A Cultural History of the Last Fifty Years:
An Interpretative Personal Timeline

 

 

  1. 1913
    Le sacre du printemps premieres in Paris
    29 May 1913

    Roerich SceneWell I've gone way back in time for this, but what a great place to start this greatest cultural moments timeline for the century, in Paris with a Russian ballet! This great work (Le sacre du printemps, aka The Rite of Spring or Весна священная) was a collaboration of four men: music by Igor Stravinsky (Игорь Фёдорович Стравинский, 1882-1971), choreography by Vaslav Nijinsky (Ва́цлав Фоми́ч Нижи́нский, 1889-1950), set design and costumes by Nicholas Roerich (Никола́й Константи́нович Рéрих, 1874-1947), production by Sergei Diaghilev (Серге́й Па́влович Дя́гилев, 1872-1929) for his Ballets Russes. These were some of the greatest artistic minds of the century. The ballet premiered in Paris on 29 May 1913, and from surviving accounts it is clear that the audience was upset (a riot was narrowly averted) and had no idea what was happening on the stage. The ballet was so much different than other "classical" ballet productions of the time.
    The opening bassoon solo is followed by discordant sounds coming from all kinds of instruments (playing loudly) and from all kinds of different angles--Stravinsky used a very large orchestra. To a 1913 audience it must have sounded as if the orchestra was just warming up! When was the music really going to start? But it had already begun. When the dancers appear on stage in sack cloths, hopping about, the audience wondered, Where was the beautiful figure of the ballerina dancing across the stage?
    The ballet divides into two acts. The first part is the L'adoration de la Terre (the worship of the earth); followed by the second part Le Sacrifice (no translation needed). The first part is mostly just young girls dancing around on stage in preparation for the sacrifice to the nature god which will follow. At some point in act one, the mythical father Christmas figure appears on stage (see below). The second part is the sacrifice, and through most of the act, the prima ballerina just stands quivering, little dancing. You might wonder, where is the greatness in all of this?
    This music ushered in the twentieth century. The power and frantic nature of the music and the dancing so very much expressed the age of the modern city (even though the ballet was hearkening back to a natural past thousands of years ago and an imagined age of early Slavic earth goddesses). That's the enduring paradox of the ballet (the past and modern intertwined; even though we think that we are modern, we are really still pre-historic). Another aspect symbolic of the modern age is the crush of dancers on the stage (think of the crush of people in the modern city) and the relative less prominent role for the prima ballerina (the individual of today), who stands there shaking, a sacrifice to a new age, a sacrifice that she is helpless to avoid.
    Well, life was changing in the early twentieth century, and the ballet captured the essence of that change by invoking the imagery of a prehistoric Slavic past. In one dance, everyone on stage is banging on the floor--many people have that similar feeling about life today--and that was something the 1913 audience did not understand; why the banging? What did it all mean?
    I have watched this many times now and still cannot figure out much of it, for example, the Father Frost figure, and I think that the ballet still challenges audiences today, which is why it is not performed that often. It does not provide clear answers. Stravinsky and his collaborators ended up capturing the absurd survival of myth and misperception at the start of the century, the weirdness of what lay ahead. The ballet is not all that long. Take an hour, watch and enjoy.
  2. 1915
    Franz Kafka publishes Die Verwandlung
    1915

    Kafka's bookWho could have known at the time that a story about the relationship between a man and a bug would end up being one of the greatest cultural achievements of the century? Probably very few people. I think that it would be very interesting to know how many people actually bought the book when it appeared in the middle of World War I. I don't think that it made any top 50 lists.
    Since I already have an entire web page devoted to Franz K, let me here just add a few more words.
    Kafka's Die Verwandlung (usually translated at "The Metamorphosis) appeared in late 1915, which was year two of the war. In reality, the story is not about the relationship between a man and a bug; it is about a rather, normal, everyday man (Gregor Samsa, the name is not that important) becoming a bug. When you think about it, and put that transformation/realization in the context of the Great War; were not all men just bugs? Bugs to be stamped out, squashed on the great battlefields of the war? Are not all people in the modern world just bugs squirming to survive, trying to understand their surroundings, figuring out what food tastes best, and then dieing. The vast, teeming, modern, twentieth-century city was a city teeming not with people, but with bugs, and they really did not differ all that much from one another; bug was man, man was bug (to be born, bred and die).
    " Verwandlung," the great change, as just noted, is often translated as the "metamorphosis," as if what happened to Gregor was supposed to be something beautiful, like a caterpillar becoming a butterfly, but the great change was not something beautiful. What emerged was just a squishable cockroach. Perhaps this was Kafka's unique insight into the realities of modern society?
  3. 1927
    Claude Monet's Nymphéas opens at the Musée de l'Orangerie
    17 May 1927

    MonetClaude Monet (1840-1926) was one of France's greatest painters and one of the originators of the art movement that came to be termed impressionism (named after his painting "Impression, soleil levant" aka "Impression Sunrise" from 1872). From the 1880s onwards Monet lived and painted in his workshop at Giverny on the River Seine about an hour north of Paris. Most of his paintings from that time until his death focused on depictions of the water lilies that he cultivated in his gardens. There are hundreds of these paintings (some of the most expensive works ever auctioned in the art world), but the most famous are the eight huge canvases of Les Nymphéas that are on display in the Musée de l'Orangerie in Paris.
    When World War I finally ended in late 1918, Monet decided to gift the eight paintings to France in memory of the sacrifice that the country had borne through the war. He expressed this desire in a letter to Georges Clemenceau (1841-1929), his friend and the wartime prime minister of France. Due to health issues, it took Monet a while to actually turn over the paintings to the French government, and they were finally installed at the Musée de l'Orangerie and opened to the public (with relatively little fanfare) in 1927 (after Monet's death).
    The paintings are one of the wonders of the modern world. They are huge and completely encircle you as you stand in their midst. Their quiet serenity is in complete contrast to the terrible death and destruction of the First World War. They are a fitting tribute to all who fell (not just French) in the tragedy that was the Great War. The photo shows Monet at work on the Water Lilies; photo credit Gallica.
  4. 1930
    All Quiet on the Western Front hits the silver screen
    1930

    Paul and KatIn 1930 Lewis Milestone (1895-1980) released his movie version of Erich Maria Remarque's book, Im Westen nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front), which was first published in late 1928 (and in book form in early 1929). This was a book that was a best seller! It is interesting to read the controversy surrounding the changes that were made to the first American book edition (the deletion of some episodes). I'd also like to point out that the book was a book-of-the-month selection. Anyway back to the movie.
    From the very first announcement that the book was going to be made into a movie, the film-making was covered by the newspaper press. The movie was already a sensation in the making. It cost an enormous amount of money to produce, and it featured as director Lewis Milestone, who had already won an academy award. This would turn out to be his masterpiece. Some of his later work was quite bad (North Star); some was bad and controversial (Mutiny on the Bounty); some also focused on war, such as his 1959 film Pork Chop Hill. That movie about the Korean War, while very good, did not quite have the same emotional impact as All Quiet, yet it also dealt with the bloody horror of war for the men who fought it. Milestone was also black-listed after World War II on the suspicion that he was a communist sympathizer.
    Now I might have written about the book here instead of the movie, and it is a great book, but there are other war books that describe the costs and sufferings of war in the twentieth century, Audie Murphy's To Hell and Back comes to mind, and I am not one to say whether Remarque's book is any the more greater or lesser of all of these other accounts. I try not to read most of them.
    But I chose the film instead of the book because the movie was a visual and audio experience for the audience of 1930. Unlike the quiet, internal experience of reading the book by an individual, the movie was an experience shared by everyone in the audience. Not only did the movie project a visual experience of what World War I was like, especially for those who had not been in France, but the movie was also an amazing production for its time. Shot out of doors on a large scale with a veritable army of extras on a huge budget, it was one of the very first movies to use sound (it was the first sound movie to win an Academy Award). From an artistic point-of-view, Milestone and his cameramen achieved some amazing cinematography in certain scenes in the movie: the opening speech by the professor with the parade framed in the background; the machine gun killing scores of men as they charged across no man's land in a pointless attack (only about 7 or so minutes in the movie, but a lifetime for the men who had done that in the war); the movie's end with the ghost images of the dead men across the battlefield. The movie gave, and still does give, the audience an inkling of what war was really like--it was not all glory--especially given the reluctance of the returning veterans to talk about how terrible it all was.
    A final important point about the movie is that it didn't really matter that the film, like the book, was about the enemy, the Germans. The movie provided a universal account of the horror of trench warfare in the Great War. The film remains one of the most powerful anti-war statements ever made, even though that was not the avowed purpose of either Remarque or Milestone.
  5. 1937
    J. R. R. Tolkien publishes The Hobbit, or There and Back Again
    21 September 1937

    HobbitWell, a movie version of the book has finally been produced. Part 1 premiered in December 2012, but here I'd like to focus on the book, since I am assuming that everyone will love the movie. People will just sit there and watch the movie unfold on the big screen instead of reading the book and letting their minds wander into distant, imagery realms--that's a big difference. I am not sure how a movie will do justice to the imagery in the book. For example, I have received all kinds of feedback for criticizing the movie. In particular, I am still unsure about the movie's portrayal of the half-rabbit, half-something else hobbit creature--everyone keeps telling me that he isn't a rabbit. That is just one of the fantastic attractions of the book because every reader can imagine the characters in their own way, scary or not scary. Also, when reading the book you are never really sure when (past or present or future) it is set, and you are certainly not sure where the events take place.
    Now the book is not as big as the massive trilogy of the Ring, which Tolkien later created out of the original Hobbit tale. (I've avoided reading the Ring because of its size); nor does the book quite have the religious imagery of some of C.S Lewis' The Chronicles of Narnia imaginary kingdoms, but the Hobbit is recognized by most critics as a classic in children's literature. It would be wrong to think of the book as merely a kid's fairy tale of monsters and weird creatures. There is much more beneath the surface.
    By now, you all know that the book centers on the adventures of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins who abandons his comfortable hole in the ground to sally forth and do battle with an evil dragon, Smaug, all for a share of some treasure. Tolkien's tale, which we know was written primarily as a tale for children, showed how anyone can become a hero and also illustrated how anyone can grow up to maturity and accomplish great things. Imagine a half-rabbit helping to slay a dragon! It is simply a great story and a work of brilliance.
  6. 1941
    Orson Welles' Citizen Kane (a movie bigger than the silver screen about a man bigger than life)
    1941

    Orson WellesSimply one of the greatest films ever made, yet IMDB only rates it 8.5 out of 10. Quelle imbécillité! "Rosebud," the movie is all about that whispered word, or is that word really important to understanding the life of Charles Foster Kane? Is any word or moment important to understanding an entire life? Orson Welles' first feature film, which he directed, produced and co-wrote, as well as playing the title role when he was only 25, proved to be his most important and influential work. The movie was a tour-de-force drama loosely based on the life of newspaper magnate William Randolph Hearst (the famed yellow journalist), and the film is routinely cited as one of the finest American films ever made. Much of the movie is dark--after all it is in black and white, but it opens with a great newsreel effect and the words from the Coleridge poem, "In Xanadu did Kubla Khan...") It is a movie of discovery, trying to discover what makes a man and his career, and how difficult it is to understand a life. The movie, an RKO Pictures production, debuted 1 May 1941, and was nominated for 9 Academy Awards, winning only one (Best Writing Original Screenplay). It lost the best picture award to How Green Was My Valley, directed by John Ford. Welles (1915-1985) only ever won one Academy Award, and this was it. His ensuing career in Hollywood was kind of weird and checkered, to say the least. He was rarely allowed to film as he wished, but he still produced great movies like The Magnificent Ambersons in 1942, Touch of Evil in 1958, and The Trial in 1963. Welles later had a cameo role in The Muppet Movie (1979)--see below.
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  8. 1955
    James Dean stars in Rebel without a Cause
    1955

    DeanJames Dean (1831-1955) appears on the big screen in a movie that tackles the angst of growing up in white suburbia in the 1950s, a time of supposed family values and general prosperity. Dean only made three films in his short life before dying in a car crash: Rebel without a Cause (1955), East of Eden (1955) and Giant (1956). They are great films, and Dean achieved iconic stature as a result of his roles in these three movies and his tragic early death.
    Rebel without a Cause only covers a time span of about 48 hours at Easter, yet it focuses exactly on the problems that some youth felt in trying to find their way to adulthood in the 1950s. Despite all kinds of comforts and luxury, the three central figures (Jim, Judy and Plato) all came from completely dysfunctional families that have left them grasping for what is real. What is more problematic for each of them is the feeling of a need to rebel against their parents' society, yet not knowing exactly why they should rebel or how they should rebel. So, in a way, their rebellion becomes pointless, simply a tragedy. The portrayal of the three families is very well done. Behind the veil of postwar prosperity, there were real problems with life in America in the 1950s. (As an aside, read sometime about the problems the cast of the popular television program Father Knows Best faced among themselves trying to portray the "good" American family.)
    Jim Backus (normally remembered as Mr. Magoo or Thurston Howell III) has two of the memorable scenes in the movie. First, he arrives at the police station to pick up his drunken son and ends up being completely helpless as he is berated by wife and mother-in-law. Second, he is seen attired in a frilly apron, emasculated, cleaning up some spilt food in an upstairs hallway. Judy's father is a complete nut case and unable to deal with any sort of loving emotion towards his now sixteen-year-old daughter--notice the separate beds for wife and husband in his bedroom. Plato really has no family at all; he has been abandoned by both mother and father.
    There have been a lot of films over the years that dealt with the issue of young angst, growing up, coming-of-age, etc. Some good; many bad. As I've watched this movie again and again over the years, I usually end up comparing to John Hughes' The Breakfast Club (1985), Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing (1989) or John Singleton's Boyz n the Hood (1991).
  9. 1955
    Airing on TV, The Honeymooners staring Jackie Gleason, Art Carney, Joyce Randolph and Audrey Meadows
    1 October 1955

    HoneymoonersThere are only thirty-nine episodes of this television show, and they are simply the greatest performances to ever appear on television. I have seen all of them many, many times, including the wonderful Christmas special. It is hard to believe that it is now over fifty years ago that this series ran on primetime television--look at the simplicity of the sets to get an idea of just what middle-class life was like in a city in the 1950s. The show lasted on network TV for CBS only a little more than a year. Note that in those days a television network would routinely produce 20 to 30 new episodes a season. Today, 39 original episodes might span three or more years! This was one of great ensemble comedy shows that ever appeared on television, and it became a later staple of the rerun circuit on non-network channels. The Honeymooners, of course, set the standard for The Flintstones (1960-1966), All in the Family (1971-1979), the Simpsons (1989-), Seinfeld (1989-1998), and probably a lot of other ensemble-based show that have made it onto the television screen.
  10. 1959
    Asterix appears in print
    29 October 1959

    AsterixLet's start with some details. This series was created by René Goscinny (writer, 1926-1977) and Albert Uderzo (illustrator, 1927-) with their first comic strip appearing in 1959, and eventually the first book in 1961 (Astérix le Gaulois). Other titles tended to appear roughly yearly after that. I first discovered these books when I was studying French in grad school; no longer sure about the exact year or the exact circumstances, but I was quickly hooked to follow the exploits of Astérix and his companion-in-arms Obélix as they struggle to resist the Roman legions (led by Caesar) in 50 BC: "Nous sommes en 50 avant Jésus-Christ ; toute la Gaule est occupée par les Romains… Toute ? Non ! Car un village peuplé d'irréductibles Gaulois résiste encore et toujours à l'envahisseur. Et la vie n'est pas facile pour les garnisons de légionnaires romains des camps retranchés de Babaorum, Aquarium, Laudanum et Petibonum… "
    The illustrations of the books are simply fantastic, vibrant color and fanciful detail. What I have always loved about these comics was the fact that with the little French that I knew I could read and enjoy the humor in the dialogue. I could catch the puns, the play on words, the caricatures, the pronunciation humor that you get when you read the books in the original French. There are now 39 comic books in the series with more than 350 million sold. I just checked my bookshelf and see that I only have 28. So I will have to do some more buying.
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  12. 1964
    Stanley Kubrick shocks audiences with Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
    1964

    StrangeloveHow dare someone make fun of the Cold War, and the US Air Force and the very basic premise of the Cold War, MAD--mutually assured destruction? How could you poke fun at the fact that millions of school kids practiced air raid drills every year, with their heads bowed between their knees while they sat huddled in school hallways? Wasn't this a dangerous time of the Cuban Missile Crisis and hydrogen and atom bombs? Wasn't the US Air Force and American military leadership the best in the world? Well, Stanley Kubrik did make fun of every thing connected with the Cold War in one of the most penetrating satires to ever air on the big screen. You can call it a black comedy, or gallows humor (being funny in the face of death); in reality it is simply one of the greatest movies ever made, and funny as all heck if you can catch the jokes.
    The movie featured magnificent performances by Peter Sellers (three different roles), George C. Scott (not happy with the final product), Sterling Hayden (fluoridation as a commie plot to poison our bodily essence), Keenan Wynn (Colonel Bat Guano), and Slim Pickens (bomber pilot who goes toe-to-toe with the russkies in nuclear combat). The movie sets, particularly the interior of the B-52 bomber, were fantastically detailed and gave the audience a true, yet false impression of reality. It all looked so real, yet it was all a fantastic satire.
    Released in January 1964 (its opening was pushed back because of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy in November 1963), the movie played to mixed reviews from audiences. Some found its message anti-American; some loved the movie; some hated it; some didn't understand. In any case, it has stood the passage of time and become a cultural icon. You don't even have to name the movie by its full title; just "Strangelove" is enough.
  13. 1964
    Petula Clark's "Downtown" hits the UK's top 50 chart
    November 1964

    DowntownWell, you might wonder what is so darned remarkable about this song by a British pop artist from the mid-1960s. Quite simply, it is the earliest song that I can recall ever hearing on the radio. I was just in kindergarten at the time (morning sessions in the Lincoln school in Slatington; the room had these great big wooden play blocks, a lot of wooden puzzles, a play kitchen area--mostly for the girls--short wooden tables for about six kids to sit at, and we got a snack and a chance to take a nap!). Boy, that was really small town America.
    This song really represents my first awareness of the world outside of my family, school, street and maybe small town. According to wiki, the song reached #2 in the UK before Christmas, but when it was released in the US in early 1965, it exploded up the charts where it reached #1 by the end of January. Petula Clark had become part of the British rock invasion of America (Beatles, Rolling Stones, Animals, Monkees, The Moody Blues, The Yardbirds, etc.) and the first British pop rock female vocalist to hit the top of the American charts. The song "Downtown" began a remarkable run of hits for Pet. Clark in the US, with great songs like "My Love," "A Sign of the Times," "This Is My Song," "Don't Sleep in the Subway" and many others.
  14. 1964
    Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer v. the Abominable
    6 December 1964

    Rudolph and ClariceRudolph first appeared in a 1939 booklet written by Robert L. May. Well, I must have been in kindergarten when the animated Christmas flick first came out and hit the television screen in full color, and I can say that I have watched it every holiday season since that time. Before the existence of the VHS tape (and later the DVD) you waited anxiously every year for the fuzzy reindeer's appearance on TV; that certainly meant that Christmas was fast approaching. Rudolph, along with A Charlie Brown Christmas and How the Grinch Stole Christmas, also meant that it might snow soon, and that meant that you might get a day off from school if it snowed four inches or more. This movie tells the symbolic tale of two, misfit reindeer who battle all odds, including the prejudices of their parents and the abominable snowman, to be able to live happily ever after. The movie, narrated by Burl Ives, who also appears as a snowman, has great, memorable songs such as Silver and Gold,There's Always Tomorrow, A Holly Jolly Christmas, Jingle Jingle Jingle, I'm Such a Misfit, etc.
  15. 1968
    The White Album starts a new pop trend
    November 1968

    White AlbumReleased 22 November 1968, about fifteen months after the smash Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, this double album caught the Beatles at a different moment in time. Recorded in the summer of 1968, the band was in turmoil at the time, each member exploring different artistic directions, and rarely was the entire band in a recording session at the same time. Everyone's individual talents and focuses were at work, and most of the songs on the album were really the work of the Beatles as individuals. The variety of musical directions on the album is often considered one of the strengths of the album; there is so much that was experimental on here. As you listen, you will realize that there was no other music like this being produced on the rock and roll scene in 1968 (not much like it since that date either). This was the Beatles' first album for their own record company, Apple (consider the fact that they had become powerful and wealthy enough to set up their own record company). The new company added to the artistic tensions within the group. As I was thinking of which Beatles album to feature on this list, I thought of Revolver or Sgt. Pepper or even The Beatles at the Hollywood Bowl, a live album which I remember buying when it came out in May 1977--a real impression of what Beatlemania was all about. There is simply so much great (and bizarre) tunes on the White album: Birthday, Rocky Raccoon, Revolution 1, Helter Skelter, Revolution 9. Later Capitol released a special white vinyl pressing of the white album.
  16. 1969
    Mary Hopkin releases Postcard
    1969

    PostcardWell, after graduating from college in May 1982, I ended up working at Newport News Shipbuilding and Drydock Company and living in the Denbigh section of Newport News. A bunch of us usually car-pooled into work because of the traffic congestion. By that time, I already had a pretty substantial record collection (not mp3s, or DVDs, or CDs, or cassettes, or 8-track tapes, but good old records). These played on a Technics SL-1900 direct-drive turntable (still working in 2013), powered by a Technics SA-5000 (also still working) stereo receiver with Phillips speakers, but I digress. One day while browsing through the records in a used record store, I heard "Voyage of the Moon" sung by Mary Hopkin (written by Donovan). What a haunting song! I asked the owner of the store about the album, and I purchased it. The record also contained her hit single (Those Were the Days) and two other great songs, Prince en Avignon (sung in French) and Y Blodyn Gwyn (sung in Welsh--Mary was herself Welsh). The album was a very early Apple product (the Beatles' label at the time), and the record was produced by Paul McCartney himself. Hopkin kind of retired from recording after 1971, but did release songs on and off after that, and she has occasionally appeared on stage. She remains enormously popular among her cult of fans. This is one great album.
  17. 1969
    Jimi Hendrix plays the Star Spangled Banner at the Woodstock Music Festival
    18 August 1969

    Stylized Peace FlagAt 8:30 am on a Monday morning on a soggy farm in upstate New York, Jim Hendrix (1942-1970) and his band took the stage to close the concert (the 3 Days of Peace & Music). Woodstock was by far the most famous of the mega-rock concerts of the 1960s and 1970s (because of its size, the artists who performed and the fact that it was made into a move).
    Perhaps there were maybe 25-30,000 people still left (large, but nowhere near the size of the enormous crowds of the earlier days of the festival) when Hendrix and his band took the stage. A little past halfway through his two hour performance, Jimi launched into a psychedelic version of the Star Spangled Banner and then immediately followed with Purple Haze, one of his signature songs. (You can either watch this on the movie, or listen to it on the sound track of the concert, but you should do either of those to appreciate a virtuoso guitar player at work). You can argue or object all you want, but this is one of the greatest renditions of the national anthem ever performed; it perfectly fit the close of the 1960s and symbolized all that the era stood for, yet at the same time paying homage to the country when so much of that era was directed as a protest against the government. That was a rare accomplishment.
    Hendrix was probably the greatest guitarist of the rock era, and if you have never seen his performance at the 1967 Monterey International Pop Music Festival, then you should check that out. D .A. Pennebaker filmed the concert for his path-breaking concert documentary, Monterey Pop. Monterey was Hendrix' first big show in the U.S. after becoming a star in England, and his stage show featured the burning of his guitar while he continued to get sounds out of it.

    Hurricane Camille, one of the most destructive hurricanes to ever reach the United States, made landfall late on August 17.
  18. 1969
    The New York Mets win the world series!
    16 October 1969

    Mets logoWhere I grew up in Eastern Pennsylvania, most of the people were Philadelphia Phillies fans (or Yankees), but I followed the Mets on TV channel WOR-9 (broadcasting team of Bob Murphy, Lindsey Nelson and Ralph Kiner). The Mets were terrible for years after they joined the National League in 1962, setting all kinds of records for most games lost. But in 1969 they had put together a fantastic young pitching staff, headed by Tom Seaver, Gary Gentry, Jerry Koosman and Nolan Ryan. It is hard this many years later to separate what I actually watched on television at the time (or heard on the radio) with what I later saw on video or read about in books or online because the Mets 1969 season has taken on a kind of mythic character. The Mets were way behind the Chicago Cubs (8 or 9 games in August, and then 4 games in early September), but the Mets caught and passed the Cubs. The "Amazing" Mets became the great example of going from last place in one year to world champion the next.
    In the world series the Mets faced the powerful Baltimore Orioles, who were prohibitive betting favorites, and what followed was one of sports all-time great upsets. The Mets won the series, 4 games to one, behind the brilliant pitching of Koosman, Seaver, Gentry and Ryan; the timely hitting of Donn Clendenon; and the superb fielding by Tommy Agee (great catches in game 3) and Ron Swoboda (great catch in game 4). Game 5, the deciding game, won by Jerry Koosman, had the now-legendary "shoe polish" incident in the 6th inning when Gil Hodges, the Mets manager, strolled out of the dugout with a baseball with shoe polish on it from a Dave McNally wild pitch, proving that the pitch had indeed hit Cleon Jones (and awarding him first base)--he scored on Clendenon's home run. I saw it all on our back and white TV.
    The official beer of the Mets back then was Rheingold beer, which is no longer with us and which I was never able to sample.
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  20. 1970
    The Beatles come to an end
    8 May 1970

    Up on the roofwith the release of kind-of their last studio album, Let it Be. (Let's not get into technicalities on this.) Although there would be a lot of Beatles music released in the four decades after their break-up in 1970, Let it Be was really the end to their ten or so years of working together. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr (a late replacement for Pete Best) began playing Liverpool, and then Hamburg, nightclubs in 1960. Their last live gig was the famous rooftop concert on top of the Apple Building in London on 30 January 1969, a pretty chilly day. The group's actual breakup could be dated to any day from 1969 onwards during the recording of their last real "collective" work, the Abbey Road album which was released 26 September 1969. On 10 April 1970 McCartney said in an interview that it was pretty clear that the Beatles had broken up, although there was as yet no official announcement since the Let It Be album had not yet been released.
    It was the end of a spectacular musical era, dominated by probably the greatest rock band ever; don't bother trying to argue for the Rolling Stones or another group. The Beatles dabbled in all kinds of musical genres, used all kinds of instruments, and revolutionized so many aspects of the music business. Take a moment and consider the evolution of their music from Love Me Do to Sergeant Pepper to Revolution to I Want You (She's So Heavy) and on to The Long and Winding Road.
    The Let It Be movie used to be shown as a midnight movie, but for decades now it has not been available, except on some pretty bad bootlegs. The surviving Beatles have always had problems with all of the band's arguments that were captured on the movie. I probably last saw the movie in 1981.
  21. 1971
    Mamas and Papas sing about California Dreaming
    1971

    StereoThis song actually came out much earlier (1965) than 1971, and it was a perfect song for stereo, with the opening lyrics alternating between the left and right tracks. Nowadays everyone takes for granted that music is recorded and played in stereo, but that was not always the case, and almost all of the hit songs of the 1950s and early 1960s were recorded and played in mono--the best examples of this involved Phil Spector's "wall of sound." Small transistor radios and most other radios, including car radios, played mono (one channel). I remember buying my first stereo that included a record player, a cassette player and two speakers from a store on 7th St. in Allentown in maybe 1971 or 1972. It must have cost a pretty penny for the combo, but for some reason I only realized what stereo actually sounded like when I heard the Mama and the Papas (Cass Elliot, Michelle Phillips, Denny Doherty, John Phillips) singing this song. As I noted, the opening lyrics alternate between the left and right speakers; and that's what stereo is all about. Pictured is my workhorse Technics SA-500 receiver from about 1978, still going very strong. Recently I even bought a back-up SA-500 on Ebay in case I need repair parts.
  22. 1971
    Pink Floyd Echoes through the music world
    30 October 1971

    MeddleLet me cue it up on my computer. The rock album Meddle, released by Pink Floyd (David Gilmour, Nick Mason, Roger Waters, Rick Wright), was the sixth studio album by the English psychedelic/progressive rock group. Many critics see the record as clearly reflecting a change in the band's style from1960s psychedelic to 1970s progressive rock, but I don't really see any sharp break, just a further development of a unique style and sound. The band never left behind their 1960s roots entirely. Now I certainly could also have chosen either Dark Side of the Moon (1973) or Wish You Were Here (1975) or Animals (1977) or even The Wall (1979) as the seminal Pink Floyd album--what a series of musical genius-like work--but I've always been drawn to the instrumentals of Echoes (and the dogs and sheep of Animals). I never really remember hearing much about Pink Floyd on the radio or from my friends until I got to college; then we always played Floyd, day and night, all of the time (and the Doors). I can't even recall any longer when I first heard Echoes, but there were a lot of people who could never really deal with Pink Floyd's music, then or now. They called it "drug music," and let it go at that. A couple of years ago I watched the Pink Floyd concert film (Pulse), which recorded a 1994 concert. It was rather unnerving watching everyone neatly sitting in rows of chairs in a non-smoke-filled arena; that was nothing like the 1970s concert scene that Pink Floyd was originally part of.
  23. 1971
    Stairway to Heaven and prom themes forever
    1971

    Zeppelin IVJust another old prom song by one of rock's greatest bands. This song goes back to roughly my high school years, along with other rock stalwarts such as the Moody Blues' Nights in White Satin, Jim Croce's Time in a Bottle, and Aerosmith's Dream On. The fourth album by the English rock band Led Zeppelin (Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, John Bonham and John Paul Jones) was released on 8 November 1971. No title is printed on the album, so it is usually referred to as Led Zeppelin IV, following the naming sequence used by the band's first three studio albums. It is also sometimes referred to as Zoso, but that's a long story. By the time that I was in college in the late 1970s, Zep was playing these enormous outdoor concert venues, such as Philadelphia's old JFK stadium which could hold in excess of 100,000 people (but not in very luxurious comfort). So I never really had a chance to see the band live in concert, but I also believed back then that it was hard for a band to play in front of such a large crowd, that somehow the music would sound like garbage and just wouldn't translate from the recording studio to the live stage. Could I have been more wrong about that with Zeppelin? Not sure. This is one of the greatest rock albums ever released, and it is doubtful that there has been a greater rock song than Stairway to Heaven. And it's not really even a rock song, more like a rock ballad, an epic poem.
  24. 1972
    The Godfather and the importance of family
    1972

    GodfatherAt first glance, it might appear surprising that a crime drama about a Sicilian mob family running their family business of murder and protection in New York in the United States would be an important movie about family values, but it is, and this is one of the great cinematic dramas. From the opening statement ("I believed in the promise of America."), and as the movie unrolls in an epic-ly long wedding scene (family), it reminds me of a contrast with Citizen Kane (above), which is also a movie dedicated to an American life. Those are two completely different interpretations of what it means to live an American life, yet both end tragically, and both leave you wondering what might have been different. The Godfather is based on the Mario Puzo novel of the same name, but in movie format it turned into a trilogy of movies about the rise and fall of a Sicilian family in America. All told, it is a very much romanticized tale of the business of the mafia and organized crime. Indeed, while there is some blood-letting in the movie (not going to mention the poor horse), there is not much business talk throughout, but there is a lot of talk about family. Francis Ford Coppola's movie with an all-star cast led by Marlon Brando received eleven Oscar nominations and won three.
  25. 1973
    Elvis Presley sings An American Trilogy during the televised special Elvis Aloha from Hawaii
    January 14, 1973

    ElvisWell, when you think about it, I might have put Elvis on my timeline, as a pop icon in the 1950s, since Elvis dominated the 1950s, or even in the 1960s, but then I wouldn't have had any personal recollection of Elvis time. The Hawaii thing (technically called Aloha from Hawaii Via Satellite), though, I do remember happening, but I don't think that I watched it, or much of it, as I wasn't much an Elvis fan then or even now, although I do appreciate his greatness. The Hawaii performance was broadcast live via satellite on 14 January to a lot of countries and hundreds of millions of people, and while worldwide broadcasts are something taken for granted now-a-days, the Hawaii broadcast was quite new and electrifying. By the way, the show was tape delayed into the US and only broadcast there on 4 April 1973. The problem with the 14 January date was that it was the date of Super Bowl 7 in which the Miami Dolphins finished their season undefeated. The Hawaii show showed Elvis, with full sideburns and attired in white jump suit, at the very height of his stardom and performing possibilities. As a cultural icon, they just don't get much bigger then Elvis. Just four years later he was dead and gone at the age of 42!
  26. 1973
    Jim Croce dies in plane crash
    20 September 1973

    Jim CroceA small news item appeared on the front page of the Morning Call newspaper back in 1973. Yes, Jim Croce had died, the creator of such songs as Time in a Bottle, Operator, You Don't Mess around with Jim, Bad Bad Leroy Brown, was gone. His death brought to an end a strain of folk music in American rock, the folk tradition of Pete Seeger, Arlo Guthrie, Peter, Paul and Mary, early Bob Dylan. I think that it was a very long time until it semi-re-emerged in American pop music, maybe with Suzanne Vega. Croce's death in a place crash bore a kind of eerie semblance to another plane crash a decade and a half previously, the day the music died. Croce was a talented song-writer and had just begun to enjoy considerable success with his 1972 and 1973 albums--while I usually have record albums of 1970s rock musicians, in this case I only have cassette tapes.
  27. 1974
    Robert Pirsig publishes Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values
    1974

    ZenI had never heard of this work of "philosophical fiction" with autobiographical overtones until I came across this battered paperback in the early 1980s when I was just starting grad school. Robert Pirsig (1928-) was a really smart guy that struggled with formal education and that experienced a psychological breakdown and electro shock therapy--thankfully we don't do that anymore. Since it has been a while since I last read the book, and since I knew the entire premise of the book is the search for "quality" (and a lot of that search takes place in the depths of classical Greek philosophy). Ok, let me restart a new sentence. What I remember most of all about the book was the quest for an understanding of quality, and how that quest should define everything that you do in your life. Now, I went to see what wiki had to say, "Pirsig explores the meaning and concept of quality, a term he deems to be undefinable." The book roughly follows a mythical (or real) motorcycle trip Pirsig and his son undertook from Minneapolis to San Francisco. Along the way, they explore the roots of western philosophy and thought, especially examining the differences between Socrates, Plato and other philosophical figures. Don't remember much about the book anymore, except about that search for quality and the importance of Plato's dialogue, Phaedrus, which seems to be at the very heart of Pirsig's philosophical musings. Put it this way, aside from some of the works of the existentialists, there aren't too many philosophical ramblings/novels that are readable, reflectable and understandable like this one. By the way, this was his only novel, a one-hit wonder?
  28. 1974
    Deep Purple plays a gig at a Slatington High School assembly?
    Sometime in 1974

    Slatington High SchoolWell, not quite. Sometime in the fall of 1974 (could have been the spring of 1975) everyone in my high school filed into the school auditorium for an assembly. That was not an unusual event; we had assemblies, concerts, shows, awards gatherings and pep rallies there all the time. I have no idea what the occasion was this time, but it might have been some kind of talent show. At some point, all the teachers started leaving, and the back doors were closed. Up on stage I noticed a rock band that proceeded to launch into an ear-deafening cover of Deep Purple's Smoke on the Water (1972)--listen to the start--one of the truly great classic, hard, metal rock songs/anthems from the early 1970s--it is best that you listen to Deep Purple's Made in Japan live album (1973) to really appreciate Deep Purple's contributions to the rock era. Anyway, as the first notes rang out, I noticed that my neighbor from across the street, who was a few years older than me, was playing drums and also doing the lead vocals--there are not that many cases where a band's lead vocalist is the drummer (Phil Collins in Genesis comes immediately to mind). This experience was amazing; that someone allowed the band to play at the school with that kind of volume, and it really was loud. Remember it took years for the 1960s to filter out to rural, small town America. This was about the same time that students staged a "walk-out" of the high school to protest the fact that we were not allowed to wear jeans at school--I don't think that I am imagining that, but I am not clear about details anymore. Deep Purple was a symbol of the hard rock era and one of the great rock bands. This was the first time that I had ever heard rock music played loud, live and in person. I guess that my friend's high school band (Greenfield Morning) must have been pretty good.
  29. 1974
    Monty Python and the Holy Grail and the quest
    1974

    Monty PythonBack in those high school years many decades ago, Monty Python, appearing on PBS in America via British TV, was all the rage. I do not recall exactly, but it must have been on television once a week, maybe on the weekends, and we would all be talking about it in the high school cafeteria--this was just a few years before Saturday Night Live became the show to see. I still have a bunch of Monty Python Records, with songs like Spam, the Spanish Inquisition etc. The Python short comedy sketches were brilliant, for example, the upper class twit of the year contest. And then the movies started. The Quest for the Holy Grail was the first movie and remains by far the standard bearer of British mad cap humor; simply one of the greatest comedy movies ever made; it is also incredibly realistic in its portrayals of medieval life. The series itself first aired on the BBC on 5 October 1969 with forty-five episodes made over a bunch of years; later some PBS stations in the US started broadcasting the shows. The comedy company (Graham Chapman, John Cleese, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin) still maintain a wonderful website for all Python fans, and I didn't even get to talk about the other movies, such as The Life of Brian and The Meaning of Life.
  30. 1975
    Rocky Horror Picture Show hits the big screen
    1975

    RiceA little pile of rice on the floor and grains of rice flying through the night air, a water squirt gun, some newspapers covering heads, I can't even remember what else was required in terms of props for the audience performances accompanying the showing of the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the midnight movies on Saturday nights in the 1970s. The movie introduced a new kind of cultural experience, performance movie watching. Rocky Horror also made midnight movies a "big" thing. Midnight movies had existed before. I recall seeing Let It Be, as a late night movie, and Clockwork Orange, and Easy Rider, but Rocky Horror broke all kinds of new ground with the props and the audience participation along with the movie. It made for a lot of fun. And BTW, let's not forget that the soundtrack to the movie is outstanding; in some respects, better than the movie itself. And if you don't know, the movie is loosely based around a crazy doctor who is trying to create a new man from parts of dead men (sounds vaguely familiar).
  31. 1975
    Atari develops Pong for the home television
    1975

    PongThe first version of this game was a video arcade game that was released in 1972; it was a huge success. It is hard to believe that something so simple could make so much money, and compared to what exists now, it is hard to figure out why anyone played this, but Pong was the cutting edge and really created the video game industry. During the holiday 1975 season, the game came out as a home version, a "console" system sold by Sears. It was a big hit. You could hook it up to your TV and play electronic tennis. You would move a paddle up and down on each side of the screen to "hit" the little bright light (tennis or ping pong ball). With skill, you could even add spin to the tennis ball. A lot of clones and duplicates followed, and then Atari followed up with other games such as Asteroids and Centipede. Asteroids was so much fun, and it pre-dated other big hits such as Pac Man and Space Invaders. This was the start of the video game revolution. Without Pong, there would probably not have been the gaming systems of today?
  32. 1975
    8-track tapes are indestructible
    1975

    Toys in the AtticToys in the Attic by Aerosmith, boy, does that take the mind way back to the days when 8-track tapes were the cutting-edge music technology--now they have long been relegated to the dustbin of history. 8-tracks were supplanted by cassette tapes, and then CDs, then DVS, and now no tapes, just download and play some mp3 files. The 8-tracks had a weird kind of continuous tape winding system so that the tape never really came to an end. To have a really "cool" car back then meant that you had to have an under-dash-mounted 8-track tape player, and a pile of tapes laying on your front seat. There were very few of my friends who had a car with that kind of setup. I remember trading for the Toys in the Attic tape, maybe it was the Beatles red album that I traded. This was probably Aerosmith's best studio album.
  33. 1976
    Rocky v. Apollo Creed (not gonna be a rematch)
    1976

    RockyI've been watching this movie over and over again for a lot of years now; simply put, this is one of the greatest underdog movies ever made, and don't forgot that it has Bill Conti's great music on the soundtrack. The film really captured the gritty life of Philadelphia in the 1970s, that was not a decade of economic boom for the city (right in the middle of the rust belt). The movie turned Sly Stallone into a Hollywood star; he wrote and starred in the movie as Rocky Balboa, the Italian stallion. There are moments that define a city, and cities in American in the 1970s were not doing well. For Pittsburgh, a football team came to symbolize the city's rough grittiness and spirit. For Philadelphia, it was a boxing story about Rocky--of course, the city already had the legendary Smokin' Joe Frazier (1944-2011). The Rocky statue, based on a famous scene in the first movie, was originally erected on the steps of the Art Institute of Philadelphia (as part of Rocky III), but then removed after protests that the statue was not "art." The statue has since been returned and placed off to the right at the bottom of the steps. It was a very weird controversy.
  34. 1977
    Bob Marley jams with Exodus
    3 June 1977

    Exodus albumWith this album, interest in all things having to do with Jamaica, and especially reggae music, exploded on the pop culture scene. Similar to what the Blues Brothers did for interest in blues music with their movie and soundtrack The Blues Brothers (1980)--see below--Bob Marley (1945-1981) and the Wailers, did for reggae. There was actually not all that much of a demand for reggae music before this album, but by the end of the 1970s reggae had become enormously popular. This was actually the band's ninth studio album, and it made Bob Marley an international star, although he did not live very long to capitalize on his fame. While I am not necessarily a big reggae fan, I do remember buying the album when it came out because of the airplay that I heard on FM radio. I think that one of the Marleys is still alive and performing today.
  35. 1977
    Like a Bat out of Hell and rock opera
    October 1977

    Meatloaf concertThis rock opera (a collaboration of composer Jim Steinman and singer Meatloaf aka Michael Lee Aday) is one of the best selling albums in rock history, and so perfectly captured the flavor of teenage life in the 1970s. One after another the tracks rolled off the vinyl and into rock history. Having played this album easily more than thousands of times now, the lyrics are etched into my memory. The album is so brilliantly crafted in the studio (thanks to Steinman and Todd Rundgren), I don't think that it ever took well to the live stage. Many years later, we finally got to a Meatloaf concert. By this time, Bat Out of Hell II and Bat Out of Hell III had been released (along with a lot of other bad Meatloaf music). Had to leave the concert early; it was just so bad. The Meat just did not have it anymore. Probably best to leave it at the fact that the Meatloaf was a one hit wonder, but what a rich wonder. Interesting to note that his first real break came when he appeared in the Rocky Horror Picture Show (also above on the list).
  36. 1978
    Pure Pop for Now People rides a new sound
    1978

    YesThe late part of the 1970s was a weird time for music. On one hand, you had a lot of disco magic going on, and that could really drive people who liked rock crazy. The disco craze would have been artists like Donna Summer, The Village People, the Bee Gees and others. The worst of it all was the Bee Gee's album soundtrack for Saturday Night Fever (40 million copies sold). But there were some small signs, possibly in the punk world, that all was not lost. There was a new punk scene emerging, such as centered on the Sex Pistols and around CBGB's in New York. But somewhere in between was Nick Lowe's Pure Pop for Now People (1978), a fun album that poked a lot of fun at the pop music world. I might mention two other important artists of this time were Elvis Costello and the Attractions (Oliver's Army) and Blondie (Slow Motion).
  37. 1979
    Death of John Wayne
    11 June 1979

    Wayne and StewartIt's an image from The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence with Jimmy Stewart. You've got to wonder who was nutty enough to put him thirteenth on the list of great actors of the silver screen; he should have been at least top 5! Marion Mitchell Morrison (1907-1979) grew up in California (a talented football player) and became one of the movie industry's biggest stars of the 1940s and 1950s, when he cranked out the movies (over 150 of them). In the 1930s he appeared in dozens of "B" class western, shoot em up movies, but his big break came with John Ford's Stagecoach (1939), and then his American war hero movies: Sands of Iwo Jima (1949), Flying Tigers (1942), The Fighting Seabees (1944), They Were Expendable (1945), Flying Leathernecks (1951). Then there was Wayne's starring roles in John Ford's cavalry trilogy: Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), Rio Grande (1950). Two of his more renowned roles were in the Quiet Man (1952) and The Searchers (1956). And let's not forget The Man Who Shot Liberty Valence (1962) and North to Alaska (1960). Finally, True Grit (1969) won him an academy award that was long over due--and why even bother to remake that movie! His last film was The Shootist (1976). We are not going to mention that in 1956 he dared to play Genghis Khan in a terrible film called The Conqueror.
  38. 1979
    Apocalypse Now and the journey into madness
    1979

    ApocalypseBy the end of the 1970s, about five years after the United States had left the conflict in Vietnam, and after the fall of South Vietnam, film-makers had begun to explore the Vietnam experience in a series of emotionally-charged movies: The Deer Hunter, 1978 (5 Oscars) directed by Michael Cimino; Apocalypse Now, 1979 (2 Oscars) directed by Francis Ford Coppola; Platoon, 1986 (4 Oscars) directed by Oliver Stone; and Full Metal Jacket, 1987 directed by Stanley Kubrik. The Vietnam War had been a tragic event for American society (52,286 dead), and, in one way or another, each of these movies captured an aspect of the futility, if I can use that term, of the American involvement in the war. Roget Ebert wrote of The Deer Hunter, "It is a progression from a wedding to a funeral," and, I guess, that the Deer Hunter has always been the most reminiscent for me of a Pennsylvania setting. Apocalypse Now tells the story of a journey up a river in Vietnam into madness (Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness), and was one of Marlon Brando's last major film roles. Brando was allegedly very difficult to work with, but look at some of his other movie roles: On the Waterfront, The Godfather, A Streetcar Named Desire, Ultimo tango a Parigi.
  39. 1979
    The Muppet Movie
    22 June 1979

    Miss PiggyI can no longer recall when I first saw this movie back in 79 or 80, but I have seen it countless times since then--mostly on my VHS player--and I still marvel at what a great accomplishment it was to convince the Muppets to perform on the big screen (and with all the cameo appearances from Hollywood stars thrown in there too). I was a big Muppet Show fan when it ran on television from 1976 to 1981. Part of this time, I was in college, and I looked forward to the weekly show and the guest stars. It still seems strange to me that Jim Henson (1936-1990) had to have a production company in England to make the show. The show's "pigs in space" segment was always especially funny. For a long time now, I have considered Jim Henson to have been one of the artistic geniuses of the twentieth century for what he was able to do with a sock puppet and a sawn-in-half ping pong ball (and thus creating Kermit the Frog) and then the rest of the Muppets. Henson's Muppets had appeared on Sesame Street since 1969, they had their own television show (and some specials); and they created three very popular Hollywood movies. What unbelievable puppets! Look, there are not a whole lot of successful, full-length Hollywood movies out there that star puppets (think about that). The opening seen of The Muppet Movie with Kermit the Frog playing his banjo and singing "Rainbow Connection" while on a log in the swamp is simply one of the great scenes in film history of the last fifty years. Remember, these were puppets!
  40. Back to top
  41. 1980
    Sony Walkman makes music portable
    1980

    WalkmanIt is now 2013, and the Sony Walkman that I bought in about 1986 still works and plays cassette tapes fine--I still have a Bruce Springsteen tape in there, Born to Run and Darkness on the Edge of Town. The radio also works fine on this vintage remnant of once cutting-edge technology; the headphones have deteriorated and been replaced. In the 1980s, this was the height of music fashion and advanced technology. Can you imagine, how great it was to have personal, portable music? The cassette version, like mine, eventually went out of fashion in the mid-1990s, but mine got a lot of hard use, especially as I sat for hours typing in one of UVa's computer labs. Check out what wiki notes, "The original Walkman introduced a change in music listening habits by allowing people to carry music with them and listen to music through lightweight headphones." Yes, very much true, you could "walk" around and listen to your music privately without sharing it to the world. That made the world happy.
  42. 1980
    Dire Straits' Making Movies released
    October 1980

    1985One of the great concept albums of all times was created by this British rock group (sometimes labeled as part of the progressive wave). Once you have listened to the songs on the album, you will begin to make out the bigger allusions at work. This is one of my favorite albums of all time, right up there with Supertramp's Even in the Quietest Moments, Mary Hopkin's Postcard, Genesis' A Trick of the Tail, Springsteen's Born to Run, and so on. Mark Knopfler founded Dire Straits in 1977 with his brother David, who actually left the group during the recording of Making Movies--the band itself finally called it quits in 1995. Their hit single from 1978, Sultans of Swing, brought them fame and got them a gig as the opening band for Talking Heads (see below) on a worldwide tour. After Making Movies, Dire Straits followed with other great albums like Telegraph Road and Brothers in Arms. I saw the band on their 1985 tour after the Brothers in Arms album. It was a strange concert as most of the audience did not seem to know the music or was confused about how to react to the music. My sister and her friends got in trouble with the police for dancing in the aisles while everyone was yelling at them to get out of the way. People were yelling at us to sit down throughout the show. Dire Straits also did an incredible set at Live Aid (1984). See below.
  43. 1980
    The Blues Brothers on the big screen
    1980

    Blues BrothersDan Akroyd and John Belushi (1949-1982), both from Saturday Night Live fame, launched the beginning of a blues revival in the United States with this movie and then the ensuing soundtrack of the same name. No one really recognized the blues much in the 1970s, but that changed with this loosely-scripted movie. Elwood and Jake set off on a mission from God to raise money to save the orphanage of St. Helen of the Blessed Shroud, where they had grown up-it is a holy quest. They gather together their band to put on a benefit show for the orphanage. The movie and soundtrack included performances by such legends as Aretha Franklin, James Brown, Ray Charles, John Lee Hooker, Cab Calloway and included musicians such as Steve Cropper and Donald Dunn, Lou Marini, Tom Malone, Alan Rubin, Willie Hall, Matt Murphy, et al. Belushi only made a few movies in his short career; this was a great one--don't forget to watch Animal House when you have a chance. That was college in the 1960s and 1970s!
  44. 1980
    John Lennon shot to death
    8 December 1980

    John and YokoA lot of rock musicians have died young and abruptly over the years: in plane crashes (Glenn Miller, Buddy Holly, Patsy Cline, Jim Croce), car crashes (Eddie Cochran, Duane Allman), or from drug-connected overdoses (Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin), alcohol issues (John Bonham, Jim Morrison, Hank Williams), or suicide (Kurt Cobain). John Lennon was shot to death. We were studying for a nasty electromagnetism exam that night. It was a very hard senior course for all electrical engineers that probably 90% of us had no idea what was going on. My friends and I had a slim chance of getting a "C" in a course that could have been taught in a foreign language for all we knew. I guess that Professor Gabriel knew his stuff, but we certainly didn't. We were gathered at my friend's to try and cram for the exam and party at the same time. The music was on; the TV was on with the sound down; and then we saw a news flash coming across the screen. It was pretty late at night. Something about John Lennon. Then there was more news that he had been shot dead just outside his condo in the Dakota building in New York city. The shooting still does not make any sense to me, although you can read the explanation of the shooter's motivation. The year had been going pretty good for Lennon. He had just released a good album after a lot of years of nothing from him, and his music was receiving wide airplay. He was the first of the Beatles to die. For a lot of hard-core fans, Lennon's death clearly ended any talk of a possible reunion of the band.
  45. 1981
    Talking Heads - "Once In A Lifetime"
    1 August 1981

    David ByrneTalking Heads, led by the creative genius of David Byrne (1952-), hit the big time at the start of the 1980s. The group was very much in the tradition of theatre rock, like David Bowie or Kiss, or spectacle music, like Pink Floyd. You should watch their fabulous concert movie, Stop Making Sense, to get a better idea of their stage presence. The group was also present at the very start of MTV and the music video phenomenon and created some of the best music videos of all time. "Once in a Lifetime," from the Remain in Light album of October 1980, appeared on the very first day of programming on MTV and became heavily played there, which lead to even greater Talking Heads success. In time, the music video developed into an art form of its own through MTV. Here are just some of the classic music videos that I came across on Youtube:
    Twisted Sister - We're Not Gonna Take It (Official Video)
    Sinéad O'Connor - Nothing Compares 2U
    Guns N' Roses - November Rain
    Modern English - I Melt With You
    Phil Collins - In The Air Tonight (Official Video)
    Queen - Bohemian Rhapsody
    Talking Heads - This Must Be The Place (Naive Melody) Official Video
    Talking Heads - Road To Nowhere (Official video)
    Talking Heads - Once in a Lifetime (sometimes difficult to find on the web)

  46. 1982
    Real Men Don't Eat Quiche
    1982

    Real Men Don't Eat QuicheThis weird little book appeared at the start of the 1980s as a humorous counterpoise to the age of quiche-eating, thoughtful, troubled men, and other individuals, who were having trouble defining the qualities of a man. (See the next item on the list.) On the one hand, the book is a lot of satirical fun; on the other hand, there is some pretty, darned good information in there... There are chapters providing tongue-in-cheek wisdom on such varied subjects as The Real Man's Nutritional Guide, The Real Man's Film Festival, Great Moments in Real Man History, Black Dates in Real Man's History. Probably the best part of the book is the Real Man's television viewing schedule with programs listed such as football, baseball, Dragnet, Kojak, Mannix, Star Trek, Gunsmoke, S.W.A.T., Hawaii Five-O, Columbo, The Rifleman, Bonanza, Hill Street Blues, Sgt. Bilko, Hogan's Heroes, Maverick, Cannon, Rat Patrol (a personal favorite of all of us kids when we were little), The Rockford Files. As you can see, the list is heavy on westerns and detective shows from the 60s and 70s. All in all, it is really a pretty good guidebook.
  47. 1983
    Colour by Numbers from Culture Club
    1983

    Colour by NumbersSome might find this to be a strange choice for a cultural event of the late twentieth century, but here it is. Boy George (George Alan O'Dowd, 1961-) and his band Culture Club released this album in 1983, and it ended up making not only a lot of airplay (on FM radio and on MTV) but also a created a lot of controversy--BTW, it sold over ten million copies. Boy George was certainly a strange character, breaking new ground in the fashion world with his misogynist dress and appearance and breaking new ground in the sexual world with his ambiguous sexual orientation--and the album still sold millions of copies showing that sexual mores were changing rapidly in the 1980s. He did eventually clear up the fact that he was gay. There is some really great music on the album, including Karma Chameleon and Church of the Poison Mind. Some fun videos also appeared on MTV at the time.
  48. 1984
    Amadeus and a new Mozart attitude
    1984

    MozartOne upon a time, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (aka Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, 1756-1791) was cranking out amazing classical works. As a child prodigy, who died relatively young and in some poverty, he left behind some 600 or so compositions according to the Köchel list. Many of these works are well known, such as Piano Concert no. 20, Don Giovanni, Requiem in D minor, etc. Everyone knew him simply as Mozart, famous for his refined classical music, but then things changed. Aleksandr Pushkin wrote a short play, Моцарт и Сальери (Mozart and Salieri), a long time ago, in 1830. That inspired Peter Shaffer to write a play called Amadeus (1979), which then led Miloš Forman to direct the movie. The film destroyed all kinds of stereotypes about Mozart. Amadeus was a genius who loved life and lived life large, not some stern, aged, Puritan in a powdered gray whig churning out opera and church music. Anyway, the movie revolutionized our views of the classical composer so that we could remember that people were having fun back in the 1700s and that it was not all serious classical, orchestral music.
  49. 1985
    U2 takes the stage at Live Aid
    13 July 1985

    Live AidThe setting: Wembley Stadium London (over seventy thousand people) and John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia (over one hundred thousand people)--note that the old Wembley Stadium, built 1923, has since been demolished and replaced; JFK Stadium, built 1926, has also been demolished and replaced. The temperature in Philadelphia had to have been well over 100° on the field amidst that mass of people, no clouds that day.
    The concert, organized by Bob Geldorf of the Boomtown Rats, was a charity event intended to benefit victims of the Ethiopian famine. It was broadcast live around the world, and performances went on in both London and Philadelphia. See the Unofficial Live Aid Site.
    We got there early because we had general admission tickets. It was already light when we reached the stadium parking lot; that means that we must have left home in the dark by at least 4 a.m. We hauled in our food and drinks and found a place about maybe 50-60 yards from the stage, off to the right a little bit. Did I say already that it was hot! Sometime in the middle of the afternoon, they called in firemen to spray the crowd with water from the fire hoses. Another place that it was watery was the corridors; the bathrooms could not handle the huge crowd that day, and there were plumbing breaks everywhere. Water was flowing out of the women's bathrooms ankle deep. It was really pretty disgusting. It was also hard to find your way back to where you were sitting if you decided to go to the bathroom, because when you are looking out over a sea of people, it is hard to figure out where your spot is.
    Since performances started in London first (five hours ahead of us), we watched on the big screen while we waited for our performances. At some point in time, I recognized that someone had been playing in London for a few minutes now, kind of a Bolero tune. I had never heard the song nor the band before. Turned out that it was U2 playing "Bad." It must have been a 10-12 minute version of the song, and it was one of the greatest live concert moments that I ever experienced. That musical set sealed U2's fame, and established the group as one of the rising stars of the rock world. They have certainly lived up to that billing.
    Sorry, but I don't have too many personal impressions of many of the other Philadelphia performers, although I have seen most of them on the DVD. Tom Petty did an absolutely rousing version of "Rebels." Led Zeppelin reunited on stage with Phil Collins sitting in on drums, but I have no idea what they played; only the fact that Phil Collins was the drummer. The real emotional moment of the concert occurred when Teddy Pendergrass--look him up if you don't know who he was-- appeared on stage in a wheelchair to sing "Reach out and Touch." The concert (a kind of Woodstock festival of music in miniature) ended in Phila with a whole bunch of glittery Mick Jagger and Tina Turner duet performances that did not interest me in the least. Would have been better if Zeppelin had finished out the concert.
  50. 1987
    Encounter at Far Point and Star Trek is back on TV
    28 September 1987

    SNGStar Trek: The Next Generation ran on television from 1987 to 1994, many years after the original Star Trek series first aired on TV from 1966 to 1969--I'm sure that you can still watch the reruns of any of the Start Trek series somewhere on either cable television or online. With this series Gene Roddenberry, originator of the entire Star Trek franchise, including the movies, probably created his ideal image of a captain and crew, their devotion to duty and to one another, and their bravery. This Captain Picard, Geordi Laforge, Data, and Worf (often mistakenly called "woof" by certain fans of the show who had trouble pronouncing the "r" sound). This critically-acclaimed show was much see TV, along with Seinfield, for years and launched a bunch of sequels, Star Trek Deep Space 9 (1993-1999), Star Trek: Voyager (1995-2001) and then Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005).

 

  1. 1988
    Mikhail Bulgakov, Master and Margarita
    Sometime between 1985 and 1989

    Master and MargaritaIn reality, it was difficult to decide on an exact date for this item. I first encountered this novel by Mikhail Bulgakov (1891-1940) when I was in grad school at the University of Virginia. What an amazingly bizarre, fantastic work. I have also always loved Bulgakov's Heart of a Dog (Собачье сердце, 1925), and I think that was how I "discovered" Bulgakov.
    The book is a brilliant satire/critique of Russian society of the 1930s (the height of Stalin's power and terror) and centers on the devil (Woland and his associates) arriving in Moscow and setting up shop. At the same time, the Master has written a novel about Pontius Pilate and Jesus of Nazareth, and the novel circles back and forth between the life of the Master and his lover, Margarita; the dialogue between Pontius Pilate and Jesus of Nazareth; and the exploits of Woland as he hosts a satanic witches' ball. The book contains all sorts of philosophical and historical references, and because of that, it can be challenging for the reader (but challenging in a good way). It was never published in the Soviet Union during Bulgakov's lifetime; indeed, there is no way that it ever could have been published because of its contents (even though there is evidence that Stalin liked Bulgakov ad protected him to an extent). Pieces of the novel were only finally circulated discretely in samizdat (manuscript) form in 1960s, and then it was published abroad in Germany, with the first English translation appearing in 1967.
    When I was in Russia in 1990, Bulgakov had achieved cult status. We visited locations associated with the novel such as his old apartment building--it was plastered with drawings and graffiti honoring Bulgakov--which I understand has now been cleaned up and turned into a Bulgakov museum. In Kiev we went to the street where he grew up and stood by his family home, which also seems to be some kind of museum now. This "Bulgakov becoming part of the literary establishment," I think, really does not suit him very well. I think the graffiti was more appropriate. I consider Master and Margarita to be one of he greatest literary achievements of the twentieth century and try and reread it every one or two years.
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  3. 1990
    Silent Lucidity rocks the music world
    1990

    DissertationSilent Lucidity is a fantastic single by Queensrÿche from the 1990 album Empire. I'd call it a typical one-hit wonder, but the group is still around and releasing albums. The song appeared while I was in the midst of writing my dissertation and received an awful lot of airtime on the radio. The dissertation work required heavy duty concentration, and so I would often listen to the radio on my Sony Walkman while I was typing away in one of the campus computer labs. I still think that this is one of the greatest songs of the last fifty years, and I still always connect it with the work on my dissertation (a "masterful" long document which originally numbered somewhere between 700-800 pages--there were a lot of appendices--but which I mercifully reduced to about 400 pages for the final version.) At one time, I had a nice clip of Geoff Tate sitting on a stool and singing Silent Lucidity live, must have been from around 1993.
  4. 1990
    Sergei Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet makes an off-Broadway debut in Moscow
    June 1990

    Ticket stubOf course, I am just kidding about the debut date. Sergei Prokofiev (1891-1953)--he died the same day as Stalin; so you know who got all the publicity; they even had a hard time just having his funeral--completed this ballet way back in 1935, and it first premiered in Czechoslovakia in 1938. There are a number of different versions out there now, and it remains one of the most popular ballets performed today. The music is simply fantastic.
    This was the very first ballet that I had ever seen. I knew something about classical music and opera, but absolutely nothing about ballet. I saw Romeo and Juliet in a little theater (not the Bolshoi or the other major concert halls) in Moscow in the early summer of 1990. I really had no desire to watch a ballet, but our group insisted that I go. We sat upstairs, first tier, and watched and listened. There were an awful lot of foreigners/tourists in the audience that night. The ballerina in the role of Juliet was amazing, watching her float/drift backward across the stage on her toes. I still vividly remember watching the Dance of the Knights (the Montague and Capulet families dancing; the feigned awkwardness of the men heavily dressed as knights)--it is such a shame that the music has been used for commercials on television. As the ballet ended, with Romeo and Juliet dead upon the stage, inches apart, the director emerged, and put their hands together.
    I watch the ballet often now on DVD (I have several productions.) or listen to the many different recordings that I have on CDs. I believe that production that I saw way back in 1990 might have been staged by the Moscow Classical Ballet, but I am not sure.
  5. 1990
    Cynthia and Charlie visit Jim Morrison's grave in Paris
    July 1990

    Jim Morrison GraveThis (Jim Morrison's grave in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris) was, and hopefully still is, one of the essential pilgrimage place in the world for all lovers of rock music. When we visited Paris, we did not go to the Louvre, nor to Notre Dame Cathedral, but we did find our way to Morrison's grave site.
    Let's go back for a moment to 1967 and check out just some of the breakthrough rock albums that appeared in the year that would later become famous as the "summer of love": The Doors, The Doors (debut album); Jefferson Airplane, Surrealistic Pillow; The Byrds, Younger than Yesterday; The Grateful Dead, The Grateful Dead (debut album); The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band; Pink Floyd, The Piper at the Gates of Dawn (debut album); Big Brother and The Holding Company, Big Brother and the Holding Company (debut album); The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced (debut album); Cream, Disraeli Gears; Procol Harum, Procol Harum (debut album); The Moody Blues, Days of Future Passed (debut album). These albums are icons of rock music; some of the greatest ever produced.
    The Doors (Jim Morrison, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger, John Densmore) produced great music with a sound that featured the unique voice of Morrison and music that was often based on his poetry. These are great songs: Light My Fire, Riders on the Storm, L.A. Woman, The End. Morrison was also one of the greatest (and most erratic) stage performers of the rock era--you can easily look up the details.
    The careers of Morrison, Hendrix and Joplin are so intertwined with the 60s, the music, the hippie subculture, the drugs, the protests. Their deaths within the span of about a year (Hendrix in September 1970, Joplin in October 1970, Morrison in July 1971) signaled an end to the 1960s and the culture that had flourished then.
  6. 1991
    Sid Meier's Civilization for DOS goes on sale
    1991

    Civilization boxSeems light years ago when the DOS--a whole new generation has grown up without ever having to learn DOS commands--version of this PC strategy game first appeared. The computer game revolution was just underway, and that revolution would lead to a whole new form of entertainment based on computer games initially, and then later the Playstation, X-box, Wii machines and the whole set of handheld game devices. I think that you would be hard-pressed to find a kid today who hasn't played video games.
    Civilization was/is a strategy game, designed by Sid Meier and Bruce Shelley for Microprose, that requires you to start with a city and try and build a successful civilization. In the process you have to battle other civilizations as you build cities to increase the size of your empire and as you add more advanced technologies (armor is a key military advance). I think that the game is similar, in a way, to the popular Sim PC games, but I never really played Sim Ant, etc. We played the first version of Civilization for years, and then Civ II came out. That particular version proved to be very addictive and lead to some all-night attempts to beat "the game." Once you got started time seemed to just pass by. The Civ 2 version is the one that I still play--it runs nicely on Windows XP, and it is really the only computer/video game that I play. I did not play the later Civ versions, such as Civ 3, as much simply because I could not make out the graphics very well to be able to differentiate between a settlers unit and a military unit. As computer screen sizes have gotten larger and graphics better, that is less of an issue, but I still stuck with Civ 2, although I play it far less often then I used to. That's a photo of my copy of Civilization. The box is still complete after all these years with instruction book and 5 1/2" floppy discs inside!
  7. 1993
    Maya Angelou recites at President Clinton's inauguration
    20 January 1993

    Maya Angelou Poem It was a cold, frosty morning for President Clinton's inauguration when Maya Angelou approached the microphone. I had never heard of her and was leery of what she was going to say. She was the second poet to speak at a presidential inauguration (Robert Frost had read his poem "The Gift Outright" at President Kennedy's chilly inauguration on 20 January 1961), and the first black woman to do so. She began her poem, "On the Pulse of Morning" with the words, "A Rock, A River, A Tree, " and I remember the power, focus, dignity, emotion with which she recited her poem. She displayed a magnificent presence while reading the poem to the thousands gathered in front of her on the west lawn of the US capitol building (and the millions watching on TV). Later I wrote to her about her performance--it is rare that a poet gets an opportunity to read a work on that kind of stage--and she was kind enough to sign my copy of the poem--if only I could find it now. It was a great piece of poetry, a little long, but very, very well done.
  8. 1994
    John Candy, dead at age 43
    4 March 1994

    John CandyWho doesn't love Uncle Buck (1989) or Planes, Trains and Automobiles (1987)--read Roger Ebert's short account of running into John Candy in a hotel bar in New York. Those two movies were two of Candy's great comedy roles. If you don't love them, then that is simply too bad. Check out also some other Candy movies like Cool Runnings (1993), in which Coach Irv reminds us that "You have to finish the race" (actually he only kind of hints at that), and Spaceballs (1987) in which Candy plays Barf, a kind of space wookie with bad costuming. And there are a lot more movies: Who's Harry Crumb (1989), The Great Outdoors (1988), Stripes (1981) in which he played the army recruit Ox, Splash (1984), 1941 (1979) and the bit role in the Blues Brothers (1980). Candy (1950-1994) made his fame in Chicago's famed Second City comedy troupe (SCTV) and was a Canadian to boot. Candy was perhaps the last in a long line of funny big men like Oliver Hardy, Lou Costello and Jackie Gleason.
  9. 1995
    Toy Story explores the life of toys
    22 November 1995

    Toy StoryThis was a hard decision about which recent animated film to include here. And, of course, I could always go back to the mother load of animated film/cartoons, and Bambi (1942), Pinocchio (1940) or Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), but I wasn't around when any of those were released. My other two choices would have been either Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988, Robert Zemeckis, director), simply a great movie, or All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989, Don Bluth and Gary Goldman, directors), but in the final decision, I went with Toy Story (1995, John Lasseter, director). The movie was the first full-length film done completely by computer-generated animation. Because of that, John Lasseter was awarded a special achievement Oscar for the innovative, pioneering techniques used in the movie. The characters in the film are memorable; indeed, Woody and Buzz Lightyear have become iconic figures. And the actors/voices were part of an all-star cast. The movie is routinely considered one of the top animated films of all time, and in 2005 it was selected into the National Film Registry for its cultural significance. It was followed by Toy Story 2 and Toy Story 3, both of which were pretty good in their own rights.
  10. 1997
    Hairspray sets a new comedy standard
    1997

    HairsprayI think that I first came upon this movie sometime in 1997, or it could have been a few years earlier or later. It has become one of my most watched films and is simply a great, fun movie with a bizarre cast: Divine, Sonny Bono, Debbie Harry (of Blondie fame), Riki Lake, Jerry Stiller, Mink Stole, Ric Ocasek, etc. Has there been a more bizarre American drag queen actor of the past decades than Divine (1945-88)? You might also ask if there has been a more bizarre director than John Waters? He has produced some pretty crazy stuff. This movie came out in 1988 and has since spawned a musical version and then a stupid remake in 2007. (I do not consider the remake to be a viable cultural production.) Although the movie kind of addressed the widespread racism of the early 1960s, the real fun part of the movie is the satirical absurdities throughout--the rat and moon reflection in the puddle of water--(and the great music--buy the soundtrack). If you can't smile while watching the opening scene with its music and everyone spraying tons of hairspray into their hair, then there might be something wrong with you. It is fun, a fun movie; three stars from super critic Roger Ebert (1942-2013).
  11. 1998
    Formulation of the Evans dictum
    1998

    I was not sure of the exact date on this; so I made an educated guess. As a proviso to what is explained in the Evans Dictum, this is not to say that the people referred to in the dictum are bad, evil, mal-adjusted or crazy, although they could be. It is just that they tend to do stupid things without thinking (and it doesn't happen only when they are driving). While first formulated in Northern Virginia, I think that the dictum has a worldwide relevance. Since its original formulation, there has been some additional thinking which has resulted in an appendum and codicil. I have also explained the origins and history of the dictum.
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  13. 2001
    Mr. Rogers leaves the neighborhood
    August 2001

    Mr. RogersThe last episodes of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood aired on PBS stations across the country. Mr. McFeely's handshake with Fred Rogers (1928-2003) at the end of the episode was the only sign that it was the last show. Airing on public television since 1968, the children's show lasted over thirty years, probably close to one thousand shows. Before starting this particular show, Rogers had been involved with children's shows since the early 1950s (first as a puppeteer). Over the years, Rogers covered all kinds of different topics, speaking softly and clearly to his kid audience. His shows always had great jazz music in the background and often included some kind of explanatory video about how something was made. My favorites were about brass musical instruments and Crayola crayons. He also frequently had guests appear on the show to talk about their work or art. While I always thought the land of make-believe was a little weird, I certainly understood Fred's point for children to be able to make the distinction between reality and fantasy. He was an immensely talented artist. One should also consider that the 1970s and 1980s were not all that kind to the city of Pittsburgh except for the Steelers of the 70s, the Pirates of 79 and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.
    Fred Rogers was an ordained Presbyterian minister and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2002. Here he is pictured with King Friday.
  14. 2005
    Hayao Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky appears on DVD
    15 April 2003

    Castle in the SkySomewhere around 2005, I finally got around to watching Laputa: Castle in the Sky (aka Laputa or Castle in the Sky or 天空の城ラピュタ or Tenkū no Shiro Rapyuta, 1986), a film written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki (1941-). This was the Disney release of 2003 that generated a lot of controversy among critics and "those-in-the-know" over the dubbing and some minor changes in the original film to fit the US market--there was also criticism over the later US versions of Miyazaki's movies Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke. Whatever the case, the Miyazaki productions are magnificent films and easily as brilliant as some of the productions of Walt Disney. Castle in the Sky also reminded me--although in different ways--of two other more recent path-breaking films such as The Muppet Movie or Who Framed Roger Rabbit–well, not that recent!
    Miyazaki is one of the leading practitioners of the Japanese form of animation, called anime (one of my former students in HIS 135 has done a nice website on the History of Anime and Manga). The "Father of Anime" was Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989), a Japanese artist who became world famous in the 1960s with his creation of the characters of Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, but I must have missed those when I was growing up back then.
    Anime spread around the world and even to the US, but it was only twenty some years later I discovered Anime in the form of Miyazaki's Castle in the Sky. The film is brilliantly illustrated, and the story has an important message for humanity in the form of the fate of those who let greed and the lust for power run their lives. The movie also brought back to me the famous line in Voltaire's Candide, "il faut cultiver notre jardin!" (Because at the end of the movie, it is the garden that survives.)
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  16. 2010
    iPad debuts to overwhelming success
    April 2010

    IpadApple's innovative tablet device went on sale in the United States in April 2010 and was quickly recognized as a bringing a new kind of internet experience to its users. Now the iPad was not the first tablet device to appear on the market. Indeed, Microsoft had experimented with a tablet computer, but the Apple's touch screen, convenient size (maybe 5" by 10" by 1") and relatively user-friendly interface to online social media made the iPad enormously popular (despite its rather high price). Supposedly, Apple sold more than three million in the first three months of its availability. The first generation iPad was followed by a second generation and then a third generation version in March 2012. Now everyone has an Ipad, including real little kids; and the things are everywhere, at soccer games, swim meets, libraries, cooking demonstrations, concerts, kitchens, bedrooms, cars, etc. Elementary and high schools are considering making them mandatory devices for kids. Colleges are experimenting with new ways of teaching that make use of the Ipad. The devices are certainly reshaping the computing experiences for millions and millions of users.
  17. 2012
    Discovery of the concept of sustained creativity
    September 2012

    Unlike my discovery of the Evans Dictum (see the entry for 1998), I can be a bit more precise for when I first thought of my concept of sustained creativity. I am still working out some of the nuances of the concept and need to formalize the logic involved.
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  19. 2020
    Future
    2020

    Unknown.