Aug. 14, 1998


by Galway Kinnell


Today's Reading: "Daybreak" by Galway Kinnell from MORTAL ACTS, MORTAL WORDS, published by Houghton Mifflin Co. (1980).

The NEWPORT JAZZ FESTIVAL gets underway today in Newport, Rhode Island, and runs through Sunday. The ILLINOIS STATE FAIR also starts today and goes through the 23rd of the month.

It's the birthday in Tacoma, Washington, 1950, of GARY LARSON, the cartoonist-creator of The Far Side. He first sold six cartoons to a regional magazine, then sold another batch to the San Francisco Chronicle in 1979 who began syndicating The Far Side to over 900 papers.

It's the birthday in Rome, 1928, of director and screenwriter LINA WERTMÜLLER, best known for the 1974 film Swept Away, and The Seven Beauties, which came out two years later, the story of an Italian prisoner who has to give up all his morals in a WWII concentration camp.

It's RUSSELL BAKER's birthday, born in 1925, in Loudon County, Virginia. He went to work as a journalist at the Baltimore Sun, writing a weekly column called "From a Window on Fleet Street." The New York Times hired him in 1954, and he went to Washington to cover the White House and Congress during the Eisenhower and Kennedy years. He also started writing the "Observer" column on the editorial page and by 1979 won the Pulitzer Prize for commentary. He won another Pulitzer four years later, this time for his autobiography, Growing Up.

It's the birthday in Alderson, West Virginia, 1894, of Ada Beatrice Queen Victoria Louis Virginia Smith – better known in the years between the wars as BRICKTOP, the queen of the nightclubs. She ran the café society clubs in Paris, Mexico City and Rome, and it was the place where anybody who was anybody came for drinks and a show. Cole Porter, Ernest Hemingway, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Steinbeck frequented her clubs, which were named Bricktop, and just about everybody called her "Brick," or "Brickie."

The famous COLOGNE CATHEDRAL – with the towering, twin black steeples, was finally completed on this day in 1880, 632 years in the works. There's been a church in Cologne on that site, right on the Rhine River, since the year 873, but a fire in 1248 destroyed much of it. Rebuilding stopped in 1560 during the Plagues, starting again nearly 300 years later in the 1840s. One hundred years later, in WWII, Allied bombers flattened about 80% of the city of Cologne, but left the Cathedral standing.

It's the birthday in Surrey, 1864, of the British novelist JOHN GALSWORTHY, who wrote The Forsyte Saga, a series of novels about three generations of the Forsytes, an upper-middle-class family in turn-of-the-century-England headed by the manipulative lawyer Soames Forsyte. In 1921 he founded PEN, the international organization for writers, and in 1932 won the Nobel Prize for Literature.

It's the birthday in Lawrence, Massachusetts, 1863, of ERNEST L. THAYER, who is remembered today for one piece, "Casey at the Bat." He was 24 years old and got $5 for it when it ran anonymously in the June 3, 1888, Sunday edition of the San Francisco Examiner. And by the turn of the century it was said that there was hardly an American alive who hadn't heard or read it; which annoyed Thayer, since his other books and poems were completely overshadowed by it.

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




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