January 20, 1954 — William Burroughs writes his first letter home from Tangier

Burroughs was inspired by the works of Paul Bowles to visit Tangier, and found it much to his liking. He rented a room in the home of a procurer who supplied prostitutes to visiting tourists, and began to write. Burroughs referred to his prodigious output of fiction in this period as “Interzone”, and it would later form the basis of his best known work, “Naked Lunch”.

He also maintained a regular correspondence with friends and relatives, notably Kerouac and Ginsberg, as well as Burroughs’ parents (whom he was financially dependent on at this time). Although Burroughs stayed in Tangier only a few months before returning to America, there was never any question that he would return, and he saw in the new year of 1955 there.

Burroughs in 1983
By Re-cropped derivative work: Burn t (talk)
Burroughs1983_cropped.jpg: Chuck Patch – Burroughs1983_cropped.jpg, CC BY-SA 2.0, Link

As mentioned in:

Bug Powder Dust — Bomb The Bass

May 20, 1954 — “Rock Around The Clock” released

One, two, three o’clock, four o’clock rock…

Rightly or wrongly, this is the song – and Bill Haley and his Comets are the band – that is remembered as the first rock and roll song. It’s simple, fun and catchy, and if you can listen to it without tapping your foot along in time, you most likely don’t have feet.

It went to number one in the US, the UK and Germany, and then used as the opening theme song of “Happy Days” two decades later, permanently burning it into the cultural collective unconscious.

June 9, 1954 — Joseph Welch stops Joseph McCarthy in his tracks

Joseph McCarthy had been hunting the Reds under America’s beds for years when he turned his attention to the Army in 1953. But this time, it went badly for him. At the end of the Korean War, the Army was popular. And McCarthy’s own fortunes were fading, which fed his alcoholism and led to displays of arrogance as he tried to recapture the power he had once had.

In 1954, McCarthy was confronted by Joseph Welch, the Army’s head attorney. In a memorable exchange, he was repeatedly rebuked by Welch for trying to tar a young man in Welch’s office with his slurs. The part the Welch is most remembered for is these words:

“Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Listen to the song – the actual sample appears in it.