Thirty-Five Years Ago
[Jerry] Brown is viewed as one of the shrewdest, most ambitious politicians of the century, so dedicated to power that some wouldn’t be surprised if, dissatisfied with the mere Philosopher King role, he decides to run for Pope.
Those who have seen him at campaign dinners — at least before the presidential campaign — remember the faces he made at campaign food and his professed distaste for politicking. Still, when accused of using the Democratic machine last week in Maryland, he said, “In my father’s house are many machines.”
— CITY LIGHTS: “THE LITTLE RED BROWN BOOK,” May 27, 1976
Thirty Years Ago
One of my earliest memories is of sitting atop a runaway tricycle, zooming down a long hill toward an impossibly sharp turn. Half the neighborhood was looking on at the top of the hill, waiting to see what the outcome would be. I sailed through the tricycle incident with little more than half a face scraped off.... Some people’s souls, it’s said, are black; others are made of gold. Mine is the one with the bicycle tire tracks on it.
— “MY FAVORITE BIKE DISASTERS,” Gordon Smith, May 28, 1981
Twenty-Five Years Ago
Here they come, modeling prosciutto bathing suits, carrying placards that say “Mold Jell-O, not women.” They are the “Myth California” pageant, and they’re coming to San Diego to continue their 17-year protest of the Miss California contest. Pageant organizer Ann Simonton...and her group have held spoof pageants in Santa Cruz with Barbie doll floats and costumes with meat sewn on them. (Simonton describes her 1982 gown as having a full-length bologna skirt, a hot-dog bodice, and pimiento-loaf trim.)
— CITY LIGHTS: “TAKE THAT CROWN AND SHOVE IT,” Brae Canlen, May 29, 1986
Twenty Years Ago
The word ugly makes the hair along my spine rise, for it calls to mind the disgraceful upcoming spectacle in El Cajon of a contest offering trophies and prizes to what are euphemistically called “the world’s ugliest dogs.” Laughter, enjoyment, good clean fun — is that what you think this is? The Romans had similar fun watching slaves being tortured; premodern Europeans had similar fun witnessing hangings.
— EVENTS: “ALMOST AS MUCH FUN AS VIVISECTION,” Dandie Dinmont, May 30, 1991
Fifteen Years Ago
The whole world knows that the whole world is expected to stop spinning on its axis and to pay total attention to Mission: Impossible before briefly resuming its spin. (Next stop: The Cable Guy.)
I cannot move on to something new without a mention of the star-hyphen-producer who has transformed the IMF teamwork concept into more of a ball-hog concept — Tom Cruise. Even more tightly wound than usual — with, after all, the fate of the free world on his shoulders — he has the air of a young man who imagines that maturity can be attained through eight cups of coffee.
— MOVIE REVIEW: “IN NAME ONLY,” Duncan Shepherd, May 30, 1996
Ten Years Ago
Paul Cuero picks up a couple of gourds. Boys and young men gather around him. Behind them, the sun disappears. Cuero nods. One of the boys strikes a match. The dried grass flares orange. Soon the sticks catch, then the logs. Cuero starts shaking his gourd. The young men join him, sitting down in a long line of chairs facing the fire. Cuero waits a long time, then he starts singing. “Hey, oh, way hey-yoa.”
This is bird song.
— “THREE-DAY-LONG SONGS,” Bill Manson, May 24, 2001
Five Years Ago
Buddy Blue once wrote words to the effect that “Carlos Olmeda is a Mexican who thinks he’s an Irishman.”
Olmeda is a vibrant folk performer. His guitar playing is complex and executed with little apparent effort. But his voice is his main instrument. It is most comfortable, I think, in the higher reaches of the tenor and the perfect instrument for his love songs, his Irish pub songs, his ramblings about the woman who lives in the downstairs apartment.
We drink our drinks and bash Air Supply and the state of music in general for a while.
— OF NOTE: “CARLOS OLMEDA,” Dave Good, May 25, 2006