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.
October 23
1935—Four Gangsters Gunned Down in New Jersey
In Newark, New Jersey, the organized crime figures Dutch Schultz, Abe Landau, Otto Berman, and Bernard "Lulu" Rosencrantz are fatally shot at the Palace Chophouse restaurant. Schultz, who was the target, lingers in the hospital for about a day before dying. The killings are committed by a group of professional gunmen known as Murder, Inc., and the event becomes known as the Chophouse Massacre.
1950—Al Jolson Dies
Vaudeville and screen performer Al Jolson dies of a heart attack in San Francisco after a trip to Korea to entertain troops causes lung problems. Jolson is best known for his film The Jazz Singer, and for his performances in blackface make-up, which were not considered offensive at the time, but have now come to be seen as a form of racial bigotry.
October 22
1926—Houdini Fatally Punched in Stomach
After a performance in Montreal, Hungarian-born magician and escape artist Harry Houdini is approached by a university student named J. Gordon Whitehead, who asks if it is true that Houdini can endure any blow to the stomach. Before Houdini is ready Whitehead strikes him several times, causing internal injuries that lead to the magician's death.
October 21
1973—Kidnappers Cut Off Getty's Ear
After holding Jean Paul Getty III for more than three months, kidnappers cut off his ear and mail it to a newspaper in Rome. Because of a postal strike it doesn't arrive until November 8. Along with the ear is a lock of hair and ransom note that says: "This is Paul’s ear. If we don’t get some money within 10 days, then the other ear will arrive. In other words, he will arrive in little bits." Getty's grandfather, billionaire oilman Jean Paul Getty, at first refused to pay the 3.2 million dollar ransom, then negotiated it down to 2.8 million, and finally agreed to pay as long as his grandson repaid the sum at 4% interest.
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