Jordan Peele's 'Us' is a Creepy Tale That Sadly Mirrors Our Reality

On May 25, 1986, approximately 6.5 million Americans stood hand in hand forming a human chain that stretched from New York to California for an event called Hands Across America. It was a fundraiser project from USA for Africa (the same people who produced the “We Are the World” single the year before) in hopes of raising $100 million to fight hunger and homelessness. The hope was that everyone who participated would donate $10 for the cause. Families stood and sang together for 15 minutes. And then it was over.

I had trouble remembering if Hands Across America really happened or if it was a gimmick for the film when the original commercial for the event flashed on the big screen during the opening of Us. I only vaguely remember the event, which might have to do more with the fact that I have lived in Washington State my whole life and we weren’t involved in the project. I doubt that I’m the only one and I suspect that was also some of Jordan Peele’s reasoning as well whe…

This Day in Pop Culture for April 21

Verne Toyer Passes Away

"Mini Me" Passes Away

It was on this day in 2018 when actor Verne “Mini Me” Toyer passed away. As a result of achondroplasia dwarfism, Troyer stood tall at 2’ 8” and it is said that his parents wondered if he would ever be tall enough to open doors by himself. He was a New Year’s Day baby born January 1, 1969 in Sturgis, Michigan and spent many days visiting his Amish relatives. Despite his condition, his parent never treated him differently than his siblings and required that he do the same chores including carrying wood and feeding the farm animals. In 1993 while working in a customer service job, he was offered to play a stunt double for the movie Baby’s Day Out. He went on to play Mini Me in three Austin Powers movies and appeared briefly as Griphook the goblin in Harry Potter and the Sorcrer’s Stone.

Gerald Rivera found nothing in Al Capone's vaults on April 21, 1986.

Geraldo Rivera Opens Al Capone’s Vaults and Finds Nothing

Notorious and “most wanted” gangster, Al Capone, began his life of crime in Chicago in 1919 and had his headquarters set up at the Metropole Hotel and then later moved to the Lexington Hotel where he ran things until his arrest in 1931. He later died in 1947. Fast forward to the 1980s when renovations were being made at the Lexington Hotel, a renovation team discovered a shooting-range and series of connected tunnels. One tunnel was connected to Capone’s medicine cabinet. The tunnels led to taverns and brothels making for an easy escape should there be a police raid. Rumors were spread that Capone had a secret vault hidden under the hotel. Meanwhile, in 1985, news reporter Geraldo Rivera has been fired from ABC after he criticized the network for canceling a report made about an alleged relationship between John F. Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe. It seemed like a good time for Rivera to scoop a new story to repair his reputation. It was on this day in 1986 that his live two-hour syndicated TV special, The Mystery of Al Capone’s Vaults, was aired. After lots of backstory, the time finally came to reveal what was in Capone’s vaults which turned out to be empty. After the show, Rivera was quoted as saying "Seems like we struck out.”
The Space Needled opened on April 21, 1962.

The Space Needle Opens

In 1959, Edward E. Carlson, president of Western International Hotels, scribbled his idea for the main structure to serve as a centerpiece to the 1962 World’s Fair on a paper napkin at a local coffee house. Inspired by the Stuttgart Tower in Germany, Carlson thought a similar building would fit the “21st Century” theme of the Seattle fair. The design of the building went through many shapes before settling on the “flying saucer” idea which wasn’t finalized until a year and a half before the fair’s opening. 467 cement trucks were used to fill the 30 foot deep by 120 feet hole which was to be used as the Needle’s foundation weighing in as much as the Space Needle itself. The 605-foot tall Needle was finished in December of 1961 and officially opened on this day in 1962.

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