Jun. 16, 2000

Still Life

by Sandy Solomon

Broadcast Date: FRIDAY: June 16, 2000

Poem: "Still Life," by Sandy Solomon, from Pears, Lake, Sun (Peterloo Poets).

It's Bloomsday today in Dublin, the setting of James Joyce's 1922 novel Ulysses. The book takes place on a single day, June 16, 1904, and details the life in Dublin of Leopold Bloom, his wife, Molly, and Stephen Dedalus. In Dublin today, people dress up like characters in the novel, a book that the Modern Library Association rates at the top of the century's 100 greatest novels.

It's the birthday of short-story writer Aurelie Sheehan, born in Verdun, France (1693), author of the collection Jack Kerouac is Pregnant (1994); stories of a widow, a waitress, a seamstress, and a Tarot card reader—all hoping that the perfect match is out there somewhere.

On this day in 1945, nuclear scientist Robert Openheimer sent a letter marked Top Secret to President Harry Truman, called Recommendations on the Immediate Use of Nuclear Weapons. A few days earlier, scientists at the University of Chicago had urged that bomb be demonstrated "before representatives of the United Nations, on a desert or a barren island," hoping that would be a deterrent and help end World War Two. But Openheimer's June 16th letter, written with Enrico Fermi and other scientists, argued for the quick deployment of the bomb against Japan to save American lives.

It's the birthday of Joyce Carol Oates, born in Millersport, New York (1938). Her latest book, Blonde, came out this spring, capping an 18 month period in which Oates published a book of horror stories (The Collector of Hearts), two novels (My Heart Laid Bare and Broken Heart Blues), a children's story (Come Meet Muffin), and a mystery (Double Delight).

On this day in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the National Industrial Recovery Act. Unemployment at the time was running between 25 and 30 percent of the work force. His new programs the Civil Works administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps, and the Tennessee Valley Authority created one million new jobs. But unemployment still ran at about 15 percent through the rest of the 1930s.

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