On September 19, 1973 — 49 years ago today — 26-year-old musician Gram Parsons died of "multiple drug use" (morphine and tequila) in a California motel room.
His death inspired one of the more bizarre automobile-related “crimes” on record.
Two of his friends stashed his body in a borrowed hearse and drove it into the middle of the Joshua Tree National Park, where they doused it with gasoline and set it on fire.
Parsons' music helped define the country-rock sound, and his records have influenced everyone from the Rolling Stones to Wilco.
But like many musicians of his generation, Parsons struggled with drugs and alcohol. His childhood was unhappy. His father committed suicide when he was 12, and his mother died of alcohol poisoning on the day he graduated from high school.
He dropped out of Harvard and moved to California, where he played with bands like the Byrds (on their seminal album, Sweetheart of the Rodeo) and the Flying Burrito Brothers.
He released two celebrated solo albums with the then-unknown Emmylou Harris singing backup.
At a friend's funeral a few months before he died, Parsons made a drunken pact with his road manager, Phil Kaufman. If anything should happen to one of them, the other would take his body to Joshua Tree and cremate it.
And so, after Parsons' overdose, Kaufman and a roadie named Michael Martin met his coffin at the Los Angeles airport.
They loaded it into a borrowed hearse with broken windows and no license plates. The hearse belonged to Martin's girlfriend, who used it to carry tents and other gear on camping trips.
For complicated reasons involving a disputed inheritance, Parsons’ stepfather had arranged for the body to be flown to Louisiana for a private funeral. Kaufman convinced the airport staff that the Parsons family had changed its mind about the flight. Having gotten the body, they drove 200 miles to the Mojave Desert, stopping along the way to fill a five-gallon tin can with gasoline.
Then they drove into Joshua Tree and dragged the coffin to the foot of the majestic Cap Rock, where they doused it with the gas and tossed on a match.
Kaufman and Martin were arrested, but since stealing bodies was not actually a crime in California, they were fined $300 each plus $750 for the ruined coffin.
They raised the money by holding a "Kaper Koncert" starring Bobby Pickett & the Cryptkeepers, who played their hit "Monster Mash" over and over.
On this date in 1959, the DAVE BRUBECK QUARTET released the jazz standard TAKE FIVE (Sep 21, 1959)
NOTE: The video here is the Dave Brubeck Quartet performing the classic TAKE FIVE in Belgium in 1964. I've upscaled and colorized this clip featuring the line-up: Paul Desmond (alto sax), Joe Morello (drums), Eugene Wright (bass) and Dave Brubeck (piano).
Taking its name from its unorthodox quintuple (5/4) time, the jazz standard TAKE FIVE was composed by Paul Desmond, and originally recorded by the Dave Brubeck Quartet at Columbia Records' 30th Street Studio in New York City in July 1959 for their album Time Out, TAKE FIVE.
Brubeck explained in a 1995 interview with Paul Zollo that he asked Desmond to try writing a song in 5/4.
Said Brubeck: "I told Paul to put a melody over (drummer) Joe Morello's beat. So Paul put a couple melodies. But he didn't have a tune. He just had two melodies. He said, 'I can't write a tune in 5/4,' and he had given up. I said, 'You've got two good melodies here, let's work out a form.' So I worked out an A-A-B-A form and Paul caught on immediately."
Two years later it became a surprise hit and the biggest-selling jazz single ever.
Revived since in numerous movie and television soundtracks, the piece still receives significant radio airplay.
The single was inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1996.
“The 1904 collapse of the Darlington Apartments at 406 West 46th Street during construction was a sudden and complete failure: eleven stories fell into a pile of rubble less than 15 feet high in a matter of seconds, killing 25 people.
The collapse and forensic analysis were prominently reported in the newspapers and engineering press; thirty years later, the publicity was cited as a deterrent to structural use of cast-iron columns. This failure became permanently linked to the shortcomings of cast-iron structure.
If completed, the Darlington would have been typical of an obsolete structural type: the high-rise cage-frame building. Cage frames, first built in the 1870s, had an iron frame supporting the floor gravity loads and surrounded by a self-supporting masonry wall that provided lateral stability to the building.
The use of cast-iron columns in commercial buildings with cage frames had effectively ended by the mid-1890s; the structural engineers who were increasingly used as consultants in commercial high-rise design preferred wrought-iron and steel columns.”
Article excerpt and photo from researchgate
Photos from Scientific American, March 12, 1904
Google maps street view 2022 of 406 West 46 Street
In 1964, Lucille Ball was the sole owner of Desilu Studios and the first woman to ever run a major Hollywood studio. At the time, Desilu producers were looking for ideas that could be developed into new series and they contracted two ambitious writers to develop pilots: Gene Roddenberry with "Star Trek" and Bruce Geller with "Mission: Impossible."
Desilu took the Star Trek pilot to CBS with whom they had a first-refusal agreement but the network rejected it and opted to pick up another new space-themed show "Lost in Space." The studio then took the pilot, "The Cage," to NBC which called it "too cerebral" but, rather than rejecting it outright, they took the unprecedented move of ordering a second pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before." The network decided to order a season but the Desilu Board of Directors balked. Fearing that the studio was overstretching itself with three expensive new programs -- Star Trek, Mission Impossible, and a western called The Long Hunt for April Savage -- all but one of the board members voted to cancel Star Trek in February 1966.
Lucille Ball, however, had high hopes for the fledgling show and was impressed by Roddenberry’s vision so she used her power as board chair to override the decision. Production of the show continued and the first episode aired in September of that year. As studio accountant Edwin Holly later conceded, "If it were not for Lucy, there would be no 'Star Trek' today." So the next time that you’re watching Star Trek -- or one of the many science fiction future worlds that it inspired -- remember that you have one more reason to love Lucy!
The Coast Guard Cutter Kimball crew on a routine patrol in the Bering Sea encountered a People’s Republic of China Guided Missile Cruiser, Renhai CG 101, sailing approximately 75 nautical miles north of Kiska Island, Alaska, September 19, 2022.
The Kimball crew later identified two more Chinese naval vessels and four Russian naval vessels, including a Russian Federation Navy destroyer, all in a single formation with the Renhai as a combined surface action group operating in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
As a result, the Kimball crew is now operating under Operation Frontier Sentinel, a Seventeenth Coast Guard District operation designed to meet presence with presence when strategic competitors operate in and around U.S. waters. The U.S Coast Guard’s presence strengthens the international rules-based order and promotes the conduct of operations in a manner that follows international norms. While the surface action group was temporary in nature, and Kimball observed it disperse, the Kimball will continue to monitor activities in the U.S. EEZ to ensure the safety of U.S. vessels and international commerce in the area. A Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak C-130 Hercules air crew provided support to the Kimball’s Operation Frontier Sentinel activities.
In September 2021, Coast Guard cutters deployed to the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean also encountered Chinese naval vessels, including a surface action group transiting approximately 50 miles off the Aleutian Island chain.
“While the formation has operated in accordance with international rules and norms,” said Rear Adm. Nathan Moore, Seventeenth Coast Guard District commander, “we will meet presence-with-presence to ensure there are no disruptions to U.S. interests in the maritime environment around Alaska.”
Kimball is a 418-foot legend-class national security cutter homeported in Honolulu, Hawaii.
This curious tiny steel prefabricated home was designed by William Van Alen who designed the Chrysler Building. It was placed on this site - 345 Riverside Drive at the corner of 107th Street - in 1937 by Dr. Charles V. Paterno. This was an atypical project for Paterno due to a quirky deed restriction. Once the deed restriction was satisfied, this little house was destroyed in 1941. This lot and the 4 others next door were sold by Dr. Paterno's son in 1951 to Harry Gildin who erected the apartment house that stands there today.
Photo Source: Municipal Archives, City of New York (1940 tax photo)
On September 28, 1991 — 31 years ago today — jazz trumpet legend Miles Davis died in a California hospital at the age of 65.
Today, our vocabulary may no longer be adequate to describe the nature of an artist like Miles Davis. In a career that spanned parts of six decades, Davis didn't simply evolve as an individual musician. He drove the very evolution of the art form he worked in, pulling much of the jazz world along with him as he moved from one new sound to the next with utter disregard for the critical or popular reaction.
And though the reception to some of the directions Davis took was strongly negative, it never kept him from pursuing new ones. As he once said of himself, "I have to change....It's like a curse."
Miles Dewey Davis III was given his first trumpet on the day he turned 13, and by the time he was 15, he was a card-carrying member of the local musicians' union in Saint Louis, Missouri. He left St. Louis for New York City in 1944 to pursue a degree in music at Juilliard, though he immersed himself in the world of professional jazz while still receiving his classical training.
In the clubs on 52nd Street in postwar Manhattan, a new sound was being born, and Davis had a hand in its creation. As a member of Charlie Parker's quintet in 1945, Davis played on some of the earliest recordings made in the hugely popular style that became known as be-bop. By 1948, he was leading his own quintet on the first of his many departures from the jazz mainstream.
First came "cool jazz," a highly cerebral and highly unpopular style that nevertheless sparked a whole new movement. Then came "hard bop," a style he developed in the mid-1950s after several years lost in the early part of the decade to heroin addiction.
The decade that followed was the period of Davis's greatest popularity — a period during which he not only continued to break new musical ground on albums like Miles Ahead (1957), Kind of Blue (1959) and Sketches of Spain (1960).
He also managed to introduce the world to many other jazz greats he employed as sidemen: John Coltrane, Red Garland, Cannonball Adderley, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock.
From the mid-1960s onward, the rate of Davis's evolution only increased as he went through periods of experimentation with rock and funk, among other new sounds.
In early September 1991, Davis checked into St. John's Hospital near his home in Santa Monica, California, for routine tests. Doctors suggested he have a tracheal tube implanted to relieve his breathing after repeated bouts of bronchial pneumonia. The suggestion provoked an outburst from Davis that led to an intracerebral hemorrhage followed by a coma.
After several days on life support, his machine was turned off and he died on September 28, 1991 at age 65. His death was attributed to the combined effects of a stroke, pneumonia and respiratory failure. Davis was taking azidothymidine (AZT), a type of antiretroviral drug used for the treatment of HIV and AIDS, during his treatments in hospital.
Davis is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery in The Bronx, New York City, with one of his trumpets, near the site of Duke Ellington's grave.