Jan. 3, 2000

Sometimes Even Putting a Nickel in a Parking Meter Feels Good

by Charles Bukowski

Broadcast Date: MONDAY: January 3, 2000

Poem: "Sometimes Even Putting a Nickel in a Parking Meter Feels Good" by Charles Bukowski from What Matters Most is How Well You Feel When You Walk Through the Fire published by Black Sparrow Press.

It's the birthday of Roman statesman and orator Marcus Tullius Cicero, born in ancient Arpinium, now Arpino, Italy (106 B.C.). As a young man he studied law, oratory, literature and philosophy, worked as a defense lawyer, and in 74 B.C. was elected to serve in the Roman Senate alongside Julius Caesar. Cicero was known for his eloquence and incisive written dialogues on such themes as Law, Duty, Friendship, Old Age, The Republic and The Nature of the Gods. He preferred "tongue-tied knowledge to ignorant loquacity" and was passionate about true justice for the common man. He wrote, "Justice consists in doing no injury to men" and "The good of the people is the greatest law." He was executed by Octavian, conqueror of Rome, for his political views (43 B.C.).

It's the birthday of American abolitionist and feminist Lucretia (Coffin) Mott, born in 1793 on Nantucket Island, Massachusetts. The daughter of a staunchly liberal Quaker sea captain, Mott was given an education in both Boston public schools and Quaker boarding schools of New York; her father believed the exposure to these different worlds would teach Lucretia the realities of American life. She became a prominent figure in the Society of Friends and, enraged by the injustices of slavery and women's oppression, helped found the American Antislavery Society (1833) and the Women's Rights Convention (1848). With her husband, she made her home into a busy station of the Underground Railroad system; they helped many slaves escape to freedom. She wrote Discourse on Women (1850), outlining the hardships of American women in a male-dominated society. She lived to be 87, and died at her home outside Philadelphia in 1880.

It's the birthday of British philologist, medieval scholar and fantasy writer J(ohn) R(onald) R(euel) Tolkien, born in South Africa (1892). He's best known for his wildly fantastical epic fiction set in the make-believe world of "Middle Earth," a mythic place that mirrors the world of medieval literature Tolkien studied as a scholar at Oxford. He wrote his famous children's novel, The Hobbit, in 1937, and a trilogy of sequels about the forces of good and evil entitled The Lord of the Rings in the 1950s (1954-1955).

It's the birthday of Danish poet and resistance fighter Morten Nielsen, born in Ålborg, Denmark (1922). Nielsen was a young man when the Germans occupied Denmark during World War Two, and like many of his generation he felt he had no choice but to work for his country's liberation. He not only joined the Danish Resistance, his poetry became its guiding spirit. The Gestapo executed Nielsen for the anti-German content of his work in Copenhagen (1944). He was 22 years old.

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