Tom's Book of Days
      June 11-20  

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June 11


FEAST OF ST. BARNABAS: Barnabas is the patron saint of farmer, and by English tradition (in which it is sometimes called Barnabee's Day) this is supposed to be the hottest day of the year.

It was usual in some churches to decorate the altars with garlands of flowers. In Hesket, an extensive parish of Cumberlandshire, England the Court of Inglewood Forest is held annually on June 11 in the open air. The suitors assemble by the highway-side at a place marked only by an ancient thorn, where the annual dues to the lord of the forest, compositions for improvements, etc., are paid; and a jury for the whole jurisdiction is chosen from among the inhabitants of twenty mesne manors who attend on this spot.
      --William S. Walsh, Curiosities of Popular Customs, and of Rites, Observances, and Miscellaneous Antiquities (1897)

1182 BCE: Troy falls (according to classical tradition).

1742: Ben invents the Franklin stove.

1900, 1970: Leopold Marechal is born. In 1948 he will publish Adán Buenosayres, 1948, precursor of Latin American literary "boom." At seventy, on his birthday, he dies.

1937: The Marx Brothers release A Day at the Races.

1965: "Wholly Communion" poetry reading at Albert Hall in London, called the first countercultural "happening." The reading was the subject of a film by Peter Whitehead, sometimes characterized as the first cinema verité film. A brief description, from Whitehead's website (link has gone bad):

Allen Ginsberg, travelling pal of Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs, this time fresh back from Poland where he had been crowned "King of the May", started the proceedings by singing a Tibetan mantra, accompanying himself with finger cymbals. Lawrence Ferlinghetti launched into a poem - "To Fuck is to Love Again" - and the evening - and England - was never the same again. Alexander Trocchi kept the police at bay and the events rolling. Gregory Corso read his poem "Mutation of the Spirit". Ernst Jandl read Sound Poems in German.

English poets Michael Horovitz and Christopher Logue read calmly, but Harry Fainlight, reading a poem written on LSD, "The Spider" was interrupted by Dutch poet Simon Vinkenoog, high on mescalin, shouting out "Come man come" and Harry's attempts to carry on and read more and more poems are some of the highlights of the film. Not so much about poetry - but the awesome experience of poets exposing themselves, reading to a public which can be sometimes hostile.

Adrian Mitchell's poem "To Whom it May Concern" - a savage diatribe about the Vietnam War - brought the house down. Allen Ginsberg read a poem written by the Russian poet Andrei Vosnesensky - "New York Bird" - he was present but not allowed to read by his Embassy. Allen brought the evening to a close with a reading of two long poems - "The Change" and "Who be Kind To" - in which he wrote "Tonite let's all make love in London". While he was reading, a young girl danced - in a haze of pot smoke - oblivious of time and space and people - following the rhythm of the poetry as if it was music.

.1971: Nineteen-month occupation of Alcatraz Island by Native American protesters ends.


June 12


1912: In a letter to a friend, Lytton Strachey describes the engagement of Virginia Stephen and Leonard Woolf:

He proposed in a train, and she accepted him, but owing to the rattling of the carriage he didn't hear, and took up a newspaper, saying "What?" On which she had a violent revulsion and replied, "Oh, nothing!"

1964: Nelson Mandela and six others begin life sentences in South Africa.

1967: U.S. Supreme Court ends laws banning interracial marriages.

1970: In the first game of a twi-night double header against San Diego, Dock Ellis throws a no-hitter--most remarkable, he had thought it was a day off, and had taken LSD a few hours before game time. (Today Ellis is co-ordinator of an anti-drug program in Los Angeles.)

The ball was small sometimes, the ball was large sometimes, sometimes I saw the catcher, sometimes I didn't. Sometimes I tried to stare the hitter down and throw while I was looking at him. I chewed my gum until it turned to powder. They say I had about three to four fielding chances. I remember diving out of the way of a ball I thought was a line drive. I jumped, but the ball wasn't hit hard and never reached me.

1971: Forty-three student protestors are killed in Mexico City.

2000: A former exotic dancer wins $30,000 in a jury verdict after she sues her Park Avenue plastic surgeon for using breast implants to enhance her buttocks.

NEW YORK (Reuters): Mary Gale, 43, of North Miami, Fla., accused Dr. Elliot James of negligence and malpractice in the November 1990 procedure. Gale said that she suffered mental anguish and physical pain and was no longer able to earn $500 a night dancing in men's clubs. She now works as a bartender. In reaching its verdict, the civil jury in state Supreme Court in Manhattan decided that the doctor departed from "good and accepted medical practice."
      "I'm glad we won the case. Breast implants belong in the breast area," she said after the verdict.
      During the trial, James testified that Gale "knew what she was getting" when she underwent the procedure. He said he charged her $6,500 to put the implants in and another $1,500 to remove them several weeks later. There were no commercially available buttock implants on the market at the time, he said. Gale also testified, weeping as she told the jury how she had been disfigured. "I couldn't dance. I would have looked like a freak show," she said on the witness stand.


June 13


1825: Needing money to pay a $15 bet, Walter Hunt sketches out (in three hours) and patents the safety pin, then sells the rights for $400.

1865: William Butler Yeats is born in Sandymount, Dublin.

1893: Dorothy Sayers is born in Oxford.

1900: The Boxer Rebellion: In Tientsin (Tianjin) five thousand European, American, and Japanese forces attack the area controlled by the Boxers. Fighting is house to house, with heavy causalities on both sides.

1971: The New York Times begins publication of classified Pentagon Papers on U.S. involvement in Vietnam. . The Nixon administration asks the Supreme Court to stop further publication, but the court says this would put a "prior restraint" on freedom of the press. The government indicts leakers Ellsberg and Russo, former Rand Corporation employees who had copied and released the 7,000-page document for violating the Espionage Act, but a judge calls off the trial after Watergate disclosures reveal unfair practices by the prosecution.

2003: Claire Christensen graduates UC Santa Cruz as Regents Scholar, Dean's Award, Chancellor's Award, Carol Freeman Leadership Award, Anthropology Award.


June 14


Mariano Vallejo

cliff "ukulele ike" edwards

1834: Isaac Fisher is granted a patent for sandpaper.

1864: Let's remember Alois Alzheimer, born on this day.

1846: A ragged rabble raises the Bear Flag in Sonoma, California.

At dawn on June 14, General Mariano Vallejo, commander of the northern frontier, was awakened by a small but well-armed group of US immigrants pounding on his door. Robert Semple, one of the rebels, recalled: "Almost the whole party was dressed in leather hunting shirts, many of them were greasy; they were about as rough looking a set of men as one could well imagine.. Anyone would feel some dread at falling into their hands." Vallejo is reported to have inquired, "To what happy circumstances shall I attribute the visit of so many exalted personages?"
      The rebels did not seem to have so much a plan as a disorderly intention to seize any arms and ammunition in the town's nearly empty garrison. They placed General Vallejo under arrest. He did not resist, instead giving the men the keys to his storerooms. Fortified with Vallejo's brandy and wine, the rebels were soon engaged in a drunken debate over the wording of a declaration of independence. Proceeding to the plaza, they hoisted a homemade flag, "a piece of linen about the size of a towel," according to Vallejo's sister, with a crudely represented grizzly bear, and read their proclamation of an independent Republic of California.
            --from The US-Mexican War by Thomas and Carol Christensen

1895: Cliff "Ukulele Ike" Edwards is born. He would go on to develop an act in minstrel shows and vaudeville that would contribute to the development of scat singing (which he called "effin'." He would become a big star of the 40s and 50s. As the voice of Jimmy Cricket he would record "When You Wish upon a Star," which would be the theme song of the Disney Corporation. At the time of his death in on July 17, 1971, he would be forgotten and on welfare.

1940: German troops enter Paris.

1953: Elvis Presley graduates from L.C. Humes High School in Memphis.

1966: The Vatican abolishes its Index of Prohibited Books (which had been created by Pope Paul IV in 1557).


June 15


Dante Alighieri

ST. VITUS'S DAY: Honoring the patron saint of dancers.

1215: King John signs the Magna Carta, granting limited rights to British barons.

... here is a law which is above the King and which even he must not break. This reaffirmation of a supreme law and its expression in a general charter is the great work of Magna Carta; and this alone justifies the respect in which men have held it.
      --Winston Churchill, 1956

1300: Dante Alighieri becomes Prior of Florence.

1849: President James Knox Polk dies, about three months after his departure from the White House.

1997: Henry Kissinger is quoted in CounterPunch, vol 4, no. 11, June 1-15: "Bill Clinton does not have the moral fiber to be a mass murderer."


June 16


nora barnacle


BLOOMSDAY: Not only is this the day chronicled in Ulysses but it is also the day James Joyce meets Nora Barnacle, a chambermaid at Finn's Hotel.

1784: Holland outlaws orange clothes.

1967: The Monterey Pop Festival begins.

June 17



1579: Francis Drake lands somewhere in the vicinity of San Francisco Bay.

1862: W.H. Fancher and C.M. French receive a U.S. patent for a combined plow and gun, recommended for areas "subject to savage fueds and guerrilla warfare." The plow's handles set the gun's direction and the share prevents recoil. Grape or balls up to three pounds could be shot.

1929: Harry and Caresse Crosby publish The Black Sun Press edition of the "Tales Told of Shem and Shaun" section of James Joyce's Finnegans Wake (a work in progress). The printer requests more text to fill the last page, which contains only two lines. Caresse says she could never approach Joyce with such a request. The next day the printer had eight more lines: "He had been wanting to add more, but was too frightened of you, Madame, to do so."

1942: Ron Padgett is born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. In 1984 we would publish his translation of Apollinaire's The Poet Assassinated at North Point Press.

1972: Nixon's moronic henchman, on their fourth attempt to break into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Office Complex in Washington, DC, are arrested.


June 18


1178: According to Gervase of Canterbury, an English monk, five people watch the upper part of the waxing crescent moon "suddenly split in two. From the midpoint of this division a flaming torch sprang up, spewing out... fire, hot coals and sparks... The body of the moon, which was below writhed... throbbed like a wounded snake." In 1976 it would be proposed that this report is consistent with the location and age of the lunar crater Giordano Bruno, but the expected meteor shower of debris from such a collision was not reported. It would later be theorized that an exploding meteor lined up with the spectators view of the moon (and that the crater is older than previously believed).

1815: The Duke of Wellington defeats Napoleon Bonaparte near Waterloo.

1940: Germans occupy Paris.

1954: The CIA-supported invasion of Guatemala by Carlos Castillo Armas is completed. The democratically elected Arbenz, whose government made the mistake of nationalizing United Fruit Company's property, flees to the Mexican Embassy.


June 19



240 BCE : Eratosthenes, director of the great library of Alexandria and a scholar in the lineage of Zeno, estimates the circumference of the earth. Reading that at midday on the summer soltice in Syene shadows disappeared completely, and aware that at his northern location in Alexandria objects still cast a shadow, Eratosthenes reasons that the earth must be curved (he also coins the word geography). Measuring shadow and distance (calculated by camel caravans), he calculates the circumferance of the earth by geometry to be 25,000 miles, within 100 miles of the actual number of 24,901.

1498: Machiavelli is appointed Secretary to the Signoria.

1816: Blaise Pascal is born. He would be the father of the theory of probabilities, formulator of Pascal's Law of Pressure, and inventor of the syringe, the hydraulic press, and the first digital calculator. His French prose is a model of clarity. Sickly most of his life, he would die at 39 in 1662, and autopsy would reveal a deformed skull.

1816: After a night exchanging ghost stories with his wife and Lord Byron at the Villa Diodati on the banks of Lake Geneva, as a violent thunderstorm rages outside, Percy Bysshe Shelley, recalling a vision of a woman with eyes in place of nipples, becomes hysterical and runs shrieking from the room. (The Romantics were never the steadiest lot.)

1865: Slaves are declared free in Texas. The date is celebrated as "Juneteenth."

1917: Robert Aitken is born in Philadelphia. At North Point Press we published his Taking the Path of Zen and A Mind Like Clover.

1941: Cheerios are invented as an alternative to oatmeal. Each half-inch O puffs out like popcorn as it is shot from the barrel of a gun at high temperature.


June 20


Pancho Villa

622: al Hijira, beginning of Islamic year reckoning.

1923: Pancho Villa is assassinated in Parral, Mexico. His last words: "Don't let it end like this. Tell them I said something."

1928: Eric Dolphy is born in Los Angeles.

1972: An 18˝ minute gap "mysteriously" appears on Richard "I Am Not a Crook" Nixon's secret Oval Office tape of his first Watergate discussion. (Secretary Rosemary Woods takes the fall for the erasure.)

continue to June 21


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