An avocado portrait epitomizing the primitive

Hardly any other fruit epitomizes the past, like the avocado. Giant mammals delighted on these fruits millennia ago, bitting them directly from the trees where they grow in pairs. Growing in pairs appears to be the reason they are called avocados, from the Nahuatl word for testicles. Persea americana Miller

The Life You Give: Anne Frank *1929

Anne Frank, born Annelies Marie Frank, June 12, 1929, in Frankfurt am Main, Germany, February/March 1945, is the girl whose diary of her family’s two years in hiding during the German occupation of the Netherlands became a classic of war literature.Early in the Nazi regime of Adolf Hitler, Anne’s father, Otto Frank (1889–1980), a German… Continue reading The Life You Give: Anne Frank *1929

The Life You Give: Carl Linnaeus *1707

Carolus Linnaeus, born on May 23, 1707, in Råshult, Småland, Sweden, is the naturalist and explorer who was the first to frame principles for defining natural genera and species of organisms and to create a uniform system for naming them (binomial nomenclature).Linnaeus was the son of a curate and grew up in Småland, a poor… Continue reading The Life You Give: Carl Linnaeus *1707

The Life You Give: Bartolomeo Cristofori *1655

Bartolomeo Cristofori, born Bartolomeo di Francesco Cristofori, May 4, 1655, in Padua, Republic of Venice, Italy, is the harpsichord maker generally credited with the invention of the piano, called in his time gravicembalo col piano e forte, or “harpsichord that plays soft and loud.” The name refers to the piano’s ability to change loudness according… Continue reading The Life You Give: Bartolomeo Cristofori *1655

Roméo et Juliette (Gounod), premiered on April 27 1867

Roméo et JulietteTragic Opera in five actsComposer - Charles GounodLibretto - Jules Barbier und Michel CarréLanguage - FrenchBased on - Romeo and Julia, William ShakespearePremiere - 27. April 1867, Théatre Lyrique, ParisLength - 2 ½ hours Roles: Juliette - soprano Roméo, son of Montague - tenor Frère Laurent - bass Mercutio, Romeo's friend - baritone… Continue reading Roméo et Juliette (Gounod), premiered on April 27 1867

The Life You Give: Leonardo da Vinci *1452

Leonardo da Vinci, born April 15, 1452, in Anchiano, near Vinci, Republic of Florence [Italy], is the painter, draftsman, sculptor, architect, and engineer whose skill and intelligence, perhaps more than that of any other figure, epitomized the Renaissance humanist ideal. His Last Supper (1495–98) and Mona Lisa (c. 1503–19) are among the most widely popular… Continue reading The Life You Give: Leonardo da Vinci *1452

The Life You Give: Maya Angelou *1928

Maya Angelou, born Marguerite Annie Johnson, on April 4, 1928, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.A., is the poet, memoirist, and actress whose several volumes of autobiography explore the themes of economic, racial, and sexual oppression.Although born in St. Louis, Angelou spent much of her childhood in the care of her paternal grandmother in rural Stamps,… Continue reading The Life You Give: Maya Angelou *1928

The Virtuous Black XVII: James Baldwin

James Baldwin, born James Arthur Baldwin on August 2 1924 in New York, New York, is the essayist, novelist, and playwright whose eloquence and passion on the subject of race in America made him an important voice, particularly in the late 1950s and early 1960s, in the United States and, later, through much of western… Continue reading The Virtuous Black XVII: James Baldwin

Nelson Mandela — April 20 1964 / The Rivonia Trial

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was born in Transkei, South Africa on July 18, 1918. His father was Hendry Mphakanyiswa of the Tembu Tribe. Mandela himself was educated at University College of Fort Hare and the University of Witwatersrand where he studied law. He joined the African National Congress in 1944 and was engaged in resistance against… Continue reading Nelson Mandela — April 20 1964 / The Rivonia Trial

The Life You Give: Leontyne Price *1927, and The Virtuous Black X

Leontyne Price: A Legendary Met CareerMetropolitan Opera audiences began an extraordinary love affair with American soprano Leontyne Price immediately upon her debut on January 27, 1961. She was by then an internationally heralded singer and an experienced, refined musician and artist. But more than anything, it was the sheer beauty of her voice that excited… Continue reading The Life You Give: Leontyne Price *1927, and The Virtuous Black X

The Virtuous Black VIII: Miles Davis

Miles Davis, born Miles Dewey Davis III on May 26 1926, in Alton, Illinois, U.S.A., is the jazz musician, and great trumpeter who as a bandleader and composer was one of the major influences on the art from the late 1940s.Davis grew up in East St. Louis, Illinois, where his father was a prosperous dental… Continue reading The Virtuous Black VIII: Miles Davis

The Life You Give: Rosa Parks *1913 / The Virtuous Black IV

Rosa Parks, born Rosa Louise McCauley, on February 4, 1913, in Tuskegee, Alabama, U.S.A., is the civil rights activist whose refusal to relinquish her seat on a public bus precipitated the 1955–56 Montgomery bus boycott in Alabama, which became the spark that ignited the civil rights movement in the United States.Born to parents James McCauley,… Continue reading The Life You Give: Rosa Parks *1913 / The Virtuous Black IV

The Life You Give — Aretha Franklin *March 25 1942

Aretha Franklin

Aretha Franklin, born Aretha Louise Franklin, on March 25 1942, in Memphis, Tennessee, U.S.A., is the singer who defined the golden age of soul music of the 1960s.Franklin’s mother, Barbara, was a gospel singer and pianist. Her father, C.L. Franklin, presided over the New Bethel Baptist Church of Detroit, Michigan, and was a minister of… Continue reading The Life You Give — Aretha Franklin *March 25 1942

Another Croissant with rolled vegetables (commonly known as cigars) — celebrating the National Croissant Day / January 30th

There’s something mysterious– even alchemical— about the qualities that have to come together to yield the ideal croissant. It needs to be buttery and tender, but never mushy or overly moist. It requires a delicate flakiness-to-slight-chewiness ratio, and the layers of all-butter puff pastry should be well differentiated, without falling apart into a crumby mess… Continue reading Another Croissant with rolled vegetables (commonly known as cigars) — celebrating the National Croissant Day / January 30th

Martha Argerich — Early Recordings

A prodigy, Argerich was performing professionally by age eight. In 1955 she went to Europe, where her teachers included Friedrich Gulda and Arturo Benedetti Michelangeli. She won two prestigious competitions in 1957 at age 16: the Geneva International Music Competition and the Ferruccio Busoni International Piano Competition. In 1965 she won the Chopin Piano Competition… Continue reading Martha Argerich — Early Recordings

The Life You Give: Louis Braille *1809

Louis Braille, born January 4, 1809, in Coupvray, near Paris, France, is the educator who developed a system of printing and writing, called Braille, that is extensively used by the blind.Braille was himself blinded at the age of three in an accident that occurred while he was playing with tools in his father’s harness shop.… Continue reading The Life You Give: Louis Braille *1809

The Life You Give: J.R.R. Tolkien *1892

J.R.R. Tolkien, born John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, January 3 1892, in Bloemfontein, South Africa, is the English writer and scholar who achieved fame with his children’s book The Hobbit (1937) and his richly inventive epic fantasy The Lord of the Rings (1954–55).At age four Tolkien, with his mother and younger brother, settled near Birmingham, England,… Continue reading The Life You Give: J.R.R. Tolkien *1892

Celebration Day I: January 1 2022 — Happy Birthday, Edmund Burke *1.1.1729

Edmund Burke, born January 1, [Old Style], 1729, in Dublin, Ireland, was statesman, parliamentary orator, and political thinker prominent in public life from 1765 to about 1795 and important in the history of political theory. He championed conservatism in opposition to Jacobinism in Reflections on the Revolution in France (1790).Early lifeBurke, the son of a… Continue reading Celebration Day I: January 1 2022 — Happy Birthday, Edmund Burke *1.1.1729

“The Idol of My Youth” (Zappa on Varèse)

Edgard Varèse: The Idol of My YouthBy Frank ZappaStereo Review, June, 1971I have been asked to write about Edgard Varèse. I am in no way qualified to. I can't even pronounce his name right. The only reason I have agreed to is because I love his music very much, and if by some chance this… Continue reading “The Idol of My Youth” (Zappa on Varèse)

The Life You Give: Steve Biko *1946

Steve Biko, born Bantu Stephen Biko on December 18, 1946, in King William’s Town, South Africa, was founder of the Black Consciousness Movement in South Africa. His death from injuries suffered while in police custody made him an international martyr for South African Black nationalism.After being expelled from high school for political activism, Biko enrolled… Continue reading The Life You Give: Steve Biko *1946

The Life You Give: Nostradamus *1503

Nostradamus (Michel de Notredame, born December 14, 1503, Saint-Rémy, France, was an astrologer and physician, and the most widely read seer of the Renaissance.Nostradamus began his medical practice in Agen, sometime in the 1530s, despite not only never having taken a medical degree but also apparently having been expelled from medical school. In 1544 he… Continue reading The Life You Give: Nostradamus *1503