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.
August 16
1942—Blimp Crew Disappears without a Trace
The two-person crew of the U.S. naval blimp L-8 disappears on a routine patrol over the Pacific Ocean. The blimp drifts without her crew and crashes in Daly City, California. The mystery of the crew's disappearance is never solved.
1977—Elvis Presley Dies
Music icon Elvis Presley is found unresponsive by his fiancée on the floor of his Graceland bedroom suite. Attempts to revive him fail and he's pronounced dead soon afterward. The cause of death is often cited as drug overdose, but toxicology tests have never found evidence this was the case. More likely, years of drug abuse contributed to generally frail health and an overtaxed heart that suddenly failed.
August 15
1969—Woodstock Festival Begins
The Woodstock Music & Art Fair, which was billed as an Aquarian Exposition, takes place on a 600 acre dairy farm in Bethel, New York. It would run for three sometimes rainy days and feature thirty-two acts performing at all hours of the day and night. Today the festival is regarded as one of the greatest events in popular music history.
1977—Radio Signal Arrives from Deep Space
An unidentified radio signal, nicknamed the WOW Signal for the notation a scientist made on a computer readout, is briefly detected by the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) project's Big Ear radio telescope. Despite a month of searching the same section of space, the signal is never found again.
August 14
1912—U.S. Invades Nicaragua
United States Marines invade Nicaragua to support the U.S.-backed government installed there after José Santos Zelaya had resigned three years earlier. American troops remain for eleven years.
1936—Last Public Execution in U.S.
Rainey Bethea, who had been convicted of rape and murder, is hanged in Owensboro, Kentucky in what is the last public execution performed in the United States.
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