2000 — the S11 protests in Melbourne, Australia

In September 2000, the World Economic Forum met at the Crown Casino complex in Melbourne, Australia. Over three days, they discussed matters of great importance that would affect the lives of millions of people the world over.

Meanwhile, outside, one of the largest assemblages of protestors ever seen in Australia gathered and tried to make cogent points about the millions of lives that would be affected by the WEF’s decisions, which might not be entirely pleased by the results of them. In this goal, they were thwarted by that stalwart upholder of the privileges of the rich, the Victorian Police Force. Opportunities to harass people who upset their lords and masters don’t come along every day, after all.

Of course, unlike previous efforts by VicPol, this one was widely filmed and photographed, with many of the images captured directly contradicting the statements by the police regarding their violations of their own procedures, of the civil rights of the protestors, and oh yeah, of a little thing called The Law (you know, the thing the police swear an oath to uphold).

Referenced in:
Honk If You Love Fred Durst — This Is Serious Mum
Ten Points For A Razor Scooter — This Is Serious Mum

1980 – Bon Scott dies

The legendary lead singer of AC/DC from 1973 to 1980, Ronald Belford ‘Bon’ Scott was one of Australia’s greatest ever larrikins. His vocal style was heavily inspired by Little Richard, albeit with more of a heavy metal feel. Scott also co-wrote most of the songs on the band’s first seven album with the Young brothers, Malcolm and Angus (who were also members of the band).

Scott died when he passed out after a night of heavy drinking, and was left to sleep it off in a friend’s car. His death was ruled to have been caused by acute alcohol poisoning. His body was embalmed, and sent home to his family in Fremantle, where he was cremated and buried in the family plot. After Scott’s death, the other members of AC/DC considered quitting. Eventually, they decided that Scott would have wanted them to continue and with the encouragement of Bon’s family, the band hired Brian Johnson as the new vocalist. Five months after Scott’s death, AC/DC finished the work they began with Scott and released their next album, “Back in Black” as a tribute to him with two tracks from the album, “Hells Bells” and “Back in Black”, dedicated to his memory. It is now the fourth best-selling album in history.

Referenced in:
The TISM Boat Hire Offer — This is Serious Mum
(He’ll Never Be An) Old Man River — This Is Serious Mum

1974 — Mama Cass dies

Ellen Naomi Cohen, better known to the world as Mama Cass, was only 32 years old when she died. Mama Cass was a member of the Mamas and the Papas, best known for their 1965 hit, “California Dreamin'”. Stardom had been good to the band, most of them living among the other musicians and artists of Los Angeles, but bad for Cass in many ways.

She had an addictive personality, and being able to afford basically any drug she wanted had led her to behave like a kid in a candy store. Cass was also known for her appetite, being considered somewhat fat (even by the more generous standards of the Sixties for most of her career). At the time of her death, she was fasting four days a week – the coroner speculated that this may have stressed her heart, leading to her fatal heart attack. No food was found in her windpipe – the story that she choked on a ham sandwich is simply an urban myth.

Referenced in:
Rock And Roll Hall Of Death — Mitch Benn And The Distractions
(He’ll Never Be An) Ol’ Man River — This Is Serious Mum

1968 – Andy Warhol introduces the concept of 15 minutes of fame

Andy Warhol understood one thing about the general acceleration of life and culture in the self-reinforcing media spiral of the twentieth century: that there would be no more ‘nine days’ wonders’. We wouldn’t have time to be that patient any more. We wouldn’t have the attention spans. We would lose interest in things much more quickly, a bottomless appetite for novelty that even the internet struggles to fill.

In particular, he saw this as happening to celebrities: to them, he alloted 15 minutes apiece. It’s almost like he foresaw how debased the currency of ‘celebrity’ would become in the face of the relentless banality of reality television. Which makes it all the more remarkable that he first wrote the words “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” in the program for a 1968 exhibition of his work at the Moderna Museet in Stockholm, Sweden.

Referenced in:
Jung Talent Time — This Is Serious Mum

1976 – “Taxi Driver” premieres

One of the most seminal films in the legendary body of work produced by Martin Scorsese, Taxi Driver is a story of alienation, violence, and possibly redemption. A taxi driver named Travis Bickle (played by Robert De Niro) drives his cab through the night-time streets of mid-Seventies New York, seeking a human connection he’s unable to make, and eventually spirals downward into violence and madness.

It’s by no means a comfortable film to watch, but it is one of the greatest films ever made: the American Film Institute ranked Taxi Driver as the 52nd greatest American film on their AFI’s 100 Years… 100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) list. In 2012, Sight & Sound named it the 31st best film ever created on its decadal critics’ poll, ranked with The Godfather Part II, and the 5th greatest film ever on its directors’ poll.

If you haven’t already seen it, you should. Just don’t expect to find it cheerful.

Referenced in:
Martin Scorsese — King Missile
Martin Scorsese Really Is Quite A Jovial Fellow — This Is Serious Mum

1979 – The Boys Next Door release “Shivers”

It’s probably a good thing that Nick Cave decided that suicide really didn’t suit his style. From relatively inauspicious beginnings, the members of the Boys Next Door would form the nucleus of the Birthday Party, Nick Cave’s first truly great band, who would in turn pave the way for the Bad Seeds.

“Shivers” remains a perennial favourite of fans of Australian goth and alternative music, and if JJJ hadn’t rejigged the Hot 100’s rules to make it a year by year thing, it would still be placing respectably in it each January.

Referenced in:

Morrison Hostel — This Is Serious Mum

1988 – TISM release “Great Truckin’ Songs of Renaissance”

In 1988, the anonymous masked men who comprise TISM a.k.a. This Is Serious Mum released their first album, “Great Truckin’ Songs of the Renaissance” (actually a double album, although a single CD). This 27 track magnum opus featured a mixture of songs, snatches of interviews, random strangeness, and the poetic ranting that is “Morrison Hostel”.

It reached #48 on the Australian charts, and failed to chart anywhere else. There are any number of reasons why this occurred, but the unavailability of the album on any basis other than import probably had a little to do with it.

Referenced in:

Morrison Hostel — This Is Serious Mum

1996 — Glenn McGrath bowls 5 for 50

Australia was looking good at the end of day two of the 1996 Boxing Day Test. The West Indian team was 9 for 233, which put them ahead of AUstralia’s first innings total of 219 – but not far, and with only one wicket in hand, everyone knew that they wouldn’t last long into the third day.

Glenn McGrath was a big part of that. Over the first two days of the test, he’d bowled 5 for 50, conceding the lowest average runs per over of any Australian bowler, at 1.66. Althougher this low rate was equalled by Gillepsie, he bowled only 3 overs – McGrath bowled 30.) And he’d managed 11 maiden overs in that time.

Sure enough, the last West Indian wicket of the first innings fell early on the third day of the test – followed by every single Australian wicket. The West Indians were back at bat that afternoon, and handily defeated the Australians with two days to spare.

Referenced in:
The Parable of Glenn McGrath’s Haircut — This Is Serious Mum

1992 – Paul Keating makes the “Redfern” speech

Written either by Don Watson (Keating’s cheif speechwriter) or Keating himself – the two disagree on this point – there is no doubting that the Redfern Speech of 1992 was one of the most significant events of Paul Keating’s term as Prime Minister of Australia. In it, Keating as head of state of Australia, for the first time acknowledged the responsibility of European invaders for the injustices committed – both in the past and ongoign – against the Aboriginal peoples of Australia.

It fell a ways short of being an apology – that would come later – but it was a stunning statement of responsibility for a nation that has usually preferred (as the speech itself pointed out) to blame the native victims of these injustices for causing them.

Links to the text of the speech, plus sound and video recordings of it, can be found here.

Referenced in:

Redfern — Keating! The Musical original cast
The Ballad of Paul Keating — This Is Serious Mum

1977 – Several members of Lynyrd Skynyrd die in a plane crash

A total of 24 passengers and 6 crew were aboard the Convair CV-300 that crashed on the evening of October 20, 1977 after running out of fuel near Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Six people died: the pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray, along with three members of Lynyrd Skynyrd, lead singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist/vocalist Steve Gaines, backing vocalist Cassie Gaines (Steve’s older sister) and the assistant road manager of the band Dean Kilpatrick.

The band did not continue to tour after the crash, only reforming with a substantial changeover in membership some ten years later. They left a legacy of two of the best known songs in the world: “Sweet Home Alabama” and “Freebird”.

Referenced in:

Ronnie and Neil — Drive-By Truckers
Play It All Night Long — Warren Zevon
(He’ll Never Be An) Ol’ Man River — This Is Serious Mum

1953 – Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay reach the top of Mt Everest

After an ascent lasting more than two months, Hillary and Norgay made their final camp about 300 metres below the summit of Everest on the night of May 28, 1953. The next day, they made the relatively short ascent to the top of the mountain, the highest in the world.

Hillary claimed that the two set foot on the summit at the same time, but Norgay has always claimed that Hillary was first. And while Hillary took Norgay’s photo at the top of the world, he would not let Norgay take his. Some people are just too damned modest for their own good.

Referenced in:

(He’ll Never Be An) Old Man River — This Is Serious Mum

1985 – Essendon defeats Hawthorn in the VFL Grand Final

As if they were only warming up the previous year, Essendon were never in doubt all day in the 1985 VFL Grand Final. Playing Hawthorn for the third successive year, on this day, Essendon started off strong and kept going that way. They led at the end of every quarter, finally recording a winning margin of 78 points (or 13 goals).

This game was also notable for several other reasons – it was the 332nd and final game of Hawthorn captain ‘Lethal’ Leigh Matthews, widely regarding as one the greatest players in the history of the game; Essendon won back to back premierships for the fourth time in the club’s history; and Dermott Brereton of Hawthorn acheived two records for a Grand Final player: most goals kicked by a player on the losing team (8), and most times reported during a Grand Final (3).

Referenced in:

You’re A Long Way From Home 1 — This Is Serious Mum

1945 – Adolf Hitler marries Eva Braun

Eva Braun first met Adolf Hitler in 1929, when she was only 17 years old. At the time, she was employed by Hitler’s personal photographer in Munich. Two years later, they began dating, and in 1936, she moved in to his house at the Berghof near Berchtesgaden.

The two were rarely seen publically – not until 1944 did she appear with him at a public event, and of course, the two were eventually married. The marriage ceremony – and the forty hours of wedlock that followed it – all took place in the Berlin bunker to which Hitler had retreated as the war drew to a close. Two days after the wedding, the pair committed suicide together, and a week later, Germany surrendered to the Allies.

Referenced in:

Defecate On My Face — This Is Serious Mum
To Be Or Not To Be (The Hitler Rap) — Mel Brooks