Day in History 18 March – Fess Parker

On this day in 2010, U. S. Navy and Marine Corp veteran, Texas Longhorn, actor and wine maker, Fess Parker, died at his home in Santa Ynez, California at the age of 85.  Born Fess Elisha Parker, Jr. on 16 August 1924 in Fort Worth, Texas.    Parker graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in history in 1950.  Perhaps best known for his portrayals of Davy Crockett in the Walt Disney 1955 – 1956 television mini-series and as television’s Daniel Boone from 1964 – 1970.  Parker founded and operated the Fess Parker Family Winery and Vineyards in Los Olivos, California.  The wine labels have a logo of a golden coonskin cap and the winery sells coonskin caps.  Parker was married once to Marcella Belle Rinehart (1960 – 2010 his death).  The Final Footprint – Parker is interred with is parents in Santa Barbara Cemetery in Santa Barbara, California.  His grave is marked by and individual bronze marker with a coonskin emblem and the term of endearment; IN LOVING MEMORY.  Other notable Final Footprints at Santa Barbara include actor Laurence Harvey, model and actress Suzy Parker (no relation) and poet Kenneth Rexroth.

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Day in History 17 March – Marcus Aurelius – Capucine

marcusaureliusL'Image_et_le_Pouvoir_-_Buste_cuirassé_de_Marc_Aurèle_agé_-_3On this day in 180 AD, Joint 16th Emperor of the Roman Empire, Philosopher King, Marcus Aurelius died in the city of Vindobona (modern Vienna) at the age of 58.  Born Marcus Annius Catilius Severus on 26 April 121 in Rome.  He ruled with Lucius Verus as co-emperor from 161 until Verus’ death in 169.  Aurelius was the last of the Five Good Emperors, and is also considered one of the most important Stoic philosophers.  During his reign, the Empire defeated a revitalized Parthian Empire in the East; Aurelius’ general Avidius Cassius sacked the capital Ctesiphon in 164.  In central Europe, Aurelius fought the Marcomanni, Quadi, and Sarmatians with success during the Marcomannic Wars, with the threat of the Germanic tribes beginning to represent a troubling reality for the Empire. A revolt in the East led by Cassius failed to gain momentum and was suppressed immediately.  Aurelius’ Stoic tome Meditations, written in Greek while on campaign between 170 and 180, is still revered as a literary monument to a philosophy of service and duty, describing how to find and preserve equanimity in the midst of conflict by following nature as a source of guidance and inspiration.  Aurelius married his first cousin Faustina the Younger in 145.  During their 30-year marriage Faustina bore 13 children.  The Final Footprint – Aurelius was cremated and immediately deified and his ashes were returned to Rome, and rested in Hadrian’s mausoleum (modern Castel Sant’Angelo) until the Visigoth sack of the city in 410.  His campaigns against Germans and Sarmatians were also commemorated by a column and a temple built in Rome.  In the 1964 movie The Fall of the Roman Empire he was portrayed by Alec Guinness and in the 2000 movie Gladiator he was portrayed by Richard Harris.  Both movie plots posited that Aurelius was assassinated because he intended to pass down power to Aurelius’s adopted son, a Roman general, instead of his biological son Commodus.

 

On this day in 1990, French actress and fashion model, Capucine died as a result of suicide in Lausanne, Switzerland at the age of 57.  Born Germaine Lefebvre on 6 January 1933 in Toulon, France.  Capucine is best known for her comedic roles in North to Alaska (1960) starring John Wayne, Stewart Granger and FabianThe Pink Panther (1963) starring David Niven and Peter Sellers; What’s New Pussycat? (1965) starring Sellers and Peter O’Toole.  Capucine reportedly had an affair with actor William HoldenNorth to Alaska is one of my very favorite movies.  Capucine is one of my favorite actresses and has to be one of the most beautiful women in the world.  The Final Footprint – Capucine was cremated and the cremains were scattered.  Reposer en paix, Capucine.

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Day in History 16 March – Judge Roy Bean

On this day in 1904, eccentric saloon-keeper, Justice of the Peace in Val Verde County, Texas, “The Law West of the Pecos”, Judge Roy Bean, died in Langtry, Texas at the approximate age of 78.  Born Phantly Roy Bean, Jr. sometime in 1825 in Mason County, Kentucky.  Bean named his saloon The Jersey Lilly in honor of Lillie Langtry, a British actress born on the island of Jersey.  She was a renowned beauty and had a number of prominent lovers including the future king of England, Edward VII.  Bean charged only $5 for a wedding, and ended all wedding ceremonies with “and may God have mercy on your souls.”  A fictionalized biopic was made, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean (1972) starring Paul Newman.  In Larry McMurtry’s novel Streets of Laredo (1993), a fictionalized version of Bean is killed by an outlaw.  The Final Footprint – Bean and his son Sam are interred at the Whitehead Museum in Del Rio, Texas.  Bean’s grave is marked by a flat granite marker inscribed; JUSTICE OF THE PEACE / LAW WEST OF THE PECOS.  Lillie Langtry recounted how she visited the area following the death of Bean in her autobiography, The Days I Knew (1925).

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Day in History 15 March – Julius Caesar – Aristotle Onassis

Beware the Ides of March!

julius_Caesar_in_NaplesOn this day in 44BC, Roman general, statesman, Consul, and notable author of Latin prose, Julius Caesar was assassinated by a group of rebellious senators led by Marcus Junius Brutus, on the steps of the Senate in Rome.  He was 55.  born into a patrician family, the gens Julia, which claimed descent from Iulus, son of the legendary Trojan prince Aeneas, supposedly the son of the goddess Venus, in July 100 BC, in Rome.  Caesar played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire.  In 60 BC, Caesar, Crassus, and Pompey formed a political alliance that was to dominate Roman politics for several years.  Their attempts to amass power through populist tactics were opposed by the conservative ruling class within the Roman Senate, among them Cato the Younger with the frequent support of Cicero.  Caesar’s victories in the Gallic Wars, completed by 51 BC, extended Rome’s territory to the English Channel and the Rhine.  Caesar became the first Roman general to cross both when he built a bridge across the Rhine and conducted the first invasion of Britain.  These achievements granted him unmatched military power and threatened to eclipse the standing of Pompey, who had realigned himself with the Senate after the death of Crassus in 53 BC.  With the Gallic Wars concluded, the Senate ordered Caesar to step down from his military command and return to Rome.  Caesar refused the order, and instead marked his defiance in 49 BC by crossing the Rubicon with a legion, leaving his province and illegally entering Roman Italy under arms.  Civil war resulted, and Caesar’s victory in the war would put him in an unrivaled position of power and influence.  After assuming control of government, Caesar began a programme of social and governmental reforms, including the creation of the Julian calendar.  He centralised the bureaucracy of the Republic and was eventually proclaimed “dictator in perpetuity”, giving him additional authority.  But the underlying political conflicts had not been resolved, which resulted in his assassination.   The Final Footprint – According to Plutarch, after the assassination, Brutus stepped forward as if to say something to his fellow senators; they, however, fled the building.  Brutus and his companions then marched to the Capitol while crying out to their beloved city: “People of Rome, we are once again free!”  They were met with silence, as the citizens of Rome had locked themselves inside their houses as soon as the rumor of what had taken place had begun to spread.  Caesar’s dead body lay where it fell on the Senate floor for nearly three hours before other officials arrived to remove it.  Caesar’s body was cremated, and on the site of his cremation the Temple of Caesar was erected a few years later (at the east side of the main square of the Roman Forum).  Only its altar now remains.  A lifesize wax statue of Caesar was later erected in the forum displaying the 23 stab wounds.  A crowd who had gathered there started a fire, which badly damaged the forum and neighboring buildings.  A new series of civil wars broke out, and the constitutional government of the Republic was never fully restored. Caesar’s adopted heir Octavius, later known as Augustus, rose to sole power after defeating his opponents in the civil war.  Octavius set about solidifying his power, and the era of the Roman Empire began.  Much of Caesar’s life is known from his own accounts of his military campaigns, and from other contemporary sources, mainly the letters and speeches of Cicero and the historical writings of Sallust.  The later biographies of Caesar by Suetonius and Plutarch are also major sources.  Caesar is considered by many to be one of the greatest military commanders in history.

 

aristotleonassisOn this day, the Ides of March, in 1975, prominent Greek shipping magnate, Aristotle Onassis, died in Neuilly-sur-Seine, France, of respiratory failure at the age of 69.  Born Aristotle Socrates Onassis on 15 January 1906 in Karatass, a suburb of Smyrna (now İzmir, Turkey).  During his lifetime he was one of the wealthiest and most famous men in the world.  Onassis married twice; Athina Livanos (1946 – 1960 divorce), daughter of shipping magnate Stavros Livanos and Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy (1968 – 1975 his death).  Onassis reportedly had a notorious affair with Maria Callas shortly after the two met in 1957.  Onassis was quoted as saying,   “There [was] just a natural curiosity; after all, we were the most famous Greeks alive in the world.”  Livanos divorced Onassis over the affair.  He ended his relationship with Callas to marry Kennedy.  The Final Footprint – Onassis was entombed in a sarcophagus beside the chapel next to his son Alexander in the Island of Skorpios Cemetery on Skorpios Island in the Ionian Sea off the western coast of Greece, a private island owned by Onassis.

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Day in History 14 March – Doc Pomus

On this day in 1991, lyricist and blues singer, Doc Pomus, died from cancer in Manhattan at the age of 65.  Born Jerome Solon Felder on 27 June 1925 in Brooklyn, New York.  Best known for the many rock and roll songs he co-wrote, with Mort Shuman including; “A Teenager in Love”; “Save The Last Dance For Me”; “Hushabye”; “This Magic Moment”; “Turn Me Loose”; “Sweets For My Sweet”; “Go Jimmy Go”, “Can’t Get Used to Losing You”; “Little Sister”; “Suspicion”; “Surrender”; “Viva Las Vegas”; “(Marie’s the Name) His Latest Flame”; and with Mike Stoller and Jerry Leiber: “Young Blood” and “She’s Not You”.  The Final Footprint – Pomus is interred in Beth David Cemetery, Elmont, New York.  His grave is marked with an individual granite marker engraved with; “TURNING CORNERS IS ONLY A STATE OF MIND KEEPING YOUR EYES CLOSED IS WORSE THAN BEING BLIND.”  THERE IS ALWAYS ONE MORE TIME – D. P.  / SAVE THE LAST DANCE FOR ME

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Day in History 13 March – Stephen Vincent Benet

On this day in 1943, author, poet, short story writer novelist, Pulitzer Prize winner, Stephen Vincent Benét, died of a heart attack in New York City at the age of 44.  Born on 22 July 1898 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.  Benét is best known for his book-length narrative poem of the American Civil War, John Brown’s Body (1928), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1929, and for two short stories, “The Devil and Daniel Webster” and “By the Waters of Babylon.”  He graduated from Yale.    The Final Footprint – Benét is interred in Evergreen Cemetery, Stonington, Connecticut.  His wife, Rosemary Carr was interred next to him in 1962.  Their graves are marked by an upright marble marker.

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Day in History 12 March – Anne Frank – John Cazale

On this approximate day in 1945, victim of the Holocaust and diarist, Anne Frank, died in the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Lower Saxony, Nazi Germany at the age of 15.  Born Annelies Marie Frank on 12 June 1929 in Frankfurt am Main, Germany.  The Frank family moved from Germany to Amsterdam in 1933, the year the Nazis gained control over Germany.  By the beginning of 1940, they were trapped in Amsterdam by the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands.  As persecutions of the Jewish population increased in July 1942, the family went into hiding in the hidden rooms of Anne’s father, Otto Frank’s, office building.  After two years, the group was betrayed and transported to concentration camps.  Anne and her sister, Margot, were eventually transferred to the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, where they both died of typhus in March 1945.  Otto, the only survivor of the family, returned to Amsterdam after the war to find that Anne’s diary had been saved, and his efforts led to its publication in 1947.  It was translated from its original Dutch and first published in English in 1952 as The Diary of a Young Girl. The diary, which was given to Anne on her 13th birthday, chronicles her life from 12 June 1942 until 1 August 1944.  The Final Footprint – Anne and her sister Margot were buried in a mass grave at Bergen-Belsen, the exact whereabouts are not known.  A memorial to the sisters has been erected there.  A bronze statue of Anne was erected outside the Westerkerk in Amsterdam.  A bronze plaque in Anne’s memory was placed at Beth Olam Cemetery in Los Angeles.  The plaque has the term of endearment; A Star shines in the dark.  The plaque also has a picture of Anne cast into the bronze and the following inscription from her diary; “This is a photo as I wish I still was.  If so, I would still have a chance to come to Hollywood.”

 

John_CazaleOn this day in 1978, actor John Cazale died in New York City from lung cancer at the age of 42.  Born John Holland Cazale on 12 August 1935 in Revere, Massachusetts.  Perhaps best known for his role as Michael Corleone’s big brother Fredo in Francis Ford Coppola‘s Godfather films.  During his six-year film career he appeared in five films, each nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture: The Godfather, The Conversation, The Godfather Part II, Dog Day Afternoon and The Deer Hunter.  He appeared in archival footage in The Godfather III, which was nominated for the Best Picture Oscar.  He is the only actor to have this multi-film distinction.  His life and career are profiled in the documentary film, I Knew It Was You, directed by Richard Shepard, which premiered at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival.  Cazale was in a relationship with actress Meryl Streep at the time of his death.  The Final Footprint – Cazale was interred at Holy Cross Cemetery in Malden, Massachusetts.

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Day in History 11 March – Geraldine Farrar

Geraldine_Farrar_1918On this day in 1967, soprano opera singer and actress Geraldine Farrar died  in Ridgefield, Connecticut of a heart attack at the age of 85.  Born in Melrose, Massachusetts on 28 February 1882.  Farrar was noted for her beauty, acting ability, and “the intimate timbre of her voice.”  She had a large following among young women, who were nicknamed “Gerry-flappers”.  Farrar studied voice with the American soprano Emma Thursby and the Italian baritone Francesco Graziani.  Farrar created a sensation at the Berlin Hofoper with her debut as Marguerite in Charles Gounod’s Faust in 1901 and remained with the company for three years, during which time she continued her studies with famed German soprano Lilli Lehmann.  She appeared in the title rôles of Ambroise ThomasMignon and Jules Massenet’s Manon, as well as Juliette in Gounod’s Roméo et Juliette.  Her admirers in Berlin included Crown Prince Wilhelm of Germany, with whom she is believed to have had a relationship beginning in 1903.  After three years with the Monte Carlo Opera, she made her debut at the New York Metropolitan Opera in Romeo et Juliette on 26 November 1906.  Farrar appeared in the first Met performance of Giacomo Puccini’s Madama Butterfly in 1907 and remained a member of the company until her retirement in 1922, singing 29 roles there in nearly 500 performances.  In 1960 Farrar was awarded two stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, in the music and film categories (at 1620 & 1709 Vine Street).  Farrar had a seven-year love affair with the Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini.  Farrar was close friends with the star tenor Enrico Caruso and there has been speculation that they too had a love affair, but no substantial evidence of this has surfaced.  It is said that Caruso coined her motto: Farrar fara (“Farrar will do it”).  Her marriage to cinema actor Lou Tellegen on 8 February 1916 was the source of considerable scandal, terminating, as a result of her husband’s numerous affairs, in a very public divorce in 1923.  The circumstances of the divorce were brought again to public recollection by Tellegen’s 1934 suicide in Hollywood.  Geraldine_Farrar_Headstone_December_2011The Final Footprint – Farrar was buried in Kensico Cemetery in Valhalla, New York. She had no children.  Other notable final footprints at Kensico include; actress Anne Bancroft, Tommy Dorsey, Lou Gehrig, Robert Merrill, and Ayn Rand.

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Day in History 10 March – Zelda Fitzgerald

On this day in 1948, novelist and wife of F. Scott Fitzgerald, Zelda Fitzgerald, died in a fire at the Highland Hospital in Asheville, North Carolina at the age of 47.  Born Zelda Sayre on 24 July 1900 in Montgomery, Alabama.  The Fitzgeralds were icons of the 1920s; she was dubbed by her husband “the first American Flapper”.  After the success of his first novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), the Fitzgeralds became celebrities and were seen as embodiments of the Jazz Age and the Roaring Twenties: young, seemingly wealthy, beautiful, and energetic.  The couple has been the subject of popular books, movies and scholarly attention.  They were married 3 April 1920 in St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  They had one daughter Frances Scott “Scottie” Fitzgerald (26 October 1921 – 16 June 1986).  Zelda wrote a semi-autobiographical novel, Save Me the Waltz (1932) and worked on another novel, Caesar’s Things, which she never finished.  The Final Footprint

Zelda was interred next to Scott, who died 21 December 1940, in Rockville, Maryland—originally in the Rockville Union Cemetery, away from his family plot.  In 1975, however, Scottie successfully campaigned for them to be buried with the other Fitzgeralds at Saint Mary’s Catholic Cemetery in Rockville.  Engraved on their tombstone is the final sentence of The Great Gatsby: “SO WE BEAT ON, BOATS AGAINST THE CURRENT, BORNE BACK CEASELESSLY INTO THE PAST”.

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Day in History 9 March – Jean-Dominique Bauby – Chris LeDoux – Charles Bukowski

jeandominiquebauby-223x300On this day in 1997, French journalist, author and editor of the French fashion magazine ELLE, Jean-Dominique Bauby, died in Paris at the age of 44.  Born 23 April 1952 in Paris.  On 8 December 1995 at the age of 43, Bauby suffered a massive stroke.  Waking up twenty days later, he found he was entirely paralyzed; he could only blink his left eyelid, a condition referred to as locked-in syndrome.  He learned to communicate by blinking and in this manner dictated his memoir, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly (Le scaphandre et le papillon) (1997).  In 2007 the book was adapted into a feature film of the same name, directed by Julian Schnabel.  The film was nominated for four Academy Awards in 2008 for directing, cinematography, editing and writing.  The Final Footprint – Bauby is entombed in the Bauby family crypt in Père Lachaise Cemetery in Paris, the largest cemetery in Paris and one of the most visited cemeteries in the world.  Other notable Final Footprints at Père Lachaise include; Honoré de Balzac, Georges Bizet, Maria Callas, Chopin, Colette, Auguste Comte, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, Molière, Jim Morrison, Édith Piaf, Camille Pissarro, Marcel Proust, Sully Prudhomme, Gioachino Rossini, Georges-Pierre Seurat, Simone Signoret, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Oscar Wilde, and Richard Wright.

 

On this day in 2005, rodeo champion, country music singer and songwriter, bronze sculptor, Grammy Award nominee, Chris LeDoux, died in Casper, Wyoming from cancer at the age of 56.  Born Chris Lee LeDoux 2 October 1948 in Biloxi, Mississippi.  In 1976, LeDoux won the world bareback riding championship at the National Finals Rodeo in Oklahoma City.  During his music career LeDoux recorded 36 albums, many self-released.  His album, Whatcha Gonna Do with a Cowboy, was certified gold by the Recording Industry Association of America.  The Final Footprint – LeDoux was cremated.  Shortly after his death, he was named as one of six former rodeo cowboys to be inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame in Colorado Springs in 2005.  He was the first person to ever be inducted in two categories, for his bareback riding and in the “notables” category for his contributions to the sport through music.  Shortly thereafter, the Academy of Country Music awarded LeDoux their Pioneer Award during ceremonies in 2005.  LeDoux’s friend Garth Brooks accepted the award on behalf of LeDoux’s family.  In late 2005, Brooks briefly emerged from retirement to record “Good Ride Cowboy” as a tribute to LeDoux.  Brooks remarked:

“I knew if I ever recorded any kind of tribute to Chris, it would have to be up-tempo, happy … a song like him … not some slow, mournful song. He wasn’t like that. Chris was exactly as our heroes are supposed to be. He was a man’s man. A good friend.”

Brooks performed the song on “The 39th Annual CMA Awards” on 15 November 2005 live from Times Square in New York City.  Later that evening, LeDoux was honored with the CMA Chairman’s Award of Merit, presented by Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn, to LeDoux’s family.  Friends have also collaborated to produce an annual rodeo, art show, and concert in Casper to honor LeDoux’s memory.  The art show features sculpture and sketches that LeDoux completed for friends; none of his works were ever exhibited before his death.  To mark the second anniversary of LeDoux’s death, in April 2007 Capitol Records released a six-CD boxed set featuring remastered versions of 12 of the albums he recorded between 1974 and 1993.  On 26 October 2006 LeDoux was inducted into the Rodeo Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.  Son Beau LeDoux, himself a rodeo competitor, on 24 July 2007, spread his father’s ashes over Frontier Park Arena, the same arena where Lane Frost died when he was gored by a bull, during the annual Cheyenne Frontier Days rodeo:

“It was something my family and I thought would be right to do because this was such a special rodeo to him. … This has always been a special rodeo in my family. My dad rode here and came close to winning here a couple of times.”

Additionally the city in which LeDoux attended college; Casper, Wyoming, celebrates his life and legacy each November with the Chris LeDoux Memorial Rodeo.  A weekend event which includes an art show featuring a number of LeDoux’s works, a PRCA rodeo and a country music concert.  A larger-than-life bronze statue of LeDoux was dedicated to him in Kaycee, Wyoming.  The bronze statue titled “Good Ride Cowboy” was created by local artist D. Michael Thomas.

 

Charles_Bukowski_smokingOn this day in 1994, poet, novelist, and short story writer Charles Bukowski died of leukemia in San Pedro, Los Angeles, aged 73, shortly after completing his last novel, Pulp.  Born Heinrich Karl Bukowski in Andernach, Germany on 16 August 1920.  His writing was influenced by the social, cultural, and economic ambience of his home city of Los Angeles.  His work addresses the ordinary lives of poor Americans, the act of writing, alcohol, relationships with women, and the drudgery of work.  Bukowski wrote thousands of poems, hundreds of short stories and six novels, eventually publishing over sixty books.  The FBI kept a file on him as a result of his column, Notes of a Dirty Old Man, in the LA underground newspaper Open City.   In 1986 Time called Bukowski a “laureate of American lowlife“.  Regarding Bukowski’s enduring popular appeal, Adam Kirsch of The New Yorker wrote, “the secret of Bukowski’s appeal. . . [is that] he combines the confessional poet’s promise of intimacy with the larger-than-life aplomb of a pulp-fiction hero.”  In 1976, Bukowski met Linda Lee Beighle, a health food restaurant owner, aspiring actress and devotee of Meher Baba.  Two years later Bukowski moved from the East Hollywood area, where he had lived for most of his life, to the harborside community of San Pedro, the southernmost district of the City of Los Angeles.  Beighle followed him and they lived together intermittently over the next two years.  They were eventually married by Manly Palmer Hall, a Canadian-born author and mystic, in 1985.  Beighle is referred to as “Sarah” in Bukowski’s novels Women and HollywoodcharlesbukowskigraveThe Final Footprint – Bukowski is interred in Green Hills Memorial Park, Rancho Palos VerdesCalifornia.  The funeral rites, orchestrated by his widow, were conducted by Buddhist monks.  An account of the proceedings can be found in Gerald Locklin’s book Charles Bukowski: A Sure Bet.  His gravestone reads: “Don’t Try”, a phrase which Bukowski uses in one of his poems, advising aspiring writers and poets about inspiration and creativity.  Bukowski explained the phrase in a 1963 letter to John William Corrington: “Somebody at one of these places […] asked me: ‘What do you do? How do you write, create?’ You don’t, I told them. You don’t try. That’s very important: not to try, either for Cadillacs, creation or immortality. You wait, and if nothing happens, you wait some more. It’s like a bug high on the wall. You wait for it to come to you. When it gets close enough you reach out, slap out and kill it. Or if you like its looks you make a pet out of it.

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