Slàinte mhath

The Feast Day of St. Patrick is celebrated on March 17.

St. Patrick is considered the father of Celtic Christianity. He founded more than three hundred churches, drove the snakes out of Ireland, invented green beer, and coined the popular slogan, Kiss me, I'm Irish (although, he himself was not.)

This year, the Citizenry of Chicago were once again encouraged to drink cheap green beer early and often before St. Patrick's Day so the Chicago River could be dyed with their vomit. (Many cities around the country, including NYC, are also once again having their in-person St. Patrick Day festivities.)

I have joked about the dyeing of the river every year but I've finally uncovered the story behind it. Turning the Chicago River green for St. Patrick's Day first began in 1962, one year after Savannah, GA tried to dye their river green but did not succeed. Mayor Richard J. Daley suggested that the city find a way to turn Lake Michigan green for St. Patrick’s Day. According to the Chicago Tribune, the business manager of the Chicago Plumbers Union, Stephen M. Baily came up with the idea of dyeing the river with a solution that was used for identifying pollution and had the happy side effect of creating green streaks.

I'm pretty sure that St. Patrick would be horrified by St. Patrick's Day.

March 17, 1958 -
The song Tequila by the Champs was number one on the music charts on this date.

This was originally released as the B-side to a song by The Champs called Train to Nowhere in December 1957. Disc jockeys flipped the single and played Tequila instead, making the song one of the biggest hits of the '50s.

March 17, 1966 -
The Walker Brothers had their second UK No.1 hit (their first being, Make It Easy on Yourself) with the song The Sun Ain't Gonna Shine Anymore, on this date.

This was written by the prolific songwriters Bob Crewe and Bob Gaudio and produced by Crewe. The pair wrote many of the hits for The Four Seasons (Gaudio was a member of the group), and composed this one for lead singer Frankie Valli as a solo release. Valli's version was issued in 1965 and only managed a meager chart placement of #128, despite the phenomenal success of The Four Seasons. The next year, The Walker Brothers covered the song using an arrangement that clearly resembled Phil Spector's "Wall of Sound" technique. This version was a huge hit, going to #1 in the UK and making #13 in America.

March 17, 1968 -
The Bee Gees made their U.S. television debut on the Ed Sullivan Show, on this date.

Besides their song, Words (which went on to become a no. 1 hit in several countries,) they sang To Love Somebody, (which went on to be one of their most covered songs.)

March 17, 1972 -
John Water presented Divine to an unsuspecting world: Pink Flamingos, premiered in Baltimore on this date. (In 2021, this cult classic was inducted into the National Film Registery of important films that need to be preserved.)

The dog feces in the infamous final scene are real. According to director John Waters, the dog was fed steak for three days beforehand.

March 17, 1972 -
Ringo Starr releases single Back off Boogaloo, in the UK, on this date. The song peaked at number 2 in Britain and Canada, and number 9 on the U.S.' Billboard Hot 100 chart. It remains Starr's highest-charting single in the United Kingdom.

"Boogaloo" was Ringo's nickname for Paul McCartney. The song was Ringo urging Paul to stop his snide remarks in the press about the other Beatles, and just make good music ("Give me something tasty").

March 17, 1978 -
Paramount Pictures releases the bio-pix about Alan Freed, American Hot Wax, starring Tim McIntire, Fran Drescher, Jay Leno, and Laraine Newman (and featuring performances by Chuck Berry, Jerry Lee Lewis, Screamin' Jay Hawkins, and Frankie Ford,) on this date.

The film was not as successful at the box-office as the similarly titled American Graffiti had been a few years earlier.

March 17, 2014 -
Sia released her chart smashing hit Chandelier on this date.

The song stemmed from an impromptu jam session between Sia and pop producer Jesse Shatkin. "I usually think, 'Oh this would work for Rihanna, or this would be a good one for B or Katy,'" Sia said to Ryan Seacrest. "But this time I was like, 'Uh oh I think I just wrote a full-blown pop song for myself by accident!'"

Another unimportant moment in history

Today in History:
March 17, 45 BC -
In Hispania, at Munda, on this date, the last battle of the civil war between Julius Caesar and the forces of the Optimates (the traditionalist majority of the Roman Senate) who have backed Pompey, ends with Caesar victorious and Pompey’s eldest son, Gnaeneus Pompeius killed in the battle.

Caesar can now return to Rome and rule as the elected Roman dictator perpetuo rei publicae constituendae, dictator-for-life

But you don't care, you just want to continue to drink your green beer today.

March 17, 965 -
Pope Leo VIII died of a stroke during sexual congress with a prostitute on this date.

Perhaps a fine way for a man to die, but not a very appropriate choice for the Bishop of Rome. (it's OK if you hum to yourself, Back in the Saddle Again.)

March 17, 1756 -
St. Patrick's Day was celebrated in New York City for the first time (at the Crown and Thistle Tavern).

The patrons finally sober up and six years later, the celebration evolves into a parade (the first in NYC) and the St. Patrick's Day Parade in New York City has become the largest celebration of the holiday in the world (drawn more revelers than any parade for the holiday in the whole of Ireland.)

March 17, 1845 -
Stephen Perry and Thomas Barnabas Daft, British inventors and businessmen patented the rubber band on this day.

They conceived of the device after experimentally slicing up rubber bottles that had been manufactured by South and Central America natives and brought to England by sailors. Other regional names for the rubber band include a binder, a laggy band, an elastic, and a gum band.

March 17, 1884 -
John Joseph Montgomery made the first manned, controlled, heavier than air flight in a glider he built. Although not publicized at the time, this flight was first described by Montgomery as part of a lecture delivered at the Conference on Aerial Navigation in Chicago, 1893 and published by Octave Chanute in Progress in Flying Machines.

While Montgomery himself never claimed firsts, his flight experiments of the 1880s are considered by several historians and organizations to have been the first controlled flights in America, or in the Western Hemisphere depending on source. After a crash destroyed his glider in 1886, Montgomery abandoned aviation, but then took it up again in 1903.

March 17, 1905 -
Anna Eleanor Roosevelt, niece of President Theodore Roosevelt, married her fifth cousin, Franklin Delano Roosevelt in New York on this date.

Apparently, Roosevelt confuses himself with British Royalty by marrying his distant relative. FDR jokes with friends that, "Only on St. Patrick's Day can you marry your cousin".

March 17, 1919 -
Nathaniel Adams Coles, the premiere singer and jazz pianist was born on this date.

Cole's popularity allowed him to become the first African American to host a network variety program, The Nat King Cole Show, which debuted on NBC television in 1956. The show fell victim to the bigotry of the times, however, and was canceled after one season; few sponsors were willing to be associated with a black entertainer.

March 17, 1939 -
After German troops crossed the Czech border, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain threw all his years of careful diplomacy out the window and accused Adolf Hitler of breaking his word.

He instantly regretted having let these angry words slip, however, and subsequently resigned.

March 17, 1941 -
President Franklin D. Roosevelt opened the National Gallery of Art to the public, on this date. The National Gallery of Art would become known as one of the best museums in the world. It contains a collection of more than 130,000 paintings, drawings, prints, photographs, sculpture, decorative arts, and furniture pieces.

At the time of its inception, it was the largest marble structure in the world. The museum stands on the former site of the Baltimore and Potomac Railroad station, most famous for being where 20th president James Garfield was shot in 1881 by Charles Guiteau.

March 17, 1958 -
The United States Navy launches the Vanguard I satellite from Cape Canaveral, on this date, following the Soviet Union’s success with their satellites Sputnik I and Sputnik II spacecraft.

Vanguard is the fourth artificial satellite to be put into space, and the first launch in the United States. The three pound satellite was developed in just two years, six months, and eight days from scratch.

March 17, 1966 -
A U.S. midget submarine, the Alvin, located a missing hydrogen bomb which had fallen from an American bomber into the Mediterranean off Spain on this date. Oops.

Most famously, the Alvin was involved in the exploration of the wreckage of RMS Titanic in 1986. Launched from her support ship RV Atlantis II, she carried Dr. Robert Ballard and two companions to the wreckage of the great liner. RMS Titanic sank while attempting to transit the North Atlantic Ocean, after striking a large iceberg in 1912.

Alvin, accompanied by a small remotely operated vehicle (ROV) named Jason Jr., was able to conduct detailed photographic surveys and inspections of the Titanic's wreckage. Many of the photographs of the expedition have been published in the magazine of the National Geographic Society which was a major sponsor of the expedition.

March 17, 1967
Snoopy and Charlie Brown of Peanuts are on the cover of LIFE magazine, on this date

The rest of the Peanuts gang are miffed but say nothing.

March 17, 1999 -
Six members of the International Olympic Committee were expelled for corruption, all from poor third world countries. They received bribes from Salt Lake City totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars, a practice that had been going on for years.

It should also be noted that the IOC Vice President at the time was named Dick Pound.

And on a personal note:
March 17, 1960 -
My good friend John (a fraternity brother) was born on this day.

Not to be confused with his cousin, John, who was also born but not on this day.

March 17, 1970 -
My actual fraternal brother was born at Jewish Memorial Hospital in Upper Manhattan on this date.

As was noted at the time, he must be a lucky kid as he was a Puerto Rican baby born in a Jewish Hospital on an Irish holiday.

Happy Birthday guys.

And so it goes.

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