John Waters writes to his younger self
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Saturday, April 28, 2012
In 1976, A River Runs Through It and Other Stories was published by the University of Chicago Press. It was the author Norman Maclean's first book, he was 74 years old. The book was critically acclaimed and nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. In 1981, Maclean was approached by the publishing house Alfred A. Knopf, who had rejected his first collection. Instead of tossing the query into the trash, he penned a scathing reply.
NORMAN MACLEAN Letter to an editor at Alfred A. Knopf, 1981
Dear Mr. Elliott: I have discovered that I have been writing you under false pretenses, although stealing from myself more than from you. I have stolen from myself the opportunity of seeing the dream of every rejected author come true.
The dream of every rejected author must be to see, like sugar plums dancing in his head, please-can’t-we-see-your-next-manuscript letters standing in piles on his desk, all coming from publishing companies that rejected his previous manuscript, especially from the more pompous of the fatted cows grazing contentedly in the publishing field. I am sure that, under the influence of those dreams, some of the finest fuck-you prose in the English language has been composed but, alas, never published. And to think that the rare moment in history came to me when I could in actuality have written the prose masterpiece for all rejected authors – and I didn’t even see that history had swung wide its doors to me.
You must have known that Alfred A. Knopf turned down my first collection of stories after playing games with it, or at least the game of cat’s-paw, now rolling it over and saying they were going to publish it and then rolling it on its back when the president of the company announced it wouldn’t sell. So I can’t understand how you could ask if I’d submit my second manuscript to Alfred A. Knopf, unless you don’t know my race of people. And I can’t understand how it didn’t register on me – ‘Alfred A. Knopf’ is clear enough on your stationery.
But, although I let the big moment elude me, it has given rise to little pleasures. For instance, whenever I receive a statement of the sales of ‘A River Runs Through It’ from the University of Chicago Press, I see that someone has written across the bottom of it, ‘Hurrah for Alfred A. Knopf.’ However, having let the great moment slip by unrecognized and unadorned, I can now only weakly say this: if the situation ever arose when Alfred A. Knopf was the only publishing house remaining in the world and I was the sole remaining author, that would mark the end of the world of books.
Friday, April 27, 2012
The summer Olympic Games of 1900 were held in Paris, France as part of the 1900 World's Fair. Women athletes competed for the first time. Also new to the competition, hot air ballooning and motor car racing.
Swimming events took place in the Seine
International air races
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Friday, April 20, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
I wonder what he’ll think of me
I guess he’ll call me the 'old man'
I guess he’ll think I can lick
Ev’ry other feller’s father
Well, I can!
I bet that he’ll turn out to be
The spittin’ image of his dad
But he’ll have more common sense
Than his puddin-headed father ever had
I’ll teach him to wrassle
And dive through a wave
When we go in the mornin for our swim
His mother can teach him
The way to behave
But she won’t make a sissy out o’ him
—from Soliloquy by Rodgers & Hammerstein
Jeffrey Brown imagines a kinder, gentler Darth Vadar in his new book.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Monday, April 16, 2012
Having lived for many years in Los Angeles, a city without real seasons, it's easy to forget the experience of their distinct colors and fragrances.
In Chicago we're experiencing a perfect spring; complete with cool
weather, occasional rain and delicate new foliage.
Gustave Caillebotte captured so perfectly the quality of spring
in his painting, The Effect of Rain.
Sunday, April 15, 2012
Saturday, April 14, 2012
In 1879 Alphonse Bertillon began working as a clerk in the criminal records office of the Paris police department. With a sharp mind for statistics and a keen interest in anthropology, he noticed immediately the filing system lacking; criminal records had vague descriptions and low quality photography for the 'mug shot'.
Determined to improve methods of identifying offenders, he chose a practical approach of recording body measurements. His belief that the likelihood of any two people having the exact measurements would be next to impossible was the core of his new system, which he called 'anthropometry'.
By 1884, Bertillon's system was the method for filing criminal data, having successful results not only in determining repeat offenders but also in identifying human remains at crime scenes.
By the twentieth century, the Bertillon system was displaced by easily-recorded fingerprints.