Wednesday

Jan. 30, 2002

February 7

by David Lehman

WEDNESDAY, 30 JANUARY 2002

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Poem: "February 7," by David Lehman from The Daily Mirror: A Journal in Poetry (Scribner Poetry).

February 7

It used to be Garibaldi's, then it was Sardinia,
now it's Greek & it's still the worst restaurant
in the city, so naturally we go there instead of
Suburbia at the Angelika, & Robert orders
octopus, which is rank, while Lucie orders a
Greek salad. "Ugh," she says, because she
usually likes feta cheese but this stuff tastes like
goat cheese, which she hates. "But Lucie,"
I say, "feta cheese is goat cheese." She thinks
I'm joking. "Let's ask the waitress,"
Robert says. We bet the tab on it. And when
the waitress (name of Tricia) confers with her
colleagues, comes back with the hot chocolate,
and says, "The consensus is, we're not sure,"
I knew I had my poem of the day.

In 1948 on this day, Mahatma Gandhi was assassinated. Gandhi had led the country of India in a series of nonviolent campaigns for independence from Great Britain in 1947. The following year, violence broke out between Hindus and Muslims within the country. Gandhi was trying to convince his people to embrace all peoples and all religions, but a Hindu fanatic shot him to death while he was on his way to evening prayers in Delhi.

In 1933 on this day, a radio audience in Detroit, Michigan first heard these words, "A fiery horse with the speed of light, a cloud of dust, and a hearty, 'Hi-Yo, Silver.'" It was the first broadcast of the Lone Ranger, heard over WXYZ Radio. The first actor to play the Lone Ranger was George Seaton, who was followed by Brace Beemer. The actor most identified with the role is Clayton Moore, who played the Lone Ranger on television and in two motion pictures.

It's the birthday of novelist and children's writer Michael Dorris, born in Louisville, Kentucky (1945). He is known for his first novel, A Yellow Raft in Blue Water, which was published in 1987. Perhaps his best-known work, however, is A Broken Cord (1989), the true story of the problems endured by his son, Abel, who suffered from fetal alcohol syndrome.

It's the birthday of poet and novelist Richard Brautigan, born in Tacoma, Washington (1935), who was a cult figure and literary idol of the 1960s. In 1955, he moved to San Francisco and immediately became part of the Beat movement. He published several books of poetry, which he often handed out free on the streets of Haight-Ashbury. His cult following began in 1967, with the publication of his novel, Trout Fishing in America, which follows the narrator's cross-country search for the perfect trout stream, symbolic of young Americans' search for their own dreams of a free and pristine country. This was followed by another popular novel, In Watermelon Sugar (1964), and a book of poetry called The Pill Versus the Springhill Mine Disaster (1968). In 1972, Brautigan moved to Montana and refused to give lectures or interviews for the next eight years. Although he continued to write novels and poetry, none of his later books achieved the success of his earlier works. Distraught, he committed suicide in 1984.

It's the birthday of theatrical producer and director Harold "Hal" Prince, born in New York City, New York (1928). He found a job working in the office of the legendary director George Abbott, and in 1953, Prince met Robert Griffith, a stage manager for Abbott's production of Wonderful Town. The two decided to go out on their own as producers. For their first project, they chose to make a musical version of the Richard Bissell novel, Seven and Half Cents. The play, renamed The Pajama Game, was a hit and won the 1954 Tony Award for best musical. The next year, the same team was responsible for another hit, the baseball musical Damn Yankees. In 1957, Prince and Griffith produced West Side Story, with music and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim. Prince's fame as a director began with Cabaret, the 1966 production which won him his first Tony Award as best director. Beginning in 1970, Prince had a string of hits in collaboration with Stephen Sondheim, including Company (1970), Follies (1971), A Little Night Music (1973), and Sweeney Todd (1979).

It's the birthday of writer and historian Barbara Tuchman, born in New York City, New York (1912), the daughter of a wealthy banker and philanthropist. She received major attention for her 1962 book, The Guns of August, a detailed account of the first month of World War One which won the Pulitzer Prize in 1963.

(Instapaper)

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