Wednesday 28 February 2024

paleofutures (11. 387)

Via Waxy, we come across a retrospective volume of predictions for the world of 2024 solicited from luminaries and futurists from half-a-century earlier collected by The Saturday Review for its own Golden Anniversary (established in 1924 as compendium of essays and reportage on a wide range of subjects, folding in 1986). A retrospective to better see the way forward, it features hopeful assessments by ecologist Renรฉ Dubos, who popularised the maxim to “think globally, act locally” in his capacity as advisor to the UN and foresaw sounder and smarter environmental policies, the honorific “Madame President” for the United States contrasted by a more sobering view of continued wage-inequality and glass-ceiling, Trans-Atlanticism versus nationalism, and Issac Asimov forecasting that while computer prognostications were not perfect, they would be a requirement for insurance liability purposes and decision-drivers in medical treatment. There are also quite a few boldly wrong and aspirational claims by human rights champion Andrei Sakharov like orbiting power-plants, large scale terraforming and quadruped electric cars that would prance over prairies with minimal impact and didn’t require roads, along with Neil Armstrong’s poignant reflections of decades of continued space exploration and exploitation. On the other hand, Werner von Braun accurately predicted the world wide web, email and teleworking plus their implications. Much more at the links above.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links to revisit

two years ago: the Horodecki House of Kyiv, Guernica vandalised (1972) plus the paper art of Charles Young

three years ago: more on the Mountain Dream tarot, the finale of M*A*S*H* (1983), artist Edward Hopper plus redesigning the hypodermic emoji

four years ago: ranking ringed-planet emojis plus hauntingly familiar images from the 1918 influenza pandemic

five years ago: anti-Catholic sentiment and the Lincoln assassination conspiracy, resurfacing a lost urban river plus more links to enjoy

Wednesday 17 January 2024

court and spark (11. 275)

An immediate and enduring commercial and critical success and remaining the artist’s winningest recording, the sixth studio album by Joni Mitchell (previously) was released on this day in 1974. Presaged with the singles “Raised on Robbery” (below), “Free Man in Paris,” “Down to You” and “Help Me,” the tracks represent a departure from Mitchell’s folk roots shifting to pop with an infusion of jazz elements.

synchronoptica

one year ago: assorted links worth revisiting plus a rolling snapshot of blog posts

two years ago: more McMansions, a warning against the military-industrial complex, celebrating the life and career of Betty White, astronomer Elizabeth Catherina Hevelius plus an overview of accounting tools

three years ago: the temptation of St Anthony, myPillow playbook,  the city of the future, breaking news of the Clinton-Lewinski scandal, the unused soundtrack for 2001 plus more links to enjoy

four years ago: the precursor to Prohibition plus McGingerbread Hell

five years ago: another government shutdown in the US, bouncy cushion satisfaction plus children envisioning a bleak future

Monday 15 January 2024

goodbye grey sky, hello blue (11. 269)

With the basic premise for the series appearing first two years earlier in an unsold pilot that aired in a segment on the anthology show Love, American Style (titled “Love and the Television Set,” and reworked for broadcast as “Love and the Happy Days”), the network’s interest in the project, a sitcom portraying an idealised vision of coming-of-age in the mid-1950s US Midwest that was a nostalgic appeal to the that generation some two decades removed when director George Lucas cast the actor playing teenager Richie Cunningham, Ron Howard, in American Graffiti, and Happy Days debuted on this night in 1974. Whilst moderately well received by audiences during its first two years, waning viewership prompted producers to retool the format and brought the ancillary character of one of Cunningham’s friends, a high school drop-out and greaser Arthur “Fonzie” Fonzarelli (played by Henry Winkler), into one of the main roles. Running for eleven seasons and spawning several spin-offs including Laverne & Shirley, Mork & Mindy and Joannie Love Chachi, the household institution was criticised for its interventions (now regarded as tropes) to revitalise the show, as with the insertion of new characters (lampooned with Poochie on The Simpsons) and franchise attempts above, and for, into its fifth season, idiomatically and literally “jumping the shark” when the Fonz is launched over a live shark on water-skis as an indicator that a story arc has exhausted its core-content and passed its peak by repairing to exaggeration and sensationalism. The series was nonetheless popular for several more years.

Saturday 13 January 2024

7x7 (11. 263)

photographie de rue: the images of Eugรจne Atget capture scenes of Paris unchanged since the turn of the last century  

ma che sera: more musical stylings from Raffaella Carrร  with this 1974 TV appearance 

ray fay: the mostly-unreleased 1976 comedic spoof Queen Kong with traditional gender roles reversed  

from-to: reputational-based urban maps that can help you find the analogue East Village of London and other neighbourhoods in different cities 

tv mirror: leafing through the February 1977 includes an interview with Henry Winkler and more on the Dino De Laurentiis remake that condemned the above treatment of the colossus to obscurity 

isdn: a look at the once future-proof telecommunication standard quickly vanishing 

oppidum du mont beauvray: the successive rediscoveries of the ancient capital of the Gallic Aedui tribe, Bibracte

synchronoptica

one year ago: St Mungo plus assorted links to revisit

two years ago: snow-plough names plus a very special episode of Bewitched

three years ago: more on sea-shanties, the art of Roger Brown plus COVID ex-votos

four years ago: Knut’s Day plus outcry over plant-based labels

five years ago: criticism over NordStream2interpretive GIFs plus more links to enjoy

Thursday 4 January 2024

hey marge, remember we used to make out to this hymn? (11. 242)

We are treated to the musical stylings of virtuoso organist, composer and conductor Anthony Newman through his 1974 album (just one entry in his prodigious discography), whom despite his quite liberal interpretations of Baroque compositions met with scepticism and criticism at first but is now generally accepted as allowable, influential variations. Over his long current (still playing), Newman has gone on to collaborate with noted musicians such as Leonard Bernstein, Itzhak Perlman and Wynton Marsalis.

Monday 11 December 2023

we sit in the sun and wait. we sleep. and we dream. each of us dying slowly in the prison of our minds (11. 181)

Via a recent post on Dangerous Minds, we received a recommendation to pass along of an under-rated, under-seen vintage surreal and creepy supernatural horror movie with Lovecraftian elements to pass along, which premiered in limited-release on this day in 1974 in Paris, Texas. In the film by Gloria Katz and Willard Huyck—having recently finished the treatment for American Graffiti and would go on to Howard the Duck—a young woman journeys to a seaside artist colony to visit her estranged father but only finds his beach house abandoned with only a journal addressed to his daughter, urging her not to search for him with ominous warnings about a darkness consuming the community and to only seek out the local gallery owner. Denying having any commission from her father and hardly knowing him, the young woman encounters a trio of other visitors, collectors with some additional insights, speaking of a “messiah of evil” to return after a century, with locals gathering on the beach to ritually stare at the Moon in a preparation that the is referred to as “The Waiting.” The town subsequently begins to be populated (in spaces that should be considered epitomes of domesticity and safe havens) and shortly overrun by the cannibalistic undead as evangelicals of a fringe religious movement.

Friday 24 November 2023

al 288-1 (11. 135)

Found on this day in 1974 in the Awash Valley near Hardar, Ethiopia by a team of paleoanthropologists led by Donald Johnson, the collection of fossilised bones making up about forty percent of a female Australoptithecus is commonly known as Lucy—after the Beatles’ song played repeatedly during the excavation—or by her Amharic designation แ‹ตแŠ•แ‰… แŠแˆฝ (Dink’inesh, you are marvellous). Hers and early less complete finds suggested that hominid bipedalism preceded and informed the increase in cranial capacity and intelligence. Falling on the anniversary of the initial publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859, the three-million year old specimen, diminutive by today’s standards, quickly became a celebrity, captivating public interest in evolution, missing-links with the account of her discovery and reconstruction.

Saturday 5 August 2023

the smoking gun (10. 927)

Released to the prosecution on this day responding to a subpoena decided by SCOTUS a few weeks prior that ruled executive privilege did not confer immunity from cooperating with the courts, one recording among the cache of tapes documented the preliminary stages of the Watergate coverup, with Nixon and H R Haldeman, Chief of Staff, overheard in a meeting in the Oval Office discussing how to thwart the ongoing investigation by the FBI of the break-in at the Democratic National Headquarters. Acknowledging both the risk involved if the plan came to light and giving the approach his approval, this revelation ran counter to the narrative presented that Nixon was not involved in the scandal nor had interfered with the FBI’s work—assigning the jurisdiction to the CIA. Political and public support evaporated immediately and the ten Republican senators on the impeachment jury who had initially voted to acquit the president changed their position, prompting Nixon’s almost immediate resignation in lieu of conviction and removal.

Saturday 27 May 2023

platonic solids (10. 769)

Via tmn, we are directed to a 1974 installation by collector, curator and conceptual artist Sol LeWitt’s serial exploration of negative and positive space, both flat and realised in three-dimensions, in his one hundred-twenty-two permutations of how a cube could be not closed space. This matrix of deconstruction invites one to reexamine the fundamentals of geometry and perspective that we otherwise might take for granted. More at the links above including a tour of the gallery space hosting these open cubes.

Wednesday 16 November 2022

innerspace (10. 307)

Designed by astrophysicist Frank Drake (see previously) with input from Carl Sagan and others as a proof-of-concept demonstration rather than an attempt to enter into to dialogue with extra-terrestrials and criticised as being too low-resolution to be recognisable to future recipients, the Arecibo Message (see also here and here) was beamed from the radio observatory in Puerto Rico on this date in 1974, aimed in the direction of the globular star cluster M13, some twenty-five thousand light-years from Earth. When encoded graphically, the some sixteen hundred bits of data produce the pictured image with seven elements, from top to bottom: the decimal system, the valance of the elements that make up DNA, the chemical formula for the constituent nucleotides, the approximate number of said organic molecules in the human genome with representation of the double-helix structure, the average dimensions of a human male plus the Earth’s population (four billion, compared to eight billion presently), a representation of the Solar System and finally in purple, the Arecibo telescope. The precise number of bits, 1 679, is a semiprime—that is, the product of two prime numbers, seventy-three and twenty-three, to prompt one toward the right orientation, the alternate arrangement producing static. An answer came in 2001 in the form of a crop circle near the Chilbolton radio telescope in Hampshire—rather intricately replacing the carbon-based DNA with silicon and the pictogram of the human figure looks alien—though this reply was unfortunately an elaborate hoax.

Monday 8 August 2022

we now return to regular programming (10. 045)

Interrupting regularly scheduled, prime-time programming on this day in 1974—ironically as he regularly attacked the medium as an instrument of liberal bias and never stopped blaming TV for wrecking his first US presidential bid against JFK having not fared well on screen during televised debates—to address the nation and announce his imminent resignation in the face of the so called “smoking gun” recording that revealed what the president knew about the botched burglary in the Democratic National Committee headquarters and told he would face certain impeachment— Richard M Nixon offered, “I have concluded that because of the Watergate matter I might not have the support of the Congress that I would consider necessary to back the very difficult decisions and carry out the duties of this office in the way the interests of the nation would require.” Adding that he was contrite errors in judgment, Nixon failed to mention, however, any talk of congress leveling articles of impeachment against him. Tendering his resignation the following day, Nixon submitted a letter to Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and left office, effective noon 9 August.

Thursday 11 November 2021

j/ฯˆ meson

The subatomic particle also known as a psion—comprised itself of a charm quark and a charm antiquark bound in a state referred to as “charmonium” (see previously) was discovered independently by two laboratories in Stanford and Brookhaven who made their joint announcement on this day in 1974. Sharing the Nobel Prize in physics two years later for their “November Revolution” for setting of a new era in the study of high-energy physics, the research leaders were able to validate the heretofore theoretical quark model, considered a mathematical fiction—particles with fractional charges and flavours (“spin”)—as a way of classifying and ordering the newly discovered menagerie of constituent, subatomic units.

Wednesday 8 September 2021

proclamation 4311

Issued on this day in 1974 by American president Gerald Ford, the directive granted a full and unconditional pardon to his immediate predecessor for any crimes he may have committed against the United States as its leader. In response to public outcry Ford defended his decision to exercise his prerogative in excusing Nixon, particularly over the Watergate Scandal (previously), saying it was for the good of the country to close this tragic chapter. Privately, after leaving office, Ford justified his actions by keeping on his person—in his wallet—a copy of a 1915 US Supreme Court decision that affirmed the notion that accepting a pardon implies a confession of guilt. I’m sure that assuaged his conscience.

Tuesday 22 June 2021

zagato zele

Courtesy of the always interesting Things Magazine, we discover this delightful electric microcar (see also)—sold in US markets as the Elcar with Wagonette models available—from 1974 to 1976. Manufactured in Milan with a run totalling about five hundred, the cubic vehicles came in seven bold, harvest colours.

Monday 21 June 2021

stonehenge free festival

Though possible precursors began a couple of years prior—and down through ancient times too of course, the first well-documented modern music fair to be held at the prehistoric monolith (previously) was held on this day, the Summer Solstice, in 1974—after disbanding the Winsor Free Fest and itself suppressed after a decade’s run of gathering at the stones, a victim of its own popularity. Participating bands included Thompson Twins, Dexys Midnight Runners, The Raincoats, Killing Joke and several counter-culture representatives like Circus Normal, the Peace Convoy and New Age Travellers. A wealth of pictures, first-person accounts and ephemera from those years through 1984 and related events are at the resource at the link up top.

Saturday 6 February 2021

zardoz

The 1974 Irish post-apocalyptic fantasy film starring Sean Connery (*1930 - †2020), Charlotte Rampling and Sara Kestelman premiering on this day in Los Angeles and New York takes its title, the eponymous stone talisman and cornucopia, from a damaged copy of the L. Frank Baum book Wizard of Oz that survived the end of the world and the bibliocaust and supplant older gospels and introduces us to a highly gentrified and segregated society that consists of a ruling class of ageless Eternals and mortal, enslaved Brutals who eke out a subsistence in the nuclear wilderness after satisfying the needs of the aristocrats—with a clan of assassins charged with keeping the exploited under subjugation by following orders issued by Zardoz in exchange for weapons.
It is revealed that Zardoz is an extension of the omnipotent artificial intelligence called the Tabernacle that maintains the precarity of this social order by boundless insight that no human, immortal or otherwise, can comprehend. John Boorman, the writer, director and producer had hoped to create an adaptation of The Lord of the Rings (see also) for a film studio at the time but Boorman’s offer was turned down, fearing it was too ambitious and would run-over budget, instead turned his sights to creating this world, which was philosophically challenging with good elements of storytelling and very much ahead of its time but had not played well to audiences by dint of that same complexity, costuming and lack of special effects.

Friday 26 June 2020

point-of-sale

On this day in 1974 after nearly a decade in development and first conceived as a method for tracking railcars and shipping containers, the first bar coded, marked with a universal product code (redundantly, UPC code) instead of a price tag item (see previously) was sold at a supermarket in Troy, Ohio.
Cashier Sharon Buchanan scanned (we are dismissive of such acts now as routine but Ms. Buchanan was very much from that moment on an engineer wielding the beam of a powerful helium-neon laser that bounced off a rotating mirror and onto the glass-plated register surface so a central computer could match the label against the shop’s programmed inventory—no mean feat that) a value pack of Juicy Fruit chewing gum for customer Clyde Dawson (not his only purchase during that visit—just the first one rang up).  Deconstructed, the encoding tables do look a bit like the I Ching, and afterwards the artefact, the (presumably a stand-in unless the purchaser indulged the museum this memento) was acquired by the Smithsonian. I wonder if this first barcode is some sort of talisman, a charm imbued with power over all the scanning to follow.