Jun. 19, 2000

All You Who Sleep Tonight

by Vikram Seth

Broadcast Date: MONDAY: June 19, 2000

Poem: "All You Who Sleep Tonight," by Vikram Seth from All You Who Sleep Tonight.

Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were electrocuted on this date in 1953, at 8 in the evening, at Sing Sing Prison in Ossining, New York. Both were born in New York City. Julius, an electrical engineer, was a longtime member of the Communist Party. They were given atomic secrets by Ethelís brother, Sergeant David Greenglass, who took part in the atomic bomb project in Los Alamos, New Mexico. He—Greenglass—saved himself by testifying for the government, and was sentenced to 15 years.

Itís the birthday of novelist Salman Rushdie, born in Bombay, India (1947) to a Muslim family. After going to college in England he lived with his family in Pakistan, then went back to England and became a novelist. On Valentineís Day, 1989, he was condemned to death by Iranian leader Ayatollah Khomeini, who judged him to have blasphemed Islam in his novel The Satanic Verses (1988). Rushdie went into hiding and has stayed on the run, but his productivity has not diminished: in hiding he has written a childrenís book, Haroun and the Sea of Stories (1990), volumes of essays and stories, and the novels The Moorís Last Sigh (1995) and The Ground Beneath Her Feet (1999).

Itís the birthday of writer Tobias Wolff, born in Birmingham, Alabama (1945). He became a member of the Special Forces, fought for a year in Vietnam, then went to Oxford. He was a reporter for a time, then switched to writing fiction. His memoir, This Boyís Life came out in 1989. His short story collections include In the Garden of the North American Martyrs (1981) and The Night in Question (1996).

Itís the birthday of film critic Pauline Kael, born in Petaluma, California (1919). During the 1950s and early 1960s she ran twin art-film theaters in Berkeley the first in the nation to revive the work of W.C. Fields, Mae West, and Busby Berkeley. She wrote film reviews and broadcast them, without pay, on the Pacifica radio network. To feed herself she worked as seamstress, cook, and textbook ghostwriter. But in 1965 her fortunes changed when a collection of her reviews, I Lost It at the Movies, brought her national attention. She moved to New York and within 3 years settled in at The New Yorker as its chief film critic. Pauline Kael said, "The first prerogative of an artist in any medium is to make a fool of himself."

Itís the birthday of writer Laura Z. Hobson, born in New York City (1900), whose best-known work was the novel Gentlemanís Agreement (1947), the story of a gentile writer who poses as a Jew to learn about anti-Semitism firsthand for a magazine article. The book was a huge success, and within the year was made into a movie that won that yearís Academy Award for Best Picture.

Itís the birthday of typeface designer W(illiam) A(ddison) Dwiggins, born in Martinsville, Ohio (1880). Among the 11 type styles he designed were 4 of the most widely used Linotype faces in the United States and Britain: Electra, Caledonia, Eldorado and Metro.< /li>

The first baseball game was played on this day in 1846not in Cooperstown, as myth would have it, but in the Elysian Fields in Hoboken, New Jersey. The New York Baseball Club took on the Knickerbocker Club; New York won, 23 to 1.

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




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