Nov. 23, 2007


by Daniel Sisco

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Poem: "Sleeping" by Daniel Sisco, from A Breath On Stone: New & Selected Poems by Daniel Sisco. Self-published, 2006. Reprinted with permission.


Whether you think it's trampy or not,
when we are not awake,
we really are ALL sleeping together.
Sawing logs, snoozing,
getting a little shuteye,
some sacktime,
heading to slumberland,
doing the blanket drill,
the bunk habit,
having a siesta fiesta,
a pajama party
or just getting forty winks
and a good night's rest

We're all setting alarms, reading a bit,
warming our feet and spooning in,
stealing the covers, hogging all the pillows or
taking up the whole bed, grass mat,
hammock or our bit of dry earth.
Whether the satin sheets, fur or flannels
are on the futon, floor or igloo ice
whether we are naked, night gowned
or wearing what we wore all day.
We have been doing this a long time together, alot.

Terrorists and tyrants,
the embargoed, enemies and occupying forces
within a few blocks of each other
lay down everyday
not only their weapons but their bodies,
anger and ideologies.
They give up. They surrender,
not to overwhelming odds or power
but to being...tired.
They know they can't win against it.
Something much bigger says
"I don't want to hear another peep out of you.
Now tuck each other in and go to sleep!"

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of the screenwriter and memoirist Joe Eszterhas, (books by this author) born in Hungary (1944). His home was destroyed by American bombers during World War II, so his family piled into their car and fled for the Austrian border, barely escaping machine gun fire. But they made it to a refugee camp and then immigrated to the United States, where Eszterhas became a journalist at Rolling Stone magazine, writing about drug dealers and murderers, and then broke into screenwriting with his script for the Sylvester Stallone movie F.I.S.T. (1978), about union organizers. By the 1990s, he had become the highest paid screenwriter in the world, writing scripts for thrillers like Jagged Edge (1985) and Basic Instinct (1992). He was once paid $4 million to write an outline for a screenplay, a job that took him about four hours to complete.

But after he tried to switch to a different talent agency, he claims that Hollywood executives threatened to have him killed, and he eventually quit Hollywood and moved to Ohio. In 2004, he came out with his memoir, Hollywood Animal, which mixes memories from his childhood and his surreal experiences in the movie industry. His book The Devil's Guide to Hollywood came out this year (2007).

It was on this day in 1903 that the opera singer Enrico Caruso (music by Enrico Caruso) made his American debut at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York, appearing in ''Rigoletto.'' Caruso made it there from a childhood in the slums of Naples. His auto-mechanic father had tried to get him to work in a factory, but he'd run away from home at 16 and supported himself singing at weddings and funerals. For years, he'd worn the same suit — so many times that it began to turn green from mold, and he had to dye it black again.
Caruso began his career as an opera singer in 1894, at an amateur opera house, but he slowly built up a reputation throughout Europe and around the world.

By 1903, there was a lot of anticipation for his American debut, and most critics agreed that he did a good job. But over the course of that first opera season, Caruso began to relax and he sang better and better with each performance. By the end of the season, audiences were going into hysterics. After one of his last performances of the season, the audience members began yelling, stamping, and screaming his name. One woman jumped up on stage as Caruso came out for a bow. She tore a button from his coat and immediately burst into tears.

Less than three months after his Metropolitan debut, Caruso made some recordings for the Victor Company, and his voice had a quality that made it shine through all the static in those early recordings, which helped transform the phonograph from a curiosity into a household item — and Caruso the first vocal recording star.

It was on this day in 1889 that the Jukebox made its debut at the Palais Royale Saloon in San Francisco. It consisted of an Edison Class M Electric Phonograph inside an oak cabinet with tubes sticking out, and by depositing a coin you could listen to the recording through the tube. In its first six months of service, the Nickel-in-the-Slot earned over $1,000. The word "jukebox" comes from the word "jook," which probably came to this country from West Africa, meaning disorderly or wicked.

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




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