Showing posts with label Space Age. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Space Age. Show all posts

Thursday, August 15, 2019

This breaks my damn heart

1962. It was the blackest of years; it was the most idealistic and hopeful of years.

Jim Crow refused to go quietly in the South. Communism, and the fear of it, haunted everything we were, did and said in America. Between us and the Soviet Union, we almost blew up the world.

But also in 1962, if we made it through October, the world would be a better place by springtime -- we just knew it.

Young Americans brimmed with idealism. Black college kids and white college kids risked their lives for their ideals in a peaceful assault against segregationist brutality in Dixie.

The youth of a country that 17 years before had vanquished Nazi Germany and militarist Japan found inspiration in a young president who challenged them to ask what they could do for their country.

JOHN GLENN orbited the earth three times. Next stop: the moon.

America had set its gaze on the New Frontier, and John Stewart of the The Kingston Trio could write liner notes like these above.

I was 1 year old. Hope was alive and kicking. Even in the South.

2019. A broken-down, 58-year-old music-show and blog guy sits at his iMac, typing. He wonders what the fuck happened.

He reads the hopeful, idealistic and oh-God-how-naive words of the late Mr. Stewart, and he wants to cry. He fears that there are no more tears left. Even more, he's terrified that fear will be put to the test again and again.

"So now, as never before, an age of introspection is reaching every one of us." Now our nation is becoming what we've willed within ourselves -- a heart of darkness.

"The horror! The horror!"

Friday, April 05, 2019

Destination . . . suffocate, bake or freeze as your blood boils

If 1950s album-cover artists had been in charge of the Space Race (not to mention science education in the Space Age) . . . things would not have ended well.

At all.

This Ames Brothers LP would have driven Dr. Sheldon Cooper mad.

On the other hand, this being a post-factual world, we can say with Trumpian confidence that Ed Ames is the only surviving Ames brother because the sound of lunar windmills gave all his siblings cancer, and they died upon their return to earth.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Mr. Music, please!

What is happening to me?

This is PARENTS music! Old-people stuff. Like, it's completely L7, maaaaaan! And it's what I'm listening to this evening.

Well, I like it. I think it's cool. And, in case you haven't looked in the mirror in the last 20 years or so, Self, you're old people now. And according to, well . . . everybody . . . you're pretty L7 yourself.

Because that just sounds pretty Dobie Gillis right there, Maynard.

On the other hand, you want to know one of the benefits of advancing age? It neuters the stranglehold of "cool" on the brain, thereby freeing the mind to consider things that once would have cost one no small measure of social status.

And chicks.

So screw it. I'm middle aged, and I'm married . . . and reliably informed by She Who Must Be Obeyed that I don't need to be getting any more chicks. Do they still call the fairer sex "chicks"?

Don't answer that, because I don't care.

Now back to Henry Mancini and, perhaps, an adult beverage.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Tranquility base here. Neil Armstrong has landed.

I was blessed to gave grown up during an age of American giants, though we didn't always realize it at the time.

As Joni Mitchell sang, "Don't it always seem to go that you don't know what you've got till it's gone?" Now in this land of small minds, smaller men and great discontent, we may be getting some idea of what we had.

Neil Armstrong, first man on the moon, is dead. He was 82.

Above is what I -- and hundreds of millions -- saw that July day in 1969, a time of trouble, yes, but also a time when giants walked the earth. And when astronaut giants flew to the moon --
and back.

One of the last of those giants now is gone, God bless his soul, leaving this postmodern world to its pygmy overlords.

UPON HIS LEAVING, it's almost as if Neil Armstrong: Giant has left us his final commentary about the kind of hands now holding our collective fate as Americans. Look at this screenshot of the front page.

Says it all, doesn't it?

Goodbye, Mr. Armstrong. Thank you for your courage. Thank you for your dignity.

Thank you for our dreams.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

3 Chords & the Truth: Telstar!

There was a time that hope sprang eternal, even though the Russkies and we were ready to blow one another to Kingdom Come.

And once upon a time, government and business leaders waxed rhapsodic about how this new communications satellite might bring the world together in peace and brotherhood. In 1962, no one could foresee how this modern miracle of technology would lead to cable-news networks whose business model depends on angry viewers and yelling. Lots and lots of yelling.

Another misguided reason for optimism that year was that Snooki had not yet been born. If we knew then what we know now, we actually might have gone for the "nuclear option."

The real nuclear option.

OF COURSE, none of this is Telstar 1's fault. Telstar was a modern miracle of technology.

It did link the continents via television for the first time.

We could have used it to foster peace and brotherhood among peoples and countries.

Instead, we used the advent of the communications satellite for Fox News, MSNBC . . . and Snooki. Our bad.

What we at 3 Chords & the Truth find to be beyond dispute is that Telstar 1's launch and activation 50 years ago this week changed the world. Drastically. It changed communications. Drastically. It ushered in a new era of the shrinking planet.

And, if you think about it, most of the massive change spurred by a little satellite in July 1962 was for the good and not the Snooki. This is why this edition of the Big Show celebrates the little artificial moon that could . . . and did.

Welcome to the Telstar tribute on 3 Chords & the Truth. You'll be surprised at how much really good music a tribute to the first communications satellite can include.

RANDOM THOUGHT: It's too bad we retired the space shuttle. We could have flown out to Telstar 1 -- yes, it's still in orbit . . . silent, but in orbit -- tied some black balloons with "50" printed in white to an antenna, taped a stupid-looking party hat to some solar cells and then put an "Old Fart" T-shirt on the venerable bird.

It would have been great.

Be that as it may. . . .

It's 3 Chords & the Truth, y'all. Beep . . . beep . . . beep . . . beep there. Aloha.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

1962 + 50: Live via satellite

Fifty years ago day before yesterday, the only way to get a TV picture from one side of the ocean to the other -- barring freak occurrences with the ionosphere -- was to put a videotape on a fast jet plane.

Fifty years ago yesterday, that changed when Telstar 1 relayed its first television signal from Maine to France, an act so revolutionary that the little satellite was memorialized with a Top-40 hit record.

And 50 years ago today came the first official transatlantic satellite broadcast.The
Los Angeles Times remembers:
"With Telstar and its successors, the world was made a smaller place, as billions of people around the world had instant access to news, sports and entertainment," said Jeong Kim, president of Bell Labs, which designed and manufactured Telstar. "The phrase 'live via satellite' became part of the common vernacular."

Researchers had been working for nearly a decade trying to develop some technique for space-based communications. One outgrowth of those attempts was the Echo series of satellites -- large, metal-coated balloons that served as passive reflectors for electronic signals. The balloons were used for transmitting microwave signals and as marker beacons in the sky that helped improve navigation for intercontinental ballistic missiles. But they were not large enough to handle the information required for a television signal.

Telstar could. The 72-sided satellite was about 34 inches in diameter. Solar panels on each of the faces powered 19 rechargeable batteries not unlike those used in flashlights. The amplifier could boost a signal 10 billion times before relaying it to Earth. The satellite was originally designed to handle two black-and-white television channels and 600 simultaneous telephone calls, but weight restrictions on the Delta launch vehicle made it necessary to lose one of the television boosters.

The satellite was launched two days earlier, on July 10, and some preliminary tests were conducted before the first official transmission on the 12th.

HERE'S A COUPLE of fascinating looks at yet another of the 1960s age of miracles,- the launch of Telstar 1. The first, above, is a Bell System documentary about the little satellite that could -- and did -- which was its baby.

THE SECOND is from the other side of the Atlantic -- a British look at Telstar 1, as part of a fascinating look at the history of what the English television types call "outside broadcasts."

Get your geek on and enjoy.