Intl. Notebook Apr 29 2010
CHASING AMY
Flame of the Barbary Coast.

This is the oldest tabloid we’ve managed to locate so far. No surprise it’s The National Police Gazette, which began publishing in 1845. This issue, printed on pink cover stock, is from April 1941 and features burlesque dancer Amy Fong. Fong gained fame stripping at Charlie Low’s renowned San Francisco club Forbidden City, starring in a revue called China Dolls. It could have been “doll”, singular, because Fong was the only Chinese, or indeed, even Asian, dancer in the show. Forbidden City—located in an area of San Fran that once was home to its infamous Barbary Coast vice district—mainly catered to Chinese patrons, but Fong became popular enough to go mainstream, and toured nationally with revues like Modes and Models, Sunkist Vanities, and Moonlight Maids, always as the only Asian performer.

We think her story is probably real interesting, considering the time period involved and the probability that many Americans likely did not consider her ethnicity distinct from that of the Japanese enemy they were fighting in the Pacific, but she’s one of those figures we lose in the mists of time. We know she announced her retirement in 1942, but she must have made a comeback, because we found a flyer of a performance in Pittsburgh from 1949. After that, nothing. Maybe one day more information will appear on Ms. Fong and we’ll learn this pioneering woman’s full story. Until then, we’ll have to make do with hearsay and a few photos.

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History Rewind
The headlines that mattered yesteryear.
March 22
1963—Profumo Denies Affair
In England, the Secretary of State for War, John Profumo, denies any impropriety with showgirl Christine Keeler and threatens to sue anyone repeating the allegations. The accusations involve not just infidelity, but the possibility acquaintances of Keeler might be trying to ply Profumo for nuclear secrets. In June, Profumo finally resigns from the government after confessing his sexual involvement with Keeler and admitting he lied to parliament.
1978—Karl Wallenda Falls to His Death
World famous German daredevil and high-wire walker Karl Wallenda, founder of the acrobatic troupe The Flying Wallendas, falls to his death attempting to walk on a cable strung between the two towers of the Condado Plaza Hotel in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Wallenda is seventy-three years old at the time, but it is a 30 mph wind, rather than age, that is generally blamed for sending him from the wire.
2006—Swedish Spy Stig Wennerstrom Dies
Swedish air force colonel Stig Wennerström, who had been convicted in the 1970s of passing Swedish, U.S. and NATO secrets to the Soviet Union over the course of fifteen years, dies in an old age home at the age of ninety-nine. The Wennerström affair, as some called it, was at the time one of the biggest scandals of the Cold War.
March 21
1963—Alcatraz Closes
The federal penitentiary located on Alcatraz Island in San Francisco Bay closes. The island had been home to a lighthouse, a military fortification, and a military prison over the years. In 1972, it would become a national recreation area open to tourists, and it would receive national landmark designations in 1976 and 1986.
March 20
1916—Einstein Publishes General Relativity
German-born theoretical physicist Albert Einstein publishes his general theory of relativity. Among the effects of the theory are phenomena such as the curvature of space-time, the bending of rays of light in gravitational fields, faster than light universe expansion, and the warping of space time around a rotating body.
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