The celebration continues! Pegasus Lighting is 15 this year, and to commemorate our anniversary we’re creating monthly blog posts about popular culture 15 years ago. You know, just to remember where we came from. July 1999 was a tumultuous month. There were some inspirational moments, tragic moments, and just plain bizarre moments, like when we intentionally crashed a spacecraft into the moon. Enjoy this walk down memory lane. Don’t forget your baggy pants, hair gel, and Christina Aguilera CDs.
1. Moon Boom
In July 1999, NASA intentionally crashed the Lunar Prospector spacecraft into the Moon. This was a decisive way to end the spacecraft’s mission to detect frozen water on the moon’s surface. I mean, it’s not like there are no littering signs up there (yet), so why NOT leave the junker there? Plus, and this is just my personal opinion, when you have the chance to create an action movie style spaceship explosion in space, and no one will get hurt, DEFINITELY create a spaceship explosion in space. Every. Time. Thank you.
2. In Other Space News
Mercury-Redstone 4, the second U.S. spaceflight, which launched in July 1961, resulted in the near-death of astronaut Virgil I. Grissom and the sinking of the Liberty Bell 7 spacecraft. The vessel was rescued from the depths of the Atlantic in July 1999.
3. Lance Does a Victory Dance (Possibly Drug-Induced)
Good old Lance Armstrong of LIVESTRONG and doping fame won his first Tour de France in July 1999. It was the beginning of an Armstrong era that would later be tainted by the fact that Armstrong was doing unethical things to give him the edge to win. Live Strong? Even if it means cheating? Thanks a lot, Lance. Great role model. Pshh.
4. Crash in Martha’s Vineyard
Off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard, a plane piloted by John F. Kennedy Jr. crashed, killing him and his wife Caroyln Bessette Kennedy and her sister Lauren Bessette. Very sad. Sorry for depressing you. But this is what was – phew! – I almost said “This is what was going down.” That would have been indelicate phrasing. This is what was HAPPENING in July 1999.
5. HARRY POTTAH!
In July 1999, the third novel in the HARRY POTTER series, HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN, was published in the UK. It sold 68,000 copies in the first three days and won a bunch of prestigious literary awards. Cha-ching!
6. A Blur of a Man
A gifted Morroccan athlete named Hicham El Guerrouj, who would later be nicknamed the “King of the Mile,” ran the fastest mile ever recorded in July 1999. His time? 3:43:13. A double gold medalist in the Olympic Games, he is considered by many to be the best middle distance runner of all time. I mean, 3:43:13?! It’s almost disturbing!
In a bizarre event, a Japanese man named Yuji Nishizawa hijacked an All Nippon Airways Boeing 747 and stabbed one of the pilots with a 8″ kitchen knife before being subdued by the crew. The pilot died shortly after the emergency landing, and the perpetrator was apprehended. Because he was diagnosed with mental illness, he was given a sentence of life in prison. Weirdly, he had discovered a way to smuggle weapons on planes, and, shortly before the incident, he had written to the airline alerting them to the security flaw and asking for a job in airport security. No one listened, until the hijacking. Then, the security flaw was fixed in all Japanese airports. Some people, man. Makes you want to go back in time and slap some sense into him.
8. Woodstock Again… Again
They tried to recreate the Woodstock music festival in 1994. What happened? Violence and destruction. So they figured, hey! Let’s give it another go! So, in July 1999, Woodstock 99 was held in Rome, NY. What happened? Violence and destruction. And sexual assault. Sorry Limp Bizkit fans, this is not going to work out. There were no more Woodstocks. (Or Limp Bizkit fans, incidentally.)
9. Andre Is Wimble DONE!
On the Fourth of July, in Wimbledon, England, under a blazing sun, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi were battling it on the grass out for glory and riches. And a real big trophy. Pete Sampras defeated Agassi in three sets and called the match the “best tennis of [his] life.”
10. It’s Electric! (I know. Sorry.)
Florida commits its last act of execution by electric chair. The convict? Allen Lee Davis. I won’t go into detail about his heinous crimes. Or his execution. But it was shocking enough – oops I did it again! – I mean APPALLING enough for death by electric chair to be considered cruel and unusual punishment from then on in the state of Florida.
11. Hello Safeco
The inaugural baseball game was held at the Seattle Mariners’ Safeco Field in July, 1999. The field looked great. But the Mariners lost to the San Diego Padres, 2-3. Womp womp.
12. American Why? Just Why?
The controversial comedy AMERICAN PIE was released on July 9, 1999, and pie sales plummeted.
13. Kubrick’s Very Strange (And Arguably Unnecessary) Filmic Gift
Stanley Kubrick’s latest film EYES WIDE SHUT was released in the middle of the month. Mask party, anyone?
14. Teenie Genie in a Bottle
Christina Aguilera was unleashed to the world in late July, when her song “Genie in a Bottle” went to number one on the Billboard charts (and remained there for five weeks). Aguilera was the Pepsi to Britney Spears’s Coke. Or was it the other way around? Since Spears and Aguilera hit the scene 15 years ago, at a time when they seemed virtually interchangeable, differences in their personalities have become apparent. I’ll say no more.
15. The Backstreet Boys Take on the World
OK, this quality of this video is almost as embarrassing as the music, choreography, and general aesthetics of this performance, which was given to an audience in Spain on July 17, 1999. I mean, seriously? Those shoulder pads – and the fact that millions of people were thrilled by them – makes one question the fundamental integrity of the human spirit. And that’s why I end with this travesty. Because what is a pop culture throwback if not an indictment of society at large? I’m joking. I hope you’ve enjoyed this walk down Memory Lane.
Conclusion: Happy Birthday, Us!