May 10, 1998

The Longing to Be Saved

by Maxine Kumin


Today's Reading: "The Longing to Be Saved" by Maxine Kumin from SELECTED POEMS 1960-1990, published by W.W. Norton & Company (1997).

It's the birthday in Philadelphia, 1944, of dancer and choreographer JUDITH JAMISON, who got her musical start on violin and piano at home, and singing in the choir at Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Philadelphia. She went to Fisk University as a psychology major, then transferred to the Philadelphia Dance Academy. Agnes de Mille discovered her and she made her New York debut with American Ballet Theatre, then went on to dance for years in the Alvin Ailey Dance Theater. In 1989 she was named director of the company.

It was on this day in 1940 that Germany began its BLITZ OF THE NETHERLANDS. "Blitz" is the German word for "lightning" and the Germans hit the Dutch border with an overwhelming barrage of tanks, dive-bombers, and artillery.

FRED ASTAIRE, was born on this day in 1899 in Omaha, Nebraska, given the name Frederick Austerlitz, the son of a beer salesman. He starred in more than 30 film musicals between 1933 and 1968, eleven of those with Ginger Rogers, dancing to Cole Porter, Irving Berlin, Jerome Kern and George Gershwin. "Dancing is a sweat job," he said. "You can't just sit down and do it, you have to get up on your feet. When you're experimenting you have to try so many things before you choose what you want, that you may go days getting nothing but exhaustion, like tracking something that doesn't want to be tracked."

It's the anniversary of the ASTOR PLACE RIOT, in New York City, 1849. It grew out of a feud between actors William Macready from England, and Edwin Forrest, an American. Macready was here on a tour and thought Americans were kind of vulgar -- and he said so publicly. Forrest, in his own comments, defended his people. On the 8th of May, in a performance of Macbeth at the Astor Place Opera House, Forrest's fans booed Macready right off the stage. Two days later, on the 10th, a mob tossed bricks through the opera house windows while Macready was performing. The governor called out the militia; the troops were ordered to fire on the mob and 22 people were killed.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




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