This week in Literature and Arts

Happy 85th birthday to Johnny Cash, born into a farming family in Kingsland, Arkansas, February 26, 1932.

Before finding success, Cash held a variety of mundane jobs including a stint as an appliance salesman. A few years later you can picture some guy sitting in his living room with his wife’s meatloaf and mashed sitting in his stomach like an anchor watching Cash on the TV, scratching his head thinking, “Didn’t we buy the washing machine from that guy?”


February 27, 1902: John Steinbeck is born in Salinas, CA.

He was more prolific than many of American lit’s big guns, so it’s easy to overlook many of his books beyond the handful that everyone reads (or used to) in high school and college. Last summer or so, I finally got around to The Short Reign of Pippin IV and had a blast with it. Steinbeck isn’t a laugh a minute type of guy, but this book was quite funny. Very silly, too, but worth a shot if you’ve never read it.


February 28, 1983: CBS blows taps for M*A*S*H after 11 seasons with a 2.5 hour finale. Remarkably, 34 years later the final episode remains the most watched TV show in history (more than 100 million TVs tuned in); only the live-action 2010 Super Bowl attracted more viewers (Saints over Colts/The WHO half-time show).

I watched the last M*A*S*H at Thesis, a college bar in New Paltz, NY. The final episode was such an event that bars, restaurants, etc., offered specials to lure customers out of their homes. We were college kids and any excuse to hoist a few was a good one. Alas, the show’s end was so lackluster and disappointing that we were glad to be shitfaced!

Besides generating colossal ratings, the The M*A*S*H finale seemed to set a precedent for final episodes sucking ass.


March 1, 1973: Not sure if I buy The Wizard of Oz sync-up theory, but a hell of an album.


March 2 1904: Theodore Geisel is born in Springfield, Mass.

Attending Dartmouth in the 1920s, Geisel became top editor of the university’s humor publication, Jack-O-Lantern, but was busted drinking gin with friends in his room. With Prohibition ruling the land, Geisel lost his editing gig but continued contributing to the publication by signing his work using his middle name, Seuss.

The doctor is in!


March 2, 1933: King Kong premieres at Radio City Music Hall (it would open nationwide April 7). The original disgruntled, take-no-shit New Yorker and still the Eighth Wonder of the World.

 

Michael Rogers (mermsr@optimum.net) is a Jesse H. Neal Gold Award-winning freelance writer, editor, reviewer, and photographer. He is also former Media Editor and audiobook reviewer at Library Journal.