Jul. 25, 1998

Tired As I Can Be

by Bessie Jackson


Today's Reading: "Tired As I Can Be" a lyric by Bessie Jackson.

It was on this day in 1944 that the ALLIES BROKE THROUGH GERMAN DEFENSES IN NORMANDY, FRANCE and began moving east toward Germany. Though the huge amphibious landing at Normandy had taken place in early June, German resistance brought the Allies to a standstill only about 20 miles inland. This was in the rugged hedgerow country where heavy armor proved nearly useless. Operation Cobra began on July 25th when Allied planes carpet-bombed several square miles west of the village of Saint Lo. On the 26th, the U.S. First Army poured in, and a few days later the U.S. Third Army under General George Patton followed and knifed deep into Brittany.

It's the birthday in St. Paul, 1927, of writer MIDGE DECTER, author of The Liberated Woman and Other Americans (1970), and The New Chastity and Other Arguments Against Women's Liberation (1972). She championed those who stayed at home and raised children: "In most discussion about this you would think that looking after little children is nothing but changing diapers. What's left out is how much fun it is. Anybody who has spent time with a two-year-old knows that it's both a terrific pain in the neck, a big worry, and a sensual and social pleasure of the extremest kind."

It's the birthday in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1907, of JOHNNY HODGES, the famous alto sax player with Duke Ellington's bands. He joined Ellington in 1928 and worked with him for four decades, making hundreds of records together.

It's ERIC HOFFER'S birthday, in New York, 1902, who worked as a longshoreman on the docks of San Francisco and wrote nine philosophy books – the best known of which came out in 1951, The True Believer. He supported himself first as a migrant farm worker then as a longshoreman, working only a few days a week so he could spend the rest of his time reading books and writing. He never had any formal schooling, and his books – including Working and Thinking on the Waterfront, and The Ordeal of Change – helped make him a kind of popular hero – the working man's philosopher who never went to school.

It's the birthday of DAVID BELASCO – San Francisco, 1853 – the theater man who became the first big producer of plays in New York; his name on the marquee was almost always placed above those of the actors, and it guaranteed ticket sales. He earned a reputation for lavish sets, fancy mechanical effects and for new types of lighting. Even though his shows were flamboyant, he himself was not: he dressed in austere clothes and was extremely reserved, and he became known as the "Bishop of Broadway."

It's the birthday in 1844, Philadelphia, of THOMAS EAKINS, the painter of realistic American scenes of the late 1800s like "Max Schmitt in a Single Scull," and "The Gross Clinic." Many of his paintings featured Eakins himself in the background, sometimes swimming, rowing a scull, or treading water next to his setter dog Harry.

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




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
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