Thursday, December 31, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: Ricky Nelson, December 31, 1985

Ricky Nelson managed the unthinkable in popular culture.  A Fifties teen icon, he survived the changing tastes of viewers and music listeners to return to musical respectability.  Ricky had stared  on radio and television in his family’s popular comedy “The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriett;” simultaneously moved into recording, becoming one of the top pop music recorders of the late 1950s and early 1960s; then moved into major motion pictures, costarring with John Wayne and Dean Martin.  His recording career languished as tastes changed, though he staged one last Top Ten charge with the critically-well received “Garden Party” in 1972.  His career fell into obscurity throughout the 1970s, but started to rebound with a renewed interest in the rockabilly sound in the mid-1980s.

Roma Eco-Ethno Workshop Studio: Clothing and Tradition With A Purpose

This isn’t in my ordinary line of posts. But, I wake up every day 'Abu al Banat' -- I am the father of daughters -- and so I do pay attention to clothes.  My daughter Cassidy did a successful fashion project a few years back to raise money for autism awareness.   So, when I came across an interesting project in the context of one of my colleague’s work on the Roma, and it involved both making public goods and fashion, I wanted to share.

Often marginalized groups are viewed as just the subject of handouts, but it can be a really great project to see them leveraging their traditions to help themselves. This is an example of that in the context of the Roma; a Slovenian Roma community has come up with Amulet, a project about sustainable fashion using Roma traditions (what they call a “Roma eco-ethno workshop studio”). The group reuses and recycles materials, and members of vulnerable groups (principally Roma) produce the clothing and accessories. The inclusive workshop studio offers job opportunities for members of the Roma community as well as other members of society and provides a multicultural work environment, and is supported by grants from EEA/Norway. If you’re intrigued, they’ve got more details here.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: Roberto Clemente, December 31, 1972

Roberto Clemente’s Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Pirates spanned 18 seasons.  Starting in right field for most of his career, Clemente hit .317 and had 3,000 hits with 240 homeruns and twelve Gold Gloves for defensive play.  He was also named MVP by the sportswriters in 1966 and played for two World Series champions (1960 and 1971). 
            Clemente, a native of Puerto Rico, also had a philanthropic heart, and it was that heart that had him riding in a Douglas DC-7CF bound for Managua, Nicaragua.  Managua was at the epicenter of a magnitude 6.2 earthquake on December 23, 1972, which killed 5,000 and also left over 60% of the 400,000 residents of the city homeless.    Clemente had been in Managua at the beginning of December, and the baseball star had organized three previous relief flights since December 23.  This one was the fourth.

Friday, December 25, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: Quentin Roosevelt, July 14 1918

Quentin Roosevelt was the fourth and youngest son of President Theodore Roosevelt.  The Roosevelts were a modern celebrity family, the first First Family to occupy the White House amidst the pop of flashbulbs and the turning of newsreels.  They were made a larger-than-life, vigorous family because of the larger-than-life image of the pater familias, who had charged San Juan Hill, tamed crime in New York, built a Navy and learned to wrestle wolves (all before he was forty).  
Born during his father’s meteoric rise in American politics – from the time of his birth until his fourth birthday, TR would be Assistant Secretary of the Navy, Colonel of US Volunteers (the Rough Riders), Governor of New York, Vice President, and President of the United States – young Quentin literally grew up in the White House.  In 1915 Quentin joined a voluntary officer-training program organized by TR’s longtime friend Major-General Leonard Wood (the program was the forerunner of the modern ROTC). Quentin took aviation training and in 1917, with the organization of the AEF, dropped out of Harvard and along with his brothers Teddy and Archie, went to Europe and the Great War. 

Monday, December 21, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: Paul Jeffreys, December 21, 1988

Paul Jeffreys was the original bassist for Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel, the English progressive rock band from out of London.  Though often overshadowed by the media-annoying behavior of Harley, Cockney Rebel was one of the defining progressive sounds coming out of the 1970s.  In addition to playing with Cockney Rebel, Paul also played for several other progressive sound groups including Be Bop Delux, Chartreuse, Electric Eels, and The One Pacific. Paul had joined with Adrian Large to form The One Pacific in 1984, as much to satisfy what Large termed “mutual therapy” as anything else. 
            Jeffreys and his wife Rachel Jones were both on  Pan Am Flight 103, flying from Heathrow in London to JFK International in New York.  The flight, also named “Clipper Maid of the Seas” was a first-generation Boeing 747 carrying 243 passengers and 16 crew.  The craft took off from Heathrow at 1804 hours GMT (6:04 PM).  Approximate 57 minutes into the flight, a suitcase bomb that had been smuggled into the craft through the luggage transfer system detonated.  The plane, passing over Lockerbie, Scotland, crashed to earth killing all 259 persons on board plus eleven persons on the ground in Lockerbie.  Responsibility for the attack was ascribed to Libyan terrorists, with separate claims being initially made by  the “Guardians of the Islamic Revolution” and by a group calling itself “Islamic Jihad.” 

Friday, December 18, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: Two Pioneers from 1912

April 3 1912: Calbraith Perry Rodgers 
Cal Rodgers was the first person to buy a private airplane and the first American to make a transcontinental flight across North America, from September 17-November 5 1911.  Rodgers was competing for a $50,000 prize offered by yellow journalist publisher William Randolph Hearst for the first transcontinental flight in under 30 days. 
            Rodgers had purchased a Wright EX biplane, A smaller version of the Wright “B” which was the first Wright craft that resembled “conventional” craft –short nose, long tail, and bearing a passing resemblance to the Curtiss JN “Jenny,” though the Wright EX was still a “pusher” with the prop mounted behind the wings.  Arriving in Pasadena at the end of his transcontinental flight, Rodgers and his spouse decided to stay in southern California. 
            On April 3, 1912, Rodgers was flying his second craft—a Wright “B” – when he flew into a flock of seagulls. The birds so fouled the controls that Rodgers could not regain control and he crashed in the surf just short of his landing destination – oddly enough, where he had landed to complete his transcontinental flight.  Cal Wright was the first aviator killed by a bird.

July 1, 1912Harriet Quimby, Woman of Speed and Daring
Well, 1912 was a bad year for aviation pioneers in the U.S. On July 1, Harriet Quimby died in a plane.  She was the first American woman to be licensed as a pilot.  She was also a noted author and screenplay writer. Two weeks after Cal Rodgers’ death, on April 16, Quimby had became the first woman to fly solo across the English Channel.  In July, along with aviator William Willard, she was flying in an air show near Boston, over Dorchester Bay. The two fell out of their Blériot biplane and tumbled 1,000 feet to their death, which is an aviation mishap but not a plane crash. 

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: Glenn Miller, December 15, 1944

Glenn Miller was the greatest and most innovative arranger and composer of the Swing Era, inventing the popular “big band” and popularizing such enduring standards as “Pennsylvania 6-500,” “Moonlight Serenade,” and “In the Mood,”  among his many hits.  Miller also was awarded the first-ever “Gold Record” for outstanding sales, from RCA for the 1942 hit “Chattanooga Choo-Choo.”    Glenn Miller was lost while flying over the English Channel to join up with his Army Air Force Band in Paris, to perform for troops stationed in the recently liberated city. The plane he was traveling in was UC-64A Noorduyn Norseman, a bush plane usually equipped with floats, designed to take off and land on unimproved surfaces.  After leaving the RAF base at Twinwood Farm in Bedfordshire, the plane disappeared over the English Channel.  Rumors persist as to the source of his demise, but a popular theory holds that returning British night bombers, following the convention of emptying their bomb bays over the Channel on the return flight from Germany, dropped their bombs on his plane.  Miller, his pilot and the aircraft were never recovered. Noted actor and World War II bomber pilot Jimmy Stewart portrayed Miller in the semibiographical film The Glenn Miller Story.

Monday, December 14, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: Steve Kaplan, December 14 2003

Steve Kaplan rings in the ears of hundreds of millions of people around the world.  Kaplan composed the music for Wheel of Fortune and the remake of Jeopardy! that went on the air in 1984.   He also worked as a composer on numerous motion pictures and was a member of the progressive/new age rock group Zazan.  On December 14 2003, Kaplan was flying to Rancho Cucamonga to rehearse a winter concert with a high school jazz ensemble.  Kaplan was an experienced flyer with 600 hours in the air and he was instrument rated for his craft, the Cessna 421C.  His instrument-aided effort to land at Cable Airport in Upand, California, resulted in a fatal collision with a house.  According to the NTSB factual report of the accident, Kaplan had attempted an initial landing, come back around, and then
attempted a second landing when he crashed into a residence.  Despite the assertion at a memorial website to Kaplan that a structural failure of a propeller contributed to the accident, the NTSB factual and probable cause reports give no indication of structural or mechanical failure.  The official report instead reports “pilot disorientation” in the overcast skies that day:

The airplane impacted a residence during a missed approach. After completing the en route portion of the instrument flight, a controller cleared the pilot to proceed direct to the initial approach fix for the global positioning satellite (GPS) approach to the airport. After being cleared for the approach, the airplane continued on a course to the east and at altitudes consistent with flying the GPS published approach procedure. Radar data indicated that at the missed approach point at the minimum descent altitude of 2,000 feet msl, the airplane made a turn to the left, changing course in a northerly direction toward rapidly rising mountainous terrain. The published missed approach specified a climbing right turn to 4,000 feet, and noted that circling north of the airport was not allowed. Remaining in a slight left turn, the airplane climbed to 3,300 feet msl over the duration of 1 minute 9 seconds. The controller advised the pilot that he was flying off course toward mountainous terrain and instructed him to make an immediate left turn heading in a southbound direction. The airplane descended to 3,200 feet msl and made a left turn in a southerly direction. The airplane continued to descend to 2,100 feet msl and the pilot read back the instructions that the controller gave him. The airplane then climbed to 3,300 feet, with an indicated ground speed of 35 knots, and began a sharp left turn. It then descended to impact with a house. At no time during the approach did the pilot indicate that he was experiencing difficulty navigating or request assistance. An examination of the airplane revealed no evidence a mechanical malfunction or failures prior to impact; however, both the cockpit and instrument panel sustained severe thermal damage, precluding any detailed examinations.

Friday, December 11, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: The University of Evansville Basketball Team, December 13 1977

You must understand that the plane crash was more than just a horrible snuffing out of a large number of young lives. The university basketball team had great meaning for the whole Evansville community—the city even more than the school. When the Aces won the first of their five NCAA Division II titles in 1959, Evansville was in an economic and spiritual depression, and anybody will tell you that the city's resurgence began then. Soon, the social fabric of the town revolved about the Aces' schedule and fortunes.  Frank Deford, 1978

Evansville, Indiana, is a small, proud industrial river city with a troubled economic history.  Down the Ohio River from Louisville and Cincinnati, Evansville’s economic woes started with ongoing recession in the 1950s.  But there had always been one bright light – University of Evansville basketball. As Time Magazine would later recount, “The Purple Aces were the pride and passion of Evansville, Ind. Home games were often sold out. Season tickets to the best seats were so hard to come by that diehard fans fought over them in divorce settlements, and for good reason.” A division II powerhouse, Evansville had dominated men’s hoops in the division winning five national titles (1959, 1960, 1964, 1965, and 1971) in thirteen seasons from 1959 to 1971.  Legendary head coach Arad McCutchan coached Evansville from 1946-1977, winning 514 games and claiming fourteen Indiana State conference titles.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: Memphis State's Rex Dockery, December 12, 1983

“Rex Dockery, offensive coordinator Chris Faros, defensive back Charles Greenhill and pilot Glenn Jones were all killed in a plane crash in Lawrenceburg, Tenn., en route to an all-star banquet. It was the darkest moment in Tiger football annals.” 

Dockery, coming off a successful season, was going to speak at an all-star banquet.  Accompanied by Faros and Greenhill and Tigers’ booster Glenn Jones, Dockery flew in Jones’ plane to Lawrenceburg.

Monday, December 7, 2015

#CollisionWithFame: Otis Redding and the Bar-Keys, December 10 1967

Otis Redding and the Bar-Keys were taking a daytime flight, headed for Madison, Wisconsin for a performance.  The “King of Soul Singers” and the Bar-Keys were traveling from Cleveland to Madison, the next stop on his winter tour. The aircraft, a Beech H18, carried a pilot and six passengers.  Pilot Richard Frasier of Macon was a 26 year old flight instructor with about 1,300 hours of total flying experience, including 118 hours in the Beech. In addition to Redding, thje crash killed his manager and four of the five members of the Bar-Keys: Jimmy King, 18, Ronnie Caldwell, 18, Phalon Jones, 18, and Carl Cunningham, 17. 
At about 3:30PM, while on final approach, the aircraft crashed into Lake Monona, three miles short of the airport. Weather conditions were foggy.   Of the seven persons on