Sep 27, 2021

September 27: Murder And Mysticism Die Hard Style


On September 27, 1977  in Los Angeles, California, Maria Rasputin (AKA Matryona Grigorievna Rasputina) died at the age of 79. She was the daughter of Russian mystic Grigori Rasputin who gained considerable influence with the Tsar Nicholas II, the last monarch of Russia, due to the belief that Grigori Rasputin could heal the Tsar's son,  Alexei, who was a hemophiliac.

Grigori Rasputin had survived a murder attempt in 1914 by a noseless woman named Chionya Guseva; but 2 years later he was assassinated by a group of noblemen who opposed his influence over the Tsar. Grigori Rasputin was poisoned, and when he would not die was shot three times, rolled up in a carpet and thrown off a bridge into the icy Malaya Nevka River.

Maria fled Russia and became a cabaret dancer. One of her dancing acts included actors impersonating her father being murdered. After that Maria became a lion tamer in the Busch Circus, under the title "the daughter of the famous mad monk whose feats in Russia astonished the world" but was mauled by a bear. She survived the bear attack and quit the circus working as a  riveter in Miami and Los Angeles before retiring in 1955.

Later in life she claimed to be psychic after Betty Ford had come to her in a dream. She is buried in Angelus-Rosedale Cemetery.

Sep 6, 2021

September 6: Piggly Wiggly And The First Final Frontier Of Canada


On September 6  in 1916 the first self-service grocery store, Piggly Wiggly, opened its doors. Founded by by Clarence Saunders at 79 Jefferson Avenue in Memphis, Tennessee, it was the first grocery that allowed customers to browse the isles and pick from a selection of items creating the modern style of consumer demand. The first Piggly Wiggly had a little over 200 items to choose from. The modern Grocery store has an average of more than 35,000 items (with the average consumer buying more than 250 individual band items per year).
   Mr. Saunders never explained how he came up with the Piggly Wiggly name. His second grocery store was called  Keydoozle, and was a fully automated store that acted like a giant vending machine. Saunders opened 3 Keydoozle stores, each time having to close for failure to keep up with high consumer traffic of his extremely popular concept.
   'Automated Retailing' and Automats (automated restaurants) can still be found around the globe especially in Japan, where 'Conveyer Belt Sushi' restaurants are common.

Star Trek in Canada

On this day in 1966 the very first episode of Star Trek was aired on Canada's CTV network (a full two days earlier than in the U.S.) beginning with the now famous phrase "Space; the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise."

Jun 1, 2021

June 1st: The Secret Destruction Of America's Musical History



On June 1st, 2008, at At 4:43 a.m. a fire started on a rooftop in the backlot of Universal Studios in Hollywood due to maintenance workers using blowtorches to heat asphalt shingles to repair the roof of a building on the set known as New England Street. The fire quickly spread across the backlot destroying American icons such as 'Courthouse Square' featured in “Back to the Future” as well as the King Kong Encounter from Universal Studios theme park.

In an effort to quell the blaze fire fighters tapped into the man made lake created for the film Creature From the Black Lagoon. Fire crews began drafting water from the lake. Nearly 24 hours later the fire had been subdued and made headlines around the world. News reports reported the damage done,  including the destruction of the warehouse known as 'The video Vault' and the loss of film and video masters stored there, but Universal never made known the list of lost films. More curious than that, Universal failed to mention that the Video Vault also contained 1000s of master audio recordings from Decca, Chess, MCA, ABC, A&M, Geffen, Interscope, and other music labels that had been destroyed.

Of all the reporting on the day after the fire, only one reporter had speculated on the destruction of the audio recordings, Nikki Finke of Deadline. The following day Deadline offered a retraction, quoting a representative from Universal Music Group in saying “Thankfully, there was little lost from UMG’s vault. A majority of what was formerly stored there was moved earlier this year to our other facilities. Of the small amount that was still there and waiting to be moved, it had already been digitized so the music will still be around for many years to come.” Another news source quoted an UMG spokesperson in saying “We had no loss.”

But in a March 2009 UMG document marked “CONFIDENTIAL” the term “assets destroyed”  was used to detail an estimated 500,000 song masters that were lost, and valued this loss at $150 million. As the Video Vault had no real Inventory list, it is unknown exactly what songs were lost, but the list of artists' master recordings destroyed is staggering; including recordings by Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Ella Fitzgerald, Judy Garland, Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Willie Dixon, Bo Diddley, Etta James, John Lee Hooker, Buddy Guy, Little Walter, Aretha Franklin, Buddy Holly, John Coltrane, Count Basie, Coleman Hawkins, Dizzy Gillespie, Max Roach, Art Blakey, Sonny Rollins, Charles Mingus, Ornette Coleman, Alice Coltrane, Sun Ra, Albert Ayler, Pharoah Sanders, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, 50 Cent, the Roots, Eric B. and Rakim, Bobby Brown, Guns N’ Roses, Queen Latifah, Mary J. Blige, Sonic Youth, No Doubt, Nine Inch Nails, Snoop Dogg, Nirvana, Soundgarden and other American music icons.




May 10, 2021

May 10: Jesse Owens Defeats Hitler And Races A Horse

Owens atop the Podium at 1936 Olympics in Berlin.
I
mage by the German Federal Archive
(Deutsches Bundesarchiv) 
On this day in 1935 black American athlete Jesse Owens executes "the greatest 45 minutes ever in sport"by setting three world records and tying for a fourth in less than an hour at the Big Ten Track Meet in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

His achievements at Big Ten landed him on the U.S. Track & Field team at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin. Arriving in Berlin as a track star Owens was met by throngs of young girls screaming for him and cutting pieces of his clothing off for keepsakes in a display rivaling the frenzied girls infected by beatlemania decades later. Durning his time at the Olympics (August 3rd-August 9th) Owens was escorted by soldiers to protect him from his fans. Winning four Olympic gold medals for the U.S.  Owens is credited for single handedly disproving Hitler's Aryan Racial Superiority Theory.   Hitler's response to Owens victory was to say the physiques of black athletes were stronger than those of whites and hence should be excluded from future games. It was reported that Hitler left the games early so that he would not have to congratulate Owens, as was customary for the leaders of the host nation to do. But Owens himself contradicted this by saying that Hitler had waived to Owens, and Owens waived back.

Even in Nazi Germany Owens was allowed to travel with and stay at the same hotels as whites, but not back home in the United States. At a Manhattan ticker-tape parade along Broadway's Canyon of Heroes and the following reception honoring him at the Waldorf Astoria Owens was still subjected to Racial Segregation, and was not allowed to use the front entrance of the hotel. Angered by this and that U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt (a democrat) never congratulated Owens on his olympic victory, Owens campaigned for the Republican Party during the 1936 Presidential Elections. At speaking engagements Owens spoke against Rosevelt saying "Some people say Hitler snubbed me. But I tell you, Hitler did not snub me... but remember that the President did not send me a message of congratulations because, people said, he was too busy." Adding that Rosevelt "didn't even send me a telegram." Several reports stated that Owens carried a photograph in his wallet of himself and Hitler shaking hands; if true this photo has yet to be publicly released.

In later life Jesse Owens struggled with bankruptcy stating that "There was no television, no big advertising, no endorsements then. Not for a black man, anyway." and had to resort to paid public appearances where he entertained audiences with gimmicks such as racing horses (which he routinely won).  To criticism of this line of work Owens said, "People say that it was degrading for an Olympic champion to run against a horse, but what was I supposed to do? I had four gold medals, but you can't eat four gold medals."
In 1966 The U.S. government appointed Owens a US goodwill ambassador in which he traveled the globe conducting speaking engagements. He was eventually able to retire and even kept race horses. Owens died of lung cancer on on March 31, 1980, his heavy smoking habit listed as a contributor.



Apr 30, 2021

April 30: Voices From The Past Tell The Real History Of The Phonograph



On April 30, 1877 French poet Charles Cros deposited a sealed envelope at the French Academy of Sciences (a standard procedure used by inventors to defend their work against any later dispute) containing a summary of his idea to record sounds and play it back. 

The concept of recording sound was not new; In 1857 another  Frenchman  named Édouard-Léon Scott de Martinville designed a way to reproduce sound waves by way of a vibrating parchment diaphragm which allowed a bristle to trace lines on a sheet of paper wrapped around a rotating cylinder, which he aptly called a phonautograph. His goal was to visually study sound waves, audio playback, however, was apparently not considered.

20 years later Cros figured out how it could be done. But, as a poet, he did not have the means to build his machine, and apparently was happy enough to open it up to public domain.

On October 10, 1877, An account of his invention was published in the periodical La Semaine du Clergé.  Cros called his invention the paleophone, derived from the phrase "voix du passé" (voice of the past) But the author of the article instead called the device a phonographe.

On November 21, 1877, American inventor Thomas Edison announced his invention that he called the phonograph and gave a demonstration one week later.

On December 3, 1877,  the French Academy of Sciences opened and read Cos' letter gaining due scientific credit for conception of the phonograph.

 By 1890 the phonograph would become a massive success on both side of the Atlantic, but Cros would not witness this, as he died in 1888 at the age of 45.

Jan 30, 2021

January 30th: From Coney Island Baby to a Mass Grave on Hart Island - The Mysterious life of Rachel


on January 30, 1990, a woman known only as Rachel died at Saint Clare’s Hospital, Hell’s Kitchen, Manhattan. Although Saint Clare’s specialized in treating AIDS patients Rachel's cause of death is not known.

Rachel's body was placed in a wooden box and taken on a ferry off the coast of the Bronx to Hart Island where New York City buries its unclaimed dead by the hundreds in mass graves dug by Riker's Island prison inmates. Ceremonies are not held, and no grave stones are set, only numbered markers.

Hart island's was first used as a training ground for the United States Colored Troops in 1864 and has since been the site of a Union Civil War prison camp, a psychiatric institution, a tuberculosis sanatorium, a homeless shelter, a boys' reformatory, a jail, a cold war defense missile silo,  a drug rehabilitation center, and now a potter's field where over one million unclaimed bodies are interred.

In 2013 Department of Correction began making the Hart Island burial records public, and it was discovered that Hart Island was the final resting place of a man named Richard Humphrys. Little was known of Humphrys, but the world knew of Rachel, Velvet Underground singer Lou Reed's live in girlfriend who was famous for being the inspiration behind Reed's 1976 album Coney Island Baby, and her wish to remain anonymous.

Rachel and Reed lived together for four years in the 1970s, after having met in 1974 at Club 82 in the East Village. Rachel was living as a transgendered woman, although Reed frequently referred to her as his 'boyfriend.' Rachel took hormone treatments but wanted a full sex change which caused problems between the two. When they broke up Rachel disappeared from the public and her life after Reed was a mystery until a New  York Times examination uncovered  her name in the Hart Island burial records.

Dec 30, 2020

December 30th: Perfection Is Perfected With The Perfecto



On December 30th, 1953, the now classic film, The Wild One, hit the movie screens and actor Marlon Brando introduced the world to the Outlaw Biker genre and also to the Perfecto Jacket.
Now firmly cemented into the fabric of Western culture, for many Americans this was the first view of the classic biker look, including the black leather jacket that gained popularity in the 1970s punk scene.

But the jacket, called Perfecto, has more in common with an 18th century military epauletted Lancer's jacket, and was first produced 25 years before The Wild One by Irving Schott, a Jewish Russian immigrant in New York City, who began fabricating motorcycle clothing in 1913. Schott named the brand Perfecto after his favorite cigar believing that having his Jewish family name on the garment wouldn't help sales.

The all black leather garment was the first jacket to employ a zipper instead of buttons. The 1940s saw the  production of an updated jacket (model number 613) based on the original, made from horsehide and had stars on the epaulettes causing it to gain the nickname 'One Star'. By the time The Wild One was filmed, Schott had once again updated the jacket (to model number 618),  removing the stars, but for the film they added stars to Brando's jacket giving it the classic Perfecto look. Moving to steer-hide in the 1960s, the Perfecto has seen minor changes but is still in production after more than 90 years, and is still associated with both biker and punk culture.



Sep 28, 2020

September 28: Zulu Heritage and Legalizing Coconuts


On September 28, 1916, the The Zulu Social Aid & Pleasure Club became an officially incorporated social club in New Orleans, Louisiana. The club puts on the Zulu parade each Mardi Gras Day and is New Orleans' largest African American carnival organization known for its blackface and grass skirt costumes, a crowned Zulu King, and for tossing hand-painted coconuts into the crowds (early blackface performances were not seen as racist and even respected black entertainers preformed blackface shows).

The Zulus got their start around 1908 when a social club called The Tramps were inspired by the costumes and pageantry of Vaudeville shows and reorganized it's marching troupe for Mardi Gras to include costumes, floats, and tossing coconuts to the crowd (as beaded necklaces where too costly for the working class club).After several years the Zulu Social Aid and Pleasure Club became incorporated in 1916 with a social mission and dedication to benevolence and goodwill.
Over the years changing social values threatened the club's popularity and future, especially during the 1960s when civil rights activists protested the club's parade on the grounds that 'Negroes wander through the city drinking to excess, dressed as uncivilized savages and throwing cocoanuts like monkeys.' did not represent black Americans and their fight for equality. There were also lawsuits from bystanders injured from tossed coconuts. By the end of the 1960s the membership dropped to 15, and the blackface and grass skirt costumes were dropped.
By the early 1970s an effort was made to save the club and its traditions. The club became integrated and actively recruited prominent members of New Orleans. The club reclaimed its traditions of the  traditional blackface and grass skirt costumes and in 1988 New Orleans passed the “Coconut Bill” removing liability from injuries resulting from thrown coconuts and enabling the tradition to resume.


Sep 18, 2020

September 18: A Champion Athlete's Diet: Beer, Bacon, and Candy

 On September 18th in 2016 ultra-runner Karl Meltzer set a record for running the complete Appalachian Trail (2,190 miles across14 states) in just 45 days 22 hours 38 minutes. The previous record was set by Scott Jurek, who completed the trail in 46 days 8 hours 7 minutes.
Jurek, the former record holder, was 41 at the time of his record setting run and ran the trail on an exclusively vegan diet. Meltzer, who broke Jurek's record by several hours, was 48 at the time and completed the trail on a diet that included Red Bull, bacon, 3 Musketeers bars, and Beer. Meltzer ran the final 83 miles non-stop to complete the race. At the time of his record setting Appalachian Trail run Meltzer had won 38 100 mile trail races.


Sep 10, 2020

September 10: Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau is born Twice



Born on September 10th in 1794 was the renowned practitioner of Louisiana Voodoo Marie Laveau in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Laveau was born to a free creole woman and one time acting Mayor of New Orleans (about 5 months), Charles Laveau Trudeau  (AKA Don Carlos Trudeau).
   In 1819 She married Jaques Paris, a French Creole, who had fled as a refugee from the black Haitian massacre during the Haitian Revolution of 1791-1804. He disappeared soon after their wedding and was presumed dead. She then took up with Louis Christope Dominick Duminy de Glapion, a white man of noble french descent and lived with him until his death in 1835. They had 7 children, but only two lived to adulthood; 2 girls both also named Marie.
   Laveau and her daughter, Marie Laveau II, had both earned the title of Voodoo Queen, most accounts are nearly indistinguishable between the two Laveaus, as many regarded them as the same person. Voodoo Queens had great power in their communities, and had the role of leading many of the ceremonial meetings and ritual dances.
   As many as 12,000 people at a time (both black and white) would attend Laveau's St. John's Eve (June 23) rituals, usually held in the Voudoun (Haitian Voodou) tradition.
Voudoun is a religion of belief in "mysterious forces or powers that govern the world and the lives of those who reside within it." rooted in African religious practices and is similar to but separate from Louisiana Voodoo, which incorporates elements of Catholicism as well as the Francophone culture of south Louisiana. The South Eastern American religion of Hoodoo is also similar to Louisiana Voodoo as it also uses elements of Catholicism including the Holy Bible.
   It is said that Laveau tended more toward Louisiana Voodoo and Marie Laveau II more to Voodoun practices, But the first Laveau often carried a snake named after Li Grand Zombi (or Damballa), an important spirit in Voodoun.

Marie Laveau died on June 17, 1881, but many witnessed her walking through New Orleans in the days following. Some of this may be on account of Laveau II taking her place as Voodoo Queen, but to this day Many seek the magical help from Marie Laveau by visiting her grave at Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 in New Orleans. By local folklore, a visitor can mark an "X" on her tomb, turn around three times, knock on the tomb, yell a wish, and if it was granted  come back, circle their X, and leave an offering for Laveau including jewelry and drink.
   As of March 1, 2015 there is no longer public access to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. without a tour guide due in large part to protecting Laveau's mausoleum. There have been several highly publicized vandalizations of her grave including the Horror Punk band The Misfits being arrested for attempting to rob her grave as well as an event in 2013 of someone painting the entire mausoleum pink.

Photo credit: Marie Laveau's mausoleum in Saint Louis no. I, New Orleans
 (public domain photo).

Aug 28, 2020

August 28: Diana The Huntress of Bus Drivers


On August 28th, 2013, in Juárez, Mexico, a woman calling herself "Diana" shot and killed a bus driver, and repeating this act by killing a second driver the following day on August 29th.
These killings were made in response to a growing epidemic of women being raped and killed in Juárez after boarding city buses alone. In 2010 over 300 women in Juarez were found raped and murdered; many of the attacks are assumed to be carried out by bus drivers preying on women who ride alone at night coming home from work.

The woman, still only known as Diana, with dyed blonde hair (or wearing a blonde wig), boarded the buses in August of 2013 and shot the drivers point blank. After the second shooting, several media outlets in Juárez reported receiving an e-mail from a sender claiming to be the killer. In the e-mail, she calls herself "Diana, the hunter of drivers."

The name Diana was borrowed from the Roman Goddess Diana The Huntress, virgin goddess of the hunt and of women. Juárez' Diana, protector of women, said in her email "I am an instrument that will take revenge for many women. For we are seen as weak, but in reality we are not. We are brave. And if we don't get respect, we will earn that respect with our own hands. We the women of Juárez are strong."

  Diana, the Hunter of Bus Drivers has not reemerged since the second shooting death in 2013, but as the epidemic continues (over 2,500 murders of women annually in Mexico)  her name has not been forgotten.

Image: Sculpture of Diana The Huntress by Raymond Graf (2014)

Jun 28, 2020

June 28th: From Messiah to Masochist - The Life and Death of GG Allin

GG Allin's last day on Earth


On June 28th, 1993, GG Allin, referred to by AllMusic magazine as "the most spectacular degenerate in rock & roll history" died of a heroin overdose in New York City.

GG Allin was born Jesus Christ Allin in Lancaster, New Hampshire, to a religious fanatic named Merle Allin, Sr. and his wife Arleta Gunther.
His father named him Jesus Christ due to a visit from God who told him that his newborn son would become the Messiah.

GG's older brother, Merle Jr., who was three at the time of GG's birth, was unable to pronounce "Jesus" and instead called him "Je- Je", which was how he got the name "GG", although once his mother was able to escape the abusive confines of Merle Sr., she legally changed his name to Kevin Micheal when he was 6 years old.

The Allin family lived in a log cabin with no running water or electricity in Groveton, New Hampshire, as Merle Sr. was a mentally unstable recluse, who routinely threatened to kill his family, even digging their graves in the cellar.

His mother relocated to Vermont with Merle Jr., and GG. Of their childhood GG said that it was "very chaotic. Full of chances and dangers. We sold drugs, stole, broke into houses, cars. Did whatever we wanted to for the most part." GG attended high school cross-dressed, which he said was inspired by the New York Dolls, his brother Merle said GG was bullied constantly.

After graduating high school GG and Merle began their life long adventure in the music business, playing together in bands such as The Jabbers (1977-1984) The Murder Junkies (formed in 1990), as well as performances and albums billed as a GG Allin solo act but including Merle as part of the backing band, with GG almost decidedly setting out to prove his father's premonition absolutely wrong.

By the mid 1980s Allin had a reputation for outlandish stage shows that regularly included self mutilation, defecating and eating or slinging his own feces onto the crowd, as well as attacking and physically assaulting audience members. By the late 1980s Allin began hinting to wanting to kill himself onstage, culminating in a promise to commit suicide on stage on October 31st 1989 but before Halloween of that year Allin was imprisoned for cutting, burning, and drinking the blood of a young woman, to which admitted for a reduced sentence.
Allin was released March 26, 1991, being quite possibly the only person to admit to feeling ''re-energized" by prison. It was during his incarceration that he wrote the  "GG Allin Mission", recommitting himself to his on stage suicide promise:

"Time to get Rock 'N' Roll out of the hands of the masses and back to the people who will not accept comfort or conformity at any cost. Then I will commit suicide on stage and the blood of Rock 'N' Roll will become the poison of the Universe forever.."

Wether it was an affirmation of intent, or a ploy to sell tickets, Allin's wish would not come true.
Unbeknownst to GG, his last show was on June 27, 1993 at a punk club in Manhattan called The Gas Station. GG's friend, Johnny Puke, lived across the street from the club and around noon invited the band to his place before the show to drink and do cocaine.   By the time Allin took to the stage he was "super-wired" from the drugs and immediately broke the microphone. By the third song Allin had defecated on himself and began attacking the audience, which sent about 200 people stampeding for the courtyard, which Allin followed throwing glass bottles at them.

After GG finally left the club, he was covered in blood and feces, wearing only boots, walking aimlessly through the streets followed by a crowd of fans. After the police were called, Allin was somehow able to hail a cab, completely naked and smelling like human waste. Finally Allin and his girlfriend made it back to Johnny Puke's apartment, where they drank and snorted 10 bags of heroin that the show promoter paid Allin with.

At some point around 2 a.m. Allin passed out, or so the partygoers thought, and they posed for pictures with Allin's corpse covered in blood and feces and wearing a skirt.  

GG Allin's funeral took place on July 3, 1993 in his native New Hampshire. GG's brother Merle forbade the undertaker from washing or preserving the body,  so at his funeral, Allin's bloated, unpreserved corpse still covered in feces was dressed in his black leather jacket and jock strap. Friends posed for pictures with his corpse and shoved drugs and whiskey into his mouth, and he was laid to rest in the plot reserved for his mother.

GG Allin's tombstone read 'Live Fast Die - Rock N Roll Terrorist' but was removed because the grave was frequently vandalized with urine, cigarette butts, and feces by fans.

Despite Johnny Puke's efforts to reclaim the photographs of Allin's corpse confiscated by the police, they refused and are presumably still at Manhattan's 9th precinct.

Painting of Allin in his casket by friend and serial killer John Wayne Gacy 


May 11, 2020

May 11th: Man Saves 2,400,000 Babies And Then Retires


On Friday, May 11th, 2018  eighty one year old James Harrison donated blood at the Town Hall Blood Donor Center in Sydney Australia.

It would be his final donation after 60 years and 1, 173 donations.  Harrison began giving blood every few weeks at the age of 20 after a blood transfusion saved his own life. In the 1960s it was discovered that Mr. Harrison's blood contained a rare antibody called Anti-D necessary to make a medication to save new born babies with a hemolytic disease that is potentially fatal.

Medical officials at The Red Cross estimate that Harrison has helped save more than 2.4 million babies since 1967 but have decided that at 81, Mr. Harrison should stop giving to protect his own health, although Harrison said “I felt like I could keep going.”

Researchers immediately began working on synthesizing the antibodies in what they have named the “James in a Jar project.”

May 3, 2020

May 3: Sammy Davis Jr Drives A Race Car Dressed As A Priest (And Everybody Wins)


Car and Driver Map
On May 3rd, 1971, the now infamous cross country race, known as The Cannonball Baker Sea-To-Shining-Sea Memorial Trophy Dash  (or simply Cannonball Run), began in New York City and ended at the Portofino Inn in Redondo Beach, California and was repeated four more times in the 1970s.

   The Cannonball Run was an unsanctioned automobile race conceived by race car driver Brock Yates and Car and Driver Magazine editor Steve Smith as a protest against proposed strict U.S. traffic laws known as the Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act (that went into act in 1974).

Each race was chronicled in Car and Driver Magazine, detailing the races and strategies of each team, including one team disguised as priests who drove a Mercedes 280 SEL sedan, which they claimed to be "the Monsignor's car" as a way to evade long delays and speeding tickets by highway patrolmen.
 
The fastest time recorded during the 5 races was 32 hours and 51 minutes and the worst recorded accident reported in Car and Driver was a spilled lasagna dinner, but later in his memoir Yates  mentions several incidents including a totaled Cadillac stretch limousine resulting in a broken arm suffered by famed female racer Donna Mae "Pink Lady" Mims.

One of the most important discoveries in the cannonball Run races was that the highest speeds did not  necessarily give drivers an advantage.

  The Cannonball Run races inspired several movies including Cannonball, The Gumball Rally, and Cannonball Run starring Burt Reynolds with Sammy Davis Jr. and Dean Martin as the Flying Fathers, the team that raced in priest outfits. Cannonball Run was one of the highest grossing films of 1980 and two sequels, Cannonball Run II and Speed Zone, followed.





Mar 18, 2020

March 18: Jenny's Last Dive


On March 18th, 1741, an Irish woman known as Jenny Diver was hanged in England. Born Mary Young, Diver migrated to England where she became a skilled thief, robbing high society using many techniques including false arms which made it possible for her rob people with her hands seemingly visible in her lap.

As a member of a street gang run by a woman named Anne Murphy, Diver was so skilled as a thief that she became the leader of Murphy's gang and given the name Jenny Diver.

In 1728 Diver was the inspiration for the role of the same name in John Gay's 1728 The Beggar's Opera.

Twice she was arrested and banished to the New World, and both times she bribed the captain on the prison ship to allow her a comfortable travel with her property, bribed the governor in Virginia to relieve her of her sentence, and bribed the captain to take her back to London again. But on January 10th, 1741, she was arrested for the third time, and sentenced to death.

Due to her notoriety she was taken to her execution in a mourning carriage in a black dress and hat with veil, and reportedly behaved with composure to the very end.


Feb 18, 2020

February 18: The Resurrection of Ol' Rip

On February 18th, 1928, in in Eastland, Texas, the 31 year old County Courthouse was torn down. A time capsule placed in a cornerstone was opened and a horned lizard, placed there in 1897, among other memorabilia was produced alive; supposedly hibernating for over 3 decades in the stone.

Wether or not the lizard (named Ol' Rip) was in fact the original or ringer, it became a celebrity and went on tour, eventually meeting President Calvin Coolidge in Washington, D.C.

Ol' Rip died after almost a year, and the remains went on display in the new Eastland County Courthouse. Over 4 decades later, in 1973, Ol' Rip's body was stolen and an anonymous letter was found claiming that finding Ol' Rip alive in the cornerstone was a hoax. The author demanded, in exchange for returning the body, the  conspirators in come forth. No one did, and the coffin and body was found in the county fairgrounds.

Speculation that the body in the coffin was a substitute and rumors of the body of the real Ol' Rip was held by a private collector.

The average lifespan of a horned Lizard is about 5-8 years.

Dec 25, 2019

December 25th: The layered Tale of Louisville's 1st Christmas

Mildred Hill.
Courtesy of the University Of Louisville Photo Archives
On December 25th, Christmas Day, Louisville's first black resident saved Christmas.
Many of you Louisville history buffs will be quite familiar with that remark, as well as the name Cato Watts. It is a story that has been well documented and written about many times since its occurrence in 1778.

The facts we do know about Watts have been heavily researched and written about in journals dating back over 100 years. But what we do not know about Cato Watts is just as curious given the amount of time spent chronicling his life.

What we do know about Watts is that he was both the first black resident, and the first musician of Louisville; given that he was present during the founding of Louisville, standing amidst Col. George Rogers Clark as the settlement was founded, we can be certain these facts are true.

 Watts also carries the title of Louisville's first slave. Accounts overtime on this vary; over the last 100 years the different published accounts of Watts refer to him in different ways: the 1940 account, 'The Negro In Kentucky,' by G. W. Jackson refers to Watts as a 'Negro servant', but written in the 20th century the omission of the word 'slave' was perhaps careful footstepping. The 1896 account,
Music History of Louisville,  by musicologist and famed writer of the melody for 'Happy Birthday', Mildred J. Hill  refers to Watts as a 'negro fiddler', and Reuben Thomas Durrett's work just two years prior to Hill's, in The Romance of the Origin of Louisville, Durrett refers to Watts in several different ways, including the nickname of 'The Old Standby'  before settling on 'slave'.

Watts arrived in the area as the servant of Captain John Donne attached to Col. George Rogers Clark's expedition. They set up a settlement on May 27, 1778 during the Revolutionary War, on Corn island in the Ohio river just across from modern day 12th street. When Clark's militia departed 60 civilian settlers remained behind in 1778 and since that day there has always been a European presence in this area.

Corn Island, on the other hand, is all but gone. In the 1800s The Louisville Cement Company extracted rock for cement and the removal of trees from the island contributed to erosion, which washed much of the island away by 1895. The rest of Corn island is now permanently underwater, although a Louisville family by the name of James has held the deed on Corn Island for generations and still pays an annual land tax.

On December 25th of 1778 the settlement had a Christmas feast and dance on the site that is now 12th street. According to the Filson Club the music was supplied by Jean Nickle, a french fiddler that only played 'French airs', but was unpopular amongst the settlers who wanted more 'lively tunes' to dance to. The settlers soon replaced him with Cato Watts who played the more popular genres of Irish jigs and Virginia reels, thus creating the legend of 'the slave that saved the first Louisville Christmas.'

According to Hill, Watts was well regarded amongst the settlers for his fiddle playing, but the strings on his instrument had long been broken, so when a fresh instrument appeared, as a near Christmas miracle perhaps, the settlers where all to happy to commandeer Nickle's fiddle for Watts' use. Hill, a Louisville native and music reacher specializing in the study of Negro Spirituals, ended her manuscript in a curious note. "Cato's music was certainly the music of the people and.." she wrote, " if a history of Kentucky music is to be written, a large portion should be written about the negro in our state, but the music of the negro in a  city is of little interest because he is so surrounded and influenced by the whites that his own loses its characteristics, and therefore, its interest."

In addition to being Louisville's first black resident, first slave, and first musician, Cato Watts has two more distinctions: the first person to be tried for murder in Louisville and first resident hung to death in Louisville.

According to Durrett's 1893 account, Watts knocked down John Donne that resulted in Donne's death. Watts was tried and convicted in 1787. According to J. Blaine Hudson, in an article in the August 1999 Filson Club Quarterly, "The above named Cato Watts was led to the Bar, and upon Examination says that he knocked the said Donne down but that it was not with the intention to kill him." Regardless the man who saved Christmas was found guilty and hanged from a large oak tree which stood where the court house now stands, currently surrounded by the city's Light Up Louisville installation, and in view of the city's 40 foot Christmas tree.
 "He killed his owner as he claimed by accident, but was tried and hung for the crime.." wrote Durrett in his 1893 account,  "much to sorrow of the young people who enjoyed his music at their dances."

an artist rendition of Cato Watts defeating Jean Nickle, from 'Stories of Old Kentucky'
 by Martha C. Grassham Purcell, c1915

Oct 30, 2019

October 30th: Sure It'll cost you a fortune, but you can watch that VHS tape anytime you want



On October 30th, 1985, The blockbuster motion picture, Beverly Hills Cop, was released on Video Cassette for $29.95 by Paramount Pictures. The average cost of VHS releases that year was $79.95; and the majority of video releases were sold to movie rental stores, marking a change in the industry to begin targeting individual consumers as purchasers of home movies and not just renters.

30 years later, in 2015, the average cost of a new DVD release was $15.99, and 24.99 for Blue Ray.

Jul 1, 2019

July 1: All Day I Dream About Shoes That Aren't Associated With Nazis


 On July 1st, 1924, siblings Adolf and Rudolph Dassler opened the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory (Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik) in Herzogenaurach, Germany. Adolf, known as Adi, began designing training shoes in his mother's washroom after serving in WWI. His father was a shoe cobbler and supported his son's efforts, his brother Rudolph soon joined and the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory was created. Adi made history in 1936 at the Summer Olympics in Berlin by sponsoring American Athlete Jesse Owens, making it the first ever sports sponsorship for a male African American athlete.

    In the 1930s with the rise of the Nazi Party, both brothers felt pressure to join the National Socialist Party. Adi served one year in the German Defense Force (Wehrmacht) before successfully distancing himself from the Nazi Party. This caused friction between the brothers, with Rudolph being an ardent supporter of the National Socialist party.

   In 1945 Rudolf was captured by American troops for being a suspected member of the SS, reportedly on information supplied by Adi. In 1948 with tensions between the brothers coming to a boil, Rudolph left the company and started a competing shoe company across town called Puma. Adi renamed the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory 'Adidas' putting together the first few letters of his first and last name (ADI+DAS-sler).

Born on this Day:
1945 – Debbie Harry, American singer and frontman for the band Blondie. Known as a punk and New Wave band, Blondie also has the distinction of being the first group to hit no.1 on the U.S. charts with a rap song. 


Jun 12, 2019

June 12th: Space, The final Frontier (For Consumer Marketing)



On June 12, 2008,  high-powered radars at the EISCAT European space station in the Arctic Circle  pulsed a message out over a six-hour period to the constellation Ursa Major, just about 80 light years away from Earth.

Although broadcasting messages into deep space is nothing new, we inadvertently broadcast television and radio signals into space daily; and in 1977 NASA sent two golden records into space with greetings and recorded messages from Earth, the broadcast on June 8th was something new; A recorded  advertisement for Doritos chips specifically for alien life.

The 30 second ad was created and directed by 25-year-old Matt Bowron of the United Kingdom, as part of the Doritos Broadcast Project, which invited the UK public to create a 30 second video involving Doritos and 'Life On Earth'.

Peter Charles, Head of the Doritos Broadcast Project said of the transmission "We are constantly looking to push the boundaries of advertising and this will go further than any brand has gone before... We also shouldn't be too surprised if the first aliens start arriving on planet Earth immediately demanding a bag of Doritos."

Apr 1, 2019

April 1st: When The Sequel That Doesn't Exist Is As Popular As The Prequel That Does


On April 1st, 2018, music news website 37FLOOD leaked a track by hip hop producer MC HIJACK purportedly from the soundtrack of a forthcoming sequel to the cult film Donnie Darko, labeled When The Night Gets Too Darko, grabbing attention from both the music and film world, instantly joining the ranks of popular sequels that don't actually exist such as Good Will Hunting II: Hunting Season, and Ferris Bueller 2: Another Day Off, as well as popular albums that don't exist either such as Dr. Dre's Detox, and Outkast's The Hard Way.


Editor's Note: Every April 1st we spotlight a historical April Fool's joke. Past April 1st stories include a Wikipedia article about Gen. George Washington's instant coffee invention, and an illusionist's discovery of the corpse of a fairy in England

Mar 18, 2019

March 18: Conspiracy In The NYC (A Prince Is Killed And An Irish Slave Starts A Witch Hunt)


On March 18 in 1741 a fire broke out at New York governor George Clarke's home. This was the first of 13 fires set during the trial of John Hughson, a poor white tavern owner, and two black slaves, Caesar and Prince. The Tavern Hughson owned was a hangout for black and white slaves, as well as  poor whites and free blacks (at the time this was not at all uncommon, as the lower classes intermingled and even had children together). Hughson was accused of receiving stolen liquor from Caesar and Prince.

The elite were nervous about the different lower classes socializing together and worried of an uprising of poor whites and blacks working together, so the constables watched the tavern constantly, in an effort to catch illegal activity so it could be shut down. As the trial went on more fires spread across Manhattan and panic arose over a fear of the underclasses revolting. Hughson, Prince, and Caesar were executed, their bodies left in public to rot. A 16-year-old Irish slave, Mary Burton, was arrested for theft and facing a similar fate instead testified about a supposedly growing conspiracy of poor whites and blacks to burn down the city, kill the white men and take the white women for themselves, and hopefully remove the governor and replace him for a king of their choice; solidifying the fears of the government.

A witch hunt ensued in which those arrested named others in the conspiracy in hopes of leniency, leading to 160 blacks and 21 whites being arrested. As the panic continued Mary Burton and others began naming rich elite as conspirators as well causing the public to realize little if any of the conspiracy had truth to it. By then 17 blacks and 4 whites had been hanged, 13 blacks were burned slowly at stake, and 70 blacks and 7 whites were banished from New York.
Also, Mary Burton received a reward of ₤100 from the city, which she used to buy her freedom.

Editor's Note: In understanding this story it should be noted that slavery in early America looked somewhat differently then it did by 1865. Early slaves in America came in many forms including white europeans (mostly Irish, Scottish, or German), American Indians, and Africans. A common form of slavery for these groups was also called 'indentured servitude', but make no mistake that this form was any better. These slaves could 'work off' their debt and eventually become free but many were subjected to physical and sexual abuse, starvation, and as it was not illegal to kill a slave, many were simply worked to death before their indebted time was up. 
That said, in the 1700s it was not uncommon for slaves of any color to spend their personal time in public, carrying weapons, conducting side work for extra money, and fraternizing with free people. 
It was only after riots and rebellions of white and black slaves working together (demanding a better life) that measures were made to cause racial tensions and soon enough 'chattel' slavery became the norm.   

Feb 22, 2019

February 22: Rise of Red Bird And Native American Rights



On February  22nd in 1876 native American writer, activist, educator, and musician Zitkala-Sa (Red Bird) was born on the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota.

At a young age Quaker missionaries came to the Yankton Reservation and took several children to the White's Manual Labor Institute, a boarding school in Wabash, Indiana including Zitkala-Sa.
After graduation she attended Earlham College in Richmond, Indiana before becoming a teacher herself. Though she valued education she felt isolated in a white/european culture, and felt her identity was stripped away by the Quaker missionaries. She was further dismayed when returning to Yankton Reservation to find many of native Sioux traditions had fallen away and the reservation conforming to the dominant white culture.

Zitkala-Sa began archiving Native American customs and legends and was first published in 1900 when she published legends collected from Native American culture, as well as autobiographical narratives. She also wrote columns for the New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly, as well as writing the first Native American Opera.

in 1926 she and her husband founded the National Council of American Indians, dedicated to the cause of uniting the tribes throughout the U.S. in the cause of gaining full citizenship rights and served as it's president until her death in 1938.

Photo: Zitkala-Sa (1901) Public Domain photograph by Joseph Keiley

Jan 12, 2019

January 12 - From Slave To Lawman: The Story Of Bass Reeves



   On January 12, 1910, one of the most prolific and successful  U.S. Marshals, Bass Reeves, died at the age of 71 in Muskogee, Oklahoma. Reeves served as a U.S. Marshal for more than 30 years and arrested over 3,000 wanted men, and was respected for his superior marksmanship and tracking  capabilities, despite being born (in 1838, exact date unknown) a slave in Crawford County, Arkansas.

   He was owned by Arkansas state legislator William Steele Reeves and was the servant for Williams' son, George R. Reeves. George was a Colonel in the Confederate army during the Civil War. It was during the war that Bass "parted ways" with his owner after he beat up George during a dispute over a card game. George went on to become Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives until his death in 1882 from rabies. Bass hid out until 1865 when slavery was abolished. During that time he lived with Cherokee, Seminole, and Creek Indians, learning their culture and languages. Bass Reeves then moved to Arkansas to be a farmer with wife Nellie Jennie and their eleven children.

   Reeves and his family farmed until 1875, when famed federal judge Isaac Parker directed U.S. Marshal James F. Fagan to hire 200 deputy U.S. Marshals. Fagan sought out and recruited Bass Reeves (for Reeves' knowledge of Indian Territory and Indian languages) making Reeves the first black deputy west of the Mississippi River.

    For over thirty years as a U.S. Marshal, Reeves captured over 3,000 felons, and killed fourteen outlaws in self defense, amazingly he was never wounded despite having his hat and belt shot off on separate occasions. After 32 years as a Marshal, Reeves retired at 68, and became an officer of the Muskogee, Oklahoma police department until his death on this date in 1910.

Image: Bass Reeves (public domain photo)

Oct 7, 2018

October 7 - Kelly Girl: Birth of the Temp Worker


On this date in 1946 William Russell Kelly founded 'Russell Kelly Office Service' in Troy, Michigan, as the first temporary staffing agency that provided temporary secretarial services for clients onsite.
The Kelly Service was founded shortly after World War II, a time when women  joined the workforce in large numbers. Soon the term 'Kelly Girl' entered the lexicon referring to temp workers in general, regardless of gender.  Adelaide Hess Moran has the distinction of being the world's first Kelly Girl.
 
 In 1957 the 'Russell Kelly Office Service' officially changed its name to 'Kelly Girl Service' but changed it's name again in 1966 'Kelly Services Inc' in order to reflect an expanding range of services including office services, accounting, engineering, information technology, law, science, marketing, creative services, light industrial, education, and health care. Kelly operates in 41 countries and territories and employs more than 500,000 individuals annually.

Sep 15, 2018

September 15: Muhammad Ali Becomes The Greatest (3 Times Over) And A Misfit Is Born


On September 15, 1978, Boxing legend and civil rights activist Muhammad Ali beat Leon Spinks in a rematch to become the first boxer to win the world heavyweight title three times. Ali outpointed Spinks in front of a crowd of 65,000 at the Superdome in New Orleans.
It was Ali's last professional win.

Doyle (with Devilock hair) playing with The Misfits.
April 4, 1983 at the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.
Born on this day:
1964 - Doyle Wolfgang von Frankenstein, guitarist for the Horror Punk band The Misfits. Doyle's older brother, Jerry Only, was the band's bassist and when guitarist Bobby Steele failed to show up for practice, Only and lead singer Glenn Danzig quickly taught Doyle how to play guitar. He joined the Misfits in October 1980 at the age of 16. The Misfits played their first show at the famed CBGB club in New York in 1977, and are recognized as early developers of the horror punk genre; blending punk rock with camp horror themes and imagery. They are also recognized as the originators of the Devilock hairstyle.

Sep 11, 2018

September 11: 9/11 Flag Lost and Found After Circling the Globe



On September 11, 2001, the World Trade Centers in New York City fell after two commercial airliners hit them in what is now called the 9/11 Terrorist Attacks.
Hours after the twin towers fell 3 NYC firemen (George Johnson, Billy Eisengrein and Dan McWilliams) took an American flag off of a yacht docked in a Lower Manhattan harbor and raised it amongst the rubble in the area now known as Ground Zero. The moment was captured in a photograph by newspaper photographer Thomas E. Franklin and published on front pages and magazine covers around the world. The photo has been compared to Joe Rosenthal’s 1945 picture of six U.S. troops raising an American flag atop Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima. The 9/11 flag disappeared hours after the photo was taken and an alternate flag was signed by the governor of New York George Pataki, and two New York City mayors, Rudolph Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg and was put on display at various times around the world. After comparisons of the displayed flag to the flag in the famous photograph reveled it to be a fake, a documentary about the flag's disappearance was made.

   In 2014 a man who identified himself only as 'Brian' walked into a fire station in Everett, Washington (nearly 3,000 miles away from New York) saying he saw the documentary and wanted to  hand over a flag he thought to be the famous missing flag. The man, still only known as Brian, said he was a Marine veteran who had been deployed to the Middle East and was told a widow of a 9/11 victim gave the flag to a worker at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who in turn gave the flag to him.

    A forensic materials scientist for the Washington State Patrol Crime Lab conducted tests and determined that Brian's mystery flag was the flag from the famous photo. It is now on display at the National September 11 Memorial Museum, and a second documentary has been made about the flag's recovery.

Aug 29, 2018

8/29: Forget About Friday The 13th, It's August 29th That Is Truly Nefarious



While Friday the 13th holds a dark aire of mystery, and is generally seen as unlucky, there is little evidence to prove it as such. Most scholars believe the 'Friday The13th' superstition is related to the Holy Bible, as 13 people (12 Apostles and Jesus), met on Thursday, the 13th day of the month for the Last Supper, and Jesus was crucified on Friday the 14th (Good Friday), thus blending the number 13 and the day of Friday.  But it is August 29th that has been the date of numerous eerie, nefarious, and tragic events.

In the United States, many ominous events occurred on this date, including Shays' Rebellion (1786), which was an armed uprising of Massachusetts farmers in response to high debt and tax burdens, and in 1758 the First American Indian Reservation is established. While, on this day in 1957, Congress passed the Civil Rights Act, it was also the date of the longest Filibuster in US history, by Strom Thurmond (against Civil Rights). Also in the U.S., in 1922, The first radio advertisement is broadcast on WEAF-AM in New York City beginning the long tradition of impatient listeners flipping through the radio dial in an effort to evade obnoxious ads.

 On August 29th, in 2005, hurricane Katrina hit the U.S. Gulf Coast, in which at least 1,245 people died and over a billion dollars in damage was created. Also in the United States, it was the date of a record number of arrests during a US political convention (Republican National Convention in New York City with over 1800 arrests) in 2004.

But it is quite possible that August 29th holds the most bitter association in Russia, as it was the date of not only their first Atom Bomb test (in 1949), but also the day of their first hydrogen bomb test (in 1953). It also happens to be the day in1991 that the Communist Party in the Soviet Union collapsed.

Some positive events also occurred on August 29th including the abolishment of slavery in the United Kingdom (1833), the motorcycle was invented on this day in 1885, the first 3-way call took place in 1877 (although for countless teenage girls this began a cruel tradition of entrapment), in 1885 the world's first Heavy Weight Boxing match took place (again, the positive or negative nature of this is debatable), Chop Suey was invented in NYC in 1896, and in1883 The world's first electric stove cooked dinner was made (also debatable). In science fiction, August 29th, 1997,  is the day the machines destroy the Earth in the Terminator film franchise.

As for births of curious and bizarre individuals on August 29th, Diamanda Galás,  the American avant-garde soprano and  pianist was born on this day in 1955, whose music has been described as "the most unnerving vocal terror." Anton Newcombe, founder of the band The Brian Jonestown Massacre, and whose abusive and hostile stage presence have become as well known as his music, was born on this day in in 1967. It could also be noted that his father committed suicide on August 29th in 2005, a year after the documentary film 'Dig!' was released showing a behind the scenes look into into Anton's tortured and drug addicted world. In a 2014 interview with The Guardian,  Anton's response to his father's suicide was "fuck him."
GG Allin, born Jesus Christ Allin, whose stage antics of defecting on himself as well has eating and slinging it onto audience members,  was born on this day in 1956.


Events of note occurring on AUGUST 29TH :

-2005 hurricane Katrina hits the U.S. Gulf Coast
 -2004 Record number of arrests during a US political convention (RNC in NYC/ over 1800)
 -1997 the Machines destroy the Earth in Terminator
-1991 the Soviet Union collapses
 - 1982 Ingrid Bergman dies
-1970 Black Panthers kill a policeman in Philadelphia.
-1966 The Beatles play their last show, finally.
- 1967 Jimmy Reed dies
-1967 Anton Newcombe is born
- 1965 Gemini 5 returns to earth
- 1958 Michael Jackson is born
-1957 Congress passes the Civil Rights Act
 -1957 Strom Thurmond ends longest Filibuster in US history (against Civil Rights)
-1956 GG Allin is born
-1955 Diamanda Galas is born
-1953 Soviet Union explodes it's first hydrogen bomb -
1949 soviet Union sets off it's first Atom Bomb.
1945 British "liberate" Hong Kong from Japan
-1944 Paris is liberated by Allied Forces
 -1938 Elliot Gould is born
-1936 Peter Jennings is born 1929
- the first around the world Zeppelin flight is completed
-1924 Dinah Washington is born
 -1922 The first radio advertisement is broadcast on WEAF-AM in New York City.
 -1920 Charlie Parker is Born
-1896 Chop Suey is invented in NYC
 -1885 birth of the motorcycle
-1885 world's first Heavy Weight Boxing match
- 1883 The world's first electric stove cooked dinner is made.
 -1877 Brigham Young dies
-1877 first 3 way phone call is made
-1842  Treaty of Nanking signing ends the First Opium War.
-1833 the United Kingdom abolishes slavery.
-1831 electromagnetic induction is discovered
 -1825 birth of Brazil
-1786 Shays' Rebellion, an armed uprising of Massachusetts farmers, begins in response to high debt and tax burdens.
-1758 the First American Indian Reservation is established.
 -3150 BC the Egyptian New Year

Photo Credit: August 29th is the date Louisville Kentucky threw the world's largest annual Zombie festival, 2005-2015, with an average of 35,000 attendees. Photo by Marty Pearl.

Editor's Note: The editor of this publication was present at the 2004 RNC protest in NYC, and August 29th is also his birthday.

Aug 15, 2018

August 15: When Listening For Aliens, It Helps To Have A Big Ear



On August 15th, 1977, a strong narrowband radio signal from space was recorded at the Ohio State University's Big Ear radio telescope, in the United States. A few days later astronomer Jerry R. Ehman, assigned to a SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project, discovered the anomaly while reviewing a computer printout and was so impressed that he circled the reading on the printout and wrote the comment Wow! on the side.

What made the anomaly interesting to Ehman is that it appeared to be an artificial radio signal, not a natural signal that would be found in space, such as one emitted from a pulsar or quasar.
Also, The Big Ear telescope used a 50 channel radio receiver. A natural signal would have bled into several channels, but the 'Wow!' signal was only heard on one frequency, with no other noise on any of the other channels; this signal was narrow and focused, as would be expected from an artificial source.

This signal had all the ear marks of an artificial signal sent from another civilization but has not been detected since, despite several attempts by Ehman and others.  The possibility of the signal coming from a natural origin has not been completely discounted, but to date the Wow! signal is considered the best candidate for an alien radio transmission ever received.

Jul 11, 2018

July 11: The Social Readaptation of El Chapo (And Sean Penn's Fall From Grace)



On July 11, 2015, infamous Mexican drug lord Joaquín "El Chapo" Guzmán escaped from prison for the second time. On this occasion El Chapo seemingly disappeared from his cell in The Federal Social Readaptation Center No. 1 "Altiplano", an assumed to be impenetrable prison with walls as much as 1 meter thick.

   El Chapo had escaped through a tunnel leading from the shower in his cell to a house one mile away.  The tunnel was dug 33 feet underground, complete with ladders, electricity, lighting, air ducts, and a motorcycle outfitted to run on a railway system that ran the length of the tunnel.

   El Chapo's freedom was short lived, as he was recaptured in early January of 2016 in a scenario that could only have been dreamt up in Hollywood; Mexican movie star Kate del Castillo wrote an open letter to El Chapo asking him to traffic love instead of drugs, which led El Chapo to contact her.

Shortly after his escape from Altipano El Chapo met with Kate Del Castillo and American Actor Sean Penn in his mountain hideout to discuss a possible film about El Chapo's life, as well as for an interview by Penn of El Chapo for Rolling Stone Magazine.  Penn's cell phone was tracked by American military forces who in turn directed Mexican authorities to the location.

El Chapo was returned to Altiplano Prison. Penn denies Helping authorities track down El Chapo, or any knowledge of being tracked by his cell phone.


Jun 30, 2018

June 30th: When you can't blame aliens or asteroids...



On June  30th, 1908, at 7:17 a.m.  80 million trees were instantly knocked over near the Podkamennaya Tunguska  River in central Siberia, in what is now known as the Tunguska Event.

Siberian natives and Russian settlers observed a column of bluish light, nearly as bright as the Sun, moving across the sky. Within minutes witnesses heard a sound that seemed similar to artillery fire move from the east to the north. The sound was accompanied by a shock wave that knocked people off their feet and broke windows hundreds of kilometers away. Amazingly no casualties were reported.

It is estimated that the Tunguska explosion knocked down 80 million trees over an area of 2,150 square kilometers, and that the shock wave from the blast would have measured 5.0 on the Richter magnitude scale. Some scientists believe this resulted from the air burst of a meteor or a comet even though no crater has ever been found.

Others believe that the Tunguska Event was caused by Nikola Tesla, who had been working on his 'World Wireless' system, a system that would use the atmosphere as electrical conductors allowing for the transmission of electric energy without wires on a global scale. In the few years leading up to the Tunguska Event Tesla built an 187 foot tall power transmitting tower station in in Shoreham, New York, that he believed could wirelessly send power across the Atlantic into Europe. The project was never completed.

Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe Power Plant facility in Shoreham, New York

May 13, 2018

May 13: A Horse Is A Horse, Unless She Is Your Superior officer


On May 13th, 1968, a 20 year Marine old staff sergeant, Sergeant Reckless, died after getting tangled in some barbed wire at Camp Pendleton. This staff sergeant was a celebrated war hero that received many accommodations including two Purple Hearts, a Marine Corps Good Conduct Medal, a Presidential Unit Citation, and bronze star for her service during the Korean War.

She was only 5 years old when she was wounded twice, during the Battle of Vegas in 1953, for which she was awarded 2 purple hearts and was given the battlefield rank of corporal. Shortly after the war she was promoted to sergeant. Not only was she respected amongst her unit for her fearless bravery, she was also known for her good humored shenanigans around camp. Often sharing beers with her fellow troops she was known for her ferocious appetite, her favorite being coca cola,  she was liable to eat just about anything including a horse blanket and $30 in poker chips.  She was not the first female officer in the marines, but gained world wide recognition for her bravery during wartime service, and is noted as the first horse to participate in an amphibious landing.

 On November 10 (the birthday of the Marine Corps), 1954, Sergeant Reckless entered the U.S. at a port in San Francisco, but the Department of Agriculture insisted she be tested for STDs before entering, to the outrage of the Marines who served with her, knowing her as an upstanding officer.

Reckless retired from active service with full military honors at Camp Pendleton on November 10, 1960, and lived there until her death in 1968. She had four foals, including Fearless, Dauntless, and Chesty.

Apr 20, 2018

April 20th: The Birth of Boston's Favorite Song


On April 20th, 2013, singer Neil Diamond surprised the crowd at a Red Sox game at Fenway Park in Boston when he walked out to the field during the 8th inning and sang his platinum single Sweet Caroline.

The song has special meaning for the Red Sox, as it is played in the middle of the 8th inning at all Boston Red Sox home games, and has since 2002.

Originally played at a Sox game in 1997 for no reason besides that a Fenway employee in charge of music, Amy Toby, liked the tune, it became a good luck charm for the team and played during the 8th inning at any game that the Sox were in the lead.

In 2002 Charles Steinberg, then the executive vice president of public affairs, made the call to play the song at every game.

5 days after the Boston Marathon bombing that killed 3 and injured 264 others on April 15th, 2013, Diamond surprised the Red Sox by singing the song live at the game, and donating all future royalties from sales of the song to the One Fund Boston charity to help the people most affected by the bombings, causing sales to skyrocket 600%.

Apr 1, 2018

April 1: When Finding A Corpse Brings Good Fortune


On April 1st, 2007, 31 year old Dan Baines was walking his dog in Derbyshire, England, when he and his dog came across the remains of an animal with human features. The dog had uncovered the remains and swallowed the legs and pelvis before Baines could retrieve the body from the dog's mouth. The entire corpse fit into Baines' hand (with the skull being about the size of a quarter) but had the features that resembled that of a human adult.

90 years prior, 2 girls in England claimed to have seen and photographed fairies in Cottingley, only about 75 miles north of Derbyshire, causing many to believe Baines' dog had discovered (and partially eaten) the skeleton of a fairy. X-rays showed the bones of the skeleton to be hollow much like the bones of a bird.

Baines sold the remains for £300 to the National Museum in Bradford England where it is now on display.



Editor's Note: Dan Baines is an illusion designer for magicians from London, England, and first posted images on his website showing the remains of a dead fairy on April 1st, 2007. He now hosts workshops teaching the techniques he used to create his models of dead fairies. 

Dec 8, 2017

December 8: When it comes to sexy, look no further than the toilet



On December 8th, 1857, in New York City, Joseph Gayetty introduced the first commercially marketed toilet paper. Each Manila hemp sheet was watermarked with his name and contained an aloe lubricant. Members of the public could purchase 1,000 sheets for one dollar at his shop at 41 Ann Street, in New York (in 2017 the average price for 1,000 sheets of Quilted Northern was just about $3).
Some called him a hack,  but his product was a top seller for several decades until the invention of splinter-free toilet paper by the Northern Tissue Company  in 1935.

Toilet paper had been around for at least 1,500 years, invented by the Chinese circa 589 AD.
By the early 14th century, it was recorded that in modern-day Zhejiang province alone there was an annual manufacturing of toilet paper amounting in ten million packages of 1,000 to 10,000 sheets of toilet paper each, and were even individually perfumed.

In 2005, Renova, a Portuguese paper company founded in 1818, introduced the first ever black toilet paper to world wide success, opening the door to a new market of 'sex appeal toilet paper'; Renova now carries a wide variety of colored toilet paper and is known as “the sexiest toilet paper on earth.”




Oct 1, 2017

October Spotlight: History Of Zombies


On October 1st, 1968, George A. Romero's Night Of The Living Dead hit the  silver screen. In terms of zombie culture George A. Romero (1940-2017) is the father of the modern Zombie; the zombie that comes to mind when we think of Flesh eating rotten corpses mindlessly roaming the streets to devour human victims.

 Before 1968 when Romero's Night Of the Living Dead was released the idea of zombies were derived from Haitian folklore of people being dosed with a poison that renders them mindless and completely at the mercy of others, as depicted in the 1932 film 'White Zombie' staring Béla Lugosi.

The poison is made from a Datura flower that is quite beautiful, but strips it's victims of reality, those who survive have described the processes as horrifying.

 Further reading on this can be found in the book The Serpent and the Rainbow, written by Harvard Scientist Wade Davis. But Romero's zombies had no puppet masters, just hordes of living dead that can only be killed by piercing the brain. A fun fact being that Romero didn't set out to make a new 'zombie' creature; in Night Of The Living Dead they are called 'Ghouls' and Romero mentioned later that zombies hadn't entered into the equation at the time, stating "I never thought of my guys as zombies when I made the first film...To me, zombies were still those boys in the Caribbean doing the wetwork for Lugosi." This may account for the running theme in his films to never use the "Z" word.

 Romero would spend nearly half a century cultivating this species of zombie; especially memorable for the "Dead Series" beginning in 1968 with Night of the Living Dead and ending in 2009 with Survivial of the Dead. But Romero also ventured into other other types of zombies; most notably the 1973 film The Crazies. in this is a form of Zombie created by a biological agent that effects people and turns them into blood thirsty killers. The difference between this and Romero's 'traditional' zombie is that the infected still retain brain function, so they can think up the brutal ways to kill loved ones and neighbors while evading law enforcement and pretending to not be infected.

 Romero's reanimated flesh eating corpse has truly become the archetype zombie, emulated shamelessly in popular culture from hit American television shows like The Walking Dead, blockbuster films such as Will Smith's I Am Legend, to annual 'zombie walks' carried out around the world, and has inspired zombie variations such as the 'fast zombie' made famous in the 2002 British film 28 Days Later and the 'brain eaters' from the Return of the Living Dead film series.

 Aside from the prospect of thrilling entertainment, zombies have also been cultural vehicles that helped shape modern society. It is true that Romero's flesh eating zombie was the lasting influence of 1968's Night of the Living Dead; but at the time of its release it received recognition for something else entirely. Romero was praised for casting a black man (Duane Jones as Ben) in the role of the Hero, and the film is noted for being the first film with a black protagonist in a movie that was not about race relations. In 1999 the film was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry, and deemed "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant".

 But zombie culture has influenced society in other ways as well. Many milatary and government organizations have used zombie outbreak scenarios as a way to plan for large scale viral outbreaks and systemic losses of law and order. The United States Department of Defense Strategic Command has a contingency plan for a zombie outbreak called CONOP 888 also known as Counter-Zombie Dominance. The Center for Disease Control has also discovered that a great way to engage new audiences with preparedness messages is to disseminate health and safety information using zombie outbreaks as way to keep the message fun and entertaining.

 For well over a century the Western world has been intrigued by zombies, first as it roots in African, Caribbean, and South American folklore, through the Imagination of science fiction writers like Mary Shelly and H.P. Lovecraft, to the many variations on the silver screen. Zombies have been depicted in countless ways, as slave victims and brutal assailants, to heroes and lovers. In Romero's 2005 Land of the Dead the protagonist, Big Daddy, is himself a zombie, who is desperately trying to save his fellow ghouls from being slaughtered. In the 1999 Japanese film Wild Zero we find a separated zombie couple desperately searching for one another.

In whatever form or media, it is a fair bet that zombies will continue to occupy a place in popular culture, in an ever expanding plethora of circumstances and viewpoints.