A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
1758 – Lord Horatio Nelson, the greatest warrior of his time, Nelson is famous for his naval victories and his long time love affair with the most beautiful woman in the world: Emma, Lady Hamilton. These two flaunted their affair across Europe and lived openly with Emma’s, husband William Hamilton. The public was appropriately titillated and newspapers reported every move they made. It was kind of a 19th century Brangelina. Then, in 1805, it all fell apart when Nelson was killed at Trafalgar.
1943 – Lech Walesa, an electrician who became the President of Poland. During his early life, Walesa was jailed many times for his opposition to the Communist Party of Poland. In August, 1980, he literally climbed into a strike and became one of the organizers of the Solidarity Movement. After some initial reforms, the Communists cracked down again and Walesa and many Solidarity members were thrown in jail. After he was released, he went right back at it and eventually got elected President of a democratic Poland. His life should be mandatory reading for all those people sitting around whining about the government.
1829 – The very first police force in the world began patrolling the streets of London. Apparently, before that time, local citizens either got robbed or simply beat criminals senseless with whatever they had handy. Either way, the first officers were equipped with a stick, a stern look and a rattle to summon assistance. They must have done something right because Scotland Yard and London Bobbies are world famous for their abilities. Incidentally, the reason they are called “bobbies” is because this first police force was the brainchild of the then Home Secretary Robert (Bob) Peel.
1989 – Exactly 160 years after Robert Peel’s dedicated men first wandered into the night to keep the rest of us safe useless celebrity Zsa Zsa Gabor was convicted of slamming a Beverly Hills police officer, Paul Kramer. The incident happened on June 14th when Kramer stopped Zsa Zsa for a traffic violation. She freely admitted slapping the young man and made light of the incident several times in the media, but quite frankly, the old lady should be ashamed of herself.
1975 – Casey Stengel, the only baseball manager to guide his team, the New York Yankees, to 5 consecutive World Series titles (1949-1953). In a world full of clichés and sound bytes, it’s nice to remember that there used to be people who actually spoke honestly to the media. Casey Stengel was notorious for speaking his mind or something like that. A couple of his more famous quotes are: “Never make predictions, especially about the future,” and “There comes a time in every man’s life, and I’ve had plenty of them.”
1997 – Roy Lichtenstein, a modern artist who made his living — and a damn good one — reproducing comic book graphics and calling it “high art.” His first painting of this kind was “Look Mickey” (1961) and he carried on in this vein for most of the 60s. Probably his most famous work, “Whaam,” hangs in the Tate Modern in London. Another painting, “Torpedo…Los,” sold for $5.5 million in 1989. Either Lichtenstein was awfully good or Mr Barnum was right.