Jul. 22, 1998

A Suburban Childhood

by Liz Rosenberg

Comin' Thro The Rye

by Robert Burns


Today's Reading: "A Suburban Childhood" by Liz Rosenberg from THE FIRE MUSIC, published by University of Pittsburgh Press. "Comin thro' the Rye'" by Robert Burns.

It's the birthday in Grand Rapids, Michigan, 1946, of PAUL SCHRADER, the screenwriter of Taxi Driver and other films. He wrote film reviews for the Los Angeles Free Press and during a two-week hospital stay in 1975 turned out Taxi Driver, then followed that up with Raging Bull, The Last Temptation of Christ, and others.

It's the birthday in Seattle, 1932, of playwright MEGAN TERRY, best known for Calm Down Mother, and Keep Tightly Closed in a Cool Dry Place, each written in the mid-1960s.

The sculptor ALEXANDER CALDER was born on this day in Lawnton, Pennsylvania, 1898. His parents and grandparents were all sculptors, too, though he didn't show much interest in it growing up. In the mid-1920s he went to Paris to study art, and just for fun, began creating tiny wood and wire animal sculptures which he fashioned into a miniature circus. Calder's circus became all the rage in Paris, and soon he was experimenting with motorized versions of his sculptures, which the artist Marcel Duchamp named "mobiles." For the rest of his life he worked in sculpture, creating larger and larger pieces.

It's the birthday in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, 1898, of writer STEPHEN VINCENT BENET, famous for his long narrative poem about the Civil War, John Brown's Body, which came out in 1928 and won him the Pulitzer Prize.

It's the birthday in Nyack, New York, 1882, of artist EDWARD HOPPER, who painted city scenes of lonely, isolated characters, like those in the 1942 painting "Nighthawks," four people at the counter of an all-night café. He started off as an illustrator, but made several trips to Europe in the first years of this century to study painting. He came back to the States and studied under a group of artists known as the Ashcan School, painters who wanted to depict everyday scenes. Only when Hopper was over 40 did his work start to attract any attention.

Poet EMMA LAZARUS was born on this day in 1849, in New York, the writer whose lines "Give me your tired, your poor," are affixed in bronze to the Statue of Liberty's base. She was only a teenager when her first book of poems came out and attracted the attention of Ralph Waldo Emerson. She also wrote romantic stories, translations of German poets, and more of her own poetry, including a sonnet published in 1881 when she was 32 years old entitled "The New Colossus," which ends: "Give me your tired, your poor,/Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free,/The wretched refuse of your teeming shore./Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me/I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

It's the birthday in Heinzendorf, Austria of botanist GREGOR MENDEL, 1822, whose work beginning in 1856, crossing different varieties of garden peas, became the basis for the modern science of genetics and heredity. He was a monk and did most of his experiments in obscurity in his monastery garden.

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