Apr. 11, 2009
I was standing in line at the bank and
the fellow in front of me was humming. The
line was long and slow, and after a while
the humming began to irritate me. I said to
the fellow, "Excuse me, would you mind not
humming." And he said, "Was I humming?
I'm sorry, I didn't realize it." And he went
right on humming. I said, "Sir, you're
humming again." "Me, humming?" he said.
"I don't think so." And then he went on
humming. I was about to blow my lid. Instead,
I went to find the manager. I said, "See
that man over there in the blue suit?" "Yes,"
he said, "what about him?" "He won't stop
humming," I said, "I've asked him politely
several times, but he won't stop." "There's
no crime in humming," he said. I went back
and took my place in line. I listened, but
there was nothing coming out of him. I said,
"Are you okay, pal?" He looked mildly peeved,
and gave me no reply. I felt myself shrinking.
The manager of the bank walked briskly up
to me and said, "Sir, are you aware of the
fact that you're shrinking?" I said I was.
And he said, "I'm afraid we don't allow that
kind of behavior in this bank. I have to ask
you to leave." The air was whistling out
of me, I was almost gone.
It was on this day in 1945 that American troops entered the Buchenwald concentration camp near Weimar, Germany. About 56,000 prisoners died there. Even though many of the American soldiers had fought in the worst battles of WWII, they were unprepared for the horrors they saw there. Edward R. Murrow was one of the reporters covering the event, and he was so disturbed that he couldn't even talk about it for days. One of the inmates in the camp that day was a teenager named Elie Wiesel, (books by this author) who went on to write more than 50 books, including his memoir, Night (1958). In 1986, he won the Nobel Peace Prize. He said: "The opposite of love is not hate, it's indifference. The opposite of art is not ugliness, it's indifference. The opposite of faith is not heresy, it's indifference. And the opposite of life is not death, it's indifference."
It's the birthday of humorist Leo Rosten, (books by this author) born in Lodz, Poland (1908). He wrote The Education of H*Y*M*A*N K*A*P*L*A*N (1937), and The Joys of Yiddish (1968), a book about Yiddish words and phrases, full of quotes and jokes. He wrote about Yiddish words like schlep, klutz, schlemiel, glitch, yenta, schmooze, schlump, schnook, schlock, and oy.
It's the birthday of poet Christopher Smart, (books by this author) born in Shipbourne in Kent, England (1722). He had a religious conversion, and he prayed compulsively. Samuel Johnson wrote, "My poor friend Smart showed the disturbance of his mind by falling upon his knees, and saying his prayers in the street, or in any other unusual place." He was sent to St. Luke's Hospital for Lunatics, where he began to write two of his greatest works: A Song to David (1763) and his epic Jubilate Agno,in which he praises God for everything in his life, including Jeoffry, his cat. He wrote:
For I will consider my Cat Jeoffry.
For he is the servant of the Living God duly and daily serving him.
For at the first glance of the glory of God in the East he worships in his way.
For this is done by wreathing his body seven times round with elegant quickness.
It's the birthday of poet Mark Strand, (books by this author) born in Summerside, Canada (1934). His father was a salesman who traveled all over, so growing up he lived in Nova Scotia, New York City, Cleveland, Columbia, Peru, and Mexico. He went on to study painting at Yale, and then he turned to poetry. In 1990, he was appointed poet laureate. He said, "Life makes writing poetry necessary to prove I really was paying attention."
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®