In the early 1970s, a fantasy novel about the life of rabbits in England became a bestseller on the literary lists: Watership Down by Richard Adams.
Inspired by his home in Hampshire, England and the writings of British naturalist Ronald Lockley in his book The Private Life of the Rabbit, Adams started telling stories to his daughters about local rabbits.
Encouraged by their devotion to the stories, Adams started to write down the tales, translating his struggles faced during WWII into how the rabbits would be struggling in their world. Adams created Lapine, a rabbit language used in the novel.
Rejected six times by publishers, Adams persisted and Watership Down was published in 1972.
The story rotates around Fiver, a runt rabbit who has extra-sensory perception, who sees into the future that the rabbit warren will be destroyed. With the help of his buddy Hazel, the rabbits flee the warren to find a new home, and face obstacles in their search for a safe new place with pals Bigwig and Silver.
Seen as an allegory, the novel focuses on the universal truths such as survival, struggle between tyranny and freedom and the rights of the individual versus the rights of a group.
Winning the Carnegie Medal in 1972 as the best children’s book of the year and the Guardian’s Children Book Prize, Adams book received rave reviews as well as became recognized as an important addition to British children’s literature.
In 1978, the book was adapted and made into an animated film – and its lasting effects has made the book one of the 100 best British children’s books of all time.
something to say – spotted south of Toronto’s King Street West…
Loved this mural at Daytona Beach’s Kona Tiki Bar:
In 1986, the first feature length film by director Spike Lee ushered in a new wave of independent cinema as well as changed the view of African Americans on the big screen in the film She’s Gotta Have It.
Starring Tracy Camilla Johns as Nola Darling, this woman is independent and wants to have a life that is usually slotted only for men – being in charge of her life and having three boyfriends.
But the boys aren’t liking this – polite Jamie (Tommy Redmond Hicks), self-obsessed Greer (John Canada Terrell) and immature Mars (Spike Lee) all want Nola Darling for themselves.
Each man provides something in her life and she enjoys having the variety and the differences. All three are invited for Thanksgiving dinner, which each of them use as an opportunity to prove to Nola why they should be the only man in her life.
Cherishing her freedom and wanting to have the power to be an individual, Nola’s character was uniquely different from the way African Americans had been portrayed on the screen – she wasn’t poor or a whore or a drug addict – nor were her suitors.
Made for less than $200,000 and shot in 12 days in summer 1985 in Brooklyn, the film released in August 1986 and quickly became the topic of discussion by critics coast to coast.
Lee’s commentary on African Americans, women and relationships came under fire by many who felt that it was exploitative and wasn’t a real concern, but viewers loved this film.
She’s Gotta Have It pushed Spike Lee into the spotlight – with a box office of $7.1 million, his film career was happily launched.
And for those of us who liked or didn’t like the film, it encouraged a new indie film scene that definitely made the difference.
In Deland, Florida, locals wanted to have a mural – and this one, which depicts a historic event of the town’s past, is populated with the images of current residents, who paid for their likeness to be included:
In the first season of 1970s sitcom WKRP in Cincinnati, the writers had many characters to get the laughs.
In the seventh episode, they wanted to focus on Mr. Carlson, who felt he wasn’t being included in the daily running of the radio station.
So to get the radio station front and centre, he decided to put together a marketing campaign focused on Thanksgiving – by dropping turkeys from a helicopter over the city of Cincinnati.
Based on an actual event that radio station WQXI did (the station the sitcom is based on) the Turkey Drop episode became almost infamous overnight, with its endless laughs at the expense of Mr. Carlson.
From the live reporting by newsman Les Nessman to the station manager Andy Travis’ stunned reactions to the event, the episode’s unseen promotion became the stuff of sitcom history.
Airing October 30, 1978, the episode helped the sitcom gain a larger share of the audience and insured success for the rest of the season.
And for pop culture history, TV Guide Magazine chose this episode as one of the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time at number 40. The quote from Mr. Carlson says it all – “As God as my witness, I thought turkeys could fly.”
This iconic image stands out despite the swirls of colour around her on a doorway in Marseille: