Jun. 23, 2001

Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey

by Hayden Carruth

Saturday, 23 June 2001
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Poem: "Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey," by Hayden Carruth.

Scrambled Eggs and Whiskey

Scrambled eggs and whiskey
in the false-dawn light. Chicago,
a sweet town, bleak, God knows,
but sweet. Sometimes. And
weren't we fine tonight?
When Hank set up that limping
treble roll behind me
my horn just growled and I
thought my heart would burst.
And Brad M. pressing with the
soft stick, and Joe-Anne
singing low. Here we are now
in the White Tower, leaning
on one another, too tired
to go home. But don't say a word,
don't tell a soul, they wouldn't
understand, they couldn't, never
in a million years, how fine,
how magnificent we were
in that old club tonight.

It's the birthday of the novelist and short story writer David Leavitt, born in Pittsburgh in 1961. During his senior year at Yale, in 1983, his short story Territory, was published in the New Yorker—the first story the magazine published with openly homosexual characters. His first book of short stories was Family Dancing and his first novel was The Lost Language of Cranes. It was based on a case history of a boy raised in isolation near a construction site, who based his language on the sounds of construction cranes.

It's the birthday of novelist and short story writer Michael Shaara, born in Jersey City, New Jersey, in 1929. He was a merchant seaman, an army paratrooper in World War II, a police officer in Florida, and a professional boxer, all before becoming a writing teacher at Florida State University. He is best known for his second novel, The Killer Angels, published in 1974, about the battle of Gettysburg. It won him the Pulitzer Prize for fiction and has sold more than two and a half million copies. His last book, For the Love of the Game, was finished just before he died of a heart attack at the age of 58.

It's the birthday of playwright Jean Anouilh, born in Bordeaux, in southwestern France in 1910. He was a successful playwright at a young age, had his first success at the age of 22, and became a recluse, with an unlisted phone number that he changed frequently. On opening nights of his plays, he would hide in the prompter's box, and then slip away as the performance went on. His plays include Antigone, Ring Around The Moon, The Lark, and Becket in 1959. Jean Anouilh once said, "It's scandalous that I earn my livelihood by amusing myself as I do."

It's the birthday of Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, born near Odessa in 1888. She published her first poems, about love, when she was 19, and critics called them brilliant. But as she got older, she became embittered; her only son was sent to a concentration camp for more than 15 years. For nearly 30 years, her work was not allowed to be published in Russia. Because her work was not published, her friends memorized the words to keep the poems alive. Poem Without a Hero, in 1960, traced her life from before World War I to after World War II. She wrote some of her best poetry after she turned 65, about her love for St. Petersburg, many of which are included in her book, Midnight Verses, which came out in 1963.

Today is also the anniversary of two inventions:

On this day in 1868, Christopher Latham Sholes received a patent for his typewriter.

On this day in 1848, Adolphe Sax was granted a patent for the saxophone, a single reed musical instrument hybrid of a clarinet, oboe, and brass instruments.

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




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