Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lincoln....

This is a public service announcement from the Mistress of History...GO SEE LINCOLN!

I saw the film this last week with a friend. I cried. I was in awe. You have before my friends, a living history. It was beautiful. Perhaps the most beautiful film I've seen in a good long while (And I know film, kiddos.)

Thus ends this public service announcement. We now return you to your regularly scheduled blog station.


Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday Blog Hop!

It's Black Friday!
  Time for prizes and fun and sharing! So in my book 'THE HOODED MAN" we see the spirit of giving, sort of, when our plunky Marian a.k.a Robin Hood gives stolen gold to the needy people of Nottingham. Today I will play Robin Hood much as Marian did in the book and give one lucky blog reader a present for Black Friday!  One lucky commentor will win a copy of THE HOODED MAN or my upcoming 1Night Stand story, BETTING IN A GOD, from Decadent Publishing. All you have to do is answer one simple trivia question and leave it in the comments section of the blog.  
 Your mission, maninis, should you choose to accept it, is to answer the following question. Which American Hero figure is most closely related and modeled after Robin Hood? The winner will receive their choice of THE HOODED MAN or BETTING ON A GOD(coming soon) Make sure to check out all the other great Decadent Authors and their blogs today for more amazing prizes and fun!  The link below is the gateway to all the other blogs that are waiting for you.  http://www.markofthestars.com/wp/?page_id=10037 Have a wonderful Black Friday and Happy reading!

 

Thursday, November 22, 2012

A Day of Thanksgiving

Today ushers in another Thanksgiving. Though we may be scattered, for example my family and I are in various parts of the United States today - separate from each other, we still find the means to be with one another. The age of technology has made that possible.

Now we all know, or we think we know, how Thanksgiving came about. But do you know how it became an actual day of celebration? How about I tell you...because you know from all the previous blogs that I love to do that. History junkie that I am.

In 1789, October 3 to be precise, President George Washington (Now I know you all know who he is) proclaimed that Nov 26th would be a day "set aside to give sincere thanks and gratitude" and so we celebrated our very first Thanksgiving. On October 3 1863 (There's that day again) President Abraham Lincoln gave a proclamation stating that Thanksgiving would be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November, thus making it a National holiday. Think about it. We are in the midst of a bloody civil war and the President asks people to put aside their differences and celebrated a single day of thanks in the face of all that terrifying death and destruction. And they do.

Next up comes our man, FDR. In 1939 he moved the date to the third Thursday of the month of November, in an effort to lengthen the shopping season and to bolster the economy. This move sparked wide-spread debate and in 1941 Congress passed a joint resolution (that means both the House and the Senate agreed on the resolution...something that rarely happens today) and President Roosevelt signed it thus ensuring by law that Thanksgiving would be celebrated nationwide on the fourth Thursday in November. (Check out last year's Black Friday Blog post for a bit more info on this if you're so inclined.)

So, my dirty birdies, I give you a brief history of Thanksgiving. Remember there is always more to something then the simple story you've been told in your youth. You know what I mean...Pilgrims and Indians sitting down to a huge feast in harmony and peace (right before the Pilgrims hand the Indians blankets infested with small pox...OK I'll stop ranting and save that for another blog)

One final note, YouTube the Butterball hot line episode of The West Wing. You will thank me for it later.

Here is the text of Lincoln's Proclamation on Thanksgiving. Enjoy and have a Happy Thanksgiving!

A Proclamation. The year that is drawing towards its close, has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies. To these bounties, which are so constantly enjoyed that we are prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added, which are of so extraordinary a nature, that they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a civil war of unequaled magnitude and severity, which has sometimes seemed to foreign States to invite and to provoke their aggression, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere except in the theatre of military conflict; while that theatre has been greatly contracted by the advancing armies and navies of the Union. Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements, and the mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious metals, have yielded even more abundantly than heretofore. Population has steadily increased, notwithstanding the waste that has been made in the camp, the siege and the battle-field; and the country, rejoicing in the consiousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom. No human counsel hath devised nor hath any mortal hand worked out these great things. They are the gracious gifts of the Most High God, who, while dealing with us in anger for our sins, hath nevertheless remembered mercy. It has seemed to me fit and proper that they should be solemnly, reverently and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People. I do therefore invite my fellow citizens in every part of the United States, and also those who are at sea and those who are sojourning in foreign lands, to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens. And I recommend to them that while offering up the ascriptions justly due to Him for such singular deliverances and blessings, they do also, with humble penitence for our national perverseness and disobedience, commend to His tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife in which we are unavoidably engaged, and fervently implore the interposition of the Almighty Hand to heal the wounds of the nation and to restore it as soon as may be consistent with the Divine purposes to the full enjoyment of peace, harmony, tranquillity and Union. In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the Seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this Third day of October, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the Unites States the Eighty-eighth.


Thursday, November 8, 2012

Tear that Stonewall down!


The history of America is as varied as her people. The path that we have traveled to get us where we are today is long and has been pretty damn rocky. From the landing of the pilgrims to the re-election of our first African-American president, we have seen and accomplished more in our 390 some odd years then other countries have managed in their whole hallowed existences. (I’m including the stuff that happened all the way back to 1620 in that count by the way) But some of the potholes we hit on the road to get to right now may not be as well-known as they should be. So tonight we will talk about something that most of you probably have no idea ever happened. In fact, I had no idea what it was until I was watching an episode of RuPaul’s Drag Race (I love drag queens. Glitter and spandex and bitchy attitudes. I love it!!) We are going to talk about The Stonewall Riots of 1969. The first real outcry for equality in the LGBT community and unfortunately 43 years later it was not the last.

On June 28, 1969 in New York City, police raided a known gay bar called Stonewall Inn. The bar was located in Greenwich Village at 51 and 53 Christopher Street. Owned by the Genovese family (yes the mafia Genoveses) Stonewall began its life as a restaurant and nightclub. However in 1966, three members of the family invested $3,500 to turn the place into a hangout for the LGBT community in the neighborhood. (Mostly likely this change occurred because the mafia realized the money to be made from such an establishment, mainly because the surrounding neighborhood at the time had a large Gay community) The battle had just begun for Stonewall and its visitors.

There was no running water, no fire exits, and the toilets overran consistently. Once a week the police showed up for their payoff – an envelope full of cash. But still people came. Stonewall was the only gay club in town that allowed dancing and that was a big draw for its clientele. Police raids were frequent, happening about once a month, sometimes more. When the bar was raided the lights were turned on, customers lined up against the wall – criminal style – and their IDs were inspected. Any man found in drag was arrested on the spot. Women not wearing at least three pieces of female clothing were arrested.

At about one in the morning of June 28th, four plainclothes officers, two unis, and a detective and a DI arrived at Stonewall and pushed open the doors, shouting “Police! We’re taking the place!” Earlier in the evening four undercover officers had entered Stonewall to “collect evidence.” The music was shut off and the lights turned on. Stonewall was packed that night with about 200 people enjoying their evenings. Everything was going according to the usual plan – i.e. line up for ID and gender check (I’m not kidding folks. Anyone dressed in drag was escorted to the women’s john where a female police officer checked her parts. Kind of degrading if you ask me.) The officers reportedly manhandled the patrons while doing searches in rough and degrading fashion. Now this is where it gets really ugly. No one exactly what caused the next part to happen…“There was no one thing that happened or one person, there was just…a flash of group, of mass anger.”

Police ejected and herded the customers outside, forming separate groups for those that were free to go and those to be placed in paddy wagons and taking into to station houses for booking. The crowd of customers began to fight back, shouting at the officers and throwing coins at them. (The coins symbolizing the massive payoffs gay clubs around NY had to hand out to police. Soon bottles, rocks, and other larger items were lobbed. The police retreated back into the bar, trashing the place and fighting against the crowd. A folk singer who had the misfortune of passing by the doorway at that exact moment was savagely beaten by police.  

Riot police were called in and they advanced down the street a la Roman turtle style. The crowd retreated but would not be stopped. They shouted and yelled taunts at them. The rioting and protests went on for five days. By the end of the violence many ended up in the hospital, a teenager had lost two fingers, and others had countless broken bones and bruises. This was the beginning of the battle for equality for all sexualities.

Stonewall has become an icon to the LGBT community and to the activists who continue to fight for equality to this day. Whether you are gay or straight or omnisexual, the battles that have been fought in the name of unity cross gender and subculture lines.

I wrote this blog as a straight ally to the LGBT cause. Equal Rights and Gender Equality are my generations Civil Rights movement. With any Civil Rights movement, we must know our history – the good and the bad – so we can learn from it and never let it happen again.

Side note: PBS produced a great film for their American Expericence segment called "Stonewall Uprising" You can watch it online here http://video.pbs.org/video/1889649613

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

It ain't that kind of college

For some people there is one aspect of the election cycle that is more baffling, more complicated, and more intimidating than anything else. It’s not trying to understand constitutional policy about voting. It’s not trying to understand early voting numbers. It’s not polling and weird news reports. It isn’t even strangers showing up at your door asking for your vote. It’s the Electoral College. The uber scary Electoral College monster is out to get you.

Don’t go hide under the bed, dirty birdies, The Electoral College isn’t as scary as it seems, the media just makes it sound that way when they explain it. Too many yadda yadda’s and double talk. So, I am going to do what I do best here at History’s Mistress and give it to you straight.

The Electoral College came into being on September 8th, 1787. The 12th amendment in the constitution sets up how the whole shebang works and was formally adopted in 1780. Essentially the college is this: 538 votes. Yep, that’s all. The votes are made up of 435 Representatives to the House and 100 Senators. The District of Columbia, i.e. Washington D.C., gets 3 votes making up a total of 538. The distribution of votes comes from the population of the states in questions. (U.S. Territories do not get votes in the electoral college. Places like Guam and Puerto Rico. Hence the arguement that some of these places have for statehood.) My state of Nevada had 5 votes in the 2008 election but we now have 6. This is due in part to the population going up over the course of the four years as well as re-distribution of districts. Because Nevada gained a vote that means another state lost one. There can only ever be 538 votes. No more, no less.

The candidate that receives 270 of those votes is the winner and gets to be president. Now here comes the complicated part. The votes are awarded based on the direction of the popular vote in that state. For example in the current election if the popular vote in Nevada leans to Barack Obama, then all 6 will go to Obama.

That said there are two states that do not award their electoral votes as a whole, what is known as the winner-takes-all rule. Nebraska and Maine follow the proportional votes rule. Time for another example. Say that in Nebraska, Gov. Romney takes all but one district in the popular vote. That means he would take 4 out of the 5 electoral votes allotted to Nebraska and President Obama would receive one. This rarely happens but that said in the 2008 election President Obama took one vote to McCain’s four. Confused or are you still with me?

So that pretty much sums up the Electoral College in layman’s terms. Not so scary now is it? Of course the framers of the constitution put in contingency plans for if the electoral vote ends up tied at 269 apiece.  I’m not going into this those, my little blog loves, because this is where it gets confusing and convolute to me. If it gets me muddled you know it is cray-cray. I have included a video from Rachel Maddow and I’ll let her explain it to you. She’s better at it anyway.

There you have it, the big scary Electoral College explained in 500 words or less. I’m not going to tell you who to vote for, it is your choice. Just remember to vote. I can’t stress how important it is to exercise your civic duty. Remember if you don’t vote, I won’t let you bitch about the winner later on. Vote is sexy and important. So be sexy and important and do it!

Sunday, November 4, 2012

This is the City of the Angels, and you haven't got any wings

Its murder time here on History’s Mistress. Who doesn’t love to hear all the details of a scandalous murder? Come on, don’t lie. The sheer amount of crime shows, documentaries, and murder mystery novels in existence puts any denials to shame. We’ve talked about Thelma Todd. We’ve talked about Jack the Ripper. Heck, we’ve talked about Fatty Arbuckle. I can hear you thinking “What can she give us now?” I’m so glad you asked…

Lana Turner was a popular screen goddess of the 1940s and 50s. She was known as the ‘Sweater Girl’ because of the great way she filled out a sweater. Meaning…she was stacked. Anyway, Turner was the star of such films as Peyton Place, The Bad and The Beautiful, and my personal favorite – The Postman Always Rings Twice. Lana’s personal life was just as crazy as some of her film roles.

Our lovely Sweater Girl was married seven times, but none managed to last longer than five years at most. Her longest marriage was to Henry Topping at 4 Years 7 Months 14 Days. Her shortest marriage was her first marriage to Stephen Crane, which was annulled, at 6 Months 18 Days (38 days later, she married him again). She was married to Artie Shaw, the famous big band leader, for 6 Months 27 Days. Love was not something Lana was good at. Unfortunately this fact was personified in Johnny Stompanato.

Stompanato was a former Marine with dashing Italian-American good looks, a well-muscled body, and an amazing talent to charm the ladies. (And a few men) Stompanato came to California in 1948 with a man named Sir Charles Hubbard, who brought our gigolo along as a “companion” Over the course of the next two years; Johnny ‘borrowed’ $85,000 dollars from Hubbard. The intrepid FBI believed that Stompanato had blackmailed Hubbard for the money. No one really knows. Shortly after that Hubbard was busted for Marijuana (A big deal in the 30s, 40s, and 50s. Haven’t you all seen Reefer Madness??) and hightailed it out of Cali, leaving John stranded. But not for long. He soon hooked up with Mickey Cohen or Mickey C as he was known, and begin working as a bagman and bodyguard for the Al Capone of California. The Mickster ran it all. Drugs. Prostitution. Numbers. You name it. Johnny was in it now. This new lifestyle gave him access to some of the wealthier elements in Los Angeles and he was seemingly always on the arm of an older, beautiful woman with some serious dosh in her bank account.

So entereth Lana.

At first Stompanato sent her flowers and records, calling her on the phone in an effort to get close to her. He laid the charm on thick and since Lana was recently divorced from her 4th husband, Johnny was the something new and exciting she thought she was looking for. Too bad it turned out to be a mistake. A fatal one for Stompanato.  (One of the main reasons she stayed with Stompanato for as long as she did was simply bad press. She wouldn’t call the cops when he beat her for fear that her career would be devastated. Same goes hiding the abuse.)

Once Johnny had inundated himself into Lana’s life, his real nature came out. He beat her and verbally abused her constantly. She had him ejected from London, where she was filming, because he was beating her so badly. (Well, that and he stormed onto the set with a gun. Sean Connery, Lana’s co-star, punched him in the jaw and took the gun. Do not mess with James Bond. I’m just saying) He threatened her life, her daughter’s life, and life of her mother. So…Lana stayed with him…until her daughter made the decision for them all.

After the Academy Awards in 1958, Lana and Stompanato returned home and promptly started fighting. Cheryl Crane, Turner’s 14 year old daughter, was in her room right next door. The teenager went to the door and pleaded with her mother to let her in. Turner yelled for her to get away from the door and that ‘Johnny was leaving’ but of course Stomapanato was staying…and still yelling and threatening Lana. Now, here is where the story gets interesting. Cheryl stated to the police that she ran into the kitchen and grabbed a carving knife off the counter. The knife had been purchased earlier that day by Turner and Stompanato (Are you all thinking the same thing I am? A brand new knife…recently purchased by the victim and Turner? Pretty coincidental isn’t it. Just wait…it gets better) Cheryl ran back to the bedroom with the knife in hand and this time Turner opened the door. Story goes; Johnny had his back to the door and was gathering clothes from the closet and some wooden hangers. Turner told police he decided to leave the house.

Now picture this if you can. Johnny at the closet. Cheryl at the door. Lana between them. Cheryl stated he turned with clothes over his shoulder and his hand raised to her mother with something that looked like a weapon. As he moved passed Lana, Cheryl struck with the knife. Lana thought, or so she told the police, that Cheryl had punched him. Nope, she stabbed him. Johnny fell to the floor. Lana picked up the knife, dropped it in the sink of her bar area, and called her mother. Not the police. Her mother. Doctors showed up in minutes but Johnny boy was toast.

Cheryl was let off and the murder found Justifiable Homicide. She was however made a ward of the state and sent to a home for troubled girls. Critics remarked that Turner gave her ‘best acting performance of her life” at her daughter’s trial.

So did Cheryl Crane really kill Stompanato out of fear or was it planned? No one really knows…except Cheryl…and she ain’t talking.