February 1964: Pierre Brassau

A 4 1/2-year-old chimpanzee namd Peter lives in an animal park in Goteborg, Sweden. Last fall a couple of newspapermen on the Goteborgs-Tidningen got the idea that maybe Peter could paint pictures. On the sly, they gave the chimp a palette, paints, brushes and canvas, and Peter promptly set to work. Recently the newspapermen picked out four of Peter's better paintings and slipped them into a local art show to see what the critics would say. The paintings were signed Pierre Brassau, who was described as an unknown French painter. The critics fell for the monkey business, especially Rolf Anderberg of the morning Posten, who wrote rapturously: "Pierre Brassau paints with powerful strokes but also with clear determination. His brush strokes twist with a furious fastidiousness on the canvas." Critic Anderberg then went on to compare Pierre with another painter in the show. The other painter, Anderberg wrote, was ponderous but "Pierre is an artist who performs with the delicacy of a ballet dancer." When the hoax was revealed, Anderberg was bitter. He insisted that Pierre's work was "still the best painting in the exhibition." He may be right. A private collector bought one canvas for $90.
     -- "Monkey Business," Sports Illustrated, February 24, 1964
* Summary from The Museum of Hoaxes: @
* Winners of 2013 Chimpanzee Art Contest (from The Humane Society of the United States): @ 


Tuesday, February 25, 1964: Cassius Clay

Jabbing, jabbering Cassius Clay ruled as heavyweight champion of the world today in an unbelievable upset at Miami Beach because of one punch -- and he didn't even throw it. Sonny Liston, the supposedly unconquerable "killer," threw the punch and when it missed the follow-through, twisted a tendon in his massive left shoulder.
     -- The Miami News (link: @)

Tuesday night was the night that was for Cassius Clay. He became heavyweight boxing champion of the world -- just like he said he would. He didn't do it so much with his fists, or his fast talk for which he is noted, but with an "injury" to his opponent, Charles "Sonny" Liston. 
     -- United Press International (link: @)

Cassius Clay, a 7-1 longshot, scored one of the major upsets in boxing history Tuesday night when Sonny Liston gave up the world heavyweight title in his corner because of a strained left shoulder.
     -- Associated Press (link: @)

Incredibly, the loud-mouthed bragging, insulting youngster had been telling the truth all along. Cassius Clay won the world heavyweight title tonight when a bleeding Sonny Liston, his left shoulder injured, was unable to answer the bell for the seventh round.
     -- The New York Times (link to PDF: @)

Like the Lord High Executioner getting ready for another payday, Sonny Liston fixed a fresh victim with his famous full-whammy stare. Cassius Clay didn't pay much attention. Taunting, jabbing and above all, staying out of range of the champ's left hook, Clay simply kept his mind on proving that, as he had so often noted, "I am the greatest!"
     -- Life magazine (March 6; link: @)

There is no terror, Cassius, in your threats.
-- Julius Caesar, Act IV, Scene 3
     But there was. In Miami Beach last week, Cassius Marcellus Clay Jr. acted out a scene that was worthy of the Old Bard himself -- or maybe P.T. Barnum. Just as he said he would, he took the heavyweight championship of the world away from Charles ("Sonny") Liston, thereby proving that the mouth is faster than the eye.
     -- Time magazine (March 6; subscription-only link: @)

It was, no matter what you have read or heard, an enormously exciting fight. It matched the classic contenders for a heavyweight championship of the world -- a beautiful, controlled boxer against a man who could hit with deadly power. The fight -- Clay against Liston -- restored balance and intelligence to the concept of boxing. The boxer, using his skills with aplomb and courage and forethought, confounded and defeated the slugger.
     -- Sports Illustrated magazine (March 9; link: @)

The February 25 midnight "Victory Party" planned for Sonny Liston at Miami Beach's luxurious Fontainebleau Hotel was canceled due to the lack of a guest of honor. 
     -- Jet magazine (March 12; link: @)

     -- Photo by Associated Press

January 27
"Fighter Cassius Clay Has Keen Interest in Muslims" (New York Herald Tribune): @

February 28
"Cassius Clay Admits Adoption of Black Muslim Membership" (Associated Press): @
"Cassius Clay Admits He's a Black Muslim" (Associated Press): @
"Clay Admits Joining Black Muslims Sect" (United Press International): @

March 7
Elijah Muhammad, leader of the Black Muslims, Friday night bestowed upon heavyweight champion Cassius Clay the name "Muhammad Ali." (Associated Press): @

* Video of fight: @
* Excerpt from "Bert Sugar on Boxing" (2003): @
* "Ali and Liston: The Boy Who Would Be King and the Ugly Bear" (Bob Mee, 2011): @
* "The Devil and Sonny Liston" (Nick Tosches, 2000): @ 


Thursday, February 13, 1964: Hand transplant

     A surgical "first" at this time of hope was carried out in February 1964 at the Clinica Guayaquil, Ecuador, on a soldier who lost a hand after a grenade accident. The prolonged operation using a hand from a cadaveric donor was apparently technically successful, and the immunosuppression was monitored with the help of advice via telephone from Richard Wilson of the Peter Bent Brigham Hospital in Boston. Wilson then traveled to Ecuador and, after assessing the situation, transferred the patient to Boston, but twenty-one days after the transplant, rejection forced removal of the hand.
     -- From "A History of Organ Transplantation" (David Hamilton, 2012)

* "First Transplant of Human Limb Works" (United Press International, February 25, 1964): @
* "Dr. Wilson Consults on History-Making Homograft" (The Townsman, Wellesley, Massachusetts, February 27): @
* "A new option for amputees: Transplantation of the hand" (Christina L. Kaufman et al; from Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development, 2009): @
* "History and Ethics of Hand Transplants" (Michael Errico et al; from Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, October 2012): @
* "Hand transplantation" (Bardia Amirlak et al; from Medscape): @
* www.handtransplant.com: @


Febuary 7-9, 1964: The Beatles in America

February 7
     Multiply Elvis Presley by four, subtract six years from his age, add British accents and a sharp sense of humor. The answer: It's the Beatles (Yeah, Yeah, Yeah). The rock 'n' roll group, which may become Britain's most successful export since the bowler, arrived at Kennedy International Airport yesterday and more than 3,000 teen-agers stood four deep on the upper arcade at the International Arrivals Building to greet them. (The New York Times, February 8; link: @
     -- Photo by Harry Benson

* "Four Screaming Mopheads Break Up England: Here Come Those Beatles" (Life magazine, January 31): @
* Video excerpts from press conference: @ 
* Press conference transcript (from www.beatlesinterviews.org): @ 
* "Beatle Hysteria Hits US" (The Guardian, February 8): @
* "The Beatles' American Invasion Begins" (from The Beatles Bible): @
* "Turn Left at Greenland Or How The Beatles Came to America" (Bruce Spizer, 2006, from www.beatlesagain.com): @ 
* Newsreel (from Critical Past): @
* Same newsreel (with British voice-over; from British Pathe): @

February 9
     The Beatles -- four British lads who sing when they are not busy running away from barbers -- made their American television debut tonight -- and some things may never be the same. (Associated Press, February 9; link: @)
     -- Photos by CBS

* Video (from Jukebo.com): @
* "Screaming Teen-Age Fans Almost Outdo British Singers in Dramatic Capers" (AP, February 10): @
* "Boys With Shaggy Heads Found Boring by Critic" (United Press International, February 10): @
* "U.S. Rocks & Reels from Beatles' Invasion" (Billboard, February 15): @
* "The Unbarbershopped Quartet" (Time, February 21; image from www.beatlefan.net): @
* "Bugs About Beatles" (Newsweek cover story, February 24; image from www.beatlefan.net): @
* "Yeah! Yeah! Yeah! Music's Gold Bugs: The Beatles" (Al Aronowitz, Saturday Evening Post, March 21): @
*"Beatles: The Day They Hit U.S.A." (AP, February 1984): @ 
* "The Beatles' First Ed Sullivan Show" (from The Beatles Bible): @
* "The Story Behind The Beatles on Ed Sullivan" (Bruce Spizer, 2006, from www.beatlesagain.com): @
* "Beatles in America" (from The Pop History Dig): @
* "The Beatles' U.S. Invasion" (CBS News): @ 
* "All-Time Television Rankings" (2004; from www.thefab40.com): @ 


Friday, February 7, 1964: Byron De La Beckwith mistrial

An all-white jury was unable to reach a decision Friday after trying for 11 hours to decide if Byron De La Beckwith assassinated Negro leader Medgar Evers and a mistrial was declared. 
     -- United Press International; full story: @
     -- Photo from Corbis Images. Caption reads: Jackson, Mississippi: Byron De La Beckwith, 43, went on trial here early January 27 for the ambush slaying last year of Negro leader Medgar Evers. Sheriff Fred Pickett, recalling the racial bitterness in the city after the slaying, has placed heavy security on trial arrangements. This photo was made last June as Beckwith was taken to the State Mental Hospital at Whitfield for tests. No pictures will be made during the trial of him.

* "Mistrial Declared in Beckwith Case" (UPI, February 7): @
* "Beckwith Case Ruled Mistrial" (Associated Press, February 7): @
* Earlier post on the death of Medgar Evers (June 12, 1963): @ 


Tuesday, February 4, 1964: Drinking and driving

"The Role of the Drinking Driver in Traffic Accidents," also known as the Grand Rapids Study, is published by Robert F. Borkenstein et al. for Indiana University's Department of Police Administration. A summary of its findings, from "Alcohol and Road Accidents" (Australia Legislative Council, 1970; link: @):

The probability of accident involvement increases rapidly at alcohol levels over .08 percent and becomes extremely high at levels over .15 percent. ... Drivers with an alcohol level of .06 percent have an estimated probability of causing an accident double that of a sober driver. Drivers with .10 percent B.A.L. are from six to seven times as likely to cause an accident as one with .00 percent alcohol level. When the .15 percent alcohol level is reached, the probability of causing an accident is estimated at more than 25 times the probability for that of a sober driver.

* Robert F. Borkenstein papers, Indiana University (follow link to see entire study): @
* "Professor Robert F. Borkenstein -- An Appreciation of His Life and Work" (from The Robert F. Borkenstein Course, Center for Studies of Law in Action, Indiana University): @
* "Grand Rapids Effects Revisited: Accidents, Alcohol and Risk" (Kruger et al., 1995, from Schaffer Library of Drug Policy): @
* "Driver Characteristics and Impairment at Various BACs" (from National Highway Traffic Safety Administration): @
* "Alcohol-Related Morbidity and Mortality" (from National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2003): @ 

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