Sep. 7, 2005


by Emily Dickinson

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Poem: "Parting" by Emily Dickinson.


My life closed twice before its close;
It yet remains to see
If immortality unveil
A third event to me
So huge, so hopeless to conceive
As these that twice befell.
Parting is all we know of heaven,
And all we need of hell.

It's the birthday of singer and songwriter Charles Hardin "Buddy" Holly, born in Lubbock, Texas, in 1936. By the age of 13, Holly was playing what he called "Western Bop" at local clubs. He was 19 when an agent discovered him and signed him to a contract with Decca records. The following year, Holly returned to Lubbock and, with three friends, formed The Crickets, who then released "That'll Be The Day," which sold over a million copies. Buddy Holly's career was short: He died in February of 1959 in a plane crash in northern Iowa. Soon after, an English band that admired The Crickets decided to call themselves The Beatles.

It's the birthday of Sonny Rollins, born Theodore Rollins in New York, in 1930, the tenor saxophonist who recorded with the greats of jazz: Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, Dizzy Gillespie, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Max Roach, and John Coltrane. Rollins first began recording bebop music in 1949. In the early '50s he began recording with Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk. In 1954 he took a year off from music to deal with his addiction to heroin. And in 1959, dissatisfied with his own playing, he took another sabbatical and practiced every day on the Williamsburg Bridge over the East River in New York. In 1962, he returned to performing and recorded an album entitled The Bridge, which marked the beginning of his "avant-garde" period.

It's the birthday of director and author Elia Kazan, born in Istanbul, Turkey (1909), to Greek parents who moved to America when Kazan was four. Kazan became an actor in the Group Theater in New York, and joined the Communist Party, which he quit shortly thereafter. Kazan became an acclaimed Broadway director in the '40s for such productions as Arthur Miller's Death of a Salesman and Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and around that time began his distinguished film career, directing A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Gentleman's Agreement, On the Waterfront and East of Eden (1955). In his 1988 autobiography, A Life, he told how, in 1952, he chose to cooperate with the House Un-American Activities Committee, naming at least eight of his friends as Communists—thus getting them blacklisted and making it virtually impossible for them to get work. Kazan said. "I thought I would be doing a terrible thing to pretend ignorance." On the other hand, he said, "Maybe I did wrong—probably did. Anyone who informs on other people is doing something disturbing and even disgusting. It doesn't sit well on the anyone's conscience."

It's the birthday of Dame Edith Sitwell, born in Scarborough, Yorkshire, England (1887), raised by eccentric parents, and who became a famous one herself, dressing in elaborate baroque costumes and. publicizing herself and her poetry. She came into her own as a poet during WWII, when her collections, Street Songs (1942), Green Song (1944), and Song of the Cold (1945). She was friends with Aldous Huxley, T.S. Eliot, and Virginia Woolf, an early supporter of Dylan Thomas. She became a popular television personality in England and, on her 75th birthday, was given a public celebration in the Albert Hall. Her autobiography, Taken Care Of, was published posthumously in 1965.

It's the birthday of the brilliant and unfortunate William Friese-Greene, born in Bristol, England (1855). Between 1885 and 1890 he built a series of four prototype motion-picture cameras and was granted a patent for a camera to record movement. He went bankrupt in the process and sold the rights to the patent for 500 pounds. During his lifetime, he took out more than 70 patents for other inventions, including X-ray and light printing on paper fabrics, ink-less printing, and electrical transmission of images, but earned little money from them and was on the verge of bankruptcy all his life.

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