Monday, July 24, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 24


On this day in 1534, French explorer Jacques Cartier plants a cross on the Gaspé Peninsula and takes possession of the territory in the name of Francis I of France.

***

On this day in 1847, after 17 months tramping through the American wilderness, Brigham Young and his merry band of Mormon pioneers finally settle down in the Salt Lake Valley region of what would one day become the state of Utah. California sure dodged a bullet!

***

On this day in 1911, explorer Hiram Bingham III finds Machu Picchu, the legendary Lost City of the Incas. Bingham was the well-to-do son of a Protestant Hawaiian missionary who became a gentleman scholar, a prolific author, a profoundly vile racist, a governor of Connecticut, a Senator at the federal level, and, finally, the real-life inspiration for the character of Indiana Jones. They don't make 'em like Bingham anymore.

***

On this day in 1915, the passenger ship S.S. Eastland capsizes while tied to a dock in the Chicago River. A total of 844 passengers and crew are killed in the largest loss of life disaster from a single shipwreck on the Great Lakes.

***

On this day in 1922, the draft of the British Mandate of Palestine was formally confirmed by the Council of the League of Nations; it came into effect on 26 September 1923.

***

On this day in 1959, then vice-president Richard Nixon and Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev engage in their infamous "kitchen debate" while standing in the middle of a model kitchen at theAmerican National Exhibition in Moscow. Eventually, the two men reach a compromise, deciding to go with Krushchev's choice of enamel tile instead of the formica Nixon wanted, but in the sky-blue color pattern favored by Tricky Dick, rather than the deep red tones favored by Nikita.

***

On May 25, 1961, President John F. Kennedy said: "I believe this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to Earth." On this day in 1969... mission accomplished.

***

On this day in 1967, during an official state visit to Canada, French President Charles de Gaulle declares to a crowd of over 100,000 in Montreal: "Vive le Québec libre!" The statement, interpreted as support for Quebec independence, delighted many Quebecers but angered the Canadian government and many English Canadians.

***

On this day in 1998, Russell Eugene Weston, Jr. bursts into the United States Capitol and opens fire killing two police officers. He is later ruled to be incompetent to stand trial.

***

On this day in 2001, real estate mogul Larry Silverstein signs a $3.2 billion, 99 year lease on the World Trade Center. It includes an insurance policy which specifically covers acts of terrorism, which was extremely fortuitous, because in 7 weeks the terrorist attacks of 9/11 would take place.

***

On this day in 2001, Simeon Saxe-Coburg-Gotha, the last Tsar of Bulgaria when he was a child, is sworn in as Prime Minister of Bulgaria, becoming the first monarch in history to regain political power through democratic election to a different office.

***

On this day in 2009, the MV Arctic Sea, supposedly carrying a cargo of timber but rumored to be carrying far more disturbing cargo, is allegedly hijacked in the North Sea by pirates - which hardly EVER happens - so much speculation remains as to the actual cargo and events.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 23


On this day in 1967, in Detroit, Michigan, one of the worst riots in United States history begins on 12th Street in the predominantly African American inner city. It will leave 43 killed, 342 injured and 1,400 buildings burned.

***

On this day in 1968, in Cleveland, Ohio, a violent shootout between a Black Militant organization led by Ahmed Evans and the Cleveland Police Department occurs. During the shootout, a riot begins and lasts for five days.

***

On this day in 1973, occultist/philosopher Robert Anton Wilson either achieves contact with extraterrestrials from Sirius or starts a long-term period of having wild hallucinations, depending on which way you want to look at it.

***

On this day in 1974, the military dictatorship controlling Greece collapses. Taziki-dripping chaos ensues.

***

On this day in 1982, during the filming of the John Landis segment of the Steven Spielberg production of Twilight Zone: The Movie, actor Vic Morrow and two Vietnamese child actors are torn apart when a crippled helicopter falls right on top of them. Their grisly (though mercifully instantaneous) deaths are captured on film, from a half-dozen angles, for all the world to see, over and over again, on Fox's latest TV special: When Helicopters Attack Beloved Character Actors and the Vietnamese Child Actors They're Holding in Their Arms: Part One!

***

On this day in 1984, the first ever Black woman to be crowned Miss America - the truly gorgeous Vanessa Williams - is forced to step down when Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione reveals photographs showing her taking part in a softcore lesbian romp. Because of the resulting press and exposure, Vanessa went on to have the most lucrative career of any so-called "winner" in the history of the pageant. That's a fine kind of justice, all things considered.

***

On this day in 1986, Prince Andrew, Duke of York marries Sarah "Fergie" Ferguson at Westminster Abbey, in London. They eventually divorce, but it could have been worse. At least Queen Elizabeth didn't have Fergie killed for shaming the Royal Family, like she did with Lady Di. Then again, maybe that's because Fergie was smart enough not to run around fucking Egyptian billionaires.

***

Speaking of Egypt, it was on this day in 2005 that 88 people were killed in a terrorist bombing at the Naama Bay tourist area of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.

Friday, July 21, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 22


On this day in 1946, the Zionist underground terrorist organisation known as Irgun bombs the King David Hotel in Jerusalem, site of the civil administration and military headquarters for Mandate Palestine. 91 people, mostly British diplomats and their wives and children, are killed. It remains the worst act of terrorist bombing in the modern history of Palestine/Israel.

***

This day is a bad day for bad guys. It was on this day in 1934 that John Dillinger was gunned down by FBI agents outside Chicago's Biograph Theatre. Also on this day, in 1991, serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was arrested after police found the remains of eleven men and boys in his Milwaukee apartment. And, finally, this day in 2003 saw Uday and Qusay Hussein's last stand. Saddam's boys had held off the 101st Infantry and Special Forces for days, holed up in a fortified compound, before planes were called in to bomb the hell out of the place and give Preznit Dubya a necrophiliac photo-op and another chance to claim, ridiculously, that America had "turned a corner" in Iraq.

***

This day was also a bad day for a not so bad guy in 2005, when London police chased Jean Charles de Menezes into a subway car and gunned him down in cold blood after allegedly mistaking him for one of the London Bombers, much to the delight of mentally ill FOX News on air "personality" (sic) John Gibson.

***

On this day in 2005, the last Buick LeSabre rolls off the assembly line. Over the last twenty years, yer old pal Jerky has owned two of these road-tanks, and loved them both.

***

On this day in the year 1988, fearing that any advances they make will eventually find their way into dangerous hands, a group of 500 American research scientists pledge to boycott any and all biological weapons development proposals sent their way by the Reagan administration. I wonder if even these thoughtful, forward thinking gentlemen could envision a day when the wrong hands would be their own.

***

On this day in 2011, psychopathic right-wing "Christian Identity" terrorist, wannabe Freemason, self-declared Templar, Islamophobic Cosplay enthusiast Anders Breivik sets off a bomb targeting government buildings in central Oslo, Norway, killing eight. He then makes his way to a youth camp taking place on the island of Utøya, where he kills an incredible 69 more people, the vast majority of whom are teenagers. The videos and manifestos subsequently put out by Breivik have left no doubt about the fact that Breivik is a pathetic narcissist with delusions of grandeur who deserves a hundred lifetimes of unremitting, round-the-clock torture. Too bad the maximum time he can serve in Norway's jails is... 21 years!??!

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 21


On this day in 356 BC, the Temple of Artemis in Ephesus, one of the Seven Wonders of the World, is destroyed by arson. How does one burn down marble columns?!

***

On this day in 365, a tsunami devastates the city of Alexandria, Egypt. The tsunami was caused by the Crete earthquake estimated to be 8.0 on the Richter Scale. 5,000 people perished in Alexandria, and 45,000 more died outside the city.

***

On this day in 1865, the first-ever true-life old-timey "wild West showdown" takes place in Springfield, Missouri, when Wild Bill Hickok guns down Dave Tutt in the market square. Eight years later to the day, on this day in 1873, the James Younger Gang pulls off the first-ever true-life old-timey train robbery. Tupac and Biggie had nothing on those gansta honkies, I tell ya whut.

***
On this day in 1880, twenty workers are killed during the construction of the Hudson River Rail Tunnel. The men had been able to dig beneath the river thanks to an air compressor that pumped 35 lbs of pressure into the void, thus preventing the river from collapsing down on top of them. But they were digging through soft silt, and when they came to within fifteen feet of the bottom, the whole thing blew out like a wad of herniated chewing gum.

***

On this day in 1973, Mossad agents assassinate a waiter in Norway after mistaking him for one of the terrorists who took Israeli athletes hostage during 1972's Munich Olympics. D'Oh!!!

***

On this day in 1984, our soon-to-be metallic overlords take the first tentative step in their plan to destroy the human race when a factory robot in Jackson, Michigan crushes a worker against a safety bar… history's first robot-related death!

***

Also on this day in 1984, fitness guru Jim Fixx - the man who single-handedly launched the jogging craze of the late seventies - dies of a massive heart attack at the ripe old age of… 43! BWAH-HA-HA-HA!!!

***

On this day in 1990, legendary sour-puss Roger Waters and a cast of dozens perform the infamous prog-rock opera The Wall on the very site where the Berlin wall once stood. Paid attendance is around 200,000 people, but it is estimated that the real attendance figure was somewhere around 600,000. Every penny of the gate went to the War-Dead Fund.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 20


On this day in 1712, the Riot Act of euphemism fame takes effect in Great Britain, giving local authorities the power to declare any group of more than twelve people to be "unlawfully assembled", thus forcing them to disperse or face the consequences.

***

On this day in 1903, the Ford Motor Company ships its first car. Today, some industry analysts are wondering how long it will be before the day they ship their last.

***

On this day in 1932, in Washington, DC, police fire tear gas on World War I veterans who were marching on the White House to demand their long-promised and as-yet unpaid bonuses. Generals MacArthur and Patton, with Eisenhower tagging along, were sent in to quash this surly display. Hundreds of soldiers and their family members were injured, and several were killed. It was, as the kids say today, "a bad scene, maaan." Especially for President Herbert Hoover, who was voted out of the White House a few months later.

***

On this day in 1969, Apollo 11 lands on the fucking Moon. It's been all downhill for our species ever since. And don't come back at me with Viking 1 landing on Mars exactly seven years later, to the day. That was one for the robots.

***

On this day in 1977, the Central Intelligence Agency releases documents under the Freedom of Information Act revealing that it had engaged in Nazi-style mind control experiments, code-named MKUltra. See? They admitted it, and yet some people STILL don't believe it.

***

On this day in 1984, the Miss America organization demands that Vanessa Lynn Williams - the first African American Miss America - hand in her tiara after Penthouse publishes a really hot naked lesbian photo-set in which she had participated when she was young and hungry… for vagina!

***

Despite repeated post-9/11 claims that they had "no idea" that terrorists might hijack commercial jetliners and use them as weapons, at the 27th Annual G8 summit in Genoa, Italy - which started on this day in 2001 - the city was ringed with anti-aircraft guns precisely to prepare for this exact potential threat.

***

On this day in 2003, the Director of BBC News reveals that WMD expert Dr. David Kelly was the source of claims that Downing Street had "sexed up" the infamous "Dodgy Dossier" that was a large part of the US and UK justifications for invading Iraq. Shortly thereafter, in an alleged fit of guilt, the good doctor wanders into the woods and commits suicide by slashing his own arms open with a knife. It's true, I tells ya! He killed himself! An inquest ruled it so! 

***

On this day in 2012, during a midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises, a gunman opens fire at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, killing 12 people and injuring 58.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 19


On this day in the year 64 AD, Emperor Nero gently strums his lyre and sings a tune while watching the city of Rome go up in smoke. Of course, this historical example of a disastrous failure of leadership has absolutely no parallels with Preznit Dubya's reaction to the Katrina disaster, because… um… because fire is, like, the total opposite of water. A-and Rome didn't have any Black people in it. Or at least not as much as New Orleans does. I mean did.

***

On this day in 1979, the Sandinista rebels overthrow the government of the Somoza family in Nicaragua, much to the delight of... well... UK punk rock group The Clash, for one.

***

On this day in 2001, a writer named James Howard Hatfield - author of the highly critical and controversial Dubya biography Fortunate Son - is found dead in an Arkansas hotel room, victim of an apparent "suicide". Hatfield's most contentious claim was that Dubya had been arrested on cocaine dealing charges back in the early seventies, and that Poppy Bush had to pull some major strings to get the charges wiped.
Yer old pal Jerky was a spectator of the Hatfield saga from pre-release buzz for his book, to the post-release controversy of its claims, to the attempts to assassinate Hatfield's character (unlike the individual he investigated, Hatfield had no way to wipe his criminal record clean), to the unprecedented mass burning of the original run, to the second printing by the courageous folks at Soft Skull Press, to the claim that Karl Rove was a source for the cocaine story, and eventually to the author's convenient hotel-room suicide. Shades of Danny Casolaro. Shades of Steve Kangas.

But no matter what one thinks of the author as a man, Fortunate Son remains a book about which respected social critic Mark Crispin Miller said: "If there's any future for American democracy, the trashing of Fortunate Son and its author will eventually stand out as an important early episode in the history of the Bush reaction." Your humble blogging friend concurs with Miller's assessment. 

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 18


On this day in 1870, the First Vatican Council decrees the dogma of papal infallibility. That means the Pope can never be wrong. Imagine that.

***

On this day in 1872, Britain introduces voting by secret ballot. Up until then, Brits had been using a complicated system that involved shaving candidates' names into stray dogs, then hurling the mutts into the Thames, where they were scooped up by raft-going hooligans who would call out the results while Freemasons in full apron'd regalia wandered the docksides recorded the tally. The hooligans would then kill, gut, cook and then eat the dogs, saving the penis for the Queen, of course.

***

On this day in 1925, some Austrian dude by the name of Adolf Hitler publishes his personal manifesto: Mein Kampf. It barely makes a dent on the Top 10 charts.

***

After being denied a permit to fly solo across the Atlantic, aviator Douglas Corrigan changed his official flight plans, declaring his intent to fly across America from New York to California instead. But mere minutes after taking off, Corrigan - who claimed, with a wink and a smile, that his compass was "busted" - doubled back and flew his plane to Ireland, earning himself the nickname "Wrong Way." That's BALLS! He completed his solo trans-Atlantic flight on this day in 1938.

***

On this day in 1968, Intel is founded in Santa Clara, California.

***

Happy Chappaquiddick Day! It was on this day in 1969 that Senator Ted Kennedy gave the conservative movement a gift that keeps on giving when he flipped an Oldsmobile off a wooden bridge, then swam ashore and spent the night in a hotel, leaving his passenger - campaign volunteer and Kennedy family friend Mary Jo Kopechne - to drown.

***

On this day in 1984, sad sack loser-boy James Oliver Huberty walks into a San Ysidro McDonalds and starts shooting at the walls of heart-ache, bang, bang. By the time a police sniper's bullet ends his rampage, Huberty had snuffed out 21 lives.
***

On this day in 2003, NBA star Kobe Bryant is charged with anally raping a 19-year old hotel employee, thus putting into motion a series of events that would ultimately lead to the revitalization of several small Central African nations' diamond industries.

Monday, July 17, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 17


On this day in 1917, England's King George V issues a Proclamation stating that the male line descendants of the British Royal Family will bear the surname Windsor. This is done to remove the Teutonic stink from their "royal house", due to rising anti-German sentiment over the First (and eventually, the Second) World War(s).

***

On this day in 1918, in Russia, the Bolshevik Party orders - and the Cheka carries out - the murders of emperor Nicholas II and his family. After the deed is done, the victims' bodies are dipped in acid, set on fire, then dumped down an abandoned mine shaft in an undisclosed location, to prevent loyalists from having bodies over which to grieve. Rumors soon began to spread, however, so the murderers retrieved the bodies with the intent of dumping them down a different mine shaft, far away. The vehicle in which they were transporting the bodies broke down along the way, however, and the conspirators had to settle on burying the bodies in a sealed pit 12 miles outside Yekaterinburg. In 1981 Nicholas and his family are canonized as saints by the Russian Orthodox Church Outside Russia. The bodies remained undiscovered until 1991, soon after the collapse of the Soviet Union. Finally, after a long, strange post-life - and, not so coincidentally, on the 80th anniversary of their murder - the Romanovs' remains are buried in St. Catherine Chapel on this day in 1998.

***

On this day in 1945, the leaders of the three Allied nations, Winston ChurchillHarry Truman and Joseph Stalin, meet in the German city of Potsdam to decide the future of a defeated Germany.

***

On this day in 1955, animation industry titan Walt Disney's ambitions for total world domination take a big step forward when he first opens Disneyland, his fully-realized, 160-acre model of the Utopian ideal to which he believes all of mankind should aspire. Today, on the American continent alone, Disney's combined Florida and California properties span an impressive 70 square miles, dwarfing the Vatican in both surface area and cultural influence. Can a request to the U.N. for recognition of statehood be far behind?

***

On this day in the year 1967, planet Earth passes through some kind of radioactive space cloud that mangles the very fabric of space and time, causing everybody to go slightly bonkers. Milk goes sour in the bottle, toads rain down from the sky, and, perhaps worst of all, guitar legend Jimi Hendrix plays a concert where he's the opening act for… the fuckin' MONKEYS!!!

***

On this day in 1985, the EUREKA Network for research and development of new technologies and financial markets is founded by former heads of state François Mitterrand (France) and Helmut Kohl (Germany). A cursory examination of the organization makes it seem relatively harmless - even somewhat inspiring - but I'm pretty sure there's a great potential for some James Bond level villainy behind the scenes, there.

***

On this day in 1986, White House Chief of Staff Donald Regan says imposing economic sanctions on the Apartheid government of South Africa wouldn't work because "American women" would never be willing to "give up all their jewelry". One year later, after being forced out of his job due to clashes with the First Lady, Regan would reveal to the world both Nancy Reagan's increasing influence on the President's decision-making process, as well as her frequent consultations with personal astrologer Joan Quigley for advice on national affairs.

***

On this day in 1996, Paris-bound  TWA Flight 800 explodes in mid-air off the coast of Long Island, New York,  killing all 230 on board. The authorities urge everyone to "move along" because there is "nothing to see here." Of course, as usual, the authorities are (ahem) full of shit. Or are they? You be the judge, I suppose, in this, the grandaddy of all Internet Conspiracy Theories..

Sunday, July 16, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 16


On this day in 622, the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) begins his Hijra - i.e. "schlep" - from Mecca to Medina, thus marking the beginning of the Islamic calendar.

***

On this day in 1054, three Roman legates break relations between Western and Eastern Christian Churches through the act of placing an invalidly-issued Papal bull of Excommunication on the altar of Hagia Sophia during Saturday afternoon divine liturgy. Historians frequently describe the event as the start of the East–West Schism, splitting the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Christian churches.

***

On this day in 1661, the first banknotes in Europe are issued by the Swedish bank Stockholms Banco, thus beginning the era of "paper money" that is working out so well for us all. I am referring, of course, to the recent revelation that putting 250 dollars into a Chase "savings account" will net you 12 cents a year in accumulated interest while costing you 4 dollars a month in assorted bank fees.

***

On this day in 1790, the District of Columbia is established as the capital of the United States after signature of the Residence Act. After Vatican City and the City of London, it features one of the most conspiracy-spawning civil engineering layouts of any big city in the world.

***

On this day in 1935, the world's first parking meter is installed in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

***

On this day in 1945, the Atomic Age begins when the United States successfully detonates a plutonium-based test nuclear weapon near Alamogordo, New Mexico. The test site was named Trinity, after one of John Donne's Holy Sonnets, and Manhattan Project chief Robert Oppenheimer recalled a passage from the Hindu holy book, the Bhagavad-Gita: "Now, I am become Death, the destroyer of worlds." Heavy shit, and not without cause.

***

On this day in 1948, the storming of the cockpit of the Miss Macao passenger seaplane, operated by a subsidiary of the Cathay Pacific Airways, marks the first aircraft hijacking of a commercial plane in history.

***

On this day in the year 1951, a former member of the CIA’s psychiatry division unleashes on an unwitting public one of the greatest hypnotic trigger mechanisms ever created. That man is J.D. Salinger. The mechanism is his novel, The Catcher in the Rye, which was a favorite of at least three crazed "lone" gunmen: Sirhan Sirhan (who was involved in the assassination of RFK), Mark David Chapman (who assassinated John Lennon) and John Hinkley Jr (who tried to kill President Ronald Reagan on behalf of the Bush Crime Family)..

***

On this day in 1969, the Apollo 11 rocket is launched at the moon. Sitting atop this rocket is the Lunar Module. On board are three men: Buzz AldrinNeil Armstrong and Michael Collins. Armstrong and Aldrin will be the first human beings (that we know of) to walk on the lunar surface. Unfortunately for Collins, Commander Neil caught him trying to steal one of Buzz's Tang packets, and as punishment, was not allowed to leave the module. Collins is bitter to this very day, and vows that when he dies, his ghost will haunt the moon forever. Just kidding.

***

On this day in 1979, Iraqi President Ahmed Hassan al-Bakr resigns and is replaced by Uncle Sam's Man in Baghdad... Saddam Hussein.

***

On this day in 1994, fragments of the Shoemaker-Levy 9 comet smash spectacularly into Jupiter, poking huge holes in the giant planet's gassy atmosphere.

***

On this day in 1999, there was absolutely nothing worth being suspicious about in relation to the small airplane crash that took the lives of pilot John Kennedy Jr, his wife Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy and sister-in-law Lauren Bessette. Nope... nothing at all worth being suspicious about.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 15


On this day in 1149, the reconstructed Church of the Holy Sepulchre is consecrated in Jerusalem.

***
On this day in 1741, Russian explorer Aleksei Chirikov sights land in Southeast Alaska. He sends men ashore in a longboat, making them the first Europeans to visit Alaska.

***

On this day in 1799, French military captain Pierre-Francois Bouchard discovers the Rosetta Stone in an Egyptian village. The large stone tablet is essentially a Greek/Egyptian translation dictionary using three scripts: Hieroglyphic, Demotic Egyptian and Greek. Greek being relatively well understood, the stone was the key to deciphering ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, including such rules of grammar as "feather before squiggly line, except after bird."

***

On this day in 1869, everybody's third-favorite toast spread – margarine – is patented in Paris, for use as a butter substitute by the French Navy. It is neither healthier, nor is it better tasting, than butter, but it does serve nicely as an inexpensive lubricant for anal sex. How ironic, then, that it should be made with "rape seed oil."

***

On this day in 1964, Republicans nominate arch-conservative, extremist Arizona senator Barry M. Goldwater for president, thus ensuring the election of Texas Democrat Lyndon B. Johnson by one of the widest margins in electoral history.

***

On this day in 1974, Ohio morning news personality Christine Chubbuck goes on the air and says: "In keeping with Channel 40's policy of bringing you the latest in blood and guts, and in living color, you are going to see another first: an attempted suicide." She then pulled a .38 revolver out from underneath her desk, put it to her head and pulled the trigger, thus becoming the first person to commit live, publicly broadcast suicide.

***

On this day in 1979, US President Jimmy Carter gives his so-called malaise speech, where he characterizes the greatest threat to the country as "this crisis in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of a unity of purpose for our nation". Funny thing about that speech, not once does he use the word “malaise”.

***

On this day in 1983, a terrorist attack is launched by Armenian militant organization ASALA at the Paris-Orly Airport in Paris, leaving 8 people dead and 55 injured. That’s right, Armenians! Betcha didn’t think they had it in ‘em!

***

Preznit Dubya's "Total Information Awareness" guru John Poindexter – the biggest Big Brother yet – spent this day in 1987 telling lies to the Congress during the Iran-Contra hearings. He would ultimately be convicted of conspiracy, lying to Congress, defrauding the government, and destroying evidence in the still poorly-understood guns-for-drugs-for-hostages-for-blood scheme dreamed up in the White House basement during the Glorious Reign of Ronald, the Reagan.

***

On this day in 1997, in Miami, Florida, serial killer Andrew Cunanan guns down world-famous fashion designer Gianni Versace outside his home.

***

On this day in 2002, so-called "American Taliban" John Walker Lindh pleads guilty to supplying aid to the enemy and to possession of explosives during the commission of a felony. Meanwhile, in Pakistan, an anti-terrorism court hands down the death sentence to British born Ahmed Omar Saeed Sheikh and life terms to three others suspected of the videotaped beheading of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.

***

On this day in 2003, AOL Time Warner disbands Netscape. The Mozilla Foundation is established on the same day.

Friday, July 14, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 14


On this day in 1789, French citizens storm the Bastille in Paris. Yep, that's right... today is Bastille Day!

***

On this day in 1798, the Alien and Sedition Acts are signed into law by President John Adams, a member of the Federalist Party. Under this new set of laws, anyone "opposing or resisting any law of the United States, or any act of the President of the United States" could be thrown in jail. It was also illegal to "write, print, utter, or publish" anything critical of the President or Congress. Fortunately, Thomas Jefferson's Democratic-Republican Party promised to retract this law if elected, which they were in 1801, thus making this blog possible. Thanks, Tommy!

***

On this day in 1949, five years and one day after the USA explodes the first atom bomb in the New Mexico desert, the USSR explodes their own atom bomb. Goldurn copycats!

***

On this day in 1958, the monarchy of Iraq falls to a coup led by Abdul Karim Kassem, who becomes the nation's new leader. Not for long, however, as pretty soon another secular Arabist group - the Ba'ath Party -comes along and messes up his whole deal.

***

On this day in 1965, Mariner 4 takes the first close-up photographs of another planet: Mars! Personally, yer old pal Jerky has always been more interested in... URANUS!

***

On this day in the year 1966, a maniac by the name of Richard Speck ties up - then slowly tortures and kills - 8 student nurses in a Chicago dormitory. Years later, while serving a 400 year prison sentence, Speck videotapes himself snorting mounds of cocaine, felating his dusky prison lover, and showing off his disgusting, hormone-therapy-induced man-boobs for all the world to see. Everybody who's seen Speck's home movies usually agrees: the death penalty never looked so good.


***

On this day in 1976, capital punishment is abolished in Canada.

***

On this day in 1987, Lieutenant Colonel Oliver North concludes his Congressional testimony, during which he excretes enough nervous perspiration to float the Q.E. II and serves up enough baloney to feed every starving child in Africa. For his treason and lies before Congress, North was sentenced to life as a shitty right-wing radio host. Today, he barely pulls in six figures, the poor guy.

***

On this day in 2002, French President Jacques Chirac escapes an assassination attempt unscathed during Bastille Day celebrations.

***

On this day in 2003, in an effort to discredit U.S. Ambassador Joseph C. Wilson, who had written an article critical of the 2003 invasion of Iraq, Washington Post columnist Robert Novak reveals that Wilson's wife Valerie Plame is a CIA operative.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 13


It was on this day in 432 B.C. that the Metonic Cycle originated. The Metonic Cycle is a period of 235 lunar months, or about 19 years in the Julian calendar, at the end of which the phases of the moon recur in the same order and on the same days as in the preceding cycle. Whoa, dude!

***

On this day in 1837, Queen Victoria moves into Buckingham Palace. In a nod to the commoners, she spends her first two months there cleaning the mess left behind by the previous tenants - "a right herd of swine", apparently - and living out of cardboard boxes. 

***

On this day in the year 1863, a mob of mostly Irish workers, disgruntled with the fact that the government was drafting them to go off and fight a war for the Black Man, riot in the streets of New York City, burning down entire blocks, shooting cops and lynching blacks all the while. Eventually, the Union army had to be called in. Open fighting in the streets continued until July 16, with a total bodycount of well over one thousand dead… mostly rioters felled by army bullets. We'll be seeing this kind of thing again.

***

On this day in 1908, chicks compete in modern Olympics for the first time. Way to go, ladies!
***

On this day in 1917, the Virgin Mary appears to three children - Lucia, Jacinta and Francisco - at Fatima, Portugal, giving them three dire predictions: 1. The end of World War I. 2. the start of World War II. 3. An assassination attempt on the Pope. That last one might be bullshit, though. You'll have to wait until you die to find out the REAL third prophecy of Fatima..
***

On this day in 1945, in the stark New Mexico desert of Alma Gordo, the first atom bomb is detonated by American scientists. Upon viewing the terrifying, awesome end-result of his team's frenzied research, Dr. Oppenheimer quotes aloud a line from the sacred Hindu holy text, the Bhaggavad Gita: "I am become death." Others present for the show just laugh and say: "She shore blowed up real good, din'she?!?"

***

The New York City Blackout took place on this day in 1977. The city was without power for 25 hours, and mass violence and looting took place. Check out Spike Lee's Summer of Sam for a fictionalized, but viscerally verisimilitudinous, portrayal of that event.

***
On this day in 1983, 3,000 Tamils are slaughtered in Sri Lanka… by a bunch of Buddhists. Jesus Fucking Naiholes! BUDDHISTS!!! Is there any religion in this world that doesn't cause its adherents to go batshit fucking insane?!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 12


On this day in 927, King Æthelstan of England secures a pledge from Constantine II of Scotland that the latter will not ally with the Vikings, beginning the process of unifying Great Britain. This is considered the closest thing that England has to a foundation date.

***

On this day in 1543, England's King Henry VIII marries his sixth and last wife, Catherine Parr, at Hampton Court Palace.

***

On this day in 1580, the first ever Slavic language Bible - the Ostrog Bible - is published. Early editions had to be corrected, however, when it was discovered that some wise-acre monk switched the Last Supper menu from bread and wine to pierogies and vodka.

***

On this day in 1859, tired of having to look into his wife's spotty, un-tweezed face while he's making love to her, yet unwilling to forego his nightly sampling of the fleshy entitlements that were his husbandly due,William Goodale of Massachusetts patents a machine that manufactures paper bags by the hundreds. Problem solved!

***

On this day in 1892, a hidden lake bursts out of a glacier on the side of Mont Blanc, flooding the valley below and killing around 200 villagers and holidaymakers in Saint Gervais. I think Steely Dan may have written a song about this, but I can't be sure.

***

On this day in 1960, the first Etch A Sketch goes on sale. Childhood frustration ensues.

***

On this day in 1962, the Rolling Stones perform their first ever concert, at the Marquee Club in London, England, United Kingdom.

***

On this day in 1963, the first victim in the Moors murders - 16-year-old Pauline Reade - disappears on her way to a dance at the British Railways Club in Gorton, England, .

***

On this day in 1971 the Australian Aboriginal Flag is flown for the first time. It's quite handsome. See above.

***

On this day in the year 1979, America's growing hatred for that dreaded phenomena known as disco reaches its inevitable zenith with the Disco Demolition Riot at Comiskey Park in Chicago. Organized by disc jockey Steve Dahl of WLUP-FM, the derby degenerated into chaos during the second game of a double-header, with overenthusiastic disco-haters taking to the fields and lighting a bonfire behind the pitcher's mound…  all in the name of despising disco! 

***

On this day in 1985, doctors discover a cancerous growth in President Ronald Reagan's lower intestine. After excising the tumor, doctors immerse it in a tub full of nutrient-rich spinal fluid and store it in a hermetically sealed hyperbaric chamber under intensely high pressure. When they crack open the chamber 666 days later, Dan Quayle steps out of there, his empty eyes glowing red with otherworldly evil. The rest, as they say, is history.

***

On this day in 2002, the Superior Court of Ontario orders the Canadian province of Ontario to recognize same-sex marriages, at which point regular old different-sex marriages suddenly died a horrible, wheezing death. Thanks a lot, gaylords!

***

On this day in 2007, US Army Apache helicopters perform airstrikes in Baghdad, Iraq. Highly disturbing footage from the cockpit is later leaked to the Internet. Here it is, but be warned... it is not very nice, especially if you have trouble accepting that Americans are frequently the Bad Guys...


Tuesday, July 11, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 11


On this day in 1804, after decades of getting up each other's asses and for reasons far too complicated to get into here, Founding Father Alexander Hamilton and then-Vice-President Aaron Burr meet at the Weehawken, New Jersey dueling grounds at the crack of dawn to settle their differences at the end of a pair of pistols. What happened next depends entirely upon which eye-witness you choose to believe. Either Hamilton, in a poorly-timed attempt to prove himself a gentleman, fired into the air only to be shot square in the gut by Burr immediately afterwards, or else he simply took his shot and missed, leaving Burr to offer up a more accurate and deadly rebuttal. Whichever scenario is closest to the truth, the end results remain the same: Alexander Hamilton - the genius confidante of George Washington, the man who designed America's economic framework - was dead, and Aaron Burr's reputation as a vicious, villainous brute was firmly established. Now persona non grata, Burr and some foreign belligerents began formulating a plan to conquer Mexico - which, at the time, covered much of the South and Southwest - in order to set up a separate, independent, competing state. After being acquitted of treason, Burr kicked around Europe for a while, leaving a trail of angry creditors wherever he went. He eventually returned to the United States and lived long enough to witness the Texas Revolution, about which he mused: "What was treason in me thirty years ago, is patriotism now." Then he died.

***

On this day in 1889, the Mexican city of Tijuana is born. Three days later, the place is declared a poverty-stricken tourist trap with an unwholesome fixation on the donkey, Mexico's national beast of burden.

***

On this day in 1895, the Lumière brothers demonstrate film technology to scientists.

***

On this day in 1921, Mongolia gains its independence from China. Considering the serious developmental difficulties that come with that extra chromosome of theirs, you have to admit that's pretty impressive. 

***

On this day in 1921, former U.S. President William Howard Taft is sworn in as 10th Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court, becoming the only person to ever be both President and Chief Justice.

***

On this day in 1955, Congress authorizes all American currency to be printed with the motto: "In God We Trust." Unfortunately, they left off the funnier half: "All others pay cash." But seriously, it behooves us to recall that these four words were added to American money - along with the words "Under God" to the Pledge of Allegiance - at the behest of the Roman Catholic Knights of Columbus fraternal order. Not in 1776. Not in 1855. Not even in 1900... but in 1955. Ten years after the end of World War II. The year President Eisenhower sent the first American troops to Vietnam. The year of the first McDonald's restaurant, and Bill Haley's Rock Around the Clock. In other words, it was a knee-jerk addition based on a passing fad, and the time has come to drop it.

***

On this day in 1979, the space station Skylab returns to Earth… the hard way. 

***

The government of the United States awards the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. the Presidential Medal of Freedom on this day in 1977, roughly nine years after awarding him the Troublemaker's Bullet of Shut-the-Fuck-Up in Memphis, Tennessee. And that's a fact, Jack.

Monday, July 10, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 10

On this day in 48 BC, Roman dictator Julius Caesar barely avoids a catastrophic defeat to Pompey in Macedonia during the Battle of Dyrrhachium. The circumstances surrounding this battle were phenomenally complicated.

***

On this day in 1212, London burns to the ground. Thousands perish in the blaze, which would be known as the Great Fire of London until 1666, when an even bigger fire came along to steal its thunder.

***

On this day in 1821, the United States takes formal possession of Florida, which had been recently purchased from Spain. Imagine how pissed off they were when they got there and realized it was mostly swampland!

***

On this day in 1832, US President Andrew Jackson vetoes a bill that would re-charter the Second Bank of the United States. Failing to secure recharter, the Second Bank became a private corporation in 1836, and underwent liquidation in 1841.

***

On this day in 1890, Wyoming is admitted as the 44th U.S. state, thus paving the way for the possibility of Vice Preznit Dick Cheney. So to Hell with Wyoming.

***

On this day in 1921, 16 people are killed and 161 houses destroyed during rioting and gun battles in Belfast, Northern Ireland in an event that will forever be remembered in Ireland (and by U2 fans curious enough to research the meaning of certain song lyrics) as Bloody Sunday.

***

On this day in 1925 the so-called Monkey Trial begins in Dayton, Tennessee. John Scopes, a young high school science teacher, is accused of teaching his students evolution, which was a violation of Tennessee law. He actually lost the case, which is ironic when you consider that people in Tennessee are less evolved than the people in most other states. And unless you've been there and seen for yourself, don't contradict me on this.

***

On this day in 1925, the guru Meher Baba begins his silence of 44 years. His followers observe Silence Day on this date in commemoration.

***

On this day in 1962, the world's first communications satellite, called TELStar, is launched into orbit. 

***

On this day in 1973, filthy rich Illuminati bloodline scion John Paul Getty III, grandson of the oil magnate J. Paul Getty, is kidnapped by Calabrese gangsters in Rome, Italy. The whole ordeal - involving cheapskate negotiation tactics by the elder Getty, even after the kidnappers cut off and mailed in one of John Paul's ears - is rather insane, and you can read all about it here.

***

On this day in 1985, the Greenpeace vessel Rainbow Warrior is bombed and sunk in Auckland harbor by "elite" French military agents, killing Portuguese photographer Fernando Pereira in the process. It is the French military's finest hour since the days of Napoleon.

***

On this day in 1985, after a mere three months of sticking to their guns, the Coca-Cola Company announces they will be bringing back Coca-Cola Classic, in what many take to be a full-blown admission that the decision to change the Coca-Cola recipe - sparking a nationwide Coca-Cola hoarding crisis - was sheer idiocy, regardless of what they paid Bill Cosby to say about it on the TV. New Coke, which was sold alongside Coca-Cola Classic for a while, was soon euthanized without fanfare... or hoarding.

***

On this day in 1989, one of the most familiar voices in the world - dozens of them, actually - is silenced when Warner Bros. cartoon veteran Mel Blanc dies at the age of 81. The next day, in the trade paper Variety, some true gentleman at Warner Bros. takes out a two-page/one-word tribute/eulogy for their old friend, an image which to this day is capable of turning yer old pal Jerky into a blubbering, snot-bubble-popping wreck. I don't know why... it just gets me every time. It is reproduced above. Enjoy.

***

On this day in 1992, President George Herbert "Poppy" Walker Bush has one of his many CIA criminal co-conspirators, former Panamanian leader Manuel Noriega, locked up for 40 years on drug and racketeering charges. It's a wonder he didn't end up dead, when you think about it. Hey, hold on a second… has anybody checked his cell lately? Maybe old Manuel is kickin' back, sipping boat drinks with Ken Lay on that fortified Costa Rican compound where The Powers That Be send all their invisible heavies these days.

***

On this day in 2000, 250 villagers in Nigeria are killed in a massive fireball explosion while scavenging gasoline from a cracked petroleum pipeline. Don't laugh... the way gas prices are going, you'll be doing the same thing soon enough.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 9


On this day in 1850, the Persian prophet Báb is executed in Tabriz, Persia. As both self-declared Mahdi (Islamic Messiah) and as precursor to the intriguing new religious movement known as Bahai, the Bab is a very interesting character, indeed, and very much worthy of study.

***

On this day in 1868, the 14th Amendment to the United States Constitution is ratified guaranteeing African Americans full citizenship and all persons in the United States due process of law.

***

On this day in 1887, paper napkins were used for the first time ever by stationary manufacturer John Dickinson. This brings up a whole host of uncomfortable questions about toilet paper, and its various historical precursors.

***

On this day in 1944, during World War II, American forces take the island of Saipan from the Japanese. It has been an American protectorate ever since. In recent years, right-wingers in government tried to turn it into a kind of testing ground for a libertarian tax-free and regulation-free zone. Sweatshop operators and sexual predators - who also just happened to be big Republican donors - thought the results of that experiment were fine and dandy.

***

On this day in 1955, the controversial, pacifist-inclined Russell–Einstein Manifesto is released by philosopher Bertrand Russell in London, England, during one of the high-water marks of the Cold War. Albert Einstein, one of the fathers of the bomb, co-signed his approval to the anti-nuclear weapon document before dying only a few days later.

***

On this day in 1958, Alaska’s Lituya Bay is hit by a megatsunami. The wave is recorded at an incredible 524 meters (1700 feet) high, the largest in recorded history by far...twice as high as the Empire State Building! Unfortunately, there is no video of the event, but 

***

On this day in 1979, a car bomb destroys an automobile owned by the famed Nazi hunters Serge and Beate Klarsfeld at their home in France. A note purportedly from ODESSA – the alleged post-war Nazi international remnant – claims responsibility.

***

On this day in the year 1980, in Brazil, seven people are crushed to death as wave upon wave of idiots stampede into a huge outdoor stadium to catch a glimpse of that shimmering, spiritual pop-star: The Pope!

***

On this day in 1981, the Nintendo videogame Donkey Kong is released. The game marks the debut of Nintendo's future mascot, Mario.

***

On this day in 1986, Attorney General Edwin Meese's "Commission on Pornography" is released. Meese was only one or two shades less of a psychopath than Dubya-era Witchfinder General John Ashcroft, and his report tried to establish a link between porn and sex crimes. Then, in the 1990's, something interesting happened. With the total proliferation of home video and the rise of the Internet, hard-core pornography became more widespread and readily available than ever… while violence and sex crime rates all dropped precipitously. Who'd have thunk it?

Saturday, July 8, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 8

On this day in 1680, the first ever American to be killed by a tornado is… um… killed by a tornado. In Massachusetts no less!

***

On this day in 1872, a man by the name of John Blondel takes out a patent on the donut-cutter, thereby ushering in a bold new era of morbidly obese police officers.

***

On this day in 1889, the first issue of the Wall Street Journal is published. For a while, it was a pretty decent conservative journal, but as this ridiculous interview with cartoon-like WSJ editorial board member Dorothy Rabinowitz amply illustrates, it has long since lost the plot and gone batshit crazy.

***

On this day in 1896, presidential hopeful William Jennings Bryan gives his infamous "cross of gold" speech at the Democratic national convention. It's still an incredibly powerful piece of oratory. Read it here.

***

On this day in 1932, the Dow Jones Industrial Average reaches a Depression era low-point of… 41! Ouch.

***

On this day in 1937, the nations of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan sign the Treaty of Saadabad. And they all lived happily ever after.

***

On this day in the year 1990, just past twelve-thirty in the afternoon, all the numbers in the standardized Western calendar and time code fall into absolute numeric sequence… or, in poker terms, a "straight." Here's how it works: 12:34:56, 7/8/90 equals 1234567890! Pretty cool, ain't it?

***

On this day in 1996, the Israeli Institute for Advanced Strategic and Political Studies publishes a paper titled “A Clean Break: A New Strategy for Securing the Realm.” The paper, whose lead author is the notorious, slug-like neoconservative Richard Perle, is meant to urge Israel's new PM, Benjamin Netanyahu, to seek the downfall of Arab states by exploiting the inherent tensions within and among them. The first step? Remove Saddam Hussein in order to "destabilize the entire Middle East", thus allowing governments in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, and other countries to be replaced. Other suggestions include abandoning the Oslo Accords, abandoning the notion of land for peace, and reestablishing a policy of preemptive strikes. The paper also fleshes out a vision that analyst Craig Unger has called "a secularized version of the theology of the American Christian Right", demanding “the unconditional acceptance of Arabs of our rights, especially in their territorial dimension”, and pushing the boundaries even further by using the Bible as grounds for Israeli dominion over all or parts of Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, and even Saudi Arabia. This link explains how the ideas in "Clean Break" were ultimately recycled by neocon "intellectuals" at the Project for a New American Century - PNAC - in their paper "Rebuilding America's Defenses", which controversially surmised that it would take "a new Pearl Harbor" for the nation to accept their proposed reforms... not too long before the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, provided the newly empowered* neoconservative movement with exactly that.

* via the Bush Crime Family's theft of the White House in 2000

Friday, July 7, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 7


On this day in 1863, the first ever American military draft begins. All males between the ages of 18 and 35 are potential targets… unless, of course, they can pay the $100 "exemption fee" required to skip duty.

***

On this day in 1947, a bunch of little green men get blitzed on Venusian grog, then crash their flying saucer on a ranch near (you guessed it) Roswell, New Mexico. Tourism ensues.

***

On this day in 1983, a U.S. schoolgirl by the name of Samantha Smith flies to the Soviet Union at the invitation of Secretary General Yuri Andropov. In short order, the bright and telegenic Smith became internationally renowned as a peace activist and good will ambassador, much to the annoyance of the Reagan/Bush administration and other right-wing and anti-communist elements the world over. Small wonder, then, that she should die in a small plane crash in the summer of 1985. The Soviets remembered her with a stamp. The Americans? Nothing.

***

On this day in 2005, four explosions rip through London's public transportation system, killing 52 people along with four suicide bombers. It was later learned that this terrorist attack was masterminded by Haroon Rashid Aswat, an individual with curious connections to England's MI6 intelligence agency.

Thursday, July 6, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 6



On this day in 1189, Richard I "the Lionheart" accedes to the English throne. He reigns during the time of the legendary bandit Robin Hood.

***

On this day in 1483, a much different Richard - Richard III - is crowned King of England. Shakespeare writes a great play about this world historic asshole.

***

On this day in 1785 the dollar is unanimously chosen as the monetary unit for the United States.

***

On this day in 1854, in Jackson, Michigan, the first convention of the United States Republican Party was held. Chaos ensues.

***

On this day in 1885, Louis Pasteur successfully tests his vaccine against rabies on Joseph Meister, a boy who was bitten by a rabid dog. The process is notoriously long and painful, and eventually gives The Powers That Be a “great idea” about how to control the global population.

***

On this day in 1947, the AK-47 goes into production in the Soviet Union.

***

On this day in 1957, John Lennon and Paul McCartney of the Beatles are introduced to each other when Lennon's band the Quarrymen performs at the St. Peter's Church Hall fête in Woolton.

***

On this day in 1985, the National Wrestling Alliance holds their first ever Pay-Per-View event, The Great American Bash. It's a smashing success, giving credence to the old addage: "a wrestling fan and his money are soon parted."

***

On this day in 1995, during the Bosnian War, under the command of General Ratko Mladić, Serbia begins its attack on the Bosnian town of Srebrenica, and kills more than 8000 Bosniaks, in what then- UN Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali calls "the worst crime on European soil since the Second World War".

***

On this day in 2003, the 70-metre Eupatoria Planetary Radar sent a METI message (Cosmic Call 2) to 5 stars: Hip 4872, HD 245409, 55 Cancri (HD 75732), HD 10307 and 47 Ursae Majoris (HD 95128). The messages will arrive to these stars in 2036, 2040, 2044 and 2049 respectively.

***

On this day in 2005, Time Magazine reporter Matt Cooper agrees to testify to a grand jury that Karl Rove revealed to him Valerie Plame's secret CIA identity. An extremely suspicious lack of chaos ensues.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

PARACULTURAL CALENDAR FOR JULY 5


On this day in 1456, in a case of closing the barn door after the horses have escaped, the tractor has been stolen and the barn, itself, has been reduced to kindling, a tribunal declares Joan of Arc to be innocent of the crimes for which she was burned at the stake.

***

Happy birthday to John Paul Jones, born on this day in 1747! John Paul was the sea-going hero who uttered the immortal words: "I have not yet begun to fight." John Paul also stunned the scientific community when he went on to play bass for Led Zeppelin, even though he was well into his two-hundred-and-thirties. Way to keep on rockin' JPJ!

***

On this day in 1811, Venezuela becomes the first South American country to declare independence from Spain. Always the trouble-makers, aren't they?

***

On this day in 1830, France invades Algeria, and they all live happily ever after! Well... at least until this day in 1962 when, after years of bloody revolt, Algeria gains its independent from France. Huzzah!

***

On this day in 1865, some Jesus-freak by the name of William Booth founds The Christian Mission, which would later be renamed The Salvation Army. They may eventually come to regret that name-change, as rumor has it that former Preznit Dubya once considered the possibility of deploying these bell-ringing pan-handlers to Iraq.

***

On this day in 1944, the Ringling Brothers Circus lives up to its stated goal of providing the "Greatest Show on Earth" when their big-top catches fire in Hartford, Connecticut. 170 people are roasted to their deaths in the infernal conflagration, giving new meaning to the old showbiz term, SHOWSTOPPER!

***

On this day in 1975, tennis player Arthur Ashe becomes the first - and last - black man to win the Wimbledon singles title. He then went on to die of AIDS. Coincidence? Pfeh! Don't make me laugh.

***

On this day in 1989, twenty five years ago, the sitcom Seinfeld airs its first episode on NBC. All together now: "WHAT?!?!"

***

On this day of the year 2014, half the back yards in America stink of spent gunpowder, cheap beer and boozy hot-dog vomit. Don't worry about it, though... they say it's good for the lawn!