssa Milano.

Peary went on to appear in notable films and retired to take up his true passion - Mythbusters!