Kool & The Gang - February 6, 2014

Not long ago, the American Treasure Tour bloggers received a request by a member of the "Fans of the Music Room," who felt that we have been spending a little too much time discussing the treasures of the Toy Box, and asked if we could maybe return to the record albums on the walls of the Music Room.  We are happy to oblige, and will start by talking about musical legends Kool & the Gang!

Kool & the Gang were formed in Jersey City, New Jersey by two brothers:  Robert and Ronald Bell.  In 1964, they got together with three friends from high school and named their new band the Jazziacs.  Initially jazz purists, they experimented with different sounds and, after a few name and line-up changes, they began to explore R & B, soul, and funk.  They recorded their self-titled first album in 1969, which thrust them into an international fame that wouldn't subside for decades.  By the early-1970s they added disco to their sound.  1980 introduced Celebrate!  to the world, including their international sensation "Celebration," a song that still receives substantial airplay on the radio and at wedding receptions everywhere.  Still putting out albums, Kool & the Gang continues to perform fifty years after the brothers first picked up their instruments.

QUESTION:

Which Kool & the Gang song was featured on the soundtrack for the popular 1994 Quentin Tarantino movie Pulp Fiction?

a)  "Cherish"

b)  "Celebration"

c)  "Jungle Boogie"

d)  "Ladies Night"

e)  "Hollywood Swinging"

Answer Below

HISTORY TODAY:

On this day in 1788, Massachusetts became the sixth state to ratify the new Constitution that was written in Philadelphia the year before to secure the alliance between the thirteen colonies that won independence from Great Britain.  The colony where the first shots of the Revolution were fired took a little while before it signed on with the new government, but it was a turning point in ratification, as the support of this populous state was necessary to ensure the success of the United States.  The New England state remains very important in politics to this day - although the seventh smallest state in the union, Massachusetts is also the third most densely-populated.

There are certain names every good American has heard of:  Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Edison, Bill Gates.  But then there are names deserving of attention that have slipped through the cracks of history.  John Stevens, we believe, is one of them.  On this day in 1815, John Stevens was granted a charter by the state of New Jersey for the first American railroad.  Nine years earlier, his was the first steamboat, the Phoenix, to travel on open water.  It navigated from Hoboken, New Jersey to Philadelphia, a substantial journey at the time.  His railroad company, the United New Jersey Railroad and Canal Company, laid track between New Brunswick and Trenton, New Jersey.  A small step by today's standards, but a pivotal one.

BIRTHDAYS:

As mentioned in the story of John Stevens, history can be a fickle beast.  Aaron Burr is one person for whom posterity has definitely been unkind.  Born on this day in 1756, Burr's contribution to the new United States has been overwhelmed by the notoriety of his later years.  He was a capable soldier during the American Revolution, and he was also a politician of notable skill - such that he was selected to run as vice president in the 1800 election.  The election process had some flaws at the time that have since been repaired, but he and presidential hopeful Thomas Jefferson butted heads at the time.  Jefferson never forgave him for the confusion.  Meanwhile, Alexander Hamilton was also not a member of the Aaron Burr fan club.  There was a duel, Hamilton was killed, and Burr's political career was destroyed.  Then there was the whole treason trial, during which Jefferson tried to get Burr sentenced to death.  A real mess.  (Spoiler alert:  the anniversaries of some of these events are right around the corner.  Keep checking out the blog for more on these events!) Honestly, he is a fascinating character, and worth your time if you want to read about a man whose life was ... shall we say, not boring?

103 years ago today, a baby boy was born in a second-floor apartment in the small town of Tampico, Illinois who would grow up to accomplish many things during his rich, full life.  He would be a radio personality, a noted actor in film and television whose career spanned four decades, but most of all he was a politician.  He served as governor of California and in 1980 he was elected the 44th President of the United States.  Ronald Reagan dominated the Eighties with his charismatic smile and his efforts to bring an end to the Cold War not quite fought against the Soviet Union that dominated life in America since the end of World War II.  His infectious optimism filled Americans with a sense of pride in their country after their long struggle under the shadows of Watergate, Vietnam and the Energy Crisis.  Happy birthday, Ron!

Another birthday deserving to be celebrated is that of the divine Zsa Zsa Gabor.  The Hungarian-born American was born today in 1917.  At the age of fifteen, she was crowned Miss Hungary in a beauty contest, and it was all uphill from there.  She moved to the United States at the age of 24, where her exotic look and thick accent proved appealing to Hollywood casting agents.  She acted in a score of movies and made dozens of television appearances, but Zsa Zsa is really more famous because of who she is than what she has accomplished, a consummate celebrity.  Married seven times, she and her famous sister Eva were mainstays in the Hollywood social scene during the peak of their careers.  Happy 97th, Zsa Zsa!

QUOTE:  

Never do today what you can do tomorrow.  Something may occur to make you regret your premature action. - Aaron Burr

Answer:  "Jungle Boogie"