Today in 1969 the secretary of the Moscow writer’s union declared nudity as displayed in the popular play “Oh! Calcutta!” is a sign of decadence in Western culture. More disturbing, he claimed, was the fact that this “bourgeois” thinking was infecting Russian youth.
Sergei Mikhailkov, best known for writing books for children in Russia, lashed out at Broadway and pornography in general. Such exhibitions were “a general striptease-that is one of the slogans of modern bourgeois art.” Mikhailkov expressed the fact that young people in the Soviet Union were more familiar with “the theater of the absurd and the novel without a hero and all kinds of modern bourgeois reactionary tendencies in the literature and art of the West” than with “the past and present of the literature of their fatherland.”
Mikhailkov’s statements and comments revealed the impact that U.S. culture-theater, literature, music, and film-was having on the Soviet Union. In the war for hearts and minds, Western “decadence” seemed to be winning the battle.
Today in 2008, financier Bernard Madoff is arrested at his New York City apartment and charged with masterminding a long-running Ponzi scheme later estimated to involve around $65 billion, making it one of the biggest investment frauds in Wall Street history.
The day before, Madoff revealed to his brother and two sons, who worked for the legitimate arm of his firm, that his investment-advisory business was a fraud and nearly bankrupt. Madoff’s sons turned in their father to federal authorities, who arrested him the next day. Madoff was freed on $10 million bail, and placed under 24-hour house arrest at his penthouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.
Public outrage was further stoked when it was revealed that since the late 1990s a private financial fraud investigator, Harry Markopolos, had repeatedly warned the Securities and Exchange Commission about his suspicion that Madoff was operating a massive investment scam.
On March 12, 2009, Madoff pleaded guilty to the 11 felony counts against him, including securities fraud, money laundering and perjury. On June 29 of that year, a federal district court judge in Manhattan sentenced Madoff to 150 years behind bars, calling his actions “extraordinary evil.”
Today in 2010, the second anniversary of Madoff’s arrest, his 46-year-old son Mark was found dead in his Manhattan apartment after committing suicide. Bernard Madoff, is serving his sentence at the Butner Federal Correctional Complex in North Carolina. He has maintained that his family members knew nothing about his crimes and although they have faced intense scrutiny, none have been charged with any wrongdoing. Several of Madoff’s former employees, including his accountant and chief financial officer, have pleaded guilty in connection with the long-running fraud.
Today in 1815, President James Madison (1809-1817) presented to Congress a trade agreement with Great Britain that would regulate commerce between the two countries. The agreement came just one year after the signing of the treaty that ended the War of 1812. The commerce agreement secured America’s autonomy on the high seas, but more importantly, it signified Britain’s acceptance of America as a separate nation with the will and capacity to defend its interests.
During the peace negotiations, Madison’s administration extended an olive branch to the British, suggesting that the two countries shared mutual interests and ought to be collaborating in commerce rather than endangering “their future harmony.” Although Madison described the 1815 maritime trade agreement as “conciliatory,” he also emphasized America’s insistence that American navigation be “confined to American seamen,” free from international (i.e. British) interference. Madison signaled to the world that America would continue to vigorously defend her territory and economic interests.
Happy birthday Teri Garr, actress and dancer, who was born today in 1944 at Lakewood, Ohio.
Garr has movie and TV appearances too numerous to list. She is probably best known for performances in “Young Frankenstein” (1974), “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977), and “Tootsie” (1982), for which she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. In 2002, Garr publicly announced that she has been suffering from multiple sclerosis for a number of years. Since then, she has been a dedicated advocate for awareness of the disease. Garr published an autobiography, “Speedbumps” (2005).
Rest in peace Dale Cook a.k.a. Samuel Cook a.k.a. Sam Cooke, pop singer and songwriter, who was shot to death today in 1964 at the Hacienda Motel, Los Angeles, by the manager Bertha Franklin. The shooting was ruled justifiable because Cooke threatened Franklin’s life after attempting to rape a young woman he had checked in.
Cooke was born January 11, 1931, at Clarksdale, Mississippi. He was age 33. He is buried at Glendale, California. Though the truth of what happened might remain uncertain, Sam Cooke’s place in the history of popular music is certain.