1994 – NAFTA comes into effect

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is primarily intended to end tariffs between the USA, Canada and Mexico, allowing for the free trade of goods and services between them. Of course, it also revisited copyright to bring certain films back out of the public domain (because there’s such a thing as too much freedom where Hollywood is concerned), and some agricultural tariffs were not covered by it either.

All in all, twenty years on, NAFTA’s legacy is a mixed one, having ultimately turned out to be neither as bad as some feared or as good as some promised. Economics is many things, but none of them is ever simple.

Referenced in:
Take Back The USA — The Charlie Daniels Band
The Only Good Fascist Is A Very Dead Fascist — Propagandhi

1994 – Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman are found murdered

Nicole Brown Simpson had been divorced from O.J. Simpson for two years at the time she was murdered. She and her friend Ronald Goldman were murdered by a person or persons unknown in her own house, in Brentwood, Los Angeles. Suspicion immediately fell on her ex-husband, for a number of reasons: he had not contested her claims of spousal abuse in their divorce proceedings; he fled from police when they attempted to bring him in for questioning; his car contained what appeared to be preparations to flee the country; he made confused statements in court and to the media, some of which were interpreted as confessions.

He was eventually found not guilty of the murders, as he had pled at his arraignment. But that didn’t stop him from writing a bestseller entitled If I Did It some years later. Whether he is guilty of murder or not, he is at very least clearly guilty of colossal chutzpah.

Referenced in:
OJ — Young Jeezy
O.J. — 50 Cent

1994 — Marlon Brando’s autobiography is published

“Songs My Mother Taught Me” was published in 1994 after Brando wrote it with the assistance of Robert Lindsay. An autobiographical work, it dealt with Brando’s life as an actor, from his earliest auditions through to his later cinema work. However, the book is in no way a linear or detailed recounting – it is rambling, digressive and anecdotal, serving largely as a vehicle for Brando to express his thoughts on a variety of topics, and on the people who shaped him (for good or ill) – a list which does not include his wives or children.

The book has remained a perennial seller and been translated into numerous foreign languages. Brando himself died ten years after the book’s publication, leaving behind a legacy of superior work such as his appearances in “Streetcar Named Desire”, “The Godfather” and “Apocalypse Now”, and a string of bafflingly awful film choices made in his twilight years, most notably “Free Money” and “The Island of Dr Moraeu” (in which he played the title character).

Referenced in:
Dear Marlon Brando — Pretty and Twisted

1994 – Andrei Chikatilo, the Butcher of Rostov, is executed for his murders

Andrei Chikatlio, variously known as the Rostov Ripper, the Red Ripper and the Butcher of Rostov, was a Russian-born serial killer who confessed to 56 murders, and was convicted of 52 of them. His first murder was in 1979, a 9 year old girl whom he also raped. Another man was convicted and ultimately executed for the crime.

Chikatlio was finally caught in 1990, after a manhunt that stretched over several months, and was cooperative with police, leading them to the places where he had buried various of his victims. His execution took place only after a lengthy trial and psychiatric evaluation. He was shot behind the ear with a single pistol round, killing him instantly.

Referenced in:

Rostov Ripper — Impious
Citizen X (Erotophonophilia) — Divine Pustulence
Red Ripper Blues (Andrei Chikatilo) — Church of Misery

1994 – Ray Bradbury wins an Emmy for “The Halloween Tree”

Ray Bradbury originally wrote “The Halloween Tree” in 1967, as a script he and Chuck Jones planned to turn into an animated film. When those plans fell through, he re-worked it as a novel, which was published in 1972.

Twenty years later, he finally got the chance to do it as the animated film he’d planned, although alas, Chuck Jones was not involved. Regardless of this, the animation was produced in 1993 with Bradbury himself providing the voice of the Narrator, and went on to be a commercial and a critical success. It also made Bradbury one of the few winners of a Hugo to also win an Emmy.

Referenced in:

Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury — Rachel Bloom

1994 – Michael Fay is caned for vandalism in Singapore

Michael Fay was 18 years old and apparently didn’t realise that laws were different in Singapore from in his native United States. When he was arrested for theft and vandalism (which, to be fair, were crimes back home too), he was astonished to be sentenced to caning.

The actual caning itself was a fairly trivial affair – schoolchildren endured worse in the days of capital punishment on a regular basis – but the outcry was astonishing. Across America, Singapore was denounced for its barbaric legal system. American diplomats requested leniency for Fay, and the Singaporean government reduced the number of cane strokes by a third – from six to four.

Fay was briefly a media sensation, and did fairly well financially from his media appearances, but a later arrest suggests that it he learned little from his experiences.

Referenced in:
Headline News — Weird Al Yankovic

1994 – John Wayne Gacy is executed for murder

John Wayne Gacy was a serial rapist and murderer who lived in Chicago, Illinois. He is known to have raped and murdered at least 33 young men – 26 of whom he buried under his house. Most infamously, he often dressed as a character of his own invention, Pogo the Clown, in order to lure children into his clutches.

Gacy was arrested for his murders on December 20, 1978, and confessed two days later – in fact, he confessed to more murders than there was evidence to confirm. He attempted to plead insanity, but failed to convince the court. On March 13, 1980, he was found guilty of 33 counts of murder and sentenced to death. His execution by lethal injection took place in 1994, after years of appeals failed to overturn his convictions.

Referenced in:

Gacy’s Lot — Macabre
33 Something — Bathory
Suffer Age — Fear Factory
Pogo The Clown — Hubert Kah
John Wayne Gacy, Jr. — Sufjan Stevens
Pogo The Clown — Dog Fashion Disco
Master of Brutality (John Wayne Gacy) — Church of Misery
Three for Flinching (Revenge of the Porno Clowns) — The Dillinger Escape Plan

1994 – Ayrton Senna crashes and dies during the San Marino Grand Prix

One of the best Grand Prix drivers in history, Senna’s death came while in the lead of the 1994 San Marino Grand Prix. The cause of his fatal accident had never been conclusively determined, but the result of it was never in doubt. Senna was traveling at 135 miles per hour when his car hit the wall at Tamburello corner, and his car folded up. Senna sustained a number of injuries, including three separate blows to the head – any one of which would likely have been fatal by itself.

Ironically, Senna had spent much of that morning meeting with his fellow drivers to form a committee to help ensure Grand Prix driver’s safety after the death of Austrian driver Roland Ratzenburger the previous day on the same track. As one of the most senior and respected drivers, Senna offered to head the committee. Later, when his car was examined, it was discovered that Senna had placed a furled Austrian flag in the vehicle, presumably intending to fly it in memory of Ratzenburger during his victory lap.

In the wake of Senna’s death, the committee for driver safety was indeed formed, and today the Grand Prix Driver’s Association stands alongside his many sporting acheivements as Senna’s legacy.

Referenced in:

Saudade Part 1 & 2 (Tribute To Ayrton Senna) — Chris Rea

1994 – Jeffrey Dahmer is beaten to death in prison

In February 1992, Jeffrey Dahmer’s trial began. He was convicted of fifteen charges of murder, for a total sentence of 957 years, after his attempt to plead insanity was rejected.

He was attacked once in July of 1994 by another inmate who attempted to cut his throat. On November 28, 1994, he was attacked by Christropher Scarver, another inmate, who beat Dahmer to death with a bar taken from a weight-lifting device.

Couldn’t have happened to a nicer asshole.

Referenced in:

Dahmer’s Dead — Macabre
Dahmer is Dead — Violent Femmes

1994 – Skater Nancy Kerrigan is attacked by a jealous rival

Nancy Kerrigan, a skater who was training as a member of the US Olympic team, was attacked at practice by Shane Stant. Stant was in the pay of two men, Jeff Gillooly and Shawn Eckhardt. Her injuries forced her to withdraw from competition, and rival skater Tonya Harding won handily.

However, Gillooly was the ex-husband of Harding, and when brought up on criminal charges in the matter, incriminated her in the conspiracy also. Harding only ever admitted to helping cover up the attack, not to any prior knowledge or approval of it. Even so, the resulting scandal effectively ended her career as a skater.

Referenced in:
Headline News – Weird Al Yankovic
Tonya’s Twirls – Loudon Wainwright III