Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
When pilgrims were landing on Plymouth Rock, you could already visit what is now Santa Fe, New Mexico to stay at a hotel, eat at a restaurant and buy Native American silver.
1912 saw the maiden voyage of the Titanic– as well as the birth of vitamins, x-ray crystallography, and MDMA.
More curious coincidence at Reddit’s ”What are two events that took place in the same time in history but don’t seem like they would have?“
* Carl Jung
As we peer closely for patterns, we might recall that it was on this date in 1930 that Cab Calloway and His Orchestra recorded their scat-jazz classic, “Minnie the Moocher,” the first jazz record to sell 1 million copies.
What do Ray Bradbury, Madeleine L’Engle, Arthur Hailey, Nora Roberts, Stephen King, Salvador Dali and Dick Cheney’s wife have in common? They all appear on the annual BookFinder.com list of the top 100 most searched for out-of-print books.
As usual, the list is topped by Madonna and her famous spiral-bound Sex photo-book, which is still in demand 22 years after its publication. Putting aside the pop star and her sexual antics with Naomi Campbell and Vanilla Ice, the list offers an interesting snapshot of American culture, including guns (four books), needlework (five), food (three) and art (six). The gun-related books include an example of pro-gun lobby fiction called Unintended Consequences by John Ross – a firearms enthusiast who, according to his website, “fires upwards of 20,000 rounds of ammunition per year.” Stephen King has four titles on the list, including Rage, which will never be brought back into print as it concerns school shootings…
See the full list, and read more background at “The top 100 most searched for out-of-print books in 2013.”
(Image above from The Afronauts, a photography book by Cristina de Middel that reimagines the bizarre true story of the 1964 Zambian space program.)
* Chuck Palahniuk
As we adopt orphan books, we might send masterly birthday greetings to Lewis Allan ”Lou” Reed; he was born on this date in 1942. A musician, singer, and songwriter, Reed had a successful solo career, landing two entries on Rolling Stone‘s list if “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time.” But his biggest impact may have come in his first gig, as guitarist, vocalist, and principal songwriter of the Velvet Underground. The band’s influence on rock, art rock and punk was memorably captured in Brian Eno’s observation that although the first Velvet Underground album may have sold only 30,000 copies in its first few years, “everyone who bought one of those 30,000 copies started a band.”
Hey babe, take a walk on the wild side
On the Road, the iconic Jack Kerouac novel that took its earliest form in words typed on a 120-foot roll of paper, has spawned a uniquely digital descendant. A German student named Gregor Weichbrodt fed all the geographical markers mentioned in the globe-spanning book into the Google Maps Direction Service API, producing a set of all-text driving directions that goes on for 45 digital pages.
Yes, driving directions: On the Road for 17,527 Miles (the figure is Google Maps’ calculation of the journey) is available as a free ebook here, or you can buy a physical copy via Lulu — although it makes for pretty dry reading. Sample passage: “Head northwest on W 47th St toward 7th Ave. Take the 1st left onto 7th Ave. Turn right onto W 39th St.” And so on.
Open Culture helpfully notes that Kerouac himself produced a hand-drawn map of the hitchhiking route he followed in his own cross-country journey, some years before he wrote the ultimate road-trip story. If you’ve read the book and just want the directions, you can find them right here.
From Rob Walker at Yahoo Tech.
* Jack Kerouac
As we hit the highway, we might recall that it was on this date in 1921 that E.M. Forster, then 41, set set on his second trip to India… a trip his observations from which formed the basis for his fifth and most critically-acclaimed novel, A Passage to India.
* Charles Anderson Dana, American journalist, 1819-1897
As we read all about it, we might send ink-stained birthday greetings to Ben Hecht; he was born on this date in 1894. A novelist and Oscar-winning screenwriter (Underworld, Scarface, The Twentieth Century, Spellbound, Notorious, Monkey Business, Mutiny on the Bounty– over 70 in all), Hecht began his career as a newspaper reporter and columnist in Chicago– experience he put to good use when he co-wrote (with fellow reporter Charles MacArthur) the hit play The Front Page.
The Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin has recently digitized ten scrapbooks belonging to Harry Houdini. The books are divided into three groups: volumes compiled by other magicians about their careers; scrapbooks holding Houdini’s clippings on the practice of magic in general; and books that chart Houdini’s investigations of fakes, frauds, and conjurers. (Later in his life, Houdini became fascinated with the post-WWI fad for spiritualism—mediums, séances, and psychics—and took on a role as skeptical debunker of spiritualist performers.)…
* Tom Robbins
As we reach for the paste, we might recall that it was on this date in 1957 that Chairman Mao delivered his speech, “On the Correct handling of Contradictions Among the People,” to the Eleventh Session (Enlarged) of the Supreme State Conference in China. Calling for the free expression of criticisms of the Communist regime, Mao instigated what he called the “Hundred Flowers era” (as in “let a hundred flowers bloom…”).
It was a short-lived era. Some historians suggest that the outpouring of criticism that resulted spooked the powers-that-be; others believe that Mao’s invitation was from the outset a calculated move to draw out critics. (Mao later said that he was trying to coax snakes out of their dens so he could chop off their heads… but he may well have been saving face.) Either way, within months, the Hundred Flowers campaign had given way to the Anti-Rightest Campaign: 300-600,000 intellectuals were labeled as rightists, stripped of their jobs, and sent to labor camps, most on the evidence of their Hundred Flowers comments.