Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose, sometimes it rains. Other times it’s today.
-Today, for example, is the day that Stefan Bathory, everyone’s favorite Polish monarch, was crowned king of the Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth. Laugh all you want at the idea of a Polish-Lithuanian Commonwealth but if this was the 16th Century you wouldn’t be laughing because the PLC would kick your ass. Unless you’ve conquered Danzig, kept the Ottoman Empire and the Tsardom of Russia at bay all while fostering economic prosperity in your own land you can give Stefan Bathory a break.
-The Illuminati was established today, the group would go on to have Kennedy shot, fix the battle of Waterloo and compel Tom Hanks to squint and give expository dialogue.
-Today, in Vienna, Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro premiered, giving the world what is perhaps the greatest opera ever written. It’s certainly the greatest opera ever written about class-enforced prostitution (and there has been quite a few entries in that genre). Most people look the the Act II finale as the highlight of the piece but for my money the conclusion of Act IV is where it’s at.
-With all due respect to Jackie Robinson and Harrison Ford’s outrageous fake eyebrows, but Moses Fleetwood Walker was the first African-American to play professional baseball and he did so around 60 years before Robinson today in 1884.
-Today in Scofield, Utah a dust explosion in a mine resulted in the death of more than 200 men, making it the fifth-worst mining accident in US history. “Come work for the mining-industry. Not only do you get to work in a big hole for 16 hours a day but if two hundred of you die, it just barely makes the top 5 in terms of accidents. Accidents, by the way, that are so prevalent, the term ‘mining accident’ has its own wiki page. Plus the pay is horrible!”
-Today, on an Imperial Airways flight from London to Paris, a cooked meal was served on a scheduled flight for first time. It was god-awful but considering it was airplane food AND British, it had two strikes against it to begin with.
-Today, in 1930, Pluto was officially named a planet, though that turned out to be a fucking tease.
-Today in 1931, the Empire State Building was dedicated in New York City, it wouldn’t be until 1954 that it was officially named a romantic cliche.
-Today, in 1956, the polio vaccine was made available to the public, to which an incensed FDR, dead for 20 years, said “Well, that’s just fucking great.”
Today is May Day, but before you start passing out those baskets, know that May Day is a communist holiday also known as International Workers’ Day in which the working man should rise up against his fat-cat capitalist oppressors. In fact, May 1 had so much resonance in the communist community that, during the Cold War, America established a separate holiday on May 1 known as Loyalty Day, which was a “special day for the reaffirmation of loyalty to the United States and for the recognition of the heritage of American freedom,” and if you don’t reaffirm that loyal to that American freedom, we’d toss you in jail. Today is also Lei Day in Hawaii but around my house, it’s Lei Day everyday if you know what I mean.* Today is also International Sunflower Guerrilla Gardening Day in which Guerrilla Gardeners the world over are meant to plant sunflowers. What’s a Guerrilla Gardener, you ask? It’s a person who plants flowers on land they do not have the legal right to use. This is a very rough and tumble sort that you do not what to mess around with because they will find what you love the most and plant a peony on it.
*I really like garlands and it’s rare to find me without one around my neck.
John Woo, who once made a movie, I’m not making this up, in which Nicolas Cage and John Travolta switch faces, was born today. Wes Anderson, who once made a movie, and I swear I’m not making this up, in which the ennui of the privileged American upper class was explored, was born today.
Eldridge Cleaver, one of the early leaders of the Black Panthers, died today.