Blog Posts

History of Canada Day

July 1, 2022 /
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Canada 150HISTORY OF CANADA DAY

As the U.S. will soon celebrate its Independence Day, Canadians have a celebration of their own. Canada Day (Fête du Canada) marks the anniversary of July 1, 1867, when the three independent colonies of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick, were united into a single dominion.

The British North American Act, known today as the Constitution Act, officially confederated Canada on that date. While it was still a subject of the British Empire, Dominion Day, as it was originally called (or Le Jour de la Confederation in French) marked this new beginning. It was renamed to Canada Day in 1982.

 

Canada Day: Birthday of Canada?

Canada Day is called “the birthday of Canada” but differs from the U.S. holiday. It did not become separate from the British Empire until 1982, when it gained complete independence with the Constitution Act of 1982. And they didn’t have to fight a Revolutionary War.

Canada still enjoys its status in the British Commonwealth as a federal parliamentary democracy and a constitutional monarchy, with the British Queen as head of state. So they get a Queen and live in the New World, something that the U.S. envies. We have created in her place a synthetic royalty: Hollywood movie stars.

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History of July: Where Do We Get That Name?

July 1, 2022 /
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July

Gaius Julius Caesar

HISTORY OF JULY

July was renamed for Julius Caesar, who was born that month. Before that, it was called Quintilis in Latin, meaning the fifth month in the ancient Roman calendar. But Marc Anthony changed the name to July after Caesar’s assassination. This was before January became the first month of the calendar year, either under ancient rulers Numa or under the Decemvirs about 450 BC (Roman historians differ). We currently use the more contemporary Gregorian calendar — recent, as in since AD 1582. It uses Anno Domini, meaning “in the year of our Lord,” counting from the birth of Jesus. As we’ve previously discussed, in this calendar curiously, Jesus was born 4 to 6 years BC or “Before Christ.”

 

Calendar and Julius

July

Julian calendar in stone

The Gregorian calendar was a reform of the Julian calendar, which was a reform of the previous Roman calendar.

Julius Caesar himself introduced the Julian Calendar in 46 BC, where he added 67 additional days by putting two intercalary months between November and December, He probably did this after returning from an African military campaign in late Quntilis (July), according to Cicero. This took care of some of the leap year problems.

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History of All You Need Is Love, by The Beatles

June 25, 2022 /
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All You Need Is LoveHISTORY OF ALL YOU NEED IS LOVE, BY THE BEATLES

On June 25, 1967, The Beatles released the song “All You Need Is Love.”

At that time, they participated in the Our World TV show, which used the recently constructed communication satellite system and broadcast their performance across the globe. Beatles drummer Ringo Starr said later,

“It was the first worldwide satellite broadcast ever,”

 

Impact of All You Need Is Love

With “All You Need Is Love,” the Beatles released the anthem of flower power — during the Summer of Love — as I’ve written previously about the prominence that summer of their recently released album Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

Global_Beatles_Day_promotional_posterIt was broadcast live on TV in 24 countries to over 400 million viewers. The single was later included in the U.S. version of the album Magical Mystery Tour, and in the animated movie Yellow Submarine. Since 2009,  Global Beatles Day, an international celebration of the Beatles’ music and social message, takes place on June 25 each year in tribute.

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History of the Summer of Love — 1967: Part 4, Rock & Roll

June 25, 2022 /
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Rock & RollHISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: PART 4, ROCK & ROLL

 

It was twenty years ago today
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile

 

Rock & Roll in the late ’60s was exemplified when The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in the U.S. on June 2, 1967. It was released in the U.K. the day before. No other rock & roll album defined the soundtrack of the Summer of Love better than Sgt. Pepper. It captured the fantasy, psychedelics, love, and drugs of 1967. Especially with the last song, “A Day In The Life,” which urged

I’d love to turn you on.”

In 1967 I was on a school field trip to San Francisco. Directly across the street from Ghirardelli Square was a record store where I bought my copy of Sgt. Pepper. It felt almost scandalous to bring it home to my small town because “everyone knows it’s all about drugs,” or so people thought. I did now know it at the time, but that was not entirely incorrect, as we’ll see.

Five years ago, the six-disc boxed set 50th Anniversary (Remix) Edition of Sgt. Pepper was released by Giles Martin, the son of the original Beatles’ producer Sir George Martin.

In this, the final article in the series on the 55th anniversary of the Summer of Love, I’ll discuss the significance of Sgt. Pepper as it kicked off that iconic summer of sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

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History of St. John the Baptist Day

June 24, 2022 /
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St John the BaptistHISTORY OF ST JOHN THE BAPTIST DAY

The Feast of St. John the Baptist, or the Nativity of St John the Forerunner, sometimes called St. John the Baptist Day, is celebrated on June 24 in many places around the world, though not much in the United States, as we’ll see below.

Celebration of the Feast of the Nativity of John the Baptist goes back at least a millennium and a half. The Council of Agde mentions the feast in 506 AD in its list of festivals. Most saints’ festivals are tied to their death, but John’s is an exception, being connected to his birth.

This famous painting of John the Baptist at left by Leonardo da Vinci, believed to be his last painting, hangs in the Louvre Museum in Paris.

 

Who was St John the Baptist?

John the BaptistJohn the Baptizer (he wasn’t a member of the Baptist denomination) was a contemporary of Jesus and the son of Jesus’ mother’s sister Elizabeth, making him Jesus’ cousin. As John grew up, he became a prophet in the tradition of Old Testament prophets. No prophet had been recorded since the time of Malachi some 400 years earlier, at the end of the Old Testament canon. His ministry attracted large crowds, and his message, in preparation for the coming of the Messiah, was:

“Repent, for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand.”

He operated along the Jordan River in the province of Judea some 2,000 years ago. When people responded to his call for repentance, he baptized them at the Jordan River. (more…)

History of the Summer of Love — 1967: Part 3, Drugs

June 24, 2022 /
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keep-on-truckin

Keep on Truckin’ by Robert Crumb

HISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: DRUGS

When I was a Resident Assistant at U.C. Berkeley in the early ’70s, a local police officer I knew gave me a tour down nearby Telegraph Avenue. He told me:

“All the major drug deals on the West Coast go down within a two block stretch of Telegraph Avenue. The street people and drug dealers are what’s left of the Flower Children.”

All this was within blocks of the nearby University of California campus. To say that drugs were rampant at Berkeley is an understatement: as an R.A., I was called upon to take students who were too high on marijuana or LSD down to the Student Health Center. My saddest duty was checking out the room of a student who had committed suicide. On his wall were comic-strip blotters of LSD.

Berkeley, the counterpart foci of Haight-Ashbury, on the ellipse of the San Francisco Bay, reflected the tone and mood of the Summer of Love. In this third article on this period from over 50 years ago, I discuss the topic of drugs in “sex, drugs, and rock & roll.”

Berkeley was the West Coast hub of drugs, as Boston was the East Coast hub. Drugs were shipped into Vallejo, a port town 30 minutes north of Berkeley, and drug trades were made on Telegraph Avenue. Michael Crichton popularized the Berkeley drug trade in his 1970 novel — written under the pseudonym Michael Douglas and his 19-year-old brother Douglas — called Dealing: Or the Berkeley-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues.

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History of the Summer of Love — 1967: Part 2, Sex

June 23, 2022 /
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Make Love Not WarHISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: PART 2, SEX

“Make love, not war”

and the call for “free love” represented a cultural shift in mores in 1967. Even The Beatles sang “All You Need Is Love.” If the ’60s was the time of the “sexual revolution,” the natural question is: who won? There were both winners and losers.

All You Need Is Love

In our first article on the Summer of Love, we talked about the general environment of 1967. In this article, we’ll discuss the role of sex, as in “sex, drugs, and rock & roll.”

 

The Baby Boom

More babies were born in the western world between 1946 and 1964 than during any previous period in recorded history, at least until the subsequent “Millennial Generation.” In the U.S., this post-war “bloom” of children was called the Baby Boom Generation.

It represented a relatively prosperous generation of children born to a middle class with more access to education and entertainment than any generation before it. In 1966, Time magazine declared that the “Generation 25 and Under” would be its “Persons of the Year.”

How did this come about? (more…)

History of the Summer of Love — 1967: Part 1 – Sex, Drugs, and Rock & Roll

June 22, 2022 /
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Summer of LoveHISTORY OF THE SUMMER OF LOVE — 1967: SEX, DRUGS, AND ROCK & ROLL

The Summer of Love was fifty-five years ago, the Summer of 1967, with its epicenter in San Francisco’s Haight-Ashbury neighborhood. It was a summer of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Both San Francisco and Liverpool celebrated 30-year anniversaries in 1997. While not limited to San Francisco — New York and London were involved — no other city but San Francisco attracted almost 100,000 young people who converged on the Haight-Ashbury neighborhood near San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. This mood was captured at the time by the hit single by Scott McKenzie, “San Francisco (Be Sure to Wear Some Flowers in Your Hair),” with its lyric:

“For those who come to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you come to San Francisco
Summertime will be a love-in there”

It was a special time, just one Summer. Ironically, the song was written by John Phillips of The Mamas & The Papas to promote the June 1967 Monterey International Pop Festival.

Haight Ashbury

Haight Ashbury District

In the following year, both Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr. would be assassinated. Woodstock was still two years away. But at the time, there had never been anything quite like it. I recall my father driving me through Haight-Ashbury around that time, saying,

“Look at that!”

with carnival-like amusement, baffled by the hippiesque clothes and long hair.

By the end of 1967, many of the hippies and San Franciscan musicians from the Summer of Love had moved on. In its wake were street people, drug addiction, and panhandling. But let’s look at that one brief shining moment in history.

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Science of the Summer Solstice: Start of Summer

June 21, 2022 /
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Summer Solstice SCIENCE OF THE SUMMER SOLSTICE

Solstice comes from the Latin word solstitium, meaning “Sun, standing-still.” The Summer Solstice occurs on June 21 at 09:14 UTC, Coordinated Universal Time, Zulu Time, or roughly Greenwich Mean Time. Greenwich, England, is the prime meridian — the zero point for longitude lines.

Why is UTC the abbreviation for Coordinated Universal Time? The acronym came about as a compromise between English and French speakers: Coordinated Universal Time would normally be abbreviated as CUT, and the French name, Temps Universel Coordonné, would be TUC.

 

Summer Time and the Summer Solstice

This is also known as the Northern Solstice because the Sun is positioned directly above the Tropic of Cancer in the Northern Hemisphere.

  • This time of year is known as Midsummer, though the official Midsummer Day is actually celebrated on June 24, thanks to differences between the Julian and Gregorian calendars.

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History of Juneteenth: and the Emancipation Proclamation

June 19, 2022 /
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Juneteenth

Juneteenth Stamp

HISTORY OF JUNETEENTH: and the Emancipation Proclamation

June Nineteenth, or Juneteenth, marks the celebration of the emancipation of African-American slaves in Texas in 1865. While the annual celebration started in Texas the following year in 1866 — and became an official Texas state holiday there in 1980 — this formerly obscure holiday is now observed across the United States and around the world.

Last year, Congress and the President made it an official federal holiday. It is celebrated with church-centered celebrations, parades, fairs, backyard parties, games, contests, and cookouts.

 

Origin of Juneteenth

Originally it began in Galveston, Texas, to mark the arrival of U.S. Army Major General Gordon Granger, along with 20,000 Union Army troops, who arrived two months after the end of the American Civil War to read General Order Number 3, which announced that “all slaves are free.” It read:

Gordon Granger

Major General Gordon Granger

The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.

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History of Father’s Day: the Beginning

June 18, 2022 /
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Fathers DayHISTORY OF FATHERS DAY: the Beginning

[NOTE: I wrote a more extended and serious version of this article for CBS.com several years ago. It has been published on their network of sites for major cities around the country. You can find that article here.]

 

Origin of Fathers Day

The celebration of Father’s Day goes back all the way to the beginning, actually to the Garden of Eden when Abel gave his father Adam a razor while his brother Cain gave his father a snake-skin tie. This was the beginning of Cain’s downward slide.

 

Contrasts

Scholars have debated for ages why Mother’s Day seems to be more honored than Father’s Day. A parallel has been drawn between this phenomenon and the difference in popularity between the Irish patron saint and the Italian patron saint.

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History of The Natural: A Father Returns

June 18, 2022 /
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The NaturalHISTORY OF THE NATURAL: A Father Returns

A classic movie with a timeless topic comes to mind in celebration of Father’s Day. The 1984 film The Natural asks the question:

Can you return?

If the movie Field of Dreams was epic, then The Natural was mythic, as I’ll explain below.

 

The Natural: The Story

But first, how does a middle-aged baseball player named Roy Hobbs, seemingly missing for almost two decades, return to the game? He had been taught to play baseball by his father, and he had shown promise when he was a teenager, 16 years ago. He shows up in 1939 with a custom-made bat cut from a lightning-struck tree. He appears unannounced to a last-place major league baseball team, the New York Knights.

This is a movie that even non-sports fans fall in love with, an authentic slice of Americana. It is crafted so that it will choke you up and make you want to stand up and cheer at the end. The climactic pyrotechnics of the ending brings goosebumps. It’s a story about the power of faith and hope, the victory of good over evil, the consequences of right and wrong, and the reuniting of father and son. (more…)