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Remembering (With a Smile) Wendy Wasserstein, 10/18/1950-1/30/2006

When I woke up this morning and glanced at the date on the front page of the newspaper, I realized with a start that my friend Wendy Wasserstein died two years ago.

Well...could I really call her a "friend?" She had so many people who were much closer to her than I was; but whenever I was with Wendy, she treated me as if I were the only other person in the world.

It's party time in Rutherford this Sunday: Happy Birthday William Carlos Williams

The William Carlos Williams Poetry Symposium (WCWPS) is hosting a special reading to commemorate its annual celebration of WCW's birthday -- and to acknowledge 25th anniversary of the renaming of the Williams Center.

The reading will take place Sunday, September 16, 2007 on the Terrace of Rutherford's Williams Center from 1:00PM to 4:30PM. A champagne reception will follow and poets will be available to sign books. Four of WCW's family members will be attending and sharing reminiscences.

Featured authors include Alicia Ostriker and Laura Boss, both of whom read at the WCW Centennial at the Williams Center in 1983; Lewis Warsh, a featured poet at the 2005 Symposium; Urayoan Noel; Jim Klein, WCW Poetry Cooperative member; and Tina Kelley, award winning New York Times reporter. Bill Zavatsky, poet and Williams scholar, will open the reading with a discussion of WCW's works.

News is the first draft of history

All is in readiness around Glen Ridge High School, as it is indeed at every NJ suburban school today: hedges trimmed, grass cut, windows washed -- and on the white and black Welcome sign upon the green slope facing Ridgewood Avenue, a heartfelt quote inspires tomorrow's reluctant students: "THE JOURNEY OF A THOUSAND MILES BEGINS WITH A SINGLE STEP."

OK, fine, I think, driving by...that works (for them)...But the inaugural mantra for my MSU American History classes this fall semester is the same as it was last year: "NEWS IS THE FIRST DRAFT OF HISTORY." I cannot claim authorship of this pithy declaration most often attributed to Washington Post publisher Philip L. Graham.

You say you want a revolution

I collect black T-shirts (how's that for a provocative lead sentence?)

Yesterday, for my grocery-shopping excursion, I decided to wear one of my cherished favorites. It was given to me last year by renowned scholar Dr. David Kohn after a personal guided tour of his phenomenal Darwin exhibition at the Museum of Natural History in NYC.

I need to describe the shirt for you before we get to the moral of our tale: it displays a schematic notebook drawing of Darwin's first intimations about the origin of species, a crudely-sketched multi-branched "tree" with the scribbled words "I think" in script at the top.

And along the bottom of the sketch is the word REVOLUTIONARY in all capital letters, with the beginning "R" and ending "ARY" in red -- and "EVOLUTION" in white.

Brooke Astor (1902-2007)

It was difficult for me to type that headline just now, because she was always and forever "Mrs. Astor" to me.

Like so many who are paying tribute to her this week, I cannot claim to have known Mrs. Astor well; and yet, when I flip through my remaining snapshot-memories, I feel a sadness akin to when my grandmother passed away.

My first snapshot, sepia at the edges, dates from three decades ago, when my career in the New York City nonprofit world was getting underway. I worked for a wonderful organization in Union Square called Teachers & Writers Collaborative that sent authors into the public schools for residencies to teach poetry and creative writing to kids.

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