Edited by Gerald Boerner
Today we make note of a number of significant events in the entertainment as well as the expected political arenas. This day, in 1773, witnessed the establishment of this country’s first museum in South Carolina. It also witnessed the establishment of a record label that Berry Gordy, Jr. would eventually turn into the iconic Rhythm and Blues record label — Motown Records — in 1959. In 1971 we all settled into our easy chairs to watch the barrier-breaking TV show, “All in the Family.” Who can forget Archie Bunker, the racist, and his son-in-law Meathead, the ex-Hippie. This show addressed issues such as abortion, race relations, and homophobia during its run on TV.
But probably the most significant entertainment breakthrough was the transition of the radio comedy icon, Amos ‘n’ Andy, to the new media of television. Why was this so significant? Because the iconic radio program broadcast on WGN in Chicago starting in 1926 was, in a real sense, a fraud. How so? It purported to represent the misadventures of a small group of African American men who moved to the Windy City from the Deep South. This show portrayed these African Americans as using “simplified” English and shuffled in the manner expected by the white stereotype of the Black man (“boy”). This perpetuation of the negative stereotype did a disservice to this group of Americans. But far worse, I think, was that the main characters were not portrayed by African Americans, but by white, ex-vaudeville actors. With the transition to the television screen, real African American actors had to be hired at a time when few were employed in the industry for jobs above that of janitor. Thus, this television version of the Amos ‘n’ Andy Show created a new opportunity about ten years before the main Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s.
Other events of today were more varied. In 1969 we saw Joe Namath and his New York Jet teammates defeated the Baltimore Colts to win the first “official” Super Bowl football game. It also saw President George H.W. Bush receive congressional approval to send U.S. troops into Kuwait against Saddam Hussein’s troops from this independent country under United Nations Sanctioned “Operation Desert Storm” during the first Gulf War. This was more justified due to the multi-national coalition involved plus the limited goals — the expulsion of Iraqi troops from Kuwait. A decade later, George W. Bush went into the second Gulf War with no such coalition and much broader goals — the removal of Saddam Hussein and his Bath party from control of Iraq. An interesting question for history is which goal was “right”.
To finish on a more positive note, this day saw the creation of the Rocky Mountain National Park by a legislative act in 1915. This park was created at a time when our country was about to go to war and development and mining interests were pressuring the government for permission to “rape” this scenic area of the Rocky Mountains. Would we still be able to enjoy these features almost a hundred years later if it had not been for this National Park designation? Time will tell, but it is unlikely. Mining interests and land developers do not respect the land when they enter a new region. Think about our redevelopment laws for a moment; empty land is considered “blighted” and a prime candidate for redevelopment! It sort of reminds me of the song lyrics that go somewhat like Joni Mitchell’s song of “Big Yellow Taxi” that say “they took all the trees and put in a parking lot”. Think about it.
It is interesting to think about land use in this country compared to that in Europe. In this country, a fifty-year-old building is considered old and expendable. They tear it down to build a newer, probably less aesthetic one. In Europe, such a building would be considered to be young and allowed to mature and age. Think about it. Would we want to tear down one or more of the château along the Loire River in France to put up a modern high-rise hotel. Catastrophe! Or should we tear down the medieval cathedrals at Notre Dame or Chartres in France, Mont Saint Michele in Brittany, the Dom in Cologne, or St. Peter’s in Rome so we can build a modern, mega-church with multi-media projections and dramatic performances? I think that would be a fast way to commit suicide! Think about it.
But now we need to get on with the overview of the events of this day… GLB
These Introductory Comments are copyrighted:
Copyright©2012 — Gerald Boerner — All Rights Reserved
[ 1361 Words ]
Quotations Related to Radio:
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“I love sports. Whenever I can, I always watch the Detroit Tigers on the radio.”
— Gerald R. Ford
“It was amazing to me that, all of a sudden, I was hearing my music on the radio and coming out of cars.”
— Lenny Kravitz
“I wrote a lot of stuff quickly: pages and pages of notes that seemed pretty incoherent at first. Most of it was taken from the radio because -suddenly being a parent- I’d be confronted by the radio giving a news report every hour of the day.”
— Thom Yorke
“The orchestration of press, radio and television to create a continuous, lasting and total environment renders the influence of propaganda virtually unnoticed precisely because it creates a constant environment.”
— Jacques Ellul
“People say New Yorkers can’t get along. Not true. I saw two New Yorkers, complete strangers, sharing a cab. One guy took the tires and the radio; the other guy took the engine.”
— David Letterman