Sunday 14 July 2024

shelly’s leg (11. 690)

For Bastille Day 1970, Seattle’s gastronomical scene arranged a dinner party and parade to showcase their establishments, and a freak accident involving an antique cannon loaded with confetti, which during the route had dipped from its skyward trajectory and fired into the crowd resulted in the establishment of the city’s first disco—we learn via the New Shelton wet/dry an all inclusive space—yielding a triumph, fabulous but short-lived and returning to tragedy, from this mishap.

Among the spectators was one Shelly Bauman, whom at close range sustained life-threatening injuries from the festive munitions and the eponymous (in the tradition of taverns of olde) leg had to be amputated. Confined to a wheelchair for the rest of her life, Bauman sued the municipality and event-planners for a settlement of several hundred thousand dollars and eventually used this as seed money to purchase a former hotel and turn it into a rather fabulous club scene and outreach centre, no expense spared and unapologetically gay, running from 1973 to 1977. Read more at the links above. 


one year ago: the Talking Heads’ second album (with synchronoptica), molecule of the month, social summaries plus misquoting Marie Antoinette

seven years ago: Trump in Paris, personality quizzes plus the composite photographs of Fong Qi Wei

eight years ago: but let us return to our sheep at hand

nine years ago: wiping out the buffalo, assorted links to revisit plus the Greek economic crisis

eleven years ago: making banking scary again plus a visit to Bad Homburg

Friday 12 July 2024

blowed ‘em up reeeeeal goooood (11. 685)

As our faith chronicler reminds, one this night in 1979, the US baseball team the Chicago White Sox playing in their home stadium of Comiskey Park against the Detroit Tigers, held as a promotional event to attract flagging fans during a poor season Disco Demolition Night—previously. In exchange for bringing a record that they wanted to see destroyed, the audience was extended a discounted admission of ninety-eight cents—a reference to the frequency of some popular local radio stations seen as betraying their rock credentials and base by playing the now mainstreamed genre, the host team engaging local shock-jock and fervent anti-disco advocate Steve Dahl to capitalise on the polarising matter of taste in music, with disco’s normalisation to the point of saturation seen by some as degenerate and rooted in gay culture—for frigid women and effeminate men and minorities, whose activism had already stoked riots. With more individuals coming to see the spectacle rather than the game during a pause in play, DJ Dahl collected the albums in a crate and detonated it on the field. Due to damage to the outfield by the explosion and an ensuing onslaught of rowdy fans, the White Sox were made to forfeit the game for the damage to the Tigers. Though already on the decline, disco’s growing unpopularity coincided with this biblioclasm, with artists and labels rebranding it as dance music and many stations returning to a rock format.

Wednesday 21 February 2024

what a lady, what a night (11. 369)

Reaching the top of the UK singles charts on this day in 1976, the Four Seasons’ song by Bob Gaudio and Judy Parker, showcasing the band’s drummer Gerry Polci and vocalist Frankie Valli, the lyrics were originally set three decades prior in 1933 to 5 December, marking the end of Prohibition in the US. The group however revolted against the juxtaposition of such a good disco, doo-wop groove with an obscure historical reference, and it was decided that it should be shifted forward to capture the spirit of Americana as a jukebox favourite circa the early 1960s.

Sunday 21 January 2024

2001 odyssey (11. 283)

Released in November of the previous year with the premier of the film, and was until the debut of Thriller by Michael Jackson in 1982 the best-selling album in history, the soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever began a twenty-four week run on the top of the US charts—with comparable success in international markets on this day in 1978. A nineteen-year-old Tony Manero (portrayed by John Travolta, see previously) escapes disillusionment by in his working-class Brooklyn neighbourhood by escaping to the a local disco (above) on the weekends, where he rules the dance-floor and longs for a better life in Manhattan, just across the Verrazzano-Narrows bridge. Showcasing the musical talents of the Bee Gees, Yvonne Elliman, Kool & the Gang, The Trammps amd KC and the Sunshine Band, the Brothers Gibb’s group and many of the other artists were not involved with the project until post-production, after the deal fell through with the recording label for Boz Scaggs (denied because the song “Lowdown” had recently appeared in another disco film Looking for Mister Goodbar, which is hard to describe as a dance drama but Saturday Night Fever has a complicated plot with a lot happening as well) and much of the choreography had to be redone after the movie’s producer commissioned the Bee Gees as understudies, with the lead tracks written and recorded over the course of a single weekend at a French chรขteau.


one year ago: assorted links to revisit, Mika’s Grace Kelly plus Space Songs, an educational LP

two years ago: more links to enjoy, planning a rendezvous with Oumuamua, the DeLorean (1981), a new album from Neil Young,  more Wikihow illustrations plus a podcast miniseries on the comic Cathy

three years ago: Bernie Sanders at the inauguration plus Biden undoes Trump’s executive orders

four years ago: a field guide to wildflowers at speed

five years ago: more links worth the revisit

Saturday 6 January 2024

8x8 (11. 249)

the gift of the magi: the 1952 classic adapted from the O Henry short story 

ed people: Belgian dancer travels the world asking others to teach him their favourite moves—via Waxy

diminishing returns: the Golden Age of solar eclipses is receding  

all i know about magnet is this, give me a glass of water, let me drop it on the magnets, that’s the end of magnets: Trump rally in Iowa  

amicus brief: US Supreme Court agrees to review a ruling by a lower court that disqualified Donald Trump for his participation in the insurrection, could have implications for Maine’s ban

kodachrome: artist Jessica Brill invokes nostalgia by painting found photographs  

my fellow peripatetics: research confirms the therapeutic value of walking 

 kinder der berge: Liechtenstein’s singular domestic feature film—via Strange Company

you can get yourself clean, you can have a good meal, you can do whatever you feel (11. 247)

Topping out at number two on Billboard around the same time, the Village People’s only single from their 1978 studio album Cruisin’ reached number one on the UK charts on this day in 1979. Rhythmically complex and with lyrics full of double-entendre, the singer-songwriter Victor Willis has affirmed that the song is to be understood on many levels and not just a celebratory anthem but also praising the diversity that the organisation fostered, the boarding house function originally founded in the 1880s to provide affordable rooms for people from rural areas coming into the cities to look for work had by the time the song was composed had seen a demographic shift to the unhomed urban population and displaced youth cohabitating with the older, more typical tenants, with a not insignificant proportion who were gay. Initially, the YMCA was going to sue the band for besmirching their name but later settled and came to embrace the enduring number for singing the praises of the institution. Inscribed by the US Library of Congress into the National Recording Registry as culturally important and “proof that disco never truly died,” the number and routine is a popular cheer for sporting events and over the eventual objection of The Village People, featured in Donald Trump’s campaign rallies—see also. Once defeated, YMCA was adopted by supporters of his challenger Joe Biden and was blasted on loudspeakers as Trump boarded Air Force One for the last time to leave Washington ahead of the inauguration of his successor.


one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting plus FDR’s Four Freedoms (1941)

two years ago: a figure skater assaulted (1994), Soylent Green (1973) plus the Night of the Big Wind (1839)

three years ago: your daily demon: Amy, photographer Ute Mahler, more links to enjoy, the South Sea Bubble, an airline safety campaign, the Bad Drawing Club plus the US Capitol stormed

four years ago: US threatens Iran, First Nations’ custom emoji plus artists’ final works

five years ago: more links to visit

Friday 5 January 2024

9x9 (11. 243)

sine cure: many jobs in the tech sector are busy work and inducements to stymie the competition—via the New Shelton wet/dry  

smooth operator: one-hundred eighty songs and other cultural touchstones turning forty this year 

shake your hips, puppet legs: a David Byrne dance tutorial—via Nag on the Lake  

crackberry: a physical keyboard attachment for one’s smart phone  

the rise and fall of ziggy stardust: the chance encounter with Vince Taylor, the inspiration for the David Bowie persona 

 long live friendship: the Cantonese version of Auld Lang Syne (see previously) performed at the handover ceremony of Hong Kong in 1997  

the (disco) sound of music: a Meco-like dance rendition of the classic tracks (see previously) from Sarah Brightman  

pole position: the Vectrex, the 1982 revolutionary but mostly forgotten video game console, gets a second look 

mobile aloha: an off-the-shelf, DIY robot that can perform complex tasks and chores—via Waxy


one year ago: US mid-term elections

two years ago: two Star Wars adjacent films set in 2022Twelfth Night plus building the Golden Gate Bridge

three years ago: Waiting for Godot, Moonstone plus an unusual patent-filing

four years ago: puffy planets, the asteroid Eris, mobile car-chargers plus Nazi name mandates

five years ago: notes on Dante plus animal sounds in other languages

Friday 27 October 2023

9x9 (11. 078)

page rank: the SEO trend of naming establishments X Near Me seems to actually drive customers—via Waxy  

cyanea pohaku: a species of tree discovered right before it was driven to extinction

saint eom: the psychedelic compound of folk artist and fortune-teller Eddie Owens Martin outside of Buena Vista in the US state of Georgia and listed on the National Register of Historic Places  

usonian homes: a pair of Frank Lloyd Wright (see previously) houses on the market in Kalamazoo in the US state of Michigan  

saob: the official Swedish dictionary published after one hundred forty years of work

the united states of guns: another sadly evergreen post about how an armed society is not a free society   

happiness hotel: a luxury kennel once occupied the grounds of New York City’s Lincoln Center 

report of my death having been most industriously circulated by several of the london daily newspapers, would the times permit me to contradict the same through your valuable columns and refute the account: sculptor John Ternouth, designer of the plinth for Nelson’s Column, was surprised to learn of his premature demise—via Strange Company  

i am altering the deal—pray i don’t alter it any further: Amazon’s Alexa is ending inoperability support with severe punishment for those who try to hack their way around it

Sunday 24 September 2023

scissor sisters vs the beatles vs george michael vs aretha franklin (11. 018)

Pluralistic from Cory Doctorow, settling up his link debt of interesting quick-takes, directs us towards a musical montage by Danny Moore (aka DJ Earworm, previously) composed of equal parts of the above seemingly incongruous group of artists called “No One Takes Your Freedom.” It’s got a nice beat—you can dance to it. Many more curated curiosities to be found above as well as thoughtful long-form reads to be found at the hyperlink up top.


one year ago: assorted links to enjoy,  Our Lady of Mercy plus more links

two years ago: more links to revisit plus punctuation appreciation day

three years ago: Pope Liberius, more links worth revisiting plus the 1976 Swine Flu outbreak

four years ago: Trump pressures Ukrainian authorities for dirt on his apparent political opponent, more synthetic models, UK courts rule that the suspension of Parliament was an abuse of power plus variations on Misirlou

five years ago: an atlas of remote islands, theatrics trumps discourse, and more links plus twenty-seven songs about the twenty-seven amendments to the US constitution

Wednesday 26 July 2023

you could have an aeroplane flying if you bring your blue sky back (10. 906)

Via our faithful chronicler, we learn that on this day in 1986 Peter Gabriel’s lead single from his fifth studio album So (“In Your Eyes,” “Big Time”) topped the US charts and peaked at number four in the UK, displacing the hit by his former bandmates of Genesis’ as number one. The dance-rock funk fusion was nominated for three Grammy awards and other accolades, including for its artfully crafted music video featuring stop motion animation and modelling clay figures. The backing vocalists are P P Arnold, Chyna Whyne and Dee Lewis. The introductory and closing solo is a synthesised Japanese bamboo flute called a shakuhachi (ๅฐบๅ…ซ)—which was a “preset” instrument in many electronic keyboards of the era.


one year ago: exploring the Inner Hebrides and the Isle of Skye

two years ago:  the history of Home Office, Jesus’ grandmother, the linoleum patterns of Hazel Dell Brown plus “book-drunk

three years ago: Esperanto Day, the end of segregation in the US armed forces (1948) plus assorted links to revisit

four years ago: the medals for the Tokyo Games will be reclaimed from e-waste, hairball headdresses plus a cute, retired shipping mascot

five years ago: assorted links worth revisiting, a look back at 1988 plus lone trees in fields

Friday 14 July 2023

more songs about buildings and food (10. 880)

Their second studio album and the first of three collaborations with Brian Eno, released on this day in 1978, overseeing the shift in focus to the rhythm section and music one can dance to and was a critical and commercial success for Talking Heads (previously). The below track was the band’s first top thirty hit in the US and UK and is a cover of the Al Green hymnal.


one year ago:Dr Spock’s guide for expectant mothers (1946) plus assorted links to revisit 

two years ago: a commanding view of Sweden’s second largest lake plus “MOMS” tax

three years ago: an introduction to satanist and film maker Kenneth Anger

four years ago: half-staff, Chekov’s gum plus more on endonyms and exonyms

five years ago: one party system (1933), the Alien and Sedition Act (1798), an AI names bespoke nail polish colours plus engaging the rumour mill

Wednesday 5 July 2023

it’s janet—ms jackson if you’re nasty (10. 858)

Third studio album by the artist, considered to be a genre-defining masterwork fusing funk, disco and R&B, the semi-autobiographical Control began a two-week run at the top of US charts on this day back in 1986. This breakthrough record, establishing her credentials independent from her siblings and firing her father, the Jackson Family patriach, as her manager, would go on to win Grammies for production and choreography as well as superlative industry accolades, as well being inspirational and aspirational for other artists. The dancing for the below video accompanying “Nasty” was directed by Paula Abdul, securing her an MTV Video Music Award, narrating a recent event when Jackson was being stalked and stood up to their harassment until they backed down.


one year ago: Saint Zoe of Rome plus the Nansen passport for the stateless and displaced (1922)

two years ago: the magic of piers and docks and other points of departure 

three years ago: the first Thomas Cook excursion (1841), a fantasy music festival generator plus assorted links to revisit

four years ago: an instant, farm-free source of protein plus a plan to plant a trillion trees

five years ago: a visit to Sirmione 

Thursday 29 June 2023

south america! (10. 842)

Originally planned as a live satellite simulcast for the iconic duo but abandoned once it was realised there would be a split-second delay and would necessitate one to lip-sync the part (which neither was having), David Bowie and Mick Jagger recorded a cover version of Martha and the Vandellas 1964 hit and civil rights anthem on this day in 1985. Charting in the UK and reaching number one on the US Billboard Hot 100—Jagger’s only song to reach that height and Bowie’s last, remarkably, incredulously, and proceeds went to the charity Live Aid for famine relief. The accompanying video by David Mallet was shot after the marathon recording session—both track and music video were completed within thirteen hours during the short time that the artists had for the duet, and was filmed at the derelict Millennium Mills, a flour processing plant built at the turn of the century, in the London docklands.


one year ago: Samantha Reed Smith visits the Soviet Union at the personal invitation of the General Secretary (1983) 

two years ago: the cartoonist T Hee plus van Gogh’s bridge in Arles

three years ago: Quo Vadis, the Feast of SS Peter and Paul, the debut of the iPhone (2007), more Old School blogging, unusual cereal flavours plus chiptune trains

four years ago: a Disney heiress petitions for better treatment of workers plus BC/AD or Common Era

five years ago: the European Union flag adopted (1985) plus Trump’s Supreme Court

Sunday 21 May 2023

put on your red shoes and dance the blues (10. 758)

The artist’s first song to top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic, the lead single off the fifteenth studio album of the same name (also with the tracks “China Girl” and “Modern Love”) climbed to number one on this day in 1983 and features the instrumental talent of sessions blues guitarist Stevie Ray Vaughan—David Bowie only contributing vocals for the first time in his recording career. The album was first released on 14 April followed a few days later by the music video by David Mallet (previously), filmed in New South Wales, premiering on the UK rock show The Tube with Jools Holland, is a metaphor for the hegemony of Western culture. This release kicked of Bowie’s “Serious Moonlight” world tour.

Friday 17 March 2023

at first i was afraid, i was petrified (10. 615)

Beginning a four-week run at the top of the UK singles charts on this day in 1979 (also a hit internationally and inscribed on the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress for its cultural and artistic significance) the disco anthem about discovering personal strength in the face of breakup owes its origins to the dismissal of principal lyricist Dino Fekaris, partnering with Freddie Perren—also a former co-worker out of a job—and the resolution to bounce back, as a song-writer no less. With the working-title “Substitute,” performer Gloria Gaynor immediately recognised it as a hit. Played first by DJs in Studio 54 before the record was released, the accompanying promotional video, filmed in competing night club Xenon Discotheque and features a troupe of dance skaters.

Friday 11 November 2022

and i’ll never have that recipe again (10. 292)

Written by Jimmy Webb and first recorded by Irish actor and singer Richard Harris (Arthur in Camelot) a decade before, the disco arrangement by Donna Summer (encouraged by producer Giorgio Moroder) of MacArthur Park climbed to number one on the Billboard Hot 100 on this day in 1978, holding the top spot for three weeks. Originally pitched to the sunshine pop group The Association (“Cherish,” “Along Comes Mary”), they rejected Webb’s composition due to its stream-of-consciousness lyrics and ambitious, over-the-top arrangement.

Saturday 13 August 2022

na-na, na-na, na-na, na-na-na-na now (10. 056)

Probably better known for “(That’s the Way) I Like It” and “(Shake, Shake, Shake) Shake Your Booty”—but this is a fun one too—the band hailing from Hialeah, Florida—the Sunshine State registered at the top of UK singles charts, the band’s first and only number one in Britain (where it became a popular sporting chant) a decade after the group formed, with “Give It Up” this day in 1983, the lead track from their ninth studio album All in a Night’s Work. Released internationally just earlier in the month and facing quite a cultural backlash against disco at the beginning of the decade, the song was regarded as a comeback hit for KC and the Sunshine Band and one of the last first-wave reverberations of the genre.

Saturday 25 September 2021

you think that i could muster up a little soft shoe gentle sway

Written and composed by Scott Hoffman, Jason Sellards and Elton John (on piano) and released as a single from their second studio album Ta-Dah in July of that year, this week in 2006 saw the Scissor Sisters’ signature track “I Don’t Feel Like Dancin’” top the charts in the UK, later reaching the same heights in Germany, Norway, Switzerland and Croatia. The Nu-disco song performed by Jakes Shears and Ana Matronic crosses elements of The Four Seasons’ “December, 1963” and Leo Sayer’s “You Make Me Feel Like Dancing—Want to Dance the Night Away.”