1929 – “Un Chien Andalou” premieres

For a silent film running only 15 minutes, Un Chien Andalou casts a long shadow. It is seen as a predecessor to both low budget indy cinema and modern music videos. It helps, of course, that it was made by Luis Bunuel and Salvador Dali, and is widely considered to be a masterpiece of Surrealism. But consider that it was Bunuel’s first film (Dali’s took but he was already famous for his painting).

And, of course, it opens with what is still one of the most shocking scenes in cinematic history, an eyeball being cut open with a razor. (Don’t worry, it’s not a human eyeball – it’s that of a dead donkey. That is Luis Bunuel weilding the razor, though.) The rest of the film is a dreamlike series of disjointed images and scenes which creates a level of confusion in the audience that it takes Chris Nolan 2 or more hours to acheive. You should definitely see it if you haven’t yet.

Referenced in:

Debaser — Pixies

1944 – The D-Day landings at Normandy

Code-named Operation Neptune, the D-Day landings took place along a 50 mile stretch of Normandy beach. 156,000 Allied troops – primarily Americans and British, but also Commonwealth and Free European forces – landed across five beaches code-named Gold, Juno, Omaha, Sword and Utah. It was the largest amphibious operation in history, and took the Nazi forces in Normandy almost entirely by surprise, beginning the rollback of German forces in Europe.

It was also only a part of Operation Overlord, which featured co-ordinated airborne assaults, two separate deception operations aimed to distract from it, and a range of additional actions by the French Resistance. The operation was largely successful, opening a Western front in Europe, and sealing the end of the Nazi occupation of France.

Referenced in:

The Longest Day — Iron Maiden
Say Goodbye to it All — Chris de Burgh
To Be Or Not Be (The Hitler Rap) — Mel Brooks

1968 – Robert F. Kennedy is assassinated

Senator Robert Kennedy was doing well as June 5 started. He’d won the California primary held on the previous day, and was feeling triumphant as he addressed friends and supporters in the Ambassador Hotel, Los Angeles. This victory had more or less sealed his position as the Democratic candidate for the Presidential election to be held later that year.

A few minutes after completing the speech, he was shot three times by Sirhan Sirhan. He was rushed to hospital, but one of the bullets had entered his head just behind his left ear. The damage was too great, and Kennedy died a day later without ever regaining consciousness. He was mourned by a grieving nation, and in his absence, Hubert Humphrey, the sitting Vice-President, won the nomination instead.

Referenced in:
She Is Always Seventeen – Harry Chapin

1985 – Charles Ng arrested

Charles Ng was an American serial killer who often killed working with another man, Leonard Lake. It is unclear how many people they abducted and killed – often also including rape and torture – but it is generally assumed to be 11 to 25 people. They were eventually caught when Ng was arrested for shoplifting, and Lake for driving a car with plates registered to a different car.

In custody, Lake revealed the truth about himself and Ng, then swallowed cyanide. He died four days later, and a police search of his ranch in Calaveras County, California, found a custom-built dungeon, the remains of at least a dozen people, and extensive journals and video records incriminating himself and Ng. Ng remains on death row at the time of this writing.

Referenced in:
The Ballad Of Leonard And Charles — Exodus

June 6, 1835 — John Batman makes a treaty with the Wurundjeri people

John Batman was a Tasmanian who organised a syndicate of investors to fund him and some other settlers to build a new village on the banks of the Yarra River. Of course, this land was already occupied by the tribes of the Kulin nation, primarily the Wurundjeri and Boonwurrung, each of which greatly outnumbered the small group of settlers Batman led. Thus, Batman made a deal with the chiefs of the Wurundjeri, purchasing a small stretch of land. In time, the village would become Melbourne (today a metropolis of more than four million people, very few of them members of the Wurundjeri or other Kulin peoples).

However, there are many grounds on which to dispute Batman’s treaty. It is a matter of some dispute whether the tribesmen Batman dealt with understood the deal they were making in the same way Batman did – among the Kulin people, as among most Australian Aboriginal peoples, land was not owned by individuals in the same way it was by Europeans. Legally, even by the standards of colonial empires, Batman was also on shaky ground, as he had no authority from the Crown to make such a deal. And while it does appear that, at least to start with, the colonists made efforts to deal in good faith with the various Kulin peoples, misunderstandings were inevitable between two such disparate peoples, leading to bloodshed on several occasions. Later colonists, who were not party to the original deal, treated the Kulin (and in time, the other native peoples of Victoria) much worse. Batman, like so many of the natives, was dead by then.

Batman signs treaty artist impression
As mentioned in:
Solid Rock — Goanna

2013 – The Guardian and The Washington Post report on PRISM surveillance

Edward Snowden became a household name when he leaked a series of explosive documents detailing the NSA’s PRISM program, which was allowed for warrantless surveillance of a vast amount of the internet. Email, chat, voip, social media, file transfers and other data usage – there are several companies providing this information, and the exact details of what data is available vary from company to company. The list of participating companies includes Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube and Apple – and all these companies are willingly cooperating the the US government (and certain of its allies) to provide this data.

The leaks were first reported in The Guardian and The Washington Post, but the world media was quick to pick up on the story, and further leaks were published by those two newspapers and others. Reaction was mixed: some saw Snowden as a hero, others as a traitor.

The PRISM program continues largely unchanged by the revelations, although it is claimed that some terrorists have changed their communication patterns in attempts to evade it.

Referenced in:
Party at the NSA — YACHT