On this day in 1473, Marie Theresa became Queen of Bohemia. Holy Roman Emperor Charles VII lost Bavaria, when allied French troops had to retreat to the Rhine River. Bohemia, incidentally, if we were in Geography class, is the westernmost region of what is now the Czech Republic. Then nomadic Romani people in France were called bohemian, thought to have traveled to Paris from Bohemia. So how did this word travel from mid-century Europe and end up on the online sales pages of Urban Outfitters you ask? The starving artist communities in the Latin Quarter of course, solidified to their pages of history by Henry Murger’s novel Scenes de la Vie de Boheme that became Puccini’s 1896 opera La Bohème.
After the 1890’s, the planks were laid for tortured and impoverished artists and writers to walk for at least some part of their formative years. Those asshole starving artists. Also delete that boho vest and vintage concert tee from your cart. No one looks good in fringe.
German chemist Justus von Liebig (now that is an excellent, made up name) was born in 1803. He is considered the founder of organic chemistry. Also, organic only means that a substance has carbon bonds, it doesn’t mean that the baked goods at your local natural foodstore are any better for you. It doesn’t mean they aren’t (but it probably means they won’t taste as good). Incidentally, von Liebig also founded the Liebig’s Extract of Meat Company, after he developed a process of manufacturing beef extract.
Florence Nightingale was born today in 1820. Though she is remembered for her nursing skills, she was also a statistician. Possibly I listened to too many Disney records on repeat growing up, but whenever I hear her name, I go right to Anastasia and Drizella’s singing lesson Cinderella, in which the tune of Sing Sweet Nightingale is sung very, very badly, and immediately after that, a Mary Poppins “Dreadful!” chimes in behind it. We were left alone a lot as kids. Moving on.
English poet, illustrator, and musician Edward Lear was born today in 1812. He published a number of works, including the Book of Nonsense; Illustrated Excursions in Italy; Mount Timohorit, Albania; Journal of a Landscape Painter in Greece and Albania; Nonsense Songs and Stories; Tortoises, Terrapins, and Turtles; and (my favorite) Illustrations of the Family of Psittacidae, or Parrots, a volume of 42 color illustrations of parrots.
Katherine Hepburn was born today in 1907; painter Frank Stella in 1936, and George Carlin in 1937. Also, Emilio Esztevez was born in 1962, let us not forget him. He’s had it hard enough playing second fiddle to Charlie Sheen his whole goddamned life. Also did you know he was married to Paula Abdul in the 1990’s? Maybe I used to know this and forgot, but now I feel like it will be in that good ol’ rolodex for good.
For those that met their tragic and/or wholly anticipating and fitting ends on this day:
Eutychius, patriarch of Alexandria in 940; Liutold of Eppenstein, duke of Carinthia, in 1090; and naturalist Abraham Trembley, in 1784. His Wikipedia page says that he was one of the first to develop “experimental zoology.” I don’t know what that is, but it sounds very unhygienic, and I hope you stay out of it. Or at the very least wear shower shoes.
And with that, I will leave you to nap away this afternoon’s bucatini bender, with a nonsense poem by Edward Lear. Call your mother.