Elvis Aaron Presley, born gorgeous and brooding in Tupelo, had an identical twin, Jesse Garon, who died stillborn. Elvis, too, had a double. Even The King was marked by loss.

The anarchist in Buffalo who killed President William McKinley in 1901 was a sad-eyed, unemployed factory worker from Cincinnati, Leon Czolgosz, son of Polish immigrants. He is allied in history with such enigmatic men as Sante Geronimo Caserio, Italian anarchist who killed French President Marie-François Sadi-Carnot in 1894; Michele Angiolillo, Italian anarchist who killed Spanish Prime Minister Antonio Canovas in 1897; and Luigi Lucheni, Italian anarchist who killed Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1898. (By the way, what’s with the Italians?) R.I.P, Leon Czolgosz! Though you are not Italian, at least you had a cause.

Miss Spain, Amparo Muñoz, was crowned Miss Universe of 1974 at the brand-new Folk Arts Theater in Manila. Beauty pageants, boxing matches, the backdrop of films—The Year of Living Dangerously, Platoon, Apocalypse Now. The country in the seventies becomes a theater, a spectacle, a screen for global enterprises of war, fantasy, and sex. The country is a spectacle curated by capitalism and dictatorship, watched over by a theatrical couple, the dictator and his wife, the Marcoses. Eleanor Coppola in her documentary, Hearts of Darkness, captures these times. Her husband’s helicopters for his Vietnam film, rented from the dictator’s army, keep being recalled without excuse in the middle of filming, ruining the film’s budget. Power play by the regime. Meanwhile, the communists in real-life are being killed by Marcos’s machines.

 

Balangiga, Samar, has been the eye of storms. Most famously: razed to the ground following uprising of its people on September 27, 1901—helped or not by Aguinaldo’s general in Samar, Vicente Lukban (opinions are divided). Their daring action was fit for a costume zarzuela, an operetta, with cross-dressing, divinely inspired but comely heroine, chess maneuvers, and inspired use of ancient martial arts. Americans found no women and children in Balangiga after the raid, despite evidence of their presence the night before when the Chief, Abanador, got Americans got drunk at a fake fiesta. Who knows if the revolutionaries were already in disguise—hairy women spooning out rice and bibingka to unsuspecting soldiers? Americans found absolutely no one in the burning huts of Balangiga, so they also burned the outlying towns, Giporlos, Guiuan, San Roque, Quinapundan. In fact, the U.S. Army kind of took all of Samar to exact revenge. Body counts range from 2,500 to 50,000, depending on who is doin...

 

Muhammad Ali is The Greatest. Was he friends with The King? He did receive a sequined robe from Elvis Presley in 1974 emblazoned with the words People’s Choice. A misnomer, as Ali was People’s Champ. Ali accepted the gift because, well, it was a $3000 rhinestone bathrobe from Elvis. He wore the robe in his fight against Ken Norton on March 31, 1974—which he lost. He never wore it again. It was just too damned heavy. T.M.S.—too many sequins. Ali grew up in Louisville, Kentucky, listening to Johnny Cash. Ali is a saint because he refused to go to war when he was drafted for Vietnam. He was a conscientious boxer. (On the other hand, Elvis suited up for the Korean War and admired President Nixon; Elvis was a man of civics and also wanted Nixon to appoint him America’s anti-drugs ambassador.) Ali was absolutely beautiful and made everyone want to be black.

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ELVIS AARON PRESLEY

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