Jun. 23, 2000
Poem: "Milton," by William Blake.
Itís the birthday of novelist David Leavitt, born in Pittsburgh (1961). During his senior year at Yale he had his first story, "Territory," published in The New Yorkerthe first story that magazine ever printed that featured explicitly homosexual characters. His books include the story collection Family Dancing (1984) and the novels The Lost Language of Cranes (1986), and The Page Turner (1998). Leavitt objects to being called a "gay writer," calling the label "a form of ghettoizing, of saying that now the work will only be read by gay people."
Itís the birthday of conductor James Levine, born in Cincinnati, Ohio (1943). He came from a musical family his violinist father led a dance band; his grandfather was a cantor in a synagogue. Throughout his childhood James worked hard at his piano lessons, but what he wanted most, always, was to be a conductor. When his parents took him to hear the Cincinnati opera and orchestra, the boy sat attentively, an open score on his lap, conducting with a knitting needle. By the time he was 9 he was producing his own operas at home with a record player and puppet stage. After high school he attended the Julliard School of Music, where he completed the 5-year program in 2 years. He served as assistant conductor of the Cleveland Symphony Orchestra, and then made his debut at the Metropolitan Opera in New York, where he has been Artistic Director since 1986.
Itís the birthday of choreographer Bob Fosse, born in Chicago (1927). In the 1950s he danced and acted on Broadway, then became a choreographer, winning a Tony Award for his first effort, "The Pajama Game" (1954). He went on to direct many shows, including "How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying," "Sweet Charity," and "Chicago," as well as the films Cabaret (1972) and All That Jazz (1979).
Itís the birthday of mathematician and logician Alan (Mathison) Turing, born in London (1912). During World War Two he helped break the German ĎEnigmaí code, which allowed the Allies to attack Nazi submarines and disrupt their supply system. A play about Turing's life, Breaking the Code (1988), was produced twelve years ago.
Itís the birthday of researcher Dr. Alfred (Charles) Kinsey, born in Hoboken, New Jersey (1894), the author of Sexual Behavior in the Human Male, a bestseller in 1948.
Itís the birthday of Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, born near Odessa, Ukraine (1888). After her husband was executed for taking part in an anti-Bolshevik plot, she burned most of her poems, and didnít write down her new onesshe memorized them.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®