They say it's my birthday…it is

March 20th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

“Alphabets and names make games and everybody has a name and all the same they have in a way to have a birthday.

The thing to do is to think of names.

Names will do.


And you have to think of alphabets too, without an alphabet well without names where are you, and birthdays are very favorable too, otherwise who are you.”

So begins Gertrude Stein’s book TO DO: A BOOK OF ALPHABETS AND BIRTHDAYS published by Yale University Press in 1957  as part of the book ALPHABETS AND BIRTHDAYS.  (The book was actually finished in 1940 and was to be a sequel to her children’s book THE WORLD IS ROUND. The manuscript was shuffled from publisher to publisher and  since there were problems completing illustrations for it and “manufacturing difficulties” prompted by WWII, it was not published until it became a part of the 1950’s Yale series.)

I’ve quoted it here as today is my birthday, the first I’ve celebrated since beginning this blog.

a young HG in vest and tie

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To 'B' or not to 'B': Alice 1877-1967

March 7th, 2010 § 0 comments § permalink

In the lives of famous people anniversaries are easy to find. The only decision is whether you limit them to years ending in 0 or 5 and determining whether any number preceding those is fair game.

In Europe, where anniversaries are a really big deal, numbers have gone into the 1,000’s for city anniversaries and into the 100’s for famous writers, artists, composers and major historic events. As you see below, I’m not limiting myself to the ‘0 or 5’ anniversary formula.

Another anniversary today – it’s forty-three years since the death of Alice B.  Toklas.  Not just Alice Toklas, but Alice B. Toklas!

And that’s the rub, the ‘B.’ (Sounds a bit Steinian, like something from TENDER BUTTONS or LIFTING BELLY.)

Alice B., early 1960s

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