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“People still come up to me and ask me to sign their records. That’s right, records! Man, they don’t even make records no more!…”*
Actually, they do– and the British music retailer Rough Trade is betting big on them. Last week, Rough Trade opened a massive (15,000 square foot) store stocking some CDs and lots and lots of vinyl records.
It took 20 employees and various friends and family members 30 hours, over three days, to stock the shelves with 23,000 discs and CDs in time for the store’s opening party– a process documented by Stephen Mallon for the New York Times:
* The Rev. Al Green
As we fish out our turntables, we might take a memorial moment to dangle our pinkies from the pier, in memory of the great Otis Redding; he died in a plane crash near Madison, Wisconsin on this date in 1967, at the age of 26. Redding had left the studios of Stax/Volt Records in Memphis, planning to return to finish the song he’d been recording– he needed to replace the whistling track he’d used as a placeholder for lyrics he still needed to write. But first he had to appear on a TV show in Cleveland, and perform a concert in Madison… “(Sittin’ On) The Dock Of The Bay” was released in its “unfinished” form several weeks later. It became the first posthumous #1 hit and the biggest pop hit of Redding’s career.
At his wonderful site, The Fertile Fact– a literary website that treats famous authors and artists like fictional characters– Rhys Griffiths invites biographers/experts/super-fans to draw on their knowledge and compile a list of five things or aspects of modern life that they think their biographee, were they writing today, might have liked, loathed or otherwise been opinionated. The more far-fetched, the better.
As we wonder how we’d have done in Conan Doyle‘s time or Camus‘, we might send stern birthday greetings to John Milton; he was born on this date in 1608. A poet (Paradise Lost), polemicist (the Areopagitica), not-so-successful playwright (Comus), and Roundhead civil servant (he had a Secretarial appointment in Cromwell’s Commonwealth), Milton would surely have disapproved of much– if not most– in our modern life.
Ithaa restaurant in the Maldives is located 5 meters (about 16.5 feet) below the surface and has 180-degree views of the vibrant coral gardens. The cuisine has a European slant, and is constructed into a six-course tasting menu paired with champagnes. The menu offers items like Malossol Imperial caviar with sour cream and potato blinis, and yellowtail king fish with saffron champagne risotto and beurre blanc foam. The all-inclusive six-course option will cost around $320 per person (plus a 10 percent service charge and 8 percent tax per person), but the restaurant does offer a slightly less expensive four-course lunch tasting menu that costs $125 per person.
Polish up the platinum card, then check out the other nine options at “The 10 Most Expensive Restaurants in the World.”
As we tuck in our napkins, we might recall that it was on this date in 1963 that Domincan sister Jeanine Deckers, a Belgian singer-songwriter who performed as Sœur Sourire (Sister Smile), but was known in the U.S. as “The Singing Nun,” reached the top of the Billboard chart with “Dominique.” As History.com notes:
The previous month, pop radio stations around the country had briefly gone dark out of respect for the late President John F. Kennedy following his assassination in Dallas on November 22. The following month, those same stations would begin broadcasting, nearly nonstop, the first sounds of a coming revolution, as the Beatles’ “I Want To Hold Your Hand” hit American shores on January 13. Perhaps only during the unique moment in pop-music history that fell between those historic landmarks could an actual Belgian nun have ascended to the American pop charts with a jaunty tune about a Catholic saint—sung in French, no less.
She held the #1 spot for four weeks, effectively blocking Louie, Louie from ever reaching the top.
“The column itself was an extraordinary affair. . . . You would quote something from the morning paper and then you’d make some little comment on it.” (Wodehouse, quoted in David Jasen’s A Portrait of a Master, 1974.)
The column was “By The Way,” a front-page lineup of pert and pithy paragraphs and verse revolving around Edwardian politics and quirky news items from the police courts, London, the British Isles, America, and the world over. It had been a feature (with a distinguished pedigree) of the Globe and Traveller evening newspaper since 1881. British humorist E. V. Lucas wrote that the column “consisted of a dozen or so paragraphs, each with a joke or sting in it, bearing on the morning news.” Richard Usborne wrote it was “a column—a dozen or so short snippets and a set of verses.” The column was pieced together by a couple of fellows every morning in “The By The Way Room” according to a balanced formula of politics, funny news commentary, and verse.
Wodehouse contributed to “By The Way” intermittently from August 16, 1901 up to August 1903, when he joined the paper as full-time assistant, working six days a week; a year later he was put in charge of the column, a position he held until he left the paper, as best can be determined around 1910. His meticulously-kept cash journal Money Received for Literary Work records his payments for columns from 1901 up to the last entry in February 1908. By his own accounting, he worked on over 1,300 “By The Way” columns…
The P. G. Wodehouse Globe Reclamation Project is a not-for-profit volunteer group, formed earlier this year, devoted to unearthing these thousands of humorous paragraphs…
We promised the Wodehouse Estate, which quickly approved the Project, that we would compile and preserve all of the recovered columns for the future benefit of researchers, biographers, and fans. We were hopeful and expectant that that we would find, out of those 1,300 days Wodehouse either verifiably contributed to or worked on the column, a treasure trove of noteworthy, funny, pure Wodehousean material and verse.
As we careful to forgo liquids as we read, we might recall that it was on this date in 1712 that the 555th and final issue of The Spectator was published. The work of Richard Steele, a politician and writer, and Joseph Addison, a poet and playwright, friends from their schooldays at Charterhouse, The Spectator followed their earlier periodical, The Tatler. With a central character “Mr. Spectator” embodying its point of view, The Spectator ran to about 2,500 words daily (except Sunday), offering a mix of news and essays intended “to enliven morality with wit, and to temper wit with morality.” Steele and Addison contributed heavily to their periodical, but also ran essays from the likes of Alexander Pope and Jonathan Swift.
The Spectator was ostensibly politically neutral; but it was a subtle force for Whig values. Its second most valent continuing character, Sir Roger de Coverley, an English squire of Queen Anne’s reign and the (supposed) descendant of the inventor of the English country dance, was a lovable– but laughable– exponent of Tory maxims. No less august an authority than Jürgen Habermas has called The Spectator instrumental in the “structural transformation of the public sphere” which England saw in the 18th century– a transformation that came about because of, and in the interests of, the emergent middle class.
(The contemporary versions of both The Spectator and The Tatler are unrelated to the originals.)