Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents
Your editor has been a
musician for many decades. He started the first band his Quaker
school ever had and played drums with bands up until 1980 when
he switched to stride piano. He had his own band until the mid-1990s
and has played with the New Sunshine Jazz Band, Hill City Jazz
Band, Not So Modern Jazz Band and the Phoenix Jazz Band.
APEX BLUES Sam
playing with the Phoenix Jazz Band at the Central Ohio Jazz festival
in 1990. Joining the band is George James on sax. James, then
84, had been a member of the Louis Armstrong and Fats Waller
orchestras and hadappeared on some 60 records.More
notes on James
Our recent report on the 1917 Halifax explosion inspired a number of readers to point our other large explosions. Here are several of them, asdecribed by Wikipedia:
The Port Chicago disaster was a deadly explosion that took place on July 17, 1944, at the Port Chicago Naval Magazine in Port Chicago, California, in the United States. Munitions, which were being loaded aboard a cargo vessel bound for the Pacific Theater of Operations, detonated, killing 320 sailors and civilians and injuring 390 others. Most of the dead and injured were enlisted African-American sailors.
A month later, continuing unsafe conditions inspired hundreds of servicemen to refuse to load munitions, an act known as the Port Chicago Mutiny. Fifty men, called the Port Chicago 50, were convicted of mutiny and sentenced to long prison terms. Forty-seven of the 50 were released in January 1946; the remaining three served additional months in prison.
The London Beer Flood occurred on October 16, 1814 in the London parish of St. Giles in the United Kingdom. At the Meux and Company Brewery on Tottenham Court Road, a huge vat containing over 135,000 imperial gallons (610,000 l) of beer ruptured, causing other vats in the same building to succumb in a domino effect. As a result, more than 323,000 imperial gallons (1,470,000 l) of beer burst out and gushed into the streets. The wave of beer destroyed two homes and crumbled the wall of the Tavistock Arms Pub, trapping the barmaid under the rubble.
The brewery was located among the poor houses and tenements of the St Giles Rookery, where whole families lived in basement rooms that quickly filled with beer. The wave left nine people dead: eight due to drowning and one from alcohol poisoning.
The Boston Molasses Disaster, also known as the Great Molasses Flood and the Great Boston Molasses Tragedy, occurred on January 15, 1919, in the North End neighborhood of Boston, Massachusetts in the United States. A large molasses storage tank burst, and a wave of molasses rushed through the streets at an estimated 35 mph, killing 21 and injuring 150. The event has entered local folklore, and residents claim that on hot summer days, the area still smells of molasses.
The disaster occurred at the Purity Distilling Company facility on January 15, 1919, an unusually warm day. . . Near Keany Square, at 529 Commercial Street, a huge molasses tank 50 ft tall, 90 ft in diameter and containing as much as 2,300,000 US gal collapsed. Witnesses stated that as it collapsed, there was a loud rumbling sound like a machine gun as the rivets shot out of the tank, and that the ground shook as if a train were passing by.
The collapse unleashed an immense wave of molasses between 8 and 15 ft high, moving at 35 mph. The molasses wave was of sufficient force to break the girders of the adjacent Boston Elevated Railway's Atlantic Avenue structure and lift a train off the tracks. Nearby, buildings were swept off their foundations and crushed. Several blocks were flooded to a depth of 2 to 3. As described by author Stephen Puleo,
The Boston Globe reported that people "were picked up by a rush of air and hurled many feet." Others had debris hurled at them from the rush of sweet-smelling air. A truck was picked up and hurled into BostonHarbor. Approximately 150 were injured; 21 people and several horses were killed — some were crushed and drowned by the molasses. The wounded included people, horses, and dogs; coughing fits became one of the most common ailments after the initial blast.