Monday, July 16, 2007

Lady Bird and Woody

Lady Bird Johnson and Woody Guthrie, both born in 1912
Here's the Washington Post editorial on Lady Bird Johnson (1912-2007), who died July 11. Much has been said about her attention to the environment, her campaign for beautification and the planting of wild flowers along interstates, not to mention her charm and firm grace as First Lady. But perhaps her most lasting contribution to history will prove to be the superb and detailed diary she kept of her years in the White House. Here's the moving, wonderfully written entry for March 31, 1968, the day President Johnson announced that he would not run for re-election. I wrote a considerably less articulate diary entry on that topic myself the next day. I was in the Peace Corps in Asamankese, Ghana and I recall lying in bed when I heard the news over our scratchy little Phillips radio.
Woody Guthrie would have been 95 (about the same age as Lady Bird Johnson) on July 14. Here's the WG website with links to all his lyrics, as well as special WG events and a photo of Guthrie with his guitar labeled "This machine kills Fascists."
A sample of Guthrie's great lyrics from "Grand Coulee Dam":
In the misty crystal glitter
Of the wild and windward spray,
Men have fought the pounding waters
And met a watery grave.
Why, she tore their boats to splinters,
But she gave men dreams to dream
Of the day the Coulee Dam
Would cross that wild and wasted stream.
Terry Eagleton in The Guardian: "For almost the first time in two centuries, there is no eminent British poet, playwright or novelist prepared to question the foundations of the western way of life."
(SEE also 3/5/07 blog)
(SEE also 5/5/07 blog)

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