Friday, March 29, 2013

Flag of Afghanistan

The flag of Afghanistan (Pashto: د افغانستان بيرغ, Persian: بيرق افغانستان) was adopted by the Afghan Interim Administration on December 22nd, 2001. This flag is similar to the one flown in Afghanistan during the monarchy between 1930 and 1973. The difference is the addition of the shahadah at the top of the coat of arms (seen in yellow) in the center. This flag consists of three stripes of the colors black, red, and green. This has been present on most flags of Afghanistan in the last twenty years. The center emblem is the classical emblem of Afghanistan with a mosque with its mihrab facing Makah.

Afghanistan has had more changes of its national flag during the 20th century than any other country in the world. It has had 20 different flags since the first flag when the Hotaki dynasty was established in 1709 that made Afghanistan independent.

From 2002 to 2004, The flag consisted of three vertical stripes of the colors black, red, and green. This has been present on most flags of Afghanistan in the last twenty years. The center emblem is the classical emblem of Afghanistan with a mosque with its mihrab facing Mecca. This flag is similar to the one flown in Afghanistan during the monarchy between 1930 and 1973. The difference is the addition of the shahadah at the top of the coat-of-arms (seen in white) in the center. It now shows the year ١۲۹٨ (1298), the solar Islamic calendar equivalent of 1919 AD of the Gregorian Calendar, the year of independence from Great Britain. There was an unofficial variation with a gold emblem.

From 2004 to the present, it is similar to the previous flag, but a different ratio. "دا افغانستان اسلامی دولت" Islamic State of Afghanistan has been replaced with simply "افغانستان" Afghanistan.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Fun Time: Bubblegum Blues

Please read this carefully!
I do not want this to happen to the people who mean so much to me.

Sunday, March 24, 2013


BAPTIZED - Written by Carroll Bryant

Everything around us starts breaking apart
Breaking our hearts
Giving us reason to walk away

You and me struggle like a couple of fools
Breaking the rules
Take it or leave it and we live with the pain

We can’t seem to make decisions
One look reveals just how we feel
Don’t give this love a circumcision
I’m standing here
So let me make this clear
I love you
I need you
I don’t want to try and make it without you

And I want to be baptized in your eyes
Maybe you can save me with some Harlequin nights
And I realize that you’re right
Can’t battle my history for the rest of my life
It never will be easy
Love is never for the blind
And I want to be baptized in your eyes
So I can baptize you with mine

Every step taken is another step forward
Watching with horror
One foot up and two feet down

You and me differ like there’s no tomorrow
Making it harder
Giving each other the big run around

We can’t seem to find an answer
One touch at large can supercharge
Let’s give this love just one more prayer
I’m standing here
So let me make this clear
I know you
I want you
I don’t ever want to try living without you

And I want to be baptized in your eyes
Maybe you can save me with some Harlequin nights
And I realize that you’re right
Can’t battle my history for the rest of my life
It never will be easy
Love is never for the blind
And I want to be baptized in your eyes
So I can baptize you with mine

Let’s put it to sleep
With an angels voice to a lullaby
There’s so much to keep
Let’s give this love just one more try
And maybe our sun will finally shine
If you are the one then maybe, so am I

Everything around us starts breaking apart
Breaking our hearts
Giving us reason to walk away

You and me struggle like a couple of fools
Breaking the rules
Take it or leave it and we live with the pain

We can’t seem to make decisions
One look reveals just how we feel
Don’t give this love a circumcision
I’m standing here
So let me make this clear
I love you
I need you
I don’t want to try and make it without you

And I want to be baptized in your eyes
Maybe you can save me with some Harlequin nights
And I realize that you’re right
Can’t battle my history for the rest of my life
It never will be easy
Love is never for the blind
And I want to be baptized in your eyes
So I can baptize you with mine
So I can baptize you with mine
So I can baptize you all night

Friday, March 22, 2013

American Indians: Sitting Bull

It is commonly thought that Sitting Bull was born on the Grand River in Dakota Territory, however in 2007, Sitting Bull's great-grandson revealed family knowledge that Sitting Bull was born along the Yellowstone River, south of present-day Miles City, Montana. He was named Jumping Badger at birth. In traditional Lakota fashion, he was later given one of his father's names, Tȟatȟaŋka Iyotȟaŋka, translated as "Sitting Bull", due to a leadership role in a battle between the Lakota and Crow people.

During the Dakota War of 1862, in which Sitting Bull's people were not involved, several bands of eastern Dakota (eastern Sioux) killed an estimated 300 to 800 settlers and soldiers in south-central Minnesota in response to poor treatment by the government and in an effort to drive the whites away. Despite being embroiled in the American Civil War, the United States Army retaliated in 1863 and 1864, even against bands which had not been involved in the hostilities. In 1864, two brigades of about 2200 soldiers under Brigadier General Alfred Sully attacked a village. The defenders were led by Sitting Bull, Gall and Inkpaduta. The Sioux were driven out, but skirmishing continued into August.

In September, Sitting Bull and about 100 Hunkpapa Sioux came across a small party near what is now Marmarth, North Dakota. They had been left behind by a wagon train commanded by Captain James L. Fisk to effect some repairs to an overturned wagon. When he led an attack, Sitting Bull was shot in the left hip by a soldier. The bullet exited out through the small of his back, and the wound was not too serious.

Sitting Bull led numerous war parties against Fort Berthold, Fort Stevenson, and Fort Buford and their environs from 1865 through 1868. Although Red Cloud was a leader of the Oglala Sioux, his leadership and attacks against forts in the Powder River Country of Montana were supported by Sitting Bull's guerrilla attacks on emigrant parties and smaller forts throughout the upper Missouri River region. By early 1868, the U.S. government desired a peaceful settlement to Red Cloud's War. It agreed to Red Cloud's demands that Forts Phil Kearny and C.F. Smith be abandoned. Chief Gall of the Hunkpapas (among other representatives of the Hunkpapas, Blackfeet, and Yankton Sioux) signed a form of the Treaty of Fort Laramie on July 2nd, 1868 at Fort Rice (near Bismarck, North Dakota)Sitting Bull did not agree to the treaty. He continued his hit-and-run attacks on forts in the upper Missouri area throughout the late 1860s and early 1870s. The events of –1868 mark a historically debated period of Sitting Bull's life. According to historian Stanley Vestal, who conducted interviews with surviving Hunkpapa in 1930, Sitting Bull was made "Supreme Chief of the whole Sioux Nation" at this time. Later historians and ethnologists have refuted this concept of authority, as the Lakota society was highly decentralised. Lakota bands and their chiefs made individual decisions.

Sitting Bull's band of Hunkpapa continued to attack migrating parties and forts in the late 1860s. When in 1871 the Northern Pacific Railway conducted a survey for a route across the northern plains directly through Hunkpapa lands, it encountered stiff Sioux resistance. The same railway people returned the following year accompanied by federal troops. Sitting Bull and the Hunkpapa attacked the survey party, which was forced to turn back. In 1873, the military accompaniment for the surveyors was increased again, but Sitting Bull's forces resisted the survey "most vigorously."

The Panic of 1873 forced the Northern Pacific Railway's backers (such as Jay Cooke) into bankruptcy. This halted construction of the railroad through Sioux territory. After the discovery and new wealth from gold in California, other men became interested in the potential for gold mining in the Black Hills. In 1874, Lt. Col. George Armstrong Custer led a military expedition from Fort Abraham Lincoln near Bismarck, to explore the Black Hills for gold and to determine a suitable location for a military fort in the Hills. Custer's announcement of gold in the Black Hills triggered the Black Hills Gold Rush. Tensions increased between the Sioux and European Americans' seeking to move into the Black Hills.

Although Sitting Bull did not attack Custer's expedition in 1874, the US government was increasingly pressured to open the Black Hills to mining and settlement. It was alarmed at reports of Sioux depredations (encouraged by Sitting Bull). In November 1875, the government ordered all Sioux bands outside the Great Sioux Reservation to move onto the reservation, knowing full well that not all would comply. As of February 1, 1876, the Interior Department certified as "hostile" those bands who continued to live off the reservation. This certification allowed the military to pursue Sitting Bull and Lakota bands as "hostiles".

According to the historian Margot Liberty, many Lakota bands allied with the Cheyenne during the Plains Wars because they thought the other nation was under attack by the US. Given this connection, she suggests the major war should have been called "The Great Cheyenne War". Since 1860, the Northern Cheyenne had led several battles among the Plains Indians. Before 1876, the US Army had destroyed seven Cheyenne camps, more than those of any other nation. However, other historians such as Robert M. Utley and Jerome Greene also use Lakota oral testimony as the basis for their conclusions that the Lakota coalition, of which Sitting Bull was the ostensible head, was the primary target of the federal government's pacification campaign.

During the period 1868–1876, Sitting Bull developed into the most important of Native American chiefs. After the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) and the creation of the Great Sioux Reservation, many traditional Sioux warriors, such as Red Cloud of the Oglala and Spotted Tail of the Brulé, moved to reside permanently on the reservations. They were largely dependent for subsistence on the US Indian agencies. Many other chiefs, including members of Sitting Bull's Hunkpapa band such as Gall, at times lived temporarily at the agencies. They needed the supplies at a time when white encroachment and the depletion of buffalo herds reduced their resources and challenged Native American independence.

In 1875, the Northern Cheyenne, Hunkpapa, Oglala, Sans Arc, and Minneconjou camped together for a Sun Dance, with both the Cheyenne medicine man White Bull or Ice and Sitting Bull in association. This ceremonial alliance preceded their fighting together in 1876. Sitting Bull had a major revelation. Sitting Bull's refusal to adopt any dependence on the white man meant that at times he and his small band of warriors lived isolated on the Plains. When Native Americans were threatened by the United States, numerous members from various Sioux bands and other tribes, such as the North Cheyenne, came to Sitting Bull's camp. His reputation for "strong medicine" developed as he continued to evade the European Americans.

After the January 1st ultimatum of 1876, when the US Army began to track down Sioux and others living off the reservation as hostiles, Native Americans gathered at Sitting Bull's camp. The chief took an active role in encouraging this "unity camp". He sent scouts to the reservations to recruit warriors, and told the Hunkpapa to share supplies with those Native Americans who joined them. An example of his generosity was Sitting Bull's taking care of Wooden Leg's Northern Cheyenne tribe. They had been impoverished by Captain Reynold's March 17, 1876 attack and fled to Sitting Bull's camp for safety.

The Hunkpapa chief provided resources to sustain the new recruits. Over the course of the first half of 1876, Sitting Bull's camp continually expanded, as natives joined him for safety in numbers. His leadership had attracted the warriors and families of an extensive village, estimated at more than 10,000 people. General Custer came across this large camp on June 25, 1876. Sitting Bull did not take a direct military role in the ensuing battle; instead he acted as a spiritual chief and performed the Sun Dance, in which he fasted and sacrificed over 100 pieces of flesh from his arms.

Custer’s 7th Cavalry advance party attacked Cheyenne and Lakota tribes at their camp on the Little Big Horn River (known as the Greasy Grass River to the Lakota) on June 25, 1876. The U.S. Army did not realize how large the camp was. More than 2,000 Native Americans had left their reservations to follow Sitting Bull. Inspired by a vision of Sitting Bull’s, in which he saw U.S. soldiers being killed as they entered the tribe’s camp, the Cheyenne and Lakota fought back. Custer's badly outnumbered troops lost ground quickly and were forced to retreat. The tribes led a counter-attack against the soldiers on a nearby ridge, ultimately annihilating them.

The Native Americans' victory celebrations were short-lived. Public shock and outrage at Custer's death and defeat, and the government's knowledge about the remaining Sioux, led them to assign thousands more soldiers to the area. Over the next year, the new American military forces pursued the Lakota, forcing many of the Native Americans to surrender. Sitting Bull refused to surrender and in May 1877 led his band across the border into Saskatchewan, Canada. He remained in exile for many years near Wood Mountain, refusing a pardon and the chance to return. When passing the border to Saskatchewan, the Canadian Mounties of the region came and spoke with Sitting Bull about certain rules he and his men had to follow. During this meeting, James Morrow Walsh, commander of the North West Mounted Police, explained to Sitting Bull they were on British soil and so they must obey British law. Welsh clarified that he enforced the law on everyone and that every person had a right to justice. If they obeyed than he would do everything he can to protect him and his men. Walsh became an advocate for Sitting Bull and they became very good friends till the end.

Also while in Canada Sitting Bull met with chief Crowfoot, who was a chief of the Blackfeet, long-time powerful enemies of the Lakota and Cheyenne. Sitting Bull wished to make peace with the Blackfeet Nation and Crowfoot. Being a renowned advocate for peace himself, Crowfoot eagerly accepted the tobacco peace offering. Sitting Bull was so impressed by the Blackfeet chief that he named one of his sons after him. Sitting Bull and his men only stayed in Canada for 4 years. Due to the smaller size of the buffalo in Canada, sitting Bull and his men found it difficult to find food enough to feed is people. His people were starving and exhausted. Furthermore, due to Sitting Bull’s presence in the country there had been a growth in tension between the Canadian government and the United – States government. Before Sitting Bull left Saskatchewan, it was rumored that he met with is good friend Walsh for the last time before going back to the States. When meeting with his friend for the last time, it was whispered that he gave Walsh his headdress due to the respect he had of him and the friendship he had with him and it is now at the Royal Ontario Museum.

Hunger and desperation eventually forced Sitting Bull, and 186 of his family and followers to return to the United States and surrender on July 19, 1881. Sitting Bull had his young son Crow Foot surrender his Winchester lever-action carbine to Major David H. Brotherton, commanding officer of Fort Buford in the parlor of the Commanding Officer's Quarters in a ceremony the next day. He told the 4 soldiers, 20 warriors and other guests in the small room, that he wished to regard the soldiers and the white race as friends but he wanted to know who would teach his son the new ways of the world. Two weeks later, after waiting in vain for other members of his tribe to follow him from Canada, the Army transferred Sitting Bull and his band to Fort Yates, the military post located adjacent to the Standing Rock Agency, which straddles the present-day boundary of North and South Dakota. Sitting Bull and his band of 186 people were kept separate from the other Hunkpapa gathered at the agency. Army officials were concerned that the famed chief would stir up trouble among the recently surrendered northern bands. On August 26, 1881, he was visited by the census taker William T. Selwyn, who counted twelve people in the Hunkpapa leader's immediate family. Forty-one families, totaling 195 people, were recorded in Sitting Bull's band. The military decided to transfer him and his band to Fort Randall, to be held as prisoners of war. Loaded onto a steamboat, the band of 172 people was sent down the Missouri River to Fort Randall (near present-day Pickstown, South Dakota on the southern border of the state). There they spent the next 20 months. They were allowed to return north to the Standing Rock Agency in May 188.

In 1884, Sitting Bull was allowed to leave the reservation to join Buffalo Bill Cody’s Wild West show as a Show Indian. He earned about $50 a week for riding once around the arena, where he was a popular attraction. Although it is rumored that he cursed his audiences in his native tongue during the show, the historian Utley contends that he did not. Historians have reported that Sitting Bull gave speeches about his desire for education for the young, and reconciling relations between the Sioux and whites. The historian Edward Lazarus wrote that Sitting Bull reportedly cursed his audience in Lakota in 1884, during an opening address celebrating the completion of the Northern Pacific Railway. Sitting Bull stayed with the show for four months before returning home. During that time, audiences began to consider him a celebrity and a romanticized warrior. He earned a small fortune by charging for his autograph and picture, although he often gave his money away to the homeless and beggars.

In 1883, rumors floated that Sitting Bull had been baptized into the Catholic Church. James McLaughlin, Indian agent at Standing Rock Agency, dismissed these reports, saying that "The reported baptism of Sitting-Bull is erroneous. There is no immediate prospect of such ceremony so far as I am aware."

 Sitting Bull returned to the Standing Rock Agency after working in Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show. In 1890, James McLaughlin, the U.S. Indian Agent at Fort Yates on Standing Rock Agency, feared that the Lakota leader was about to flee the reservation with the Ghost Dancers, so he ordered the police to arrest him. On 14th December 1890, McLaughlin drafted a letter to Lt. Bullhead that included instructions and a plan to capture the chief. The plan called for the arrest to take place at dawn on December 15, and advised the use of a light spring wagon to facilitate the chief's removal before his followers could rally. Bullhead decided against using the wagon. He intended to have the police officers force Sitting Bull to mount a horse immediately after the arrest. Around 5:30 a.m. on December 15, 39 police officers and four volunteers approached Sitting Bull's house. They surrounded the house, knocked and entered. Bullhead told Sitting Bull that he was under arrest and led him outside. The camp awakened and men converged at the house of their chief. As Bullhead ordered Sitting Bull to mount a horse, he explained that the Indian Affairs agent needed to see him and then he could return to his house. Sitting Bull refused to comply and the police used force on him. The Sioux in the village were enraged. A Sioux known as Catch-the-Bear shouldered his rifle and shot Bullhead who, in return, fired his revolver into the chest of Sitting Bull. Another police officer, Red Tomahawk, shot Sitting Bull in the head, and the chief dropped to the ground. He died between 12 and 1 p.m. A close-quarters fight erupted, and within minutes several men were dead. Six policemen were killed immediately and two more died shortly after the fight. Sitting Bull and seven of his supporters lay dead, along with two horses.

Sitting Bull's body was taken to Fort Yates to be placed in a coffin (made by the Army carpenter) and for burial. In 1953 Lakota family members exhumed what they believed to be his remains, to be reinterred near Mobridge, South Dakota, his birthplace.

Source: Wikipedia

This work is released under CC 3.0 BY-SA - Creative Commons

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

The Presidents: Martin Van Buren

Martin Van Buren was born in the village of Kinderhook, New York, on December 5th, 1782, about 25 miles south of Albany, New York. His father Abraham Van Buren (1737–1817) was a farmer, the owner of six slaves, and a tavern-keeper in Kinderhook. Abraham Van Buren supported the American Revolution and later the Jeffersonian Republicans. Martin Van Buren's mother was Maria Van Alen (née Hoes) Van Buren (1747–1818).

Van Buren was the first president born a citizen of the United States, as all previous presidents were born before the American Revolution. His great-great-great-grandfather Cornelis Maessen van Buren had come to the New World in 1631 from the small city of Buren, Dutch Republic, in present day Netherlands. Van Buren grew up in a Dutch-speaking community. His native language was Dutch, and he was the only President who spoke English as a second language.

Van Buren received a basic education at a poorly lit schoolhouse in his native village and later studied Latin briefly at the Kinderhook Academy and at Washington Seminary in Claverack. He excelled in composition and speaking. His formal education ended before he reached 14, when he began studying Law at the office of Francis Sylvester, a prominent Federalist attorney in Kinderhook. After six years under Sylvester, he spent a final year of apprenticeship in the New York City office of William P. Van Ness, a political lieutenant of Aaron Burr. Van Buren was admitted to the bar in 1803.

Van Buren married Hannah Hoes, his childhood sweetheart and first cousin once removed, on February 21, 1807, in Catskill, New York. Like Van Buren, she was raised in a Dutch home and never lost her distinct Dutch accent. The couple had four sons and one daughter: Abraham (1807–1873) a graduate of West Point and career military officer; John (1810–1866), graduate of Yale and Attorney General of New York; Martin, Jr. (1812–1855), secretary to his father and editor of his father's papers until a premature death from tuberculosis; Winfield Scott (born and died in 1814); and Smith Thompson (1817–1876), an editor and special assistant to his father while president. Their daughter was stillborn. After 12 years of marriage, Hannah Van Buren contracted tuberculosis and died on February 5, 1819, at the age of 35. Martin Van Buren never remarried.

Van Buren had been active in politics from at least the age of 17 when he attended a party convention in Troy, New York where he worked to secure the Congressional nomination for John Van Ness. However, once established in his practice, he became wealthy enough to increase his focus on politics. He was an early supporter of Aaron Burr. He allied himself with the Clintonian faction of the Democratic-Republican Party, and was surrogate of Columbia County, New York from 1808 until 1813, when he was removed.

Van Buren joined the opposition party in 1813, and was a member of the New York State Senate from 1812 to 1820, and New York Attorney General from 1815 to 1819. He was a presidential elector in 1820, voting for James Monroe and Daniel D. Tompkins.

At first he opposed Clinton's plan for the Erie Canal, but later supported it when the Bucktails were able to gain a majority in the Erie Canal Commission, and supported a bill that raised money for the canal through state bonds.

In 1817 Van Buren's connection with so-called "machine politics" started. He created the first political machine encompassing all of New York, the Bucktails, whose leaders later became known as the Albany Regency. The Bucktails became a successful movement that emphasized party loyalty; they captured and controlled many patronage posts throughout New York. Van Buren did not originate the system, but gained the nickname of "Little Magician" for the skill with which he exploited it. He also served as a member of the state constitutional convention, where he opposed the grant of universal suffrage and tried to maintain property requirements for voting.

He was the leading figure in the Albany Regency, a group of politicians who for more than a generation dominated much of the politics of New York and powerfully influenced the politics of the nation. The group, together with the political clubs such as Tammany Hall that were developing at the same time, played a major role in the development of the "spoils system", a recognized procedure in national, state and local affairs. He was the prime architect of the first nationwide political party: the Jacksonian Democrats. In Van Buren's own words, "Without strong national political organizations, there would be nothing to moderate the prejudices between free and slaveholding states.

In February 1821, Martin Van Buren was elected a U.S. Senator from New York, defeating the incumbent Nathan Sanford who ran as the Clintonian candidate. Van Buren at first favored internal improvements, such as road repairs and canal creation, therefore proposing a constitutional amendment in 1824 to authorize such undertakings. The next year, however, he took ground against them. He voted for the tariff of 1824 then gradually abandoned the protectionist position, coming out for "tariffs for revenue only."

In the presidential election of 1824, Van Buren supported William H. Crawford and received the electoral vote of Georgia for vice-president, but he shrewdly kept out of the acrimonious controversy which followed the choice of John Quincy Adams as President. Van Buren had originally hoped to block Adams' victory by denying him the state of New York (the state was divided between Van Buren supporters who would vote for William H. Crawford and Adams men). However, Representative Stephen Van Rensselaer swung New York to Adams and thereby the 1824 Presidency. After the lost election, Van Buren dropped Crawford, and instead supported Andrew Jackson to be the next presidential candidate.

Always notably courteous in his treatment of opponents, he showed no bitterness toward either John Quincy Adams or Henry Clay, and he voted for Clay's confirmation as Secretary of State, notwithstanding Jackson's "corrupt bargain" charge. At the same time, he opposed the Adams-Clay plans for internal improvements and declined to support the proposal for a Panama Congress. As chair of the Judiciary Committee, he brought forward a number of measures for the improvement of judicial procedure and, in May 1826, joined with Senator Thomas Hart Benton in reporting on executive patronage. In the debate on the "tariff of abominations" in 1828, he took no part but voted for the measure in obedience to instructions from the New York legislature, an action which was cited against him as late as during the presidential campaign of 1844.

Van Buren was not an orator, but his more important speeches show careful preparation and his opinions carried weight; the oft-repeated charge that he refrained from declaring himself on crucial questions is hardly borne out by an examination of his senatorial career. In February 1827, he was re-elected to the Senate by a large majority. He became one of the recognized managers of the Jackson campaign, and his tour of Virginia, the Carolinas, and Georgia in the spring of 1827 won support for Jackson from Crawford. Martin Van Buren sought to reorganize and unify "the old Republican party" behind Jackson. At the state level, Jackson's committee chairs would split up the responsibilities around the state and organize volunteers at the local level. "Hurra Boys" would plant hickory trees (in honor of Jackson's nickname, "Old Hickory") or hand out hickory sticks at rallies. Van Buren even had a New York journalist write a campaign piece portraying Jackson as a humble, pious man. "Organization is the secret of victory," an editor in the Adams camp wrote. He once said to a group of lobbyists the famous quote and "By the want of it we have been overthrown." In November 1828, Van Buren was elected Governor of New York for the term beginning on January 1, 1829, and resigned his seat in the Senate.

Martin Van Buren's tenure as New York governor is the second shortest on record. While his term was short, he did manage to pass the Bank Safety Fund Law (an early form of deposit insurance) through the Legislature.

On March 5th, 1829, President Jackson appointed Van Buren Secretary of State, an office which probably had been assured to him before the election, and he resigned the governorship on March 12th. He was succeeded in the governorship by his Lieutenant Governor, Enos T. Throop, a member of the regency. As Secretary of State, Van Buren took care to keep on good terms with the Kitchen Cabinet, the group of politicians who acted as Jackson's advisers, and did not oppose Jackson in the matter of removals from office but was not himself an active "spoilsman."

He won the lasting regard of Jackson by his courtesies to Peggy Eaton, wife of Secretary of War John H. Eaton, with whom the wives of the cabinet officers led by Vice President Calhoun's wife, Floride Calhoun had refused to associate in the Petticoat Affair. Aside from the Petticoat Affair, he skillfully avoided entanglement in the Jackson-Calhoun imbroglio.

No diplomatic questions of the first magnitude arose during Van Buren's service as secretary, but the settlement of long-standing claims against France was prepared and trade with the British West Indies colonies was opened. In the controversy with the Bank of the United States, he sided with Jackson. After the breach between Jackson and Calhoun, Van Buren was clearly the most prominent candidate for the vice-presidency.

In December 1829, Jackson had already made known his wish that Van Buren receive the nomination. In April 1831, Van Buren resigned as Secretary of State as a result of the Petticoat affair - though he did not leave office until June. Van Buren still played a part in the Kitchen Cabinet. In August 1831 Van Buren was appointed Minister to the United Kingdom and he arrived in London in September. He was cordially received, but in February, he learned that his nomination had been rejected by the Senate on January 25th, 1832. The rejection, ostensibly attributed in large part to Van Buren's instructions to Louis McLane, the American minister to Britain, regarding the opening of the West Indies trade, in which reference had been made to the results of the election of 1828, was the work of Calhoun, the vice-president. When the vote was taken, enough of the majority refrained from voting to produce a tie and give Calhoun his longed-for "vengeance." No greater impetus than this could have been given to Van Buren's candidacy for the vice-presidency.

After a brief tour through Europe, Van Buren reached New York on July 5, 1832. The 1832 Democratic National Convention, the party's first and held in May, had nominated him for vice-president on the Jackson ticket, despite the strong opposition to him which existed in many states. Van Buren's platform included supporting the expansion of the naval system. His declarations during the campaign were vague regarding the tariff and unfavorable to the United States Bank and to nullification, but he had already somewhat placated the South by denying the right of Congress to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia without the consent of the slave states.

It took Van Buren and his partisan friends a decade and a half to form the Democratic Party; many elements, such as the national convention, were borrowed from other parties. In the election of 1832, the Jackson-Van Buren ticket won by a landslide. When the election of 1836 came up, Jackson was determined to make Van Buren, his personal choice, President to continue his legacy. Martin Van Buren's only competitors in the 1836 election were the Whigs, who ran several regional candidates in hopes of sending the election to the House of Representatives, where each state delegation would have one vote. William Henry Harrison hoped to receive the support of the Western voters, Daniel Webster had strength in New England, and Hugh Lawson White had support in the South. Van Buren was unanimously nominated by the 1835 Democratic National Convention at Baltimore. He expressed himself plainly on the questions of slavery and the bank at the same time voting, perhaps with a touch of bravado, for a bill offered in 1836 to subject abolition literature in the mails to the laws of the several states. Van Buren's presidential victory represented a broader victory for Jackson and the party. Van Buren entered the White House as a fifty-four-year-old widower with four sons. Martin Van Buren was the first real American politician and was also the first to use grassroots campaigning in his presidential campaign. He wanted to make a political party that united the plain republicans of the north and the planters of the south.

Martin Van Buren announced his intention "to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious predecessor", and retained all but one of Jackson's cabinet. Van Buren had few economic tools to deal with the Panic of 1837. The Panic was followed by a five-year depression, with the failure of banks and then-record-high unemployment levels. It was one of the worst economic crisis in the nation's history.
Van Buren advocated lower tariffs and free trade, and by doing so maintained support of the South for the Democratic Party. He succeeded in setting up a system of bonds for the national debt. His party was so split that his 1837 proposal for an "Independent Treasury" system did not pass until 1840. It gave the Treasury control of all federal funds and had a legal tender clause that required (by 1843) all payments to be made in specie, but it further inflamed public opinion on both sides.

In a bold step, Van Buren reversed Andrew Jackson's policies and sought peace at home, as well as abroad. Instead of settling a financial dispute between American citizens and the Mexican government by force, Van Buren wanted to seek a diplomatic solution. In August 1837, Van Buren denied Texas' formal request to join the United States, again prioritizing sectional harmony over territorial expansion.

In 1839, Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the Latter Day Saint movement visited Van Buren to plead for the U.S. to help roughly 20,000 Mormon settlers of Independence, Missouri, who were forced from the state during the 1838 Mormon War there. The Governor of Missouri, Lilburn Boggs, had issued an executive order on October 27th, 1838, known as the "Extermination Order". It authorized troops to use force against Mormons to "exterminate or drive [them] from the state". In 1839, after moving to Illinois, Smith and his party appealed to members of Congress and to President Van Buren to intercede for the Mormons. According to Smith's grandnephew, Van Buren said to Smith, "Your cause is just, but I can do nothing for you; if I take up for you I shall lose the vote of Missouri." Van Buren took the blame for hard times, as Whigs ridiculed him as Martin Van Ruin. Van Buren's rather elegant personal style was also an easy target for Whig attacks, such as the Gold Spoon Oration. State elections of 1837 and 1838 were disastrous for the Democrats, and the partial economic recovery in 1838 was offset by a second commercial crisis in that year. Nevertheless, Van Buren controlled his party and was unanimously renominated by the Democrats in 1840. The revolt against Democratic rule led to the election of William Henry Harrison, the Whig candidate.

Though he did vote against the admission of Missouri as a slave state, and though he would be the nominated presidential candidate of the Free Soil Party, an anti-slavery political party, in 1848, there was no ambiguity in his position on the abolition of slavery during his term of office. Van Buren considered slavery morally wrong but sanctioned by the Constitution. When it came to the issue of slavery in DC and slavery in the United States, he was against its abolition, and said so in his Inaugural Address in 1837: "I believed it a solemn duty fully to make known my sentiments in regard to it [slavery], and now, when every motive for misrepresentation has passed away, I trust that they will be candidly weighed and understood.

On the expiration of his term, Van Buren returned to his estate, Lindenwald in Kinderhook, where he planned out his return to the White House. He seemed to have the advantage for the nomination in 1844; his famous letter of April 27th, 1844, in which he frankly opposed the immediate annexation of Texas, though doubtlessly contributing greatly to his defeat, was not made public until he felt practically sure of the nomination. In the Democratic convention, though he had a majority of the votes, he did not have the two-thirds which the convention required, and after eight ballots his name was withdrawn. James K. Polk received the nomination instead.

In 1848, he was nominated by two minor parties, first by the "Barnburner" faction of the Democrats, then by the Free Soilers, with whom the "Barnburners" coalesced. He won no electoral votes, but took enough votes in New York to give the state—and perhaps the election - to Zachary Taylor. In the election of 1860, he voted for the fusion ticket in New York which was opposed to Abraham Lincoln, but he could not approve of President Buchanan's course in dealing with secession and eventually supported Lincoln.

Martin Van Buren then retired to his home in Kinderhook. After being bedridden with a case of pneumonia during the fall of 1861, Martin Van Buren died of bronchial asthma and heart failure at his Lindenwald estate in Kinderhook at 2:00 a.m. on July 24, 1862. He was 79 years old. He is buried in the Kinderhook Cemetery along with his wife Hannah, his parents, and his son Martin Van Buren, Jr. A cenotaph to him is located near the parking lot of the Kinderhook Reformed Dutch Church. Van Buren outlived his four immediate successors as President (William Henry Harrison, John Tyler, James K. Polk and Zachary Taylor).

Source: Wikipedia

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Monday, March 18, 2013

Missed By A Mile

MISSED BY A MILE - Written by Carroll Bryant

We didn’t miss by much
All those times we talked about forever

We couldn’t feel that touch
All those nights we seemed to spend together

I know it’s crazy now to
Always think about you
I try everything I can not to

I know it’s hard to fathom
Hard love and ectoplasm
I ran and still somehow
It’s meaningless to me

We didn’t miss by far
All those days we laughed and played

We couldn’t find our star
All those times we left and stayed away

I know it’s crazy now to
Reflect and think about you
I try everything I can not to

I know it’s hard to cherish
Soft love will always perish
I ran and still somehow
It’s meaningful to me

We didn’t miss by much

Only by a heartbeat
Only by a smile
Only by the skin of our teeth
Only by a mile

Only by a moment passing
Only by an everlasting
Only by a story
Only by a screech

I know it’s hard to ponder
Fake love and endless wonder
I ran and still somehow
It’s meaningless to me

We didn’t miss by much

Only by a hairline fracture
Only by a while
Only by the coming rapture
Only by a mile

Only by a New York minute
Only by a glare
Only by a mystery
Only by a stare

We didn’t miss by much
All those times we talked about forever

We couldn’t feel that touch
All those nights we seemed to spend together

I know it’s crazy now to
Always think about you
I try everything I can not to
I try everything I can to forget you

We didn’t miss by much

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Flag of Finland

The flag of Finland, also called siniristilippu ("Blue Cross Flag"), dates from the beginning of the 20th century. On a white background, it features a blue Nordic cross, which represents Christianity. The state flag has a coat of arms in the center, but is otherwise identical to the civil flag. The swallow-tailed state flag is used by the military. The presidential standard is identical to the swallow-tailed state flag but also has in its upper left corner the Cross of Liberty after the Order of the Cross of Liberty, which has the President of Finland as its Grand Master. Like Sweden's, Finland's national flag is based on the Scandinavian cross. It was adopted after independence from Russia, when many patriotic Finns wanted a special flag for their country, but its design dates back to the 19th century. The blue coloring is said to represent the country's thousands of lakes and the sky, with white for the snow that covers the land in winter. This color combination has also been used over the centuries in various Finnish provincial, military, and town flags.

The first known "Flag of Finland" was presented in 1848, along with the national anthem Maamme. Its motif was the coat of arms of Finland, surrounded by laurel leaves, on a white flag.
The current blue-crossed design was first used in Finland by Nyländska Jaktklubben, a yacht club founded in Helsinki in 1861. In addition to the blue cross on the white background, the yacht club flag had the crowned arms of the province of Uusimaa within two crossed branches in the upper hoist quarter. Except for the position of the cross, the flag was similar to the flag of the St. Petersburg Yacht Club, founded the previous year. The design can be traced to the Russian Navy ensign, which has a blue cross saltire on a white background. During the Crimean War, Finnish merchant ships captured by the British-French fleet flew a flag called Flag of St. George, which was based on the Russian Customs flag. In this variant, the cross was thinner than in the modern flag, and the proportions were equal. Another blue-cross flag was made official in 1861 for private vessels.
In 1910, in connection with Russification of Finland, the Russian authorities decreed that a Russian flag was to be added to the canton. However, this was met with resistance; the flag was derided as the "slave's flag" (orjalippu), and most Finns refused to fly it. Instead, a triangular pennant without this modification was flown, thereby circumventing the decree concerning flags.

Shortly after Finland gained independence in 1917, a competition was held for the design of the Finnish flag. Several different designs were submitted. Regarding the colours, the entries fell mainly into two categories – one using the red and yellow from the Finnish coat of arms, and the other using the present blue and white colours.

One entry had the Dannebrog cross design, but with a yellow cross on a red background. Another entry had diagonal blue and white stripes, but it was criticized as being more suitable for a barber shop than a newly-independent country. Akseli Gallen-Kallela proposed a similar cross flag, but with colors inverted (white cross on blue), but this was considered too similar to the Swedish flag and particularly the Greek flag of the time. Finally, artists Eero Snellman and Bruno Tuukkanen specified the final form of the flag.

The state flag was further modified in 1922, when the coronet was removed, and again in 1978 when the shield-shaped coat of arms was changed into a rectangular shape.

Under Finnish law, the ratio of the flag is 11:18 (height:width), very close to Golden ratio. The swallow-tailed state flag is one unit longer and the tails are five units long. The cusp width of the blue cross is three units of measure, giving a ratio set of 4:3:4 (vertical) and 5:3:10 (horizontal). When flown from a flagpole, the flag is recommended to have a width equalling one sixth of the height of the pole.

The Finnish flag is used in three main variants. The usual national flag is used by all citizens, organizations and Finnish municipalities and regions. Anyone is allowed to fly the national flag whenever they deem it suitable. The rectangular state flag is used by bodies of the Finnish national and provincial governments (except the police and the district courts), by the Cathedral Chapters of the two national churches (Evangelical Lutheran and Orthodox), and non-naval vessels of the state.
The swallow-tailed national flag, which is also the naval ensign, is flown by the Finnish Defence Forces. The presidential standard and the command signs of the Minister of Defence, Chief of Defence, and Commander of the Finnish Navy are flown only by the respective persons.
All public bodies as well as most private citizens and corporations fly the flag on official flag days. In addition to the official flag days, there are about ten unofficial but generally observed flag days.
The Finnish flag is raised at 8 am and lowered at sunset, however not later than 9 pm. On independence day, the flag is flown until 8 pm regardless of the dark. On the occasion of great national tragedies, the ministry of interior may recommend flying the flag at half mast throughout the country.

As a special custom in Finland, the flag is flown at Midsummer from 6 pm of Midsummer eve until 9 pm of Midsummer's day. This is done to symbolize the fact that the darkness does not come to any part of Finland during Midsummer's Night. Midsummer is also celebrated as the day of the Finnish flag.

By Finnish law it is forbidden to deface the flag or to use it in a disrespectful way. It is also illegal to remove a flag from the pole without permission. Anyone who breaks these regulations may be fined for disgracing the flag.

Finnish law also forbids the use of the presidential standard or state flag without permission, as well as the addition of any extra symbols to the flag. One may not sell a flag which has different colours or geometry than defined by the law. These are considered violations of the flag regulations and can lead to a fine.

There are also common rules on how to treat the flag respectfully. The flag must not be dirty or damaged. The flag must never touch the ground. When the flag is washed, it must be dried indoors. A worn-out flag must be disposed of by burning (though not with the intent to disgrace it), or alternatively by cutting it to pieces small enough not to be recognizable as parts of the flag. The flag must not be buried in the ground or the sea (including not throwing it into the garbage).

Source: Wikipedia

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Thursday, March 14, 2013

David Cassidy: Teen Idol

David Cassidy was born at Flower Fifth Avenue Hospital in New York City, the son of actor Jack Cassidy and actress Evelyn Ward. His father was of half Irish and half German ancestry, and his mother is of mostly Colonial American descent, along with smaller amounts of Irish and Swiss. Some of his mother's ancestors were among the founders of Newark, New Jersey.

As his parents were frequently touring on the road, he spent his early years being raised by his maternal grandparents in a middle-class neighborhood in West Orange, New Jersey. In 1956, he found out from neighbors' children that his parents had been divorced for over two years and had not told him. David's parents had decided because he was at such a young age, it would be better for his emotional stability to not discuss it at that time. They were gone often with theater productions and home life remained the same.

In 1956, his father married actress Shirley Jones, and three half-brothers were born: Shaun (1958), Patrick (1962) and Ryan (1966). As a young teen he moved into Shirley's home in Beverly Hills where his father and half-brothers resided. David remained there seeking fame as an actor/musician until he moved out when his career began to flourish.

On January 2, 1969, Cassidy made his professional debut in the Broadway musical The Fig Leaves Are Falling. It closed after four performances but a casting director saw the show and asked Cassidy to make a screen test. In 1969, he moved to Los Angeles.

After signing with Universal Studios in 1969, Cassidy was featured in episodes of the TV series Ironside, Marcus Welby, M.D., Adam-12 and Bonanza. In 1970, he took the part of Keith Partridge, son of Shirley Partridge, who was played by Cassidy's real stepmother and series' lead, Shirley Jones. The Partridge Family series creator Bernard Slade and producers Paul Junger Witt and Robert "Bob" Claver did not care whether Cassidy could sing, knowing only that his androgynous good looks would guarantee success. But shortly after production began, Cassidy convinced music producer Wes Farrell that he was good enough and he was promoted to lead singer for show's recordings. Once "I Think I Love You" became a hit, Cassidy began work on solo albums as well. Within the first year he had produced his own single, "Cherish" (from the album of the same title), which reached No. 9 in the US, and began tours that featured Partridge tunes and his own hits. Though he strove to become a respected rock musician along the lines of Mick Jagger or Alice Cooper, his channel of stardom launched him into the ranks of teen idol, a brand he loathed until much later in life when he managed to come to terms with his bubblegum pop beginnings.
On and off the show, Cassidy had a strong bond with his stepmother. He and co-star Danny Bonaduce did not get along with Jeremy Gelbwaks, the young actor who originally played Chris. He was replaced by Brian Forster after the first season.

Ten albums by The Partridge Family and five solo albums were produced during the show. Cassidy also became an instant draw-card with spectacular sellout concerts successes in major arenas around the world. These concerts produced mass hysteria resulting in the media coining the term "Cassidymania". By way of example, he played to two sellout crowds of 56,000 each at the Houston Astrodome in Texas over one weekend in 1972. His concert in New York's Madison Square Garden sold out in one day and resulted in riots after the show. His concert tours of the UK sold out and included six sellout concerts at Wembley Stadium over one weekend in 1973. In Australia in 1974, the mass hysteria was such that there were calls to have him deported from the country, especially after the madness at his 33,000 audience concert at Melbourne Cricket Ground.

A turning point in his live rock concerts (while still filming The Partridge Family) was a gate stampede which killed a teenage girl. At a show in London's White City Stadium on May 26th, 1974, 650 were injured in a crush at the front of the stage. Thirty were taken to the hospital, and one, 14-year-old Bernadette Whelan, died on May 30 from injuries. The show was the penultimate date on a world tour. A deeply affected Cassidy faced the press, trying to make sense of what had happened. Out of respect for the family and to avoid turning the girl's funeral into a media circus, Cassidy did not attend the service. He did, however, speak to Bernadatte's parents and send flowers. Cassidy stated at the time that this would haunt him until the day he died.

Cassidy's 1994 autobiography C'mon Get Happy: Fear And Loathing On The Partridge Family Bus provides an account of most aspects of his fame, including contracts, money and his fanatical worldwide fan following.

By this point, Cassidy had decided to quit both touring and acting in The Partridge Family, concentrating instead on recording and song-writing. International success continued, mostly in Great Britain and Germany, when he released three well-received solo albums on RCA between 1975 and 1977. Cassidy became first to have a hit with I Write The Songs, a Top 20 record in Great Britain before the song became Barry Manilow's signature tune. Cassidy's recording was produced by the song's author-composer, Bruce Johnston of The Beach Boys.

In 1978, Cassidy starred in an episode of Police Story titled "A Chance To Live," for which he received an Emmy nomination. NBC created a show based on it, called David Cassidy: Man Under Cover, but it was canceled after one season. However, the format was used in a well-received Fox TV series, 21 Jump Street, with Johnny Depp in the role Cassidy had vacated.

In 1985, music success continued with the Arista release of the single The Last Kiss (#6 in the UK), with backing vocals by George Michael, which was included on the album Romance. These went gold in Europe and Australia and Cassidy supported them with a sellout tour of the UK which resulted in the Greatest Hits Live compilation of 1986. George Michael cited Cassidy as a major career influence and interviewed Cassidy for David Litchfield's prestigious Ritz Newspaper.

Cassidy returned to the American Top 40 with his 1990 single "Lyin' To Myself," released on the Enigma Records label. In 1998, he had an AC hit with "No Bridge I Wouldn't Cross" from his album Old Trick, New Dog. His 2001 album Then And Now went platinum internationally and returned Cassidy to the Top 5 of the UK album charts for the first time since 1974.

Cassidy has performed in musical theatre. In 1981, he toured in a revival of a pre-Broadway production of Little Johnny Jones, a show originally produced in 1904 with music, lyrics, and book by George M. Cohan. (The show is excerpted in the biographic film Yankee Doodle Dandy (1942), when James Cagney sings Give My Regards to Broadway and The Yankee Doodle Boy.) However, Cassidy received negative reviews, and he had been replaced by another former teen idol, Donny Osmond, by the time the show reached Broadway. Cassidy, in turn, was himself a replacement for the lead in the original 1982 Broadway production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. He appeared in London's West End production of Time and returned to Broadway in Blood Brothers alongside Petula Clark and his half-brother, Shaun Cassidy.

In concert performances in 1990, Cassidy hired his recalcitrant TV brother Danny Bonaduce as his warm-up act. In 1995, he hosted the VH1 show 8-Track Flashback, which ran until 1998. In 1996, he replaced Michael Crawford in the Las Vegas show EFX, re-writing it into one of the Strip's favorite shows – although Cassidy was forced to resign after he injured his foot during a performance. He also created The Rat Pack is Back. in which he made guest appearances as Bobby Darin, and which ran successfully. In 2000, he wrote and appeared in the Las Vegas show At the Copa, with Sheena Easton, as both the young and old versions of the lead character, Johnny Flamingo. In 2005, Cassidy played the manager of Aaron Carter's character in the film Popstar. In 2006, as well as performing with Peter Furniss and Thomas Bowles, he made a guest appearance for BBC Children in Need performing live, then assisting Terry Wogan collecting donations from the studio audience.

He co-starred alongside his brother Patrick in a 2009 ABC Family short-lived comedy series titled Ruby & The Rockits, a show created by his brother Shaun. The BBC telecast an episode of The One Show with Cassidy as guest on April 11, 2011. During the broadcast he got into an argument with an English horse racing commentator named Brough Scott. Nancy Sinatra had this to say on her family's website later that day: "Cassidy is a real jerk who never cleared rights to the Sinatra name for his Sinatra show and he deserves his karma for breaking copyright laws. The proof of the pudding is he didn't give a damn about those poor horses or show any respect to Mr. Scott. I believe he respects nothing and nobody, especially my father.

Cassidy's first wife was actress Kay Lenz, whom he married in 1977 and divorced in 1982. His second wife was wealthy South African sportswoman Meryl Tanz, whom he married in 1984. Tanz, a successful horse breeder, introduced Cassidy to thoroughbred horse racing. This marriage ended in 1988.

On November 25th, 1986, after 15 years of an on and off relationship with high fashion model Sherry Williams, she gave birth to David's only daughter, Katherine Evelyn Cassidy (Katie), now a successful film actress. Sherry raised their daughter with her husband of 20 years, the physician Richard Benedon in Calabasas, California, where they currently reside.

David Cassidy has a son with Sue Shifrin, Beau Devin Cassidy, born February 8th, 1991. Cassidy and Shifrin married on March 30th, 1991. Beau is currently pursuing a music career and resides in Boston. This is David's third marriage and he currently resides in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. having a stable horse business, while Sue (this her second marriage) resides in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, living alone while attempting to pursue her songwriting career and working for a cosmetics firm.

Cassidy has written a memoir that was published in the UK in March 2007. Could It Be Forever? My Story gives details of his personal life.

Cassidy was arrested in Florida for DUI on November 3rd, 2010. Cassidy continues his stint in rehab, which was the result of his dependency on pain medication, after his injury during EFX in Las Vegas.

In 2011, Cassidy recorded a public service announcement for Alzheimer's research and prevention - due to his mother, Evelyn Ward, having the disease - and said that he will champion that cause whenever possible. He plans to address Congress in 2012. Cassidy is a long-time registered Democrat. Describing Republican candidates for president Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich as a panelist on the Colbert Report, Cassidy stated, "I believe the both of them are the most embarrassing, sad, pathetic... I mean, really, this is the best we can do?

Well David, I'm sure half of America is asking that very same question with Obama.

David Cassidy remains one of the biggest teen idols in the history of teen idols, perhaps matched by only Justin Bieber.

Source: Wikipedia

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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Influences: Sister Rosetta Tharpe

Sister Rosetta Tharpe was born March 20th, 1915 and died October 9th, 1973. She was an American singer, songwriter, guitarist and recording artist. A one-of-a-kind pioneer of 20th-century music, Tharpe attained great popularity in the 1930s and 1940s with her gospel recordings that were a unique mixture of spiritual lyrics and early rock and roll accompaniment. As the first recording artist to impact the music charts with her spiritual recordings, Tharpe became the first superstar of gospel music and also became known as "the original soul sister." She was a treasured early influence on iconic figures such as Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Little Richard and Johnny Cash. Willing to cross the line between sacred and secular by performing her inspirational music of 'light' in the 'darkness' of the nightclubs and concert halls with big bands behind her, Tharpe's witty, idiosyncratic style also left a lasting mark on more conventional gospel artists, such as Ira Tucker, Sr., of the Dixie Hummingbirds. While she offended some conservative churchgoers with her forays into the world of pop music, she never left gospel music.

Tharpe's 1944 hit "Down By The Riverside" was selected for the American Library of Congress National Recording Registry in 2004, stating that it captured her "spirited guitar playing" and "unique vocal style" which were an influence on early rhythm and blues performers, as well as gospel, jazz and rock artists. Tharpe has been called the Godmother of Rock n' Roll.

She was born Rosetta Nubin in Cotton Plant, Arkansas, United States, to parents Katie Bell Nubin and Willis Atkins who were cotton pickers. Little is known of her father, although it is known that he was a singer. In 1921, Bell left Atkins to become a travelling evangelist for the Church of God in Christ (COGIC).

Tharpe began performing at the age of four, billed as "Little Rosetta Nubin, the singing and guitar playing miracle," accompanying her mother who played mandolin and preached at tent revivals throughout the South. Exposed to both blues and jazz both in the South and after her family moved to Chicago in the late 1920s, she played blues and jazz in private, while performing gospel music in public settings. Her unique style reflected those secular influences. She bent notes the way blues and jazz artists did and picked guitar like Memphis Minnie.

Tharpe also crossed over to secular music in other ways. In 1934, Tharpe married COGIC preacher Thomas Thorpe (from which "Tharpe" is a misspelling). The marriage was not a happy one with Thorpe being described as "a tyrant." In 1938, Tharpe left her husband and moved with her mother to New York City.

On October 31, 1938, at age 23, Tharpe recorded for the first time - four sides with Decca Records backed by "Lucky" Millinder's jazz orchestra. She had signed a seven-year contract with Millinder and was managed by Mo Galye. Her records caused an immediate furor: many churchgoers were shocked by the mixture of sacred and secular music, but secular audiences loved them. Appearances in John Hammond's extravaganza "From Spirituals To Swing" that later that year at the Cotton Club and Café Society and with Cab Calloway and Benny Goodman made her even more popular. Songs like "This Train" and "Rock Me," which combined gospel themes with bouncy up-tempo arrangements, became smash hits among audiences with little previous exposure to gospel music. It has been suggested Tharpe had little choice in the material she was contracted to record with Millinder. Her nightclub performances led to her initially being ostracised by some in the gospel community, as she would sometimes be required to sing her gospel songs amid scantily clad showgirls. She played on a number of occasions with the white singing group The Jordanaires. Tharpe continued recording during World War II, one of only two gospel artists able to record V-discs for troops overseas. Her song "Strange Things Happening Every Day", recorded in 1944 with Sammy Price, Decca's house boogie woogie pianist, showcased her virtuosity as a guitarist and her witty lyrics and delivery. It was also the first gospel song to make Billboard's Harlem Hit Parade (later known as Race Records, then R&B) Top Ten - something that Sister Rosetta Tharpe accomplished several more times in her career. The record has been credited by some as being the "First rock and roll record." Tharpe toured throughout the 1940s, backed by various gospel quartets, including The Dixie Hummingbirds.

After the war Decca paired her with Marie Knight, a sanctified shouter with a strong contralto and a more subdued style than Tharpe. Their hit "Up Above My Head" showed both of them to great advantage. Knight provided the response to Tharpe in traditional call and response format then took the role that would have been assigned to a bass in a male quartet after Tharpe's solo. It has been reported that it was an "open secret," in show business circles that Knight and Tharpe were lovers. They toured the gospel circuit for a number of years, during which Tharpe was so popular that she attracted 25,000 paying customers to her wedding to her manager Russell Morrison (her third marriage), followed by a vocal performance, at Griffith Stadium in Washington, D.C. in 1951.

Their popularity took a sudden downturn, however, when they recorded several blues songs in the early 1950s. Knight attempted afterwards to cross over to popular music, while Tharpe remained in the church, but rebuffed by many of her former fans. In 1957, Tharpe was booked for a month-long tour of the UK by British trombonist Chris Barber.

In April – May 1964, at the height of a surge of popular interest in the blues, she toured Europe as part of the Blues and Gospel Caravan, alongside Muddy Waters and Otis Spann, Ranson Knowling and Little Willie Smith, Reverend Gary Davis, Cousin Joe and Sonny Terry and Brownie McGhee. Tharpe was introduced on stage and accompanied on piano by Cousin Joe Pleasant. Under the auspices of George Wein, the Caravan was stage-managed by Joe Boyd. A concert, in the rain, was recorded by Granada Television at the disused railway station at Wilbraham Road, Manchester in May 1964. The band performed on one platform while the audience were seated on the opposite platform.

Tharpe's performances were curtailed by a stroke in 1970, after which she had a leg amputated as a result of complications from diabetes. She died in 1973 after another stroke, on the eve of a scheduled recording session. She was buried in Northwood Cemetery in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in an unmarked grave.

A resurgence in interest in her legendary work has led to a biography, several NPR segments, scholarly articles and honors. The United States Postal Service issued a 32-cent commemorative stamp to honor Rosetta Tharpe on July 15, 1998. In 2007, she was inducted into the Blues Hall of Fame. In 2008, a concert was held to raise funds for a marker for her grave and January 11 was declared Sister Rosetta Tharpe Day in Pennsylvania. A gravestone was put in place later that year and a Pennsylvania historical marker was approved for placement at her home in the Yorktown neighborhood of Philadelphia.

A number of musicians, ranging from Elvis Presley and Jerry Lee Lewis to Isaac Hayes and Aretha Franklin, have identified her singing, guitar playing and showmanship as an important influence on them. Little Richard referred to the stomping, shouting gospel music legend as his favorite singer when he was a child. In 1945, she heard Richard sing prior to her concert at the Macon City Auditorium and later invited him on stage to sing with her. Following the show, she paid him for his performance. Johnny Cash also referred to Tharpe as his favorite singer when he was a child when he gave his induction speech at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. His daughter Rosanne similarly stated in an interview with Larry King that Tharpe was her father's favorite singer. She was held in particularly high esteem by UK jazz/blues singer George Melly. Even today, artists such as Sean Michel have credited her influence with the performance of gospel songs in more secular venues.
Brixton band Alabama 3 (of Sopranos theme fame) named a track after Sister Rosetta on their debut album Exile on Coldharbour Lane (1997), as well as recording a version of her song Up Above My Head. In 2007, UK indie rock band The Noisettes released the single "Sister Rosetta (Capture the Spirit)" from their album What's the Time Mr. Wolf? Also in 2007, singers Alison Krauss and Robert Plant recorded a duet version of the song "Sister Rosetta Goes Before Us," written by Sam Phillips. Phillips released her version of the song on her 2008 album, Don't Do Anything. Michelle Shocked opened her live gospel album ToHeavenURide (2007) with "Strange Things Happening Every Day," along with a tribute to Tharpe.

In 2001, the award-winning French film Amélie included a scene showing the protagonist's house-bound neighbor mesmerized by a montage of video clips which featured a performance of "Up Above My Head" by Tharpe.

Source: Wikipedia

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Story Time: Citizen On Patrol

Okay, so yeah, I used to actually work when I was younger. (Back in the old days) LOL And when I did, it was usually the 2nd shift. From 2 PM to 10 PM or 3Pm to 11 PM, it varied. Or I would work the 3rd shift. Hey, I was a night owl. (Still am)


Anyhow, I was coming off my shift in North Columbus, and made my drive to the South side. (Parsons Avenue) where before I turned down to my street, decided to stop in at the local 7-11 to pick up a few quick items.


I walked into the door and immediately saw a young man around my age standing at  the counter. He was wearing a hunter coat, almost military style which wasn’t too suspicious because it was late October.  His right hand was in his pocket. No sooner did I see him, I turned to look at the cashier.


Now, I used to visit this place on a regular basis. I knew all the girls who worked there. They knew me. (What else is new?) LOL


Anyhow, I saw a strange look on her face instantly. She appeared to be nervous. The vibe I was getting was intense. I could sense that something wasn’t quite right. I also noticed another young man in the back, by the beer coolers. I disregarded him and walked swiftly towards the counter. “Hey, Marge.” I greeted. “What’s up?”


She half rolled her eyes towards the young man now next to me on my left. I took her cue. I knew now what was going on. I turned to the guy. “How’s it going?”


He was about six feet tall, a few inches shorter than me. He was scraggly looking in that, he was well covered by that jacket for his skinny frame. He turned gently and said. “This is a stick up.”


I grinned then looked back at Marge. “Is he for real?” I questioned.


She kept her hands in front of the cash register. “He’s for real.” She mumbled. “He has a gun on him.”


I looked back at the kid. “Where?”


The kid half eyeballed me while keeping another on her. He jerked his right hand in his pocket. He almost looked frightened. That’s what it appeared to me. “Right here.” He quietly responded.


For some reason, I just didn’t believe him. I looked back at Marge then again at the kid. Still with my grin and a slight chuckle, “That isn’t a gun.” I stammered. I then reached down to his arm and pulled out his hand to showcase for her. “See. It’s just his fingers.”


Just about that time, his friend went walking by carrying a case of beer. He walked right out of the door as nonchalant as you could. I looked back at Marge. “Want me to get him?”


She nodded her head. “I’ll call the police.”

I quickly knew what was happening. I suckered punch the kid next to me and by that, I hit him square on the jaw in hopes it would knock him out so he wouldn’t run off when I quickly turned and raced out of the store to catch up with “five-finger” Freddy. LOL


I caught up with him at the end of the sidewalk and right on the curb to the street. I quickly saw a car in the alley down about a half block and saw that someone was in the drivers seat. I grabbed the back of the collar of the guy and pulled him back. “Slow your roll, Goober. You didn’t pay for that.”


“What’s it to you?” The man shouted. He jerked away from my grip and looked at me. He was a little shorter than his friend in the store, who had at this point, came out the door pissed off for me hitting him.


“I’ll just take it back inside and you guys can get the fuck out of here before the cops show up.” I tried to lighten the mood while reaching down to take possession of the beer.


“Fuck you.” The dude cried out, then took a swing at me and missed.


“You little shit.” I retaliated, clocking him on the chin and watching as he stumbled backwards and dropping the case of beer, which then spilled out onto the street, rolling every which way.


And if this wasn’t enough, that dude I clocked in the store tried to take a few swings at me also from behind. I knew he was there so I was able to avoid contact. I did a quick spin move and got behind him, locking him in with a choke hold of sorts. “Okay,” I told them, “now you’re just trying to piss me off.”


The dude that stumbled back onto the street now got to his feet. I could see the glaze in his eyes and figured he was drunk already or high on something. “Let him go, bitch!” The dude sounded off.


I wouldn’t hear of it. “I don’t think so.” I countered.


Then, this dude bends down to gather up a couple of cans of the street. I knew what he was planning to do with them so I used his buddy whom I had a nice firm grip on as a shield. The dude popped up with two cans of beer in his hands. He reared back and threw one that whizzed right by our heads. I ducked behind his friend who was by now, freaking out. “You’re gonna hit me!” His friend was scared shitless. The next thing I knew, another can whizzed by again.


Now out of cans, the dude began the search for some more. He scoured the ground around him and saw a can up against the street curb, just a few feet from where I was standing with his buddy in front of me, still under my control. I saw this as my opportunity when the guy bent down to fetch that can. I took a few steps forward, still keeping his friend in front of me and in between us. As he was bending over to pick it up, I brought my right foot up and landed it squarely on his face, breaking his nose. (I heard it pop) He again fluttered backwards and onto his back in the street. I whispered in the guys ear that I had a grip on. “If you’re buddy doesn’t stop, I am going to have to snap your neck and then kill him. You are giving me choice.”


This is when the guy I had control of started yelling to his pal. “Just get in the fucking car dude and get out of here. The cops are on their way.”


His buddy got back to his feet and started to walk away, before stopping to pick back up that can of beer he had and he turned around and growled as he threw it at us. I ducked behind the dude whom I had a grip on and heard the can hit him square on the head. “Son of a bitch!” He shouted. “Stop throwing the fucking cans dude, you just hit me! Get out of here!”


“That had to hurt.” I joked.


Finally, the guy turned and headed for the car. He got in and they took out of there lickity split. I forced the guy I had control of back into the store. I tossed him towards the counter and gave out a command. “Sit down and don’t give me any shit.”


“Can I get some ice for my head?” He asked.


I stared him down. “No. Now sit!”


The kid looked back at me. “I’m not sitting down on that dirty floor.”


“It’s cleaner than you are.” I stated.


“Fuck you!” He fired back at me, taking a few steps towards me and almost getting in my face. “Let me see your badge.”


I reached out and grabbed his arm, pulled him into me as I turned my back and popped out my hip, flipping over me and onto the floor with a hard thud. “I left it at home. Now stay on the floor.”


I looked at Marge, who was in complete shock at this point. “I’m stepping outside for a smoke and wait for the police.”


“What if he gets up?” She asked me, nervously.


I chuckled a little. “Then I’ll get my tire iron out of the car and jack up his skull.” Making sure he could hear me. I then looked down at him. “You’re not planning on getting back up are you?” I asked.


Still facing the floor on his stomach, he muffled, “No sir.”


Soon enough, the cops arrived and took him into custody. I also informed them about his friend and what I did to him. I figured he might be at the hospital getting treated. If you know anything about hospitals in America, there is always a cop stationed at one. The cop called over and discovered that there was a guy in the waiting room waiting for his buddy who was being treated for a broken nose. Once I gave the description and it matched the two at the hospital, case closed. The other guy and the driver were also taken into custody and peace was restored in my hood once again. The bad guys were defeated. Yay! LOL