Tom's Book of Days
      August 21-31  

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August 21


aubrey m'a fait

1762: Famous last words: "It has all been very interesting" (Lady Mary Wortley Montagu).

1858: Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas debate for the first time.

1872: Aubrey Beardsley is born.

1904: William "Count" Basie is born in Redbank, New Jersey.

1911: On a cleaning day when the museum was closed to the public, Vicenzo Peruggia, a Louvre employee, steals the Mona Lisa by cutting it from its frame. After the furor in the press would die down, he would attempt to sell the painting to his native Italy for $95,000. Italian officials would arrest him and return the painting to France. At his trial, Peruggia would convince the tribunal that his act was one of patriotism and he wouldreceive the relatively light sentence of 1 year, 15 days. (It's those last 15 days that make all the difference.)


August 22


ms. parker

1893: "I was following in the exquisite footsteps of Miss Edna St. Vincent Millay, unhappily in my own horrible sneakers": Dorothy Parker is born in West End, New Jersey.

I don't care what is written about me so long as it isn't true.

Reply to an editor demanding an article while she was on her honeymoon: Too fucking busy, and vice versa.

I wish I could drink like a lady
I can take one or two at the most
Three and I'm under the table
Four and I'm under the host

It's a small apartment, I've barely enough room to lay my hat and a few friends.

Asked about the Yale prom: If all the girls in attendance were laid end to end . I wouldn't be at all surprised.

When asked to use the word horticulture in a sentence: You can lead a horticulture, but you can't make her think.

The two most beautiful words in the English language are "check enclosed."

Take care of the luxuries and the necessities will take care of themselves.

Razors pain you;
Rivers are damp;
Acids stain you;
And drugs cause cramp.
Guns aren't lawful;
Nooses give;
Gas smells awful;
You might as well live.

Brevity is the soul of lingerie.

That woman speaks 18 languages . and she can't say "no" in any of them.

Oh, life is a glorious cycle of song,
A medley of extemporanea;
And love is a thing that can never go wrong;
And I am Marie of Roumania.

From a book review: This is not a novel to be tossed aside lightly. It should be thrown with great force.

In a New Yorker review of A.A. Milne's House at Pooh Corner: "Tonstant weader fwowed up."

In a review of a book by Margot Asquith: The affair between Margot Asquith and Margot Asquith will live as one of the prettiest love stories in all literature.

In a 1933 review of the play The Lake starring Katherine Hepburn: Miss Hepburn runs the gamut of emotions from A to B.

Of the play The House Beautiful: The House Beautiful is The Play Lousy.

Every year, back comes Spring,
with nasty little birds yapping
their fool heads off and the ground
all mucked up with plants.

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.

I require only three things of a man. He must be handsome, ruthless and stupid.

At seventy: If I had any decency, I'd be dead. Most of my friends are.

For her epitaph: Excuse my dust.


August 23


Sacco and Vanzetti


1500: Accused of mistreating the natives of Haiti, Christopher Columbus is arrested and sent back to Spain in chains. Something for Walt Whitman to write about.

1827: Sacco and Vanzetti are executed in the Massachusetts State Prison.

1859: The first elevator in an American hotel (the Fifth Avenue Hotel in New York City) begins operating, to the amazement of the Prince of Wales who makes a special trip to see it the following year.

1866: The Austro-Prussian war is ended with the Treaty of Prague.

1911: Ishi, last of his tribe, is encountered in California.

1926: Thirty-one-year-old Rudolph Valentino dies in New York following surgery for a perforated ulcer. Beware of doctors.


August 24


virginia woolf

410: The Visigoths sack Rome but their leader, Alaric, is killed.

1922: Virginia Woolf writes Lytton Strachey after reading the first six chapters of James Joyce's Ulysses: "Never have I read such tosh.... Of course, genius may blaze out on page 652 but I have my doubts."

1970: A bomb explodes at the University of Wisconsin's Army Math Research Center in Sterling Hall on the Madison campus, killing thirty-three-year-old researcher Robert Fassnacht. It was one big bomb, rocking the house a few miles away where I was living. Two of the Sterling Hall bombers, Madison-born brothers Karleton and Dwight Armstrong, spent time in prison for their role in the bombing. Karleton, who now sells juice from a cart on campus, has expressed remorse for the Fassnecht's death. A third bomber, crew team member--his name appears in the History of the Penn Athletic Club Rowing Association (link has gone bad)--and student newspaper reporter Leo Burt, vanished and is still at large (there was speculation in Madison that Burt was the Unabomber; Burt had his own manifesto published in the leftist journal Liberation). See also January 12.


August 25


clam before the storm

1609: This bodes ill: Galileo Galilei demonstrates a telescope for Venetian lawmakers.

1825: Uruguay declare independence from Brazil (not Spain as you may read elsewhere).

1830: Aug. 25 continues to be a good day for revolution, as the Southern Netherlands (Belgium) declares its independence. In 1830 Antwerp would becaptured by the Begian insurgents, and it would become the capital of Antwerp province in Belgian Flanders. The facing image shows Carol (right) with what I think is a giant sea clam (left) at Antwerp in 2004.

1880: Guillaume Apollinaire is born in Rome of Polish parents.

1893: Seventeen-year-old Jack London returns to San Francisco after spending eight months seal hunting.


August 26


super julio


1914: Supercronopio Julio Cortázar is born in Brussels, Belgium. In 1984, I would translate his Around the Day in 80 Worlds for North Point Press.

1920: The 19th Amendment to the US Constitution (Women's Suffrage) is ratified.

1960: Branford Marsalis is born.

August 27


tears of a man

1660: Books of John Milton are burned in London as a result of his attacks on King Charles II.

1793: The Committee of Public Safety in Paris accepts its newest member, Maximilien Robespierre.

1890: Man Ray is born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

1938: A distant cousin of mine (maybe), Robert Frost, disrupts a poetry reading by Archibald MacLeish by setting fire to a stack of papers.

1967: Beatles manager Brian Epstein is found dead of a drug overdose, London.


August 28


worcester label


490: Augustine dies.

1823: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Harriet Westbrook elope.

1837: Pharmacists John Lea and William Perrins manufacture Worcester Sauce, based on a South Asian recipe.

1907: UPS begins service.

1926: Marines invade Nicaragua--again.

1930: The Marx Brothers film Animal Crackers opens.

1963: At a civil rights march in Washington, DC, Martin Luther King gives his "I Have a Dream" speech.

1964: Bob Dylan rolls a joint for the Beatles in a hotel in Manhattan. Paul McCartney announces that he is "really thinking" for the first time, and he instructs the Beatles' road manager to write down everything he says.


August 29


bob dylan's triumph



1484: Innocent VIII is elected pope. He would encourage the Spanish Inquisition. Beware of those who tout their purity.

1533: Atahualpa is executed.

1862: Maurice Maeterlinck is born in Belgium.

1885: Gottlieb Daimler patents the motorcycle.

August 30


theda bara as cleopatra

30 BCE: Cleopatra dies. The image at left is of Theda Bara as Cleopatra.

If your blonde won't respond when you flatter 'er
Tell her what Tony told Cleopatterer
If she fights when her clothes you are mussing
What are clothes? Much ado about nussing

1797: Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, author of Frankenstein, is born in London, the daughter of philosopher William Godwin and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft, who will soon die from complications of the birth.

1842: The US Congress passes its first law against the importation of obscene materials.

1904: Henry James returns to the US after twenty years abroad.

1943: R. Crumb is born in Philadelphia.


August 31


van morrison

SAINT FIACRE'S FEAST DAY: Saint Fiacre is patron saint of gardeners, as well as of cab drivers and hosiers.

1422: Henry V dies of disentary.

1887: Thomas Edison receives a patent for the kinetoscope.

1895: The first issue of Appeal to Reason, a socialist weekly reaches a circulation of one million before the government shuts it down.

1903: On the road: the first automobile trip is made from San Francisco to New York City. The car was a Packard, and it made the trip in 52 days.

1907: William Shawn is born.

1919: John Reed forms the American Communist Labor Party in Chicago.

1928: The Threepenny Opera premiers in Berlin.

1945: Van Morrison (pictured) is born in Belfast, Ireland.

1946: The Big Sleep, starring Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall, opens.

1960: California officially becomes the US state with the largest population.

1963: The "hot line" telephone is installed between Russia and the US.

1975: James Hoffa, former president of the Teamsters Union, is reported missing in Detroit.

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