1975 — Da Nang airbase falls to the Vietcong

By the end of March 1975, the US withdrawal from Vietnam was already well underway – and unsurprisingly, this led to the North Vietnamese forces stepping up attacks on positions still held by the US. Da Nang Airbase came under attack on March 28, 1975 when shelling began. An evacuation was ordered, and while US forces managed to evacuate, many South Vietnamese aircraft were not evacuated (due to the ferocity of the attacks and a shortage of pilots).

By the 30th of March, the airbase had fallen to the attacks. This was a major propaganda victory for North Vietnam, and led to mass desertions among the remaining South Vietnamese forces. South Vietnam itself surrendered on April 30. The airbase has since been repaired and is now known as Da Nang International Airport.

Referenced in:
The Nang, The Front, The Bush And The Shit — El-P

1975 — “The Jeffersons” premieres

One of the most fondly remembered sitcoms of its era, “The Jeffersons” chronicled the lives of a well to do black family living in New York City. It ran for 11 seasons and a total of 253 episodes, and as recently as 2011, its stars were still occasionally cameoing as their Jeffersons characters in other shows.

The characters of the Jeffersons were originally introduced as neighbours of the Bunker family on “All In The Family” in 1971, but they became the nucleus of the second spin off of that show – another brainchild of prolific tv producer Norman Lear. “The Jeffersons” was nominated for 13 Emmy Awards during its run, but won none of them.

Referenced in:
TV Party — Black Flag

1975 – The Pine Ridge Shootout occurs

The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is an Oglala Lakota Native American reservation located in the U.S. state of South Dakota. It was the sight of the notorious Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890, and a similar, though much smaller scale, uprising in 1975. After years of deteriorating relations with the federal government, some residents of the reservation, along with allies from the American Indian Movement, engaged in a shootout with FBI agents on June 26, 1975.

One Indian and two FBI agents were killed in the raid, and although three men were tried for the deaths of the latter, only one was convicted, the courts upholding the self-defence pleas of the other two. Life on this rez remains difficult for the Indians and controversial to just about everyone.

Referenced in:
Crazy Life — Toad the Wet Sprocket

1975 — Tiger Woods born

One of the greatest golf players currently competing at a professional level, Eldrick Tont ‘Tiger’ Woods was born to parents who were each of decidedly mixed ancestry – he himself has referred to his racial background as “Cablinasian” (a syllabic abbreviation he coined from CAucasian, BLack, american INdian, and ASIAN). He began playing golf when only two years old, and soon proved himself a prodigy at it.

When only eight years old, he won the 9–10 year old boys’ event (the youngest age group available) at the Junior World Golf Championships of 1984, and he has continued to win tournaments ever since, except for the Keeping One’s Infidelities Secret Tournaments of 2009 and 2010, in which he placed last.

Referenced in:
The Chanukah Song (Part II) — Adam Sandler

1975 – Jimmy Hoffa disappears

James Riddle Hoffa – known to one and all as “Jimmy” – was a leader of Teamster’s Union in the United States. He was also involved in organized crime, and served time for jury tampering, attempted bribery and fraud in the years leading up to his disappearance. However, the terms of his pardon in 1971 forbade him from any association with the union movement or with criminals.

He was last seen outside the Machus Diner in Detroit on June 30, 1975. No one knows if he was kidnapped, killed or orchestrated his own disappearance – although with a history like his, these all seem plausible options. His body was never recovered, and he was officially presumed dead seven years to the day after his disappearance. Assuming that he wasn’t killed, he would most likely have died already by now, as he would now be more than a hundred years old.

Referenced in:

Jimmy Hoffa Memorial Building Blues – David Lindley

1975 – “Saturday Night Live” premieres

Live from New York, it’s Saturday Night!

It is the most successful sketch comedy series in the history of the world by any measure: the longest running, the most prolific generator of spin-offs and the launching place of the most careers. Even just the original cast line-up is a chapter in comedy history: it consisted of Laraine Newman, John Belushi, Jane Curtin, Gilda Radner, Dan Aykroyd, Garrett Morris, and Chevy Chase. Chase, Belushi, Radner and Aykroyd in particular would find that appearing on “Saturday Night Live” would really get their careers going.

The first ever episode featured George Carlin as the host, with Billy Preston and Janis Ian as the musical guests. It also introduced what would become famous recurring features, including The Bees and The Land of Gorch.

Referenced in:

TV Party — Black Flag

1975 – The Whitlam government is dismissed by the Governor-General

On November 11, 1975, then Governor-General John Kerr dismissed the ALP government of Gough Whitlam and installed Leader of the Opposition Malcolm Fraser (of the Liberal Party) as a caretaker Prime Minister until a double dissolution election could be held.

The precipitate cause was the inability of the ALP government to pass Supply (Budget) bills in the face of a hostile Senate. However, Whitlam, unaware of Kerr’s decision when they arranged to meet that morning, had planned to call a half-Senate election, which would likely have solved that particular problem. Kerr, however, had already made his decision. While, under the Australian Constitution, he had the legal power to take this action, he was widely seen as lacking the moral authority.

The double dissolution election was held on December 13, 1975, and delivered a massive victory to Fraser, allowing him to govern in earnest. (Under the terms of his caretakership, he had not been permitted to introduce any legislation other than passing Supply bills and calling the election.) Ironically, December 13 is also when Whitlam’s planned half-Senate election would have taken place.

Referenced in:

Gough — The Whitlams
The Power and the Passion — Midnight Oil
Do It In Style — Keating! The Musical original cast

1975 – “Jaws” open in limited release

Along with “Star Wars” two years later, “Jaws” was the film that redefined Hollywood’s approach to films: it sent it searching endlessly for the next big thing, the next blockbuster.

It also made Steven Spielberg a star, one of the new breed of Hollywood auteurs. Unlike most of them, he actually lived up to the hype. “Jaws” was an unlikely film to make such a hit – monster movies are always a heard sell, and this one was infamously plagued by difficulties with the mechanical shark. Spielberg’s true genius showed itself in how he turned those limitations into strengths – the shark looks too fake to show on screen? Then keep it barely seen, a mysterious and deadly force more than a fish.

Referenced in:

Bicycle Race — Queen

1975 – Phnom Penh falls to the Khmer Rouge and Year Zero begins

The Khmer Rouge were a Communist movement allied to the Viet Cong. When the United States military pulled out of Vietnam and Cambodia in 1975, they left a power vacuum that their opponents were quick to exploit. The Khmer Rouge, led by Pol Pot, championed a particularly oppressive form of dictatorship that called for a return to medieval technology and an abandonment of urbanisation.

With the fall of the Cambodian capital of Phnom Penh, the Khmer Rouge took control of the country. All the citizens of Cambodia were forced to leave the cities, to practice subsistence agriculture in the rural areas. The regime was infamous for its cruelty and brutality, to say nothing of its near genocidal policies. It is estimated that in the four years of their reign, as many as two million people were killed, either in concentration camps, summary executions or simple starvation. In fact, during the years of the Khmer Rouge, Cambodia became known as the Killing Fields – more than 20,000 separate mass graves were created in these years.

Referenced in:

Pol Pot — Down I Go
Earth Song — Michael Jackson
Holiday In Cambodia — Dead Kennedys