Jun. 3, 2000

Marriage Morning

by Alfred Tennyson

Broadcast Date: SATURDAY: June 3, 2000

Poem: "Marriage Morning," by Alfred Tennyson (1809-1892).

It's Larry McMurtry’s birthday, born in Wichita Falls, Texas, 1936. He’s the author of books set in hard-scrabble Texas towns: The Last Picture Show (1966), Terms of Endearment (1975); and Lonesome Dove (1985), about the adventures of Gus, Call, and Jake driving 2,000 head of cattle up to Montana, the book that won McMurtry the 1986 Pulitzer Prize. He said, "Because of when and where I grew up, on the Great Plains just as the herding tradition was beginning to lose its vitality, I have been interested all my life in vanishing breeds."

It's the birthday in Newark, New Jersey, 1926, of poet Allen Ginsberg, who in the 1940s fell in with Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, and formed the nucleus of the Beat writers "Beat" short for "beatific," a term given them by Kerouac. He moved to San Francisco and began work on his poem, "Howl," published in 1956; "Kaddish" followed a few years later. He admitted that his best-known pieces were written while on drugs: "Howl" with peyote, "Kaddish" with amphetamines. Ginsberg later maintained that meditation and yoga were far superior to drugs to raise one's consciousness. Shortly before he died, three years ago, he said he wanted to be remembered as a poet "in the tradition of the old-time American transcendentalist individualism. . . Thoreau, Emerson, Whitman . . . just carrying it on into the 20th century."

On June 3, 1880, Alexander Graham Bell transmitted the first wireless telephone message on his newly invented photophone. The photophone was like a telephone but it used light instead of electricity to transmit sound. Bell thought this was his greatest invention, far more important than his others, the telephone, telegraph, or phonograph. The problem with it, though, was that a simple thing like a cloudy day killed the line, and it wasn't until fiber-optic communications came along some 90 years later that Bell's invention was fully realized.

It's the birthday of William Hone in Bath, England 1780, the journalist and political reformer, famous in his day for the first exposés of British insane asylums, and for his battles to win writers freedom of speech. Hone was charged with sedition for writing The Political House That Jack Built (1819), and in a landmark case centering on free speech, won his own acquittal, which made him a hero for writers across England.

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