back to the Black Table


Most people view Utah as a safe haven for self-righteous Bible folks that just wanted a place where they could abide by the laws of Christ and marry as many women as they wanted without facing the scrutiny of the United States government. And that's true. But Utah gained another feather in its cap on this day in 1933, when it became the 36th state to ratify the 21st amendment to the United States Constitution, effectively ending Prohibition in the U.S. for good. Though you'll still find some temperance buffs out there advocating the end of alcohol consumption, these people are largely around to get beat up by drunks leaving their local watering hole. So, next time you're out tying one on and exaggerating your salary to the hot bartender with the lower back tattoo in a misguided and futile effort to get her back to your place, raise a glass to Utah, 15th to last state to give you the false bravado to pull a stunt like that.

On this date in 1848, James K. Polk announced to Congress that large amounts of gold had been discovered in California, which marked the official beginning of the California Gold Rush. This is not to be confused with Canada's Rush, the rock trio comprised of Geddy Lee, Alex Lifeson and Neil Peart and singers of such hits as "Tom Sawyer" and "Roll the Bones." The California Gold Rush caused an economic boom in the region, flooding the area with millions of people seeking their fortune, and gave California the cachet it needed to be admitted to the Union in 1850. Also a net effect of the Gold Rush: Tobias M. Henry, newly wealthy from gold, became the first man to utter the phrase, "Let's do lunch," paving the way for many a Hollywood development deal.






The 13th amendment to the Constitution was ratified on this day in 1865, officially ending slavery in the United States. Of course, the amendment wasn't so much an agreed upon outcome as it was a term of the North's victory in the Civil War. Also, de facto slavery would exist in this country for nearly another 100 years with Jim Crow laws and segregation enacted immediately following this amendment in the South and in many parts of the North. And, until Brown v. Board of Education outlawed segregation in 1954 and Congress passed the Civil Rights Act in 1964, blacks were denied many of the basic civil liberties afforded to whites for generations.

Um, hooray Civil War!

Former President Clinton will be in New York to host a fundraiser for his wife's Senate re-election campaign. The fundraiser will take place at swank hotspot Crobar, located in New York City's Chelsea neighborhood, forcing ecstasy-fueled club hoppers and fans of $11 gin and tonics to find another place to do their boozing and weird glowstick dancing for an evening.






Before it became the destination of choice for honeymooning American couples, Hawaii was largely known as a strategic military location. On this day in 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, taking nearly 3,000 lives and drawing the United States into World War II. The possibly apocryphal story goes that a radar technician (radar being a new technology at the time) spotted the Japanese attack planes on the screen and pointed them out to his superior. The superior officer turned off the machine because he didn't trust the newfangled thing, allowing the Japanese planes to bomb the Hawaiian military base.

60 years later, Roger Ebert attacked Pearl Harbor, calling it "a two-hour movie squeezed into three hours," a movie with "no sense of history, strategy or context" and "an unremarkable action film." Oh, the humanity.

In future news, Microsoft's new operating system, Windows Vista, will be released on this day in 2006. According to the Microsoft website, Windows Vista is "all about seeing, finding, organizing, and confidently controlling your information and your computer desktop." So, they're not even hiding their ambitions anymore? They actually put "controlling your information" in the press release now? God help us all.





On this day in 2006, Microsoft will announce that their 4th quarter earnings will be up 20,000 percent from a year ago, due to their new ability to control your information.

If you're writing a paper about instances that American innocence and idealism took crushing blows, look no further than December 8, 1980. That's the day that Mark David Chapman walked up to John Lennon on the sidewalk in front of his Upper West Side apartment in the Dakota building and shot him four times with a .38 caliber pistol. Lennon, considered one of the greatest songwriters of his generation, died en route to the hospital. Chapman pleaded guilty to murder and was sent to Attica prison, where he remains today. He has twice been denied parole by the New York State Parole Board on the count that he is "crazy as a craphouse rat and twice as dangerous."

The major initiative of the first year of the Clinton presidency was the passage of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). President Clinton signed this agreement on this day in 1993. NAFTA cut a handful of and negotiated the gradual elimination of major tariffs on goods shipped to and from our continental neighbors Canada and Mexico. The most vocal opposition to NAFTA came from diminutive Texas billionaire and two-time presidential candidate Ross Perot, who famously lost a 1993 debate with Al Gore about the treaty. Perot made the debate memorable by repeatedly asking "Can I finish" when no one had interrupted him.






Florida, U.S. leader in conventions, hosts another convention today. The Florida Democratic State Conference kicks of today at beautiful Walt Disney World Resort and Conference Center in scenic Orlando. Among the many speakers slated are DNC Chairman Howard Dean and Democratic Party darling Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack. In lieu of welcome cocktails, everyone will take a ride on Tomorrowland's signature ride "Space Mountain," The reasoning is two-fold: the party likes the symbolic nature of Tomorrowland and because Howard Dean speaks like he comes from fucking outer space.

For years, the World Wrestling Federation (now World Wrestling Entertainment) and World Championship Wrestling were sworn enemies in the battle to convince people that watching steroid-fueled genetic freaks in spandex isn't a complete waste of time. However, facing diminishing profits and dwindling ratings, the Ted Turner-owned WCW was sold in early 2001 to Vince McMahon and the WWE. On this date in 2001, Chris Jericho unified the WWE Championship Belt and the WCW World Heavyweight Championship for the first time ever at the WWE Vengeance pay-per-view. It was a landmark day for an industry that grabs the nation's collective interest in a way that can only be described as "marginal."

In 1963, the last American made Studebaker rolled off the assembly line and the company ceded its position as one of the American auto industry's heavy hitters. If you're older than 42, surely you remember the Studebaker, with the hood that looked like a bullet. If you're in your 50s or 60s, you probably remember a gropefest of some kind in the back seat of a Studebaker, while parked in the spot that your hometown's youth designated "Makeout Lane," "Inspiration Point" or something equally suggestive. If the horror movies from that era are at all accurate, this location was on a hill overlooking the town and likely housed an escaped mental patient looking to kill people having a more fulfilling adolescence than his own.

Oh, to be young again.




Geoff Wolinetz is a contributing editor to the all-new Cracked Magazine, a co-founder of Yankee Pot Roast and makes one hell of a pina colada.


INCOMING! runs every Monday on The Black Table.