On July 26, 1971 the Apollo 15 mission lifted off from Kennedy Space Center with a mission to explore Earth’s moon.
Four days later, on July 30, 1971 Lunar Module landed on lunar surface. During the mission astronauts David Scott and James Irwin honored Ray Bradbury by naming an impact crater Dandelion Crater, after the author’s classic 1957 novel Dandelion Wine.
It was a tribute to a longtime supporter of their dream and their mission. Through speeches, interviews, and articles for Life magazine, Ray Bradbury spent the 1960s as one of the most enthusiastic public proponents of space exploration in general and the Apollo program in particular. To him, the race to the moon meant nothing less than a necessary step in the evolution of the human race.
When Apollo 11 made its historic landing on the lunar surface in 1969, Bradbury was in London taking his usual summer holiday with his family. He nonetheless found reporter Mike Wallace and did an interview broadcast via tape delay by CBS anchorman Walter Cronkite at NASA Houston. As Jonathan Eller notes in the forthcoming UIP book Ray Bradbury Unbound:
Bradbury presented space exploration as the great moral substitute for war: “War is a great toy to play with. Men and boys love war . . . let us eliminate war because the proper enemy is before us. All of the universe doesn’t care whether we exist or not, but we care whether we exist . . . this is the proper war to fight.”
There was no scientific introspection here; Bradbury was not capable of it, and never pretended to be. But Walter Cronkite’s live studio audience at NASA Houston burst into applause for the final words of the writer who still listened to the whispers of the boy within.
Barbara Foley is a professor of English at Rutgers University-Newark. She is the author of Spectres of 1919: Class and Nation in the Making of the New Negro. She answered some questions about her book Jean Toomer: Race, Repression, and Revolution.
Q: How is Jean Toomer best known?
Barbara Foley: Toomer, author of Cane (1923) is widely known as the first—and for some critics the best—writer associated with the movement that has come to be known as the Harlem Renaissance. He is also widely acknowledged to be an experimental modernist of the first rank, since his Cane—an amalgam of prose, poetry, and drama—defies generic classification. A light-skinned man of partly African descent, from a relatively privileged class background among Washington DC’s “Negro Four Hundred,” Toomer was an early interrogator of racial categorization—although what is for some critics a cagey critique of racial essentialism is, for others, a flight from being identified as African American. Finally, Cane—which is based on Toomer’s three-month stay in the Deep South in 1921—is widely read as a nostalgic evocation of a folk way of life on the cusp of disappearance with modernity. While he is credited with acknowledging the harshness of Jim Crow, however, he is generally seen as an apolitical writer. This last point is one that I contest vigorously in my book. Continue reading
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Born on July 23, 1971, Central Illinois native Alison Krauss has been awarded with more Grammys than any other female artist. The singer and fiddle player has put up sales numbers greater than any other living bluegrass act. Yet, as Murphy Hicks Henry writes in her book Pretty Good for a Girl: Women in Bluegrass, her career “initially caused great angst for any in the bluegrass community who didn’t know whether to love her or leave her alone.”
Krauss has been embraced by any number of audiences, no matter what to genre she has been marketed. When it comes to authenticity, her country music credibility was cemented when she became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1993.
In Pretty Good for a Girl, Henry writes about the beginning of the bluegrass superstar:
Alison’s story begins with her family–mother Louise, father Fred, and older brother Viktor–living quietly in Champaign, Illinois. Louise and Fred took parenting seriously and put their two children into every program imaginable, including music. Violin was five-year-old Alison’s choice of instrument, and she stuck with classical lessons until age eleven, when she started to chafe at the rigid confines of the music. Fiddle contests, with Alison began entering at age eight, offered the thrill of competition along with freedom from the printed page. Soon Alison was studying the music of the great contest champions like Randy Howard and Mark O’Connor, and bluegrass fiddler Stuart Duncan. She took first place at the prestigious Winfield, Kansas, fiddle championship in 1984 and by 1985 had added state championships from Illinois, Indiana, and Tennessee to her trophy case.