Today at the Editor’s glance: Weather: Partly sunny in the morning, then mostly cloudy with a chance of showers with a slight chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon. Highs in the mid 80s. South winds 15 to 20 mph with gusts up to 30 mph. Chance of rain 50 percent. Thursday Night: A slight chance of thunderstorms. Showers. Lows in the mid 60s. Southwest winds 10 to 15 mph, diminishing to around 5 mph after midnight. Chance of rain 80 percent.
In Court: No Drug Court scheduled for today. At 2 p.m., Charles Swindell, one of the more sadistic defendants on the year’s docket, is scheduled for a sentencing by Circuit Judge Terence Perkins on three separate sex-offense charges from Flagler and Putnam. Swindell pleaded to both, leaving the judge to decide a sentence that may range between 15 and 30 years in prison. All the charges were first degree felonies, with minors as victims.
Notably: It is Cesar Chavez Day, marking the labor leader and social justice warrior’s birth anniversary in 1927. It is a state holiday in California. It should be a national holiday, worthier of celebration than Descartes’s anniversary, also on this day (1596). Descartes took rationalism a bridge too far when he used it to claim that it proved the existence of god (as Dale the graduate student will claim to do with a computer in Updike’s “Roger’s Version”). Chavez just fought for fellow-workers in the here and now. “For most of his life, Cesar Estrada Chavez chose to live penniless and without property, devoting everything he had, including his frail health, to the U.F.W., the first effective Farm Workers Union ever created in the United States,” Peter Matthiessen wrote in a Postscript on Chavez for The New Yorker in May 1993. “‘Without a union the people are always cheated and they are so innocent,’ Chavez told me when we first met in July 1968. […] Anger was part of Chavez but so was a transparent love of humankind. The gentle mystic that his disciples wished to see inhabited the same small body as the relentless Labour leader who concerned himself with the most minute operation of his union. Astonishingly, this seems to me his genius. The two Caesars were so complimentary that without either because I could not have survived.”
It is also Gogol’s (1809) and Haydn’s (1732) birthday, not to mention the anniversary of the premier of “Oklahoma!” on Broadway in 1943. “For years they have been saying the Theatre Guild is dead,” Lewis Nichols’s review for The Times read, “words that obviously will have to be eaten with breakfast this morning.” He called the musical “wonderful,” and Richard Rogers’s score “one of his best.” The next day, Milton Berle opened the “Zigfeld Follies” at the Winter Garden Theater, the first follies since 1936, while Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn were blazing it up for the third week at Radio City Music Hall in “Keeper of the Flame.” Meanwhile back in the world, 400 people were incinerated in a Naples port explosion at an ammunition dump, Rotterdam was bombed, and the insufferable but brilliant Field Marshal Montgomery had a beautiful feeling everything was going his way as his British forces were advancing on Rommel’s Afrika Korps in Tunisia, and the Royal Air Force was celebrating its 25th anniversary. If there was an honorable Nazi general among them, you could make the case for Rommel, who was among the conspirators to assassinate Hitler in 1944, and was forced to die by suicide. Just as “Oklahoma!” was premiering, the Associated Press was reporting that 53 percent of Americans still exceeded the wartime speed limit of 35 mph on rural roads, taking solace from the fact that it was down from 91 percent a year earlier.
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