The curious construct of time, our conception of it via memory and experience, our confirmation of it by way of the calendar. A myriad of meditations on the turning of days have announced themselves to my consciousness during this winter embarkation. The day of the week, with my own life and experience as a backdrop, has been an important factor in determining what may be of interest for that day’s dispatch. For example, on Wednesdays I always have to work my bartending job early in the afternoon, which means I must either keep the post short and sweet, or in some cases work on it very early in the morning, before my waking life has switched over from Tuesday. I have used my Wednesdays as excuses to make very short rants on process (Re-Definition), or to play curious games with subject matter by using bibliomancy (The Poetry of Random) and famous quotes (Overexposed).
But the days have numbers, also, and our common appreciation of certain dates—the ones that have come to stand for certain ideas, concepts or historical events—has led me to frame those particular dates accordingly, at least as a jumping off point. A Day of Infamy on December 7th and Merry Christmas, Suckers on December 25th are the best examples.
Nothing particularly earth-shattering has occurred, historically, on December 30th. Or at least, not as viewed from our current zeitgeist. If you had lived in the 15th Century, this would have been the date when the Duke of York was killed, in 1460, and his forces routed by Henry VI, at the Battle of Wakefield. If you were living in the early 1700’s, particularly in Japan, you would be remembering December 30th, 1703, for the 8.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that hit Tokyo and killed up to 108,000 people. And if you were a citizen of the former Soviet Union (and now a former one), than you probably know December 30 as the date in 1922 when the U.S.S.R. formally announced it’s own existence from the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow.
But other interesting things happened on this date throughout the measured history of mankind. I did a little research and came up with some highlights.
December 30th….this is your life!
- In the year 39, future Roman Emperor Titus was born. He would sack Jerusalem and destroy the Temple in the year 70, and succeed his father Vespasian in the year 79.
- In 1809 it became illegal, in the City of Boston, to wear masks at costume balls. This was a common theme in a city where Puritanical traditions and prudish censorship would continue well into the 1960’s
- Percy Bysshe Shelley married Mary Godwin in 1816. She would publish Frankenstein anonymously two years later, after she, her husband, Lord Byron and vampire-fiction progenitor John Polidori all had a competition to see who could write the best horror story. Speaking of horror stories, Al Capone married Mae Josephine Coughlin on this day in 1918.
- On this day in 1835, a minority of representatives from the Cherokee tribe were coerced to sign the Treaty of New Echota, effectively trading the recently gold-rich Georgia territory of their ancestors for a shitty reservation in the west. This would begin the forced internment and removal of the Cherokee and other tribes that would later be known as the Trail of Tears. That same day, on another side of the globe, the H.M.S. Beagle left a New Zealand port bound for Australia carrying Charles Darwin and his team into their 6th year of scientific discovery around the world.
- Tojo Hideki is born in 1884. He would go on to become the prime minister of Japan during WWII and was the one most responsible for the attack on Pearl Harbor. He would be hung for war crimes in 1948, just shy of his 64th birthday. Other notable but not-necessarily-considered-enemies-of-humanity that were born on December 30th include Rudyard Kipling (1865), Simon Guggenheim (1867), the writer Paul Bowles (1910), Bo Diddley (1928), ace pitcher Sandy Koufax (1935) and one of my favorite all-time photographers, W. Eugene Smith (1918), whose photos and recordings from the Jazz Loft Project in the late 50’s and early 60’s make one of the most extraordinary documentations ever, of the jazz and cultural landscape in New York City during that turbulent era. Other December 30th babies were rockers Patti Smith (1946) and Jeff Lynne (1947), professional whateveryoucallit Heidi Fleiss (1965) and basketball boomerang LeBron James (1984).
- Besides the notable births on this day, there are also several notable deaths. Ling Ling, America’s first panda, passed away in 1992 at the ripe age of 23. Other deaths include boxer Sonny Liston (1970), bandleader Artie Shaw (2004), and dictator/lunatic/all-around defective human being Saddam Hussein (hanged in Baghdad, 2006). John E. Hoover died on this day in 1918, but was reborn as J. Edgar. Finally, our finite conception of the universe was forever put to sleep when astronomer Edwin Hubble formally announced the existence of other galactic systems at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society on December 30th, 1924.
- The United Auto Workers staged the first sit-down strike in 1936, at a GM plant in Flint, Michigan, paving the way for a strong labor force in the United States. Many of these unions, including the ones in Michigan, have only recently been weakened, undermined and disembowelled by the actions of self-serving corporate Republican shills. These actions did not necessarily happen on Dec. 30, just wherever and whenever the opportunity presented itself.
- In 1953, the first color television, manufactured by RCA, went on sale for about $1175.00 Ten years to the day (1963), Let’s Make a Deal debuted on NBC. Americans began to develop a penchant for selecting the goat behind Door number 1.
- President Nixon halted the bombing of North Vietnam on December 30th, 1972.
- On this day in 1974, the world-changing rock group Beatles officially disbanded. On the same day in 1979, the same thing happened to the (not-world-changing) rock band Emerson, Lake and Palmer. Yes, that was the name of a rock band. Look it up.
- An abandoned building collapsed on 42nd Street in NYC in 1997. There were no fatalities. I had moved to the city about 8 months before.
- Today, Dec. 30, 2014, I went out with 2 vintage Polaroid cameras loaded with re-imagined instant film (The Impossible Project) and out of 10 snaps, only one photo developed with any semblance of a discernible image.