Jul. 20, 2001


by Calvin Forbes

FRIDAY, 20 JULY 2001
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Poem: "Word," by Calvin Forbes from The Shine Poems (Louisiana State University Press).


cool's replaced okay
as the all-American word

just be cool for Jesus
did I hear right

cool's gone kosher
laid back easy on the larynx

okay's all right for a state
groovy as in a groove

became a rut soon after liftoff
copacetic's passť

as the next previous generation
okie dokie's so dorkie

it's almost irie
solid passed into oblivion

cool stayed universal
one of the two most admired

temperatures worldwide
moderate calming in a word cool

On this day in 1969, astronaut Neil Armstrong first set foot on the moon. He piloted the lunar landing module Eagle to the moon's surface, and landed at the edge of the Sea of Tranquillity. When he descended a ladder, his boot sank three millimeters into the dust on the lunar surface, forming the first footprint there.

It's the birthday of American artist, writer, and feminist Judy Chicago, born Judy Cohen, in Chicago in 1939.

It's the birthday of American novelist Cormac McCarthy, born Charles McCarthy in Providence, Rhode Island, in 1933. He grew up in Tennessee, where his father, a lawyer, worked for the Tennessee Valley Authority. He started writing while in college and came out with five novels, the first, The Orchard Keeper in 1963, before he finally had some success with his sixth novel, All the Pretty Horses in 1992. It was both a critical and a popular success, winning the National Book Award for Fiction. It was the first novel of the Border Trilogy.

It's the birthday of British diplomat and art collector Thomas Bruce, Seventh Earl of Elgin born in England in 1766. In 1801 he obtained permission from authorities in Constantinople to remove many celebrated ancient Greek sculptures from the Parthenon in Athens and ship them to England. He sold the sculptures, at considerable financial loss, to the British Museum, where they remain to this day, known as the Elgin Marbles. The Greek government has demanded the return of the marbles. Although British claims are based on Elgin's purchase of the sculptures, Greece has contested this, and its position has many supporters.

On this day in 1715, The Riot Act took effect in England. If twelve or more persons were unlawfully assembled to the disturbance of the public peace, an authority was required "with a loud voice" to command silence and read the riot act proclamation. Today, "reading the riot act" usually means telling someone off.

On this day in 1588, the English navy, under the command of Sir Francis Drake, was put to sea to defend Britain from the Spanish Armada. The Armada consisted of 130 ships, many of them troop and supply ships, carrying 24,000 men. It had been sent by Philip II of Spain to assist ground troops in Holland in an invasion of Britain. In the two weeks of sea battles that followed, the Spanish fleet was chased, in humiliating defeat, around to the north and west of the British Isles.

It's the birthday of the Italian humanist, scholar, and poet Francesco Petrarca, or Petrarch, born in Arezzo, Italy in 1304. He is known as the founder of humanism at the beginning of the Renaissance in Italy and is admired for his collection of 366 Italian lyrical poems, the Canzoniere. The first half of the collection was written about his platonic love of Laura, a married woman whose actual identity is still in doubt, and who apparently kept her distance from him. The second half of the collection deals with his reaction to Laura's death, from the plague, in 1348.

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