Friday Vibes Video: Led Zeppelin


Today’s a special day in music history: It’s the 50th anniversary of the first time the Led Zeppelin we know and love performed together, in 1968, at a spot called Teen Club in Denmark.

Of course, back then they were called The New Yardbirds, an updated version of a band called the Yardbirds that changed its name when Jimmy Page came aboard in 1966.

Internal factions led members to come and go, and it wasn’t until 1968 that John Paul Jones, Robert Plant and John Bonham came aboard, rounding out the magic mix that soon took the world by storm — under a new name, a play on “lead balloon,” thanks to a cease and desist letter from a former Yardbird.

Anyway, here’s Led Zeppelin with “Immigrant Song,” from a 1972 show. The footage is… lively.

Found in the LOC: 1970 Cartoon Looks, Sounds Like Trump

Illustrator Robert Osborn couldn’t have known in the early 1970s that Donald Trump would become president. At that point Trump was busy dodging Vietnam.

It’s therefore pretty incredible that today, hours after the New York Times published an op-ed from a Trump staffer claiming to be standing between our deranged president and chaos, I searched “incompetent” on Library of Congress’ website and found, first thing, this 1970-1973 Osborn drawing entitled “The Incompetent Carried by the Underlings.”

There’s no indication the titular incompetent is the President of the United States, but I couldn’t not make the connection, especially after reading this description: “A large, erect, Frankenstein-like creature stand[ing] with arms folded, carried by an army of small men who act as his feet.”

The resemblance is uncanny.

Here’s a detail. I would download a better quality image, but the file is only available at the actual LOC:

HBD: Mary Renault and Richard Wright

 

Today marks birthdays for Mary Renault (b. 1905) and Richard Wright (b. 1908), two authors who used their tremendous talents to tackle social injustice and institutional discrimination.

Renault’s novels, including 1953’s The Charioteer and 1956’s The Last of the Wine, challenged homophobia: the first directly, the second, like most of her works, indirectly, through the lens of historical fiction. Meanwhile Wright’s works, most notably 1941’s Native Son and his 1945 memoir, Black Boy, explored and exploded racism in America and its deleterious impact on the nation and its people.*

In another similarity between these Virgos, both authors left their homelands to live their truest lives: Renault and partner Julie Mullard escaped England’s mainstream homophobia by relocating in 1948 to comparatively nonchalant South Africa (they would also become vocal opponents of that nation’s racist apartheid government); and Wright and his wife Ellen Poplar relocated to Paris in 1946 to enjoy an existence free of American racism, especially because they were an interracial couple in a time when that was uber taboo.

It’s ironic, isn’t it, that post-WWII America and England, symbolic stars at the time for the west’s superior liberalism, lost two of their brightest  stars because of their restrictive, moralistic social norms?

Both authors died in their adopted lands, Renault in 1983, and Wright in 1960, in Paris.

(*Note: James Baldwin, the gay black author recently discussed here and who escaped American homophobia and racism by also moving to Paris, later took aim at Wright’s depiction of black people, in Notes of a Native Son).

5 James Baldwin Quotes on His Birthday

I would love to post 94 quotes to celebrate what would be seminal author James Baldwin’s 94th birthday, but instead I’m posting five. See the final quote for further explanation.

  1. “Everybody’s journey is individual. If  you fall in love with a boy, you fall in love with a boy. The fact that many Americans consider it a disease says more about them than it does about homosexuality.”
  2. “People are trapped in history, and history is trapped in them.”
  3. American history is longer, larger, more various, more beautiful, and more terrible that anything anyone has ever said about it.”
  4. “The writer’s greed is appalling. He wants, or seems to want, everything and practically everybody, [yet] at the same time, he needs no one at all.”
  5. “When one begins to live by habit and by quotation, one has begun to stop living.”

NY, VA, & NC ❤️ JJ

Google Trends currently has a map of which states are searching for which musicians ahead of the Outside Lands festival. As you can see, The Weeknd dominates out west, Future’s king in the South, and then there’s New York, Virginia, and North Carolina, the outliers in searching for Janet Jackson. While New York’s old school coolness doesn’t surprise me, this revelation gives me new appreciation for North Carolina and Virginia. Literally.

Anyway, on that note, here’s Janet with 1989’s “Escapade,” an underrated song and one that’s perfect for Monday: