Monday, April 25, 1966: 'Pop!'

    Peter Benchley's cover story on pop culture begins: "It's a fad, it's a trend, it's a way of life. It's pop." and goes on to say that "In short, pop is what's happening ... it's anything that is imaginative, nonserious, rebellious, new, or nostalgic: anything, basically, fun." (Full story, from Lichtenstein Foundation via Internet Archive: @)

     Roy Lichtenstein's cover illustration was similar to the comic-book-style words that appeared on screen during fight scenes in TV's "Batman." 

*"The Continuing Influence of Popular Culture on Contemporary Art" (Queensland Art Gallery, Queensland, Australia, 2003): @
* "American Pop Frankenstein? Andy Warhol, Iconic Experience and the Advent of the Pop Society" (Steve Sherwood, UCLA): @
* Entry from blogs.artinfo.com: @
* Peter Benchley website: @
* Roy Lichtenstein website: @

Related posts
* "Batman" (January 12, 1966): @
* "Notes on 'Camp' " (September 1964): @
* Pop art at the Guggenheim (March 14, 1963): @
* "Pop Goes the Easel" (March 25, 1962): @
* Andy Warhol's soup cans (July 9, 1962): @
* Roy Lichtenstein (1961): @ 


Monday, April 18, 1966: AstroTurf

The Los Angeles Dodgers shelled veteran Robin Roberts with a barrage of singles Monday night and defeated the Houston Astros, 6-3, in the first official game played on the Astrodome's infield of synthetic grass. ... Neither club gave indication of concern about the pool table green infield made of tough nylon strips zippered together. There were three errors, but none could be blamed on the carpet-like material that Astro officials plan to extend into the outfield by mid-June.
     -- Story by Associated Press: @
     -- Image by Associated Press from July 1966, showing the installation of Astroturf in the Astrodome outfield.

* www.astroturf.com: @
* "Astroturf Applauded by Dodger" (Associated Press, April 19, 1966; from www.newspapers.com, subscription only): @
* "The Cool Bubble" (Roger Angell, 1966): @
* "The Rise and Fall of Artificial Turf" (Mark Armour, Baseball Analysts, 2006): @
* "MLB's turf wars are just about over" (Associated Press, September 2009): @
* "Materiality and Meaning: Synthetic Grass, Sport, and the Limits of Modern Progress" (Benjamin D. Lisle, 2012): @
* "Turf Wars" (Jennifer Weeks, Chemical Heritage Foundation, 2013): @
* "Movies, Bullfights, and Baseball, Too: Astrodome Built for Spectacle First and Sports Second" (Eric Robinson, Society for American Baseball Research, 2014): @
* "Monofilament Ribbon Pile Product" (Patent, 1967): @
* Earlier post on the Astrodome (April 1965): @


Monday, April 11, 1966: LSD in the United States

Sandoz Pharmaceuticals, the nation's only licensed distributor of LSD, has ceased distribution of the hallucinatory drug in this country. LSD, or lysergic acid diethylamide, is produced by the company's parent concern, Sandoz Ltd., in Switzerland. ... The company had informed the federal food and drug administration in Washington that it was withdrawing its investigational drug application because of "unforeseen public reaction." Authorities said the drug produced extreme sensations of color, sight and taste, breaking down the sense of reality.
     -- From Associated Press: @
     -- Image from Life magazine, March 25, 1966: @

* LSD information (National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health): @
* LSD information (www.erowid.org): @
* "How LSD was popularized" (Schaeffer Library of Drug Policy): @
* "Legend of a Mind: Timothy Leary & LSD" (The Pop History Dig): @
* www.lysergia.com: @
* The Albert Hofmann Foundation: @
* "History of Sandoz Pharmaceuticals" (The Herb Museum): @
* "Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, The Sixties, and Beyond" (Martin A. Lee and Bruce Shlain, 1985): @
* "Storming Heaven: LSD and the American Dream" (Jay Stevens, 1987): @ 
* "Drugged: The Science and Culture Behind Psychotropic Drugs" (Richard J. Miller, 2014): @ 
* "Acid Hype: America News Media and the LSD Experience" (Steven Siff, 2015): @


Friday, April 8, 1966: End of poll tax

Mississippi's $2-a-year poll tax was ruled unconstitutional by a special three-judge federal court which forbade the state to apply it as a requirement to vote.
     The judges ruled in favor of a Justice Department suit, brought under the 1965 Voting Rights Act, that contended Mississippi had used the 76-year-old tax to keep Negroes from voting.
     The suit also charged the tax discriminated economically against the poor of any color, and made a negligible contribution to public education revenues -- for which it was earmarked -- of only 0.43 percent.
     The decision forbids application of poll tax payment as a voting requirement in any "municipal, county or state or national election hereafter held within the state of Mississippi."
     The panel, Judge Walter P. Gewin of Tuscaloosa, Ala., of the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and District Judges Harold Cox of Southern Mississippi and Claude F. Clayton of Northern Mississippi, noted the decision followed the Supreme Court's March 24 decision against the Virginia state board of elections in a poll tax case.
     Similar federal panels earlier ruled the poll tax unconstitutional in Alabama and Texas.

     -- Story by Associated Press: @
     -- Image taken from nameplate of The Delta Democrat Times (Greenville, Mississippi), January 15, 1964

Harper v. Virginia State Board of Elections (March 24, 1966)
* "Supreme Court Strikes Down Virginia Poll Tax" (United Press International, March 24): @
* "Mississippi Last State of Poll Tax" (UPI, March 25): @
* "Supreme Court Says Poll Tax Violates Economic Equality" (AP, March 28): @
* Decision and opinions (from FindLaw): @
* Oral arguments (from www.oyez.org): @
* Biography of Evelyn Thomas Butts (Encyclopedia of Virginia): @

Other resources
* "A Review of the Activities of the Department of Justice in Civil Rights, 1966" (Department of Justice, January 1967): @
* "Recalling an Era When the Color of Your Skin Meant You Paid to Vote" (Smithsonian magazine, March 2016): @
* Earlier post on 24th Amendment (January 23, 1964): @ 


Friday, April 8, 1966: 'Is God Dead?'

Time magazine publishes a provocative article (with a controversial cover) by religion editor John T. Elson. It begins:

     Is God dead? It is a question that tantalizes both believers, who perhaps secretly fear that he is, and atheists, who possibly suspect that the answer is no. 
     Is God dead? The three words represent a summons to reflect on the meaning of existence. No longer is the question the taunting jest of skeptics for whom unbelief is the test of wisdom and for whom Nietzsche is the prophet who gave the right answer a century ago. Even within Christianity, now confidently renewing itself in spirit as well as form, a small band of radical theologians has seriously argued that the churches must accept the fact of God's death, and get along without him. How does the issue differ from the age-old assertion that God does not and never did exist? Nietzsche's thesis was that striving, self-centered man had killed God, and that settled that. The current death-of-God group believes that God is indeed absolutely dead, but proposes to carry on and write an theology without theos, without God. Less radical Christian thinkers hold that at the very least God in the image of man, God sitting in heaven, is dead, and -- in the central task of religion today -- they seek to imagine and define a God who can touch men's emotions and engage men's minds. 
     If nothing else, the Christian atheists are waking the churches to the brutal reality that the basic premise of faith -- the existence of a personal God, who created the world and sustains it with his love -- is now subject to profound attack.

* Complete text: @
* "Is God Dead?" (the Rev. G.H. Ashworth, for The Bryan, Ohio, Democrat, May 25, 1905): @
* "The God Is Dead Movement" (Time, October 22, 1965; subscription only): @
* John T. Elson obituary (New York Times, 2009): @
* "Is God Just a Human Invention? And Seventeen Other Questions Raised by the New Atheists" (Sean McDowell and Jonathan Morrow, editors, 2010): @
* "Methodist Heretic: Thomas Altizer and the Death of God at Emory University" (Christopher Demuth Rodkey, 2010): @
* "American Nietzsche: A History of an Icon and His Ideas" (Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen, 2012): @
* " 'God Is Dead' Controversy" (New Georgia Encyclopedia, 2013): @
* "Thomas J.J. Alitzer: On the Death of God Theology" (Jose L. Gutierrez, 2014): @

Time, December 26, 1969
The magazine publishes a three-year-later look at the subject with "The New Ministry: Bringing God Back to Life."
* Text (subscription only): @

motive magazine, February 1966
The official magazine of the Methodist Student Movement publishes a satirical obituary, written in the style of The New York Times, titled "God is Dead in Georgia."
* Complete text: @
* Note: Anthony Towne, who wrote the obituary, followed it up in 1968 with the book "Excerpts from the Diaries of the Late God." Short summary (from "Religion in America Since 1945: A History," Patrick Allitt, 2003): @
* motive magazine archives (Boston University School of Theology): @ and @

Sojourner Truth, 1852
During an anti-slavery meeting in Salem, Ohio, the abolitionist and social reformer replies to Frederick Douglass' speech on how to rid the country of slavery with the plaintive question (by some accounts), "Is God gone?" The phrase is more remembered as "Is God dead?", which is also inscribed -- without the question mark -- on her tombstone in Battle Creek, Michigan.
* Excerpt from "Sojourner Truth: Slave, Prophet, Legend" (Carleton Mabee and Susan Mabee Newhouse, 1995): @
* Exceprt from "Sojourner Truth as Orator: Wit, Story and Song" (Suzanne Pullon Fitch and Roseann M. Mandzuik, 1997): @
* Excerpt from "Sojourner Truth's America" (Margaret Washington, 2009): @ 


April 1966: 'Frank Sinatra Has A Cold'

Gay Talese's profile of Frank Sinatra is published in the April 1966 issue of Esquire magazine. It stands as one of the high achievements of "New Journalism," in which writers use all manner of literary techniques to tell a nonfiction story. The profile is also noteworthy in that Talese did not interview Sinatra, talking instead to the people in the entertainer's circle.

-- Subhed reads: "And some of the most important people in some of the most important places in New York, New Jersey, Southern California and Las Vegas are suddenly developing postnasal drop"
-- Cover illustration by Edward Sorel

* Full story (www.esquire.com): @

* Annotated version, 2013 (niemanstoryboard.org): @
* Oral interview with Talese, 2015 (soundcloud.com): @
* "The Birth of 'The New Journalism' " (Tom Wolfe, New York magazine, February 14, 1972): @
* Complete issue of New York magazine (February 14, 1972): @
* Short summary of "New Journalism" (from "Culture Wars: An Encyclopedia of Issues, Viewpoints, and Voices," edited by Roger Chapman, 2010): @
* "The Gang That Wouldn't Write Straight: Wolfe, Thompson, Didion, Capote and the New Journalism Revolution" (Marc Weingarten, 2010): @
* "Literary Journalism in the Twentieth Century" (edited by Norman Sims, 2008): @
* "The Esquire Decade" (Frank Digiacoma, Vanity Fair magazine, January 2007): @
* "It Wasn't Pretty, Folks, But Didn't We Have Fun? Surviving the '60s with Esquire's Harold Hayes" (Carol Posgrove, 2001): @
* Talese biography (www.newjournalism.com): @
* Talese's website (via Random House): @

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