Posts Tagged ‘Newspapers’
Local lore has it that it all began when a gentleman named O’Rourke and a partner developed a business in the late 1940s of fishing for octopuses with O’Rourke serving as live bait, and his partner hauling him out of the water after an octopus was sufficiently wrapped around him.**
In any case, by the 60s octopus wrestling had become a lively “sport,” especially in the Seattle area. Annual “World Octopus Wrestling Championships” were held in Puget Sound; they attracted up to 5,000 spectators and were televised. Trophies were awarded to the individual divers and teams who caught the largest animals. Afterwards, the octopuses were either eaten, given to the local aquarium, or returned to the sea. For example, in April, 1963, 111 divers took part in the competition; they wrestled– caught by hand, then dragged to shore– a total of 25 giant Pacific octopuses (Enteroctopus dofleini) weighing up to 57 pounds.
The sport began to die down in the late 60s, and the Championships ceased. Octopus wrestling is now illegal in Washington State.
* Andy Kaufman
** This, according to reporter and humorist H. Allen Smith in an article for True magazine in 1964; Smith’s source was West Coast raconteur Idwal Jones, so readers are left to dial up their own credulity.
As we pull on our wet suits, we might recall that it was on this date in 1967– just as the Octopus Wrestling Championship was fading– that elsewhere in Seattle another freaky voice was born: on March 23, 1967, the first issue of Seattle’s alternative newspaper, The Helix, was published. Inspired by San Francisco’s Berkeley Barb and Oracle, and New York City’s East Village Other, Helix‘s prime instigators included Paul Dorpat, then a wayward University of Washington grad student, and Paul Sawyer, a Unitarian minister. This circle quickly grew to include later-to-be famous novelist Tom Robbins, Seattle Post-Intelligencer cartoonist Ray Collins, and Jon Gallant, co-founder of Seattle’s legendary underground radio station KRAB-FM. It also launched the media career of Walt Crowley, revered local writer, historian, and rabble-rouser, who joined the paper’s staff, first as an illustrator and later as an editor, in May, 1967. (Crowley and Dorpat later went on to be two of the three founders of HistoryLink, along with Crowley’s wife Marie McCaffrey.)
What if front pages were selected by newspapers’ readers instead of their editors? At NewsWhip, we’re always interested in the news stories people are choosing to share – and how those stories differ from the normal news stories editors put on the front pages of big newspapers. So we ran a little experiment.
On Wednesday morning, we gathered the front pages of leading newspapers in several countries. Then we used Spike to check the most shared stories from each one.
A little work at our end, and we used those most shared stories to make new “people powered” front pages for each newspaper – giving the most shared story the most prominence, the second most shared the second most prominence, etc.
We replaced headlines and pictures, though did not get into replacing story text and bylines. The results are pretty neat – maybe even thought provoking.
For each paper we have the original front page on the left, and the “people powered” one on the right. Scroll through and take a look at the contrast.
See a larger version of the comparison above, plus similar side-by-sides of The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, The Guardian, The New York Post, and many more at “Here’s what happens when the readers choose the front page story.”
* Richard Rowland, the head of Metro Pictures, on learning that Charlie Chaplin, Mary Pickford, Douglas Fairbanks, and D.W. Griffiths had formed United Artists (1919)
As we practice preference, we might spare a thought for Robert Ludlum; he dies on this date in 2001. Ludlum used the lessons he learned asa theatrical actor and producer to write 27 novels, all thrillers, that have sold, estimates suggest, between 300-500 million copies in 33 languages around the world. Seven of his works have been made into movies or mini-series (e.g., The Osterman Weekend and the Bourne Trilogy). Indeed, his franchise was so strong at his death that his estate has been able to continue the flow of novels, contracting other thriller writers to compose under the Robert LudlumTM banner.
* 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.
From our old friends at Criggo (“Newspapers are going away; that’s too bad”… see here, here, and here), evidence that, as von Clausewitz observed, “Although our intellect always longs for clarity and certainty, our nature often finds uncertainty fascinating…”
As we aspire to comprehend, we might send nosy brithday greetings to soldier, poet, dramatist and duelist Hercule-Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac; he was born on this date in 1619. The inspiration for Rostand’s 1897 verse drama, Cyrano de Bergerac (and Steve Martin’s Roxanne), Cyrano was possessed of a prodigious proboscis, over which he is said to have fought more than 1,000 duels.
Surely as importantly, his writings, which mixed science and romance, influenced Jonathan Swift, Edgar Alan Poe, Voltaire– and Moliere, who “borrowed freely” from Cyrano’s 1654 comedy Le Pédant joué (The Pedant Tricked).
Via our old friends at Criggo…
As we reconcile ourselves to the homework load, we might recall that it was on this date in 1884 that workers laid the 3,300-pound marble capstone on the Washington Monument and topped it with a nine-inch pyramid of cast aluminum, completing construction of the 555-foot erection honoring the Father of our country. The cornerstone had been laid on Independence Day, 1848.
(Alert readers will note that one of the examples proffered is a report on what became the subject of “the worst poem ever,” “The Tay River Disaster.”)
As we wash the ink from our fingers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1942 that the Atomic Age began, when a team led by Enrico Fermi, working inside an enormous tent on a squash court under the stands of the University of Chicago’s Stagg Field, achieved the first controlled nuclear fission chain reaction… laying the foundation for the atomic bomb and later, nuclear power generation.
“…the Italian Navigator has just landed in the New World…”
– Coded telephone message confirming first self-sustaining nuclear chain reaction, December 2, 1942.
1946 reunion of the 1942 team
Back row, left to right: Norman Hilberry, Samuel Allison, Thomas Brill, Robert G. Nobles, Warren Nyer, and Marvin Wilkening.
Middle row: Harold Agnew, William Sturm, Harold Lichtenberger, Leona W. Marshall, and Leo Szilard.
Front row: Enrico Fermi, Walter H. Zinn, Albert Wattenberg, and Herbert L. Anderson
As Arrested Motion reports:
… they’ve gone into magazine stands, bookstores and pharmacies throughout Hollywood, Manhattan, Williamsburg, LAX and JFK to drop copies of these little artistic interventions for the unsuspecting public.
No details were spared as headlines blasted celebrities and public figures like Lindsey Lohan, Sarah Palin and Donald Trump in hypothetical features of entertaining variants for ever popular gossip magazines such as US, People and OK. What’s more is that each page of the tabloid have an embedded alphanumeric code that leads to a secret website for people that can figure it out. So keep your eyes peeled as you pass by your local newsstands as you may be lucky enough to find that TrustoCorp made a special delivery in your neighborhood.
See the rest of the covers at Arrested Motion.
And visit the TrustoCorp site for an interactive map revealing the locations of the signs that the collective has helpfully distributed around Manhattan, signs like…
As we celebrate semiotic significance, we might recall that it was on this date in 1833 that the first successful “penny newspaper,” the New York Sun, was first published. While it is probably best remembered for its 1897 editorial “Is There a Santa Claus?” (commonly referred to as “Yes, Virginia, There Is a Santa Claus”), it also published “The Great Moon Hoax” (featured here recently), and Edgar Allan Poe’s “Balloon Hoax.”
We also have the Sun– more specifically, its managing editor from 1863-1890, John Bogart– to thank for that oft-quoted definition of the journalistic enterprise: “When a dog bites a man, that is not news, because it happens so often. But if a man bites a dog, that is news.”