Thursday, February 21, 2008

end of shortwave service in Europe

did you ever hear one of those scratchy radio transmissions? that's shortwave and the beeb (the fond name we Brits have for the BBC, for anyone not British reading this blog) started doing them to reach listeners cut off by "desert, snow and sea" 75 years ago. That ended on Monday. (Too bad I guess for anyone unlucky enough to be in a desert, a blizzard or on some high seas.)

As the NYT reports: "The quiet ending for the service was a contrast with its celebrated arrival. Seventy-five years ago, King George V helped promote the new technology from his small study in the British royal family’s Norfolk retreat, Sandringham. In a speech written by the poet Rudyard Kipling, the king extolled radio as a way to reach out to men and women isolated by snow and sea.

'Through one of the marvels of modern science, I am enabled this Christmas Day to speak to all my people throughout the empire,' the king said.

The abdication speech of Edward VIII was broadcast on shortwave, as was news of the Hindenburg airship’s explosion and Hungarian Free Radio’s last anguished call for aid as Russian tanks rumbled into Budapest."

So I didn't feel it was quite right not to mention it. And have it go unnoticed by most. It almost feels like we should be having a moment's silence. Or standing up and singing the national anthem. Or, at the very least, saluting someone. Shouldn't we?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

same kind of different as me

Here's a question. What do:
– a dangerous, homeless drifter who grew up picking cotton in virtual slavery in Louisiana;
– an upscale art dealer and self-made millionaire accustomed to the world of Armani and Chanel;
– and a gutsy woman with a stubborn dream
all have in common?

Basically, a story so incredible and far fetched no novelist would ever get away with it. And it will take your breath away.

Same Kind of Different as Me is the true story of Ron Hall, a wealthy Ft. Worth art dealer, and his friendship with Denver Moore, a homeless ex-convict. Brought together in a soup kitchen by Ron's wife Debbie, the resulting story is one of loss and triumph. You can find out more/buy the book here.

There are some great quotes in this book, but here's just some:

“Whether we is rich or poor or something in between this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless-just workin our way toward home.”
Denver Moore

"just tell 'em Im a nobody that's trying to tell everbody 'bout a Somebody that can save anybody"
Denver Moore

Monday, February 18, 2008

on editing and writing: be heavy and small

Elie Wiesel wrote a 900-page memoir in Yiddish called And the World Has Remained Silent (1956). But while translating the book into French, he found himself editing it ruthlessly until he had cut the 900 pages down to just 127. (Wiesel called the edited version of his memoir Night .)

He said,
"I was inspired by the marvelous example of Giacometti, the great sculptor. He always said that his dream was to do a bust so small that it could enter a matchbook, but so heavy that no one could lift it. That's what a good book should be."
Elie Wiesel (b. 1928)

What a powerful dream to have.

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