(The "LATE ADDITION" on Sunday, February 3rd that was right here, up-top, was moved to its own Sunday edition. Here's the full Feb. 1 edition as originally published.)
NOTE: This is a special NEWS edition. Fresh MUSIC NEWS, more reports on the giant NAMM Show, and a major update of EVENTS will be along soon.
Those new events will feature more than we currently list in our last events edition. Meanwhile, that one's still there for you, useful for ongoing events and things still ahead, at:
THIS EDITION tells you all about this weekend's annual "FREE MUSEUM DAY" after we visit a pair of tragic anniversaries -- and the greater tragedy of a neglected legacy that remains unfulfilled from them.
Unlike the breathless, relentlessly Trumpcentric headless-Chicken-Little obsession of corporate mainstream cable news, the story we present here is something everyone should know -- for the sake of cultural and historical literacy, and to appreciate sacrifices made in the name of peace -- for the future we were supposed to have, before it was robbed from us.
REMEMBERING LOST LEGACIES IN A PAIR OF SAD ANNIVERSARIES
January 28 & February 1 -- two Space Shuttle Orbiters lost with their crews. It left an inconsistent commitment and maddeningly uncertain future for all of us
As America continues the need to hitch a ride into space aboard Russia's Soyuz -- having put ourselves out of the manned space launch business because we are cheap -- we remember both the excitement and tragedy of the days of a lost future when, all too briefly, we went into space to explore.
This summer, July 20th marks the fiftieth anniversary of the first time humans set foot on another celestial object. That was the landing of Apollo 11 on the Moon, told recently from a limited perspective in the motion picture, "First Man."
That first Moon landing began an all-too-brief era when, for just over three years, Apollo and the mighty Saturn V rocket transported our species' physical selves and, even more, our imaginations and hopes for a bold spacefaring future, for what turned out to be a curtailed total of six lunar landings.
Memorials in Arlington National Cemetery: Columbia (above), Challenger (below).
Apollo was suddenly over. America's first space station, Skylab, was built from components innovatively salvaged from those cancelled Apollo missions. The same thing was true for America's half of the first instance of international cooperation in space, in the landmark, if single, Apollo-Soyuz orbital rendezvous and docking mission.
Though it had a far larger inhabitable main workshop module than anything on the ISS, and it was still very useable, Skylab was abandoned because we were cheap. It was allowed to fall back into the atmosphere and burn-up. And our space presence vanished until the Space Shuttle Orbiters were ready to fly, as big space semi-trucks with no real mission. Because we were too cheap to fund any comprehensive program to make use of its payload capability.
Just as we had been too cheap to keep the Saturn V "Moon" rocket that would have enabled us to fulfill NASA's original goal of landing astronauts on Mars by 1987.
The first of those Space Shuttle Orbiters with no real mission was named Columbia. (There's an ironic story in that naming, and we'll get to it.)
Columbia was joined by a modest fleet of orbiters. The Hubble space telescope was launched from the Shuttle's cargo bay, as a "one-off" mission, and for a brief time, secret military satellites were launched to bring extra money to an underfunded NASA. A European Space Lab was carried up, several times, aboard the orbiters. Eventually, funding was sorted-out -- more accurately, pried loose in miserly alms -- for the Shuttles to take all the sections aloft for the ISS. That's the now-aging International Space Station we know today, and have no capability to replace. Because we're cheap and we have always thrown-away our best capabilities, starting with abandoning the Saturn V which could have launched really BIG space station sections.
So we brag about the ISS, which is a severe compromise and the best we can do until it wears-out and stops working and we don't have anything. Though far more modest than originally envisioned as "Space Station Freedom," and jokingly called "Space Station Fred" after being downsized -- because we are cheap -- the lack of funding from Congress did result in a prototype of Go-Fund-Me to produce international participation. Thus, the good part is an INTERNATIONAL Space Station, instead of the U.S. and Russia each having one of their own and suspecting the other of secret military uses.
(ISS is international except for the Chinese, who are officially excluded on the basis of unanswered questions over human rights abuses, but they are really kept out because they steal everybody's technology and violate patents and intellectual property standards. With the Huawei scandal, we are beginning to see some honesty about why nobody wants to let the Chinese play, in place of the smokescreen. But that's because almighty Google has a hegemony on EVERY cel phone provider's operating system, and Google, Verizon, AT&T and the other spying telecoms don't like competition from other pirates. Which is a metaphor for what's happened with ALL the technology the US taxpayer enabled to be developed for SPACE EXPLORATION. Back to our narrative.)
In the early double-aughts, NASA had settled-in with having a fleet of big space trucks in search of something to deliver -- that is, a coherent mission -- and so it courted a gaggle of scientists and engineers, medical and materials-testing experimenters, all vying for "space" aboard the mostly-empty Shuttle. NASA's astronaut corps, wanting flight time, learned myriads of specialties to be eligible for assignment to esoteric missions. Amidst that culture, Columbia made another trip into space.
On this date in 2003, while returning from its 28th orbital mission, Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrated as a result of holes in the leading edge of its wing, as re-entry air pressure in the upper atmosphere entered the holes and tore it apart.
The holes were caused by impact strikes from chunks of insulation that peeled-off the massive external fuel tank days earlier during Columbia's rocket flight into space. The mission did not include a space walk and the Shuttle's windows did not enable a view of the damaged area, so the crew was never aware of any fatal damage, even as they perfectly completed all their mission tasks.
On the ground, a suspicion of possible launch-phase damage had brought consideration for an orbital fly-by inspection using a satellite with cameras -- but that was cancelled because "re-tasking" that satellite was opposed -- it would've expended its maneuvering fuel. And the astronauts were never told.
Photo caption: The lost crew of Columbia's 28th and final mission, killed Feb. 1, 2003. Front from left: astronauts Rick D. Husband, mission commander; Kalpana Chawla, mission specialist; and William C. McCool, pilot. Rear from left: astronauts David M. Brown, Laurel B. Clark, and Michael P. Anderson, all mission specialists; and Ilan Ramon, payload specialist, representing the Israeli Space Agency. (NASA)
Thus, with an anomalous rolling rumble of sonic booms across Texas and Louisiana, Space Shuttle Columbia -- the world’s first reusable spaceship -- tore itself to pieces, killing all seven crew members, on February 1, 2003.
At the time, it was a shock, a horrible diversion from the tragic American invasion and an occupation of Iraq that no one yet knew would be endless in a place where blood and treasure continue to be expended. But historically, the U.S. space program has always operated with high ideals proclaiming great and noble promise, against a background of national pugilism and beligerence.
No single machine at the dawn of the 21st century was so complex and impressive as the Space Shuttle Orbiter, and the military was jealous, wanting its own Space Shuttles that it planned to launch from Vandenberg on the California coast.
Columbia was the first of the operational civilian fleet. There would never be any military copies for secret missions.
By the time two Shuttles had been lost, and the military had determined that coastal winds at Vandenberg would blow-over a Shuttle on the launch pad there, it abandoned thoughts of its own fleet, and Shuttle Orbiter builder Rockwell shut-down its production capability.
Ironically, Columbia was preceded by the cosmetically-identical Enterprise. But Enterprise was built as the fleet's atmospheric flight test vehicle, incapable of space flight. Fans of "Star Trek," in their zealous demand that Enterprise be "first," caused the name to be applied to the only one that couldn't go "where no one had gone before." Otherwise, Columbia would have been Enterprise, and vice-versa.
Columbia therefore became the first Space Shuttle Orbiter to fly in space, and the second of two that was catastrophically lost with its entire crew.
Most people know that Challenger's lost crew included the first-ever public school teacher chosen by NASA to fly in space. Her name was Christa McAuliffe, and her extensive lesson plans were never shared with the world's students. No other teachers would be subsequently chosen. Oh, and until the teacher was given priority, NASA planned to send artists, poets, and songwriters. According to some sources, the first of them was to have been singer-songwriter John Denver.
Today in L.A.'s Little Tokyo, a street is named "Astronaut Elizon Onizuka Street" in honor of one of the lost Challenger seven, and it bears a monument to that crew.
We were supposed to land astronauts on Mars in 1987. It still hasn't happened, and the Saturn V which would have enabled it is as extinct as the dodo. We're still waiting, nearly half-a-century later, for something that can lift as much now as we could then.
Some will note that the Russian Soyuz was first built as the contemporary of Apollo. The only Apollo hardware left is in museums. Not exactly the best place for things that work well when you have no replacements for those things. You've gotta hand it to the Russians. They never threw away their investment. Soyuz is, at present, the world's only crew-carrying spacecraft. The one we hire to give our people rides, since we threw away all our manned spacecraft. Because we were cheap.
Hell, we've never even returned to the Moon, much less built the promised array of radio telescopes on its far side, to listen to the universe without all of civilization's cacaphonous noise drowning-out any ET phoning home. Now the Chinese, who signed none of those 1960s space treaties with us or the Russians, are poised with their new robot landers to do what the rest of us are prohibited from doing -- file mining claims, tear things up exploiting mineral wealth, and claim the Moon for themselves.
One could make quite a case that being cheap not only leads to being insular, but blissfully ignorant. It makes you a dumbass, as an individual or a society or a species awaiting another asteroid like the one that found the dinosaurs.
In short, "our future" that we never had was sabotaged. Because instead of creating and exploring and discovering and learning, we have repeatedly allowed our "leaders" to spend our money on really stupid wars, and then tell us we are mired in deficits, can't afford anything for human needs or human progress or culture and art and inspiration, so we have no choice but to be responsible and be cheap.
Fact is, we have been complacent with being too cheap to take care of ANY of the legacies we were given that were paid for by our forebears. From bridges and dams and waterways and an interstate highway system to National Parks to Saturn V's and a world at peace in Tokyo Bay.
Thus we are mired in a present that betrays what was supposed to be our future. The promise of technological innovations isn't about ion propulsion or clean power that won't bake our atmosphere. It's about bisphenol-A plastics in our bloodstreams, plastic patches the size of New Zealand poisoning the life in our oceans, and our air-conditioned oblivion, narcissistically cocooned in self-indulgent escapism or exploitive enrichment. It's about living and dying by the stock market's lemminglike surges while being predictively analyzed and robbed of privacy so we can lose ourselves in apps that harvest every personal detail and casual whim and use them to create preferences that can be profitably marketed to control our opinions before we think we are the ones formulating them.
It's a model for concentrating wealth that has nothing to do with producing needed goods for the benefit of all. It's about the continuous benefit through short-term profit-taking for those who can expolitively do it. And so their profits must come from somewhere on a planet of finite resources. So while being anesthetized and traumatized and distracted by obfuscation, we supply what was once called the wealth of nations, but is now the wealth of transnational oligarchs on their way to making nation-states subservient to their personal profit-taking.
It's not a separate or isolated matter that trade unions and labor unions are eliminated. Any more that the fact we pay more for health care, per capita, than the citizens of any nation, yet they have health care for all their citizens and we do not. The propaganda of our oligarchs just works better on us than it does elsewhere, and nothing like it was foreseen as part of that bright future where human potential enabled discovery, exploration, creativity, and an evolutionary step in personal fulfillment to uplift the species.
Even as many of our damaged war veterans are hopelessly homeless, our best and brightest cannot afford higher education. Even as we cut taxes for a numerically tiny oligarch class that owns ninety-five percent of all that can be owned, and a lot that shouldn't be owned by anybody.
We are made to feel responsible as we systematically deprive ourselves of human progress, while our oblivious immersion in social media and our cable news purveyors sheepdip us in endless distractions and diversions of Trumpcentric emotionally-fired outrage counterbalanced with numbing pablum. All while our inability to provide affordable education irrevocably degrades the competitive position of our nation in a global marketplace.
And that is the ultimate and resounding tragedy of the promised future we never had.
Museums! Annual "Free-For-All Day" is Saturday & Sunday, February 2 & 3, 2019
Dozens of museums throughout Southern California — presenting art, cultural heritage, natural history, and science — open their doors and invite visitors to attend their museums free of charge on Saturday or Sunday or both, one weekend a year.
This offer is for general museum admission only and does not apply to specially ticketed exhibitions. Regular parking fees apply at each museum, so ride the Metro light rail or even the buses where possible.
Consult individual museum websites for hours, directions, and other visitor information. Just put the particular institution in your browser -- we couldn't bog-down this story with all the links.
Yes, we gave you all this in a chockful EVENTS edition a month in advance. Now we're following-up with this NEWS feature just before it happens. (Prod-prod, nudge-nudge already! Eh!?) C'mon folks, rain or not, this is too good to miss!
Both Saturday & Sunday
Armory Center for the Arts
Automobile Driving Museum
The Broad (Free advance general admission tickets strongly recommended to avoid waiting in the standby line. Visit www.thebroad.org to make a reservation.)
California African American Museum
California Science Center (General admission only. A timed reservation with a convenience fee is required for Space Shuttle.)
Forest Lawn Museum
Fowler Museum at UCLA
Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art
The Getty Center
The Getty Villa (Timed tickets are required for the Getty Villa. Visit www.getty.edu to make a reservation.)
Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles
Laguna Art Museum
La Plaza de Cultura y Artes
Los Angeles Contemporary Exhibitions
Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust
The Museum of Contemporary Art
Orange County Museum of Art
Pomona College Museum of Art
Sunnylands Center & Gardens
USC Pacific Asia Museum
Academy Museum of Motion Pictures (Opening late 2019; Free-for-All pop-up accessible via Los Angeles County Museum of Art)
Autry Museum of the American West
Columbia Memorial Space Center
Descanso Gardens (Free tickets available at descansogardens.org/tickets.)
Japanese American National Museum (Free tickets available at janm.org/freeforall.)
Kidspace Children’s Museum
La Brea Tar Pits and Museum (General admission only; free tickets available at tarpits.org/freeforall.)
Los Angeles County Museum of Art
*** NOTE: due to weather concerns, the Rancho Santa Ana Botanic Garden will be closed.
Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and Sea Center (Museum admission only)
Santa Barbara Museum of Art
USC Fisher Museum of Art
Wende Museum of the Cold War
Muckenthaler Cultural Center
Museum of Latin American Art
Museum of Tolerance
Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County (General admission only; free tickets available at nhm.org/freeforall.)
Palm Springs Art Museum
Skirball Cultural Center (Noah’s Ark timed-entry, one-hour tickets are limited and distributed first-come, first-served.)
The University Art Museum at California State University, Long Beach
Valley Relics Museum
Zimmer Children’s Museum by Sharewell
More info at these two sites:
That's all for this edition. Stay tuneful!
We'll be back again soon with music news and more "News of the Non-Trumpcentric Universe." (c)
LEGALESE, CONTACTING US, 'N SUCH...
Boilerplate? Where's the main pressure gauge? And the firebox?
What "boilerplate"? Who came up with that goofy term for the basic essential informational stuff...
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♪ The ACOUSTIC AMERICANA MUSIC GUIDE endeavors to bring you NEWS – and views of interest to artists everywhere – more specifically to musicians and the creative community and music makers and fans of acoustic and Folk-Americana music. That includes both traditional and innovative forms. From the deepest roots to today’s acoustic renaissance, that’s our beat. We provide a wealth of resources, including a HUGE catalog of acoustic-friendly venues (now undergoing a major update), and inside info on FESTIVALS and select performances in Southern California in venues from the monumentally large to the intimately small and cozy. We cover workshops, conferences, and other events for artists and folks in the music industry, and all kinds o’ things in the world of acoustic and Americana and accessible classical music. From washtub bass to musical spoons to oboe to viola to banjo to squeezebox, from Djangostyle to new-fangled-old-time string band music, from sweet Cajun fiddle to bluegrass and pre-bluegrass Appalachian mountain music to all the swamp water roots of the blues and the bright lights of where the music is headed now.
The Acoustic Americana Music Guide. Thanks for sittin' a spell. The cyber porch'll be here anytime you come back from the road.