Mar. 7, 2000
Poem: "Cradle Song" by Jim Schley, from One Another (Chapiteau Press).
It's the birthday of novelist BRET EASTON ELLIS, born in Los Angeles (1964), best known for his first book, Less Than Zero (1985). It came out when he was a 21-year-old college student, and, like his 1991 novel American Psycho, centers on the lives of the young, rich, bored, and violent. In American Psycho, the character Patrick Bateman, a Wall Street executive, tortures, mutilates, or murders just about everyone he meets, which caused the National Organization for Women to organize a boycott the book, and also its publisher.
It's the birthday of reporter and novelist ROBERT ELEGANT, born in New York City (1928), author of potboiler mysteries set in Singapore, Shanghai, and other Asian cities where he had been a reporter.
It's the birthday of educator HELEN PARKHURST, born in Durand, Wisconsin (1887) founder of the Dalton Plan of Education, whereby older children help the young.
On this day in 1876, the U.S. Patent Office wrote out patent number 174,465 to Alexander Graham Bell for his new invention, THE TELEPHONE. Bell was 29, and had been working on the phone by himself for nearly six years, then another four with a mechanic and model maker. The new invention was immediately swamped in litigation: 600 lawsuits followed, everybody claiming to have invented it first, until 1888 when the Supreme Court ruled that the invention was Bell's alone.
Today is the anniversary of Daniel Webster's famous "SEVENTH OF MARCH SPEECH" delivered on the Senate floor in Washington, 1850. Webster, a Massachusetts senator, spoke for the preservation of the union, and went on to propose a series of compromises between the South and North over slavery: the North should forget enacting any more antislavery measures; and he warned southern states that if they seceded there would be war. These were radical proposals, and Webster was hailed by most everyone for making them except his fellow New Englanders, who considered him a traitor for suggesting compromise. The poet and abolitionist John Greenleaf Whittier declared of Webster in his poem "Ichabod,"
All else is gone; from those great eyes
The soul has fled:
When faith is lost, when honor dies,
The man is dead.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®