Tom's Book of Days
      March 11-20  


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March 11


753 BCE: Rome is founded, according to tradition. The Roman calendar dated from the founding, called ab urbe condita ("founding of the city"). So 753 BCE (or BC) is 1 AUC in the Roman system.

1302: Romeo Montevecchio and Juliet Cappelletto are married at Cittadella in Italy.

1811: In England, Luddites attack machines designed to replace them in the weaving of wool.

1818: Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is published.

1953: A US B-47 accidentally drops a nuclear bomb on South Carolina. (It does not explode.)


March 12




1922: Jack Kerouac is born in Lowell, Massechusetts.

1930: Gandhi makes his march to the sea-the "Salt March"-in defiance of British monopoly on salt.

1955: In New York City, 34-year-old Charlie Parker dies of heart failure.


March 13


aztec mask

1325: Tenochtitlan is founded. The Tenochka were a culture of Nahua-speaking peoples who were dominant in the Valley of Mexico (a very fertile and densely populated area surrounding the central lake system ) at the time of the conquest (the word Toltec comes from their name). Originally from somewhere in the north, they had been commanded south by their god Huitzilopochtli, arriving in the Valley of Mexico in 1248. They knew they were in the right place by signs foretold by the god: two rocks from which flowed streams of two colors; plants, birds, fish that all were white; an eagle, surrounded by feathers of all colors, nesting in a nopal cactus. They were, however, not made to feel welcome by the area's current residents, the Culhuacan, and retreated to an island in Lake Texcoco, where they established Tenochtitlan, or "land of the Tenochkas." They expanded from there until, with a population of 350,000 in 1519, Tenochtitlan was larger and in many ways finer than any city in Europe.

"The city is indeed so great and marvellous that though I abstain from describing many things about it, yet the little that I shall recount is, I think, almost incredible. It is much larger than Granada, and much better fortified. Its houses are as fine and its inhabitants far more numerous than those of Granada when that city was captured. Its provisions and food are likewise very superior--including such things as bread, fowl, game, fish and other excellent vegetables and produce which they eat. There is a market in this city in which more than thirty thousand people daily are occupied in buying and selling, and this in addition to other similar shops which there are in all parts of the city. Nothing is lacking in this market of what they are wont to use, whether utensils, garments, footwear or the like. There is gold, silver and precious stones, and jewellers' shops selling other ornaments made of feathers, as well arranged as in any market in the world. There is earthenware of many kinds and excellent quality, as fine as any in Spain. Wood, charcoal, medicinal and sweet smelling herbs are sold in large quantities. There are booths for washing your hair and barbers to shave you: there are also public baths. Finally, good order and efficient police system are maintained among them, and they behave as people of sense and reason: the foremost city of Africa cannot rival them."
      --Hernán Cortés

1818: John Keats writes to Benjamin Bailey: "I am sometimes so very skeptical as to think poetry is a mere Jack-o-Lantern to whoever may chance to be struck with its brilliance."

1915: Danger, Will Robinson: Dodgers manager Wilbert Robinson tries to catch a baseball dropped from an airplane but, fortunately for him, the pilot substituted a grapefruit (supposedly at the instigation of Casey Stengel)..

1925: Tennessee makes it unlawful to teach evolution.


March 14




1850: After an epistolary romance spanning nearly two decades, Honore de Balzac, 51, marries Polish Countess Evelina Hanska.

1869: Rebel Maori leader Titokowaru is defeated in New Zealand.

1903: With the designation of Pelican Island in Florida a “preserve and breeding ground for native birds,” Theodore Roosevelt creates the National Wildlife Refuge System.

1903: The jig is up, smokers: Bangladesh bans puffing in public places.


March 15


Julius Caesar

Ay, Caesar, but not gone.

Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.
But, for my own part, it was Greek to me.
Think you I am no stronger than my sex,
Being so father'd and so husbanded?
These things are beyond all use,
And I do fear them.
Cowards die many times before their deaths;
The valiant never taste of death but once.
Of all the wonders that I yet have heard,
It seems to me most strange that men should fear;
Seeing that death, a necessary end,
Will come when it will come.

(Ides derives from the Latin word for "divide." Each month had an ides, which original marked the full moon, but since the relation between the solar and lunar calendars had got hopelessly screwed up, the ides had lost that significance by Caesar's time. On some months the ides were the thirteenth and on others the fifteenth. If, as Shakespeare suggested, Caesar had been warned about the ides by a prophet, it would have been quite possible for the tyrant to be confused about what day was meant.)

44 BCE: Julius Caesar is assassinated.

1649: John Milton is appointed Minister of Foreign Tongues for the English Commonwealth.

1767: Andrew Jackson is born. He would be seventh president of the United States. The destruction he would cause among native peoples in the American west would hang over the country like a malevolent spirit for a very long time. When will it be exorcised?

1929, 1940, 1943, 1947: A big date for 20th-century mucisians' birthdays, as Cecil Taylor, Phil Lesh, Sly Stone, and Ry Cooder are born.

Cecil Taylor: "All The Notes" (video)


March 16


sarah bernhardt

1904: Shame's Choice: In a Dublin singing contest, James Joyce receives the bronze medal, which he throws into the Liffey.

      Old James Joyce
      Had a lovely vice
      What were the
      Tenor of his tomes

1892: César Vallejo is born in Santiago de Chuco, Peru.

1914: Sarah Bernhardt is made a Chevalier of the Legion d'Honneur. The photo at left is by Nadar.

1968: Charlie Company, First Battalion, American Division, enters My Lai 4 and murders an estimated 347 civilians over an 8-hour period.

2000: NAIROBI (Reuters): A group of women stormed a Kenyan police station to demand officers either make love to them or close illegal drinking dens they said made their husbands impotent, a local newspaper reported.
      The People newspaper said the women, from Kandara, north of Nairobi, brought business in the town to a halt with their day-long protest against excessive drinking by their menfolk.
      "Our men have turned to vegetables. They leave home early and come back intoxicated. There is nobody to meet the sexual needs of wives," the newspaper quoted one woman as saying.
      The women, drawn from 24 Catholic church groups, demanded that the officer in charge of the police station either order his men to make love to them or find them new husbands because they were sexually frustrated. The paper did not say how police reacted to their demands.

March 17


saint pat

ST. PATRICK'S DAY (HOL NI/IRE): Patrick (approx. 385-March 17, 467) was not Irish but rather Welsh; he was kidnapped and sold in Ireland as a slave. He escaped and fled Ireland but was later returned in his new role as a bishop. He is associated with the shamrock, a symbol of the Christian trinity. The legend ascribed to him of casting the snakes out of Ireland may be a symbolic reference to the suppression of druidism. Que vivent des serpents!

1740: Justice of the Peace Henry Fielding, writing under the name of Captain Hercules Vinegar, summons poet laureate Colley Cibber to court for the murder of the English language.

1845: The Rubber band is patented.

1959: The Dalai Lama flees Tibet for India.

1969: Golda Meir becomes prime minister of Israel.

1992: Grace Stafford, cartoon voice of Woody Woodpecker, dies at 87.


March 18


stephane mallarme

FEAST OF THE CREATION: The anniversary of the beginning of the universe (early biblical scholars determined that the Day of Creation was 18 March 4004 BC).

1842: Stephane Mallarmé is born in Paris.

1953: In response to an investigation by Senator Joseph McCarthy, the US State Department bars "suspect" writers from its overseas information libraries, including books by such John Dewey, Edna Ferber, Dashiell Hammett, Theodore White, and Edmund Wilson.

2003: High Noon: George W. Bush declares that Saddam Hussein has 48 hours to leave Iraq or face invasion.


March 19


Nikolai Gogol

1809: Nikolai Vasil'evich Gogol is born.

1853: Seeking to overthrow China's Qing dynasty, Taiping rebels, led by the "Heavenly King," Hong Xiuchuan, capture Nanjing. The rebels would hold the city (making it their capital) for eleven years.

1970: 200 women, led by Susan Brownmiller and including members of the National Organization for Women, Redstockings, New York Radical Feminists, and the Older Women's League, seize the New York offices of Ladies Home Journal, demanding what they call a Women's Liberated Journal. After an eight-hour standoff, publisher John Mack Carter agrees to include a collectively written eight-page feminist supplement in the August 1970 issue of the magazine.

2006: Dr. Richard K. Root, a noted epidemiolist and educator whos is visiting Botswana to help alleviate a shortage of doctors there, at the invitation of the Botswana Department of Health, is canoing, accompanied by tour guides, in the Tuli Nature Reserve on the eastern border with Zimbabwe; his wife is following in another canoe. A crocodile emerges from the Limpopo River, pulls him from his canoe, and devours him as his wife looks on.


March 20


43 BCE: Ovid is born at Sulmona in the Abruzzi.

1815: Switzerland declares perpetual neutrality in all wars.

1896: US Marines invade Nicaragua (this happens a lot).

1976: Patricia Hearst is convicted of bank robbery.

1991: In New York, four-year-old Conor Clapton (son of Eric) falls 53 stories to his death.

2000: ZURICH (Reuters): A hormone that people release when they are under stress signifcantly impairs their memory, which could explain why some people draw a blank during examinations, a Swiss scientist said on Monday.
      Dominique de Quervain, who works in the psychiatric research division of the University of Zurich, said the hormone cortisol was the culprit behind the temporary memory loss, which affects many people under pressure.
      "We gave humans the hormone cortisol. When they swallowed it, they felt nothing right away and there are no signs of stress. But a while later, the individuals started having a hard time remembering things. Their memory was impaired," he said.

2003: The Asian Art Museum opens in its new location in San Francisco's Civic Center. The old main library building, originally designed by George W. Kelham and opened in 1917 as part of mayor "Sunny Jim" Rolph's reconstruction of the earthquake-damaged Civic Center, was adapted for its new use as a museum by Milanese architect Gae Aulenti, who had done similar work in converting the Orsay train station in Paris into the Musée d'Orsay. Aulenti is shown here in the museum's south court during construction. The sourth court was originally a brick-walled light well between the south wing and central spine of the building. Aulenti has introduced large V-shaped skylights in an effort to introduce light into the building. For more see here or visit the museum's official site.

continue to March 21


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