Today is Monday, December 31st, the 365th and final day of 2007. [At last, it is over. Expect 2008 to be much worse. We do. — Ed.]
Today's Highlight in History:
In 1879, Thomas Edison first publicly demonstrated his electric incandescent light in Menlo Park, New Jersey.
On this date:
In 1775, the British repulsed an attack by Continental Army generals Richard Montgomery and Benedict Arnold at Quebec; Montgomery was killed.
In 1857, Britain's Queen Victoria decided to make Ottawa the capital of Canada.
In 1862, President Lincoln signed an act paving the way for West Virginia statehood.
In 1877, President and Mrs. Hayes celebrated their silver anniversary (actually, a day late) by re-enacting their wedding ceremony in the White House.
In 1938, the first breath test for drivers, "drunkometer," was introduced in Indianapolis.
In 1946, President Truman officially proclaimed the end of hostilities in World War II.
In 1961, the Marshall Plan expired after distributing more than 12 billion in foreign aid.
In 1963, the Central African Federation of Rhodesia and Nyasaland was formally dissolved.
In 1964, the al-Fatah guerrillas of Yasser Arafat launched their first terrorist raid on Israel.
In 1974, private U.S. citizens were allowed to buy and own gold for the first time in more than 40 years.
In 1978, Taiwanese diplomats struck their colors for the final time from the embassy flagpole in Washington, marking the end of diplomatic relations with the US.
In 1986, 97 people were killed when fire broke out in the Dupont Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. (Three hotel workers later pleaded guilty in connection with the blaze.)
In 1987, Robert Mugabe was sworn in as Zimbabwe's first executive president.
Ten years ago:
Michael Kennedy, the 39-year-old son of the late Senator Robert F. Kennedy, was killed in a skiing accident on Aspen Mountain in Colorado. In Sorocaba, Brazil, riot troops stormed a prison where inmates were holding hundreds of hostages, quickly ending a three-day rebellion without any deaths.
Five years ago:
Emerging from holiday seclusion at his Texas ranch, President Bush told reporters an attack by Saddam Hussein or a terrorist ally "would cripple our economy." [Mr. Bush has left it to capitalists, real estate speculators & mortgage lenders to "cripple our economy." — Ed.]
Two U. N. nuclear inspectors expelled by North Korea arrived in China, leaving the communist nation's nuclear program isolated from international scrutiny. An explosion at a clandestine fireworks factory in the Mexican port city of Veracruz ignited an entire city block, killing 28 people.
In 2004, Ukrainian Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych resigned, acknowledging that he had little hope of reversing the presidential election victory of his Western-leaning rival, Viktor Yushchenko.
One year ago:
The death toll for Americans killed in the Iraq war reached 3,000. Hundreds of Iraqis flocked to the village of Ouja where Saddam Hussein was born to see the deposed leader buried in a religious compound 24 hours after his execution. Ordinary Americans paid their respects to former President Gerald R. Ford, walking slowly by his flag-covered casket in the U. S. Capitol. [Equal in life, equal in death. — Ed.]
Folk and blues singer Odetta is 77. Actor Sir Anthony Hopkins is 70. Actor Tim Considine ("My Three Sons") is 67. Actress Sarah Miles is 66. Rock musician Andy Summers is 65. Actor Ben Kingsley is 64. Rock musician Peter Quaife (The Kinks) is 64. Producer-director Taylor Hackford is 63. Designer Diane Von Furstenberg is 61. Actor Tim Matheson is 60. Pop singer Burton Cummings (The Guess Who) is 60. Singer Donna Summer is 59. Actor Joe Dallesandro is 59. Rock musician Tom Hamilton (Aerosmith) is 56. Actor James Remar is 54. Actress Bebe Neuwirth is 49.
Actor Val Kilmer is 48. Singer Paul Westerberg is 48. Rock musician Scott Ian (Anthrax) is 44. [Any relation to Janis Ian? — Ed.]
Actress Gong Li is 42.
Also Born on December 31, But Died in the Interim:
Jacques Cartier, explorer (1491). Charles Cornwallis, general (1738). Henri Matisse, artist (1869). Elizabeth Arden, beautician, business executive (1878). Gorge C. Marshall, general and cabinet member (1880). Simon Wiesenthal, writer, activist (1908). John Denver, entertainer [Crummy pilot, too. — Ed.]
The Bidness of Show:
On December 31st, 1943, a near-riot of bobby-soxers in Times Square in New York greeted Frank Sinatra's singing engagement at the Paramount Theater.
In 1947, singing cowboy Roy Rogers married Dale Evans.
In 1961, the Beach Boys played their first gig in Long Beach, California. They earned $300.
In 1969, Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys [sic
] made its debut in New York.
In 1972, the MC5 played its last gig, in Detroit. They were paid $200. [Compare to The Bleach Bozos above, in 1961. Or the Angry Samoans getting $75.00 to play The Cuckoo's Nest, in 1978. Is there no justice or decency? — Ed.]
In 1973, AC/DC made their concert debut in Sydney, Australia.
In 1982, Little Steven Van Zandt of Bruce Springsteen's E Street Band got married in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Percy Sledge and Little Richard performed "When A Man Loves A Woman" at the reception. [Excuse us, but did his bride have a name? — Ed.]
In 1984, drummer Rick Allen of Def Leppard lost his left arm in a car crash near his home in England. Allen stayed with the band, using a special drum kit. [Did he ever find his left arm? — Ed.]
In 1985, singer Rick Nelson, 45, was killed when fire broke out aboard a DC-3 that was taking him to a New Year's Eve performance in Dallas. His fiancee and five other people were also killed. [Free basing or heater malfunction? You decide. And why were they in a DC-3? Cheap? — Ed.]
In 1989, game show host Pat Sajak married former "Playboy" model Lesly Brown in Annapolis, Maryland. [Perhaps the least significant or interesting item since we started running this crap last month. — Ed.]
In 1991, Gilbert O'Sullivan won his lawsuit against rapper Biz Markie for using a sample of his song "Alone Again (Naturally)" for Markie's song "Alone Again." The case changed the rules of sampling by requiring that all samples be cleared before releasing them on another record.
In 1993, Barbra [Legs! — Ed.]
Streisand performed her first paid concert in 22 years, singing to a sellout crowd at the MGM Grand Garden in Las Vegas.
In 1997, pianist Floyd Cramer died in Nashville, Tennessee, at age 64.
In 2000, Black Crowes singer Chris Robinson married actress Kate Hudson in Aspen, Colorado. They have since divorced.
In 2004, singer Natalie Imbruglia married Silverchair singer Daniel Johns in an exclusive resort in Australia, & Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson was arrested after he and his son got into a fight with police during a New Year's Eve celebration in Naples, Florida.
In 2005, Dick Clark returned to his "New Year's Rockin' Eve" telecast after missing the previous year because he had had a stroke. He was hoarse and sometimes hard to understand, but he said he "wouldn't have missed this for the world."