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Well, we survived 2008 somehow, and we enter 2009 with a new President , a new spirit, and the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression. Every New Year’s Day, all of us non-jocks can pretend for a little while we actually care about watching football. And, while the rest of North America shivers in the winter that came on much too fast, here in Southern Cal have our own curious custom for New Year’s. The Rose Parade.


The Rose Parade is the annual event where all those whose families who came to LA from little towns can pretend for a day, that we don’t live in a major cosmopolitan megalopolis, but we’re still the little Podunk train crossing in the bean fields that those East Coast movie folk scouted out in 1913. For a day, we forget that David Hockney, Arnold Schoenberg, F.Scott Fitzgerald, Raymond Chandler, and Charles Bukowski all lived here once.

No, we camp out all night, so next day we get a good spot on the curb to applaud the Chairman of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce driving by, followed by Miss City of Industry, the owner of a dental clinic decked out in Western attire from Nudies riding a Palomino that costs more than your Honda, all covered in plastic rhinestones, The Fighting Manatees All Varsity Marching Band and a representation of Shrek done in thousands of hand-glued chick peas and yellow dwarf rose petals.

I’ve lived in LA for 25 years now, and I still don’t quite get all the fuss. Back in New York City, parades, since the Irish marched St Patty’s Day in 1765, were all about one ethnic group getting together to drink a lot and march down the street giving a big one- fingered-salute to the rest of their city. Hah, Look how many of us there are! Look at the power of numbers of all the Irish, or Poles, or Puerto Ricans, or Gays & Lesbians, whatever.

Maybe the Rose Parade is the Small-Town LA giving the finger to the big cultured Metropolis LA.

If any of you animation folk happen to be watching, this year’s parade will feature two floats designed by Iron Giant artist John Ramirez and a Warner Bros Anim tribute Float that Chuck Jones daughter, Producer Linda Jones Clough will be riding.

Anyway, I gotta go. USC-Penn State is about to kick off and I have to go get more Doritos Smoky Barbeque flavored chips and Coors Lite. Happy New Year!
Jan. 1st 2009 A.D. or 2009 of the Common Era- New Year's Day
It’s also the Hebrew year 5,767 AM or Year of the World Anno Mundane ,
in the Moslem calendar 1430 A.H. or Al Hajira –since the Haj,
And the Year 1387 in the Zoroastrian Calendar
Yesterday’s Quiz question: Why is December the twelfth month when Decembrius means number ten in old Latin? For the answer look at 45 BC.
Happy Last Day of Kwanza

Birthdays: Duke Lorenzo”the Magnificent” De Medici, Pope Alexander VI Borgia, Paul Revere, Betsy Ross, Mad Anthony Wayne, E.M. Forrester, J.Edgar Hoover, Xavier Cugat, Frank Langella is 70, Barry Goldwater, Kuniyoshi Utagawa, Dana Andrews, Idi Amin Dada, Kliban, Verne Troyer (Mini-Me) is 39

Welcome to the month January from IANUARIUS, the old Roman god Janus, the two faced god of doorways and portals who looks forward and back, symbolizing new beginnings. Not to be confused of course with Terminus the god of boundaries and borders.

Janus’ temple was dominated by a large doorway in the Roman Forum. Whenever the temple doors were closed, it meant Rome was at peace with the world. Unfortunately, this was hardly ever the case.

45 BC.- By edict of Julius Caesar the Roman Empire adopts the 12 month 366 day calendar Caesar ordered developed by the Alexandrian scientist Sosigenes. This was an improvement from the ten month, ten day week system. The ten month system is why December, which means ten, is counted as the twelfth month. The system had become so lopsided that the Roman civil service had to open a special office just to tell you what day it was! In order to pull the calendar back in line with the solar seasonal year Caesar decreed the last year of the old system 46 b.c. would have to be 445 days long! He called it Ultimus Annus Confusionis. Roman merchants, bankers and shippers called it the Year of Confusion.

Happy Feast of the Holy Circumcision, when baby Jesus had his…well,…you know…..

69AD- The Roman legion at the Rhine frontier fort of Mainz rose in rebellion under their general Marius Vindex. This is the first act of defiance that would overthrow the Emperor Nero. By years end four men would be Emperor until only one –Vespasian, remained.

1525- Despite the pleadings of Hernando Cortez to respect Aztec institutions, twelve Franciscan missionaries began to close down Aztec temples, and conducted mass baptisms of Indians at gunpoint.

1531- French King Louis XII died of sexual exhaustion from too many evenings spent with his new English queen, the sister of Henry VIII. His nephew Francis was next in line. The dying king lamented. “That big nosed boy will ruin everything we tried to accomplish!” Actually, Francis Ist turned out to be one of France’s best kings.

1776- The first U.S. invasion of Canada is defeated, Benedict Arnold and William Montgomery's colonial army attacks Quebec City in a snowstorm and are repulsed. Montgomery is killed and Arnold takes a bullet severing his thigh bone. Aware of the Puritan New Englanders contempt for Roman Catholics most French Canadians did not rise up as expected to help 'Les Bostonnais', as they called the minutemen.

1788- THE LONDON TIMES is born. Daily newspapers had appeared in Europe in the early 1600s. Publisher John Walters had started a small one sheet in 1785 called the Daily Universal Register. In 1788 he changed the name to the simpler "The Times" and created the format for newspapers around the world for centuries to come. The Walters family ran the newspaper for 125 years and Walters even had to edit it for two years while serving a prison term for libel.

1801- Toussaint L’Overture and Jean-Jacques Dessalines declare the Republic of Haiti, only the second independent republic in the Americas.

1831- William Lloyd Garrison first began publishing his newspaper The Liberator, openly calling for the end to black slavery in the U.S. ‘ I will not Equivocate, I will not Retreat, and I Will Be Heard!”

1850- The TaiPing Rebellion began in China. Hung tsu Tsuan listened to a Christian Missionary. Later he decided he was the son of Jesus Christ come to Earth to right all wrongs. He led millions, until he was crushed by the Manchu Emperor’s foreign led army- the Ever Victorious Army.

1863- Poet Walt Whitman visited Washington D.C., but skipped a chance to meet Abraham Lincoln. Whitman was looking for his brother, and the New Years reception line in front of the White House was just too long to bother. Lincoln is young and there will be plenty of other occasions to meet him....

1876- The first Mummers Parade in Philadelphia. Philadelphia created a fusion of Swedish custom of celebrating New Years with masquerade and noisemaking with a British custom of mummery- reciting doggerel and ribald songs in exchange for cakes and ale. George Washington received mummers when the US capitol was in Philadelphia in 1790. The large Mummers parade that continues to this date began to welcome the US Centennial year in 1876.

1881- Eastman Kodak Company formed. Kodak supposedly was named from the sound of the snapping camera shutter.

1890- The First Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena California.

1909- London astronomers say they had detected signs of a planet further out than Neptune, the furthest known planet in our little solar system. The theoretical body was called Planet -X until in 1930 an amateur astronomer named Clyde Tumbaugh found it and named it Pluto.

1914- The Archbishop of Paris threatens with excommunication young people who dance the Tango. "It's lascivious nature offends morality."

1939-ANOTHER BIRTHDAY OF T.V.. Vladimir Zworkin patented the Iconoscope ( the eye of a TV camera ) and the Kinescope. The television process evolved over many years: there were experimental TV stations in 1923, and the Berlin Olympics of 1936 were televised. So you can't really point to one Tom Edison type inventor, although Zworkin, Englishman James Logie Baird in 1924, Philo Farnsworth, and Dr. Lee DeForest all at one time tried to take the full credit.

1942-Young French Resistance leader Jean Moulin parachuted back into Nazi-occupied France to unify the scattered resistance groups under DeGaulle.

1942- Because of the fear of a Japanese attack on the California coastline, the Rose Bowl that year was played in North Carolina.

1943- Walt Disney's wartime Donald Duck cartoon- Der Fuehrer's Face, premiered. Working title- Donald Duck in Naziland, it was changed when they decided to include the hit song by comedy band Spike Jones.

1953- 29 year old country music star Hank Williams had spent the night drinking whiskey and doing chloral hydrate. When a West Virginia policeman pulled over his car he remarked to the driver that Williams looked dead, he was. The driver said Hank was just sleeping it off, and drove on. Williams last song was “I’ll Never get out of this World Alive.”

1959- As Fidel Castro’s guerillas roll into Havana, Cubans celebrate the fall of dictator Fulgensio Batista. Fidel is proclaimed the leader of Cuba.

1959- The Chipmunk Song by David Seville (aka Ross Bagdassarian) tops the pop charts..

1963- Tetsuwan Atomu or Atom Boy, an animated television show by Osamu Tezuka premiered on Japanese t.v. As Astro Boy it became the first Japanese anime show to break into the mainstream American market.

1966- An ailing Walt Disney was the Grand Marshal for that years Rose Parade. Standing in the crowd with his mother was a little kid named John Lasseter.

1976- Potheads sneak up to the Hollywood Sign and change the two “O’s to “E’s so the sign reads HOLLYWEED. Awright Dudes!

1984- By court order, the phone system AT&T also called the Bell System which had dominated telephone communication exclusively since Alexander Graham Bell spilled carbolic acid on his lap, was ordered broken up into 22 regional companies, the Baby Bells. The explosion of telecommunications, portable phones and bigger phone bills result.

1998- Michael Kennedy, a son of Robert F. Kennedy was killed in Aspen Colorado during a freak skiing accident. He was playing ski-football and while handling a video camera he struck a tree.
For the Trivia Answer look above at 45BC, and have a Happy New Year!