Here is your open thread for April 8, 2020.
Larry Norman was born 73 years ago today.
I found a few performance videos of Norman playing his manifesto song “Why Should the Devil Have All the Good Music?” but they were all from latter-day Larry concerts, with the long, rambling, resentful intros that came to shape his later career, so I stuck with the tune above because Fun Larry is better than Bitter Larry.
On April 8, 1665, English officer Col. Richard Nicolls granted colonial patents for the Monmouth Tract, thus beginning the centuries-long debate over whether or not there is any such thing as Central Jersey. (There is not. I know this, because I was born and raised in Central Jersey.)
On April 8, 200 years ago today, a man named Yorgos Kentrotas was exploring ancient ruins on the island of Milos when he (re)discovered the Venus de Milo. Fragments of the statue’s arms were also found there, confirming that she lost both her arms in a wrestling match to win a brown-eyed handsome man.
Harvard University established the Harvard Business School on April 8, 1908. This proved to be a disastrous mistake, the consequences of which haunt us every day. More than a century later, even the best minds assembled at Harvard have yet to be able to describe a legitimate academic discipline called “business.”
Elise and Otto Hampel were beheaded by the Third Reich on April 8, 1943. When some asshat suggests that socialists are Nazis because “Nazi” referred to the National “Socialists,” remind them that this is what the actual Nazis did to the actual socialists.
On April 8, 1975, Frank Robinson became the first African American to manage a major league baseball team. Yes, that took until freaking 1975.
David Rittenhouse was born 288 years ago today. He was an astronomer and surveyor and the first director of the United States Mint, but he’s perhaps best known today as the namesake of Rittenhouse Square, which Jane Jacobs correctly identified as one of the greatest public parks in the world.Lyricist Yip Harburg was born 124 years ago today. He wrote “Over the Rainbow” and thus was blacklist in the McCarthy era. Here’s Tom Waits singing Harburg’s “Brother Can You Spare a Dime?” which became an anthem during the Great Depression and may become one again in the Venmo-era of the new MAGA Depression.
Hall-of-famer James Augustus “Catfish” Hunter, the second-best ballplayer to dies of Lou Gehrig’s disease, would have been 74 today. Here’s Bob Dylan’s “Catfish.”
Hall-of-famer Gary Carter would have been 66 years old today. In Game 6 of the 1986 World Series, Carter hit a single with two out and nobody on in the bottom of the 10th inning. Here’s what happened next.
Happy 93rd birthday to both Shecky Greene and Jürgen Moltmann. I’m not sure which I’d enjoy more, an audiobook of Shecky Greene reading Moltmann or audio of Moltmann reading jokes from Shecky Greene.
Investigative journalist Sy Hersh turns 83 today. Douglas Trumbull — the man who made 2001, Close Encounters, and Blade Runner look so amazing — turns 78. Philly soulman Leon A. Huff — the man who made Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes, The O’Jays, and Teddy Pendergrass sound so amazing — also turns 78 today.
Barbara Kingsolver turns 65 today. Twenty years ago, I thought The Poisonwood Bible was unduly harsh. These days I find it too charitable.
Julian Lennon turns 57 today. Biz Markie turns 56.
Today is the birthday of both Robin Wright (54) and Patricia Arquette (52). Emma Caulfield turns 47 today and Katee Sackhoff turns 40.
Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig turns 36. Here’s “Ya Hey.”
Today is the feast day venerating Constantina, the eldest daughter of the Roman emperor and theological catastrophe Constantine the Great. The historical record shows her to have been a lethally ruthless, cruel, and ambitious political operator, but centuries after her death, medieval legends conflated the tales of other saints with her story and so she came to be venerated as a “saint.” This is how there may one day be a feast day for St. Ivanka.
Finally, April 8 is International Romani Day, so here’s Gogol Bordello’s “American Wedding.”
Talk amongst yourselves.