Monthly Archives: December 2013

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn’s Got a Winning Team

So I didn’t post two updates to this exercise last night and I missed the opportunity to connect the first item in this lyrical part with an actual point in time. So I guess I fail at being relative (not the first time).

December FIFTH (not SIXTH like today is) 1932, Albert Einstein received the visa that would allow him to travel to the United States.


I’d make a mass joke here but I don’t have the energy, how enlightening.

James Dean was an actor in the 1950s, and a REBEL Dottie. I haven’t seen any of the 3 movies he was in so I’m not even going to attempt to complete this one.

Brooklyn’s Got a Winning Team is a reference to Dem Bums what played in Flatbush from 1884 until 1957. This specific reference relates to the fact that the Trolley Dodgers actually won the series in 1955 by defeating the ever present (and equally evil) Yankees in 7 games. The boys in blue would move to Cali shortly there-after.

The only tie that still binds is one Vincent Edward Scully. Listen to him call a game while you still can. You’ll be able to brag to the historical equivalent of hearing Lincoln make a speech.

Ebbets Field haunts my baseball dreams. Maybe it stays in my unknowable unconscious because I love baseball. But I’ll only ever be able to imagine the brilliance of an opening day in perfection 100 years ago.


Dien Bien Phu falls, Rock Around the Clock

Dien Bien Phu was the site of the final French-led battle in Indo-China (Vietnam). I’m still trying to figure out how France thought they could actually win at any thing, let alone a large military endeavour, less than a decade after the end of World War II.

Even more baffling to me is the fact that the United States would think it was a good idea to stick our collective noses into this mess. Reviewing history and spotting insane geopolitical decisions is easy. And, we still invaded Afghanistan. Because that was so successful for Soviets in 1979. And the British in 1878. And the British in 1839 (yes, twice). And Timur in 1383. And Genghis Khan in 1219. And so forth all the way back to Alexander the Great in 330 BC.

All of that nonsense and death reminds me of this song:

I also have to admit that I never really knew what Billy Joel was singing for the lyric here. I guess I heard it as “Den Ben, Fool Falls”.

Rock Around the Clock is probably best known as a hit for Bill Haley and His Comets.

I will always remember it as the theme song for the first season of Happy Days:

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, Dacron

Roy Cohn was the Red Scare Robin to Joey Mac’s Batman. He was instrumental in the case against The Rosenbergs. After his liaisons with Joe, he went on to have a long career as a lawyer representing reproach-less stalwarts like Donald Trump and John Gotti. He died of complications from AIDS in 1986.

Tony Kushner’s play Angels In America contains a fictionalization of Cohn in which Roy is haunted by the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg. This New Yorker article is an interesting review of the play and contains the following tidbit regarding the AIDS Quilt:

and a panel was added anonymously to the Names Project quilt. It read, “Roy Cohn. Bully. Coward. Victim.”

Juan Peron is famous for making tequila. Or maybe being a leftist dictator of Argentina with a second wife who could barely sing better than she could act.

Arturo Toscanini was an Italian symphonic and orchestral conductor who lived from 1867-1957. He was also an early Fascist who eventually renounced that political school of thought. He is seen below holding either a tiny dog or a hirsute baby Hitler.

Dacron is the brand name for Polyethylene terephthalate (also known as PET). This thermoplastic polymer is used in things like fiberfill for bed pillows, sailcloth, and plastic drinking bottles. The Dacron brand is owned by the Invista Corporation which itself is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Koch Industries.

I’ve included photos of Charles Koch below showing first his typical business attire followed by his favorite Dacron evening-wear –

Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Nelson and Winthrop make me think of



Gary Indiana is not one of my favorite places and Ronnie Howard can’t carry a tune. And I have no idea why that woman is doing pirouettes in a bikini in the Nelson video.

Roy Campanella was a catcher for the Brooklyn Dodgers. His mixed-race parentage kept him out of the major leagues until 1948. He caught 3 no-hitters over the course of his career which was cut short by an auto accident in 1958. The accident left him paralyzed and the Dodgers moved to Los Angeles for the 1958 season.

Real men don't need 6 blades

Real men don’t need 6 blades

Communist Bloc is difficult. Do I include Cuba? Is it just the Eastern Bloc?

My own perception is: Poland, East Germany, the Baltics (Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia), Bulgaria, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Romania, Albania, and sometimes Yugoslavia. So, I guess more Eastern Bloc than anything else.

Probably my first personal identification of the Communist Bloc was watching Walter Cronkite talk about the declaration of Martial Law in Poland (December 13, 1981). I really didn’t understand what was going on, but I remember thinking it seemed important. Not tragic (although at least 100 people were killed in the military response to the public demonstrations), but interesting. Probably the first time I ever thought about the concept of justice.

Somewhere in the mid-80s I had a teacher from Lithuania (?) for social studies (?). I distinctly remember wondering how the hell she made it from Lithuania to small-town Minnesota.

I also remember seeing female Olympic athletes from East Germany. I don’t want to write anything more about them because those dudes still give me nightmares.