Thursday Mar. 23, 2017

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Breaking Up Is Hard To Do

On Friday afternoon David said he was divesting his holdings
                     in Stephanie dot org.
And Cindy announced she was getting rid of all her Dan-obelia,
                and did anyone want a tennis racket or a cardigan?

Alice told Michael that she was transplanting herself
                        to another brand of potting soil
And Jason composed a 3-chord blues song called
                   “I Can’t Rake Your Leaves Anymore Mama,”
then insisted on playing it
                         over his speakerphone to Ellen.

The moon rose up in the western sky
                           with an expression of complete exhaustion,
like a 38-year old single mother
                standing at the edge of the playground. Right at that moment

Betty was extracting coil after coil of Andrew’s
                              emotional intestines
                   through a verbal incision she had made in his heart,
and Jane was parachuting into an Ani Difranco concert
                    wearing a banner saying, Get Lost, Mark Resnick.

That’s how you find out:
out of the blue.
And it hurts, baby, it really hurts,
because breaking up is hard to do.

“Breaking Up Is Hard To Do” by Tony Hoagland from Hard Rain. © Hollyridge Press, 2005. Reprinted with permission.   (buy now)

It was on this day in 2010 that President Barack Obama (books by this author) signed into law the Affordable Care Act, the most sweeping piece of federal legislation since Medicare was passed in 1965. Universal health care had long been a dream of the Democratic Party. The passage of the bill extended health care to almost 32 million Americans.

Today marks the first day in 1942 when the U.S. government began moving Japanese-Americans from their West Coast homes to internment camps. Between 110,000 and 120,000 people were forcibly relocated.

Some Japanese-American men were drafted into the War even as their families remained incarcerated. The camps remained open until 1945.

Today is the birthday of novelist, poet, and translator David Slavitt (books by this author), born in White Plains, New York (1935).

He’s written more than a hundred books. The first three of these were collections of poetry, beginning with The Cheater’s Dozen: Eleven Poems, which he “self-published” at the age of 17 by running off copies on a mimeograph machine. Suits for the Dead (1961) and The Carnivore (1965) were published along more conventional lines, and then he tried a novel: Rochelle, or, Virtue Rewarded (1966). His publisher asked him to write a more commercial novel, so he wrote and published The Exhibitionist (1967) under the pen name of Henry Sutton. It was a huge hit — Slavitt says it put his kids through college — so he followed up with a sequel, The Voyeur (1968). It was the first book to be advertised via a billboard in Times Square. The marketing department went so far as to have the dust-jacket model dance on a platform in front of the billboard, but the city cited them for “operating a circus without a license.”

Today is the birthday of novelist Julia Glass (books by this author), born in Boston (1956). She graduated from Yale University with a degree in art, intending to become a painter. She moved to New York City to set up an artist’s studio and began taking copywriting and editing jobs to support herself. She wrote Three Junes, her debut work, at the kitchen table of the Greenwich Village 700-square-foot apartment that she shared with her partner and their two young sons at the time. She often wondered if she should bother trying to write a novel at all. She said: “I’d sit at [the] table and look out the window and think, ‘Why am I doing this? Grown-ups have a bedroom; I have children who will be in college one day; I’m supposed to be doing these editing jobs.’” She recalled that only two people attended one of her readings at a local bookstore.

In the end, it paid off. Three Junes was a big success and won the National Book Award in 2002. She has since gone on to write four more novels, including I See You Everywhere (2008), and her latest, And the Dark Sacred Night (2014.)

It’s the birthday of Fannie Merritt Farmer (books by this author), born in Boston (1857). She’s known for publishing the first cookbook in American history. As a young woman, she worked as a housekeeper, cooking and taking care of a young girl named Marcia Shaw. Over time, she taught Marcia how to cook, And to help the girl remember what to do, she wrote down simple, precise cooking instructions.

At the time, writing down recipes was almost unheard of. People learned to cook by doing. Measurements were also inexact. Everything was made with a pinch of this and a dash of that. After attending the Boston Cooking School, Fannie Farmer realized that a book full of precise instructions on how to prepare a wide variety of dishes might help many young women become better cooks.

She compiled all the recipes she had ever learned, along with advice on how to set a table, how to scald milk, to cream butter, to remove stains, and to clean a copper boiler. At first, all the publishers turned her down, because they reasoned that these were all things young women could learn from their mothers. Finally, Little, Brown agreed to publish the book if Fannie Farmer would pay for the printing of the first 3,000 copies.

The book became a kind of kitchen bible for young American wives, and went on to sell more than 4 million copies.

It was on this day in 1743, that George Frideric Handel’s oratorio "Messiah" had its London premiere. During the famous Hallelujah Chorus, King George II was so moved by the music that he involuntarily rose from his seat. The audience, out of respect for the king, also stood up. Ever since, it has been a tradition that the audience rises during the singing of the Hallelujah Chorus.

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