Today in History: Nov. 26

Anarchy for the UK
It’s coming sometime, and maybe
I give a wrong time, stop a traffic line
Your future dream is a shopping scheme
—Sex Pistols, “Anarchy in the U.K.”

The debut single from the Sex Pistols, “Anarchy in the U.K.,” was released 40 years ago today.

I am a cranky “get off my lawn” old man in my want-to-be-a-punk tastes. This is because I am a cranky old man, deep down, deeper than any punk can reach. (Or this makes me very punk, but no one can declare themselves that.) In the late 1970s one of my schoolmates was an import from London named Dan (I literally remember his name as “Dan English,” which it could not have been), and he already had terrible teeth (we were 10 or 11), a gaudy accent, and he wore torn t-shirts and played music whose major point was its loudness. (Or so it seemed to my ears.) I wish I could write that in 1977-’78 I was friends with a London kid who introduced me to the Sex Pistols and The Clash, but I can not. I detested what he was playing for me. I was also introduced to rap music around then or even earlier: another elementary school classmate was rapping like Gil Scott-Heron in 1976, but we were eight years old so what little rap that I remember him performing was about his upcoming birthday party and words like “cupcakes” were used non-metaphorically.

In the 1990s, I fell in love with what was by then ancient punk rock and I started to absorb it; around this same time Johnny Rotten/John Lydon started to become a beloved cultural figure in Great Britain, which he remains.

The energy of anger, the cultural energy of anger, the dedication to anarchy (which brooks no dedication), rarely appealed to me and it more frequently scared me. Any anarchists in my circle brought out my inner parent, which is probably why I hated them all the more. (Hate? Wait a second. I do not hate …)

The violence of change indicates a world of absolutes, of either-ors; but a world that includes shades of gray and a third way presents yet another either-or: Either we live in a universe of absolutes or we do not. The revolutionaries live in the hyphen between the either and the or, and, like the hyphen, life there is brief. Every culture has an avant garde if it is lucky, and every culture defeats it by ignoring and then absorbing it.

 
* * * *
The Price Is Right debuted on NBC daytime 60 years ago today. It lasted until 1965. The beloved Bill Cullen was the host.

* * * *
The film Casablanca opened in the Hollywood Theater on Broadway in New York City (now known as the Times Square Church) on this date in 1942.

* * * *
Charlie Parker recorded “Billie’s Bounce,” “Warming Up a Riff,” “Now’s the Time,” “Thriving from a Riff” (a.k.a. “Anthropology”), “Meandering” (based on “Embraceable You”), and “Ko-Ko” with Miles Davis, Dizzy Gillespie, Sadik Hakim, Curley Russell, and Max Roach for Savoy Records on this date in 1945.

“Ko-Ko” from the session:

 
* * * *
Sojourner Truth died on this date in 1883.

* * * *
Bill Wilson was born on this date in 1895. Charles M. Schulz was born on this date in 1922. Robert Goulet was born on this date in 1933.

* * * *
Françoise Gilot is 95 today. Rich Little is 78. Tina Turner is 77. John McVie is 71 today. Ilona Staller is 65 today. Dale Jarrett is 60.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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