On this day 10 years ago, Mayor Sheila Dixon proclaimed August 9 to be Frank Zappa Day in the city of Baltimore, Maryland. The “prolific composer, musician, author, and film director” was born there in 1940, and even wrote and recorded a song entitled “What’s New In Baltimore?” It was fitting to honor Frank on that day because musical son Dweezil Zappa played a tour date in the harbor town for the first time, performing his dad’s complex pieces. READ part of the Mayor’s proclamation, which called him a defender of the First Amendment – WATCH Frank’s congressional testimony against censorship… (2007)
Presented at the concert, the declaration read in part:
“The City of Baltimore is proud of its rich musical heritage, and is honored to claim Frank Zappa as a native of our fair city; and
”WHEREAS, Frank Zappa’s artistry involved many musical genres, including rock, jazz, electronic, and symphonic music, and his lasting impact has left an indelible mark on the art and all those who attempt to follow in his footsteps; and
”Frank Zappa has received worldwide recognition for his talents and innovation and defense of the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights of the Constitution of the United States of America…” This referred to the guitar player’s 1985 testimony before a U.S. Senate committee on the topic of music censorship – Watch a clip below, and read his brash and outrageously funny autobiography, The Real Frank Zappa Book. (CC Photo by Jean-Luc)
More Good News on this Day in History:
- Construction of the Tower of Pisa began – and it continued for two centuries (1173)
- The Sistine Chapel was opened to the public with its Michelangelo-painted ceiling (1483)
- Henry David Thoreau published “Walden,” which described his experiences living near Walden Pond in Massachusetts (1854)
- The cartoon character Betty Boop by Max Fleischer made her first appearance— the caricature of a Jazz age flapper that became one of the best-known cartoon characters in the world (1930)
- Smokey Bear was introduced in an ad campaign for forest fire prevention in the US, wearing a ranger hat and saying, ‘Only YOU can prevent forest fires’ (1944)
- Lauro Cavazos was nominated by President Ronald Reagan to be secretary of education and the first Hispanic to serve in the executive Cabinet (1988)
- Mauritania passed a law criminalizing slavery for the first time (2007)
And, on this day in 1936, Jesse Owens won his fourth gold medal in track and field competitions at the Berlin Olympics – an American first. Adolf Hitler was using the games to show the world a resurgent Nazi Germany. He had high hopes that German athletes would dominate the games with victories, as he believed in “Aryan” racial superiority and depicted ethnic Africans as inferior.
In his 1970 autobiography, The Jesse Owens Story, Owens recounted how Hitler later stood up and waved to him anyway: “When I passed the Chancellor he arose, waved his hand at me, and I waved back at him.” Owens was cheered enthusiastically by 110,000 people in Berlin’s Olympic Stadium–and later, ordinary Germans sought his autograph when they saw him in the streets.