Today In History with The Retrospectors

The Retrospectors

  • 11 minutes 13 seconds
    The Anti-Disco Army

    Rerun: ‘Disco Demolition Night’, the brainchild of 24 year-old shock jock Steve Dahl, caused mass hysteria at Comiskey Park, Chicago on 12th July, 1979 - causing a pitch invasion that lead to 39 arrests.

    Intended as a promotional event for a Tigers vs White Sox doubleheader, attendees were lured with discounted admission if they turned up to the game armed with disco records to be blown up with powerful explosives; an intermission entertainment that has since been contextualised as a racist, homophobic book-burning.

    In this episode, Olly, Rebecca and Arion examine why Chicago was caught in a rock/disco divide; revisit the club classics of 1979; and question the wisdom of sex on third base…

    Further Reading:

    • Broadcast footage from the night - from The Museum of Classic Chicago Television: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kqDkBM9vxw8

    • ‘Disco Demolition: the night they tried to crush black music’ (The Guardian, 2019):

    https://www.theguardian.com/music/2019/jul/19/disco-demolition-the-night-they-tried-to-crush-black-music

    • ‘July 12, 1979: 'The Night Disco Died' — Or Didn't’ (NPR, 2016): https://www.npr.org/2016/07/16/485873750/july-12-1979-the-night-disco-died-or-didnt


    ‘Why am I hearing a rerun?’

    Each Thursday and Friday we repeat stories from our archive of 800+ episodes, so we can maintain the quality of our independent podcast and bring you fresh, free content every Monday-Wednesday… 


    … But 🌴CLUB RETROSPECTORS🌴members get an additional full-length episode each Sunday! Join now with a free trial on Apple Podcasts or Patreon and support our show ❤️


    The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

    Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Emma Corsham.

    Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2024.


    Image: By Eddie Wagner - Original publication: 1979, Chicago TribuneImmediate source: https://www.chicagomag.com/chicago-magazine/july-2016/the-night-disco-died/, Fair use, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?curid=72807463



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    12 July 2024, 12:40 am
  • 12 minutes 1 second
    Zheng He's Treasure Odyssey

    Rerun: China’s greatest naval explorer, Zheng He, set sail on the first of seven epic voyages on 11th July, 1405. He led a fleet of 255 ships, with an estimated 28,000 people on board.

    A eunuch, and a Muslim, he had risen through the ranks to become a right-hand man of the Emperor, and his prowess at sea vastly bettered the likes of his European contemporaries Christopher Columbus and Marco Polo. 

    In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly ask whether reports of his size and stature were nonetheless exaggerated; consider why, for many years prior to this, China had limited exploration by sea; and explain why, despite his incredible success, bureaucrats then tried to purge He’s name from the records…

    Further Reading:

    • ‘Biography of Zheng He, Chinese Admiral’ (ThoughtCo, 2019): https://www.thoughtco.com/zheng-he-ming-chinas-great-admiral-195236

    • ‘China’s greatest naval explorer sailed his treasure fleets as far as East Africa’ (National Geographic): https://www.nationalgeographic.co.uk/history-and-civilisation/2020/05/chinas-greatest-naval-explorer-sailed-his-treasure-fleets-as-far-as-east-africa

    • ‘Zheng He: World Explorers’ (PBS): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LGcbIoTyY6s

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    11 July 2024, 12:50 am
  • 12 minutes 26 seconds
    Evolution on Trial

    The Scopes Monkey Trial - one of the most famous show trials in U.S. history - began in Dayton, Tennessee on 10th July, 1925. 

    Though it centred on John T. Scopes - a high school teacher put on trial for teaching evolution - he was actually a substitute teacher who may never have really taught the textbook concerned, and had put himself in the frame to test the Butler Act, a Tennessee law prohibiting the teaching of any theory that contradicted the biblical account of creation.

    The trial transformed Dayton into a chaotic carnival. Spectators and journalists from around the world flocked to the small town, which became a hub of street preachers, revival tents, and vendors selling Bibles and toy monkeys. 

    Both sides of the trial brought in heavyweights: William Jennings Bryan, renowned fundamentalist and three-time presidential candidate, volunteered to assist the prosecution, while the famous defence attorney Clarence Darrow, took up Scopes' defence. 

    In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly explain how the trial came to be heard out on the courthouse lawn; explain what happened to Scopes after receiving his sentence; and reveal which real-life monkeys were harmed in the making of the trial… 

    Further Reading:

    • ‘Scopes Monkey Trial: The Historic Trial That Began 90 Years Ago’ (TIME, 2015): https://time.com/3952775/scopes-monkey-trial-1925/

    • ‘Timeline: Remembering the Scopes Monkey Trial’ (NPR, 2005): https://www.npr.org/2005/07/05/4723956/timeline-remembering-the-scopes-monkey-trial

    • ’Inherit the Wind’ (MGM, 1960): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vtNdYsoool8


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    10 July 2024, 12:30 am
  • 12 minutes 31 seconds
    Mozart's Grand Tour

    Mozart’s grand tour of Western Europe, began on 9th July 1763, when the boy wonder was just 7 years old.

    Taking in Germany, France, and England, Wolfgang and his sister Maria Anna played for Royal families, leading musicians, and even wowed the crowd in a pub, the Swan and Hoop in Moorgate.

    In this episode, The Retrospectors speculate as to how much cash Mozart’s father Leopold may have pocketed for himself; reveal how, at the age of eight-and-a-half, Mozart had a younger ‘showbiz age’; and explain why the illness that plagued the family was actually stroke of good luck for fans of Mozart’s music…


    Further Reading:

    • ‘Mozart's biography: his first concert and European tour (1762 - 1765)’ (Classic FM): https://www.classicfm.com/composers/mozart/guides/biography-part-2/

    • ‘Mozart, By Julian Rushton' (Oxford University Press, 2006): https://www.google.co.uk/books/edition/Mozart/WKcRyYvC_8cC?hl=en&gbpv=1&dq=mozart%27s+grand+tour&pg=PA7&printsec=frontcover

    • ‘Why Was Mozart's Birth So Special?’ (BBC Select, 2022): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gzWPlND3k0k


    This episode first premiered in 2023, for members of 🌴CLUB RETROSPECTORS🌴 - where you can also DITCH THE ADS and get weekly bonus bits, unlock over 100 bits of extra content and support our independent podcast. Join now via Apple Podcasts or Patreon. Thanks!

     

    We'll be back tomorrow! Follow us wherever you get your podcasts: podfollow.com/retrospectors

     

    The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

    Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Ollie Peart.

    Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2024.



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    9 July 2024, 12:20 am
  • 11 minutes 5 seconds
    Kim Il-Sung: Good Mourning

    When North Korean dictator Kim Il-sung died unexpectedly of a heart attack on 8th July, 1994, his nation went into ten days of mourning, reflecting the deep-seated personality cult he’d cultivated over his 40-year rule.

    Kim’s passing marked the end of a generation of Marxist revolutionaries in the region, creating uncertainty about whether his successors could maintain the same level of idolization from the population - especially given that his death happened during the early stages of a devastating famine.

    In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly uncover the elaborate grieving ceremonies that followed, featuring goose-stepping soldiers, enormous red flags, and thousands of citizens displaying intense, theatrical emotion; explore Kim’s reputation in the West, where he was both by turns both ridiculed and respected; and consider how his son, Kim Jong-il, took control of the dynasty, via assiduous propaganda… 

    Further Reading:

    • ‘Kim Il Sung, N. Korea's Longtime Leader, Dies : Asia: Death of Communist dictator at 82 comes weeks before North-South meeting. Experts expect instability’ (Los Angeles Times, 1994): https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1994-07-09-mn-13445-story.html

    • ‘Lessons from the death of North Korea's first leader’ (BBC News, 2011): https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-16252540

    • ‘North Korea's Kim Il-Sung Dies [1994]’ (Old News, 2017): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rk6JmvMfVms


    Love the show? Support us! 

    Join  🌴CLUB RETROSPECTORS🌴to DITCH THE ADS and get an additional full-length episode each SUNDAY… 


    … Plus, get weekly bonus bits, and unlock over 100 bits of extra content. 

    Join now with a free trial on Apple Podcasts or Patreon and support our show ❤️


    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    8 July 2024, 9:54 pm
  • 11 minutes 17 seconds
    Birth of the Bikini

    Rerun: Swimwear never made more of a splash than when designer Louis Réard unveiled his daring new two-piece at the Piscine Molitor in Paris on July 5th, 1946. Showgirl Micheline Bernardini modelled the new attire, named after US nuclear testing site Bikini Atoll. Really.

    Eleven years later, Modern Girl magazine still considered it ‘inconceivable that any girl with tact and decency’ would ever be seen wearing a bikini. Yet, by the sixties, it had become commonplace on beaches around the world.

    In this episode, Rebecca, Arion and Olly consider the role rival designer Jacques Heim played in inspiring the garment; reveal the countries where it remains illegal to wear a bikini (sometimes); and unearth Sarah Brightman’s surprising role in Bombalurina’s 1990 cover version of ‘Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini’...

    Further Reading:

    • 15 Hilarious First Reactions to the Invention of the Bikini (BestLife, 2019):

    https://bestlifeonline.com/bikini-invention-reactions/

    • Fred Cole’s scorn for bikinis (‘Fashion: In The Swim’, TIME, 1950):

    http://content.time.com/time/subscriber/article/0,33009,813465,00.html

    • That Bombalurina video, featuring the future Mrs Barlow: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4LagoycfdCA

    ‘Why am I hearing a rerun?’

    Each Thursday and Friday we repeat stories from our archive of 800+ episodes, so we can maintain the quality of our independent podcast and bring you fresh, free content every Monday-Wednesday… 


    … But 🌴CLUB RETROSPECTORS🌴members get an additional full-length episode each Sunday! Join now with a free trial on Apple Podcasts or Patreon and support our show ❤️


    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    5 July 2024, 12:30 am
  • 11 minutes 57 seconds
    Here Comes The Hamburger

    Rerun: Who invented the hamburger? It’s almost impossible to know, given that mincemeat has been consumed all around the world, and for centuries - but Oscar Bilby, of Tulsa, Oklahoma is a strong contender. 

    On 4th July, 1891, he grilled a beef patty, and - for the first time in documented history -  PUT IT IN A BUN. And a Fourth of July tradition was born.

    In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly trace the origins of the American burger back to 19th century sailors in New York; consider the claim to fame of rival ‘Hamburger Charlie’ (Charlie Nagreen of Seymour, Wisconsin); and recall the short-lived attempt by the American War effort to rid the hamburger of its German heritage…

    Further Reading:

    • ‘Where Hamburgers Began—and How They Became an Iconic American Food’ (HISTORY, 2014): https://www.history.com/news/hamburger-helpers-the-history-of-americas-favorite-sandwich

    • ‘History of Hamburgers’ (What’s Cooking America): https://whatscookingamerica.net/history/hamburgerhistory.htm

    • ‘An Animated History of the Hamburger’ (New York Magazine, 2015): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HIjX8OPuf-w


    Why am I hearing a rerun?’

    Each Thursday and Friday we repeat stories from our archive of 800+ episodes, so we can maintain the quality of our independent podcast and bring you fresh, free content every Monday-Wednesday… 


    … But 🌴CLUB RETROSPECTORS🌴members get an additional full-length episode each Sunday! Join now with a free trial on Apple Podcasts or Patreon and support our show ❤️


    The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

    Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Emma Corsham.

    Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2024.



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    3 July 2024, 11:00 pm
  • 12 minutes 25 seconds
    Sailing Alone Around The World

    Captain Joshua Slocum set sail from Nova Scotia in The Spray, his revamped oyster sloop, on 3rd July, 1898: the first solo circumnavigation of the world. 


    Sailing alone for no reason other than pleasure was considered a fool’s errand at the time, but, motivated by the death of his beloved first wife, Virginia, Slocum sought solace in the sea. His memoir, dedicated to ‘the one who believed the Spray would return’, detailed his daring journey and struggle against loneliness.


    In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly consider how Slocum survived - given his navigational aids of a broken chronometer and tin clock; explain how he evaded pirates in Gibraltar - in the most long-winded way possible; and explore his cheese-inspired hallucinations… 


    Further Reading:

    • ’Joshua Slocum and his first Single-handed Sail around the World’ (SciHi, 2021): http://scihi.org/joshua-slocum-around-the-world/

    • ’“The Spray will Come Back”: Solo Circumnavigator Joshua Slocum’ (New Bedford Whaling Museum, 2017): https://www.whalingmuseum.org/exhibition/the-spray-will-come-back/

    • ‘The Mysterious Disappearance Of A Sea Pioneer’ (Timeline, 2019): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5K6ZQiOUG9M


    Love the show? Support us! 

    Join  🌴CLUB RETROSPECTORS🌴to DITCH THE ADS and get an additional full-length episode each SUNDAY… 


    … Plus, get weekly bonus bits, and unlock over 100 bits of extra content. 

    Join now with a free trial on Apple Podcasts or Patreon and support our show ❤️

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    3 July 2024, 12:30 am
  • 12 minutes 4 seconds
    Death of Hypercolor

    Generra Sportswear, the Seattle-based company that distributed Hypercolor - the T-shirts that changed colour with heat - and declared bankruptcy on 2nd July, 1992.


    In a brief three-month span, between February and May 1991, the company sold a whopping $50 million worth of heat-sensitive T-shirts, shorts, pants, sweatshirts and tights, using the ‘Global Hypercolor’ brand in the UK. However, they struggled to meet the overwhelming demand for their products and as a result of mismanagement and overproduction, couldn’t handle their overnight success.


    In this episode, The Retrospectors explain how sex was used to sell its products Down Under; consider why the product was a let-down if you lived in a sub-tropical climate, and ponder whether mood rings became ‘the acceptable face of colour-changing’...


    Further Reading:

    • ‘Why Hypercolor T-Shirts Were Just a One-Hit Wonder’ (Smithsonian Magazine, 2013): https://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/why-hypercolor-t-shirts-were-just-a-one-hit-wonder-3353436/

    • ‘Generra: Hot Start, Then Cold Reality -- Company Reflects Industry's Woes’ (The Seattle Times, 1992): https://archive.seattletimes.com/archive/?date=19920703&slug=1500288

    • ‘Generra Hyper Color Shirts - Heat Makes It Happen’ (TV Commercial, 1992): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZXgLR55tx3Y


    This episode first premiered in 2023, for members of 🌴CLUB RETROSPECTORS🌴 - where you can also DITCH THE ADS and get weekly bonus bits, unlock over 100 bits of extra content and support our independent podcast. Join now via Apple Podcasts or Patreon. Thanks!

     

    We'll be back tomorrow! Follow us wherever you get your podcasts: podfollow.com/retrospectors

     

    The Retrospectors are Olly Mann, Rebecca Messina & Arion McNicoll, with Matt Hill.

    Theme Music: Pass The Peas. Announcer: Bob Ravelli. Graphic Design: Terry Saunders. Edit Producer: Ollie Peart.

    Copyright: Rethink Audio / Olly Mann 2024.



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    2 July 2024, 12:30 am
  • 12 minutes 20 seconds
    When Sharks ATTACK!

    The real-life ‘Shark Week’ that inspired Peter Benchley's novel Jaws kicked off with the shocking mauling of 23 year-old Charles Vansant off the coast of Beach Haven on 1st July, 1916. 

    At first, the public refused to believe that a shark could be responsible.But five days later, another attack occurred at Spring Lake, claiming the life of Swissman Charles Bruder, whose legs were completely severed. 

    The spate of shark attacks that followed this became known as ‘12 Days of Terror’, capturing national attention, and leading President Woodrow Wilson to authorise federal aid to ‘drive away’ the sharks from New Jersey. 

    In this episode, Arion, Rebecca and Olly unpick the early hypotheses, from killer whales to sea turtles; explain why so many beachgoers couldn’t swim; and consider how one shark ended up in the hands of a Barnum & Bailey lion tamer… 

    CONTENT WARNING: gore, description of death by shark attack


    Further Reading:

    • ‘The Real-Life 'Jaws' That Terrorized the Jersey Shore’ (HISTORY, ): https://www.history.com/news/the-real-life-jaws-that-terrorized-the-jersey-shore

    • ‘Spielberg tells of guilt over harm hit film Jaws may have done to sharks’ (The Guardian, 2022): https://www.theguardian.com/film/2022/dec/18/steven-spielberg-tells-of-guilt-jaws-film-sharks

    • ’SHARK ATTACK Caught on Camera!’ (Discovery, 2023): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDTXqg_vsMQ



    Love the show? Support us! 

    Join  🌴CLUB RETROSPECTORS🌴to DITCH THE ADS and get an additional full-length episode each SUNDAY… 


    … Plus, get weekly bonus bits, and unlock over 100 bits of extra content. 

    Join now with a free trial on Apple Podcasts or Patreon and support our show ❤️

    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    1 July 2024, 12:00 am
  • 11 minutes 20 seconds
    Before There Was 'Crufts'

    Rerun: The first modern dog show took place in Newcastle on 28th June, 1859. Essentially a sideshow to the annual exhibition of cattle, it featured just 23 pointers and 27 setters. The owners of the champion breeds won a gun.

    Allegations of inbreeding and nepotism plagued the contest from the very beginning; controversies which eventually sparked the invention of The Kennel Club in 1873.

    In this episode, Olly, Rebecca and Arion consider the competition’s historical connections to pigeon-fancying and eugenics; unearth Charles Dickens’ sceptical opinion of the 1862 ‘Monster Dog Show’ in Islington; and explain how Charles Cruft maneuvered himself up from dog-food salesman to create the premier event in canine display…

    Further Reading:

    • Early 20th century dog shows at Vintage News Daily:

    https://vintagenewsdaily.com/22-lovely-photos-that-capture-vintage-dog-shows-in-the-early-20th-century/

    • ‘The Surprising History of Victorian Dog Shows’, (History Extra, 2009): https://www.historyextra.com/period/victorian/the-surprising-history-of-victorian-dog-shows/

    • British Pathé visits Monkstown Championship Dog Show (1950): 

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JSbO7vWuDpc


    ‘Why am I hearing a rerun?’

    Each Thursday and Friday we repeat stories from our archive of 800+ episodes, so we can maintain the quality of our independent podcast and bring you fresh, free content every Monday-Wednesday… 


    … But 🌴CLUB RETROSPECTORS🌴members get an additional full-length episode each Sunday! Join now with a free trial on Apple Podcasts or Patreon and support our show ❤️


    Learn more about your ad choices. Visit podcastchoices.com/adchoices

    28 June 2024, 12:30 am
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