Friday, March 29, 2013

Mad Man's History Lessons: Timeline 12

Mark Twain once said, "The ink with which history is written is fluid prejudice". The great man could very easily be referring to what's been happening right from the time the first piece of this series was written. However, that may not entirely describe the events of the 70s that we are going to discuss. 

1970 – Mick Jagger is fined 200 pounds by the law authorities for possession of Cannabis. Today, he sets a fine example for law-breakers by a possession of 200 pounds of Cannabis at any given time.

1971 – Sylmar earthquake hits the San Fernando Valley area of California. Following years sees it become the Pornographic Capital of the world. Years later, RHCP could have aptly described the state of San Fernando in the lyrics of Californication –destruction leads to a very rough road, but it also breeds erection – but they didn’t.

1972 – A theft at the Watergate complex resulted in much embarrassment for the US Government with President Nixon forced to resign over threats of impeachment. It also opened a floodgate for the nomenclature of a number of scandals that followed, each of which was suffixed with the word gate.

1973 – A tennis match titled “Battle of the Sexes” saw a 52-year old Sir Bobby Riggs get beaten by the 26-year old Billy Jean King in three straight sets. Riggs proved that while most women refuse to reveal their age, men refuse to behave their age.

1974 – IRA bombs pubs in Birmingham, only after the beer was consumed.

1975 – Cod War breaks out between Britain and Iceland when Iceland extends its fishing rights to 200 miles. Perhaps the only time in history when fishing becomes competitive.

1976 – The world’s longest Pier is destroyed by fire. It’s what they call poetic injustice.

1977 – The first Apple Computer goes on sale. Steve Jobs buys his first of many Black Turtlenecks.

1978 – Arcade games invade retail space with the launch of Space Invaders

1979 – For the first time in history in 1979 a woman Margaret Thatcher is elected Prime minister in the UK. Also for the first time in history, men resort to the English joke of the “Home Ministry” while referring to the missus.

This brings us to the last part of our Timeline series. Partly because the author cannot bring himself to be a part of History of the following years, owing to his own birth in the early 80s. Mostly because too much seems to have happened in his lifetime. This however does not mean the series ends. Quite the contrary! In fact, we’ll now revisit any chapter in history at random, and go into greater depths in our search of historical histrionics. As Calvin( The famous six year old philosopher) puts it, “ History is the fiction we invent to persuade ourselves that events are knowable and that life has order and direction”. So until our next attempt at rewriting history, so long!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

We Didn't Start The Spoofing

I've always wanted to write my own version of this Billy Joel song. But thought it's just easier to spoof it.
So sing it to the tune of  We Didn't Start The Fire

When Billy Joel wrote this song, we found it really long,
It was way before our time, with a little sense of rhyme,
As we grew we understood, it was stuff that's really good
A History lesson of his time, a long list with little rhyme

What it really helped us do, was make us believe we can too,
Write a song that's just a list, with the odd rhyme but no twist,
There was one change though, History really had to go,
The topics would only range, from bizarre to very strange 

We didn’t start the spoofing
It was always with us
Since the song had hit us
We didn’t start the spoofing
Oh, we never knew it,
But we want to do it

Now you can write these lyrics too, here's what you got to do
Make a list of things you know, rhyme along as you go,
The song has an easy tune, that you'll sing from July to June,
Sing it till your lungs go dry, and your tonsils start to cry

So make a list of things you like, or a list that'll totally psyche, 
Politics or pop art, even some marketing fart,
Try to be a little clever, change your subject to whatever,
Or like a bunch of nerds, sing something totally absurd 

We didn’t start the spoofing
It was always with us
Since the song had hit us
We didn’t start the spoofing
Oh, we never knew it,
But we want to do it

As addictive as meth, spoofing this is done to death,
But it's fun as you can see, and easy as A, B, C,
If the song runs off course, let it not kill your driving force,
Take it till you go wrong, and close it like any silly song

We didn’t start the spoofing
It was always with us
Since the song had hit us
We didn’t start the spoofing
Oh, we never knew it,
But we want to do it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Class Photograph by Douglas Dunn

We were Elizabethan girls and boys, 
Too young for politics, too old for toys. 
Then Hungary and Suez changed all that, 
Or so it feels in tired old retrospect. 
Nostalgia corrodes the intellect. 
It makes you want to eat your coat and hat.
One foot in childhood, one in adolescence, 
Rock Around the Clock made far more sense 
Even than The Battle of the River Plate – 
Stiff upper lips and Royal Navy dash, 
Its Technicolored brio and panache 
Heroic, gore-less, brilliant, out of date.
Like Ovaltineys in their Start-rite shoes – 
It catches up on you, it really does, 
This looking back, this old class photograph. 
Be-blazered in our uniforms and ties 
(Who he? Who she?) – pensioners in disguise 
As who they were, a pictured epitaph.
Pillar-boxes still red (though not much else is) 
And the scarcely visible orthodoxies 
All still in place, plus global urgency, 
Destructive wars abroad . . . And yet, God bless 
Democracy, dissent, and the NHS 
Which underpins our civic decency.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Mad Man's History Lessons: Timeline 11

It appears the Mad Man's History Lessons have finally found some audience here. So while we were very tempted our class there, we remembered our biggest learning from history, which is it'll be forgotten anyway. We don't remember why we brought this up. Perhaps its Historian's curse - remember what everyone forgets...and forget everything else. So we'll celebrate a full 8.33% increase in the readership of this blog by revisiting the mid 50-s and the 60s.

1956 -  Egyptian leader Gamal Abdel Nasser vows to reconquer Palestine. But that's only after he could figure  where it was. Which he never did.

1957 -  Russell Endean becomes the first batsman to be dismissed for having handled the ball in test match cricket. The ignominy hurt him so much, that he never again removed his pelvic guard.

1958 -  Sputnik 1 (launched on October 4, 1957) falls to Earth from its orbit and burns up. It’s renamed Kaputnik.

1959 – Fidel Castro becomes premier of Cuba. He begins writing his memoirs “ Fidel Castor. Or how I learnt to stop shaving and love the beard.”

1960 – CIA Spy Gary Powers’ U2 Plane is shot down by soviet missiles. Many Americans still think it was bad weather that took Powers to Soviet skies.

1961 – 5 African chiefs from United Arab Republic, Morocco, Ghana, Guinea and Mali plan for a NATO-type African organization to ensure common defense. After their first meeting at Casablanca, they can’t resolve the argument as which dialogue was better, “Play it once, Sam. For old times' sake” or Here's looking at you, kid.

1962 – The Beatles are shown the door at several studios, because “Guitars were on their way out”. Last heard, the guitars are still playing, though mostly they are Beatles covers.

1963 – Travel, financial and commercial transactions by United States citizens to Cuba are made illegal by the John F. Kennedy Administration. Cuban Cigars however, still find their way to America.

1964 – President Lyndon Johnson announces War on Poverty, while ordering a pack of fries to go with his Hamburger from McDonalds.

1965 – Cigarette Advertising in Banned on British Television. Advertising Agencies find new ways to improves, by getting their employees to smoke more cigarettes than ever before.

1966 – The new Batman TV Show starring Adam West as Bruce Wayne, is almost a spoof of Batman. Till date, Adam West continues to spoof himself.

1967 – ATM is introduced. Several people throng it, only to realize that you’ll get nothing out of an ATM if you have no money in the bank.

1968 –  British Prime Minister Harold Wilson endorses the 'I'm Backing Britain' campaign for working an additional half hour each day without pay. Workers demand an increase in the duration of Tea Time by half an hour.
1969 – Apollo XI. One small step for man, one giant leap for conspiracy theorists.