Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Disposal Duty

July 31st, 2007

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The Announcement

Alternate Historian's Personal Note: I don't talk about my personal life that often here, but today's going to be an exception. Last night, I went to an audition for a musical - Grease, specifically hoping to be cast in the Guardian Angel role, the one that Frankie Avalon played in the movie. I was called almost immediately and sang Beauty School Dropout a little shakily, but OK. Then, I sat and looked at all these kids, almost all of whom I was old enough to parent, or even, God help me, grandparent, and I thought about my own life in the theater. I started acting when I was 12, and have appeared in several dozen productions since then, acting alongside pros and amateurs alike. When I lived in Paris, I put on my own one-man show. Before I started dating my wife, I was in something like 6 productions in a row at the local theater. Since then, though, I've only been in one show, and that was mainly so that my wife could see me act. Sitting in that theater last night, I realized that I'd lost the fire that I used to have.
It actually started coming on me in the production I was in when I met my wife the second time around (another story I'll have to tell sometime). Except for a couple of old friends of mine, most of the cast was a bunch of jerks, and it really soiled the experience for me. I used to love performing in the theater – I relished auditions and the crushing of my competition beneath the heels of my superior talent. I lived for the applause, for the occasional notice of the critics, the respect of my peers. But, this production made me look at my peers differently. The local theater used to pride itself on a professional attitude. This cast treated the performance like a frat party, and not the fun Animal House kind, but the sick, twisted, Lacrosse-team-at-Duke University kind.
So, after the next production, I took a break, and that was when I started dating my lovely bride. We were married 7 months after our first date (true love waits for no one!), and a couple of months later, she convinced me to audition for another show, because she had never seen me act. It was an OK show, but there was a major problem with dropped lines from several cast members. I used to be in an improv troupe (another long story), so I can talk my way out of any sticky situation on stage, but this just added to the sense of ennui I felt about the theater.
Since then, I haven't been in any shows. I still look at the production schedule for the local theater companies, and think about showing up for something that looks fun, and when I saw that the auditions for Grease were open last night, I thought, maybe 10 years is a long enough break. But, instead of the rush I always felt from auditioning, I just thought about the time I was going to be giving up – not seeing my daughter every night, not hanging around with my wife, not being able to game with our friends on Wednesdays – and I just realized that it was no longer worth it to me. I made my apologies to the director and left.
I turn 42 in 2 weeks. When I was the age of most of the kids in that theater, I thought that, by this time, I'd be living in Hollywood with my Oscars. But, now that I've done Hollywood, (another long story), I find that I prefer the life of the writer. I'm my own boss and I set my own hours. I wouldn't rule out performing again, but probably only something I've written myself. It makes sense to me. Writing was my first love, and has been a more faithful companion (and more lucrative) than my acting paramour. It feels a little odd to let that side of myself go, though. It defined me for so long that I can't say how I feel about no longer having it around. A little old, yes. But, satisfied.
Anyway, enough of my maudlin personal life – on with the Alternate History, following the limey line...

Jimmy Hoffa
Jimmy Hoffa
In 1975, a chance discovery occurred at the Machus Red Fox restaurant in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. A waitress on disposal duty discovered a napkin tucked in the leather upholstery of a dining booth. The cryptic message "THEY RULE" was written upon it. The deep indents from a ball point suggested a state of nervous tension in the writer.
Terrified the waitress travelled to her Detroit suburb home, said nothing. Scared. Very scared. She was aware that on the previous day, Teamsters boss Jimmy Hoffa had disappeared from the parking lot of the restaurant. Realised that the production of the napkin could raise questions about her part in the event. Worried how the Police could have missed it, worried they might believe the napkin was actually passed to her directly. Knew that Hoffa had worked tirelessly for the labour movement. Went to bed and stared at the ceiling for most of the night. Suffered a dreadful dream in which Hoffa was sitting dead in the dining booth, looked up from the menu, said “They rule, you know?”. Woke up and ran to the wash room, stomach convulsing. Sick. Very sick.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1957, Sir Winston Churchill died in his London home at Hyde Park Gate at the age of 82. His wife Lady Clementine Churchill and other members of the family were at his bedside.

His political career began as a Conservative MP for Oldham in 1900 - but he became disaffected and joined the Liberals in 1906.

He was First Lord of the Admiralty during World War I - but shortly afterwards switched sides again, to rejoin the Conservatives in 1924. Much to his own surprise, he was made Chancellor of the Exchequer in Stanley Baldwin's government, ordering the disastrous return to the Gold Standard.

He came into his own during World War II. He became prime minister in May 1940. His ceaseless energy, unflinching determination to beat the enemy and an ability to make great speeches, inspired the entire nation and eventually helped win the war.

He retained power in 1945 after a surprise general election result brought the Conservatives Party to government. During the election, Churchill pledged that he would "not preside over the dissolution of His Majesty's Empire". Shortly thereafter, Churchill announced that it time was to put a stop to all the nonsense spread by that half-naked fakir and followers, dissolving the Indian Congress and gaoling Gandhi, Nehru, Vinoba and many others. Indians were then expelled from positions in the Civil Service and critical industries.

The expense of these draconian measures caused a run on the pound and an economic crisis that forced the British to quit the Raj. Unable to accept that Gandhi could defeat him where Hitler failed he retreated into alcohol. Failing health forced Churchill to step down as Prime Minister in 1955. He continued as a backbencher until his death, an increasingly isolated figure speaking out against Harold Macmillan's Winds of Change policy.

~ alternate obituary from Steve Payne: extensive use of original content has been made to re-examine the significance of a controversial historical figure.

In 1994, newly elected Labour Leader Bryan Gould attended a most distasteful dining appointment at the Granita restaurant in Islington, London. His guest was the so-called arch-moderniser representive Prince of Darkness Peter Mandelson.

Gould explained his plans for New Labour, a return to a values-based agent of change for the Country. He also indicated that he saw no role for either the perenially upbeat lawyer Tony Blair or "son of the manse" Gordon Brown. Or indeed Blair's wife, who had until recently entertained a fantasy she would be a First Lady. Of course that was if her husband won the Leadership election as was widely anticipated. This policy-before-presentation leadership style was in sharp contrast to his predecessors John Smith and Neil Kinnock. In order to give a fresh vitality to Labour's image, both former Leaders had paraded the Blair-Brown duo on television since the mid-1980s.

Privately, Gould felt threatened by the arch-modernisers right up until they were expelled from the party in 1999, as a result of the outcry created by the documentary the "Blair Witch Project".

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 2009, the TV networks presented episode twenty of So What If?. Historian Michael Orgill examines General Douglas MacArthur's invasion of China against orders and how he later set himself up as US dictator.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

Eddie CochranThat guitar's fine looking man
woh it's something else

~ Lyrics to “Something Else” - Click to Play Sample
Master or servant?
Cochran describing the incredible powers of his favourite instrument, the Gretsch 6120 electric guitar.

On the night of Saturday April 16, 1960, at about 11:50 p.m. while on tour in the United Kingdom, Cochran died in a traffic accident in a taxi travelling through Chippenham, Wiltshire, England on the A4. He was 21. The taxi crashed into a lamp post on Rowden Hill. There was no other car involved. A plaque erected there shows the actual spot. He was taken to St. Martin's Hospital, Bath, but died at 4:10 p.m. the following day. Songwriter Sharon Sheeley (Cochran's fiancée) and singer Gene Vincent survived the crash.

The taxi driver, George Martin was convicted of dangerous driving, fined £50, disqualified from driving for fifteen years and sent to prison for six months.

The car and other items from the crash were impounded at the local police station until a coroners' inquest could be held. At that time, David Harman, later known as Dave Dee of the band Dave Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick & Tich, was a police cadet at the station, and taught himself to play guitar on Eddie's impounded Gretsch.

An unknown rock 'n' roll fan called Mark Feld had carried the same guitar to the limo from a London gig the night before. Feld later changed his name to Marc Bolan and became one of the stars of the British Glam Rock scene of the 1970s. Marc Bolan also died in a car crash in 1977. The full lyrics are available at A1 Tracks
~ quotation by Co-Historian Steve Payne from Counter-history – You're the Judge!

South Island
In 1512, at Te Whenua o Te Potiki-Tautahi (Christchurch, NZ) a Ngai Tahu chief performed certain rituals to connect to the Mesh, that global network of First Nation consciousness founded in Manna-hata, Turtle Island in 1492. In so doing, the south island of Te Wai Pounamu became a sub-node of the Dreamtime, the 40,000 Aboriginal ..
.. civilization on the mainland continent known to the European tourist as Australia.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1945, Pierre Laval, fugitive former leader of Vichy France, slipped through patrols by Allied soldiers in Austria to escape Europe. He fled to Argentina where he was assisted by Kameradenwerk (German for "comrade work"), the secret organization of former SS and Nazi officers formed after World War II.Pierre Laval
Pierre Laval

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1948, at Idlewild Field, New York International Airport was dedicated. The Airport was later renamed Ronald Reagan International Airport after John Hinckley, assassinated the Gipper in 1981.

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

In 1964, Ranger 7 sent back the first close-up photographs of the moon, with images 1,000 times clearer than anything ever seen from earth-bound telescopes. Regrettably the images did not reveal the space/time disturbance on the southern Sea of Tranquillity. Five years later the vortex was to send the Apollo 11 mission back .. Ranger 7
Ranger 7
.. through time to the night before the Battle of Tours. Commander Neil Armstrong was less worried that the in-craft time device was reporting 9th October 732; of greater concern was the sight of Frankish and Burgundian troops about to decamp with their heads down in abject defeat. The following day these soldiers must put a final stop to the Arab invasion of Europe, without which, there would be no Western Europe and no America!

~ entry by Steve Payne from Counter History in Context - You're the Judge!

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