On November 20, 1969 a ragtag group of Indian college students embarked on a journey to Alcatraz Island, home of the notorious and now abandoned federal penitentiary, occupying it for a period of 19 months as an act of distinctly Native American resistance and protest until June 11, 1971. According to the occupying group, the IAT (Indians of All Tribes), the Treaty of Fort Laramie (1868) between the U.S. and the Sioux stated that all retired, abandoned or out-of-use federal land was to be returned to the Native people from whom it was acquired. Since Alcatraz penitentiary had been closed on March 21, 1963, and the island had been declared surplus federal property in 1964, a number of Red Power activists felt the island qualified for a reclamation. Despite an attempted Coast Guard blockade, the island was taken en mass by unarmed students and families from all over Indian country. In all, 79 Indians took up residence on Alcatraz included including students, married couples and six children. At the height of the occupation there were 400 people on the Island.

The protesters were publicly offering the federal government the same amount for the land that the government had initially offered them; at 47 cents per acre, this amounted to $9.40 for the entire rocky island, or $5.64 for the twelve usable acres. The plan was to reclaim the island for natives and create a university and cultural center. Organizer Richard Oakes sent a message to the San Francisco Department of the Interior:

“We invite the United States to acknowledge the justice of our claim. The choice now lies with the leaders of the American government - to use violence upon us as before to remove us from our Great Spirit’s land, or to institute a real change in its dealing with the American Indian. We do not fear your threat to charge us with crimes on our land. We and all other oppressed peoples would welcome spectacle of proof before the world of your title by genocide. Nevertheless, we seek peace.” #destroytheday

The Wang Saen Suk Monastery Garden (also known as Wang Saen Suk Hell Garden and Thailand Hell Horror Park) is a garden in Thailand. A popular tourist attraction, it is meant to describe and depict Naraka, the Buddhist hell.

This is the largest hell garden in Thailand. At the entrance of the monastery garden, a brightly colored sign reads “Welcome To Hell.” Further inside the garden, another sign reads: If you meet the Devil in this life, don’t postpone merit-making which will help you to defeat him in the next life.

Entering the park, you see two large figures named ‘Nai Ngean’ and 'Nang Thong.’ They stand high above the tortured souls of the garden; their emaciated appearance, long necks and distended bellies seems to mark them as Preta, the 'hungry ghosts’ of Thai folklore. Around the feet of these figures are arranged 21 tortured souls, each with the head of a different animal. These animalistic characterisations reflect the nature of each soul’s sin; plaques at the feet of each feature inscriptions such as: Ones who make a corruption are punished in the hell, they are named as the spirits of the pigs….or…Ones who sell the habit-performing drugs are punished in the hell, they are named as the spirits of the cows.

Other designations include the ungrateful becoming tigers, jealous people being named rabbits and a bird head given to those who steal cooked rice. After this first area come more sculptures of the specific punishments for a list of very particular crimes. These include depictions of human sinners being ripped apart by the dogs of Hell, burnt alive in boiling cauldrons, disembowelled by birds, and having their head replaced with that of an animal. #destroytheday

Stephen Wiltshire was born in London, England, in 1974 to West Indian parents. Wiltshire was mute when young. At the age of three, he was diagnosed as autistic. The same year, his father died in a motorbike accident. At the age of five, Stephen was sent to Queensmill School in London where he expressed interest in drawing. He began to communicate through his art. His teachers encouraged his drawing, and with their aid Wiltshire learned to speak at the age of five. At the age of eight, he started drawing imaginary post-earthquake cityscapes and cars. When he was ten, Wiltshire drew a sequence of drawings of London landmarks, one for each letter, that he called a “London Alphabet.” In 1987, Wiltshire was part of the BBC programme The Foolish Wise Ones. Drawings, a collection of his works, was published that same year, with four more books of his art being published between then and 1993.

What is extremely notable is that Wiltshire can look at a subject once and then draw an accurate and detailed picture of it. He frequently draws entire cities from memory, based on double, brief helicopter rides. For example, he produced a detailed drawing of four square miles of London after a single helicopter ride above that city. His nineteen-foot-long drawing of 305 square miles of New York City is based on a single twenty-minute helicopter ride. When Wiltshire took the helicopter ride over Rome, he drew it in such great detail that he drew the exact number of columns in the Pantheon. In May 2005 Stephen produced his longest ever panoramic memory drawing of Tokyo on a 32.8-foot-long canvas within seven days following a helicopter ride over the city. A 2011 project in New York City involved Wiltshire’s creation of a 250-foot (76 m) long panoramic memory drawing of New York which is now displayed on a giant billboard at JFK Airport.

Night Witches part 2
The 80-odd Night Witches had arguably the toughest task of all. Flying entirely in the dark and in substandard planes, the pilots developed a technique of switching off their engine and gliding toward the target to enable them to drop their bombs in near-silence with only wind noise to reveal their location. German soldiers likened the sound to broomsticks and named the pilots “Night Witches.” They also flew in threes to take turns drawing enemy fire while one pilot released her charges. Due to the weight of the bombs and the low altitude of flight, the pilots carried no parachutes. It was, quite frankly, awesome — as even their enemies had to admit. “We simply couldn’t grasp that the Soviet airmen that caused us the greatest trouble were in fact women,” one top German commander wrote in 1942. “These women feared nothing.”

From June 1942, the 588th Night Bomber Regiment was within the 4th Air Army. In February 1943 the regiment was honored with a reorganization into the 46th Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment and in October 1943 it became the 46th “Taman” Guards Night Bomber Aviation Regiment. The word Taman referred to the unit’s involvement in two celebrated Soviet victories on the Taman Peninsula, during 1943.

After the war, a number of the women continued to fly, some as test pilots. Others retired to a quiet life or returned to work, either in factories or on farms. In spite of the danger and their heavy losses, most of the women later described their combat experience as the most exciting time of their lives. They endured loss of family and homes in their absence, met and lost lovers and husbands, and were often wounded or killed in action. A fitting tribute was made to the dedication of this unit’s airwomen by the male Free French pilots of the Normandie-Niemen Fighter Regiment who often fought alongside the Night Witches: “Even if it were possible to gather and place at your feet all the flowers on earth, this would not constitute sufficient tribute to your valour.” #destroytheday

Chicken Boy, aka the Statue of Liberty of Los Angeles, is a landmark statue on the historic U.S. Route 66 (North Figueroa Street) in the Highland Park, California area of Los Angeles. The colorful 22-foot tall fiberglass statue was first perched atop a fried chicken restaurant in downtown Los Angeles on Broadway (also Historic Route 66) between 4th and 5th streets, near L.A.’s Grand Central Market in the 1960s. At that time, International Fiberglass Company, in Venice, California, was manufacturing the more familiar roadside Paul Bunyan and Muffler Man statues for use as outdoor advertising. The Los Angeles chicken restaurant bought one and hired an artist to customize it. A chicken head was fabricated to replace the man’s head. The arms were re-worked to face forward and hold a bucket, rather than as the axe-wielding original. The iconic downtown statue remained in place until 1984 when the restaurant owner died. The statue was given to Amy Inouye, after many queries and requests, and it went into storage until a suitable location could be found, as it turned out some 20 years later. In 2007 Inouye moved the statue to its current location at 5558 North Figueroa. Inouye’s design firm, Future Studio, had relocated to a commercial space that had a reinforced roof strong enough to support the statue. It remains there today as an icon of hope. Chicken Boy’s ceremonial birthday is September 1, 1969 as listed in Chase Annual Events book, a volume for US morning DJs listing important and wacky birthdays for each day. #destroytheday

Aspirin isn’t the only “wonder drug that works wonders” that Bayer made. The German pharmaceutical giant also introduced heroin to the world. The company was looking for a cough suppressant that didn’t have problematic side effects, mainly addiction, like morphine and codeine. And if it could relieve pain better than morphine, that was a welcome bonus.

When one of Bayer’s chemists approached the head of the pharmacological lab with ASA — to be sold under the name “aspirin” — he was waved away. The boss was more interested in something else the chemists had cooked up — diacetylmorphine. (This narcotic had been created in 1874 by a British chemist, who had never done anything with it.)

Using the tradename “Heroin” — because early testers said it made them feel heroisch (heroic) — Bayer sold this popular drug by the truckload starting in 1898. Free samples were sent to thousands of doctors; studies appeared in medical journals. The Sunday Times of London noted: “By 1899, Bayer was producing about a ton of heroin a year, and exporting the drug to 23 countries,” including the US. Medicines containing smack were available over-the-counter at drug stores, just as aspirin is today. The American Medical Association gave heroin its stamp of approval in 1907. #destroytheday

The Cementario de la Recoleta in Buenos Aires, Argentina, is easily one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world. Designed by French engineer Próspero Catelin and remodeled in 1881, the cemetery is a Victorian neoclassical explosion, with ornate mausoleums at every turn. Meant to house Argentina’s rich and famous, the crypts and gravestones are huge baroque masterpieces, mimicking the architecture of the city’s wealthy houses. Among the cemetery’s elite are Eva Peron, Nobel winner Luis F. Leloir, and Isabel Walewski Colonna, grandchild of Napoleón Bonaparte. One gravestone not belonging to anyone particularly famous, however, embodies one of the cemetery’s most interesting—and horrifying—stories.

Rufina Cambacérès was born into a wealthy family, heirs to a large cattle fortune, and her father Eugenio Cambacérès, was a well known writer and politician. Rufina suffered an early tragedy when her father died of tuberculosis when she was only four years old. In 1902, Rufina was nineteen and had grown into a beautiful young woman, and something of a Buenos Aires socialite. While getting ready to attend a show, Rufina suddenly and without warning collapsed onto the floor. (Many modern versions of this story include a bit about this being caused by a scandalous revelation, something about her boyfriend sleeping with his own mother, but this is almost certainly a fabrication added on later to spice up the story.) Doctors were called in, and supposedly all three doctors pronounced the young Rufina dead of a heart attack. Rufina was put in a coffin and sealed in her mausoleum, and a funeral was held. #destroytheday

The Turk part 6
Upon the return of the ship on which Mälzel died, his various machines, including the Turk, fell into the hands of a friend of Mälzel’s, the businessman John Ohl. He attempted to auction off the Turk, but owing to low bidding ultimately bought it himself for $400. Only when Dr. John Kearsley Mitchell from Philadelphia, Edgar Allan Poe’s personal physician and an admirer of the Turk, approached Ohl did the Turk change hands again. Mitchell formed a restoration club and went about the business of repairing the Turk for public appearances, completing the restoration in 1840.

As interest in the Turk outgrew its location, Mitchell and his club chose to donate the machine to the Chinese Museum of Charles Willson Peale. While the Turk still occasionally gave performances, it was eventually relegated to the corners of the museum and forgotten about until 5 July 1854, when a fire that started at the National Theater in Philadelphia reached the Museum and destroyed the Turk. Mitchell believed he had heard “through the struggling flames … the last words of our departed friend, the sternly whispered, oft repeated syllables, ‘echec! echec!!’” In 1849, just several years before the Turk was destroyed, Edgar Allan Poe published a tale, “Von Kempelen and His Discovery.”

John Gaughan, an American manufacturer of equipment for magicians based in Los Angeles, spent $120,000 building his own version of Kempelen’s machine over a five-year period from 1984. The machine uses the original chessboard, which was stored separately from the original Turk and was not destroyed in the fire. The first public display of Gaughan’s Turk was in November 1989 at a history of magic conference. The machine was presented much as Kempelen presented the original, except that the opponent was replaced by a computer running a chess program. #destroytheday

The Turk, also known as the Mechanical Turk or Automaton Chess Player, was a fake chess-playing machine constructed in the late 18th century. From 1770 until its destruction by fire in 1854 it was exhibited by various owners as an automaton, though it was exposed in the early 1820s as an elaborate hoax. Constructed and unveiled in 1770 by Wolfgang von Kempelen (1734–1804) to impress the Empress Maria Theresa of Austria, the mechanism appeared to be able to play a strong game of chess against a human opponent, as well as perform the knight’s tour, a puzzle that requires the player to move a knight to occupy every square of a chessboard exactly once.

The Turk was in fact a mechanical illusion that allowed a human chess master hiding inside to operate the machine. With a skilled operator, the Turk won most of the games played during its demonstrations around Europe and the Americas for nearly 84 years, playing and defeating many challengers including statesmen such as Napoleon Bonaparte and Benjamin Franklin. The operators within the mechanism during Kempelen’s original tour remain a mystery. The device was later purchased in 1804 and exhibited by Johann Nepomuk Mälzel. The chess masters who secretly operated it included Johann Allgaier, Boncourt, Aaron Alexandre, William Lewis, Jacques Mouret, and William Schlumberger.

The machine consisted of a life-sized model of a human head and torso, with a black beard and grey eyes, and dressed in Turkish robes and a turban – the traditional costume of an oriental sorcerer. Its left arm held a long Turkish smoking pipe while at rest, while its right lay on the top of a large cabinet that measured about three-and-a-half feet long, two feet wide, and two-and-a-half feet high. Placed on the top of the cabinet was a chessboard, which measured eighteen inches square. The front of the cabinet consisted of three doors, an opening, and a drawer, which could be opened to reveal a red and white ivory chess set. #destroytheday

Félicien Rops (1833 – 1898) was a Belgian artist, known primarily as a printmaker in etching and aquatint. Rops was born in Namur where he received his first artistic training at a local academy, he relocated to Brussels at the age of twenty and briefly attended the University of Brussels. He subsequently attended the Académie de Saint-Luc and began creating satirical lithographs which were published in the student magazine Le Crocodile. These and the lithographs he contributed until 1862 to the magazine Uylenspiegel brought him early fame as a caricaturist.

In 1857, he married Charlotte Polet de Faveaux, with whom he had two children, Paul and Juliette (the latter died at a young age). He produced a number of etchings as illustrations for books by Charles de Coster. Rops met Charles Baudelaire towards the end of the poet’s life in 1864, and Baudelaire left an impression upon him that lasted until the end of his days. Rops created the frontispiece for Baudelaire’s Les Épaves, a selection of poems from Les Fleurs du mal that had been censored in France, and which therefore were published in Belgium. #destroytheday

Wesley Willis (1963 – 2003) was an American singer-songwriter and visual artist from Chicago. In 1989, Willis began hearing what he called “demons” and was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He was institutionalized for two months after his diagnosis. He often mentioned that his demons were named Heartbreaker, Nervewrecker, and Meansucker. He called his psychotic episodes “hell rides,” and alternatively, he declared rock and roll to be “the joy ride music.” Willis began a career as an underground singer-songwriter in the outsider music tradition, with songs featuring his bizarre, humorous and often obscene lyrics sung over the auto accompaniment feature on his Technics KN electronic keyboard.

Willis fronted his own punk rock band, the Wesley Willis Fiasco. The songs were essentially punk rock songs with Willis howling his obscene, absurd rants as lyrics. Some called it exploitation; others dubbed it “savant-garde.” After the Fiasco broke up, Willis’s popularity increased markedly. As a solo artist, Willis created more than 50 albums, each with over 20 tracks, full of bizarre, tense, and often obscene rants about crime, fast food, cultural trends, bus routes, violent confrontations with superheroes, commands for his “demons” to engage in bestiality (in The Daddy of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Willis explained that these songs [e.g., “Drink a Camel’s Cum, Suck a Cheetah’s Dick”] would “gross out” the demons enough to leave him alone), and praise for his favorite actors, friends (both platonic and romantic), politicians, and hip-hop and rock artists. Songs about rock artists were usually confined to describing a show performed by the band that Willis had attended or opened for, recycling key phrases such as “The crowd roared like a lion,” “A lot of people met the band,” or “The band got down like a Magikist.” Many songs end with the phrase “Rock over London, rock on, Chicago,” followed by a product slogan, such as “Polaroid. See what develops.”

The Turk part 5
It lay dormant for over two decades, although Kempelen attempted unsuccessfully to sell it in his final years. Kempelen died at age 70 on 26 March 1804. Following the death of Kempelen, the Turk remained unexhibited until Kempelen’s son decided to sell it to Johann Nepomuk Mälzel, a Bavarian musician with an interest in various machines and devices. Mälzel, whose successes included patenting a form of metronome, had tried to purchase the Turk once before, before Kempelen’s death. The original attempt had failed, owing to Kempelen’s asking price of 20,000 francs; Kempelen’s son sold the machine to Mälzel for half this sum. Upon acquiring the Turk, Mälzel had to learn its secrets and make some repairs to get it back in working order. His stated goal was to make explaining the Turk a greater challenge. While the completion of this goal took ten years, the Turk still made appearances, most notably with Napoleon Bonaparte.

Mälzel toured Europe and eventually brought the Turk to the United States in 1826, visiting New York, Boston, Philadelphia, and Baltimore. The exhibition in Baltimore brought news that two brothers had constructed their own machine, the Walker Chess-player. Mälzel viewed the competing machine and attempted to buy it, but the offer was declined and the duplicate machine toured for a number of years, never receiving the fame that Mälzel’s machine did and eventually falling into obscurity. In Richmond, Virginia, the Turk was observed by Edgar Allan Poe, whose essay “Maelzel’s Chess Player” was published in April 1836 and is the most famous essay on the Turk, even though many of Poe’s hypotheses were incorrect (such as that a chess-playing machine must always win).

Mälzel eventually took the Turk on his second tour to Havana, Cuba. In Cuba, the machine’s chess player died of yellow fever, leaving Mälzel without a director for his machine. Dejected, Mälzel died at sea in 1838 at age 66 during his return trip, leaving his machinery with the ship captain. #destroytheday

The Turk part 4
Following word of its debut, interest in the machine grew across Europe. Kempelen, however, was more interested in his other projects and avoided exhibiting the Turk, often lying about the machine’s repair status to prospective challengers. In the decade following its initial debut at Schönbrunn Palace and tour, the Turk only played one opponent, Sir Robert Murray Keith, a Scottish noble. Kempelen went as far as dismantling the Turk entirely following the match. Kempelen was quoted as referring to the invention as a “mere bagatelle”, as he was not pleased with its popularity and would rather continue work on steam engines and machines that replicated human speech. In 1781, Kempelen was ordered by Emperor Joseph II to reconstruct the Turk and deliver it to Vienna for a state visit from Grand Duke Paul of Russia and his wife. The appearance was so successful that Grand Duke Paul suggested a tour of Europe for the Turk, a request to which Kempelen reluctantly agreed.

The Turk began its European tour in 1783, beginning with an appearance in France in April. The machine won and lost against various skill levels of opponents. The Turk’s final game in Paris was against Benjamin Franklin, who was serving as ambassador to France from the United States. Franklin reportedly enjoyed the game with the Turk and was interested in the machine for the rest of his life, keeping a copy of Philip Thicknesse’s book The Speaking Figure and the Automaton Chess Player, Exposed and Detected in his personal library.

Kempelen then moved the Turk to London, where it was exhibited daily for five shillings. Thicknesse, known in his time as a skeptic, sought out the Turk in an attempt to expose the inner workings of the machine. While he respected Kempelen as “a very ingenious man,” he asserted that the Turk was an elaborate hoax with a small child inside the machine, describing the machine as “a complicated piece of clockwork … which is nothing more, than one, of many other ingenious devices, to misguide and delude the observers.” Critics and other fascinated with the machine tried to learn its secrets and it eventually dropped out of the public eye. #destroytheday

The Turk part 3
The interior also contained a pegboard chess board connected to a pantograph-style series of levers that controlled the model’s left arm. The metal pointer on the pantograph moved over the interior chessboard, and would simultaneously move the arm of the Turk over the chessboard on the cabinet. The range of motion allowed the director to move the Turk’s arm up and down, and turning the lever would open and close the Turk’s hand, allowing it to grasp the pieces on the board. All of this was made visible to the director by using a simple candle, which had a ventilation system through the model. Other parts of the machinery allowed for a clockwork-type sound to be played when the Turk made a move, further adding to the machinery illusion, and for the Turk to make various facial expressions. A voice box was later added, allowing the machine to say “Échec!” (French for “check”) during matches. An operator inside the machine also had tools to assist in communicating with the presenter outside. Two brass discs equipped with numbers were positioned opposite each other on the inside and outside of the cabinet. A rod could rotate the discs to the desired number, which acted as a code between the two.

When exhibiting the machine, Kempelen would inform the player that the Turk would use the white pieces and have the first move. Between moves the Turk kept its left arm on the cushion. The Turk could nod twice if it threatened its opponent’s queen, and three times upon placing the king in check. If an opponent made an illegal move, the Turk would shake its head, move the piece back and make its own move, thus forcing a forfeit of its opponent’s move. Observers of the Turk would state that the machine played aggressively, and typically beat its opponents within thirty minutes.

The Turk also had the ability to converse with spectators using a letter board. The director inside the machine was able to do this in English, French, and German. Carl Friedrich Hindenburg, a university mathematician, kept a record of the conversations during the Turk’s time in Leipzig and published it in 1789. #destroytheday

The Turk part 2
The interior of the machine was very complicated and designed to mislead those who observed it. When opened on the left, the front doors of the cabinet exposed a number of gears and cogs similar to clockwork. The section was designed so that if the back doors of the cabinet were open at the same time one could see through the machine. The other side of the cabinet did not house machinery; instead it contained a red cushion and some removable parts, as well as brass structures. This area was also designed to provide a clear line of vision through the machine. Underneath the robes of the Turkish model, two other doors were hidden. These also exposed clockwork machinery and provided a similarly unobstructed view through the machine. The design allowed the presenter of the machine to open every available door to the public, to maintain the illusion.

Neither the clockwork visible to the left side of the machine nor the drawer that housed the chess set extended fully to the rear of the cabinet; they instead went only one third of the way. A sliding seat was also installed, allowing the director inside to slide from place to place and thus evade observation as the presenter opened various doors. The sliding of the seat caused dummy machinery to slide into its place to further conceal the person inside the cabinet.

The chessboard on the top of the cabinet was thin enough to allow for a magnetic linkage. Each piece in the chess set had a small, strong magnet attached to its base, and when they were placed on the board the pieces would attract a magnet attached to a string under their specific places on the board. This allowed the director inside the machine to see which pieces moved where on the chess board. The bottom of the chessboard had corresponding numbers, 1–64, allowing the director to see which places on the board were affected by a player’s move. #destroytheday

On Monday May 11, 2015 Halcyon Gallery unveiled “She Guardian,” a monumental bronze sculpture by acclaimed Russian artist, Dashi Namdakov, in London’s Marble Arch.

The spectacular bronze statue rises 36 feet from claw to wing tip, and depicts a female feline protecting her young. “She Guardian” sits next to Cumberland Gate, against a backdrop of green parkland and urban architecture.

A deeply mystical and fantastical sculpture, the 4-ton bronze statue is a powerful feline defender with blade-sharp wings that rear menacingly behind her back. Her snarling jaw and ready claws speak of a primeval urge to attack anyone who might threaten those she protects.

Dashi Namdakov, commented “It took me more than 2 years to create She Guardian and I wanted to push the boundaries both in scale, material and movement, her ferocity also revealing the maternal protectiveness toward her young.”

Councillor Robert Davis, deputy leader of Westminster City Council, stated: “Marble Arch is our prime location for which we only use the best possible work. Hopefully this piece will inspire and delight in equal measure.” #destroytheday