Mark Murrmann

Mark Murrmann

Photo Editor

Mark came to Mother Jones in 2007 with a background as a freelance editorial and documentary photographer. He studied photography at UC Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism and then in London as a student winner of the Alexia Foundation Photography Grant. Prior to becoming a photographer, Mark wrote a weekly column in the Indianapolis Star, co-edited the long-running San Francisco-based punk magazine Maximumrocknroll and worked as a Sr. Editor at the Internet music service Rhapsody.

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Motown's First No. 1 Hit, "Please Mr. Postman," Released 53 Years Ago

| Thu Aug. 21, 2014 6:01 AM EDT

The knockout girl group song "Please Mr. Postman," by the Marvelettes was released on August 21, 1961. Later in the year it went on to become the first Motown single to hit #1 on Billboard's Hot 100 chart.

 

Motown wouldn't hit the #1 position again until 1963, when Little Stevie Wonder's "Fingertips, Pt. 2" reached the top. From that point on, Motown was a non-stop hit machine with at least one #1 hit on the charts each year through 1974. 1970 proved to be Motown's best year–they dominated Billboard with seven top hits.

The Marvelettes followed "Please Mr. Postman" with "Twistin' Postman," in an effort to cash in on their own song and the popularity of "The Twist." That song hit #34 on the pop charts, and was followed by their bigger hits "Playboy" and the current oldies radio staple "Beechwood 4-5789." Like a lot of groups of the era, the Marvelettes had a hard time cracking the charts once the British Invasion hit States.

 

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Happy 75th Ginger Baker! British Drummer Carried Beat for Cream

| Tue Aug. 19, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

If you've ever jammed to "Sunshine of Your Love" or "White Room" by Cream, spent time with the Blind Faith album, got down to Levitation by Hawkwind or listened to Public Image Limited's classic Album, then tip your hat to Mr. Ginger Baker, who turns 75 on August 19th, 2014.

To celebrate, Here are a few killer photos of Baker playing with Cream on the Dutch television show Fanclub.

F. van Geelen/Fanclub/Dutch Institute for Sound and Vision

And a more recent photo of Mr. Baker:

Peter Edward 'Ginger'' Baker is an English drummer, best known for his work with Cream. He is also known for his numerous associations with New World music and the use of African influences and other diverse collaborations such as his work with the rock band Hawkwind. David Levene/eyevine/ZUMA Press

Oh, and Bill Clinton and Tipper Gore also share a birthday today. Whatta party!

20,000 Watched the Last Public Hanging 78 Years Ago

| Thu Aug. 14, 2014 6:00 AM EDT

An estimated 15,000–20,000 people showed up for what would be the last public execution in the United States.

Around 5:20 a.m., August 14, 1936, Rainey Bethea was led to the gallows in Owensboro, Kentucky for robbing, raping and murdering Lischia Edwards, a 70 year old woman. Bethea was black, Edwards was white. He confessed to committing the crimes, but was only charged with the rape. Unlike a murder conviction, which would have carried a maximum sentence of death by electrocution at the state penitentiary, a rape conviction allowed for the convicted to be publicly hanged in the county where the crime occurred.

In this Friday, Aug. 14, 1936 file picture, a large crowd watches as attendants adjust a black hood over Rainey Bethea's head just before his public hanging in Owensboro, Ky. Bethea, a 22-year-old black man convicted of raping a 70-year-old white woman, was the last person killed in a public execution in the United States.  AP
 

The hanging drew national media attention–largely because the Sheriff of Daviess county was a woman. As Sheriff, Florence Shoemaker Thompson would be responsible for actually hanging Bethea (though she wound up not pushing the lever to the gallows' trapdoor). The media circus surrounding the hanging prompted the Kentucky General Assembly to amend the law in 1938, no longer required convicted rapists to be hanged in the county seat where the crime occurred.

Marines First Accepted Women Enlistees 96 Years Ago

| Wed Aug. 13, 2014 6:00 AM EDT
Marine Reservists (F) pose for a photograph at Headquarters, Marine Corps, Washington D.C., 1918. Marine Corps Women's Marine Reserve/Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections/Flickr
 

By luck of being the first person in a line of 305 women waiting to enlist, Opha Mae Johnson of Kokomo, Indiana became the first woman to join the Marines in 1918. The Marines were looking to fill office and clerical roles in the States while all battle-ready male Marines were shipped to the frontlines of World War I. To help fill the vacancies, the Marines Corps opened enlistment to women for the first time–two years before women could even vote!

Opha Mae Johnson Wikimedia
 
Looking trim in their new uniforms are (left to right) Private First Class Mary Kelly, May O'Keefe, and Ruth Spike. The newly recruited Marines posed at Headquarters Marine Corps in Washington, D.C. Marine Corps Women's Marine Reserve/Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections/Flickr
 
Swearing In - New York Recruiting Office, 17 August 1918 Violet Van Wagner, Marie S. Schleight, Florence Wiedinger, Isabelle Balfour, Janet Kurgan, Edith Barton, and Helen Constance Dupont are sworn in as privates by Lieutenant George Kneller in New York. The women are shown wearing the standard-issued men's blouse, prior to the creation of the women's uniform. Mrs. Dupont and Miss Kurgan are sisters. Marine Corps Women's Marine Reserve/Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections/Flickr
 
Women Marines post recruiting posters on a wall in New York City. From left to right, they are, Privates Minette Gaby, May English, Lillian Patterson, and Theresa Lake. Marine Corps Women's Marine Reserve/Marine Corps Archives & Special Collections/Flickr
 

The Marine Corps Women's Reserve was officially established in 1943. Five years later Congress passed the Women's Armed Services Integration Act, making women a permanent part of the Marine Corps.

U.S. Marines recruitment poster, 1915

 

Burn Your Beatles Records!

| Tue Aug. 12, 2014 5:42 PM EDT

Early August 1966, Christian groups, primarily in the Southern United States took to the streets to burn the sin out of their beloved Beatles records in response to John Lennon's remark that the Beatles were "more popular than Jesus."

Birmingham disc jockeys Tommy Charles, left, and Doug Layton of Radio Station WAQY, rip and break materials representing the British pop group The Beatles, in Birmingham, Ala., Aug. 8, 1966. The broadcasters started a "Ban The Beatles" campaign. AP

Like all good moments of mass hysteria, getting a little context helps put things in perspective.

The quote originally appeared in March 1966, in part of an interview with Lennon published in the London Evening Standard. The interviewer, Maureen Cleave, commented that Lennon was at the time reading about religion. Here is the full, original quote from Lennon:

Christianity will go. It will vanish and shrink. I needn't argue about that; I'm right and I'll be proved right. We're more popular than Jesus now; I don't know which will go first—rock 'n' roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It's them twisting it that ruins it for me.

In late July, five months after its original publication, a U.S. teen mag called Datebook republished the interview with Lennon. Turning to the tried and true method of generating scandal to gin up sales, Datebook put the "We're more popular than Jesus" part of the quote on the cover. Woo-boy. Two Birmingham DJs picked up on the quote, vowing to never play the Beatles and on August 8th, started a "Ban the Beatles" campaign. Christian groups across the South rose up to protest the Beatles who, as it happened, were just about embark on what would be their last U.S. tour. Beatles records were burned, crushed, broken. Never a group to miss out on a good bonfire, the Ku Klux Klan got involved.

South Carolina Grand Dragon, Bob Scoggin of the Klu Klux Klan tosses Beatle records into the flames of a burning cross, in Chester, South Carolina, Aug. 11, 1966. The "Beatle Bonfire" was staged to take exception to a statement attributed to John Lennon, when he was quoted as saying that his group was more popular than Jesus. AP

On August 12, 1966 the Beatles set out on tour, meeting protests and stupid questions about the quote all along the way. It would be the last tour the Beatles would ever do in the United States, ending on August 29 at Candlestick Park in San Francisco.

Young churchfolk from Sunnyvale on the San Francisco peninsula protest against the Beatles and John Lennon's remark that The Beatles are "more popular than Jesus" outside Candlestick Park where the Beatles are holding a concert in San Francisco, Ca., Aug. 29, 1966. The picketers were seen by many of the teenagers but missed by the entertainers, who arrived and departed from a different direction. Some 25,000 fans went through the gates for The Beatles' final U.S. performance on their tour. AP

 

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