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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

TENNIS | Aug. 22 – Althea Gibson First Black on Tour

Althea Gibson, First U.S. Black
Tennis Winner
This day in 1950 Althea Gibson was the first African-American accepted by the tennis authorities to go on a U.S. tennis tour.

The U.S. Lawn Tennis Association (USLTA, now the USTA) accepted Gibson into their annual championship at Forest Hills, New York, the first African-American player to compete in a U.S. national tennis competition.

Gibson was born in Silver, South Carolina on August 25, 1927, but was not born with a silver spoon in her mouth. She had to earn her silver.

Her family moved to Harlem when she was young. That is where she started playing tennis in Harlem at 14. Just one year later she won the New York State girls’ championship of the American Tennis Association (ATA), the black alternative (organized by players in 1916) to the all-white USLTA.

With the help of Hubert Eaton and R. Walter Johnson, both doctors, Gibson won ten straight ATA championships in 1947. In 1949, Gibson applied to the USLTA’s National Grass Court Championships at Forest Hills (later called the U.S. Open). When the USLTA failed to invite her, Alice Marble – who had won four times at Forest Hills – bravely wrote on Gibson’s behalf to the editor of American Lawn Tennis magazine, criticizing the “bigotry” of her fellow USLTA members.

Shamed by Marble's letter, someone arranged to invite Gibson to participate in a New Jersey qualifying event, which she won. On August 28, 1950, at Forest Hills, Gibson beat Barbara Knapp 6-2, 6-2 in her first USLTA tournament match. In the second round she lost in a close match with Louise Brough, three-time defending Wimbledon champion. In 1951 she was the first black player of either gender to compete at Wimbledon.

The next few years, however, were difficult for Gibson. Her success was not universally welcomed. For example, she was promoted by Marble and others to compete in the Woodin Ladies Invitational at Maidstone in 1954 but the club was divided on Gibson's participation and she was not invited to play. The Cup was ended the next year, for that reason or other reasons, or a combination.

Gibson, however, came back from her disappointments and won her first major victory in 1956, at the French Open in Paris. The next year she won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open at 30. Gibson repeated at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open the next year but then retired from the amateur tennis and went pro.

Gibson was elected in 1971 to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, Rhode Island. She is credited with paving the way for other African-American tennis champions such as Arthur Ashe and currently Venus and Serena Williams. In the early 1960s, Gibson also became the first black player to compete on the women’s golf tour. After a long illness, she died in 2003 at 76.

Monday, August 21, 2017

KENYA | Aug. 21 – Kenyatta Freed

Mzee Jomo Kenyatta was the George Washington of Kenya.

This day in 1961 he was freed by the British colonial government.

Kenyatta governed Kenya as its Prime Minister from 1963 to 1964 and then as its first President from 1964 to 1978. He was the country's first black head of government and was a key player in transforming Kenya from a colony of the British Empire into an independent republic.

Kenya was an economic powerhouse  relative to its neighbors during his 15 years as Kenyan leader.

As the leader of the Kenyan independence movement, Kenyatta was in prison while the British worried about the independence movement. A member of the largest, Kikuyu, tribe, he was ideologically an African nationalist and conservative and he led the Kenya African National Union (KANU) party from 1961 until his death.

Kenyatta was born to Kikuyu farmers in Kiambu, British East Africa, southwest of Mount Kenya. Educated at a Church of Scotland (Presbyterian) mission, he worked in various jobs before becoming politically engaged through the Kikuyu Central Association.

In 1920, Kenya formally became a British colony, and as of 1921 Kenyatta had moved to the colonial capital of Nairobi. He became involved in African nationalism and by 1928 had risen to the post of general secretary of the Kikuyu Central Association, an organization opposed to the seizure of tribal land by European settlers. In 1929, he travelled to London to lobby for Kikuyu tribal land affairs.

During the 1930s he studied intensely: (1) political tactics at Moscow's Communist University of the Toilers of the East, (2) phonetics at University College London, and (3) anthropology at the London School of Economics. At the end of the decade, in 1938, he published Facing Mount Kenya, which was an anthropological analysis, and celebration, of traditional Kikuyu society. He discussed its plight under colonial rule.

During World War II, he lived in England, lecturing and writing. In 1946, he returned to Kenya and in 1947 became president of the newly formed Kenya African Union (KAU). He pushed for majority rule, recruiting both Kikuyus and non-Kikuyus into the nonviolent movement.

In 1952, an extremist Kikuyu group, the Mau Mau, began a guerrilla war against the settlers and colonial government, leading to bloodshed, political turmoil, and the rounding up of tens of thousands of Kikuyus in detainment camps. Although he was not directly involved, Kenyatta was put on trial in 1952 with five other KAU leaders for "managing" the Mau Mau. An advocate of nonviolence and conservatism, Kenyatta pleaded innocent. After a politicized trial, he was found guilty and sentenced to seven years in prison. He spent six years in jail and was then sent to an internal exile at Lodwar, where he lived under house arrest.

Meanwhile, the British government saw the Swahili script on the wall and decided to prepare Kenya for black majority rule, allowing the nationalist groups to organize openly. In 1960, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) was created, and Kenyatta was elected president in absentia. The party announced it would not take part in any government until Kenyatta was freed.

Kenyatta pledged the protection of settlers’ rights in an independent Kenya, and on August 14, 1961, he was allowed to return to Kikuyu territory. He was formally released on August 21 and the following year he went to London to negotiate Kenyan independence. In May 1963 he led the KANU to victory in pre-independence elections. On December 12, 1963, Kenya celebrated its independence, and Kenyatta became prime minister. The next year, a new constitution made Kenya a republic, and Kenyatta was elected president.

As Kenya’s leader until his death in 1978, Kenyatta encouraged racial cooperation, promoted capitalist economic policies, and adopted a pro-Western foreign policy. He also consolidated his authority, suppressing opposition groups deemed radical. Kenya's stability attracted foreign investment in Kenya and Mzee ("elder" in Swahili) Kenyatta was influential throughout Africa. After he died on August 22, 1978, Daniel arap Moi continued most of Kenyatta's policies.

Tuesday, August 8, 2017

ATOM BOMB | Tested, July 1945

On July 16, 1945, at 5:29 a.m., 77 years ago, the Manhattan Project tested the first atom bomb. It was in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and the consensus was that it worked.

In 1939, Albert Einstein wrote to FDR supporting the idea that an uncontrolled nuclear chain reaction had potential as a weapon. Enrico Fermi had ideas how to do this. In February 1940, the federal government set aside $6,000 for research on it.

In early 1942, the United States was now at war with the Axis. Germany was believed to be working on a uranium bomb. The War Department took an interest in the U.S. project and limits on resources  were removed. Brigadier-General Leslie R. Groves, an engineer, was put in charge of the research effort, which was located initially in Manhattan and was therefore called the Manhattan Project.

The Project succeeded in the desert of New Mexico. In 1943, Robert J. Oppenheimer began directing Project Y at a laboratory at Los Alamos, along with Hans Bethe and Edward Teller, as well as  Fermi. My former headmaster, Rev. Leo van Winkle, a Yale Ph.D. in Physics, was working on the project.

The first atomic bomb was detonated as scientist observers watched from six miles away. The first mushroom cloud stretched up 40,000 feet. The explosion began with intense light and ended with had the destructive power of perhaps 20,000 tons of TNT, followed by radioactive fallout. The tower holding the bomb was vaporized.

Germany was the original target, but they had surrendered. The only belligerent remaining was Japan. Henry Kissinger said once:
"The greatest danger of war seems to me not to lie in the deliberate actions of wicked men, but in the inability of harassed men to manage events that have run away with them."

MAGIC | Misdirection

If you think you can't be fooled by misdirection, watch this TED Talk (link below).

It's also a good introduction to Multi-Tasking.

https://www.ted.com/talks/apollo_robbins_the_art_of_misdirection#t-571236

Sunday, August 6, 2017

ELIZABETH BISHOP | Reading

Elizabeth Bishop
Richard Wilbur, 1993 

Reposted here in abbreviated form from original posted on 03/04/2009, updated on 12/26/2016 by Arlo Haskell 

The 1993 Key West Literary Seminar was devoted entirely to Elizabeth Bishop. A series of readings-in-tribute offered her fellow poets the opportunity to discuss Bishop and her influence.

In the 18-minute KWLS recording from the event, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Richard Wilbur reads Bishop’s “Little Exercise.” Originally published in her debut 1946 collection North and South, the poem ostensibly describes a thunderstorm “roaming the sky” over the mangrove islands, palm-lined boulevard, herons, and sleeping indigents characteristic of Key West, a place each poet called home. ...

Comments

John Tepper Marlin
says:
01/14/2012 at 12:21 pm

I was sorry to see the Elizabeth Bishop house in Key West in such run-down condition.

Reply

Arlo Haskell says:
01/16/2012 at 11:47 am

Something tells me Elizabeth would have liked it this way, tucked away and anonymous, as simple as the day she left it…

Reply


John Tepper Marlin says:
08/06/2017 at 5:08 pm

Is it important to us whether or not the sandpiper is indifferent to becoming extinct?

Previous posts on this site about Elizabeth Bishop:

Time Travel: ELIZ BISHOP | Key West 1938-46

nyctimetraveler.blogspot.com/2012/01/elizabeth-bishop-in-key-west.html

Jan 14, 2012

Time Travel: POETS | Eliz Bishop Homes Neglected in Key West, Brazil

nyctimetraveler.blogspot.com/2013/01/elizabeth-bishop-homes-neglected-in-key.html

Jan 18, 2013

Time Travel: POETS | Elizabeth Bishop in Ouro Preto

nyctimetraveler.blogspot.com/2014/02/on-elizabeth-bishops-trail-ouro-preto.html

Feb 16, 2014

Saturday, July 29, 2017

ART BIZ | Gaia Celebrates Canada's 150th Birthday

L to R: Mother Nature, Gaia (rear), Alice, John. Ottawa,
Canada. Photo by a friendly fellow tourist.
We were in Ottawa for the wedding of my niece Marguerite (Margie) Marlin to Myles Dunn.

Canada is celebrating its 150th birthday and one of the biggest attractions is in the Jacques-Cartier Park in Gatineau, on the Quebec side of the national capital region, across the bridge from Ottawa.

The centerpiece of the botanical show is a sculpture of majestic Mother Nature (the mythical goddess Gaia) emerges from the earth, hand held skyward, streaming water down upon the land below.

On her right side (dexter, see photo), an eagle rests in her hand. On her left side (sinister), deer graze on her palm and horses gallop along.

This celebration of Canada's 150th anniversary extends to October 15. Its name is MosaïCanada 150-Gatineau 2017.

The exhibit has been curated by Mosaïcultures Internationales de Montréal, and features more than 40 sculptures, on a half-mile-long path.

Friday, July 28, 2017

POET BORN | July 28 – John Ashbery

Ashbery Receives National Humanities
Medal from President Barack Obama in 2011.
This day in Rochester, NY in 1927 was born John Ashbery. He is a time traveler in the way people thought of it before Einstein's followers started to think of it in scientific terms.

Ashbery grew up on his family's fruit farm near Lake Ontario. He went to a small, rural school, where they read some poetry, all of it classical.

Then he won, as a prize in a contest, Louis Untermeyer's anthology, Modern American and British Poetry. He said he didn't understand many of these contemporary poems, but he was fascinated by them – poems by Auden and Eliot and Wallace Stevens.

Ashbery attended Deerfield for his last two years of high school, from which he went to Harvard. He started writing poetry seriously and published his first book, Some Trees, in 1956, when he was 29.

I first met John Ashbery in the early 1970s, when I became a neighbor in Chelsea, NYC. His newest book was Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror (1975). Subsequently he published A Wave (1984), Where Shall I Wander (2005), and Planisphere (2009).

Garrison Keillor describes Ashbery as having been helped by a generous neighbor. As neighbors in the Chelsea neighborhood of New York, John Ashbery and David Kerman  have themselves been generous.

An article in the NY Observer says that when Ashbery grew up on a farm, he didn't like it. He preferred living with his grandparents in the city to attend school. His grandfather was a professor at the University of Rochester. When he was 12, Ashbery's younger brother died of leukemia. Ashbery spent most of his time by himself until a wealthy friend of his mother (the "generous neighbor") put up the money for him to finish high school at Deerfield. Ashbery explains:
By that time I had already discovered modern poetry. High schools used to have current events contests sponsored by Time, if the class subscribed to the magazine. They were quite easy. I won the prize of a book. Of the four that they offered, the only one I was vaguely interested in was an anthology of modern American and British poetry by Louis Untermeyer.
Garrison Keillor in a bio of Ashbery in 2014 gives us two quotes from Ashbery. One is about the fact that Ashbery's poetry is not easy. People say they don't understand it. Especially freshman students in college or high school who have to read it for their English courses. 
I don't quite understand about understanding poetry. I experience poems with pleasure: whether I understand them or not I'm not quite sure. I don't want to read something I already know or which is going to slide down easily: there has to be some crunch, a certain amount of resilience. [Italics added.]
Dorothy Parker once said: "Millay did a great deal of harm making poetry seem so easy that we could all do it but, of course, we couldn’t." Ashbery tries not to make poetry too easy because he believes it should stop you in your tracks – he wants his poems to stop you and make you spend some time. Keillor cites Ashbery's poem "At North Farm", which follows. It has a time-travel aspect. 
Somewhere someone is traveling furiously toward you,
At incredible speed, traveling day and night,
Through blizzards and desert heat, across torrents, through narrow passes.
But will he know where to find you,
Recognize you when he sees you,
Give you the thing he has for you? 
Hardly anything grows here,
Yet the granaries are bursting with meal,
The sacks of meal piled to the rafters.
The streams run with sweetness, fattening fish;
Birds darken the sky. Is it enough
That the dish of milk is set out at night,
That we think of him sometimes,
Sometimes and always, with mixed feelings?
The basic problem with the science of time travel is that in order to travel in time, we would need to travel "at incredible speed" – incredible because weight is a function of speed. We would need to be very light, preferably weightless. The only way that science knows how to time-travel so far is in the mind. But that gives us an important degree of freedom.

Physicists have been driven by unexplained phenomena to come up with a hypothetical fifth dimension that could unite the dimensions of space and time. Until they tie up the loose ends, we will have to rely on time-travel in the mind. We will have to rely on poetry.