1980 — Paul McCartney is busted for marijuana possession in Tokyo

It was a scandal briefly, and then completely forgotten. While passing through customs at Tokyo (on his way to tour Japan with Wings), Paul McCartney was discovered to have approximately 200 grams (or 8 ounces, if you prefer) of cannabis in his luggage. He was immediately arrested, and the news made headlines around the world.

But after ten days, the sheer weight of celebrity proved too great for the Japanese government. McCartney was released from prison without any charges being laid, although he was deported from the country, completely ruining the planned Wings tour. If only this had been the worst thing to happen to a Beatle in 1980.

Referenced in:
I’ve Been To Bali Too — Redgum

“I Was Only 19 (A Walk In The Light Green)” by Redgum

The Vietnam War didn’t get nearly as much play in Australian media as it did in American, but those occasions when it did come up tended to pack a punch.

That’s what gives “I Was Only 19” its place here. Along with “Khe Sanh” it’s one of the few Australian songs to tackle what it means to be a veteran of that war. But where Jimmy Barnes’ detached delivery only hints at the depths of anger and confusion that lie within, John Schumann’s laconic verses are counterpointed by the emotional outbursts of his choruses. He neither hides his pain nor wallows in it – he simply demands the answer he feels he is entitled to. The answer to the question, “Why?”

In 1914, Australians went to fight because the mother country called on them to do so. in 1939, we fought from a simplistic (though far from wrong) ideal of good versus evil. But in 1965, we fought from a bitterness and confusion that were only enhanced by the actual experience of war. If the First World War was Australia’s ‘baptism of fire’, then surely the Vietnam War can be seen as a stormy passage from naive adolescence to regretful maturity on the part of our nation.

The palpable anguish that leaks through every line of the song speaks to – and from – that part of the Australian psyche that is ever belittled by the politicians of enemy and allied nations. (To say nothing of the politicians of our own.) That does not understand realpolitik or its continuation by other means. That understands only that it is called upon to sacrifice and suffer yet again, in the name of a bipartisan foreign policy that appears to consist almost entirely of finding suit-clad rich men with English or American accents to say “Yes, sir!” to.

What could be more Australian than that?

1969 – Armstrong and Aldrin walk on the Moon

Really, what needs to be said?

Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins took off from the Kennedy Space Center, near Cape Canaveral, Florida, on July 16. Four days later, the lunar landing module, carrying Armstrong and Aldrin, landed on the Moon. They were supposed to take a sleep break, but Armstrong was impatient to walk on the moon – and who could blame him?

It was July 21 (UTC) by the time they began the EVA. They stayed on the lunar surface for about 150 minutes (15 minutes longer than was originally a plan). During this time, the two spoke to President Nixon in the White House, planted an American flag on the Moon, performed a number of scientific experiments and took numerous photographs, all of them now iconic images.

Despite what you may have heard, it is highly unlikely that the landings were faked. I do not believe that they were, and neither does Buzz Aldrin.

Referenced in:

I Was Only 19 — Redgum
Man On The Moon — REM
Shrink — Dead Kennedys
Saturn 5 — Inspiral Carpets
We Didn’t Start The Fire — Billy Joel
Armstrong, Aldrin and Collins — The Byrds
For Michael Collins, Jeffrey and me — Jethro Tull