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12 Star-Studded Benefits Before the 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief

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Tonight's 12-12-12 Concert for Sandy Relief is the latest in a long tradition of performers coming together to raise spirits and money for a charitable cause. See how many of these previous fund-raising festivals you remember.

1. The Concert for Bangladesh

A nine month long war in East Pakistan ended in 1971 with the formation of the independent state of Bangladesh. Partly due to the war, relief efforts in the wake of the deadly Bhola Cyclone that claimed at least 500,000 lives in November 1970 in that area were sorely lacking. Former Beatle George Harrison stepped up to the plate and organized what is widely considered to be the first large-scale benefit concert, held in two sessions at Madison Square Garden on August 1, 1971. The Concert for Bangladesh featured such notable musicians as Ringo Starr, Eric Clapton, Leon Russell, Billy Preston and Bob Dylan playing together as a “supergroup.” Besides the actual concert ticket sales, proceeds from the live album and companion film combined to raise $12 million (in 1970s dollars) for the Bangladesh refugee relief effort.

2. One-to-One Concert

In 1972 a rookie reporter for WABC-TV named Geraldo Rivera won a Peabody Award for his exposé on the neglect and abuse of mentally retarded (as they were called at that time) residents at Staten Island’s Willowbrook State School. John Lennon saw the special and contacted Rivera with an offer to perform at a benefit concert if Geraldo would help to organize it. The end result was the One-to-One charity, which raised funds to sponsor smaller, residential group homes for the mentally disabled, and organized volunteers who would donate their time to work one-on-one with such individuals, teaching them life skills and taking them to recreational outings. Prior to the first of two concerts at Madison Square Garden in August 1972, Rivera remarked to John Lennon that he feared the tickets wouldn’t sell out; John’s response was to purchase $60,000 worth of tickets and give them away to volunteers who’d pledged to work “one-to-one” with the residents of Willowbrook, as well as waiving his performance fee. The bill also included Stevie Wonder, Roberta Flack and Sha-Na-Na.

3. Concert for Kampuchea

Over the course of four days in late December 1979, Paul McCartney presented, with the assistance of then-Secretary General of the U.N. Kurt Waldheim, a series of concerts at London’s Hammersmith-Odeon to raise funds for the citizens of the war-torn nation of Cambodia/Kampuchea. The concerts were a showcase for the Old Guard meeting the New, with such stalwarts as The Who, Queen and members of Led Zeppelin alternating stage time with Elvis Costello, the Pretenders and the Clash. The encore numbers, performed by an all-star band nicknamed “Rockestra” featured a “Who’s Who” line-up that included Robert Plant, Gary Brooker, Pete Townsend, James Honeyman-Scott, Ronnie Lane, John Paul Jones and Dave Edmunds, to name but a few.

4. No Nukes

Shortly after the accident at the Three Mile Island nuclear facility in March 1979, Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and Graham Nash formed Musicians United for Safe Energy. In September of that year, MUSE hosted five nights of concerts at Madison Square Garden to raise awareness of the possible dangers of nuclear energy. Carly Simon, James Taylor, the Doobie Brothers, Chaka Khan, Tom Petty, and Bruce Springsteen were among the performers (poor Chaka Khan thought the audience was booing her when they began chanting for “Bruuuuce!”). Between the concerts and a companion album and film, only about $1.5 million was raised, but the good news is that thus far the giant mutant sponges that Graham Nash warned us about haven’t inherited the Earth.

5. ARMS

In the late 1970s, bassist Ronnie Lane, a founding member of the Small Faces and later the Faces, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, a disease which his mother and brother also suffered from (despite a doctor’s previous assurances that the illness was not hereditary). The rock community rallied around their stricken brother, and Action for Research into Multiple Sclerosis was born. On September 23, 1983, a charity concert was held at London’s Royal Albert Hall with such industry giants as Jimmy Page, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Bill Wyman, Joe Cocker, Charlie Watts, Ron Wood, and Steve Winwood sharing the stage for an audience that included Prince Charles and Princess Diana. The show was so well-received that a mini-U.S. tour of nine concerts was subsequently arranged. Lane died of MS-related pneumonia 21 years after his initial diagnosis.

6. Music for UNICEF

On January 1, 1979, United Nations Secretary-General Kurt Waldheim signed a proclamation declaring 1979 to be the International Year of the Child. Robert Stigwood and David Frost gathered some of the biggest names in pop music at the time (including Donna Summer, Olivia Newton-John, Earth, Wind and Fire, and Andy Gibb) to perform a benefit concert to raise money for worldwide hunger programs. Billed as “A Gift of Song,” the event was held on January 9, 1979, at the United Nations General Assembly in New York. Most of the acts waived their performance fees and also donated the royalties from one of their songs to the cause. Rod Stewart was definitely live (and on fire) as he asked the musical question “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy?”

7. Live Aid

The July 13, 1985, benefit to raise funds for the famine victims in Ethiopia was the first such event to be held on a massive, global scale. Thanks to then-cutting edge satellite hook-ups, the concerts (featuring everyone from David Bowie to Elton John to Phil Collins to Run-DMC to Duran Duran) in London and Philadelphia were broadcast live to over a billion people in 150 different nations. There were technical difficulties aplenty along the way – Paul McCartney’s microphone was silent during the first few bars of “Let It Be,” several artists hit sour notes heard ‘round the world (notice how Madonna lowered many lines of “Into the Groove” an octave during that pre-AutoTune era) and The Who’s TV feed cut out with uncanny timing just as Roger Daltry sang “Why don’t y’all f-f-fade away…”. But Live Aid was still a major milestone with a roster of names never likely to be seen on the same stage at one time again, and it did raise millions of dollars for its intended cause. Of course, at the end of the day it was Queen (as confirmed by a poll of 60 fellow artists, journalists and industry execs) who stole the show. The band had done their homework and had rented a London theater a week prior to Live Aid in order to rehearse and tighten up their 20-minute “greatest hits” slot, and it paid off—watch as Freddie Mercury easily engages a crowd of 72,000 fans who’ve been sitting in the hot summer heat for six hours.

8. Farm Aid

While onstage at Live Aid in Philadelphia, Bob Dylan tossed off a remark about how nice it would be if some of the money raised that day could benefit the American farmers who were in danger of losing their land due to mortgage debt. Willie Nelson, Neil Young, and John Mellencamp were inspired by Dylan’s comment and organized a benefit concert held in September 1985 at the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus. A variety of rock and country artists appeared in front of 80,000 fans and just over $9 million was raised for America’s family farmers. Farm Aid has evolved into an ongoing annual event and the resulting funds are used to provide food, financial, legal and medical assistance to farmers who have lost their homes and crops to natural disasters.

9. Stars 4 SARS

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) was first reported in a Toronto woman who’d recently returned from a trip to Hong Kong in February 2003. Within two months, almost 300 other people in the Greater Toronto Area were infected and hospitalized. The World Health Organization (WHO) issued an advisory that limited travel to Toronto, and the area’s economy—which depended heavily on tourism—took a huge hit. The Rolling Stones, who felt a certain kinship with the city (they often rehearsed there prior to touring, Keith Richards was arrested for heroin there, and Ron Wood had famously canoodled with Margaret Trudeau), organized a massive benefit concert with the aim of bringing people back to the city after the WHO ban was lifted. Almost half a million people attended what was the largest ticketed event in Canadian history in order to see AC/DC, Rush, the Guess Who, Sass Jordan and others. Sadly, Justin Timberlake was booed and pelted with debris during his set by fans who were waiting for the harder rock of the Stones and AC/DC. Mick Jagger responded by inviting Timberlake onstage to duet with him on the Stones classic “Miss You."

10. The Secret Policeman’s Other Ball

This September 9, 1981, concert held at London’s Drury Lane Theatre was the fourth in an annual series staged to raise money for Amnesty International. However, most of the previous shows had focused on comedy acts (the Monty Python crew was always one of the main attractions, for example) rather than music. The Other Ball was the first to focus primarily on rock music and was the genesis for many musicians to get involved in charity fundraising and human rights. Sting, Phil Collins, Midge Ure, Jeff Beck, and Eric Clapton all performed, as did a young Bob Geldof. Interestingly enough, when concert organizer Martin Lewis first contacted Geldof about appearing at the show, the Boomtown Rats frontman replied, “'Oh, you f***ing hippies, with your f***ing do-gooding ways ... Do you think you can save the world with a f***ing concert?” Obviously the event was eye-opening enough for Sir Bob to quickly change his tune regarding charity concerts.

11. America: A Tribute to Heroes

Actor George Clooney helped to assemble this September 21, 2001, all-star benefit that raised money for the victims (and their families) of the 9/11 attacks. Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Celine Dion, U2, Alicia Keys, the Goo Goo Dolls, and Sheryl Crow were just a few of the performers who appeared either in the New York, Los Angeles or London studio in a the telethon-style show that was simulcast on 35 cable and network stations in the U.S. and Canada commercial-free. A variety of actors also made appeals on-camera and worked the telephone banks, and just over $200 million was raised for the United Way’s September 11 Fund.

12. 46664

On November 29, 2003, Nelson Mandela (former prisoner number 46664) hosted a charity all-star concert to raise awareness of the spread of HIV/AIDS in South Africa. Held at Cape Town’s Green Point Stadium, the show featured a variety of popular African artists as well as some more internationally famous names, like Beyoncé Knowles, Peter Gabriel, Eurhythmics, Robert Plant, and the Corrs.

For 12-12-12, we’ll be posting twenty-four '12 lists' throughout the day. Check back 12 minutes after every hour for the latest installment, or see them all here.

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Food
The Gooey History of the Fluffernutter Sandwich

Open any pantry in New England and chances are you’ll find at least one jar of Marshmallow Fluff. Not just any old marshmallow crème, but Fluff; the one manufactured by Durkee-Mower of Lynn, Massachusetts since 1920, and the preferred brand of the northeast. With its familiar red lid and classic blue label, it's long been a favorite guilty pleasure and a kitchen staple beloved throughout the region.

This gooey, spreadable, marshmallow-infused confection is used in countless recipes and found in a variety of baked goods—from whoopie pies and Rice Krispies Treats to chocolate fudge and beyond. And in the beyond lies perhaps the most treasured concoction of all: the Fluffernutter sandwich—a classic New England treat made with white bread, peanut butter, and, you guessed it, Fluff. No jelly required. Or wanted.

There are several claims to the origin of the sandwich. The first begins with Revolutionary War hero Paul Revere—or, not Paul exactly, but his great-great-great-grandchildren Emma and Amory Curtis of Melrose, Massachusetts. Both siblings were highly intelligent and forward-thinkers, and Amory was even accepted into MIT. But when the family couldn’t afford to send him, he founded a Boston-based company in the 1890s that specialized in soda fountain equipment.

He sold the business in 1901 and used the proceeds to buy the entire east side of Crystal Street in Melrose. Soon after he built a house and, in his basement, he created a marshmallow spread known as Snowflake Marshmallow Crème (later called SMAC), which actually predated Fluff. By the early 1910s, the Curtis Marshmallow Factory was established and Snowflake became the first commercially successful shelf-stable marshmallow crème.

Although other companies were manufacturing similar products, it was Emma who set the Curtis brand apart from the rest. She had a knack for marketing and thought up many different ways to popularize their marshmallow crème, including the creation of one-of-a-kind recipes, like sandwiches that featured nuts and marshmallow crème. She shared her culinary gems in a weekly newspaper column and radio show. By 1915, Snowflake was selling nationwide.

During World War I, when Americans were urged to sacrifice meat one day a week, Emma published a recipe for a peanut butter and marshmallow crème sandwich. She named her creation the "Liberty Sandwich," as a person could still obtain his or her daily nutrients while simultaneously supporting the wartime cause. Some have pointed to Emma’s 1918 published recipe as the earliest known example of a Fluffernutter, but the earliest recipe mental_floss can find comes from three years prior. In 1915, the confectioners trade journal Candy and Ice Cream published a list of lunch offerings that candy shops could advertise beyond hot soup. One of them was the "Mallonut Sandwich," which involved peanut butter and "marshmallow whip or mallo topping," spread on lightly toasted whole wheat bread.

Another origin story comes from Somerville, Massachusetts, home to entrepreneur Archibald Query. Query began making his own version of marshmallow crème and selling it door-to-door in 1917. Due to sugar shortages during World War I, his business began to fail. Query quickly sold the rights to his recipe to candy makers H. Allen Durkee and Fred Mower in 1920. The cost? A modest $500 for what would go on to become the Marshmallow Fluff empire.

Although the business partners promoted the sandwich treat early in the company’s history, the delicious snack wasn’t officially called the Fluffernutter until the 1960s, when Durkee-Mower hired a PR firm to help them market the sandwich, which resulted in a particularly catchy jingle explaining the recipe.

So who owns the bragging rights? While some anonymous candy shop owner was likely the first to actually put the two together, Emma Curtis created the early precursors and brought the concept to a national audience, and Durkee-Mower added the now-ubiquitous crème and catchy name. And the Fluffernutter has never lost its popularity.

In 2006, the Massachusetts state legislature spent a full week deliberating over whether or not the Fluffernutter should be named the official state sandwich. On one side, some argued that marshmallow crème and peanut butter added to the epidemic of childhood obesity. The history-bound fanatics that stood against them contended that the Fluffernutter was a proud culinary legacy. One state representative even proclaimed, "I’m going to fight to the death for Fluff." True dedication, but the bill has been stalled for more than a decade despite several revivals and subsequent petitions from loyal fans.

But Fluff lovers needn’t despair. There’s a National Fluffernutter Day (October 8) for hardcore fans, and the town of Somerville, Massachusetts still celebrates its Fluff pride with an annual What the Fluff? festival.

"Everyone feels like Fluff is part of their childhood," said self-proclaimed Fluff expert and the festival's executive director, Mimi Graney, in an interview with Boston Magazine. "Whether born in the 1940s or '50s, or '60s, or later—everyone feels nostalgic for Fluff. I think New Englanders in general have a particular fondness for it."

Today, the Fluffernutter sandwich is as much of a part of New England cuisine as baked beans or blueberry pie. While some people live and die by the traditional combination, the sandwich now comes in all shapes and sizes, with the addition of salty and savory toppings as a favorite twist. Wheat bread is as popular as white, and many like to grill their sandwiches for a touch of bistro flair. But don't ask a New Englander to swap out their favorite brand of marshmallow crème. That’s just asking too Fluffing much.

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The Hospital in the Rock
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History
Budapest’s Former Top-Secret Hospital Inside a Cave
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The Hospital in the Rock

At the top of a hill in Budapest, overlooking the Danube River, sits Buda Castle, a gorgeous UNESCO World Heritage site visited by thousands of tourists every year. Directly underneath the castle, however, lies a less-frequented tourist attraction: a series of ancient, naturally formed caves with a colorful and sometimes disturbing history.

The entire cave system is over six miles long, and most of that has been left unchanged since it was used as cold storage (and a rumored dungeon) in the Middle Ages. Between 1939 and 2008, however, a half-mile stretch of those caves was built up and repurposed many times over. Known as Sziklakorhaz or The Hospital in the Rock, its many uses are a testament to the area’s involvement in World War II and the Cold War.

At the start of World War II, the location served as a single-room air raid center, but operating theaters, corridors, and wards were quickly added to create a much-needed hospital. By early 1944, the hospital had officially opened inside the cave, tending to wounded Hungarian and Nazi soldiers. After less than a year of operation, the facility found itself facing its largest challenge—the Siege of Budapest, which lasted seven weeks and was eventually won by Allied forces on their way to Berlin.

As one of the few area hospitals still operational, the Hospital in the Rock was well over capacity during the siege. Originally built to treat around 70 patients, close to 700 ended up crammed into the claustrophobic caves. The wounded lay three to a bed—if they were lucky enough to get a bed at all. Unsurprisingly, heat from all those bodies raised the ambient temperature to around 95°F, and smoking cigarettes was the number one way to pass the time. Add that to the putrid mix of death, decay, and infection and you’ve got an incredibly unpleasant wartime cocktail.

A recreation inside the museum. Image credit: The Hospital in the Rock 

After the siege, the Soviets took control of the caves (and Budapest itself) and gutted the hospital of most of its supplies. Between 1945 and 1948, the hospital produced a vaccination for typhus. As the icy grasp of the Cold War began to tighten, new wards were built, new equipment was installed, and the hospital was designated top-secret by the Soviets, referred to only by its official codename LOSK 0101/1.

Eleven years after facing the horrors of the Siege of Budapest, in 1956, the hospital hosted the casualties of another battle: The Hungarian Uprising. Thousands of Hungarians revolted against the Soviet policies of the Hungarian People’s Republic in a fierce, prolonged battle. Civilians and soldiers alike lay side-by-side in wards as surgeons attempted to save them. During the uprising, seven babies were also born in the hospital.

Surgeons lived on-site and rarely surfaced from the caves. The hospital’s chief surgeon at the time, Dr. András Máthé, famously had a strict "no amputation" rule, which seemed to fly in the face of conventional wisdom, but in the end reportedly saved many patients' lives. (Máthé also reportedly wore a bullet that he’d removed from a patient’s head on a chain around his neck.)

The Hospital in the Rock ceased normal operations in December 1956, after the Soviets squashed the uprising, as the Soviets had new plans for the caves. With the Cold War now in full swing, the still-secret site was converted into a bunker that could serve as a hospital in case of nuclear attack. Diesel engines and an air conditioning system were added in the early '60s, so that even during a blackout, the hospital could still function for a couple of days.

The Hospital in the Rock

The official plan for the bunker was as follows: In the event of a nuclear attack, a selection of doctors and nurses would retreat to the bunker, where they would remain for 72 hours. Afterward, they were to go out and search for survivors. Special quarantined rooms, showering facilities, and even a barbershop were on site for survivors brought back to the site. (The only haircut available to them, however, was a shaved head; radioactive material is notoriously difficult to remove from hair.)

Thankfully, none of these nuclear procedures were ever put into practice. But the hospital was never formally decommissioned, and it wasn’t relieved of its top-secret status until the mid-2000s. For a while, it was still being used as a storage facility by Hungary’s Civil Defense Force. The bunker was maintained by a nearby family, who were sworn to secrecy. In 2004, it was decided that responsibility for the site fell solely on St. John’s Hospital in Budapest, who were seen as the de facto owners in the wake of the collapse of the Soviet Union.

By 2008 the bunker was renovated, refurbished, and ready to be opened to the public. Today it operates as a museum, with exhibits detailing life in the hospital from various periods of its history, as well as the history of combat medicine as a whole. The sobering hour-long walk around the hospital concludes with a cautionary gaze into the atrocities of nuclear attacks, with the final walk to the exit featuring a gallery of art created by survivors of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings.

Another part of the caves beneath Buda Castle. Image credit:Sahil Jatana via Flickr // CC BY-NC 2.0

The caves beneath Buda Castle have certainly had a bumpy history, and walking through them now is chilling (and not just because they keep the temperature at around 60°F). A tour through the narrow, oppressive hallways is a glimpse at our narrowly avoided nuclear future—definitely a sobering way to spend an afternoon.

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