Suicide Commemoration Off To An Early Start

"When Kurt Cobain killed himself, 20 years ago this April 5, he became the sole top-level rock star ever to take his own life at the crest of his fame. The long list of other megawatt stars gone by his age — Jimi, Janis, Jim Morrison — fell by drug-related accidents. Or they were murdered, like Biggie and Tupac. But Cobain’s violent act put him into a sad club of one, a decision that adds a special chill and mystery to an already rare mythology." —Where were you when you heard [...]



Today being the centenary of jazz patron Kathleen Annie Pannonica de Koenigswarter's birth, let's listen to one of the Thelonious Monk songs she inspired. And if you are so inclined, here are some other songs she inspired.


Happy Face And Frowny Face Are 31

"I propose that the following character sequence for joke markers:


Read it sideways. Actually, it is probably more economical to mark things that are NOT jokes, given current trends. For this, use

:-(" Happy birthday, emoticons!


Google Is 15

On this day in 1998, Stanford University Ph.D. students Larry Page and Sergey Brin incorporated Google, currently the world's greatest Internet company and what will eventually be the world's greatest company for whatever Google eventually decides to become. How great is Google? Google could not be greater! And I am not just saying that because they have so much of my personal information that just doing a quick mental inventory of the things they know about me—things I probably don't even know, or want to admit, about myself—provokes an astounding degree of anxiety and regret and recriminations of the "how could you be so stupid, giving up that much [...]


The Zip Code Is 50

"By the early 1960s a more organized system was needed, and on July 1, 1963, non-mandatory ZIP codes were announced for the entire country. Simultaneously with the introduction of the ZIP code, two-letter state abbreviations were introduced. These are generally written with both letters capitalized." —Seeing as there probably won't be paper mail in 10 years anyway, this might be the last big hurrah for the humble zip code. Pretty soon (and if the Republicans get control of the White House and Congress again and gut Social Security, even sooner) we won't have any series of random numbers to memorize.


The Woolworth Building At 100

The Woolworth Building, which was at one point the tallest building in the world, opened on this day in 1913.

Photo: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division


Winona Ryder's Forever Sweater

Ten years ago today Winona Ryder stole several thousands of dollars worth of merchandise from the Beverly Hills Saks Fifth Avenue. I reacted to the news of the incident the way I react to most celebrity scandals—with unmitigated delight—and prepared myself to follow subsequent action with mild interest.

Then, on the day of her arraignment, a friend called me. He was very excited. (The last time I had heard him like this was during the 1994 Oscars when I called him to make fun of Susan Sarandon’s dress and he picked up the phone, having no idea who was calling or for what reason, and wailed, “I know, [...]


Nonesuch Is 50

"Today is the 50th anniversary of Nonesuch Records."


Parterre Box Is 20

"Twenty years ago, a sad and lonely gay man sat down with a pair of scissors and a glue stick and said, 'I think I’ll make a magazine.'" What happened next will explode your heart, bring a tear to your eye and make you think differently about everyone you've ever met.


Hank Williams' Birthday

It is hard to believe—perhaps because he has been dead for twice as long as he was alive, perhaps because as one of the towering geniuses of American popular culture it seems difficult to imagine him being in any way contemporaneous to those of us who live in a world where those he influenced have already inspired subsequent generations of their own—but Hiram King Williams would have turned 90 years old today. I sometimes still shake my head at the idea that the same person wrote "I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry," "Move It On Over" and "Jambalaya," and those are just three of his best-known songs. His catalog [...]


"Nothing's Shocking" Is 25

25 years ago today, Jane's Addiction released their first studio album, and for the brief window of time before, uh, "Seattle," they were the alternative to the hair-heavy metal-medium sound of the day. That is probably hard to remember, since it was 25 years ago. 25 years. There are people you work with right now who just turned 25. And here you are talking about some record that is younger than they are. Is death far off? No, no it is not. Anyway, the lyrics to "Up the Beach" remain my favorite Perry Farrell poetry of all, but I tend to like the simpler things in life. This record [...]


Nick Drake, "From The Morning"

Nick Drake would have been 65 today. This seems as good a way as any to start things off.


Letter From A Birmingham Jail

"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly." —One of the greatest documents in the history of this nation was released 50 years ago. Take some time to read it.


The Neverending Song Of Nomi

Klaus Sperber, known professionally as Klaus Nomi, would have been 70 today, which is just one more way of illustrating exactly how much further away the downtown scene of the 80s gets with each passing year. If you have not yet seen the documentary The Nomi Song I am terribly envious of the sense of discovery you will feel as you learn more about the man and his era when you track the film down and watch it for yourself, which I absolutely insist that you do, preferably this weekend.


No Alternative… TO DEATH

You know what's old? You, the works of art and culture that were once such important signifiers of who you thought you were and what story you wanted to tell the world about yourself, all the promise and potential that portended so many possible futures for your life, the heartbreaking realization that where you are now is about as good as it's going to get and the sneaking suspicion that everyone around you knows how you mask the pathetic realities of your failure to meet even the most attainable goals you once set for yourself but they are too polite to say anything because it's all just too awkward to [...]


This Was The "Adventure Time" Of 1927

And it came out on a September 5th not so very long ago.


Happy Anniversary Of The 2003 Blackout, Which Now Seems Kind Of Lame When You Compare It To The Blackout We Just Had Last Year

It's the tenth anniversary of the New York City Blackout of 2003! What were you doing that night? I mean, I'm sure you've already bored everyone you've met subsequently to death with your recollections, and, in a much larger sense, no one cares, but if you're bound and determined to share, go crazy in the comments. Hell, toss in your 9/11 memories while you're down there! It makes no difference! It's just another one of those things where people nod politely and pretend to listen so they can wait until you're done and launch into their own stories. But go on!


Buying Music On Your Computer Is Old

"CUPERTINO, California—April 28, 2003—Apple® today launched the iTunes® Music Store, a revolutionary online music store that lets customers quickly find, purchase and download the music they want for just 99 cents per song, without subscription fees. The iTunes Music Store offers groundbreaking personal use rights, including burning songs onto an unlimited number of CDs for personal use, listening to songs on an unlimited number of iPods, playing songs on up to three Macintosh® computers, and using songs in any application on the Mac®, including iPhoto™, iMovie™ and iDVD™.

'The iTunes Music Store offers the revolutionary rights to burn an unlimited number of CDs for personal use and to put music [...]


Happy Birthday, Defense Department Network That Became the Internet!

The longhairs with the pocket protectors had already set up the lines between USC and Stanford and UC Santa Barbara. It was 1969, a weird year of technological and social progress (Apollo 11, Mariner 6 and 7, the Stonewall Riots) and de-evolution (President Richard Nixon, the Manson Murders). Students were still seizing campus buildings—SDS took the Harvard administration building that spring—but on this day 43 years ago, the hippie nerds in the computer labs made the last connection in their four-node Defense Department-funded networked computer project. The fourth computer came online at the University of Utah.

The first text transmission using the new packet-switching technology was "lo," from [...]