He’s Still Waiting!

 

“A Brave Man and a Brave Poet.”-Bob Dylan on Lawrence Ferlinghetti

Today is the birthday of one of America’s best poets, in my opinion, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and he is 95 years old!  I used to read and carry around his “A Coney Island of the Mind,” which contained a fave poem of mine, “I Am Waiting,” with the great line, “and I am waiting for a rebirth of wonder.”

He was hip, he was cool and he opened a bookstore that I would have liked to have visited, but never got the chance: City Lights Bookstore in North Beach in San Francisco.

I am so happy to celebrate his birthday with you today!

He was born in Yonkers and when his dad died when he was a few months old, his mom was committed to a state mental institution and Lawrence was sent to France to be raised by an aunt. He returned to the states, served in WW II in the Navy, and opened his bookstore, named after the Charlie Chaplin movie, “City Lights,” because, “Chaplin’s character represents for me … the very definition of a poet. … A poet, by definition, has to be an enemy of the State. If you look at Chaplin films, he’s always being pursued by the police. That’s why he’s still such a potent symbol in the cinema — the little man against the world.” writersalmanac.publicradio.org)

“I Wrote a Sonnet to Her Eyes,”-Eugene O’Neill, “Sentimental Stuff” poem

 

“The past is the present, isn’t it? It’s the future too.”-EUGENE O’NEILL, Long Day’s Journey Into Night

 A real New Yorker was born today in 1888, playwright, Eugene O’Neill! I used to love reading all of his plays and I do remember seeing quite a few on Broadway with such stars as: Colleen Dewhurst, Liv Ullmann, Cherry Jones, Jason Robards. Many of the plays I saw were directed by the great Jose Quintero who was dedicated to O’Neill. Quintero had met O’Neill’s widow, Carlotta to ask permission to stage a revival of one of his plays. Here’s how the meeting went: “Dressed all in black, as was her custom, Mrs. O’Neill received Quintero and led him to her room. “She almost performed a ritual, a strange ritual, with her hats,” Quintero, who has been teaching at Cal State Fullerton for the last several years, recalled last week. After modeling one hat after another–all of them black–Mrs. O’Neill asked Quintero’s opinion of one in particular. “That one is the most beautiful of all,” he told her. It was the hat she had worn for her husband’s burial less than 3 years before. “That was the reason she gave me the rights to do ‘The Iceman Cometh,’ ” Quintero said. “It was almost like passing some kind of test.”Rick Vanderknyff, Los Angeles Times, 5/21/89

Both playwright Eugene O’Neill and director Jose Quintero had illness in common. O’Neill couldn’t write for the last 10 years of his life due to tremors and Quintero developed cancer of the throat; also, their birthdays are one day apart.

If you’ve seen O’Neill’s Long Day’s Journey into Night then you know his dad, James, was an actor and theater was the family’s life. I’ll never forget the film version starring Katharine Hepburn as Eugene’s mom and the great Sir Ralph Richardson as the ever-domineering presence, James O’Neill. “Eugene, who was born in a hotel, spent his early childhood in hotel rooms, on trains, and backstage. Although he later deplored the nightmare insecurity of his early years and blamed his father for the difficult, rough-and-tumble life the family led–a life that resulted in his mother’s drug addiction–Eugene had the theatre in his blood. He was also, as a child, steeped in the peasant Irish Catholicism of his father and the more genteel, mystical piety of his mother, two influences, often in dramatic conflict, which account for the high sense of drama and the struggle with God and religion that distinguish O’Neill’s plays.” © 1999-2000 Britannica.com and Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc.

I also was fascinated with O’Neill’s daughter, Oona, who married a much older Charlie Chaplin…that’s another interesting story as well!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Smile, What’s the Use of Crying?”-Turner &Parsons

“Smiling during brief stressors can help to reduce the intensity of the body’s stress response, regardless of whether a person actually feels happy.”Kyrsty Hazell, Huffington Post UK 9-19-12

Having a routine, whatever it is, is a great way to start one’s day. For you it may be meditation, a mantra, stretching. Mine is very simple: I wake up early; smile; put the computer on in the basement; make my dunkin’ donuts coffee; froth up some milk; bring my coffee to the basement; check email; think of something for my blog. Smiling is important and great exercise for your face! You don’t have to feel happy to smile, but a smile can change your attitude and emotions. Smiling has several health benefits. Charlie Chaplin wrote a beautiful song that touted some of the benefits of smiling. Here’s the cast of Glee singing, “Smile:” Enjoy and SMILE!

Charlie Chaplin wrote the music for “Smile” and John Turner and Geoffrey Parsons wrote the lyrics. The melody was used in Chaplin’s soundtrack in 1936 for his movie, “Modern Times.” It’s such a beautiful song and I provided an updated version by the cast of Glee. Did you smile once yet as you read the above?  I hope so!