Jan. 10, 2000


by Robinson Jeffers

Broadcast Date: MONDAY: January 10, 2000

Poem: "Return" by Robinson Jeffers from The Selected Poetry of Robinson Jeffers published by Random House.

On this day in 1949, RCA Victor, the biggest company in the record business, came out with its 45 rpm record. It was brand new: 7-inch disks, with a 1 and one-half inch hole in the center. The summer before, Columbia Records had come out with its own new system of "long-playing" records: 10- or 12-inch disks played at 33 1/3 rpm. It was a big competition, but Columbia won—it was the victory of the 33 1/3 that made the company's fortune.

It's the birthday of poet Ph ilip Levine, born in Detroit (1928), educated at Wayne State University (in Detroit) and the University of Iowa. In his twenties he worked at what he called "a succession of stupid jobs" in and around Detroit—Chevy Gear and Axle, Detroit Transmission, Wyandotte Chemical—which became grist for his poems about working people who taught him, he says, that his "formal education was a lie." He won the National Book Award in Poetry for his collection What Work Is. Other titles include On the Edge and Over: Poems Old, Lost, and New (1976) and One for the Rose (1981).

On this day in 1926, Fritz Lang's film Metropolis had its first screening, in Berlin. A classic silent film, two hours long, Metropolis is a fantasy of a futuristic city.

It's the birthday of Jazz Age cartoonist John Held, Jr., born in Salt Lake City, Utah (1889), whose father was an engraver who helped illustrate The Book of Mormon. Held became famous in the 1920s for his drawings of 'flapper girls'—short-haired, short-skirted, stockings rolled high, cigarettes dangling from long holders.

It's the birthday of poet (John) Robinson Jeffers, born in Pittsburgh (1887). His family moved to California where he went to college. He entered medical school and did well—for three years was first in all his classes—but gave it up to study forestry. He and his wife moved to the Big Sur town of Carmel in 1916, where the redwoods and seashore scenery inspired much of his work. His collection Tamar and Other Poems (1924) brought him immediate fame.

On this day in 1776, Thomas Paine issued his pamphlet "Common Sense," fueling the passions of American colonists angered by British rule. 47 pages long, his tract sold over 500,000 copies. After the revolution he returned to Britain—where, after writing The Rights of Man (1791), he was indicted for treason and fled to France, where he narrowly escaped the guillotine. He returned to America (1802) and died, five years later, penniless.

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




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