Saturday, February 8, 2014

1930 Tragedy in Hollywood

Ten Die As Two Planes Collide While Filming Movie

Mysterious Death of Alfred Lowenstein

He was one of the richest and most powerful men in Europe. An investor, he also owned a company which built electrical infrastructure in developing countries. A pilot who also liked to race horses, he had also been a Belgian soldier during the First World War. Now Alfred Lowenstein was one of the most famous men in the world. But in July of 1928 he was a passenger on his private plane. Going back, seemingly to use the washroom, he opened the wrong door and fell 4000 feet into the English Channel. Suicide? Murder? Everybody had a theory. But nobody has ever figured out why he died in such bizarre circumstances.

A Golden Age

Meanwhile Hollywood was booming. The talkie had been invented so now we could actually hear actors speak. While other countries were slow to adopt the new technology, America dove into it and the US movie industry was now on the map. Film was big business and stars became our royalty.

Such Men Are Dangerous

With all the talk on how Alfred Lowenstein had died filming began based on the events. Three aircraft were used for the jump scene and, with his death still shrouded in mystery, two of the planes collided sending ten people to their own deaths in the Pacific Ocean.

The star of the movie, Warner Baxter, survived as he was not present. Among the dead was the director Kenneth Hawks, husband to the beautiful star Mary Astor.

As two camera planes were filming a third from which a parachutist would jump, one of the camera planes slide slipped into the other. Wings were entangled, there was an explosion, later ships and blimps could not recover all of the bodies.

Three men, including Hawks, jumped from the planes and died from their falls.

Watch The Entire Movie Here:

Friday, February 7, 2014

New York: Army Vets Fight Nazis!

100 World War 1 Veterans Against 1000 Nazis!

When? April 1938.
Where? The Yorkville Casino.
During the Great Depression many 
flirted with radical politics.
Despite the name, the Yorkville Casino was no place of gambling. It was a popular night spot in New York. A dance hall, it was also one of the only places in the city that showed German movies.

Then and Now

The world was still in Depression but the German economy was booming. Some Americans believed fascism would provide the government of the future.
Leader of the Nazis and noted Charlie 
Chaplin impersonator, Adolf Hitler turns 49.

Hitler just turned 49 and the Nazis were celebrating his birthday when the riot squads were called in. Some Vets, many of which were Jewish and Roman Catholic, were infuriated by the display of unAmericaness.

Outside the German Workers Club and the Young Patriots, two groups which opposed Nazis, were picketing. But the Vets went in to audit the party.

Listening to the speeches they became enraged. Speakers were praising how Hitler had taken over Austria and called for Roosevelt to recognize it as a unified Germany. The vets claimed that they were saying a lot more than that and were being disparaging to the President. The fights started when one jumped up and shouted, "Is this an American meeting or a German meeting?"

The Vets were older, outnumbered, and easy to recognize
 in the scuffle because they proudly wore their blue hats.

They were older and they wore their blue Vet caps so they were easily recognizable. They were also vastly outnumbered by the drunken Nazis who were partying and enthusiastic for their Führer. 7 of the vets were sent to the hospital and many others later went home to treat their wounds.

It took about 100 policemen to quell the riot.

Veterans William Jerke and and Jacob Caback, both in their forties, were arrested for fighting. A 17-year-old Storm Trooper, Otto Geisler, was charged with carrying a dagger.

And four years later the entire world would be embroiled in war.

More on the history of the Yorkville Casino:

    Think of the word "casino," and what comes to mind? Visions of Las Vegas and Atlantic City? Well, 50 years ago the residents of the upper East Side got together at the Yorkville Casino, where the last thing on anybody's mind was gambling.
But Wait...

Was It Really The Police That Broke Up The Fight?
Known as the Mob's accountant, Meyer Lansky was one of the most powerful Mobster's in America. As he got older he began to realize that his life had really been about sunshine and puppy dogs and that, after all, he had not been that bad of a guy after all. He began to boast that it had not been the police who shut down the riot but, instead, his gang.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

History of Starbucks

The first Starbucks was opened in the early 1970s by three guys who met at university who wanted to sell high-quality coffee. They named their new enterprise after a character from the novel, 'Mobey Dick.'

Or so it's claimed.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Religious Tourism in Quebec?

With the canonization of Brother Andre, Quebec is hoping to cash in on the estimated $18 million dollar faith tourism industry. They'd like to attract pious visitors to such sites as  St. Joseph's Oratory in Montreal or Our lady of the Cape Shrine in Trois-Rivieres.

But wait! There's other holy places to visit in Quebec!

What about...

A farm in Warwick where it is said that in 1957 Fernand Lachance invented poutine, exclaiming: "Ca va faire une maudite poutine!" (It will make a hell of a mess).

Or Rue St-Hubert in Montreal where, in 1951, the very first St. Hubert rotisserie chicken restaurant opened.

Or one of the many dépanneurs from Hull to the Gaspé where René Lévesque bought his smokes.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

The End is Near for Tumblr!

Tumblr has been a favorite for microbloggers. But with Yahoo's acquisition of it will things stay the same? Tumblr's profits, while being a popular company, have remained very low: Under $10 million a year. This was good for users because it meant that there was nobody to sue! For years the site was the bane for those protecting their copyrighted material. Yahoo, a major corporation, gives them somebody to go after. I wouldn't be surprised to see major changes from here on in as Y! protects itself and, also, monetizes the site.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Sexy Girls Wearing...Corsets?

Everything old is new again!

And, to a large extent, the corset is back in style!

The fashion industry has rediscovered corsets! Today you can even get one that looks authentic but doesn't effect the shape of your body.

What is it?

The corset was originally a quilted waistcoat with lacing which, when tightened, changed the shape of the body: Usually giving thin people an hourglass figure by reducing the width of the waist.

Even some men have been known to wear corsets. Infact it was a fad in the 1820's:
Every guy had to get one to improve his shapely figure!

By restricting their bodies wearing a corset people would change shape, attaining a thin waist. Ethel Granger held the record for the smallest waist at 13 inches...

It goes to show that beauty is in the eyes of the beholder!

Most people who wear corsets don't wish to achieve such a traumatic waist reduction, though. Many women who wear them today shoot for 2 to 3 inches.

Today corsets are very popular in the bdsm and goth communities.

Interesting fact:

Some people wear corsets for medical reasons. After Andy Warhol was shot in 1968, he wore a corset to prevent the wound from worsening.

Do corsets do it for you? free polls 

Thursday, April 11, 2013

The Indestructible Fidel Castro

With conservatives railing about Canadians who holiday in Cuba, calling it a dictatorship worse than Stalin's, and Fidel's recent retirement from politics, here's a look back on how Fidel Castro beat overwhelming odds to live so long...

With numerous attempts having been made on his life, Castro has proven himself to be indestructible. Now retired at 84 years of age, he has outwitted every assassination plot. One anecdote about his longevity is that he once declined a gift of tortoises, who can live for up to 200 years, because he feared that the pets would die on him.

And there's more than a few people who wanted him dead. The American government plotted against his life ever since he swung toward communism in 1960, the mafia wanted to see him finished as he had put an end to organized crime and casinos, and Cuban exiles wanted him nixed because they lost everything during the revolution.

Cuba had been a 1950's paradise. A Caribbean Las Vegas frequented by the rich and famous. But American capitalism owned everything and the leader, Fulgencio Batista, was corrupt.

It was Batista who first tried to have Castro killed. He fled to Mexico. Then, despite overwhelming military odds, Castro returned and seized power and popularity. After Batista fled, the U.S. considered eliminating Castro as he began to execute 1000s of Batista's supporters and started to collectivize agriculture. Everything from poison pills to exploding cigars was considered. The CIA even considered a powder to make his beard fall out or getting him to accidentally ingest LSD so that his supporters would think that he's crazy. Since Castro enjoyed scuba diving, a colourful sea shell full of explosives also sounded like a good idea.

After the failure of The Bay of Pigs, killing Castro became an obsession for the Kennedy's. Operation Mongoose consisted of a covert bombing campaign against the island where they blew up factories, burned crops, and armed rebels. But after the October 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, America agreed not to invade Cuba.

In 2000, 200Ibs of explosives were put under a podium where Castro was to speak in Panama, probably by Cuban exiles. However, the bomb was discovered by his security. He has hundreds of men guarding him and even uses look-a-likes to confuse possible attackers.

Now retired, he has outlived his contemporaries and many tortoises.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

6 Evil Canadians You Probably Never Heard Of

More recently we've hears a lot of Canadian murderers thanks to the likes of Luka Magnotta, Col. Russell Williams, Robert Pickton, and Paul Bernardo.  These people are evil Canadians that many know of. On the surface, the Great White North may look all innocent with its maple syrup and Celine Dion. But when you scratch the surface there's more:

William Lyon Mackenzie King

Mack with his Nazi friends.
The 10th Prime Minister of Canada was a man who spoke to ghosts and decided foreign policy with a ouiji board.

The Mad Trapper of Rat River

A loner turned crazed madman, nobody is sure exactly who the Mad Trapper was. But people were glued to their radios in 1932 as he led the Mounted Police on a crazed chase. With superhuman ability he survived them blowing up his cabin, shootouts, and -40 weather. He scaled cliffs during blizzards to get away from the men who were hunting him down, covering 85 miles in 3 days. But the RCMP always get their man and he was killed in a final gun fight.
Roch Thériault

Thériault was Canada's Charlie Manson. A cult leader who inspired love and support from his followers, he began doing operations on them. After pulling teeth out with tweezers, castrating a boy, he accidently disembowled his wife. In prison for murder he became a victim of murder himself when a fellow inmate stabbed him.

Roch Thériault
Richard Blass

An amateur boxer who found an interest in the mafia, Richard Blass couldn't stand how Italians controlled the criminal underworld of Montreal. So with his own gang he became a crime kingpin. Known as, 'The Cat,' because he survived so many assassination attempts, he was a multiple murderer and escaped from prison twice. He was killed by police in 1975.
Richard Blass
John Hamilton

Canadians even made friends with people like John Dillinger. John 'Red' Hamilton helped Dillinger escape from prison and rob banks.

John Hamilton
Harold Ballard

Probably one of the most evil Canadians, he was like the Joseph Stalin of professional hockey. Running the Toronto Maple Leafs into the ground, he was owner from the 1960s into the 1980s. Micromanaging the team, he drove players crazy and insured the Leafs would never win a Stanley Cup.
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