Sunday 31 December 2023

la montaรฑa sagrada or a funny thing happened on the way to enlightenment (11. 231)

Via a New Year’s obscure filmic tradition, we are re-introduced to the spectacle of Alejandro Jodorwsky’s (previously) 1973 Holy Mountain and considering a re-watch. The sacrilegious, surrealistic movie produced by Beatles manager Allen Klein with financial backing of John Lennon and Yoko Ono relates the narrative of a thief marketed as Jesus returned and collaborates with an alchemist (played by Jodorwsky) to transmogrify and transfix himself along with a constellation of characters representing the houses of the zodiac, ultimately breaking the fourth wall and give up this quest. Prior to filming, principal cast members underwent three months of spiritual training drawn from various practises including the I Ching, yoga, Zen Buddhism and the Kabbalah as well as communal living prescribed dosages of LSD and psilocybin. After premiering in Cannes, the Holy Mountain was screened in limited-release in New York and San Francisco in November and was not widely available until three decades later.

high-voltage (11. 229)

Sometimes colloquially called in their native Australia as Acca-Dacca and named after their sister pointed out the label on the electric adapter of her portable sewing machine, thinking that it captured the sense of raw energy that her brothers Angus and Malcom Young wanted to convey, the band had their first official engagement on New Year’s Eve in 1973 in a nightclub in Sydney called Chequers (or according to other sources, an event for Bondi Beach lifesavers). In the early days, their stage personae consisted of glam rock outfits and super hero costumes and would go on to record their first studio album two years later. Their iconic logo was designed by typographer Gerard Huerta who also produced lettering and artwork for Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, Blue ร–yster Cult among many others and created corporate alphabets for Condรฉ Nast, Waldenbooks, Calvin Klein’s fragrances and Swiss Army brands as well as mastheads for Time, Money, People, Working Mother and the Atlantic magazines.


one year ago: same procedure as every year, an unreleased Blade Runner video game plus the first detailed views of Mars

two years ago: the first cases of COVID-19, Hogmanay, UN Secretary General U Thant, the outsider art of Louis Wain plus a laser display in lieu of fireworks

three years ago: the founding of Guinness, Kanji creation contest finalists plus Marshall McLuhan

four years ago: Putin begins his presidency (1999), more esoteric programming languages plus a New Year’s Countdown

five years ago: a pre-New Year’s Eve display, Japanese New Year traditions plus more countdowns

Monday 25 December 2023

sit down and shut-up, will ya? try not to live up to all of my expectations (11. 215)

Garnering multiple awards and accolades and considered among the best screenplays ever written, the George Roy Hill directed caper—having earlier used the same principals in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, premiered on Christmas day in 1973, the Robert Redford and Paul Newman vehicle centres around a complicated plan by two grifters (inspired by a duo actual confidence tricksters, Charlie and Fred Gondorff), nearly foiled by the FBI, to con an organised crime boss out of a half-a-million dollars. Set in the mid-1930s, it features old-fashioned interstitial title cards and the music of Scott Joplin, causing a resurgence in the interest in ragtime.

Saturday 9 December 2023

sumer is icumen in (11. 175)

Directed by Robin Hardy and featuring the acting talents of Edward Woodward and Christopher Lee, the British folk horror classic The Wicker Man opened in limited release on this day in 1973 and tells the story of a police sergeant dispatched to a remote Hebridean island to investigate the disappearance of a young missing girl. Conducting his search, the sergeant, a faithful Christian, is rather taken aback to discover that the inhabitants have reverted to a form of Celtic paganism, learning that a few generations ago, a Victorian agronomist had cultivated a strain of fruit trees that could thrive in the harsh Scottish environment and due to the promising bounty had conduced more of the population to embrace traditional ways. Learning that a human sacrifice is in order to propitiate the gods, the police office becomes convinced that the missing girl is being held alive and prepared for the ritual, and taking the ceremonial garb and mask of the procession’s participant from the settlement’s innkeeper where he is staying, seeks to liberate the girl before the act can be executed as penance for the doomed harvest. The rescued girl, however, was never the intended sacrifice, the locals tell him but rather the officer himself as a figure of authority, a willing party, ignorant of their ways and a virgin. Wicker Man was celebrated as part of British heritage during the 2012 opening ceremonies for the London Olympic Games and the title medieval English round, also known as the Summer Canon, was part of the 1972 Munich summer games with a performance of this rota performed by children prancing about the stadium track.

Tuesday 28 November 2023

the battle of versailles (11. 145)

Similar to the surprise coup of this other culture rafinรฉe, high stakes challenge from earlier in the same year, the historic fashion show held on this day in 1973 at the famous venue in order to raise funds for its restoration. Organised by the museum and government forum’s curator, the event pitted French designers, Yves Saint Laurent, Pierre Carin, Marc Bolen and others against Americans Bill Blass, Anne Klein, Halston and Oscar de la Renta before an invited audience that consisted of artists and celebrities like Andy Warhol, Princess Grace, Marie-Hรฉlรจne de Rothschild, Jane Birkin, Liza Minnelli and Josรฉphine Baker (the last two performing for their respective sides). The show was legendary (more here) and the mostly French spectators were stunned with the American designs and models, a new benchmark set for representation with eleven Black women on the catwalk and shifting the industry in a way that brought respect and legitimacy for the US contribution and the palace which had seen better days was rebuilt.


one year ago: Christopher Isherwood’s I am a Camera plus Word of the Year: Gaslight

two years ago: the duet from Dirty DancingAdvent season plus some COVID comic-relief

three years ago: your daily demon: Furcas, Trump at the kiddie-table, assorted links to revisit plus the Great Bed of Ware

four years ago: a visit to a local museum plus a Thanksgiving pageant

five years ago: barely maps plus a proposed change to the UN Security Council

Sunday 26 November 2023

componibili (11. 142)

Celebrating half a century since their original presentation in a Kรถln pavilion in 1972 and 1973, the rarely displayed club- and pin-like orbitals by sculptor Roberto Cordone will be gathered for an exhibition near the original grounds to reintroduce the iconic design and symmetry that helped legitimise plastic as a medium to complement traditional public art. Whilst these molecular, tetrahedrons are stationary, Cordone’s most celebrated installations are kinetic, metal elements called perpendicolari and elicoidali that can be repositioned by wind and waves and are self-righting, displayed as permanent outdoor monuments but occasionally adapted for the stage as part of a ballet choreography. Learn more about the showcase, the artist and its sponsors at designboom at the link above.

Sunday 19 November 2023

laserium (11. 127)

Premiering on this night in 1973 at the Griffith Observatory in San Francisco when Ivan Dryer arranged to lease a laser projector from CalTech after disappointment upon reviewing a film he had commissioned as a laser-light show, insisting the audience experience the beauty and brilliance first hand, his presentation inspired companies and individuals to produce their own versions for various venues while launching his own national tour that lasted until 2002 and continues as special events through to the present. Though not certain if it was a part of the officially sanctioned road-show, I recall somewhere in East Texas circa 1992 seeing a rather nice spectacle beamed onto the faรงade of a court house or some big brick municipal building in the lead-up to Christmas when we’d drive around looking at decorations with musical accompaniment by the Indigo Girls (possibly just on the car’s radio though I’d like to remember it as on the PA, synchronized to the music nonetheless and that made me gay). I call on the resting soul of Galileo, king of night vision, king of insight.

Saturday 11 November 2023

constructive ambiguity (11. 113)

Credited as the prime negotiation tactic of US diplomat Henry Kissinger, employed both as a way to mask an irreconcilable impasse when sides remain far apart on an issue and as a means for both parties to save face and claim concessions from the other. Postponing true resolution is in retrospect disparaged as papering over systemic and deeper conflicts for its tendency for subsequent eruption for a temporary stay. Examples include the Shanghai Communiquรฉ, considered America’s first expression of the one-China policy during Nixon’s visit and the so called “Six-Point Agreement”—both brokered by Kissinger—and the latter signed on this day in 1973 at the Kilometre 101 of the Cairo-Suez highway. At inroads after the first phase of peace talks to end the Yom Kippur War achieved little progress in de-escalation with the encirclement of the Egyptian army by the Israeli Defence Forces and neither side willing to withdraw. Provision B of the settlement was ambiguously worded so as to incentivise further negotiations to go back to status quo, which both sides choose to interpret as favourable to their cause: Egypt as clear mandate that Israel would surrender its claim on their territory and for Israel a disentanglement of belligerents without the obligation for capitulation.

Wednesday 1 November 2023

drei haselnรผsse fรผr aschenbrรถdel (11. 087)

The Czechoslovakian-East German co-production of the Bohemian variation of the fairy tale (Tล™i oล™รญลกky pro Popelku, Three Hazelnuts for Cinderella) opened in theatres on this day in 1973. Enduring and shown around Christmas time and making the circuit through the channels much like It’s A Wonderful Life the primary filming location was Schloss Moritzburg between Meissen and Dresden. The village is in a frenzy as the royal entourage will be stopping en route to their nearby castle, with rumours that the eligible Prince (portrayed by Rolf Hoppe) will choose a bride during the local fรชte. Cinderella’s step mother keeps her busy with menial and seemingly impossible chores in order to keep the competition to a minimum and showcase her less attractive and wicked step-sister. Doves, however, come to Cinderella’s assistance and finishes the tasks, affording her the free time to wander in the woods and encounter the prince and his hunting party, who are impressed with her equestrian skills. Later gifted three wish-granting filberts, Cinderella is able to regale herself with various disguises to become the King-of-the-Hunt as well as the belle of the ball.


 one year ago: another penny black, assorted links to revisit plus the Word of the Year

two years ago: another Word of the Year plus a starting point to restore our burning world

three years ago: The Mask (1961), the Sistine Chapel opened to the public plus indigenous characters in comics

four years ago: a space odyssey, World Vegan Day, more mushrooming plus Blade Runner

five years ago: Trump activates the army to guard the border, movie ratings, an Ansel Adams’ photograph plus a bio brick

Monday 16 October 2023

a venezia…undicembre rosso shocking (11. 062)

Adapted from the short story by Daphne du Maurier and starring Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, the classic occult thriller Don’t Look Now premiered on this day in the UK and Italy. Grieving over the accidental and tragic drowning death of their daughter, the couple accept a commission from a bishop to restore an ancient church in Venice. The wife Laura encounters two elder sisters, one of who claims psychic sight and persuades the mother to hold a sรฉance to contact the deceased daughter, behind the back of her husband, John. The latter begins to experience premonitions as he continues to work on his project and the former begins to interpret everything as an omen. Atmospheric and disorienting, this enduring horror film explores the psychology of loss and the fragility of the mind. A quite explicit sex scene between Sutherland and Christie prompted her then-boyfriend Warren Beaty to travel to the set and demand it be cut but the director successfully championed it to Beaty and to the censors as non-gratuitous and as integral to the movie as the Venetian setting. In general release a few weeks later, it was often screened as a part of a double feature with the equally iconic The Wicker Man.

Sunday 15 October 2023

the battle of the chinese farm (11. 060)

Occurring this day in 1973 after Egyptian forces had advanced beyond the Israeli line of defence during the previous engagement, the Battle of the Sinai, ultimately repulsed but with Israel sustaining significant losses, the titular battlefield that marked a turning point in the Yom Kippur War was given the misnomer for an Egyptian agricultural research station equipped with Japanese-made technology and over the next two days managed to push Egyptian forces back across the Suez Canal in one of the deadliest and brutal clashes of the conflict. Plans for crossing and securing a corridor for re-supply and relief were considered too ambitious and exacting with deviations from the established dead-lines resulting in losses for the Israeli Defence Force, but the Egyptians girded the exposed flank of their forward division (as the IDF had hoped, misinterpreting their objective) and were cut of from re-enforcements, causing Egypt’s withdrawal from the Sinai and abandon its attempts to re-establish control over the peninsula.

Tuesday 10 October 2023

operation nickel grass (11. 050)

To replace materiel spent in the first four days of the conflict, the Soviet Union began an airlift on this day in 1973 of military equipment to Syria and Egypt that led a coalition of Arab states against Israel (to gain purchase on the eastern bank of the Suez Canal and regain the Sinai) in the Yom Kippur/Ramandan War. The US followed suit with a massive resupply of Israel two days later, and having discovered that Prime Minister Golda Meir had authorised the assembly of thirteen nuclear warheads aimed at targets in Egypt and Syria, a move that was made easily detectable so as to conduce American aid and avoid further escalation, wanting officially to minimise the appearance of involvement. Upon receiving intelligence of this development, US president Richard Nixon ordered the deployment of the Air Force to transport all munitions possible to Israel via the Azores and along a narrow airspace over the Mediterranean to comply with European countries that did not wish to be party to a proxy war between the US and the Soviet Union. Although resupply missions on both sides slowed significantly after the 24 October cease-fire resolution, OPEC leaders enacted an oil embargo against America and her allies.


one year ago: AI movie posters plus conjuring Swedish nonsense words

two years ago:  assorted links to revisit plus Upstairs, Downstairs (1971)

three years ago: revolutionary China, happy birthday to the Candy Bomber, the moon Triton, the role of sharks in vaccines plus coin-op convenience

four years ago: Dunbar Number, guerilla advertising plus more on noise pollution

five years ago: more on Osaka’s Expo’70 plus a shopping cart that gauges one’s mood


Friday 8 September 2023

tos, tas (10. 990)

Four years after the original series was cancelled and on the anniversary of its 1966 debut, Star Trek (previously) returned with animated continuing voyages, voiced by most of the principal cast, airing as a Saturday morning cartoon on this day in 1973. Despite winning an Emmy, the revival was cancelled after two seasons although it helped sustain interest in the franchise and provided impetus to reunite the characters again for a feature film by 1979.  Referred to as the “Rec Room” and only appearing in one episode but considered canonical, the animated series introduced the concept of the holodeck. 

one year ago: Perry Rhodan, assorted links to revisit plus the death of Queen Elizabeth II
two years ago: the debut of Star Trek (1966), Ford pardons Nixon (1974), Just So Stories and printing conventions, a teaser for the upcoming Matrix sequel plus more on the evolution of language
three years ago: Hopi kachina, a Maltese rebellion (1775), a six-wheeled sedan, more links to enjoy plus photographer Manfred Thierry Mugler
four years ago: a very venerable blog, a member of the US armed services comes out (1975) plus the Day of Open Monuments
five years ago: the South East Asia Treaty Organisation (1954-1977) plus outsider artist Howard Finster

Sunday 20 August 2023

wattstax (10. 953)

The name a play on the Woodstock festival, the benefit concert to commemorate the seventh anniversary 1965 Watts Riots and help the community and organised by Stax Records with all the label’s biggest stars took place in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on this day in 1972, selected for coinciding with the thirtieth birthday of major talent Isaac Hayes. Spanning the musical genres of soul, funk, blues and jazz and included sets by Kim Weston, The Staple Singers, Eddie Floyd, Rufus Thomas, Ernie Hines, Hayes and The Bar-Kays. Invocation and various speeches were given by civil rights leader Jesse Jackson. Tickets priced at a suggested donation of one dollar so everyone could attend, the festival was filmed by David Lloyd Wolper (the producer by the television mini-series Roots, North and South, and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 1984 LA Olympics) and released the following year to high acclaim.


one year ago: a visit to a potash mine

two years ago: Davy Jones & The Lower Third (1965), more miniatures from Tatsuya Tanaka plus links worth revisiting

three years ago: more words of Shakespearian coinage, quality control officers, the August Coup in Russia (1991) plus the ravens of the Tower of London miss the tourists

four years ago: a classic from Miles Davis (1959), a disembodied hand dominates the skyline in Wellington plus the plague of e-scooters

five years ago: dawn in the woods, the logos of Paul Rand, an on-screen marriage ceremony that may have been legally binding, winning-streaks plus Soviets crush reform attempts in Czechoslovakia (1968)

Sunday 13 August 2023

(pronounced 'lฤ•h-'nรฉrd ‘skin-'nรฉrd) (10. 940)

Released on this day in 1973 some nine years after the southern and blues rock band formed, their debut studio album contains some of their best songs—including “Free Bird,” which elevated their profile to stardom. Most of the tracks were already well established in the band’s repertoire in their circuit of the Florida and Georgia music scene but the record exposed the work of Ronnie Van Zant, Allen Collins, Bob Burns and Larry Junstrom to much wider audience and a subsequent tour as the opening act for The Who propelled their success, with the correctly IPA pronunciation guide rendered as /หŒlษ›nษ™rd หˆskษชnษ™rd/, saw the album certified Gold by December 1974 and Double-Platinum by the summer of 1987. The 1973 original recording was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 2008 and has become a snowclone for audience requests and encores (famously with MTV’s Unplugged 1993 of Nirvana), regardless of the artist or style of music being performed.

one year ago: KC and the Sunshine Band plus the Angelus prayer

two years ago: your daily demon: Astaroth, building the Berlin Wall (1961), assorted links to revisit plus a flying Winnebago
three years ago: the Roman holiday Vertumnus, Saint Cassian, the Inception Sequel, The Hunting of the Snark, luring a cautious public back to the movies, an isolation odyssey plus pandemic border restrictions
four years ago: the design of the Japanese flag, Italian car design plus the script of the Saanich people
five years ago: an update on the TWA Flight Center at JFK Airport

Wednesday 2 August 2023

you chicken fink! after all we did to get accepted? (10. 921)

Before going into general release in cinemas in the US, American Graffiti premiered at the Locarno International Film Festival on this day, the director and writer George Lucas, disappointed by the financial performance of THX 1138, was challenged to make a nostalgic, coming-of-age movie by producer Francis Ford Coppola that more audiences could relate to and was inspired by recollections of teenage experiences “cruising” in Modesto, California. 

Set during the last night of summer vacation, matriculating seniors and recent graduates about to depart for college out of state spend the evening driving from one end of town to the other, with a cast including Richard Dreyfus, Harrison Ford, Mackenzie Phillips, Ron Howard, Suzanne Somers and Cindy Williams and an omnipresent soundtrack sourced from its decade earlier setting (DJ’d by Wolfman Jack), this second attempt is heralded as among the most profitable films of all time with a world-wide boxoffice of over two-hundred million, giving Lucus the seed money to finance his long-planned space opera.

one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago:your daily demon: Ronovรฉ, the dead man’s hand, the letter that encouraged the Manhattan Project plus more links worth revisiting

three years ago: a notorious piratess, Blessed Basil of Moscow plus more on malapropisms
four years ago: vintage sporting posters, the worst examples of gerrymandering turned into a font, terms for animal markings plus a weird vintage McDonald’s ad
five years ago: preserving process, skill and institutional know-how,  more on Foley artists and sound design plus welcome to the Anthropocene Era

Tuesday 11 July 2023

operation sober popeye (10. 872)

Also known under the codenames Motorpool and Intermediary-Compatriot and repudiated as an unacceptable tactic in warfare after leaks in the Pentagon Papers and unwelcome press coverage with a US Senate resolution passed on this day in 1973, the military cloud-seeding program carried out from 1967 to 1972 attempted chemical modification of the weather with the aim of extending monsoon seasons and disrupting the North Vietnamese supply-chain along the Ho Chi Minh Trail by soften road surfaces and causing landslides. Operations in secret extended over Thailand, Laos and Cambodia. Despite its highly classified nature, the 54th Weather Reconnaissance Squadron, the unit chiefly responsible for the tests, publicly and prominently used the slogan “make mud, not war.” The American people deciding that such measures had no place on the battlefield, weather disruption falls presently under the auspices of the Environmental Modification Convention.  


one year ago: the Hollywood Bowl (1922), Avogadro’s Number (1811) plus Fischer v Spassky (1972)

two years ago: Fleetwood Mac by Fleetwood Mac (1975) plus a megalithic stone ship in Sweden

three years ago: a visit to the Ehrenburg on the Ehrbach

four years ago: a delayed release of “Space Oddity” (1969), the uncontrolled deorbit of Skylab (1979) plus France approves a digital services tax scheme

five years ago: a collection of samurai clan banners, a disclaimer on social media that comes too late, America’s garbage politicians sit for a family photos plus Trump attends a NATO summit

Monday 3 July 2023

ziggy played guitar (10. 852)

After one hundred eighty two concert performances and eighteen months of touring, David Bowie, with only bandmate and guitarist Mick Ronson knowing in advance, announced on this day in 1973 during live show at Hammersmith Odeon in London that he would be retiring, just before the final song “Rock ’n’ Roll Suicide,” “Of all the shows on this tour, this particular show will remain with us the longest, because it is not only the last show of the tour, but it’s the last show we’ll ever do”—only to clarify to shocked fans and the rest of his band that he meant the persona of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars backing band. This final concert for Stardust was the subject of a documentary by D A Pennebaker and later released as a motion picture a decade on.

Wednesday 21 June 2023

the miller test (10. 824)

Issuing a landmark five-to-four decision in the case of Miller v California, a mail-order business specialising in adult materials that sent out graphic and explicit catalogues that opened by the owner and his mother of a beachfront restaurant and reported the offending brochure to authorities, the US Supreme Court formulated a three-pronged standard used as a benchmark for determining whether or not material material is obscene and therefore not a category of protected speech under the First Amendment. For a work to be obscene, it must meet all three conditions: whether “the average person, applying contemporary community standards” would find it overall an appeal to prurient interests, whether in a patently offensive manner it depicts sexual conduct, and whether over all is lacking in any serious literary, political, scientific or artistic value. The dissenting opinion worried because the test called for serious value, merit and allowed for community standards—without definition or the purview to set one—that this precedent would enable greater censorship. 


one year ago: a pioneering parachutist (1913), the US Supreme Court weighs in on flag burning plus assorted links worth revisiting 

two years ago: the Stonehenge Free Festival (1974),  LPs introduced (1948) plus Return to Oz (1985)

three years ago: International Yoga Day, machine designed fragrances, a wrongful accusation righted, a tapestry generator, fighting Facebook’s hegemony plus the Satellite News Channel (1982)

four years ago: Midsommar traditions plus vintage Hungarian stationary

Monday 19 June 2023

come up to the lab and see what’s on the slab (10. 819)

Preview performances given at a couple of other venues earlier in the week, the B-movie, schlock horror musical—see previously—by Richard O’Brien opened on this day in the experimental space, “upstairs,” at the Royal Court Theatre in Chelsea, under the direction of Jim Sharman, renowned stage producer for his earlier work on Jesus Christ Superstar and Hair. The show ran for seven years, approaching three thousand performances, and the original cast whom crossed over into the 1975 cinematic adaptation included the starring roles of Tim Curry as Dr Frank N Furter, Patricia Quinn as Magenta the Usherette and O’Brien himself as Riff Raff.


one year ago: Juneteenth, assorted links worth revisiting, Saints Gervasius and Protasius plus an early home office set-up 

two years ago: rendered realities plus generated fabric patterns

three years ago: ecclesiastical courts, more dazzle camouflage, Trump censored for his social media posts plus a queen bee’s performance