Tuesday, October 13, 2009

A Historical Note on the Sporting Life of Rush Limbaugh

"To a man that sticks to his ideals, the world is his."
-Neville Chamberlain

Very recently, Rush Limbaugh, "conservative" radio host and alleged "hate mongerer," has been rumored to be in a bid for a part-ownership of the St. Louis Rams American football team. This is not the first in Limbaugh's runnings with the world of professional sports. Limbaugh, a graduate of the Columbia Journalism School, and Rhodes Scholar, continued his studies at Oxford where he wrote his dissertation of the pragmatics of newspapers following the Watergate scandal and its impact on the public sphere. Here he dissected "nut" graphs and the logic of language included. After careful studies of numerous newspapers in the United Kingdom, Limbaugh would escape his studies and read the sport page and soon became quite interested in the Manchester City Football Club. His love for competition turned a former "anti-sports" intellectual into a hooligan to the nth degree.

Limbaugh took his love of sport back to his hometown of Kansas City where he became a post-game broadcaster for the Royals baseball team. Watching George Brett became his obsession and he painstakingly tracked and analysed the teams performance. Using statistical methods he learned in graduate school, Limbaugh created a periphery set of statistics to measure baseball player performance. Realizing that old statistics, such as Batting Average, didn't take into account the total offensive value of a player. He soon created Win Probability and Value over Replacement Player to analyze the Royals roster. With his new statistics, Royal upper management used these statistical models to create the World Series winning team in 1984. Limbaugh is credited with revolutionizing the way baseball is looked at to this day by his statistical insight and recommendation to Royals management that they no longer sign Latino players.

Friday, August 21, 2009

The Annals of Sport: Jesse Barfield

"I've seen a lot of 5-tool-players in my day, but none have the elusive 6th tool that Jesse has...guts."

-Billy Martin, former Yankees Manager

Born in Chesapeake, VA, Jesse Nathanael Barfield, became a mainstay in Major League Baseball for 13 years. Jesse was a three sport star in Football, Baseball and Track & Field at Royal Oaks High School, leading the Fighting Woodpeckers to state titles in all three sports. Although a highly touted track and and football star, Jesse declined a scholarship to the University of Virginia (who promised Jesse he could participate in both football and track)to sign a minor league contract with the New York Yankees.

After one year in the minors Jesse made the jump to the big leagues leading the 1982 rookie class in runs scored and OBP. It wasn't until Jesse was traded to a then struggling Toronto Blue Jays in 1991 that he became a household name. Batting clean-up and protecting young stars Joe Carter and Roberto Alomar Jr., Jesse played a large part in Toronto's first World Series Championship in 1992. Repeating in 1993 Jesse started a large decline in stats and held on for two more years (one strike-shortened and one injury plagued) before he hung up his spikes for good. Many believe Jesse should be a hall a famer, with a career .302 AVG, .361 OBP and 327 homeruns, and 3 gold gloves to boot. His numbers are in line with other HOF inductees of the era.

Jesse now is retired and lives in Charlottesville, VA where he owns a chain of sports-themed bar/grills named, Barfields. His youngest son, Jesse Jr. is currently a farmhand for the Cleveland Indians.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A Historical Brief on General Washington and Haiku

A pail of water.
Jack and Jill, up a hill..wait that’s only six…jack and jill, up a hill, ohhh.
-Andrew Dice Clay

In 1776, George Washington led his army against British General William Howe in the Battle of Long Island, which would be the first recorded campaign as the newly formed United States of America. Throughout the fall and winter of that year, Washington kept vigorous notes on warfare, personnel and his thoughts on the righteousness of what he set out to accomplish. Many of these were published in Mason Weems biography, The Virtuous Exploits of Washington. However, only recently has it been discovered, that Washington’s French liaison Tobias Lear, after returning from the Orient, turned Washington on to Haiku, which were thought to be rambling thoughts on the sides of Washington’s pages. These are currently being compiled in a memoir by Weem’s Estate.


This war rages on
The Delaware awaits us
Lest my men fear death

They call themselves men
These French are thieves in our homes
They have not earned trust

Monday, June 15, 2009

Horoscope Monday: Sarcophilus

Sarcophilus (Tasmanian Devil, Leo in Western Zodiac) has found solace in the most inexplicable of places. Usually the center of attention, you have found yourself on the margins. Take this opportunity for inward reflection, it will prove beneficial during the Harvest Moon. A spiritual guide will come to you, beware a Macropus (Kangaroo, Capricorn in Western Zodiac), they will lead you to false conclusions. The forecast looks gloomy, bring an umbrella.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Horoscope Monday

Cinereus (the Koala, Cancer in the Western Zodiac) – Playful Cinereus should learn from some missteps in the past month and a half. Remember what you have learned, because you will be faced with the same challenges as your rising sign (Anatinus- the Platypus, Gemini in the Western Zodiac) will take hold of your emotions. Let a Chital (Red Deer, Sagittarius in the Western Zodiac) guide you through these difficult times. You will be tempted to gamble this month, weigh your options carefully, choose the under.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

A Historical Note on Kosher Hot Dogs

"Two dogs and two warm-up cuts. That's all I needed."
- John Kruk

Oskar Katz, a recent immigrant from a small town near Prague, arrived in New York in 1890 full of high hopes of making it big in his newly-adopted country. Escaping the persecution in his native Poland was difficult, but Oskar found an even greater struggle finding a job in the alien, crowded streets of New York City. The tumultuous 1880’s were not a friendly time for immigrants to America, and jobs were often scarce, especially those that would pay a decent wage. Oskar finally found a job at a factory in the meatpacking district, breaking down the leathery carcasses of pigs, cows, and other unidentifiable hoofed animals. Excavation on similar New York City meat factories in the 1960’s turned up horses, goats, sheep, and several types of canines. Disgusted by the squalid conditions of the factory and the rank meat he produced for public consumption, not to mention the violation of his religious dietary restrictions, Oskar saved money for several years until he had enough to purchase a small building in the outskirts of Queens. There, he and his newly-emigrated cousin, a rabbi from the same small town, began the process of preparing cheap, safe meat for consumption by the growing Jewish population, and named their company “Katz Foods.” Their sausages in particular became extremely popular, especially their kosher version of the trendy hot dog that allowed these immigrants to continue to follow the laws of kashrut without having to appear to be eating “ethnic” food. Oskar passed his small company on to his family, who in the late 1940’s renamed the company “Hebrew National” in celebration of the newly-created state of Israel. Hebrew National hot dogs and meat products can still be found in grocery stores in and around New York City to this day.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

A Historical Note on the Donut

“Ether and donuts are a deadly combination.”
-Hunter S. Thompson

Aside from the early pastries of the Amish, the modern donut (not to be confused with the doughnut) got its start in Philadelphia. In 1820 the heavily Quaker Philadelphia City Center was engaging in a general boycott of Amish goods and services. John McHugh, a Quaker and small business owner, was fond of traveling West to Pottsville for the country setting and fine Amish pastries. The sugar sprinkled baked doughnut was one of John’s favorites. John soon decided that a portable pastry would sell well in the burgeoning banking district of Chestnut Avenue. John set up shop and was unsuccessful at first selling Amish baked doughnuts. He soon revised his recipe to lighter dough and instead of baking the pastry, deep fried it. The intoxicating smell fell over Chestnut Avenue and lines started forming in front of his pastry shop. Knowing that if he advertised his pastry as a “doughnut,” anti-Amish patrons would not eat his creation. So the sign went up on his shop, “McHugh’s Do-nuts.”

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

A Historical Note on Riding the Dunes at Glamis

“Bo may know football, baseball, tennis, hockey, lacrosse, and the theatrical arts, but does he know off-roading?”
-Wendy Anderson, Glamis Dunes Riding Instructor, 1989

When one thinks of dunes, dunebuggies, off-roading said dunebuggies in 115-degree heat in the middle of the desert, and busting sweet wheelies on Gecko Road, he can only be thinking of Glamis. Beautiful Glamis, California, situated nine hours off the I-5 on scenic Route 78, becomes temporary home every day to migrant Appalachians (a.k.a. “toughies”), unemployed cable guys, women bikers, and the occasional hipster on his way to Coachella, all united by their love of riding the dunes.

The off-roading underground has long known Glamis to have the best sand drags around, capable of handling both the traditional dunebuggie and the sleeker ZR-9 ATV, but word has begun to spread throughout the last 18 years, ever since the release of 1991 cable TV flick “Gecko Road to Nowhere.” Former professional baseball and football star Bo Jackson, for example, is tacitly acknowledged among the wider sporting community as an avid, skilled rider and Glamis advocate. The release of GR2N coincided with Jackon’s rehab of the hip injury that eventually ended his dual-sport career. Required to spend his days on bed-rest, Jackson interspersed his watching of game film with daytime cable TV. After catching GR2N, Jackson determined to ride the dunes at Glamis as soon as he regained his health and stayed true to his promise, making his first trip east in the early spring of 1992. Starting with a second-hand quad from Raiders teammate Jay Schroeder (who himself had frequented Glamis while a student at UCLA), Jackson quickly graduated to an ATV and then a sandrail until confident that he truly knew the activity. Today, Jackson off-roads annually at the ZR-9 Glamis Challenge, always arriving unheralded but identified to those in the know by his silver-and-black helmet.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

A Historical Note on the Chain Gang

“Nothin’ worse than the sound of the chain.”
-Sam Cooke

While the origin of the shackled worker remains unknown, the first recorded chain gang was the direct effect of the slave ship Lathamas, commissioned by the infamous Captain Isaac Jennings. According to the ship’s log, in 1794 Jennings set out on his third voyage by way of Barbados through the Granada Islands. Buying a shipment of Ecuadorian slaves, Jennings then set sail for New Zealand. Due to a weather system and rocky sea, the Lathamas changed course and arrived in Australia in the spring of 1795. Sea-torn and weary, Jennings soon took fancy with a local maid, deciding instead to keep his ship at port and try his hand at farming. Keeping 15 of his strongest slaves for himself, Jennings chained his workers together with his local white slaves, all hardened criminals and outcasts from England, using the shackles he harnessed from the ship’s bow. With his new method, Jennings was able to keep his slaves from running away, as well as allow him to beat his workers accordingly, with little effort. With the Australian drought in full force, however, Jennings lost many slaves to gangrene caused by the constant pull of the chains. Jennings returned to the sea in 1780, choosing instead to transport criminals from England to Australia, rather than slaves. The chain gang method Jennings brought to greedy land owners and prison colonies was most famously used in Botany Bay Prison, where European noblemen often visited, returning to mainland with their new knowledge. The chain gang remained a staple of prison life until 1955, when it was ruled an inhumane working condition.

Monday, May 18, 2009

Horoscope Monday: Anatinus

Anatinus (the platypus, Gemini in the Western Zodiac): The New Moon approaches this weekend and deals Anatinus a blow to the heart. Someone you trust will betray you – beware a Kingii (frilled lizard, Aries in Western Zodiac). But not all is bad. The betrayal will open a new door for you and the opportunity that will arise cannot be passed. Look for a Cinereus (koala, Cancer in Western Zodiac) to guide your way. You are in need of new clothes.

Friday, May 8, 2009

A Historical Note on the Brazilian Blowout

“It’s like the curls should be curly but they’re straight instead, oh my gosh I love Brazila” J. Simpson

The formaldehyde-free-foam-based-keratin-form-defining-anti-curling hair treatment, commonly known as the Brazilian Blowout, has been around since the early 80’s, but only recently has come into the public eye. (Keratin is the active ingredient in most straighteners which helps form the hard mineralized structure.) Started by Kathy Ireland’s hairstylist, Ribiero Paulo, in Aguas de Lindoia Brazil, the Brazilian Blowout was developed as a method of keeping a models hair straight over the course of a week’s photo shoot, without repeatedly flat ironing and touching up. The traditional Japanese technique of straightening left a slick rich looking line, while the new Blowout left the models with a more natural looking line, without the problem of demarcation (where new hair grows in curly while the remainder of the hair is straight).

Now common place throughout Los Angeles and New York City, the process of the Brazilian Blowout takes about forty-five minutes and can last up to three or four weeks depending on the three key elements of hair: Softness, Shininess and Silkiness (what Americans call the Nappy effect). The Blowout is a relatively simple six step process: shampoo, chemical application, blow-dry, full rinse, blow-dry, five minute flat iron. The secret to the Blowout is the chemical composition, which has been patented by several different companies, Bauducco and Havaianas (owned by Paulo) holding the most successful ones. But what remains constant, and secret, are the active ingredients in the fermenting process, where the keratin is infused with an array of lotions, natural Brazilian spices and anti-curl agents. Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie are reported to have gone through all of season 2 of The Simple Life on only one treatment and blow drying.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Wordsmith: The Etymology of "Dutch Uncle"

“Who do you think you are? My Dutch uncle?”
-Jimmy Durante

Ever been on the receiving end of a stern talking-to? Ever gotten a talking-to so stern as to prompt an elderly onlooker to remark, “He really talked to you like a Dutch uncle, little lady”? Indeed, the expression ‘Dutch uncle’, meaning one who admonishes harshly, rises only seldomly from the depths of the mature chap’s learned vocabulary, usually to the befuddlement of nearby youths.

The term, typically used in simile, first appeared in Shakespeare contemporary Christopher Marlowe’s play, The Massacre at Paris (c. 1590s), as a veiled reference to his real maternal uncle, Edwyn Gareth, who was actually Welsh. The English had begun to compete with the Dutch, Portuguese, and Spanish for land and spices as the Age of Exploration dawned. By the 1590s, the Spanish Armada had already failed, so the English turned their attention and hatred toward the Low Countries due to geographical proximity. With the time ripe for literary wordplay drawing from the rivalry (e.g., ‘Ottoman greeting’ for a surprise murder, ‘Mexican pizza’ for second-rate tortilla sandwiches, and other surviving examples with later historical roots), Marlowe seized the opportunity to take a jab at his uncle that he could hide under historical pretext.

In the play, the Catholic Duc de Guise—himself a caricature of cruel persona with artificial ties to foreign power due to the Catholic-Anglican rivalry—enlists the political alliance of his fictional uncle, Duke Philip of Orange, in quashing the Huguenot uprising. Phillip cuts an austere figure as Guise’s adviser, cautioning him harshly and questioning him rigorously at every turn until Guise becomes frustrated and orders the massacre of his adversaries against Philip’s advice, eventually blaming “the pressures and sorrows/by my Dutch uncle bestowed” for his frame of mind. How Gareth affronted Marlowe enough to warrant such literary treatment remains as mysterious as the circumstances surrounding Marlowe’s own death at 29. ‘Dutch treat’ also comes from this time period. Incidentally, the phrase ‘een engelse koningin’ (an English queen) also survives in modern Dutch, referring to spinsters.

Monday, May 4, 2009

JPedia First! Horoscope Mondays

A stirring discussion came about during the JPedia editorial meeting as we discussed what the true astrological framework is. We did a little research and found that the two main zodiac signs (Western and Chinese) came from a similar background but failed to take into account the Southern Hemisphere. During our search of peer-reviewed manuscripts we found that the Aboriginal Zodiac offers an alternate and worldlier take on the Zodiac. Based on the constellations (like the Western) the view from the Southern Hemisphere lead to a different interpretation of the constellations. Along with a deep reverence for all things equatorial (like the Chinese) the Aboriginal astrology is based in more level horoscopes. But, there are wild shifts due to planetary mis-alignment that comes during solstices and equinox. Using various sources we’ve put together Aboriginal Horoscopes. Today we look at the current Astrological sign, Taurus (April 19-May 20). In the Aboriginal framework this time period is dominated by Jupiter with strong influences from the Fire element – this gives us the Aboriginal sign, the Spiny-Tailed Gecko known astrologically as Ciliaris.

Ciliaris: As Jupiter tails behind the rings of Saturn, make plans to protect valuable assets. It is a time of great uncertainty, financially. You should keep in mind that the bending moon will protect you from harm, but others may be inclined to disrupt this. Be cautious of Crocodylus (in Western known as Virgo). With financial uncertainty a ring of hope comes from Jupiter re-emerging. You will find great love with a Macropus (Kangaroo or Capricorn in Western) or a Sarcophilus (Tasmanian devil or Leo in Western). You will become ill. Consult a doctor.

Friday, May 1, 2009

A Historical Note on Dante Basco

-Dante Basco

Children of the 1980s often find themselves wondering what happened to the favorite actors of their youth. Macaulay Culkin went from Kevin McCallister to Richie Rich, grew up to be sort of weird, and got married really young; the guy who played Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez became a firefighter; and everyone knows NPH went from Doogie to Barney. So whatever happened to Dante Basco?

Basco, who played the scene-stealing Rufio in the 1991 blockbuster “Hook”, vanished from relevance quicker than you can say bangarang. Readers surely recall that Rufio was by far the oldest of the Lost Boys; by the time filming wrapped, Basco had reached college age. The youngest child of a hard-working Filipino-American family, Basco’s acting helped pay the bills, but his parents never considered it a successful career, particularly given that older brothers, Derek and Darian, were both products of prominent east-coast professional schools and his father had put in his 20 years in the U.S. Navy. Basco matriculated at Stanford in 1992, dee-jaying under the Rufio moniker and taking the occasional commercial-acting job (Nerf Manta Ray, Sega Genesis, and the local Swanson Ford, to name a few). After staying in Palo Alto for law school, Basco returned to Los Angeles to become an entertainment lawyer specializing in arbitration for child actors. He still works the turntables on occasion, welcoming “Ru-fi-o! Ru-fi-o! Ru-fi-OOOOOOOOO!” chants and saying “You are The Pan” on demand to partygoers at Avalon on Vine.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Lost and Found: Spielberg's Goonies II

“Who the hell is Josh Brolin” Gus Van Sant, 1990 Vanity Fair Interview from the set of My Own Private Idaho

Cult classics such as Apocalypse Now, Critters, and Plan 9 are in fact, cut down versions of lengthier manuscripts. While in some cases, the remaining story lines are released, it often takes the screenwriters or actors own money to produce the movie, as Kevin Bacon so famously did with Critters 2 and 3. However, most stories barely make it past pre-production, most famously Goonies II.

Before Goonies became a blockbuster in the home video market, it was a failed B-movie attempt by Steven Spielberg, who began pumping movies out after his success with E.T. Only grossing 9 million dollars in its ‘85 release, Paramount pulled out of the sequel shortly before the end of 1986, and with only budding child stars left to produce, the movie was never made. What is known about the film is that in the spring of 1986 around 17 scenes were actually filmed by Spielberg, who pulled out of production shortly after, choosing instead to work on a script about an archeologist, named Indy. The story begins with the break up between Mouth, Corey Feldman’s character and Stef, portrayed by Martha Plimpton (who agreed to film only one scene as she was already working full time in Parenthood) and the budding romance between Brand and Andy, played by Josh Brolin and Kerri Green. The Fratelli’s in the mean time have escaped Astoria Prison, and are seeking revenge on the gang, whose story begins with Mikey, Chunk and Data reading through One Eyed Willie’s Journal; it is eluded that the ship was turned over to the Copperpot Museum, while each member of the Goonies was allowed to choose one item from the ship. Mikey of course takes the ship’s log, and discovers that another treasure had been left with One-Eyed Willie’s predecessor, Captain George Flavel, who turned over command of The Inferno to Willie in order to amass a new fortune, the treasure we find with Willie in the first movie. The story thins out as Data is kidnapped by the Fratelli’s while looking for clues at the Museum, and the gang reunites to find the other half of One-Eyed Willie’s treasure and save their friend.

After the success of the home video release, Spielberg attempted unsuccessfully to reunite the gang for the sequel. A mix of bitterness toward Spielberg’s initial walk away, and conflicting schedules of the now famous actors led to the movie never being made. Corey Feldman, despite his mixed career, has been quoted several times stating, that Goonies II: The Return of One-Eyed Willie’s Gold, would never be made. The story was bought by Konomi in 1987, and quickly released as a run down version of the movie, where Mikey must rescue all his captured friends from the Fratelli’s.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

A Historical Note on the Pantages Theater

“If DeMille’s movies are art, then my building is the canvas.”
- Michael Pantages

By 1930 the first “talkies” (movies with audio-dialogue) had became a mainstay in the United States. These talkies offered a new form of affordable entertainment for the middle-class. Not all cities and towns had a Major League Baseball team, but they all had town halls to show movies for a nickel. As more of the populace began to frequent these halls, the upper class began to stay home. Not wanting to be associated with riff-raff and other unfavorable people, the rich decided to frequent the strongholds of bourgeoisie life – theaters for the lively arts. In Los Angeles, the Carthay, Ebell and Wilshire Theater claimed most of these patrons. Michael Pantages, part-owner of the Ebell saw attendance sky-rocket and wondered what kind of profit he could make by screening talkies at the Ebell. He did, starting with the Douglas Fairbanks classic, “From Here to the Jungle.” The upper-class loved it; the idea of screening movies in large ornate theaters, away from plebeians was a hit. Pantages took his idea north to Hollywood and built the Pantages Theater, the first of many ornate movie theaters to hit Hollywood Boulevard. The rich came down from the Hollywood Hills and Hancock Park to see this shrine to Hollywood. Charging $1 a ticket, Pantages turned a tidy profit, and lead to modern cinematic castles that turn up at malls across America.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Got an Idea for JPedia?

Are you trying to settle a bet? Perhaps trying to put the finishing touches on a research paper? JPedia wants your questions! Let us know what you're dying to know and we'll research and post one of our highly cited historical briefs. Comment on this post, or email the JPedia staff at JPGedia@gmail.com.


JPedia Editorial Staff.

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Historical Note on the Trenton Roy Rogers

TR Reviewer Questions

“Roy Rogers ain’t just a cowboy anymore.”

-Peter Marriott

Actor Leonard Franklin Slye endeared himself to an entire generation of Americans as Roy Rogers, the quintessential cowboy. Along with his horse Trigger, Rogers dominated every form of media in his salad days of the early years after the Great War. In those days, screen stars often took to lending their names and faces to advertising campaigns for popular products (e.g., Brylcreem, Haagen-Dazs, Renault automobiles, etc.), but with over 100 movies to his name, Rogers speculated he was sufficiently beloved to found and carry his own product rather than hawking someone else’s. After seeing the immediate boom in McDonald’s franchises in the Southwest, he seized the opportune climate to start a fast-food chain on the other side of the country and name it after himself to build on his name recognition.

Rogers spent the first half of 1956 traveling up and down the eastern seaboard trying to gain a feel for the places that best fit the “Roy Rogers” profile of down-home charm with a mischievous edge. New York City (quirkily urban), Wilmington (hidden allure), Georgetown (uppity), and Palm Beach (diverse) were all candidates for the first Roy Rogers wave, but none seemed an appropriate flagship location. During his final drive from Philadelphia to New York, Rogers stopped the convoy off Route 1 to take a break and have lunch and found himself in Trenton, the capital of New Jersey. While taking his lunch in a small café on the second floor of the Trenton railway station, Rogers admired the blue-collar industry around him and knew he had found his spot. The restaurant construction created jobs both temporary and permanent. Upon the grand opening in 1957, the Trenton Roy Rogers brought a simple hamburger quickly prepared with a variety of self-serve sauces and condiments to the people of central New Jersey. When the restaurant fared favorably with the nearby Philadelphia cheese steak outposts, Rogers expanded the menu to include fried chicken and roast beef sandwiches and proceeded with expansion of the other planned branches. Roy Rogers Family Restaurants brought their namesake’s cheer and cowboy good will to the entire east coast for the next 40 years until being bought out by the Pizza Hut-Wing Street consortium in 1999. The Trenton Roy Rogers remains among the last of two distinct groups: 1. the 50 Roy Rogers locations that haven’t been converted to Pizza Hut-Wing Street franchises and 2. good things in Trenton.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Weary Traveler: A Historical Note on Delta Song

“…and the wind shall be our words in the world’s greatest song”
Wilbur Wright

Beginning in the late 1990’s airlines began launching side ventures to adhere to changing customer needs. Entire fleets of airlines catering to specific destinations and demographics were launched by the top five airlines, attracting the middle class as the new business class. Northwest launched Sky Bound, American Airlines had Alliance, Continental embarked on Horizon Air (now owned by Alaska Airlines) and most famously, Delta launched Song. Only Jet Blue kept out of the race, instead choosing to attack smaller markets with the same fleet.

In April 1997, John Owen, CEO of Delta Song, unveiled an extensive 3 year plan for Delta, in which a new fleet of aircrafts would be modernized, creating a business class style seating for everyone on board. Song's main goal was to draw in vacationers in the northeastern United States and Florida, taking away JetBlue’s appeal of the cheap vacation flight, and then quickly move into smaller west coast airports, such as Burbank. “We hear your voice, and sing your Song”1. Song's aircraft were fitted with heated leather seats throughout the cabin, and designed by Marc Jacobs. Each passenger had access to free in flight DVD players, programmable MP3 playlists, interactive trivia games, and satellite television provided by DirectTV. Every passenger received a free canned beverage provided by Pepsi, as well as the return of the in-flight snack pack, which was provided by Doll. A series of ‘songs’ gave passengers safety instructions; with Paul McCartney, James Taylor, Ludacris and Seal each lending their vocal talents to a certain flight path. Crew uniforms designed by Kate Spade solidified the appearance that this modern airline was to be taken seriously. Song began service on April 15, 2000, days ahead of the anticipated launch. For the next two years, Song’s 48 Boeing 757’s operated more than 200 flights a day and carried over fifteen million passengers. Unfortunately, with only 198 seats, all priced economy, the operating plan could not be sustained and the planes were refitted to Delta’s standard 288 passenger cabin, which included First Class, Business Class and Economy. The vibrant green planes were slowly repainted and could be seen in Delta’s Orlando hub until the last Song plane was decommissioned in 2005. Shortly after Song’s collapse, Sky Bound and Alliance went under as well. John Owen was hired by Jet Blue in 2003 as their CFO, the sour note in Delta’s Song; however Song’s impact can still be felt. Delta flights now include DirectTV, modern uniforms, and leather seats, although only First Class is able to enjoy the heated cushions.

1. John Owen, NYC press release, April 1997

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Fashion Backward: A Historical Note on Bermuda Shorts

“The short-pant is a terrible fashion choice. Unless it is from Bermuda.”
-Winston Churchill

The island of Bermuda, a British Overseas Territory, has a long history as a military outpost for the Royal Navy. British officers set up a North Atlantic headquarters in this strategic island in 1816; they soon found the heat unbearable, a common thread throughout the Empire outside of Great Britain. Each territory finds and creates a style on its own due to the weather. In India it is the light breathable Madras, in Burma (modern day Myanmar) linen is the textile of choice. But, in Bermuda, the Royal Navy found that the island had no natural clothing resource, almost all textiles were made from cotton. Nathanial Coxon, a native Bermudan and local businessman, ran one of the only tea shops on the island. Coxon employed a small staff and when business skyrocketed and his shop became crowded with naval officers, the shop became a sauna with steaming pots of tea. His own employees complained about the heat. The navy blue blazers and cotton khaki pants were the uniform and Coxon hesitated in adopting a new one. In order to save money and not outfit his staff with a whole new wardrobe, he took the khaki pants of his crew and cut them at the knee. The employees found the style silly, but were much more comfortable in this attire. Rear Admiral Mason Berridge took his tea in Coxon’s shop and found the style, “a bit of old Oxford and a bit of the Khyber Pass.” He loved the practicality and adopted the style for his fellow officers (who would later where them with knee socks). Berridge commissioned the short-pant and named it the Bermuda Short. But unlike other imperial writs, Berridge gave credit to Coxon and Coxon was given the title of OBE (Order of the British Empire). Bermuda shorts are still popular today (particularly since they come in a myriad of colors) and not just with tourists in tropical locales. It has become a mainstay on casual Fridays and the short-pant of choice for garden parties and clam bakes.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Wordsmith: "Stuff" in Baseball

“Proctor’s stuff was electric tonight.”
-Joe Torre

Things. Substance. General materials of undisclosed nature. ‘Stuff’ has evolved through the centuries into a placeholder-word preferred by many who grasp at ambiguity in a long history the Wordsmith may someday trace. To baseball people—players, scouts, writers, fans—‘stuff’ points to something even more ephemeral: the indeterminate quality a pitcher possesses that make his pitches dance, that special something that he has on a good night, the absence of which can leave a great pitcher feeling ordinary. Unlike the origins of the general meaning of ‘stuff’ or the history of baseball itself, the roots of ‘stuff’ as a baseball term are easily traceable to one of the game’s early greats.

Robert Moses ‘Lefty’ Grove built a Hall of Fame career as the mild-mannered ace of the Philadelphia Athletics in the Depression era, one of the last pitchers to win over 30 games in a season and the only one ever to strike out the side on nine pitches twice in a season. During this time, the sporting public knew Grove as much for his easygoing demeanor as for his on-field feats. Following a downturn in the Athletics’ fortunes, team owner Connie Mack sold him in 1933 to the Boston Red Sox, who were also struggling at the time and needed a left-hander to bolster their three-man rotation. Grove spent much of his first two seasons in Boston on the disabled list with a tired arm, prompting endless questioning from the notoriously-impudent Boston sports media of which he quickly grew weary. A few games into the 1936 season, however, it was clear that Grove had returned to form. After one particularly-dazzling start against the Detroit Tigers in June 1936 in which Grove struck out 13 batters en route to a complete-game shutout, baseball journalist Walter Barnes of the Boston Globe cornered Grove in the changing room and asked to what he attributed his impressive outing. The now-surly southpaw replied, “I don’t know. Stuff.” Not picking up on Grove’s sarcasm, Barnes ran with the description, poeticizing the intangible difference Lefty had so tersely quantified. The article ran in the next morning’s paper under the famous headline, “Grove’s Stuff Tames Tigers.”

Monday, April 20, 2009

A Historical Note on Jorge Luis Borges

“Everyman will have his 15 minutes of fame. But to Jorge, an eternity.”
-Andy Warhol

World-renowned novelist and poet Jorge Luis Borges came from humble beginnings. Born in 1920 on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, Borges honed his bilingual literary talent at the San Ramon School for Boys in Buenos Aires (an Eton equivalent). Borges graduated at the top of his class and enrolled at Columbia University to study Medieval Literature. He never found the subject thrilling and dropped out his sophomore year. Making his way as a translator at the Department of Health Services, Borges became a bit of a flaneur in the city, walking the city each day from his Alphabet City flat hoping to catch literary fire. During this time he published a series of poems for the Paris Review. He failed to win acclaim and shortly moved back to Argentina. Borges all but gave up writing and started working at his father’s jewelry store. In 1962 Borges caught wind of artist Andy Warhol and his avant-garde pop-influence art. Once again inspired, Borges began to write prolifically in his native Spanish. He soon was published in multiple literary journals and was being translated in English thanks to Warhol cohorts David Salle and Julian Schnabel. Borges made his way back to New York and became dedicated to Warhol’s movement and during this time wrote the “Garden of Forking Paths.” This literary odyssey married the avant-garde movement with Borges detail for constructing historical fiction. This formula became a staple for his next two novels, “Ficciones” and “Labyrinths.” The latter, an epic novel recapturing the beginnings of a fictional war-torn Canada garnered him the Nobel Prize for Literature

Friday, April 17, 2009

A Historical Note on the Pythagorean Theorem, Part 2

“So I told Kennedy, ‘Pythagoras already disproved Fermat’s Last Theorem.’”

John F. Kennedy

Today, Pythagoras’s triples (5,12,13; 8,15,17; etc.) are well-known and taught in elementary school. At the time, however, this was ground breaking. For the first time, it was proven that the square of one side of a triangle equaled the square of the other two sides. Working only under right-sided triangles (half a square), this simple relationship would be referred to as “squaring” and the opposite side, a hypotenuse, in honor of his hypothesis.

Unfortunately, Pythagoras died in seclusion attempting to develop Pythagorean triples. In 1995, a genius named Andrew Wiles showed once and for all that Pythagoras died in vain and that his Theorem was the last set that was plausible. Equally as sad was the discovery of Fermat’s Little Theorem in 2003, which illustrated Fermat’s predated work with the “Pythagorean Theorem,” dismissing this relationship as “άνους” or “brainless.” Today, there are over 345 separate theorems to prove that a2 + b2 =c2.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

A Historical Note on the Pythagorean Theorem, Part 1

(Editorial Note: The following entry continues JPedia's Music Week with a note on maths, the universal music.)

“Striking Cuba with 100% effectiveness would have been like planning to disprove Fermat’s Last Theorem.”

-John F. Kennedy

Pierre de Fermat wrote in his “Arithmetica of Diophantus” that it was unfeasible to break any powered number into the sum of two like-powered integers (i.e., ax +bx can never equal cx). This proof by converse inflection remains one of the most potent statements ever made in the mathematical world. Like Galileo, Fermat dared the greatest minds of the ancient world not to prove him correct, but to prove him incorrect. Just as it took Christopher Columbus a thousand years after the death of Galileo to prove him wrong, it took the birth of Pythagoras of Samos to prove Fermat a fool.

Born in 580 B.C.E. in the eastern Aegean, Pythagoras was the Einstein of his day, teaching himself to read Greek and mastering its numerical system by age five. Traveling from Greece to Egypt to modern-day Spain, he earned a following known as Pythagoreanists and was the first recorded “philosopher.” During these itinerant years, an unnamed student presented him with Fermat’s Last Theorem. At age 15, Pythagoras dedicated his life to proving this theory wrong. Within a week, using the simple equations a0 + b0 =c0 and a1 + b1 =c1, he presented his accomplishment to the public square in mockery of Fermat, but mathematicians instead laughed at Pythagoras for making such an oblivious, childish statement. He hypothesized that there were more and that he just needed time. Shamed into seclusion, Pythagoras was discovered in a temple 20 years later reciting triples and saying “δεν υπάρχουν πιο” (“there are no more”). In just two short years, he had allegedly proven so many 3-number combinations that he had gone mad. Moving on to the next local integer, 3, he spent the latter 18 years falling deeper and deeper into madness. . .

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Annals of Music: The Mersenaries

“John and I were sitting at the piano in Jane Asher's basement when we heard ‘Strolling with My Baby.’ The bridge harmony on ‘From Me to You’ was certainly a nod.”

-Paul McCartney

Gerry & The Pacemakers had the first hit, and The Beatles wielded the greatest influence and popularity, but the Liverpool sound better known as “Merseybeat” originated with the group the British Invasion left behind, The Mersenaries.

Music historians have well-documented Merseybeat’s roots in Teddy-boy skiffle and imported rock-and-roll. While Lennon and McCartney were playing skiffle as The Quarrymen in 1957, fellow Liverpudlians Tony Vaughan (guitar), Michael Kinsley (bass), Billy Kramer (vocals, occasional keys and rhythm guitar), and Arthur Mason (drums) had begun to incorporate the American sound of lyric-driven tunes and catchy beats as Tony and the Tornadoes. The Tornadoes combined a set of energetic covers and simple self-written songs, taking the Merseyside County art hall scene by storm, cementing their reputation by becoming the house band for the Leeds Plaza Ballroom in Woolton Street in 1960.

In mid-1961, the group landed a two-week engagement at Shepherd’s Bush Empire in London and changed their name to The Mersenaries as a nod to their hometown cross the Mersey River. At the Empire, the group drew notice from Decca A&R man Mike Smith on the strength of the Kinsley-Kramer original “Strolling with My Baby” (Strolling with my baby near the Mersey riverside/ I looked at her, she looked at me with magic in her eyes). Smith signed The Mersenaries without an audition and started the Mersey Beat newsletter in anticipation of the single’s release. In January 1962, confident on the eve of the U.K. release of “Strolling with My Baby,” Smith denied The Beatles a contract, famously using the polite excuse that guitar groups were on their way out. EMI, however, rushed the release of Gerry & The Pacemakers’ “How Do You Do It?”, crowding the market on the Merseybeat sound The Mersenaries had invented. “Strolling with My Baby” failed to crack the top 20, and The Beatles’ success with EMI in the following year caused Decca to drop The Mersenaries in favor of The Rolling Stones. Vaughan tried to keep the group together as The Merseys, but Kramer left to become frontman for The Dakotas, whose two hits, “I’ll Keep You Satisfied” and “Bad to Me,” were both ironically Lennon-McCartney numbers.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Annals of Music: Kelly Frampton

“Without the bonds of brotherhood, there would be no Beatles, no Kinks, no bloody Who”

Pete Townsend, The Who, 1972

Frampton. The name itself instills sounds of vibrating guitar voices and the famous talkbox. But before Peter Frampton hit stardom in 1976 with hits like, Show me the way and Baby, I Love Your Way, he played in a band called The Little Ravens, with his older brother, Kelly Frampton. The boys played clubs all over the London art district, sharing stages with numerous acts, including George and the Dragons, David Bowie’s first band. Impressed by Kelly’s vocal range, Bowie offered the brother’s the opportunity to cut a folk record with his new band The Riot Squad. Peter, who wanted pop-stardom rather than dark-folk fame, declined to record, and instead joined Humble Pie, leaving Kelly without a guitarist or a band. Kelly went on to manage the Marquee Club, giving groups like John Mayall and the Bluesbreakers, the Yardbirds, and the Animals their first opportunities to take the stage, while the songs he wrote during his short music career fell to the wayside. Peter later used the line, “I wonder how you’re feeling” from one of Kelly’s songs, as a tribute to his brother.

Taken from “Where the Stairways Seem Unending “ By Kelly Frampton

Dear God let me fall looking for it all
Back toward sleep and silent preachers
Will you stay with me a while longer, and linger
Through the time here left inside of us

Somewhere where I’m left not listening
Somewhere where you’re gone, forgetting
In the places replacing memories
Where the stairways seem unending
I wonder how you’re feeling

Monday, April 13, 2009

The Annals of Music: Matthew Wilder

“My favorite song? That’s a hard question, but I would have to say “Break My Stride.”
-John Cusack

Matthew Wilder, most famous for his 1983 hit, “Break My Stride,” started what would become a synth-pop revolution in the 1980’s. Wilder (the grandson of Hollywood great Billy Wilder) started his music career as a guitarist in the mid-seventies for several disco acts, including the Bee-Gees. Inspired by the Bee-Gees 1976 B-Side, “Stranger in NYC,” Wilder was blown away by the pulsating synthesizer that Barry Gibb used to give the piece a frenetic feel that mirrors New York’s legendary nightlife. Wilder soon started composing pieces on his spare time with a Moog VCS-3. Soon disco faded and Wilder was bent on contributing to a dying dance culture in New York and started playing synth-driven pop ballads that no one in the city had heard before – or was willing to accept. New York was in music upheaval, The Ramones had shifted the music landscape from Rockaway Beach to the Lower Eastside. But disco-revelers soon founded a club in the Village, Waves (once a haughty seafood joint, the owners kept the sign). Wilder started out playing with an accompaniment of two synthesizers on Tuesday nights. Soon he had a following and his song, “Break My Stride,” was soon discovered by A&R recording exec Martin Katz. Katz loved “BMS,” and made it into a single. The song made it to number one on the Billboard charts and stayed for three weeks. Wilder’s passion soon brought on a wave of 80’s synth-powered pop that was labeled after the club, New Wave. Wilder is a legend and inspired the likes of Flock of Seagulls, A-Ha and numerous other acts. Wilder now writes and produces songs for current popstars. Listen to “BMS” and you just won’t get it out of your head! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TY41o-iZStI

Friday, April 10, 2009

Lost & Found: The Lion by William Blake

William Blake (1757-1827) the famous pre-Romantic poet is well known for his poem The Tiger. His lesser known works in his follow-up book of poetry, The Bloomsbury Book of the Dead, continued his love of all things feline.

The Lion

LION, lion, fleet of foot
In the savannah eating moot
What emotion do you exude?
From temples painted gold

In the grassland horizon peaks
Solely looking for food to eat
On the currents of our creator
Find thyself by intelligent painter

Focus eye of baring teeth
Focus time on Hampstead Heath
And where does my heart dread
A solemn pace your pawprint treads

The roar is piercing and anthemic
Brings me to my knees cathartic
Consider closely foal of many
Leave my mind and hearts aplenty

And nightfall comes quickly, quietly
Turn my head to see thy eye
Quickly, quickly unlatch the clasp
Quietly, quickly come to pass

Lion, lion, fleet of foot
In the savannah eating moot
What emotion do you exude?
From temples painted gold

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Wordsmith: The Etymology of "Fop"

The ill-clad populace accuses me of foppery; I accuse them of feeble taste.
-Lord Robert McIlhenny

A fop in the word’s driest sense is a man overly-concerned with or vain about his manner of dress or, more vividly, a dandy, a coxcomb. We experience the traditional image of foppishness today primarily through antiquated representations of pompously-styled men in theatrical period pieces, such as the male participants of the grand ball in “The Scarlet Pimpernel,” although the term predates the French Revolution by a century.

‘Fop’ originated in late 17th-century London as an acronym: F.O.P., meaning Friend of Peter, a contemporary euphemism for a ‘dainty’ man with affected speech patterns. Peter, in turn, referred to Peter Stent, a prominent London printmaker active earlier in the century. Stent was a rumored member of the underground community of flamboyant gallants due to his fondness for large powdered wigs, ruffled shirts, elegant coats, and haughty speech. With Stent the most well-known member, other purported members of the group were labeled as his friends.

Although no longer termed as such, modern-day foppishness is exemplified by Ivy-educated, collar-popping, seersucker-clad youths and metrosexuals.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Weary Traveler: A Historical Walking Tour of East London

Most Western cities grow west, leaving the east sides to be a festering pool of crime and poverty. With recent gentrification policies and the influx of “hipsters,” East London is no longer the vampire it has been portrayed in literature and film. Gone are the opium dens of Limehouse and up are the swinging digs of Shoreditch media types. Here is a historical walk through this new and thriving area.

Start at the Liverpool Street Tube stop (A) and make your way north to Spitalfields Market. Once the thriving center of East London, Spitalfields got its name from the grand spired church St. Ambrose. The surrounding area was given the Cockney name Spitalfields and a market went up in 1705 to accommodate farmers from Essex. The church is gone now, but the market has some of the best flower stalls in all of London. From there head northeast, through the historical Brick Lane (C), now famous for curries and bagels, but once the headquarters of London’s most notorious street gang, the “maçons.” These French Huguenots fled to England in 1743 and set up shop as weavers in the buildings overlooking the northern part of Spitalfields. The maçons capitalized on the growing population and ran an early version of racketeering. Head Southeast to Whitechapel (D). On the corner of Hanbury and New Road is St. Justin the Martyr’s church where the remains of Jack the Ripper’s last victim was found. The massacred prostitute brought East London to its knees at the peak of the Ripper’s spree. The murders then stopped and a myriad of stories and suspects have become legend. Most famous is that Jack the Ripper was actually, Walter Hornsbury, a patient at the nearby Royal London Hospital. Gaining expertise by watching surgeons as he waited for surgery. It is believed that Hornsbury died under the knife while doctors tried to repair his bronchial tubes from a bout of Consumption. Lastly head southwest to Aldgate East (E), the last of the great gates of the walled city of London. A portion of London Wall still exists near the Tube stop. This gate was a gathering point for Danes that tried to invade London under the Danelaw in Eastern Great Britain. Londoners took their dead and impaled them on the outside of the wall to warn the Danes of their own brutality. Take the Tube here back to your hotel and grab a pint; you’ll need it after this walk!

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

A Historical Note on Instant Oatmeal

“Even a tramp like me, no matter what happens; I know there's always a brother who won't refuse me a bowl of oatmeal.”
Tuco Benedicto Ramirez

In 1852, an Irishman named James Boswell was taken prisoner during a fishing expedition in the Celtic Sea. Brought to England by way of Scotland, Boswell was put to work in the stables of a rich military general name Lord Elibank. There Boswell, using what he knew of Ireland’s barley, cultivated the same mealy paste he fed his children into a pudding like substance using the local ‘groats.’ Elibank took notice of this pudding in the winter of 1853, when his horses became reluctant to eat potatoes. A just nobleman at that time, Elibank and Boswell went to work that spring concocting a way to store this paste in order to serve it all year long. Through a series of accidents, Boswell discovered that by adding alcohol, cobalt, manganese and sea salt, the paste would dry up over night, only to be rejuvenated by water or milk. These products were later combined to form Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, where a chlorine derivative replaced alcohol, and can still be found in modern day instant oatmeal. Ever wanting to return to his family, Boswell pleaded with his Lord for release. Elibank, now ravished with poverty from the war, and bred to hate the Irish, instead killed Boswell and began selling his “On the Spot Oat Meals” to markets all across England, to no avail. Two years before his death, Elibank immigrated to the United States where he sold his recipe for dehydrating oats to John McCann, an Irishman, for twenty-three dollars. McCANN'S Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal is still sold today.

Monday, April 6, 2009

A Historical Note on the Least Tern

"Despite its name, the least tern plays a very unique, important role in the tern family."
-Dr. John Bishop, Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Residents of the central Pacific coast recognize the friendly white-and-gray bird capped by a black helmet of feathers: Sternula antillarum brownii, the California Least Tern, a subspecies of the Least Tern (Sternula antillarum) species familiar on the Atlantic coast. The Least Tern, in turn, bears close relation to the other seabirds of the Sternidae family, and so on. Many tern species have names reflective of their discoverers (e.g., Jameson’s Tern or Cooper’s Tern) or characteristics (e.g., the Sooty Tern or Minor Iridescent Tern), but the Least Tern’s origins have remained as overlooked as its name suggests.

Naturalist Jonas Stern first identified the larger Tern family (Sternidae) in 1838 by classifying a series of similarly-countenanced birds along the Thames River. He abandoned his initial inclination to group these docile, web-footed, sea-feeding creatures as a subspecies of gull or duck when he noticed the distinctive feathering pattern that prevailed across all samples, a finding confirmed both by breeding patterns and a unique trilling tweet. Drawn to this masked bird, Stern spent the next four years scouring waterways throughout western Europe and the American Northeast in search of finer classifications, of which he determined many, all dwelling along the shores of rivers, lakes, and seas, and all with variations on the gray-black-white in their feathering.

Later, in 1850, ornithologist John James Audubon ventured west as the official naturalist of the Gold Rush, bringing with him his fondness for Stern’s avian discoveries. While taking an observation walk along the Pacific near the San Francisco Bay, Audubon came upon a flock of Terns unlike any previously studied, bearing bright orange bills and more streamlined feathering. A series of measurements determined this group as the smallest among known terns in length, with the shortest bills, and most concise songs. With measurables consistently last in the Tern family, Audubon dubbed his finding the Least Tern.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Fashion Backward: A Historical Note on Seersucker

“Although my public appearance comes dressed in a white pressed suit, my creativity flows from a certain Seersucker ensemble. For a true Southerner can’t live without it.”
- Mark Twain

During Reconstruction a small amount of Northern confidence men went south to pilfer money from rebuilding budgets that were being given to towns ravaged by the Civil War. Most of these men outfitted themselves as contractors, but one in particular found a roundabout way to a straight life. Landis Seer III was a small time confidence man by way of Hollowcreek, New Hampshire. His M.O. was that of a traveling salesman selling cure-alls to the elderly in and around New England. Seer made his way south to Jennings, Florida where he grandstanded in town squares to sell his Seer & Son’s Medicinal Cure-all. The potion was nothing more than seltzer water and fennel. Seer found his marks did not care to see a man with a Northern accent dressed in a pressed black suit and tried different accents and clothing to appeal to the genteel Southerners. Finding the summers unbearable, Seer weaved a suit himself made out of cotton from nearby Georgia. Seer was no weaver, so his slack-tension weave produced a wrinkled suit, but when worn lifted from the skin to provide certain coolness. Seer wore his suit and his newly minted down home charm led to increased sales of his tonic. His fellow confidence men christened his marks, “Seer’s Suckers,” who would constantly ask about his suit. Seer, seeing a profit on the horizon, started to mass produce his suit, which, out of jest, he marketed as Seersucker. Sales of his suit flourished in the South and have become a mainstay of Southern fashion between Easter and Labor Day.