This is your morning Open Thread. Pour your favorite beverage and review the past and comment on the future
Find the past “On This Day in History” here.
December 3 is the 337th day of the year (338th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 28 days remaining until the end of the year.
On this day in 1947,A Streetcar Named Desire opened on Broadway.
Marlon Brando‘s famous cry of “STELLA!” first booms across a Broadway stage, electrifying the audience at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre during the first-ever performance of Tennessee Williams‘ play A Streetcar Named Desire.
The 23-year-old Brando played the rough, working-class Polish-American Stanley Kowalski, whose violent clash with Blanche DuBois (played on Broadway by Jessica Tandy), a Southern belle with a dark past, is at the center of Williams’ famous drama. Blanche comes to stay with her sister Stella (Kim Hunter), Stanley’s wife, at their home in the French Quarter of New Orleans; she and Stanley immediately despise each other. In the climactic scene, Stanley rapes Blanche, causing her to lose her fragile grip on sanity; the play ends with her being led away in a straitjacket.
Widely considered a landmark play, A Streetcar Named Desire deals with a culture clash between two iconic characters, Blanche DuBois, a fading relic of the Old South, and Stanley Kowalski, a rising member of the industrial, urban working class.
The play presents Blanche DuBois, a fading but still-attractive Southern belle whose pretensions to virtue and culture only thinly mask alcoholism and delusions of grandeur. Her poise is an illusion she presents to shield others (but most of all, herself) from her reality, and an attempt to make herself still attractive to new male suitors. Blanche arrives at the apartment of her sister Stella Kowalski in the French Quarter of New Orleans, on Elysian Fields Avenue; the local transportation she takes to arrive there includes a streetcar route named “Desire.” The steamy, urban ambiance is a shock to Blanche’s nerves. Blanche is welcomed with some trepidation by Stella, who fears the reaction of her husband Stanley. As Blanche explains that their ancestral southern plantation, Belle Reve in Laurel, Mississippi, has been “lost” due to the “epic fornications” of their ancestors, her veneer of self-possession begins to slip drastically. Here “epic fornications” may be interpreted as the debauchery of her ancestors which in turn caused them financial losses. Blanche tells Stella that her supervisor allowed her to take time off from her job as an English teacher because of her upset nerves, when in fact, she has been fired for having an affair with a 17-year-old student. This turns out not to be the only seduction she has engaged in-and, along with other problems, has led her to escape Laurel. A brief marriage marred by the discovery that her spouse, Allan Grey, was having a homosexual affair and his subsequent suicide has led Blanche to withdraw into a world in which fantasies and illusions blend seamlessly with reality.
In contrast to both the self-effacing and deferential Stella and the pretentious refinement of Blanche, Stella’s husband, Stanley Kowalski, is a force of nature: primal, rough-hewn, brutish and sensual. He dominates Stella in every way and is physically and emotionally abusive. Stella tolerates his primal behaviour as this is part of what attracted her in the first place; their love and relationship are heavily based on powerful-even animalistic-sexual chemistry, something that Blanche finds impossible to understand.
The arrival of Blanche upsets her sister and brother-in-law’s system of mutual dependence. Stella’s concern for her sister’s well-being emboldens Blanche to hold court in the Kowalski apartment, infuriating Stanley and leading to conflict in his relationship with his wife. Blanche and Stanley are on a collision course, and Stanley’s friend and Blanche’s would-be suitor Mitch, will get trampled in their path. Stanley discovers Blanche’s past through a co-worker who travels to Laurel frequently, and he confronts her with the things she has been trying to put behind her, partly out of concern that her character flaws may be damaging to the lives of those in her new home, just as they were in Laurel, and partly out of a distaste for pretense in general. However, his attempts to “unmask” her are predictably cruel and violent. In their final confrontation, Stanley rapes Blanche, which results in her nervous breakdown. Stanley has her committed to a mental institution, and in the closing moments, Blanche utters her signature line to the kindly doctor who leads her away: “Whoever you are, I have always depended on the kindness of strangers.”
1800 – War of the Second Coalition: Battle of Hohenlinden, French General Moreau defeats the Austrian Archduke John near Munich decisively, coupled with First Consul Napoleon Bonaparte’s victory at Marengo effectively forcing the Austrians to sign an armistice and ending the war.
1818 – Illinois becomes the 21st U.S. state.
1854 – Eureka Stockade: In what is claimed by many to be the birth of Australian democracy, more than 20 gold miners at Ballarat, Victoria, Australia are killed by state troopers in an uprising over mining licences.
1901 – US President Theodore Roosevelt delivers a 20,000-word speech to the House of Representatives asking the Congress to curb the power of trusts “within reasonable limits”.
1904 – The Jovian moon Himalia is discovered by Charles Dillon Perrine at California’s Lick Observatory.
1910 – Modern neon lighting is first
demonstrated by Georges Claude at the Paris Motor Show.
1912 – Bulgaria, Greece, Montenegro, and Serbia (the Balkan League) sign an armistice with Turkey, ending the two-month long First Balkan War.
1912 – First Balkan War: The Naval Battle of Elli takes place.
1917 – After nearly 20 years of planning and construction, the Quebec Bridge opens to traffic.
1929 – Great Depression: US President Herbert Hoover announces to the U.S. Congress that the worst effects of the recent stock market crash are behind the nation and the American people have regained faith in the economy.
1944 – Greek Civil War: Fighting breaks out in Athens between the ELAS and government forces supported by the British Army.
1959 – The current flag of Singapore is adopted, six months after Singapore became self-governing within the British Empire.
1964 – Berkeley Free Speech Movement: Police arrest over 800 students at the University of California, Berkeley, following their takeover and sit-in at the administration building in protest at the UC Regents’ decision to forbid protests on UC property.
1967 – At Groote Schuur Hospital in Cape Town, South Africa, a transplant team headed by Christiaan Barnard carries out the first heart transplant on a human (53-year-old Louis Washkansky).
1970 – October Crisis: In Montreal, Quebec, kidnapped British Trade Commissioner James Cross is released by the Front de liberation du Quebec terrorist group after being held hostage for 60 days. Police negotiate his release and in return the Canadian government grants five terrorists from the FLQ’s Chenier Cell their request for safe passage to Cuba.
1971 – Indo-Pakistani War of 1971: Pakistan launches pre-emptive strike against India and a full scale war begins claiming hundreds of lives.
1973 – Pioneer program: Pioneer 10 sends back the first close-up images of Jupiter.
1976 – An assassination attempt is made on Bob Marley. He is shot twice, but plays a concert two days later.
1979 – In Cincinnati, Ohio, eleven fans are suffocated in a crush for seats on the concourse outside Riverfront Coliseum before a Who concert .
1982 – A soil sample is taken from Times Beach, Missouri that will be found to contain 300 times the safe level of dioxin.
1984 – Bhopal Disaster: A methyl isocyanate leak from a Union Carbide pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, kills more than 3,800 people outright and injures 150,000-600,000 others (some 6,000 of whom would later die from their injuries) in one of the worst industrial disasters in history.
1989 – Cold War: In a meeting off the coast of Malta, US President George H. W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev release statements indicating that the cold war between their nations may be coming to an end.
1990 – At Detroit Metropolitan Airport, Northwest Airlines Flight 1482 collides with Northwest Airlines Flight 299 on the runway, killing 7 passengers and 1 crew member aboard flight 1482.
1992 – UN Security Council Resolution 794 is unanimously passed, approving a coalition of United Nations peacekeepers led by the United States to form UNITAF, with the task of establishing peace and ensuring that humanitarian aid is distributed in Somalia.
1992 – The Greek oil tanker Aegean Sea, carrying 80,000 tonnes of crude oil, runs aground in a storm while approaching La Coruña, Spain, and spills much of its cargo.
1997 – In Ottawa, Canada, representatives from 121 countries sign The Ottawa treaty prohibiting manufacture and deployment of anti-personnel landmines. The United States, People’s Republic of China, and Russia do not sign the treaty, however.
1999 – NASA loses radio contact with the Mars Polar Lander moments before the spacecraft enters the Martian atmosphere.
1999 – Six firefighters are killed in the Worcester Cold Storage Warehouse fire in Worcester, Massachusetts.
2005 – XCOR Aerospace makes first manned rocket aircraft delivery of US Mail in Mojave, California.
2007 – Winter storms cause the Chehalis River to flood many cities in Lewis County, Washington, also closing a 20-mile portion of Interstate 5 for several days. At least eight deaths and billions of dollars in damages are blamed on the floods.
2007 – The 2007 United Nations Climate Change Conference opened in Bali, Indonesia
* Advocate’s Day (India)
* Christian Feast Day
o Francis Xavier (Roman Catholic Church and Anglican communion)
* [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/International_observance#December International Day of Persons with Disabilities (International)
* International Day of the Basque language