Thursday, February 29, 2024

60 Years Ago This Week, Sonny Liston vs. Muhammad Ali

February 25, 1964 

Interesting commentary at the beginning, about Clay determining the “geography of the fight” with his trademark tactic of leaning back to lessen the impact of the opponent’s jab.

This fight shook the boxing world, as Liston was a huge bad-ass who consistently beat opponents to a pulp, easily and quickly. For him to quit by refusing to leave his corner to start the 7th round was … inconceivable. 

But at the same time Liston’s track record and connections are enough to make one wonder about his integrity in such a situation. His story makes for very interesting reading. Guys who get their start funded by mobsters and who then spend years being mob enforcers, and who go to prison a couple times for beating the shit out of guys (including a cop), are not the most upstanding, generally.

He took a “rematch” in 1965 and got “knocked out” in the first round.

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Nice Work Guys

Technology Not Always Reliable, As It Turns Out

Maybe the FBI was just getting in some practice at targeting innocent people…

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Bob Seger Might be the Most Normal and Likeable Giant Star in Rock and Roll History

In the Top Ten At Least

He just exudes big smiles and good vibes, all the time.

According to Wikipedia he has sold 75 million records worldwide. Not bad, Bob, not bad!

My personal favorites are “Main Street” and “Night Moves” and “Beautiful Loser” with a bunch of others tied for second. The only complaint I had about his music in the 70s and 80s was being overplayed on the radio — being so popular with so many people will do that sometimes.

He’s not getting any younger and with so many of my musical idols dying off these last few years, I need to make sure I recognize guys like him while they’re still here.

“Main Street”

Still sounds fresh 50 years later. And for me it instantly brings up a mental picture of driving around town, listening to this tune on the car stereo, not a care in the world, age 17 or so, with my whole life in front of me. 

Later as I reached my 40s, I grew to appreciate the melancholy looking back in “Night Moves”. So his music bookends my adult years, in a very subtle way.

Fun facts about Bob you may not know — I didn’t until just now. 

  • Ran track in high school (Ann Arbor) 
  • Co-wrote “Heartache Tonight” for the Eagles 
  • Took ten years away from music to spend time with his wife and two small children from 1996-2006 
  • Won the Port Huron to Mackinac race in 2001 and 2002 on his 52-foot sailboat 

He’s not getting any younger and is clearly a legend in popular music and an American institution. Now I feel a sense of regret never having seen him live, and he just retired last year at 78 years old. Best we can do now is enjoy listening to him while he’s still here. 

Monday, February 26, 2024

Today in 1919: Grand Canyon Becomes U.S. National Park

First named a National Monument in 1908 by Theodore Roosevelt

Coronado and his explorers were apparently the first “white men” to discover it in 1540 — but I’m pretty sure some Native Americans had spotted it at some prior point in history.

In 1540, members of an expedition sent by the Spanish explorer Coronado became the first Europeans to discover the canyon—though because of its remoteness, the area was not further explored until 300 years later. American geologist John Wesley Powell, who popularized the term “Grand Canyon” in the 1870s, became the first person to lead a journey across the entire length of the gorge in 1869. The harrowing voyage was made in four rowboats.

A look at the geography of the area today. 

Obviously there was no Lake Powell or  Lake Mead back then (created in the 20th century by the Glen Canyon and Hoover Dams, respectively). There was no Colorado River Aqueduct, or Central Arizona Aqueduct, or any other manmade diversions of the river water.

So imagine the amount of snow melt that river carried in spring and early summer. And then imagine riding all that in a rowboat like John Wesley Powell did in 1869. 

No thanks.

Friday, February 23, 2024

Jim Croce’s Last TV Appearance

September 14,1973 … six days later both he and his bandmate Maury Muehlheisen would perish in a horrific fiery plane crash… 

“Moving ahead so life won’t pass me by”

I found it kind of melancholy to watch, knowing all that and listening to the lyrics about leaving a legacy… 

From Wikipedia:

Croce composed most of his own material; however, he did not write "I Got A Name." In an interview with Billboard writer Norman Gimbel, it was revealed that Croce chose to record the song "because his father had a dream for him but had died before his son's first success."

Well. That’s some irony.

This was also the last song he ever performed, as it was the encore at his last concert in Natchitoches, Louisiana

The plane taking them to their next gig clipped a tree on takeoff and crashed, killing all 6 on board.


Thursday, February 22, 2024

Two of My All-Time Favorite People Born on This Day: George Washington and …

… My Wife! Happy Birthday my love!

As for the George Washington part…

Fun Fact: he kinda sorta started the French-Indian War in 1754, which morphed into the Seven Years War in 1756, a global conflict, that led indirectly to the same oppressive taxation by the Brits on the American colonies, which subsequently led directly to the American Revolution. 

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

January 1975: Buckingham and Nicks Join Fleetwood Mac

Worked out pretty well … 

They offered the gig to Lindsey Buckingham alone, but he said it’s both of us or neither.

These two radically transformed the band and the first two albums by the new group sold many tens of millions of copies.

The first song on the “Fleetwood Mac” album from 1975 … an unmistakable Lindsey Buckingham tune.

A completely different and more commercial sound for them, although the prior versions of the band were quite good too.

They brought “Monday Morning” plus “Landslide” and “Rhiannon” (both written by Stevie Nicks) with them to the new Fleetwood Mac (originally planned for a second Buckingham-Nicks album).

“Rumours” of course would go on to make them mega-stars, and spawn many Top 10 singles, even though making the album caused several breakups and affairs within the band, leading to great songs like “Go Your Own Way” and “You Make Loving Fun” and “I Don’t Want to Know”.

Tuesday, February 20, 2024

Misty Blue, Three Different Versions

Dorothy Moore, “Misty Blue”

Originally written for Brenda Lee who turned it down, it became a big country hit in the mid-60s for both Wilma Burgess …

… and Eddy Arnold

It works in both styles — and Eddy Arnold has the most soothing voice in history — but Doroth Moore made it her own, I would say.

Monday, February 19, 2024

FDR Issues Executive Order 9066 on Feb 19, 1942

Later known as “Japanese Internment Camps” 

However, strangely enough, there is no language in the order itself specifying the Japanese or any other ethnic group. From

The West Coast was divided into military zones, and on February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Executive Order 9066 that authorized military commanders to exclude civilians from military areas. Although the language of the order did not specify any ethnic group, Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt of the Western Defense Command proceeded to announce curfews that included only Japanese Americans.

Reading further reveals it was not Roosevelt but DeWitt who turned what was a generic “exclude civilians from military areas” order into an “imprison 122,000 people, 70,000 of them citizens” order. 

General DeWitt first encouraged voluntary evacuation by Japanese Americans from a limited number of areas. About seven percent of the total Japanese American population in these areas complied. Then on March 29, 1942, under the authority of Roosevelt's executive order, DeWitt issued Public Proclamation No. 4, which began the forced evacuation and detention of Japanese-American West Coast residents on a 48-hour notice. Only a few days prior to the proclamation, on March 21, Congress had passed Public Law 503, which made violation of Executive Order 9066 a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison and a $5,000 fine.

In the next six months, approximately 122,000 men, women, and children were forcibly moved to "assembly centers." They were then evacuated to and confined in isolated, fenced, and guarded "relocation centers," also known as "internment camps." The 10 sites were in remote areas in six western states and Arkansas: Heart Mountain in Wyoming, Tule Lake and Manzanar in California, Topaz in Utah, Poston and Gila River in Arizona, Granada in Colorado, Minidoka in Idaho, and Jerome and Rowher in Arkansas.

Nearly 70,000 of the evacuees were American citizens. The government made no charges against them, nor could they appeal their incarceration. All lost personal liberties; most lost homes and property as well. Although several Japanese Americans challenged the government’s actions in court cases, the Supreme Court upheld their legality.

Well, that’s pretty much how that’s going to work when, 3 months after Pearl Harbor, you designate the Secretary of War to decide how to enforce such broad new powers. His goal is to run the war, and now you gave him carte blanche to strip rights from citizens. And then he delegates that power to a Lieutenant General in the Western Defense Command.

Was it legal? Not exactly. But Lincoln suspended habeus corpus during the Civil War. That wasn’t “legal”, exactly. 

Wartime tends to muddy the waters on what is strictly legal and what is not. 

And it’s not like this attack on Japanese ethnics came out of nowhere. California led the way (as a result of the Gold Rush of 1848 and completion of the Trans-Continental railroad in 1869 both of which brought many Chinese into the area) with anti-Chinese sentiment leading to the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882, a federal law prohibiting any further such immigration for ten years — and was subsequently renewed several times. 

Later, California passed the California Alien Land Law of 1913 which prohibited “aliens ineligible for citizenship from owning agricultural land or possessing long term leases of it”, targeting primarily Japanese farmers after an influx of indentured servants from Hawaii in 1900. It was overturned in 1952 by the U.S. Supreme Court as a violation of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment.

There was plenty of public support for anti-Asian discrimination, in other words. These examples are just scratching the surface. 

A map from the National Park Service site showing the locations and max populations of the camps.