“For Eric, Columbine was a performance. Homicidal art. He actually referred to his audience in his journal: ‘the majority of the audience won’t even understand my motives,’ he complained. He scripted Columbine as made-for-TV murder, and his chief concern was that we would be too stupid to see the point. Fear was Eric’s ultimate weapon. He wanted to maximize the terror. He didn’t want kids to fear isolated events like a sporting event or a dance; he wanted them to fear their daily lives. It worked. Parents across the country were afraid to send their kids to school. Eric didn’t have the political agenda of a terrorist, but he had adopted terrorist tactics.”
Author of ‘Columbine’
Before We Begin…
There were, as there always seems to be, too many tragic incidents which happened on this date in history. I thought I would start out with something a little lighter … or a “high” note, if you will, because the “real history” on this date is more than sobering.
By the way, this is long because, well, it has to be.
Today is “420” day and the myths surrounding it are both entertaining and bizarre.
Some say “420” is code among police officers for “marijuana smoking in progress.” Some note 4/20 is also Adolf Hitler’s birthday. And some go as far as to cite Bob Dylan’s song Rainy Day Women #12 & 35 (“everybody must get stoned”) because 12 multiplied by 35 equals 420.
Not even close.
The earliest use of the term began among a group of teenagers in San Rafael, California in 1971. The group — Steve Capper, Dave Reddix, Jeffrey Noel, Larry Schwartz, and Mark Gravich — became known as the “Waldos” because they met at a wall near the Louis Pasteur statue on the grounds of San Rafael High School at 4:20 p.m.
The Waldos had been given a treasure map, and with it came a promise of a stoner’s paradise where the “X” marked the spot: a free crop of marijuana, ready for the taking.
For the next few weeks, the Waldos would catch each other’s eyes in the hallways, uttering simply “420 Louis.” It was a secret code, an invitation to meet at 4:20 p.m. after their sports practices, at the statue of Louis Pasteur in front of the school. Then, the safari would begin and they’d take off towards the Point Reyes Coast Guard Station in a ’66 Chevy Impala in search of the stash.
The grower of the weed, it turned out, was a coast guardsman named Gary Newman, stationed on the peninsula. Newman and some other friends had planted the weed for personal use, but they soon began to grow suspicious that their overseeing officers might bust them. So, to get rid of the evidence, Newman made a map for those interested to come harvest.
The Waldos never found the marijuana, and eventually they reluctantly pushed the mystery aside, but the phrase 420 stuck.
Let’s jump ahead to December 28, 1990, when a group of Deadheads in Oakland handed out flyers that invited people to smoke “420” on April 20 at 4:20 p.m. One of the flyers ended up with Steve Bloom, a former reporter for High Times magazine, an authority on cannabis culture.
The magazine printed the flyer in 1991 and continued to reference the number.
Soon, it became known worldwide as code for marijuana.
And now, let’s get to the history!
1912 – Bram Stoker died after suffering a series of strokes. He was 64.
He was the author of The Lady of The Shroud, The Mystery Of The Sea, and The Shoulder Of Shasta, but is best known for his gothic novel Dracula.
1914 – One of the bloodiest episodes in the history of American industrial enterprise occurred in Colorado.
Labor activists were striking at the Colorado Fuel & Iron Company, a large mining operation owned by John D. Rockefeller Jr.
On this date, the Colorado National Guard and Colorado Fuel and Iron Company guards attacked a tent colony of 1,200 striking coal miners and their families at Ludlow, Colorado, with the National Guard using machine guns to fire into the colony. Approximately twenty-one people, including miners’ wives and children, were killed.
In retaliation for the massacre at Ludlow, the miners armed themselves and attacked dozens of anti-union establishments over the next ten days, destroying property and engaging in several skirmishes with the Colorado National Guard along a 40-mile front.
An estimated 200 deaths occurred during the entire strike.
1939– Boston Red Sox outfielder Ted Williams made his major league debut against the New York Yankees. The future Hall of Fame player would finish his first season hitting .327 with 31 home runs and 145 RBI.
1945 – Adolf Hitler made his final trip to the surface, climbing the stairs from his Führerbunker on his 56th (and final) birthday to award Iron Crosses to boy soldiers of the Hitler Youth.
Meanwhile … Allied bombers in Italy “celebrated” Hitler’s birthday by beginning a three-day attack on the bridges over the Adige and Brenta rivers, cutting off German lines of retreat on the peninsula.
1962 – NASA civilian pilot Neil Armstrong, while testing the MH-96 control system on the X-15, an experimental rocket-powered aircraft, flew to a height of over 207,000 feet.
Seven years later, Armstrong reached a much higher elevation when he and co-pilot Buzz Aldrin became the first people to land on the Moon.
1977 – Annie Hall premiered in theatres across the U.S.
Directed by Woody Allen (who also starred, along with Diane Keaton), the film received widespread critical acclaim, and won the Academy Award for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Actress for Keaton.
1979 – While on a solo fishing expedition in his hometown of Plains, Georgia, President Jimmy Carter was “attacked” by a swamp rabbit.
According to Carter, the rabbit was being chased by hounds and “jumped in the water and swam toward my boat. When he got almost there, I splashed some water with a paddle.”
When Carter returned to his office, his staff did not believe his story, insisting that rabbits could not swim, or that they would never approach a person threateningly.
However, the incident was captured by a White House photographer.
1980 – The Castro regime announced that all Cubans wishing to emigrate to the U.S. were free to board boats at the port of Mariel west of Havana, launching the Mariel Boatlift.
The first of 125,000 Cuban refugees from Mariel reached Florida the next day.
1992 – Comedian Alfred Hawthorne “Benny” Hill died from a blood clot inside a blood vessel of his heart. He was 68.
He is best known for his long-running internationally popular television program The Benny Hill Show,
1992 – The Freddie Mercury Tribute Concert for AIDS Awareness was held at Wembley Stadium in London as a tribute to Queen’s lead vocalist, Freddie Mercury, who had died of AIDS on November 24, 1991.
The concert – featuring some of the biggest names in rock playing with the surviving members of Queen – was broadcast live on television and radio to 76 countries around the world, with an audience estimated at one billion.
1999 – Two teenage gunmen killed 13 people in a shooting spree at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado.
At about 11:20 a.m., Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris began shooting students outside the school before moving inside to continue their rampage.
A teacher, William “Dave” Sanders, ran to the cafeteria to warn students about the shooting. He was able to safely evacuate everyone in the room 30 minutes before the shooters entered the cafeteria, even though he was later shot and killed.
By the time SWAT team officers finally entered the school at about 3:00 p.m., Klebold and Harris had killed 12 fellow students and Sanders, and had wounded another 23 people.
Around noon, they turned their guns on themselves and committed suicide.
2010 – An explosion and fire aboard the Deepwater Horizon oil drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico, approximately 50 miles off the Louisiana coast, killed 11 people and triggered the largest offshore oil spill in American history.
The rig had been in the final phases of drilling an exploratory well for BP, the British oil giant. By the time the well was capped three months later, an estimated 4.9 million barrels (or around 206 million gallons) of crude oil had poured into the Gulf.
Compiled by Ray Lemire ©2019 RayLemire.com. / Streamingoldies.com. All Rights Reserved.