July 12, 1979: Disco Demolition Night ends badly. The promotional event took place at Comiskey Park in Chicago, Illinois. The Chicago White Sox were hosting a doubleheader against the Detroit Tigers. A May 2 game between the two teams had been rained out. The doubleheader, called a twi-night (where the first game was played earlier in the day and the second game starting before 5 PM so both games could be seen for the price of a single ticket) was held on a Thursday. It was the first of a four-game weekend series between Chicago and Detroit.
Chicago disc jockey Steve Dahl had been fired after the radio station he worked at went from rock to an all-disco format. Dahl was hired at another album-oriented rock station and began disparaging disco, going so far as to create a mock organization called, “The Insane Coho Lips Anti-Disco Army.” He and his radio partner, Garry Meier planned a Disco Demolition Night to be held between the two baseball games. Mike Veeck, son of then-owner of the White Sox, Bill Veeck, helped the men plan the event. Dahl’s new radio station, WLUP at 97.9 FM allowed fans to bring a disco album to destroy in exchange for an admission fee of 98¢ (the station’s dial number).
Crowds for a Thursday game were about 6,000 and the promoters were hoping to double that figure. Instead, about 90,000 people tried to enter the 52,000 seat stadium. People were milling about the stadium and the roads leading in were blocked by traffic. The first game was played, although authorities now say there was a strong smell of marijuana present. Between the two games, a bin set in center field with all the disco records was brought out and Dahl set off explosives to destroy the hated music.
It not only destroyed the music, but tore up the outfield and even started a small fire. Dahl exited the field and immediately, thousands of fans streamed in. Some started other fires, some tore up more of the field, and even the bases were stolen. The police were called in to quell the riot. Six people reported minor injuries and another 36 were arrested. The second game was called and eventually was forfeited to the Tigers, the last American League game to have to forfeit due to rioting from the fans. The last game in the National League to end this way was in August 1995. Mike Veeck was blacklisted from Major League Baseball. Dahl continues to work as a DJ and write for the Chicago Tribune, as well. Disco’s demise was hastened by the event.
The second that first guy shimmied down the outfield wall, I knew my life was over! – Mike Veeck
Disco dancing is just the steady thump of a giant moron knocking in an endless nail. – Clive James
Disco deserved a better name, a beautiful name because it was a beautiful art form. It made the consumer beautiful. The consumer was the star. – Barry White
I feel the same way about disco as I do about herpes. – Hunter S. Thompson
Also on this day:
July 12, 1933: The US Congress passes the first minimum wage law for America. The law made it mandatory that US workers make at least thirty-three cents per hour. Workers’ rights were first brought to attention in Victoria, Australia in 1824 when the Factories Act provided the creation of a wages board. It was not a universal minimum wage, but rather set basic wages within six industries, all noted for paying low wages. This first act was a trial and the experiment was to last four years. The board was renewed in 1900 and made a permanent fixture in 1904. By that time, wages for 150 different industries were being monitored. It was however, a local phenomenon and in 1902 other areas of Australia also created boards.
New Zealand enacted the first national minimum wage laws in 1824 and unlike Victoria, these were enforced by compulsory arbitration. In 1907, the British sent Ernest Aves out to investigate both Australia’s and New Zealand’s laws. His report sent back to Winston Churchill was positive and Churchill introduced the Trade Boards Act on March 24, 1909 and it passed and went into effect in 1910. In the US, some states started to enact wage laws as early as 1912 but they were more protective laws and did not cover everyone. They only protected women and children and were later ruled illegal.
On this day, the National Industrial Recovery Act set a standard for pay, but in 1935 Schechter Poultry Corp. v. United States brought the idea before the Supreme Court who declared the law unconstitutional. After this, the minimum wage was abolished. However, Congress again passed a law in 1938, the Fair Labor Standards Act. This law ensured workers made twenty-five cents per hour ($3.77 in 2010 dollars). The highest purchasing power of the minimum wage in the US was in 1968 when the bar was set at $1.60 per hour or $9.86 in 2010 dollars.
National minimum wages are not posted throughout the world. In fact, only 18 out of 27 member states of the European Union have a national law. Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Switzerland, German, Austria, Italy, and Cyprus have no laws but depend on employers or trade unions to set wages. In the US, most states also have their own minimum wages laws. Only South Carolina, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana do not. Sixteen states have a minimum wage that is set higher than the national wage of $7.25.
“I don’t pay good wages because I have a lot of money; I have a lot of money because I pay good wages.” – Robert Bosch
“If workmen are denied any increase in real wages and they can look forward only to a better standard of living through reduction of prices, progress for them is terribly slow, and they become impatient and dissatisfied.” – Charles E. Wilson
“It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages.” – Henry Ford
“Men who do things without being told draw the most wages.” – Rodney Dangerfield
July 12, 1960: The first Etch-A-Sketch goes on sale. Back in the late 1950s Arthur Granjean brought his invention called “L’Ecran Magique,” or the magic screen, to the International Toy Fair in Nuremburg, Germany. At first, the Ohio Art Company wasn’t interested, but on second look they decided to bring the toy to America and rename it the Etch A Sketch.
The response was fantastic! In fact, Ohio Art thought they would continue to manufacture the toy until noon of Christmas Eve 1960. Instead, they have kept on making them and added other variations to their product line for over forty years.
The Ohio Art Company also has other lines of toys. Their K’s Kids line has soft toys for the youngest children. They are learning/educational toys created to entertain safely as well as to teach new learners a variety of tasks. The Athletic Baby line has toys to engage babies and toddlers physically.
Etch A Sketch now comes in different sizes: classic, travel, pocket, mini, and even digital. They also have a product that adds sounds – 50 different sounds – as you operate the knobs that draw the pictures. Over the years, Ohio Art has tried different colors of casings, but red seems to be preferred by customers. However, the pocket size comes in red, glitter colors and even a glow-in-the-dark version.
The red plastic casing holds a screen that is coated with a mixture of aluminum powder and plastic beads. There are two knobs, one controlling horizontal movement and the other vertical movement. As the stylus moves in response to the knob’s turning, it scrapes the screen, leaving the line. The toy truly is magic.
Bonus link: For some amazing pictures using the toy, see Kevin E. Davis’s artwork.
“Art is making something out of nothing and selling it.” – Frank Zappa
“Art is never finished, only abandoned.” – Leonardo da Vinci
“Creativity is allowing yourself to make mistakes. Art is knowing which ones to keep.” – Scott Adams
“One reassuring thing about modern art is that things can’t be as bad as they are painted.” – unknown
Also on this day, in 1917 miners are deported from Bisbee, Arizona.