Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Obit watch: July 29, 2014.

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014

James Shigeta passed away yesterday. I wasn’t sure if I was going to note this, but the A/V Club ran an excellent obit for him that I believe deserves attention.

He was the lead in the film version of “Flower Drum Song”. If you look at his IMDB page, he had bit parts in basically everything during the 1970′s: the original “Mission: Impossible”, “Rockford”, “SWAT”, “Kung Fu”, “Emergency”, “Ironside”, the original “Hawaii 5-0″, etc.

He was perhaps best known (at least to my brother) as Joseph Takagi in the first “Die Hard”.

Also, the NYT is reporting the passing of Theodore VanKirk, the last surviving crew member of the Enola Gay.

Noted.

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

The LA Weekly profiles Nick Ut, legendary AP photographer and Pulitzer Prize winner. He’s still working as an AP photographer in LA.

You may not recognize the name, but you’ll know the photo; it is one of the two most famous Vietnam War photos. I won’t embed it, but you can find all over the place, including here.

I’m not generally a big fan of the alternative papers, but this is a swell article. Some pull quotes:

Ut believes in skill, too. But on a deeper level, he trusts in luck and fate. Many photojournalists were killed in Vietnam — 135 total, according to Faas’ count. By Ut’s estimate, 90 percent of the AP photographers who covered the war got shot while there.

Pulled mostly so I can plug Requiem: By the Photographers Who Died in Vietnam and Indochina; haunt your local used bookstore for a copy.

…three months after he took Kim Phuc’s picture, he was hit in the leg by mortar fire. He was on his way to visit her. Her house, unfortunately, was located near an entrance to the infamous Cu Chi Tunnels, a network of supply routes used by the Viet Cong. After the mortar shell blew up, Ut noticed holes in his camera. Then his shirt. Then his thigh.

Young photographers today, who “shoot 15 frames a second,” exasperate him. “Too fast. Picture lousy. One frame. Show the best picture. That’s how I learned. Look for the picture first.”
Besides, “If you come back with 500 pictures from one assignment? Your boss will yell at you. Too many! Who wants to look at all those pictures?”

Today, the 35mm Leica M2 camera with which he shot Napalm Girl is in a museum — the Newseum, in Washington, D.C.

Gratuitous Leica for the win! (I do wish the Weekly had gone into more detail about what Ut uses today. But then again, this isn’t an article targeted at professional photographers.)

Random gun crankery.

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

Mike the Musicologist and I were talking about the moronic Rolling Stone list. So apparently “Derringers” are among the most dangerous guns in America? I can buy that; after all, no president has ever been shot with a machine gun, so clearly they are less dangerous than derringers.

(Would you trade a ban on derringers for legalized machine guns? I wouldn’t either, but I think it is an interesting question.)

Anyway, that, and the fact that I’ve been reading a lot about presidential assassinations and attempted assassinations recently, got me thinking. (As a side note, I owe my readers a longer discussion of the works of Candice Millard, but that’s for another time.)

So Oswald’s rifle may be the single best documented presidential assassination weapon we have. It is historically interesting, but we can set that to one side for the moment.

I am 99 44/100ths percent sure I have seen Booth’s derringer, but that was a long time ago in another country. I did briefly wonder how it was recovered: was it on Booth when he died? (No: Booth dropped it on the floor of Lincoln’s box when he pulled the knife and slashed Major Rathbone. Apparently, the New York Reload had not been invented in 1865.) And I was also not aware that there was a brief controversy about Booth’s derringer: there were claims that it was stolen and replaced with a replica. (I am also not sure that I trust the FBI’s police work 100% there, Lou, but that’s probably yet another discussion for another time.)

So that takes care of the two most famous assassinations. What of President McKinley, who, as you may recall, was shot by an anarchist with an unpronounceable name? Czolgsz’s weapon of choice was a .32 caliber Iver Johnson revolver; according to this site, that gun resides in the Buffalo History Museum. (Their website supports this.)

And that brings us to Garfield (the president, not the cartoon cat), who you may recall was shot by a “disgruntled office seeker”, which is a polite way of saying “a f–king nut”. When the Oneida Community thinks you’re weird, maybe that’s your sign.

Anyway. Guiteau shot Garfield with a “.44 Webley British Bulldog revolver“, which he purchased using money bummed from a friend. (Bumming money from friends and skipping out on his boarding bills was typical of Guiteau.) Supposedly, he bought one with ivory grips instead of wood because “he thought it would look good as a museum exhibit after the assassination”. (I’ve seen this cited elsewhere. On the other hand, the Wikipedia entry on the Bulldog says Guiteau didn’t want to spring for the extra $1 for ivory.)

The punchline to this: “The revolver was recovered and displayed by the Smithsonian in the early 20th century, but has since been lost.

Seriously. They lost the gun used to kill a president. Granted, it appears to have been “lost” long after Guiteau was tried and executed. But still; how do you “lose” a presidential assassination weapon? And can you imagine the discussion at the Smithsonian when they found out Guiteau’s gun was “lost”?

(And I think I have to give Oswald a slight edge on taste, as he was the only one to use a Smith and Wesson revolver. Granted, it was a Victory model, so it wasn’t one of the better looking ones, but it was still a Smith. And if you were wondering, Jack Ruby used a Colt.)

(I say “slight edge” because, for all of Guiteau’s numerous faults, at least he picked ivory. As we all know, only a pimp in a cheap New Orleans whorehouse carries pearl handled revolvers.)

Happy Bastille Day, everyone!

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Rock & Roll #1!

Saturday, July 12th, 2014

Continuing in the historical trivia vein, today is the 35th anniversary of one of the greatest moments in the history of baseball: Disco Demolition Night at Comiskey Park.

Here’s some video I turned up. The first one appears to be an ESPN retrospective:

Here’s some local news coverage:

Side note: this is an attempt to compile a complete list of forfeits in major league baseball games.

Aaron Burr! Aaron Burr!

Friday, July 11th, 2014

This would have totally gotten past me if not for a retweet from the Popehat, but: today is the 210th anniversary of the Burr-Hamilton duel.

Mike the Musicologist and I talked about this briefly over the holiday weekend: if I ever make it back to NYC, one of the things I plan to do is to see the pistols.

Obligatory:

Happy Gavrilo Princip Day!

Saturday, June 28th, 2014

(And a tip of the Hatlo hat to Guffaw.)

Some advice for those of you who choose to celebrate today:

  • Archdukes are somewhat of an endangered species these days. Make sure you have the proper permits and observe the bag limit of one.
  • Princip probably didn’t eat a sandwich (as we’ve discussed before) so if you want to maintain authenticity, find a place that serves Bosnian food. That might be hard if you’re not in a large metropolitan area; in Houston, there’s Cafe Pita. In Austin…well, if you’re going to deviate from authenticity, the Noble Pig is open until 5 PM.
  • Make sure your cyanide hasn’t expired.
  • Also, know the depth of your river before you attempt suicide by throwing yourself into it.
  • Consider how long or short your grenade fuse should be. I’m really not in a position to make specific recommendations, but a ten second fuse seems a bit long.
  • If you happen to be driving any archdukes on this day, make sure you know the route. (If Franz Ferdinand’s chauffeur had a GPS, or even a smartphone with Waze, would WWI have been avoided?)
  • Also, make sure your car is tuned up. There’s nothing worse than backing up and stalling in front of an assassin.
  • It may be a little late for this, but it looks like you can pick up a reasonably nice FN 1910 for short money on Gunbroker.

More random photos from the road.

Sunday, June 8th, 2014

In retrospect, it would have been better if I had uploaded these on Friday, but I’ve been busier than the proverbial one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest since Friday night. This is the first chance I’ve had to settle down and post photos.

Peace status, Columbus, Ohio.

Peace statue, Ohio Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio.

veterans plaza

Ohio Veterans Plaza, Ohio Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio.

The Veterans Plaza does something I haven’t seen before, and that I kind of like. The writing on that wall isn’t names; those are excerpts from letters by veterans. You can read the complete text here.

Noted for the historical record.

Friday, June 6th, 2014

myers

Charles Myers was my mother’s uncle, which would make him my grand-uncle. Not mentioned in his obituary, but told to me by my mother: he was on the beach at Normandy.

Remember…

Random notes: June 6, 2014.

Friday, June 6th, 2014

The NYT obit for Chester Nez clarifies a point I was confused on:

Mr. Nez was the last surviving member of the 29 original Navajo code talkers [emphasis added - DB], who at the urgent behest of the federal government devised an encrypted version of their language for wartime use. They and the hundreds of Navajos who followed them into battle used that code, with unparalleled success, throughout the Pacific theater.

About 400 Navajos followed the original 29 to war; of that later group, about 35 are still living, The Navajo Times, a tribal newspaper, reported this week.

This should not be taken as an attempt to diminish the accomplishments of Mr. Nez, the other 28 original code talkers, or the ones who followed the first 29; I’m just trying to make sure the historical record is clear. (I felt some of the other media coverage confused this point.)

This goes out to our great and good friend RoadRich: Whiskey 7 made it back to Normandy. Briefly: Whiskey 7 is a restored C-47 transport that originally dropped troops over Normandy. It was in a museum in New York, but was invited back to Normandy for the 70th anniversary. So a crew from the museum flew it across the Atlantic…

(One of these days, I want to ride in a C-47. Or a DC-3. I’m not picky.)

Fun feature piece by John Marchese in the NYT:

Maybe it was the 50th anniversary of “Hello, Dolly” having knocked the Beatles off the top of the pop charts (May 9, 1964), but it occurred to me recently that with a little advance work, I could spend an entire day in New York with Louis Armstrong.

Things I didn’t know:

Obit watch: June 5, 2014.

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

Don Zimmer: NYT. ESPN.

Lady Mary Soames passed away last Saturday. Mrs. Soames was the last surviving child of Winston Churchill, and wrote extensively (and, by all the accounts I’ve seen, well) about her family.

And we are obligated to note the passing of Chester Nez, Navajo code talker.

Nez, a painter, earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the University in Kansas in 2012.

On the road again…

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

Heading home. Travel day. In the meantime:

1. Go read this post by Tam. There are echos in it of something some less smart person wrote a couple of years ago.

2. I didn’t realize until the middle of last week that this year is the 50th anniversary of the .41 Magnum. (Ask me about my Model 57.)

3. I took a fair number of photos yesterday while running around with my aunt and uncle (who graciously drove the two hours each way from Cleveland to spend part of the day with me; thanks again, guys!). I’m waiting until I get back to do the post-processing and uploading, but I thought I’d throw one up here that I played with last night.

DSC_0005

I took this with the D40X and the 18-55 kit zoom. It was cropped and the exposure adjusted slightly using Shotwell on Project e. I’m actually pretty happy with the end product, though I may make a second pass over it once I’m in front of iPhoto.