May 19, 1998

From the Manifesto of the Selfish

by Stephen Dunn


Today's Reading: "From the Manifesto of the Selfish" by Stephen Dunn from NEW AND SELECTED POEMS 1974-1994, published by W.W. Norton & Company (1994).

Today is the birthday of screenwriter and director Nora Ephron (HEARTBURN; WHEN HARRY MET SALLY; SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE), born in New York City in 1941.

It's the birthday in Brooklyn, 1941, of New York Times writer JANE BRODY. She got a degree in biochemistry from Cornell and, instead, went into journalism: her first job at the Minneapolis Tribune, in 1963. She moved to the New York Times in 1965 to cover science, and in 1976 began her column, "Personal Health."

It's the birthday in Wichita, Kansas, 1934, of journalist JIM LEHRER, host of The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer on PBS. As a boy during the war he read the battlefield columns of Ernie Pyle and decided he wanted to become a journalist. He broke into it in the Marines, where he edited a training camp newsletter, then went to work as a political reporter for the Dallas Morning News before jumping to PBS, beginning his show with Robert MacNeil in 1975.

It's the birthday in Omaha, Nebraska, 1925, of the activist Malcolm Little, better known as MALCOLM X. When he was a kid growing up in Lansing, Michigan he saw his house burned down by the Ku Klux Klan, and two years later his father was murdered and his mother placed in a mental institution. He spent the next years in and out of detention homes, and in 1946 was jailed for burglary. In prison he converted to the Black Muslim faith, or the Nation of Islam. When he got out he changed his last name to "X," a custom in the Nation of Islam for those who reject the names white slaveholders gave their families.

Political leader Ho Chi Minh (Nguyen That Thanh) was born in the central Vietnamese village of Kim Lien, in 1890.

It's the birthday of merchant and philanthropist Johns Hopkins, who left the bulk of his fortune to be used in founding a great hospital and university. He was born in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, in 1895.

On this day in 1780, known as The Dark Day in New England, near total darkness descended on the entire Northeast at noon; no explanation was ever found.

ANNE BOLEYN, King Henry VIII's second wife, was beheaded at Tower Green in London, at noon on this day in 1536. The official charges against her were for incest and adultery, but Henry wanted her out of the way so he could marry Jane Seymour, Anne's lady-in-waiting, and hopefully conceive a son to inherit the throne. Anne and Henry had had a daughter three years earlier, but in early 1536 a son was stillborn, and Henry had Anne arrested.

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




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