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August 09, 2009 sun.
August 9th, 2009

Quiz: In Mel Brooks movie Blazing Saddles ( 1974), Mel Brooks does a cameo as Territorial Governor LePetomane. Who is he named in honor of?

Answer to yesterday’s question below: When did the Americans liberate the Auschwitz death camp? A) May 1945, B) April 1945, C) March 1945, D) November, 1944
History for 8/9/2009
Birthdays: King Henry V of England, John Dryden, Sir Issac Walton-author of the Compleat Angler, Melanie Griffith, Whitney Houston, David Steinberg, Bob Cousy, Jill St. John, Robert Shaw, Robert Aldrich, Sam Elliot is 65, Gillian Anderson is 41, Pamela Lyndon Travers –the creator of Mary Poppins, Eric Bana is 41, Audrey Tautou is 31

378A.D. HADRIANOPLE- The Emperor Valens and his legions were wiped out by a horde of Goths led by Fritigern the Visigoth. This battle is considered the last battle of the ancient world and the beginning of the Medieval superiority of armored horsemen -which was the way the Goths fought. Valens co-emperor Valentinian gave him the Empire of the East because it was the easier of the two theaters and Valentinian was confident even a dummy like Valens couldn't mess it up. The migration of Germanic peoples into western Europe we call the Barbarian Invasions, they called more poetically "Die Volkvanderung-the Wandering of the People".

1588- Queen Elizabeth I visited the camp at Tilbury to inspect the troops that would defend England from a landing by the Spanish Armada. The Armada had been driven off ten days ago but they were still somewhere in English waters so it still seemed like a good idea to visit. She thrilled the men by delivering the most famous speech of her career: “ I know that I have the body of a weak and feeble woman, but I have the heart and stomach of a king, Aye, and of a King of England too!”

1854- Henry David Thoreau published “Walden”, the first great work about nature conservation.

1877- THE SCRAMBLE FOR AFRICA. Explorer Henry Morton Stanley reaches the Atlantic Coast after a 999 day trek across the middle of African continent from Zanzibar. He proved there were no unscalable "Mountains of the Moon" barring the way.
Stanley (an illegitimate Welshman who fought in the American Civil War on both sides and who had found Dr. Livingston in 1871) had declared his expedition to be a charting of the Congo and Lualaba Rivers and to prove Specke's theory that the source of the Nile was Lake Victoria- Nyanza. In fact it was the starting pistol for the great European Colonial powers to begin dividing up Central Africa: England took Sudan, Nigeria and Uganda, France took Chad and Senegal, Italy to Ethiopia, Germany into Tanganyika and Belgium took the Congo. Up to this point African expeditions were small affairs of a missionary or scientist asking permission of a local chief with gifts. Stanley blasted his way across the jungle with a small army, being furiously attacked by 27 separate Bantu tribes whose territory he violated. His men mowed them down with repeating rifles and cannon. "The blacks do give us an immense amount of trouble"- he wrote. The Dinka people of Sudan call it "the Time when the World was Spoilt."

1929- Hollywood theater mogul Alexander Pantages was convicted of assaulting a young woman in a broom closet. The conviction was later overturned. It was the first successful defense case of attorney Jerry Geisler, who became famous for getting movie stars and other Hollywood hoi poloi out of trouble with the law. The word in the studios when a movie star was naughty was “Get Geisler!”

1930- Max Fleischer's cartoon "Dizzy Dishes" introduces Betty Boop. A singing star named Helen Kane sued Fleischer claiming that they stole her distinctive Boop-Ooop-a-Doop from her, but the case was thrown out when it was revealed Kane had stolen it herself from another singer. Betty was supposed to be a dog character to match her male couterpart Bimbo. But Animator Grim Natwick had done a lot of drawing of girls in Paris and New York and turned the character into a saucy little flapper.

1936- Jesse Owens wins four gold medals at the Berlin Olympics. Host head of state Adolph Hitler refused to shake hands with him.

1941- One of the more legendary British air aces in the Battle of Britain was Wing Commander Douglas Bader. He was all the more novel because he was had no legs. This day Bader’s Spitfire was finally shot down by the Luftwaffe over Belgium. Bader bailed out and was captured. But the German pilots were so impressed with this handicapped ace that they treated him like a rock star, touring him around airfields where other pilots could wine and dine him. Bader’s tin legs were damaged when his plane went down so the RAF dropped a substitute pair over a German airfield for him. But later as a POW he tried so many times to escape the German commandant of his prison camp took away his legs. “I wish all my prisoners were so easily manageable.”

1942- Walt Disney's "Bambi" premiered.

1944- Antoine Du Saint-Exupery, the author of the Little Prince, died when he crashed his fighter plane. He was not shot down by the Germans, he was just a terrible pilot. The main protaganist of the little prince is an aviator who crashes his plane.

1945-NAGASAKI- the second Atomic Bomb "Fat Man" was dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki. The B-29 bomber "Boxcar” was plagued by a violent thunderstorm and they wasted precious fuel searching for their target. When they made it back to base after the 14 hour flight two of their four engines had run out of gas. Nagasaki was the second choice target. The first Kokura, was so fogged in scientists couldn't study the bomb's effect. 63,000 people killed was one effect.

1945- At the same time President Harry Truman was reporting to Congress and the nation about his trip to Potsdam and plan for post war Germany. He said among other things that it was vital for democracy in Germany to break up the huge centralized corporations and foster the rights of workers to form unions. Hmmm…we could use a plan like that in the US today….

1947 -The British government in an attempt to bolster revenue for their shattered postwar economy, announced a 300% import tariff on Hollywood films. The Big Eight-Hollywood studios retaliate by stopping the export of movies to Britain. The British film industry has a heyday and Disney starts producing films locally in Britain like 'Rob Roy Highland Rogue' and such.

1960- Near Cuernavaca Mexico Harvard professor Timothy Leary took some magic mushrooms and experienced his first hallucinogenic trip. He called it “ a conversion.”

1963 - Britain's rock & roll TV show, Ready Steady Go, premieres.

1967- Joe Orton, English actor/playwright (Leaf, Murdered), died at age 34.

1969- FORTY YEARS AGO- HELTER SKELTER- Charles Manson's cultists murder pregnant actress Sharon Tate and several houseguests of her husband/director Roman Polanski. One other guest killed was socialite Jay Sebring, who made cocaine fashionable and invented the 1970's blow-dry hair style for men. A Polish tourist named Dominic Frykowski who had the misfortune to be visiting that night was shot twice, bludgeoned and stabbed 51 times. Kill the Pigs was scrawled on the wall in blood. Charles Manson had a messianic concept that he could lead the Apocalypse devolving out of a race war if his followers first killed celebrities to advertise their cause. Manson had a hit list that included Frank Sinatra, Steve McQueen and Liz Taylor. The California spawned Hippy-Flower-Child culture lost it’s innocent fun after Manson.

1974- “KNEEL WITH ME, HENRY.” Richard Nixon, aka Tricky Dick, resigned and left the Presidency of the United States in disgrace. New President Gerald Ford of whom Lyndon Johnson once said "Sometimes I think Jerry played football once too often with his helmet off" assumed office.

1975- Hurricane Belle destroyed the gulf coast. It was the worst thing to hit the area until Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

1993- Heidi Fleiss, The” Hollywood Madam” arraigned for prostitution. The film community shuddered when she threatened to reveal the names of her clients in her “black book”. Most were suppressed except actors Charlie Sheen and Sean Penn who admitted as much early on. Fleiss wrote a memoir called “Pandering” and still thinks prostitution is an honorable profession. “I ran an 85% cash business.”

1995- THE HIGH TECH BUBBLE- Netscape first appeared on the stock market. The 15 month old company started by a Silicon Graphics exec and a 22 year old college senior immediately shot up to $1.07 billion dollars in value. This IPO signaled the beginning of the gold rush in high tech stocks which five years later came crashing down as violently. Stocks like Lucent Technology which sold at $84 dollars a share in 1998 dropping to 39 cents a share in 2001.

1999- The US Government tax people closed Nevada’s Mustang Ranch, the most famous legal house of prostitution in the US.
Quiz: When did the Americans liberate the Auschwitz death camp? A) May 1945, B) April 1945, C) March 1945, D) November, 1944

Answer: The Americans did not liberate Auschwitz. Auschwitz was liberated by the Russians. The Americans liberated Dachau and Bergen-Belsen.