Mar. 24, 2003
Yachts in the Sun
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Poem: "Yachts in Sun," by Lawrence Ferlinghetti from San Francisco Poems (City Lights Foundation).
Yachts in Sun
The yachts the white yachts
with their white sails in sunlight
catching the wind and
All together racing now
for the white buoy
to tack about
to come about beyond it
And then come running in
before the spanking wind
white spinnakers billowing
off Fort Mason San Francisco
Where once drowned down
an Alcatraz con escaping
whose bones today are sand
fifty fathoms down
still imprisoned now
in the glass of the sea
As the so skillful yachts
freely pass over
On this day in Memphis in 1958, Elvis Presley arrived with his parents at the draft board on South Main Street to be inducted into the army. He became U.S. Army Private 53310761, and his income dropped from $400,000 a year to $78 a month.
On this day in 1955, Tennessee Williams' play Cat on a Hot Tin Roof opened at the Morosco Theater in New York. Directors hated it when Williams came to opening night performances; he had a funny, high-pitched laugh, he laughed at lines nobody else found funny, and people in the audience were always turning around trying to see where the noise was coming from.
It's the birthday of Dario Fo, born in San Giano, Lombardy, Italy (1926). He writes satires about people lost in the gears of bureaucracy. In Archangels Don't Play Pinball (1959), a man discovers that his identity papers show he is registered as a hunting dog; he can only unravel the confusion by entering a kennel and trying to behave as much like a dog as he can. Fo won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1997, and the Roman Catholic Church said it couldn't understand how the Committee could have given the award to someone who had written such "questionable works."
It's the birthday of the poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti, born in Yonkers, New York (1919). He wrote A Coney Island of the Mind (1958), the best-selling book of poetry in the country during the sixties and seventies. He also started the only bookstore in the United States ever to become a stop on a tour-bus route -- San Francisco's City Lights Bookstore. He spent World War Two in the U.S. Navy, took part in the Normandy invasion, and arrived in Nagasaki six weeks after the atomic bomb was dropped; he said that was when he became a pacifist. He got a Ph.D. at the Sorbonne on the G.I Bill, then went to San Francisco, where he met the poet Kenneth Rexroth, and started a venture to publish small, inexpensive volumes of poetry. The fourth volume in the series was a long poem by Allen Ginsberg called Howl. A Customs agent seized the book and arrested Ferlinghetti, and he became the focus of one of the biggest obscenity trials in the country. The book was ruled not obscene, a landmark victory for freedom of speech. Ferlinghetti is one of the few poets in the United States who has never held a job at a university, never received government funding, and never won a Pulitzer. He said: "Like a bowl of roses, a poem should not have to be explained."
It's the birthday of John
Wesley Powell, born in Mount Morris, New York (1834). He studied botany
and geology, lost his right arm at the Battle of Shiloh, then took nine men
and four boats down the Green River and into the Grand Canyon.
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