Jul. 14, 2000
Drinking Song, A
In France, July 14th is the national holiday Bastille Day. In 1789 on this date, after two days of rioting, Parisians stormed the state prison-the Bastille-and freed the prisoners held there.
It's the birthday of Arthur Laurents, born in Brooklyn (1918). He wrote the book for the musical West Side Story (1957), and then the book for Gypsy (1959).
Today is the birthday of film and stage director (Ernst) Ingmar Bergman, born in Uppsala, Sweden (1918), the son of a Lutheran minister. His films include Through a Glass Darkly (1961, Oscar), Winter Light (1963) and The Silence (1963) and The Seventh Seal (1957). In 1983, when many assumed his film career had ended, he astounded them with his exuberant autobiographical film Fannie and Alexander, which won 4 Oscars, including Best Foreign Film.
It's the birthday of novelist Natalia Ginzburg, born in Palermo, Italy (1916). She wrote her first novella, The Road to the City (1942), using a pen name to get around anti-Jewish publishing laws. She also wrote The Dry Heart (1947), A Light for Fools (1952), and other books.
It's the birthday of songwriter/singer Woody Guthrie (Woodrow Wilson Guthrie), born in Okemah, Oklahoma (1912). He wrote many songs, including "This Land is Your Land," and "Pastures of Plenty."
Today is the birthday of novelist Isaac Balshevis Singer, born in a small flour-milling town 15 miles northeast of Warsaw, Poland (1904). At 31, he was alarmed by the rise of Nazism, and moved to New York. "My first impression was that here Yiddish literature was dead. It took me five years to convince myself that Yiddish is still very much alive." He wrote stories about lonely immigrants, old men in cafeterias, life in Miami, and life on the sidewalks of New York's Upper West Side. He wrote for New York's Yiddish paper, The Jewish Daily Forward, which published many of his novels in serialized form. Even after decades in America, he still wrote first in Yiddish and then translated them into English.
"God gave us so many emotions, and such strong ones-every human being, even if he is an idiot, is a millionaire in emotions."
It's the birthday of Irving Stone (Irving Tennenbaum), born in San Francisco (1903). While living in France, he encountered the paintings of Vincent van Gogh, which he described as the single most emotional experience of his life. He decided to write a fictionalized biography of the painter, and when it was published, in 1934, Lust for Life became a best-seller. He also wrote The Agony and the Ecstasy (1961), a life of Michelangelo.
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