Whenever musicians release a record album, whatever the format, it is the album's content that critics use to determine their review. Vinyl record collectors bemoan the passing of the Vinyl Age both because they feel the sound quality digital formats fall below that of vinyl and album art needs more than the 5" x 5" that a CD allows or no album art at all when streaming.
John Yoko Two Virgins
John Lennon and Yoko Ono's Two Virgins album was the exception. Most fans found the recording unlistenable, but had even more to say about the cover art: a black and white photo of John and Yoko standing casually naked against a plain white background.John and Yoko had recorded the album on May 19, 1968 at Kenwood, Lennon's former home in Weybridge. It featured the following tracks: Two Virgins No. 1; Together; Two Virgins (numbers 2-6); Two Virgins; Hushabye Hushabye; Two Virgins (numbers 7-10).
Album cover controversy
Capitol Records refused to release it not because of the avant garde sound, but the company feared negative reaction to the cover. Tetragrammaton released Two Virgins in a brown paper sleeve on November 11, 1968. The sleeve had a small opening through which Lennon and Ono's faces peeked. Quantities of the album were seized in several US jurisdictions, including 30,000 copies in New Jersey. Nonetheless, it managed to reach number 124 on the US charts.
Lennon described the picture of Ono and him as "two slightly overweight ex-junkies." He spoke of the album's recording in Jann S Wenner's Rolling Stone magazine 1970 interview, Lennon Remembers:When we got back from India, we were talking to each other on the phone. I called her [Ono] over, it was the middle of the night and Cyn [Cynthia Lennon} was away, and I thought, 'Well, now's the time if I'm going to get to know her any more.' She came to the house and I didn't know what to do; so we went upstairs to my studio and I played her all the tapes that I'd made, all this far-out stuff, some comedy stuff, and some electronic music. There were very few people I could play those tapes to. She was suitably impressed, and then she said, 'Well, let's make one ourselves,' so we made Two Virgins. It was midnight when we finished, and then we made love at dawn. It was very beautiful.They took the self-portrait later in the year at Ringo Starr's basement apartment in London, where Lennon and Ono were temporarily living. In the notes that came with the Anthology collection, Lennon said:We were both a bit embarrassed when we peeled off for the picture, so I took it myself with a delayed-action shutter. The picture was to prove that we are not a couple of demented freaks, that we are not deformed in any way and that our minds are healthy. If we can make society accept these kind of things without offence, without sniggering, then we shall be achieving our purpose.
What we did purposely is not have a pretty photograph; not have it lighted so as we looked sexy or good. There were a couple of other takes from that session where we looked rather nice, hid the little bits that aren't that beautiful; we looked good. We used the straightest, most unflattering picture just to show that we were human.
Yoko vs Beatle fans
It is a shibboleth among many Beatle fans to excoriate Yoko Ono as the cause of the Beatles demise. In my view, John was a powder keg looking for a liaght. Yoko was that spark.
If it wasn't Yoko, it would have been someone else. Yoko brought forth even more artistic freedom than Bob Dylan had three years earlier.Here is side one of Two Virgins. I suppose many of you are familiar with the first minute because that's all you could get through the first (and last) time you listened.
It certainly is a long way from "Love Me Do" to "Two Virgins." Those of us who stuck it out for at least the first side may have kept waiting for the song to start. After listening to side 1, "Number 9" seem pop. And perhaps that's what it's all about. Stretch the boundaries of familiarity so that what is unapproachable today becomes familiar tomorrow...or next year.
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Tinker v Des Moines Independent Community School District
1969. It was a time of empowerment. Blacks. Women. College students. The disabled. Migrant laborers.
And high school students.
On December 11, 1965, high school student Christopher Eckhardt held a meeting with a group of students at his Des Moines, Iowa home. The group decided to wear black armbands in school on December 16 as both a Vietnam War protest and in support of Robert F Kennedy’s proposed extension of a truce the Viet Cong proposed truce on Christmas Eve. The student would keep wearing the bands until January 1, 1966. (click >>> RFK truce proposal)
Principals of the Des Moines schools learned of the plan and on December 14, 1965, adopted a policy that required any student wearing an armband in school to remove it. Any student who refused would be suspended until they agreed to comply.
On December 16, 1965, Chrisopher Eckhardt (16), Mary Beth Tinker (13) and her siblings, Hope (11) and Paul (8) wore black armbands. Christopher and Mary were suspended. The two younger students were not. Mary Beth’s brother, John Tinker (15), was suspended for doing the same on the following day.
Christopher Eckhardt: I wore the black armband over a camel-colored jacket. The captain of the football team attempted to rip it off. I turned myself in to the principal’s office where the vice principal asked if ‘I wanted a busted nose.’ He said seniors wouldn’t like the armband. Tears welled up in my eyes because I was afraid of violence. He called my mom to get her to ask me to take the armband off. Then he called a school counselor in. The counselor asked if I wanted to go to college, and said that colleges didn’t accept protesters. She said I would probably need to look for a new high school if I didn’t take the armband off.
Tinker v Des Moines Independent Community School District
Tinker v Des Moines begins…
The Iowa Civil Liberties Union approached the families and the ACLU agreed to help the family with a lawsuit. The Tinker and Eckhardts filed suit in U.S. District Court which upheld the board’s decision.
Tinker v Des Moines continues…
A tie vote in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit meant that the U.S. District Court’s decision continued to stand.
Tinker v Des Moines still continues…
The Tinkers and Eckhardts to appealed to the Supreme Court. The case was argued before the court on November 12, 1968.
Tinker v Des Moines decided
On February 24, 1969 the US Supreme Court sided with the Tinkers in Tinker v. Des Moines. Justice Abe Fortas delivered the opinion of the 7-2 majority. The Supreme Court held that the armbands represented pure speech that is entirely separate from the actions or conduct of those participating in it. The Court also held that the students did not lose their First Amendment rights to freedom of speech when they stepped onto school property. In order to justify the suppression of speech, the school officials must be able to prove that the conduct in question would “materially and substantially interfere” with the operation of the school. In this case, the school district’s actions evidently stemmed from a fear of possible disruption rather than any actual interference.
Appropriately, on December 16, 1969, John Lennon and Yoko Ono put up eleven billboards in major cities worldwide with the slogan: War Is Over!
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October 20, 1917: Alice Paul and three colleagues were arrested for picketing the White House on behalf of women’s suffrage. Calling themselves “Silent Sentinels,” the purposefully went to the White House gates when staff were leaving work. A large crowd gathered, with some people cheering and other jeering. (see Oct 22)
Dyer anti-lynching bill
October 20, 1921: the House Judiciary Committee favorable reported the Dyer anti-lynching bill, imposing heavy penalties on persons involved in mob action resulting in the taking of life. (see Oct 26)
October 20, 1933: The cases were removed from Judge Horton's jurisdiction and transferred to Judge William Callahan's court. (SB, see Scottsboro travesty)
October 20, 1942: sixty leading Southern Blacks issued "Durham Manifesto" calling for fundamental changes in race relations after a Durham, North Carolina, meeting. (listen NC Museum of History) (see see Dec 4)
Tallahassee bus boycott
October 20, 1956: modeled after the Montgomery bus boycott, the Tallahassee bus boycott had begun after a May 17, 1956 incident in which two Florida A&M students were arrested for sitting in the white section of a city bus. Because the city’s buses were primarily patronized by African American residents, the boycott left the vehicles nearly empty. In July 1956, city officials were forced to suspend bus service due to lost revenue. The bus company resumed services in August following an initiative led by the Junior Chamber of Commerce to get more white residents to ride the buses but the boycott continued. The Tallahassee Inter-Civic Council (ICC) led the boycott and organized a carpool to serve as alternative transportation.In October 1956, 21 carpool drivers, including nine people who comprised the ICC's executive committee, were arrested for not having “for hire” tags on their vehicles. On October 20, 1956, following a three-and-a-half-day trial, all 21 drivers were convicted. City Judge John Rudd sentenced them to pay a $500 fine or spend 60 days in jail, in addition to a suspended 60-day jail term and one year on probation.Faced with this legal harassment, the ICC voted to end the carpool two days later. The boycott continued until December, however, ending only after federal courts ruled bus segregation unconstitutional. On January 7, 1957, the Tallahassee City Commission repealed the city’s bus segregation law. (see Nov 13)
October 20, 1960: Charles Mingus records “Fables of Faubus” with lyrics for his Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus album for release on independent label after Columbia Records had refused to release it with lyrics. The song was written as a direct protest against Arkansas governor Orval E. Faubus who in 1957 had sent out the National Guard to prevent the integration of Little Rock Central High School by nine African American teenagers. (see Oct 25)
Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em shoot us!
Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em stab us!
Oh, Lord, don’t let ’em tar and feather us!
Oh, Lord, no more swastikas!
Oh, Lord, no more Ku Klux Klan!
Name me someone who’s ridiculous, Dannie.
Why is he so sick and ridiculous?
He won’t permit integrated schools.
Then he’s a fool! Boo! Nazi Fascist supremists!
Boo! Ku Klux Klan (with your Jim Crow plan)
Name me a handful that’s ridiculous, Dannie Richmond.
Faubus, Rockefeller, Eisenhower
Why are they so sick and ridiculous?
Two, four, six, eight:
They brainwash and teach you hate.
March to Montgomery
October 20, 1965: Roy Reed in the NY Times reported that, ”an all-white jury dominated by self-proclaimed white supremacists was chosen...for the retrial of Collie Leroy Wilkins, Jr, a Ku Klux Klansman charged with the murder of Viola Liuzzo.” (NYT article) (see Oct 22)
Murders of Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner
October 20, 1967: an all-white jury convicted seven conspirators, including the deputy sheriff, and acquitted eight others. It was the first time a white jury convicted a white official of civil rights killings. For three men, including Edgar Rice Killen, the trial ended in a hung jury, with the jurors deadlocked 11–1 in favor of conviction. The lone holdout said that she could not convict a preacher. The prosecution decided not to retry Killen and he was released. None of the men found guilty would serve more than six years in prison. (BH, see Oct 28; Murders, see Dec 29)
BLACK & SHOT
October 20, 2014: Officer Jason Van Dyke followed in his car 17-year-old McDonald before shooting him 16 times in the middle of Pulaski Road on the Southwest Side. It will be more than a year before the video of the incident is released. (B & S, see Nov 20; Van Dyke, see November 19, 2015)
The Red Scare
October 20, 1947: the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) on this day opened its famous hearings into alleged Communist influence in Hollywood. The hearings began with a series of “friendly” witnesses who argued that there was Communist influence. The “friendly” witnesses included President of Screen Actors Guild and future U.S. President Ronald Reagan, who testified on October 23, 1947. Ayn Rand testified regarding the pro-communist slant of the film Song of Russia. (see Oct 23)
October 20 Music et al
October 20 – November 2, 1962: “Monster Mash” by Bobby "Boris" Pickett and the Crypt-Kickers #1 Billboard Hot 100.
Peter, Paul, and Mary
October 20 – November 30, 1962: Peter, Paul, and Mary’s Peter, Paul, and Mary is Billboard’s #1 album.
October 20, 1969: John Lennon and Yoko Ono released their third album, Wedding Album. According to Lennon, It was like our sharing our wedding with whoever wanted to share it with us. We didn't expect a hit record out of it. It was more of a... that's why we called it Wedding Album. You know, people make a wedding album, show it to the relatives when they come round. Well, our relatives are the... what you call fans, or people that follow us outside. So that was our way of letting them join in on the wedding.” Wedding Album commemorated their wedding in Gibraltar on 20 March 1969. Although it was the final installment in their trilogy of avant garde and experimental recordings, the couple continued to document their lives on tape until Lennon's death in 1980. (see Nov 1)
John & Yoko
October 20, 1973: John Lennon filed suit asking the court to force the Immigration and Naturalization Service to produce the records under which deportation decisions were made. (see Oct 29)(NYT article)
Mark David Chapman
October 20, 1980: Mark David Chapman quit his security job and signed out for the last time. Instead of the usual "Chappy" he wrote "John Lennon". Chapman would murder Lennon on December 8th of this year outside his New York City home. (see Nov 17)
October 20 Peace Love Activism
October 20, 1967: Dr Benjamin Spock turned in a briefcase full of what he said were draft cards to officials at the Justice Department building here and later accused one of them of being "derelict in his duty" for not having arrested him. He said he wanted to be arrested in order to precipitate a "moral, legal confrontation" with the Government over the draft. Justice Department officials said later that the briefcase had contained draft cards and other matter. (Vietnam, see Oct 21 -22; DCB, see January 5, 1968)
October 20, 1973: “Saturday Night Massacre”. Solicitor General Robert Bork fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox at the direction of President Richard Nixon after Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Assistant Attorney General Ruckelshaus had refused and resigned. (see Oct 20)
Iran hostage crisis
October 20, 1979: the U.S. government allowed the deposed Shah of Iran to travel to New York for medical treatment. (see Nov 4)
US Labor History
October 20, 1980: Presidential candidate Ronald Reagan wrote to PATCO President Robert Poli with this promise: if the union endorsed Reagan, "I will take whatever steps are necessary to provide our air traffic controllers with the most modern equipment available and to adjust staff levels and work days so that they are commensurate with achieving a maximum degree of public safety." He got the endorsement. Nine months after the election (see August 5, 1981) he fired the air traffic controllers for engaging in an illegal walkout over staffing levels and working conditions. (see June 12, 1981)
October 20, 2000: Robert D Ray (see August 28, 1987) died. (see July 7 > 12, 2002)
October 20, 2010: Barack Obama's administration announced it would also appeal the judge's ruling on the constitutionally of Don't ask, don't Tell even though Obama announced earlier in the year that he wished to end the policy. (see Nov 1)
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