Wednesday, January 28, 2009

January 28 - in 1,000 words or less

My first foray onto the Internet this morning brought me to Google and a tribute to Pollock. As a fan of the mixed-up masterpiece artist, I loved the rendition they used on the Web site. It spurred me on to investigate what else significant happened on this day, January 28.

Death of Henry VIII in 1547. I recall spending days learning about Henry and his liasons and frequent alternatives to divorce. Never having been married and subsequently divorced, I really don’t understand the need, but my Catholic-school upbringing made me truly dislike this man who seemed to have a greater desire for turkey legs than human rights. But that said, his name did make a great tune for Herman’s Hermits and inspiration for such movies as “Lady Jane.” That was my initiation into lust for Cary Elwes and the beauty of Helena Bonham Carter.

An along those English period-piece lines, “Pride and Prejudice” was first published on this day in 1813. I have yet to read this Austen novel, but I have attempted to put in on my book club list twice, to no avail. I guess I will just have to read it on my own.

In 1985, the U.S. rode the red coat tails of the British once again with USA for Africa’s “We Are The World” a not quite as hip version of “Feed the World” (my fave), but their heart was in the right place. Michael Jackson, when he was normal, Lionel Ritchie, Cyndi Lauper, Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder and many others lent their voices to this one-hit wonder and raised funds to help the starving in Africa. I just don’t get why Dan Akroyd was there.

A year later, I was sitting in my Home Economics Cooking class when my teacher with tear-stained eyes told us that the space shuttle, Challenger, had exploded on take-off. Death wasn’t something new to me, but this really stunned me since I still was unaware of true mortality. We kept the lights off, all 30 of us sitting heads down at tables listening to the radio announcer tell us that all the astronauts and one teacher had been killed in the blast. When I left class, I bumped into a friend who had been at lunch and hadn’t heard. “The space shuttle blew up.” I said. “No way.” She doubted. In anger I repeated myself, “No it blew up, they all died.” My voice stunned me. Why did I care so much? What really drew me to this sorrow? A group of friends and I converged at Stephanie’s house and watched the accounts over and over again. CNN was new and they milked it for all they could. I recall that there was an After School Special I was supposed to watch that day for my Child Development class about teenage pregnancy staring Renee Estevez, but it was postponed do to the tragedy. Nothing stirred me like this until September 11, 2001, but then I realized there was a true threat and my fear was justified.

Let’s move on to something more uplifting: Birthdays.
Today is the birthday of the French writer, Colette. One of my favorite writers, Colette was more woman than most could handle, at the time. Sexually free, she loved the vigor of life and seemed to live each day fully. Artist, actress, performer, writer and ahead of her time, Colette penned the classic “Gigi.” I visited her grave at Le Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris and even have a picture of the site in my den.

A few years later came Pollock. I don’t know much about him, but I did like Ed Harris in the movie, plus I have a puzzle of his work and I have yet to attempt that feat.

Other notables: Barbi Benton, Playboy Bunnie, Hugh’s GF back in the 70s and lingerie model and sales person on the Home Shopping Network; Dave Sharp from the Alarm, which used to be one of my favorite bands in that whole New Romantic phase in the 80s and opening act to the first concert I went to headlined by The Pretenders; Mo Rocca, satirist and “Wait, Wait Don’t Tell Me” personality, I just love his wit; Chris Carter, member of the bands Throbbing Gristle (very industrial), and Chris and Cosey (very ethereal), worth a listen if your haven’t already; and Henry Mortensen, son of actor Viggo Mortensen and X singer Exene Cervanka who was rumored to have a sister living here in St. Pete, but when I asked Nancy Cervenka if she was related she laughed and denied it, though I wasn’t the first to inquire.

Lastly back to those who left us and who still hold a place in my heart, in one regards or another. Head of the Holy Roman Empire, as well as France and Germany, Charlemagne is one of those leaders you hear about repeatedly in school and can never get the full scope of until later in life. My fascination with him erupted as I pondered his statue outside of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. The morning was rainy and I had the day to myself. I followed the nuns in for mass and gave in to my Catholic upbringing even accepting communion. After the service, with the rain still spitting down, I paced in circles around the kings statue and let the true feeling of history enwrap me. Being American, our sense of history is pretty short, unless you bring into account all the non-whites that have a lingering history of a few thousand years or so (this is something I have been looking to more and it is truly fascinating.) My hour spent at his statue seemed probably like a crazy persons as I talked to myself about the realm of his might. But then again, Paris, like other big cities I have come to discover, didn’t seem to notice me or find me crazy since there are always those a lot more loony than moi. I got a children’s book about Charlemagne at one of the book stalls along the Seine, along with “Cinderella”, both in French, so I could learn the language and have yet to put my nose in either one. (This is one of my goals for the new year, improve my French and learn Spanish.)

This was also the day the world lost a great poet, William Butler Yeats. I had my Yeats phase in college when I came across a drawing of him from the early 1900s. He seemed thin and sad, the perfect person to adore for a goth kid like me. I read all of his works that I could find and longed to be the cute young thing that he adored enough to marry. I was a heart-felt romantic, as was he and his Shelley style of slow poetry touched me deeply. This period only lasted about 3 months when I moved on to stalk other dead romantics. Yet writing this, I long to read some more of his words and ponder his life, perhaps when I am done penning this piece.

Lastly another writer of note to honor in this long babble, though she used her words perfectly, Zora Neale Hurston. “There Eyes Were Watching God” is one of my favorite books (and another on my list for a second read). Being from Florida, she is also a local icon with her place in the Harlem Renaissance. She is buried in Fort Pierce on the east coast and that makes me think that a good day trip is in order. Maybe Renee will want to join me for Zora Fest in early April, sounds like a plan.

Well this really filled a need for the history buff inside of me. It’s interesting when all these thoughts and things collide. I hope no one got hurt.


misschris said...

Pride and Predjudice is wonderful. I just read it a few years ago and then I found the movie in the DVD selections at Walmart Mexico our last few days there (was quickly spending the last of some of seb's company merchandise vouchers ...didn't know what to buy!!) Anyway I totally forgot about having bought the movie until a few weeks ago. It is DIVINE! It wasn't everything that was in the book but it was definitely the book brought to life. I'm actually jealous that you haven't seen it yet because I'd like to have NOT seen it yet. It's so good. Okay maybe I just want to travel back to that time or something.

If you hop on a plane tonight I will drop everything and watch it with you ;-)

ps it's the 2005 version with Keira Knightly. People on IMDB say it's the best but I'd like to see them all to compare.

Praers said...

I wish I could hop on a plane tonight. I have been thinking a lot about Paris and could use a vacation, but have to wait still - $$$$$.
I have also been told that the BBC version with Colin Firth is outstanding, so that is on my Netflix for when I finish the book. I have an audio version, but I sort of just want to sit quietly on the porch and drink in each word.