November 20, 1965 — “Mike D” of the Beastie Boys born

Michael Diamond was born in New York City, a member of a Jewish family. In the late Seventies, he was a founding member of the band then called The Young Aborigines, in which he was the drummer. In 1981, Adam Yauch (better known as MCA) joined the band, followed in 1983 by Adam Horovitz (better known as Ad-Rock). By this time, Diamond, now performing under the stage name Mike D, was the sole remaining original member of the band, which had renamed itself The Beastie Boys after Yauch joined.

As a member of the Beastie Boys, Diamond has enjoyed creative and commercial success. Their breakthrough hit was 1987’s “You Gotta Fight For Your Right (To Party)”, with subsequent hits “So What’cha Want”, “Sabotage” and “Intergalactic”. The band broke up in 2012 after the death of MCA, a.k.a. Adam Yauch.

1911 – Mahler’s “Das Lied von der Erde” is first performed

Das Lied von der Erde – “The Song of the Earth” – is a six movement orchestral composition in which each of the six movements is an independent song (but “Six Songs of the Earth” wouldn’t sounded so good). It was composed by Gustav Mahler, an Austrian composer, and largely inspired by his reading of Hans Bethge’s volume of ancient Chinese poetry rendered into German, Die Chinesische Flöte (“The Chinese Flute”).

It is unusual in that it is a combined form, a song cycle and a symphonic work. It is become one of most well known of all Mahler’s works – and is also widely considered his most personal. And it was never performed prior to his death six months earlier.

Referenced in:

Alma — Tom Lehrer

1923 — Garrett Morgan patents a traffic signal

Garrett Morgan was not the first to invent or patent a traffic signal, but he was the first to invent one that could be changed at a distance, via a mechanical linkage. (He also patented a gas mask.) Morgan was a black man living in Cleveland, Ohio, who was a successfuly businessman and well-liked citizen of his town in a time long before the Civil Rights movement.

No doubt he still suffered from quite a deal of racism, and there’s a certain irony in that his inventions probably saved far more white lives than they did black lives. Morgan is remembered in Cleveland as the first black man there to own a car, and also for his heroic rescue of trapped minors (using his own gas mask invention) in 1916, for which he received awards and acclaim.

Referenced in:

Black Man — Stevie Wonder

2265 – The starship Enterprise begins its five year mission

Space… the final frontier.
These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no man has gone before…

Today is the day that it all will have started (time travel weirds English ever worse than verbing), in the year 2265. Kirk, Spock, McCoy, Uhura, Sulu and Scotty started their five year mission, of which, alas, only the first three years were shown on television. (Chekov joined the crew later.)

Referenced in:

Star Trekkin’ – The Firm

The first episode of Star Trek was “The Man Trap”, and the date used here is derived from the stardate given in that episode.