Tom's Book of Days
      October 1-10  

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October 1


M. Flaubert

1800: The territory of Louisiana is ceded Spain to France in the secret treaty of San Ildefonso. The European powers treat the territory like a hot potato. Only forty years before, France had given the territory to Spain with the signing of the Treaty of Fontainebleau. In 1803, France will sell the territory to the United States.

1857: The first installment of Madame Bovary is published.

1924: Jimmy Carter, the only living US president who is not a shameful embarrassment, is born. Unfortunately, the same day also gives us William Rehnquist.

1949: Mao Tse-tung raises the flag of the People's Republic of China for the first time.

1979: The US gives up its claim to the Canal Zone in Panama.


October 2



1836: Charles Darwin returns from his voyage on the HMS Beagle.

1869: "Mahatma" Mohandask Gandhi is born.

1890: Julius Henry ("Groucho") Marx is born.

1904: Henry ("Graham") Greene is born.

1968: In the Tlatelolco section of Mexico City hundreds (some say thousands) of students and others are massacred by Mexican military forces. With the Summer Olympics scheduled for mid-October, President Gustavo Diaz Ordaz, acting in part on behind-the-scenes U.S. encouragement — documents that would be released under the Freedom of Information act would show CIA involvement in tracking and responding to the activities of the protestors — had sought to sweep away campus unrest by ordering military occupation of the University of Mexico. About 15,000 students and sympathizers gathered to protest the action, chanting "Mexico! Libertad!" At sunset armed forces surrounded the Plaza de las Tres Culturas where the protestors had assembled and began firing into the crowd.
    In 1983 Diaz Ordaz's minister of the interior, Luis Echeverria Alvarez, would be charged with genocide in connection with the incident, but he would be released on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired.


October 3


harriet miers, 1970

1863: Abraham Lincoln declares Thanksgiving will be celebrated on the fourth Thursday in November.

1867: Pierre Bonnard is born.

1995: A jury finds O.J. Simpson not guilty of murdering his ex-wife and Ron Goldman. In my daughter's class at El Cerrito High School, most of the students cheer.

2005: U.S. Representative Tom DeLay is indicted on money laundering charges, and, on the same day, President G.W. Bush nominates White House Counsel Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court; Miers has no judicial experience


October 4


buster keaton

CARRYING IN THE PUDDING DAY (London: a ceremony dating to 1775, opens pudding season with an 80-pound meat pie, & songs such as “Ye Pancakes & Toasted Cheese.”); ST. FRANCIS DAY(he once defeated a plague of mice with a cat that sprang miraculously from his sleeve); NATIONAL TACO DAY

1802: William Wordsworth marries Mary Hutchinson. (His sister, Dorothy, is displeased.)

1895: Buster Keaton is born.

1910: Jack London buys nine plot outlines from 25-year-old Sinclair Lewis for $52.50.

1957: First episode of Leave It to Beaver airs.

1961: Bob Dylan earns $20 in his Carnegie Hall debut (about 50 people attend).

1986: Two thugs attack CBS Evening News anchor Dan Rather yelling "What's The Frequency, Kenneth?"


October 5


Chief Joseph

1877: On his surrender to US forces, Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce Indians states, "From where the sun now stands, I will fight no more forever." After Nez Perce retaliation provoked by the US breaking their land treaty, Chief Joseph has been forced to retreat to the Canadian border. Leading a group of some 300 Nez Perce, he has covered more than 1,000 miles, outmaneuvering US pursuers all the while. But now his outmanned group is finally apprehended about forty miles short of the border.

1911: Flann O'Brien is born in Strabane, County Tyrone.

            Yes, More of It

            What happens to blows at a council meeting?
            It looks as if they might be exchanged!
            What does pandemonium do?
            It breaks loose.
            Describe its subsequent dominion,
            It reigns.
            How are allegations dealt with?
            What is the mean temperature of an altercation,therefore?
            What is the behaviour of a heated altercation?
            It follows.
            What happens to order?
            It is restored.
            Alternatively, in what does the meeting break up?
            What does the meeting do in disorder?
            Breaks up.
            In what direction does the meeting break in disorder?
            In what direction should I shut?

                  --Flann O'Brien


October 6


paul c. morphy


1857: At the American Chess Congress's first national tournament in New York City, twenty-year-old prodigy Paul C. Morphy of New Orleans, playing a bold, free-wheeling style, takes the title, beginning his illustrious career that will bring the international championship to the Americas for the first time.

1930: As I Lay Dying is published.

2004: Archaeologists claim to have unearthed the palace of Chinggis Khan near Ulan Bator, Mongolia.


October 7


miguel de cervantes


1571: Miguel de Cervantes is wounded at the Battle of Lepanto, losing the use of his left hand.

1769: Captain Cook "discovers" New Zealand.

1806: Carbon paper (remember that?) is patented.

1957: "American Bandstand" debuts.

1967: In San Francisco, Diggers stage a mock funeral to pay respects to "The Death of the Hippie."

2003: California holds a special election to recall Gray Davis. California voters in their wisdom would decide to replace him with an Austrian body builder.


October 8



622: Muhammad enters Medina.

1895: Populist Argentine strongman Juan Perón is born.

1935: Lord Peter Wimsey marries Harriet Vane. Dorothy Sayer's debonair, battle-scarred detective met independent-minded Vane in Strong Poison (1930), in which she was accused of poisoning a novelist with whom she had been living; Vane reappeared in Have His Carcass (1932) and Gaudy Night (1935). The two marry in Busman's Honeymoon: A Love Story with Detective Interruptions (1937), only to discover a body in the basement of their honeymoon cottage.

Although Busman's Honeymoon is published in 1937, the wedding may have taken place in 1935, based on internal evidence. The great innovation of Dorothy Sayers (1893-1957) was in melding the detective story and the fine British tradition of the comedy of manners.

1967: Ernesto Che Guevara is killed in Bolivia.

One of our recent translations is a memoir of the Cuban revolution by Enrique Oltuski (revolutionary leader in the Las Villas region), which contains the author's recollections of Che. In Spanish it is called Gente del Llano (People of the Lowlands)--the title refers to the division of the revolutionary struggle between the rural Sierra and the urban Llano. It was published by Jossey-Bass in fall 2002 under the title Vida Clandestina: My Life in the Cuban Revolution.
When reviewed in the San Francisco Chronicle, it was not noted that it was a TRANSLATION. A brief letter to the editor to this effect ("Somewhere in Jonathan Curiel's review of Enrique Oltuski's Vida Clandestina (Double Life of a Cuban Revolutionary,September 15) it might have been noted that the book is a translation. It was translated by Carol Christensen and myself") did not run.
    That reminds me of a review in the L.A.Times of my translation of Carlos Fuente's Constancia and Other Stories for Virgins, in which the reviewer, with rather astonishing carelessness, actually called it "another fine translation by Margaret Sayers Peden." When I wrote the Times to point out that Petch Peden had nothing to do with the translation, that letter did not run either. Such is the disdain for translation in the U.S. book industry.
    If Che were around, I would speak to him about it.


October 9


 john lennon


1844: "Annabel Lee" is published in the New York Tribune.

1914: Antwerp falls to German forces.

1940: John Lennon is born.

1967: Ernesto "Che" Guevara is executed in Bolivia.

2006: North Korea apparently tests a nuclear device.


October 10



732: At the Battle of Tours, Frankish infantry under Charles Martel defeat 65,000 Sacacren troops under Abd-ar-Rahman, the governor of Moslem Spain. With this victory, Martel halts Moslem expansion into Western Europe and establishes the Carolingian dynasty. His son Pepin becomes the first Carolingian king of the Franks. The second Carolingian king is his grandson, Charlemagne.

1813: Giuseppe Verdi is born.

1918: Thelonius Monk is born.

1973: Vice-President Agnew resigns. He will plead no contest to one charge of income tax invasion in return for the dropping of all other charges. He is replaced by Gerald R. Ford, who as president pardons Richard M. Nixon, whose own resignation follows Agnew's by less than a year. What a bunch of crooks!

continue to October 11


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