Archive for the ‘History’ Category

Obit watch: June 25, 2016.

Saturday, June 25th, 2016

Michael Herr, author of Dispatches. This is supposed to be one of the great Vietnam War books: I personally haven’t gotten around to reading it.

Things I did not know:

He contributed the narration to “Apocalypse Now,” Francis Ford Coppola’s epic adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness,” and with the director Stanley Kubrick and Gustav Hasford wrote the screenplay for “Full Metal Jacket” (1987), adapted from Mr. Hasford’s novel (“The Short-Timers”).

Bernie Worrell, legendary keyboard player.

His stint in the 1970s as keyboardist and music director in groups led by George Clinton — Parliament, Funkadelic and their eventual merged identity of Parliament-Funkadelic, or P-Funk — taught generations of musicians and listeners that synthetic sounds could be earthy and untamed.

Later on, of course, he played with the Talking Heads. I think this clip has some good shots of Mr. Worrell in action with the Heads:

He played, and played with, whatever technology was available to him at the time: piano, electric piano, clavinet, Hammond organ, as well as Moog, ARP, Yamaha and Prophet synthesizers. What he brought to every piece of technology was a human element: quirks and syncopations, complex structures and outbursts of anarchy. His oft-repeated advice to young musicians was “hands on” — to keep the human touch in music rather than depending on machines.

A/V Club.

Random notes: June 24, 2016.

Friday, June 24th, 2016

The Baltimore Sun recalls a time when terrapin was “the signature delicacy of Maryland cuisine”.

(Linked here because: my favorite chapter in The Old Man and the Boy is towards the end, where the Old Man takes The Boy up to his friend’s in Maryland. They stop off along the way and have a proper meal of canvasback duck, terrapin stew, and various kinds of “iced tea” – this being at the height of Prohibition. So, yeah, I have a vague desire to try terrapin stew sometime.)

I intended to link this earlier in the week, but forgot until the On Taking Pictures podcast reminded me: 20×24 Studio is closing down “by the end of next year”.

The significance of this is that 20×24 is the home of the largest Polaroid camera ever made:

The camera, the 20-inch-by-24-inch Polaroid, was born as a kind of industrial stunt. Five of the wooden behemoths, weighing more than 200 pounds each and sitting atop a quartet of gurney wheels, were made in the late 1970s at the request of Edwin H. Land, the company’s founder, to demonstrate the quality of his large-format film. But the cameras found their true home in the art world, taken up by painters like Chuck Close and Robert Rauschenberg and photographers like William Wegman, David Levinthal and Mary Ellen Mark to make instant images that had the size and presence of sculpture.

But Polaroid no longer produces instant film: the company bought “hundreds of cases” of the 20×24 film, and hoped to reverse engineer it:

“I’ve been doing this for 40 years now, and I understand the importance of the history maybe better than anyone else,” said Mr. Reuter, who is also a photographer and filmmaker. “But there is a time when things have to come to an end. These are not materials that were designed to last indefinitely, and the investment to keep making them would be huge, multimillions.”

20×24 Studio.

Pavel Dmitrichenko is hoping to rebuild his ballet career, after being out of the dance scene for about two and a half years.

Why was he out? Injury? No, actually, he was in prison.

And why was he in prison? He was convicted of plotting the acid attack against Bolshoi Ballet director Sergei Filin.

Mr. Dmitrichenko now labels the whole affair pure fiction. It was all a plot, he said, by Mr. Filin and his allies in the Bolshoi to remove him from the scene because he was vocal about their corrupt practices and would not be intimidated.
The revisions spill out in dizzying, not to say implausible, succession: He never spoke to Mr. Zarutsky about Mr. Filin. He denied that he admitted as much in court. Ms. Vorontsova was not his girlfriend. He even raises doubts that there was any acid attack since Mr. Filin has little noticeable scaring and can drive, despite the seeming lack of an iris in one eye that he keeps hidden behind sunglasses.

Obit watch: June 23, 2016.

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016

David Thatcher has passed away at the age of 94.

Mr. Thatcher was the tail gunner in the “Ruptured Duck”, one of the 16 B-25s in the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan.

After the raid, the Duck crash-landed and several of the crew were injured. Mr. Thatcher tended their injuries.

Corporal Thatcher, the only crew member able to walk, joined with Chinese peasants and armed guerrillas to take the four injured airmen on a grueling five-day trek, by land and boat, to a hospital on the mainland, carrying them on stretchers and sedan chairs and managing to evade Japanese troops.

All of the crew evaded capture and eventually made it home, though the pilot (Ted Lawson, who also wrote Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, a book I remember reading when I was very young) lost a leg.

As cited in James M. Scott’s book “Target Tokyo” (2015), Colonel Doolittle told Corporal Thatcher’s parents that “all the plane’s crew were saved from either capture or death as a result of his initiative and courage in assuming responsibility and in tending the wounded himself day and night.”
Corporal Thatcher was awarded the Silver Star for valor.

Mr. Thatcher’s death leaves one surviving crew member from the raid, Richard Cole, who was Doolittle’s co-pilot.

Obit watch: June 20, 2016.

Monday, June 20th, 2016

Donald Shea passed away last Friday at the age of 90.

Mr. Shea served for 36 years with the NYPD. He was perhaps most famous as one of the two patrol officers who captured Willie Sutton.

On that day in February 1952, he was a 26-year-old officer on patrol with a partner, Joseph J. McClellan. A 24-year-old clothing salesman, Arnold Schuster, had alerted the two officers after recognizing Mr. Sutton on the subway and following him out onto the street.

Both Mr. Shea and Mr. McClellan were promoted three ranks on the spot, to first-grade detectives, by Police Commissioner George P. Monaghan, who called the arrest the culmination of “one of the greatest manhunts in the history of the department.”

Mr. Schuster was famously gunned down in the street about a month after the arrest, allegedly on the orders of Albert Anastasia.

It’s not the bullet that kills you…

Friday, June 3rd, 2016

…it’s an allergic reaction to the sulfa drugs they were giving you to manage infection, this being in the days before modern antibiotics.

At least, that’s what a medical professional of my acquaintance told me yesterday; this is not a theory I had heard previously, but I trust this person implicitly. It seems like the one thing we know about the death of the Kingfish is how little we really do know.

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For example, this may not be a bullet hole at all: it may be just “an imperfection in the marble”, according to that NOLA.com article I linked yesterday. I’m not sure I agree with their police work there, Lou. It looks awfully strange to be just an imperfection in the marble. But on the other hand, it also seems to be in a strange spot for a bullet hole. If you’re facing the pillar, I’d say it is roughly at a 270 degree angle from the front, almost around to the back side. Maybe someone trying to hide could have been hit there? Maybe it is a hole, but from a bodyguard’s gun?

Context:

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Expanded context:

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One more.

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

I was going to crop and enhance this, but I imported it into Shotwell, took a look at it…and I’m actually kind of happy with the way it came out, unenhanced and uncropped.

osc

Louisiana’s Old State Capitol, Baton Rouge, Louisiana. This is distinct from the new State Capitol, which is where Huey was actually shot (more on that later) but the gun and bullets on on exhibit in the old one.

Taken with the little Nikon Coolpix S6500.

Random gun geekery.

Thursday, June 2nd, 2016

Also: a historical note, suitable for use in schools.

Taken with the iPhone camera, cropped a little, and enhanced in Shotwell:

FN

I like the use of the word “supposedly” there, but that’s another discussion for when I have more time.

And don’t forget who else used an FN 1910.

bullets

A little more context on Weiss, Guerre, and the bullets, along with a lot of the assassination mythology, here.

Historical note, suitable for use in schools.

Tuesday, May 31st, 2016

Today is the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Jutland.

I confess, this would have gotten completely past me. Except Weaponsman has an excellent post up at his blog, keying off this Vimeo animation of the battle. (I haven’t had time to watch the latter yet, but it sounds right up my alley.)

Yes, this is sort of half-assed history, but Weaponsman writes much better than I do, so I’m really doing a public service here by pointing you his way.

(Not historical, but this is also a swell Weaponsman post, and the one that finally got me to add him to my blogroll.)

You know what Germany needs?

Friday, May 27th, 2016

Strict anti-tank rocket launcher control.

I hate to be all WP all the time, but I did want to make note of this too, if for no other reason than: the Baader-Meinhof Gang is back, baby!

Obit watch: May 26, 2016.

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

Mell Lazarus, noted cartoonist. (“Momma”, “Miss Peach”)

Edited to add: really good tribute to Lazarus in the WP‘s “Comic Riffs” blog.

Not strictly an obit, but there’s a good article in the NYT explaining the circumstances surrounding their obit of Donald W. Duncan, previously noted in this space.

Historical note, of questionable suitability for use in schools.

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

Today is the anniversary of Bonnie and Clyde’s death.

I would otherwise have missed it, were it not for this (Warning! Slideshow!) article in the HouChron (Warning! Slideshow!).

While the photos are worthwhile, I’m kind of annoyed by the captions: some them, and the article, refer to the ambush taking place today, while other captions refer to it taking place May 24th. Wikipedia (I know, I know) backs up the May 23rd date, as does Jeff Guinn (from what I’m able to tell).

There’s one photo in particular that I like in that slideshow: the one of Alcorn, Hinton, Gault, and Hamer (number 19).

And I was hoping that I could visit the shooting site when I’m in Louisiana in a few weeks, but I sat down and did the math: sadly, it’s over three hours each way from Baton Rouge to Gibsland, and that’s just not going to work this trip.

(I know I’ve mentioned it before, but Go Down Together still gets an unqualified endorsement from me.)

Obit watch: May 23, 2016.

Monday, May 23rd, 2016

The WP has a nice tribute to Nick Menza, former drummer of Megadeth, who died Saturday.

In 2007, he nearly lost his arm in a power saw accident. He required reconstructive surgery, and metal plates were inserted in his arm, according to Blabbermouth. Six years later, he auctioned off the bloodstained circular saw blade, which was placed in museum-quality glass with an x-ray of his mutilated arm, Loudwire reported.

You know, I bet we could get DNA off of that saw blade…

Also among the dead: Bill Herz, the last surviving crew member of Orson Welles’s “War of the Worlds” broadcast.