May 13, 2000
Poem: "My Moses," by Carl Dennis, from Meetings with Time (Penguin).
It's the birthday of story-teller ARMISTEAD MAUPIN, born Armistead Jones, in Raleigh, North Carolina (1944). He joined the Navy, served in Vietnam, and later began working for the San Francisco Chronicle, writing a column called "Tales of the City" which described the adventures of the colorful people living in a rooming house on Barbary Lane. His characters were gay, straight, and transsexual, and rather than taking a "We're all the same" approach, his message was more like "We're all different, we're all odd even when we're heterosexual, and we all need tolerance." The "Tales of the City" have been compiled into several books, and made into two TV miniseries.
It's the birthday of travel writer and novelist (Charles) BRUCE CHATWIN, born in Sheffield, England (1940). He left a job as a director of Sotheby's to spend a half year in Patagonia, and his narrative of the time he spent there became a best-seller In Patagonia (1977). The Songlines (1987) describes his wanderings in the Australian Outback.
It's the birthday of heavyweight boxing champion JOE LOUIS, born Joseph Louis Barrow near Lafayette, Alabama (1914). He won the heavyweight boxing title in 1937 by knocking out James J. Braddock. His most famous fight was against Max Schmeling in 1938. Two years before, Schmeling had beat him in 12 rounds, and Hitler pointed to Schmeling as proof of Aryan superiority. In the rematch, Louis not only knocked Schmeling out in two minutes, but sent him to the hospital.
It's the birthday of novelist DAPHNE DU MAURIER, born in London (1907). Her first big success was Rebecca (1939). She also wrote Jamaica Inn (1936), My Cousin Rachel (1951), and many other books.
It's the birthday of diarist and journalist HENRY CRABB ROBINSON, born at Bury St. Edmunds, England (1775). He was an attorney, and he became friends with some of the foremost writers of his day people like Hazlitt, William Wordsworth and William Blake. When The Times sent him to cover the wars going on in Germany and Spain in 1807-08, he made his mark by being the first Englishman to serve as a war correspondent. But he's remembered more for his diaries and letters than for his public writing: when people want to know what it was like to listen to Goethe's conversation, or what the 69-year-old poet William Blake said that made his wife cry, or what it was like to be at the party thrown to reconcile Wordsworth with Coleridge they read William Crabb Robinson.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®