January 4 in History

The Burj Khalifa, the tallest structure in the world at 2722 feet tall, opened on this date in 2010. The photo above is from the street level. Located in Dubai, the Burj Khalifa has 163 floors, 154 of which are usable.

Its first observation deck was located on the 124th floor, which set the record for the highest outdoors observation deck. This record stood for less than two years when the owners of the Canton Tower in China opened an observation deck more than 100 feet higher. The Burj Khalifa re-took the title in 2014 when an observation deck was opened at the 148th floor—1821 feet up.

And then last year, the Shanghai Tower opened an observation deck 1841 feet above the ground.

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The longest labor dispute—the longest strike—in history ended on this date in 1961, when Danish barbers’ assistants returned to work after 33 years. The strike had started in 1928. I have not been able to learn more about this. Was the dispute over unfair cuts? (Sorry.)

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In the 1964 election, President Lyndon B. Johnson won 61% of the vote and the Democratic Party earned two-thirds majorities in both houses of Congress. With a real mandate, work could be done. On this date in 1965, President Johnson laid out his legislative agenda for the coming years; out of that work came his “Great Society” proposals, and, ultimately, Medicare and Medicaid, expanded Social Security, public television and public radio.

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Three members of The Beatles added some final touches to the group’s final single, “Let It Be,” on this date in 1970. This was the last official recording session in the group’s history.

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Bob Hope made his network radio debut on this date in 1935 on The Intimate Revue, a variety show heard nationally on the Blue Network, a part of NBC. His broadcast career continued for 62 more years, mostly with NBC. This is that broadcast:

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“I resign as HC of the NYJ.” On this date in 2000, the New York Jets introduced the team’s new head coach, Bill Belichick, who had accepted the job the previous day, only to have him turn the press conference at which he was being introduced as head coach into a bizarre half-hour-long resignation. Within moments it became clear what was happening: the New England Patriots had hired him as head coach. He has remained in that job since.

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Albert Camus died on this date in 1960. Erwin Schrödinger died on this date in 1961. T. S. Eliot died on this date in 1965. Christopher Isherwood died on this date in 1986. Iron Eyes Cody died on this date in 1999. Gerry Rafferty died six years ago today. Stuart Scott died two years ago today.

* * * *
Floyd Patterson was born on this date in 1935.

For many years, Floyd Patterson lived in the town I was living in: New Paltz, New York. I met him twice: once at a literary event with Gay and Nan Talese (another anecdote entirely), and once at the local grocery store.

The Shop Rite in New Paltz is small for a chain grocery store, with the narrow aisles of a store built when it was constructed in the 1970s. I recognized Floyd Patterson immediately, who was still in his 50s back then, and my next thought was: I am taller than a former heavyweight boxing champion of the world. (I am six foot; he was five eleven.) He saw I had fewer items in my cart than he had (he appeared to be doing the shopping for the training camp he ran outside town and was pushing a cart so full with meats that I would not have been strong enough to push it in a straight line with a running start, much less turn it around the tight corners in our small grocery store), so he let me go ahead of him at the checkout. He offered a hand for me to shake, too, and I learned that even though I have large hands, two of mine did not wrap around one of his. The heavyweight champion had some big mitts for hands.

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Don Shula is 87. Dyan Cannon is 80. Grace Bumbry is 80 today. Mahavishnu John McLaughlin is 75 today. Ann Magnuson is 61 today. She has a new album out, Dream Girl. Fred Neil’s “Everybody’s Talking” by Bongwater, Magnuson’s project:

Patty Loveless is 60. Matt Frewer is 59. Andy Borowitz is 59. Michael Stipe is 57. Dave Foley is 54. Julia Ormond is 52. Cait O’Riordan is 52. Harmony Korine is 44.

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One comment

  1. loisajay · January 4, 2017

    ‘..unfair cuts.’ Gosh, I love a good pun.


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