Aug. 11, 1998

Seven Deadly Sins

by Virginia Hamilton Adair


Today's Reading: "Seven Deadly Sins" by Virginia Hamilton Adair from BELIEFS AND BLASPHEMIES, published by Random House (1998).

Tonight and early into the morning the PERSEID METEOR SHOWERS peak, generally averaging about one visible meteor per minute. Sometimes called St. Lawrence's tears, the Perseids are a swarm of meteors that move around the Sun and happen to be in the earth's path at this time each year.

It was on this day in 1965 that RACE RIOTS erupted in WATTS, in southwestern Los Angeles. Over the next six days as mobs burned stores and pillaged the area, 3,000 people were arrested, 1,000 injured, and 34 killed.

It's the birthday in Los Angeles, 1957, of playwright DAVID HWANG, who wrote M. Butterfly, FOB, Family Devotions, and Rich Relations – all of them about Chinese ethnic tensions. He grew up in the Los Angeles suburb of San Gabriel, the son of Chinese immigrants, and went to school in Hollywood Hills, where, he said, "There were a lot of Asians and Hispanics. I didn't have much ethnic consciousness at the time. I was Chinese, but it was no more different than having red hair."

It's the birthday in Lake Charles, Louisiana, 1936, of ANDRE DUBUS, the short-story writer and author of collections like Dancing After Hours, which came out two years ago; Finding a Girl in America, and The Times Are Never So Bad, both published in the early '80s – most of the stories set in small New England, blue-collar towns. Twelve years ago Dubuse was helping a stranded motorist on I-93 near Wilmington, Massachusetts, and was struck by a car. His left leg had to be amputated and he's been in a wheelchair since; his Meditations from a Movable Chair came out just a few weeks ago, a collection of essays about the people who have meant the most to him – including his father, his sister, Norman Mailer, and a gay military officer.

It's the birthday in 1897, Livermore Falls, Maine, of poet LOUISE BOGAN, The New Yorker's poetry reviewer for 38 years (1931-69). She attended school in Boston and wrote most of her poetry as a young woman. Her poetry appeared in the New Republic, Scribner's, and Atlantic Monthly in the 1920s and '30s, and collections like Body of This Death (1923), Dark Summer (1929), and The Sleeping Fury (1937).

It's the birthday of HUGH MacDIARMID, the Scottish poet, born in Dumfriesshire, 1892. He served in WWI and afterward began experimenting with a new language that he made up himself out of several Scottish dialects. He published poems in it during the 1930s and '40s to champion Scottish nationalism. He's remembered today for his 1926 collection called A Drunk Man Looks at the Thistle.

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




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