Unholy Days of Obfuscation:
Days of Infamy
(As Well As Those Upon Which Just Deserts Were Served)
Compiled by Gregory J. Rosmaita



January

January 1

1934:
Nazi Germany passes the "Law for the Prevention of Genetically Diseased Offspring".

January 7

1920:
The New York State Assembly refuses to seat five duly elected Socialist assemblymen.

January 11

1569:
First recorded lottery in England.

January 24

January 24 is the most depressing day of the year, according to British psychologist Dr. Cliff Arnall - a psychologist in the Department of Lifelong Learning at Cardiff University, Wales, who specializes in seasonal disorders. Dr. Arnall derived this date from a formula he created that takes into account numerous feelings to devise peoples' lowest point. The model is:

[W + (D-d)] x TQ / M x NA

The equation is broken down into seven variables: (W) weather, (D) debt, (d) monthly salary, (T) time since Christmas, (Q) time since failed quit attempt, (M) low motivational levels and (NA) the need to take action.

1935:
first canned beer offered for sale by the Krueger Brewing Company

January 28

1990:
Puma Jones (neé Sandra Jones) dies of breast cancer at the age of 36

February

February 3

1931
Francis Scott Key's hyper-patriotic (and after the first verse, unreadable and unsingable) poem The Star Spangled Banner, set to the music of a popular British anthem -- the official song of an association of British amatuer musicians named the Anacreontic Society -- entitled To Anacreon in Heaven, is formally adopted as the national anthem of the United States of America.
For the record, i would prefer to hear Woody Guthrie's This Land Is Your Land, when the "national anthem" of the united states of america is played.)

February 5

1885:
King Leopold II of Belgium establishes the Congo as a personal possession.
1917:
over President Woodrow Wilson's veto, the Congress of the United States passes the Immigration Act of 1917. Also known as the Asiatic Barred Zone Act, it forbade immigration from nearly all of south and southeast Asia.

February 6

1989
legendary Jamaican producer and sound engineer King Tubby shot and killed outside of his home by still-unidentified assailants in what police described as a failed robbery attempt.

February 10

1933:
The New York City-based Postal Telegraph Company introduces the first singing telegram.
2005:
North Korea announces that it possesses nuclear weapons.

February 16

1943:
Milwaukee-born Mildred Fish-Harnack -- author, translator, and literary historian -- is guilloutined on the personal order of Hitler for her anti-nazi activities, including her participation in the Red Orchestra (Rote Kapelle) resistance group.

February 19

1972:
Lee Morgan bleeds to death between sets at Slug's, a New York City jazz club, after being shot by his common law wife, Helen More, who was judged to be insane at the time of the shooting... Morgan was only 34 years old at the time of his death, but -- fortunately for the rest of us -- had been prolifically recording as a leader and a featured sideman since he was eighteen years old, leaving behind a rich legacy of some of the greatest trumpet playing, composing and arranging in jazz history...

March

March 2

1941:
Charlie Christian dies of tuberculosis, aged 24.

March 4

1921
Judson Welliver, widely credited as the first presidential speech writer, appointed literary clerk to Warren G. Harding

March 18

1959
U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower signs the Hawai'i statehood bill

March 26

1969:
anguished and unpublished, John Kennedy O'Toole commits suicide in Biloxi, Mississippi, aged 31... in 1981, after the posthumous publication of A Confederacy of Dunces, an American classic, O'Toole was posthumously awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.

April

April 4

1841:
31 days after delivering the longest Presidential Inaugural Address ever -- completely from memory, without either hat or coat on a bitterly cold day -- William Henry Harrison becomes the first sitting President to die in office. The cause of Harrison's death is pneumonia, contracted while delivering his inauguration address hatless and coatless, a gesture intended to prove to the nation -- despite being, at the age of 69, the oldest President yet elected -- his vigor and stamina, as well as his mental and physical fitness for the office to which he had been elected.
After Harrison's death, a minor Constitutional crisis arose, in which the Whig faction of Congress attempted to set-up a Whig interim government, which would wield executive power until a new election could be held, in which the Whigs expected to prevail. The reason for the Whigs' fear of Harrison's Vice-President, John Tyler assuming the presidency sprang from the fact that Tyler was a southern Democrat. Under Tyler's tenure as President, the movement to extend slavery west of the Mississippi gained a powerful advocate in the White House. Tyler, a native Virginian and slaveholder, most tangibly demonstrated his support for the spread of slavery through his last act in office: the annexation of the Republic of Texas as a slave-holding state.
To put Tyler's politics into perspective, he was the only former President not only to vigorously advocate that his native state, Virginia, seccede from the United States, he also served in the provisional Confederate Congress until his death, on January 18, 1862, shortly before he was to be sworn-in as a member of the Confederate House of Representatives.
1968:
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. assassinated in Memphis, Tennessee

April 6

1588
Thomas Hobbes, author of Leviathan, begins his nasty, brutish, and (not at all) short life.
1895
Oscar Wilde arrested for crimes against nature

April 9

1553:
death of Rabelais

April 17

1987:
on a Good Friday, just as Carlton Barrett arrived at his Kingston home and began walking across his yard to his front door, a gunman stepped up behind him and shot him twice in the head. He was pronounced dead on arrival at a Kingston hospital, aged 36.

May

May 9

1919:
James Reese Europe is fatally stabbed in the neck by a disgruntled drummer.

May 11

1981:
Robert Nesta ("Bob") Marley is pronounced dead at Cedars of Lebanon Hospital in Miami, Florida, after he became ill on a flight from Germany to Jamaica, where Marley hoped to spend his final days. Marley had ended up in Miami after an emergency landing, caused by his acute illness. Bob Marley was 36 years old at the time of his death from the spread of an aggressive melanoma to his lungs and brain.

May 13

1988
Chet Baker falls to his death from a hotel window whilst occupying Room 210 of Hotel Prins Hendrik in Amsterdam... Despite the autopsy's finding of cocaine and heroin in Chet's blood, having stayed in Room 210 before the room was renovated early in the 21st century, it would have been very easy for one to fall out of those particular windows without any chemical aids...

May 14

1801:
Tripoli becomes the first state to declare war on the United States, by chopping down the U.S.' consulate's flagpole.

May 18

1974:
With the phrase, The Buddha is smiling, India's armed forces alerted the country's civilian government that it had joined the nuclear club, having completed its first successful test of a nuclear device.

May 19

1953:
a 32-kiloton nuclear device, code named, Short Harry was detonated at a Nevada test site. Unexpectedly, the wind shifted, causing the radioactive fallout to drift downwind, over populated areas -- in particular, the town of St. George, Utah. Although the Atomic Energy Commission used radio broadcasts to calmly warn residents of neighboring Utah that a test had gone awry, leading to drifting fallout cloud, advising them to stay in their houses for at least 2 hours, most residents of the area were out-of-doors with their livestock at the time of the broadcasts, and in any event, there was little they could do for themselves, whilst the government did nothing to assist them. Within two years of the test, several farmers and much of the livestock living downwind of the blast in the area around the Utah town of St. George, contracted cancer and died. Not surprisingly, residents of the area affected by Short Harry refer to the nuclear device as Dirty Harry

June

June 1

1855:
American "adventurer" William Walker, after failing in his attempt to seize Baja California, temporarily conquers Nicaragua. Despite leading a mercenary army comprised of less than 60 men, Walker not only managed to gain control of the country, but was promptly "elected" its president. (The then-president of the United States, Franklin Pierce, promptly recognized Walker's government -- practically the sole head-of-state to do so.) One of Walker's first official acts as president of Nicaragua was to re-legalize chattel slavery. Ironically, Walker was eventually forced out of Nicaragua by a rival mercenary army -- one financially supported by railroad and shipping magnate Cornelius Vanderbilt. In 1860, after invading Honduras, again with an eye towards establishing a slave-holding Anglo-ruled "republic", Walker and his men were captured by the British navy and executed by firing squad.

June 25

1218
The world is well-rid of Simon de Montfort, 5th Earl of Leicester but not before he plays a leading part in the sacking of Constantinople, during the Fourth Crusade's slight detour through Byzantium, and in seizing the possessions of Ramon (a.k.a. Raymond or Reymundi) VI, Viscount of Toulouse, for the French crown -- in specific, Phillip II (a.k.a. Phillip Augustus) -- whilst serving as military commander of the Albingensian Crusade, the only crusade the Catholic Church ever declared against "heretics".

June 26

1956
on a rainy night on the Pennsylvania Turnpike, trumpeter, composer and human being extrodinaire Clifford Brown dies in a car crash along with fellow passenger Richie Powell and the driver of the car, Richie's wife, Nancy Powell

July

July 1

1916:
beginning of the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916

July 10

1584
William the Silent becomes the first head of state to be assassinated by use of a handgun.

July 12

1871:
New York City's protestant Irish community gathers to march in celebration of the Battle of the Boyne; initially denied a permit to march by the municipal government, the marchers were provided with a state militia escort by New York's governor, John Thompson Hoffman... as angry Irish catholics gathered around the parade route, a shot rang out and the militia fired into the catholic crowd, resulting in over 100 casualties...
1916:
the Jersey Shore shark attacks of 1916 are declared over; the final score? sharks: 5, humans: at least a dozen, in Jersey waters alone. Sticklers for detail will point out that the sharks only scored 4, if one only counts deaths, and it should be noted (in mammalian solidarity) that -- according to Wikipedia -- several dolphins were also brutalized

July 13

1863
in response to the implementation of the United States' first federal conscription law -- which exempted those who could pay a $300 "commutation fee" -- the New York City Draft Riots begin, and quickly spread from NYC, across the breadth of Long Island; to other metropolitan areas: including Westchester County, New York; Staten Island; Jersey City; Newark (New Jersey); and as far north as Troy, New York. Since the New York State Militia had been sent to Pennsylvania -- in order to assist Union troops repel Robert E. Lee's incursion into "the North" -- the badly outnumbered metropolitan police were the only available force to confront the rioters, as the federal government was loathe to proclaim martial law in NYC, as it would have resulted in the military occupation -- and the suspension of home rule -- of an overwhelmingly Democratic city by forces under the control of the Republican party, thereby providing an additional irritant to the already volatile and vociferous opposition to the American Civil War in NYC...

July 16

1863
the New York City Draft Riots end... whilst the exact death toll during the New York Draft Riots is unknown, according to historian James M. McPherson's research, in Manhattan alone, at least 120 civilians were killed, and it is estimated that at least 2000 people were severely injured during the riots... at least eleven African-American men were lynched by anti-draft crowds, comprised mainly of poor Anglo-American, Irish-American and German-American workers, and approximately fifty buildings -- including two protestant churches and the "Colored Orphan Asylum" -- were burned to the ground during the three days of rioting...
1945:
At the top-secret location code named Trinity; man prooves that he can destroy himself -- and most of the other life forms that co-occupy the planet -- when he opens yet another Pandora's box with the first (not to mention the first successful) test of an atomic weapon: a plutonium bomb, to be precise.

July 19

1692
Five women are hung for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, as part of the Salem Witch Trials.

July 30

1942
at the obscenely young age of 22, double-bassist extrodinaire, Jimmy Blanton dies of tuberculosis

August

August 4

1850:
in the first fatal clash between striking urban workers and the police in the United States, a large crowd (estimated in the hundreds) of German-American tailors confront strike-breakers at 38th Street and Ninth Avenue in Manhattan... the police intervened, killing two strikers and greviously wounding dozens of others...

August 6

1931:
in an apartment in Sunnyside, Queens, almost one year after being dismissed from the Paul Whiteman Orchestra, Bix Beiderbecke dies, aged 28... the official listed cause of death was lobar pneumonia; ever since, scholars and jazz hounds have debated to what extent Bix' alcoholism contributed to his death. (if you've never heard any Bix, check out the Bix Beiderbecke page at the Red Hot Jazz Archives.)
1945:
A major portion of the Japanese city of Hiroshima is vaporized by the dropping of the atom bomb code-named Little Boy from the Enola Gay, piloted by American serviceman, Paul Tibbets.

August 7

1888:
Theophilus Van Kannel, of Philadelphia, is granted US patent 387,571 for a "Storm-Door Structure". The patent drawings filed show a three-partition revolving door. In 1889, the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia awarded the "John Scott Legacy Medal" to Van Kannel for his contribution to society. Blind people, those in wheelchairs and scooters, and many others for whom a revolving door isn't a convenience, but an obstacle, have been cursing his name (or would, if they knew it) ever since.

August 9

1945:
A second Japanese city -- Nagasaki -- is devestated by an American atomic device: the plutonium bomb known as Fat Boy. Three days later, Emperor Hirohito decides to surrender, provided his own position and honor are preserved... on August 14, 1945, the emperor made his decision known to the Japanese nation via a radio broadcast.

August 12

1898
Stanford Dole (uncle of the fruit magnate) signs an act ceeding the Republic of Hawaii's sovereignty to the U.S.A.

August 13

1521
Tenochtitlán (present day Mexico City) falls to conquistador Hernán Cortés, and the vast indigenous army attracked to his party as a means of unburdening themselves of the Aztec Empire

August 15

1096:
the date set by Pope Urban II for the commencement of what, in retrospect, would become known as the First Crusade.

August 16

1938:
in a jook joint outside of Greenwood, Mississippi, blues visionary Robert Johnson dies at the age of 27, after drinking poisoned moonshine.

August 27

410:
Sack of Rome by the Visigoths.

September

September 7

1908:
The first recorded collision between an airplane and a bird... unlike most such collisions, this one was intentional -- Wilbur Wright chased the bird down.

September 8

1642
In Duxbury, Massachusetts, a 17 year old indentured servant named Thomas Granger, becomes the first minor executed in the future United States. Granger's crime? Beastiality. In accordance with Levitical law -- in particular, Leviticus xx.15 in the King James version of the bible -- not only was Granger executed, but before he was hung, he was forced to watch the objects of his affection -- a mare, a cow, 2 goats, 5 sheep, 2 calves, and a turkey -- be executed before his own execution. (You can find out what Granger's neighbors were up to by reading Sexual Misconduct in Plymouth Colony)

September 11

1987:
Peter Tosh murdered at his home in Kingston, Jamaica in what police report as a roberry.

September 14

1929:
whilst traveling with other union members en route to a union meeting in Gastonia, North Carolina during the Loray Mill Strike, Ella Mae Wiggins -- labor activist, songwriter, and balladeer -- is met by an armed mob, and turned back from the site of the strike. After driving five miles toward home, the group was stopped by a car; armed men jumped out and began shooting. The 28 year-old Wiggins was shot in the chest and killed. Her five children were sent to live in orphanages. Five Loray Mill employees were charged in Wiggins’ murder but were acquitted after less than 30 minutes of deliberation in a trial in Charlotte in March 1930 despite the fact that the crime was committed in daylight and more than 50 people witnessed it.

September 15

1983:
Prince Far I, born Michael James Williams, in Spanish Town, Jamaica, is shot at home in Kingston, Jamaica, and dies in the course of what police term a roberry.

October

October 3

1283:
Dafydd ap Gruffydd, the last free ruler of medieval Wales, has the dubious distinction of being the first person to be executed for the newly defined crime of high treason against Edward I of England, for having the affrontery to continue the resistance to the English conquest of Wales, begun by his uncle and predecessor, Llywelyn ap Gruffydd, known in English history as "Llywelyn the Last". Dafydd was publicly executed accordance with the new code of law promulgated by Edward I -- the same body of law which eventually allowed for the peaceful, bountiful medieval England of the Plantagenates described by Chaucer, but which, for Dafydd meant: hanging, unto the point of unconciousness; whereupon he was cut down and revived by dunking in cold water, symbolizing his rejection by the elements of air and water; disembowelment, not only a symbolic rejection by the earth, but an excruciatingly painful process during which, under the hands of a skillful executioner, the disembowelee remains conscious; and finally, the coup de grâce, drawing and quartering, with the resultant pieces burnt, symbolizing the traitor's rejection by the final element, fire.
1952:
The United Kingdom successfully tests its first nuclear weapon.

October 9

2006:
North Korea announces that it has successfully detonated a nuclear device in an underground test, thereby joining the true axis of evil, the international nuclear club.

October 11

1779:
General Pulaski Memorial Day: two days after being struck by grapeshot whilst probing British lines during the seige of Savannah, Georgia, Casimir Pulaski (Kazimierz Pułaski), the "father of the American cavalry" and one of only seven people to be awarded honorary United States citizenship, dies at the age of 34.

October 15

2006:
CBGB, the cradle of punk, new wave and other alternative and innovative sounds, closes its doors for the last time.

October 16

1915:
the first recorded cross burning. "inspired" by actions described by Thomas Dixon, Jr. in his novels The Clansman and The Leopard's Spots -- upon which D.W. Griffith's Birth of a Nation was based -- the first cross-burning, held on top of Stone Mountain, Georgia, was performed by (and quickly became synonomous with) the newly re-constituted Ku Klux Klan, whose (now familiar) regalia was based upon Griffith's depiction of the Klan in Birth of a Nation.

October 21

1931:
Robert "Barbecue Bob" Hicks dies of pneumonia at the age of 29.

October 30

1941
Chu Berry dies of injuries (including a fractured skull) sustained three days earlier when the car in which he was a passenger crashed into the end of a steel bridge in Ohio; Berry was only 33 years old.

October 31

1926:
Harry Houdini dies of gangrene and peritonitis
1941:
after fourteen years of drilling, the defacement of the Black Hills, better known as Mount Rushmore, is completed

November

November 10

1931:
British Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin states on the floor of the House of Commons: I think it is well, also, for the man in the street to realize that there is no power on earth that can prevent him from being bombed. Whatever people may tell him, the bomber will always get through.

November 13

1916:
After volunteering for the Royal Fusiliers in 1914, at the age of 43, Saki (H.H. Munro), is shot by a German sniper while sheltering in a shell crater, near Beaumont-Hamel, France

November 16

1940:
in occupied Poland, the Nazis close off the Warsaw Ghetto from the outside world.

November 18

1978
the odious expression, drinking the kool-aid entered the english lexicon when 909 people die in the Jonestown (Guyana) Massacre; incidently, Jim Jones didn't drink the kool aid -- he died from a shot to the head.

November 19

2010:
the FDA bans the sale of my old friend, Darvon

December

December 1

1925:
the final Locarno Treaty is signed in London, under the purview of the League of Nations, dividing post-war territorial borders in Europe into two categories: western, which were guaranteed by Locarno Treaties, and the eastern borders of Germany with Poland, which were open for revision. The Locarno Treaties thereby lay the ground for renewed German claims to Polish territories, including the Free City of Danzig, the Polish Corridor, and Upper Silesia.

December 3

1984:
in one of the worst industrial disasters in history, a methyl isocyanate leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, kills more than 3800 people and injures between 150,000 and 600,000 others, of whom at least 6000 later died from their injuries.
1997:
The United States, the People's Republic of China, and the Russian Federation, decline to join the 121 countries which sign the Ottawa Treaty, prohibiting the manufacture and deployment of anti-personnel landmines.

December 12

1098:
in what has become known as the massacre of Ma'arrat al-Numan, Crusaders breach the town's walls and massacre at least 20,000 inhabitants. After finding themselves with insufficient food, the Crusaders quickly resort to cannibalism.

December 13

2006:
the baiji, or Chinese river dolphin, is pronounced extinct.

December 22

1985:
D. Boon dies in an automotive accident.

December 24

1954:
for those few who recognize his name, Johnny Ace is best known for losing a game of russian roulette while he awaited his turn on stage at a Christmas Eve concert... According to eye-witness Big Mama Thornton's written statement, Ace had been playing with the revolver, but not playing russian roulette. According to Thornton, Ace pointed the gun at his girlfriend and another woman who were sitting nearby, but did not fire. He then pointed the gun toward himself. The gun went off, fatally shooting him in the side of the head, ending what might have been a transcendant career...

December 29

1890
500 members of the Seventh Calvary of the United States Army (along with four Hotchkiss guns) exacts a rather belated revenge for the annihilation of Custer and his men at the Battle of the Little Big Horn, by surrounding and slaughtering a peaceful gathering, comprised mostly of women and children, of the Lakota assembled to perform the Ghost Dance at Wounded Knee, South Dakota. Of the Anglo-American casualties, most came from friendly fire, for the Seventh Calvary had encircled the assembled Lakota before openning fire upon them from every angle. More than 200 Lakota -- mostly old men, women, and children -- lay dead when the firing stopped, and an estimated 150 are believed to have perished from hypothermia during their attempts to escape and hide from the 7th Calvary.
In most American history text books -- or, at least, the ones in use when i was in primary and high school -- this date marked the end of the Indian Wars. In reality, it was the culmination of the application of the tactic of total war pioneered by Grant, Sherman, and Sheridan in the American Civil War, to the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous peoples of the lower forty-eight

December 31

1993:
Eric "Bingy Bunny" Lamont, guitarist, comopser, vocalist, co-founder of the Roots Radics, and co-creator of the first "true" album of dub, dies of prostate cancer at the age of 38.

List of ACCESSKEYs Defined for This Document

An accesskey has been defined for each month in the year. In an attempt at mnemonics, i have assigned numeric accesskeys to the first nine months of the calendar (1 equals January through 9 equals September), then used the first letter of the remaining months as the accesskeys for October through December.


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created April 2, 1999
last updated June 15, 2012