Musiquarium Oct 1 2010
BEHIND THE MASK
One of the most striking artifacts of the jazz age survives not in the U.S., but in Mexico.

During our constant search for pulp we often come across interesting images and above is a prime example. It’s a shot taken inside the Mexico City nightclub El Salón Colonia, circa 1935, where the drinks were cold, the band was hot, and the stage decorations were… racist? Well, not necessarily. In the Mexico of that time the laughing ebony mask you see would not have struck the same discordant racial notes as in the U.S. Mexican culture is sprinkled with black saints and icons, and even blackface characters that appear on television when you least expect it. The owners of El Salón Colonia were clearly indulging in the timeless tradition of co-opting African-American flavor for cool effect. The phenomenon occurred in many places, notably in Europe, where early jazzmen would later tour, awed at the respect locals had for their music, culture, and style. Style-wise, El Salón Colonia’s mask was more than just striking—it was incredibly clever. As you can see in the 1935 photo, a piano stood in its open mouth, and its lower lip acted as a piano bench. Surprisingly, the mask survives today, residing at the Museo de Juguete Antiguo in Mexico City. While it certainly shocks the few Americans that wander through, for older Mexicans it’s simply a beloved reminder of those hot nights at a once great club. 

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
January 21
1950—Alger Hiss Is Convicted of Perjury
American lawyer Alger Hiss is convicted of perjury in connection with an investigation by the House unAmerican Activities Committee (HUAC), at which he was questioned about being a Soviet spy. Hiss served forty-four months in prison. Hiss maintained his innocence and fought his perjury conviction until his death in 1996 at age 92.
1977—Carter Pardons War Fugitives
U.S. President Jimmy Carter pardons nearly all of the country's Vietnam War draft evaders, many of whom had emigrated to Canada. He had made the pardon pledge during his election campaign, and he fulfilled his promise the day after he took office.
January 19
1915—Claude Patents Neon Tube
French inventor Georges Claude patents the neon discharge tube, in which an inert gas is made to glow various colors through the introduction of an electrical current. His invention is immediately seized upon as a way to create eye catching advertising, and the neon sign comes into existence to forever change the visual landscape of cities.
1937—Hughes Sets Air Record
Millionaire industrialist, film producer and aviator Howard Hughes sets a new air record by flying from Los Angeles, California to New York City in 7 hours, 28 minutes, 25 seconds. During his life he set multiple world air-speed records, for which he won many awards, including America's Congressional Gold Medal.
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