The New England Primer

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This is the New England Primer, the first American text used to teach school children to read.  It was in print from 1681 to 1830 and was, for millions of children in the New World, their first experience with formal education. In addition to the alphabet, it reinforced Puritan and Calvinist beliefs that life was […]

We All Shine On

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It was 43 years ago today that “Instant Karma! (We All Shine On)” sprang from John Lennon’s head fully formed. John Lennon wrote and recorded “Instant Karma!” in a single day.  He famously stated “I wrote it for breakfast, recorded it for lunch, and we’re putting it out for dinner.”  The single, which bore the […]

Bohumil Hrabal, Author

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Bohumil Hrabal was born on this date in 1914. Ask any literary type who his favorite Czechoslovakian author of the twentieth century was, and most will say Franz Kafka.  Less well-known is Bohumil Hrabal, author of more than fifty books, who was born on this date in 1914. Hrabal was born at the start of the first […]

This Place Used to be Great…

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A photographic response to It Came From Memphis by  Robert Gordon. Last month, I discussed It Came From Memphis, Robert Gordon’s wonderful 1995 book about the misfits of the Memphis music scene.  I wrote that I wanted to drive around town and take pictures of the locales mentioned in the book–the bars, clubs, recording studios, and […]

Jay McInerney, Novelist

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Jay McInerney is 57 years old today, which means that, yes, you are getting old. Jay McInerny turns 57 today, and if you think that that just can’t be, please keep in mind that Simon LeBon and Belinda Carlisle are just behind him at 53.  The 80s became the new 70s sometime around the millenium; […]

Vachel Lindsay, Poet

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Today is the birthday of Vachel Lindsay, a poet I know almost nothing about. Vachel Lindsay is one of those poets whose name I know, and who I have a vague idea existed on the fringes of the modernist movement, but about whom I know almost nothing else.  Even after doing a little bit of […]