Friday, September 30, 2011

Georges Simenon

With Simenon, early one morning, lying awake in the Hotel Berthe, the need was so great that when he heard a chambermaid outside in the hallway cleaning the guests' shoes, he got up, opened the door, lifted the girl's skirt and possessed her on the spot -- while she was brushing away.  She did not even stop what she was doing but merely said: "Oh Monsieur!"
Surely you didn't think Dominique Strauss-Kahn was the first Frenchman to jump a hotel maid's bones.

I've decided that the last Friday of each month will no longer be just another "Rap Friday" but rather a "French Fri-day."  (Très drôle, monsieur 2 or 3 lines!)  

Simenon, who is best known for his 75 "Inspector Maigret" detective novels,  wrote 400-plus books altogether, which were translated into 55 languages and sold 550 million copies.  He claimed to have bedded 10,000 women (including 8000 prostitutes, whom he claimed to have treated like a gentleman: "I always let them have their pleasure first").

His second wife said that the figure of 10,000 was grossly exaggerated.  She thought the correct number was closer to 1200.  (Isn't it just like a man to exaggerate?  And isn't it just like a wife to spoil his fun?)

By the way, Simenon was born in Belgium -- but in the French-speaking part of Belgium.  Close enough.

Simenon avec sa pipe

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Lord Nelson

Firstly, you must always implicitly obey orders, without attempting to form any opinion of your own regarding their propriety. Secondly, you must consider every man your enemy who speaks ill of your king.  And thirdly, you must hate a Frenchman as you hate the devil.
Vice Admiral Horatio Lord Nelson, who was born on this date in 1758, gave this advice to a young midshipman in 1793, when Nelson was the captain of the 64-gun ship of the line, HMS Agamemnon.

Nelson was the preeminent naval commander of the Napoleonic Wars, known for his inspirational leadership and unconventional tactics.  He lost his right eye in 1793 during a successful assault on a Corsican fort, and his right arm during an unsuccessful attack on a port in the Canary Islands.  

Nelson's successes in battle greatly outnumbered his failures.  His greatest victory came at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, when his 27 British ships of the line (which were equipped with a total of 2148 guns) decisively defeated 33 French and Spanish ships of the line (which carried a total of 2632 guns).  Prior to that battle, he met with his officers to brief them on his plan of battle, instructing them that "in case signals can neither be seen or perfectly understood, no captain can do very wrong if he places his ship alongside that of the enemy."    

Nelson was shot and killed by a French sniper during the battle.  According to his biographer, Nelson had responded to a previous suggestion that he conceal the admiral's stars on his uniform during battle with these words: "In honour I gained them, and in honour I will die with them." 

Nelson's Column, Trafalgar Square, London

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Peter de Vries

Revision is mostly compression -- frying the fat out of it, I call it.  When I see a paragraph shrinking under my eyes like a strip of bacon in a skillet, I know I'm on the right track.
(Peter de Vries died on this date in 1993.  He was on the staff of the New Yorker for over 40 years and wrote short stories, poetry, essays, a play, and 23 novels -- all of which were out of print by the time of his death.  There's a copy of his first novel -- But Who Wakes the Bugler? -- at my in-laws' Cape Cod house.  I see it every summer, but have never been tempted to read it.  I do admire the title greatly, however.  This quote is from a 1968 article he wrote for Life magazine.)

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Lhasa de Sela

My heart is breaking
I cannot sleep
I love a man
Who's afraid of me
He believes if he doesn't
Stand guard with a knife
I'll make him my slave
For the rest of his life
(From her 2003 song, "Anywhere On This Road."  Lhasa de Sela was born on this date in 1972.  She died of breast cancer on January 1, 2010.)

Monday, September 26, 2011

Victor Hugo

[S]trange to say, the first symptom of true love in a young man is timidity; in a young girl it is boldness.  This is surprising, and yet nothing is more simple.  It is the two sexes tending to approach each other and assuming each the other's qualities.
From his monumental 1862 novel, Les Misérables.  In France, Hugo is remembered first as a poet -- some consider him the greatest of all French poets.  Outside of France he is best known for his novels Les Misérables and The Hunchback of Notre-Dame.

Hugo is buried in the Panthéon, which was built as a church but converted during the French Revolution to a mausoleum for the interment of prominent Frenchmen.  Among those buried there are Voltaire, Rousseau, Zola, Marie Curie, and Louis Braille.  The Panthéon is located in the Latin Quarter, and is an impressive sight from a sidewalk table at a student restaurant where I once enjoyed a meal of moules, frites, and Belgian beer and read A Moveable Feast.
The Panthéon, Paris

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Erich Maria Remarque

He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the Western Front. He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.
From his novel, All Quiet on the Western Front, which was published in 1929.

Remarque, who grew up in a working-class family, was drafted into the German army in 1916, when he was 18.  In 1917, he was wounded by shrapnel and spent the rest of the war in a military hospital.

Remarque married American movie star Paulette Goddard -- whose three ex-husbands included Charlie Chaplin -- in 1958.  He was 60, she was 48.  

Remarque died on this date in 1970.

Erich Maria Remarque

Saturday, September 24, 2011

H. G. Wells

[I]t seemed to him now that life had never begun for him, never!  It was if his soul had been cramped and his eyes bandaged from the hour of his birth.  Why had he lived such a life?  Why had he submitted to things, blundered into things?  Why had he never insisted on the things he thought beautiful and the things he desired, never sought them, fought for them, taken any risk for them, died rather than abandon them?  They were the things that mattered.  Safety did not matter.  A living did not matter unless there were things to live for . . .
From his 1910 novel, The History of Mr. Polly, which I highly recommend.  (Mr. Polly and I have a lot in common -- for example, our love of bicycles.)

Wells is remembered today mostly for his science-fiction novels (including The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds) but he wrote a number of novels that focused on lower-middle-class life and social change, as well as a bestselling three-volume history of the world.

Wells was in Warren Beatty's league when it came to the ladies.  He married his cousin when he was 25, but left her a few years later to marry one of his students, Amy Catherine Robbins.  She and Wells stayed married until her death despite his numerous affairs (some of which she knew about) -- his paramours included the American birth-control activist Margaret Sanger.  He had children out of wedlock with writer Amber Reeves and novelist Rebecca West. 

Friday, September 23, 2011

Notorious B.I.G.

Who they attracting with that line, 
"What's your name, what's your sign?"
Soon as he buy that wine 
I just creep up from behind
And ask what your interests are 
Who you be with
Things to make you smile
What numbers to dial
You gonna be here for awhile?
I'm gonna call my crew
You gonna call your crew
We can rendezvous 
At the bar around two
From his 1995 hit single, "Big Poppa."  

Biggie is one smooth operator.  He knows better than to use lame pickup lines like "What's your sign?" -- as Rap Genius explains, "he knows that girls just want you to ask open-ended questions so they can yap away."  And he knows to wait until the "What's your sign" guy buys his target a drink so he can save a few bucks.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

John Donne

No spring, nor summer beauty hath such grace,
As I have seen in one autumnal face.

These are the opening lines of Donne's Elegy IX: The Autumnal.  

On this day -- which is the last day of summer -- 2 or 3 lines a day pays tribute to autumnal faces . . . and to autumnal bodies, hearts, and minds.
John Donne

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Gustave Flaubert

[The priest] dipped his right thumb in the oil, and began the unctions: first on the eyes, which had so coveted all earthly splendors; then on the nostrils, so greedy for mild breezes and the smells of love; then on the mouth, which had opened to utter lies, which had moaned with pride and cried out in lust; then on the hands, which had so delighted in the touch of smooth material; and lastly on the soles of the feet, which had once been so quick when she hastened to satiate her desires and which now would never walk again.
What killed Emma Bovary?  

The proximate cause of her death was the arsenic she swallowed.  But the ultimate cause was her desperate longing for romance.

Emma's unsuccessful quest for love resulted not only in her death, but also in the ruin of her poor, clueless husband and her innocent daughter.  

Ford Madox Ford's 1915 novel, The Good Soldier, opens with this sentence: "This is the saddest story I have ever heard."  The Good Soldier is a heartbreaking book, but Madame Bovary is the saddest story I have ever read. 

Emma Bovary's deathbed

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Gustave Flaubert

  "Oh! It's just that I love you!" she would go on; "I love you so much I can't do without you . . . ."
     He had heard these things said to him so often that for him there was nothing original about them. . . . Because licentious or venal lips had murmured the same words to him, he had little faith in their truthfulness; one had to discount, he thought, exaggerated speeches that concealed mediocre affections; as if the fullness of the soul did not sometimes overflow in the emptiest of metaphors, since none of us can ever express the exact measure of our needs, or our ideas, or our sorrows, and human speech is like a cracked kettle on which we beat out tunes for bears to dance to, when we long to move the stars to pity.
(From Lydia Davis's 2010 translation of Madame Bovary.)

Emma Bovary was a romantic, a woman who was "gasping for love like a carp on a kitchen table gasping for water."  But her creator, Gustave Flaubert, was a realist -- an author who was determined to be objective about his characters.  Poor Emma never had a chance.

Isabelle Huppert as Emma Bovary 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Gustave Flaubert

Yesterday evening, I started my novel. Now I begin to see stylistic difficulties that horrify me. To be simple is no small matter.

From a September 20, 1851 letter to his friend, lover, and fellow writer Louise Colet. Flaubert was 29 years old when he started to write Madame Bovary -- the first truly modern novel -- 160 years ago today.  He finished it about five years later.

When Proust revised his work, it got longer.  When Flaubert revised his, it got shorter.

Flaubert as a young man

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Samuel Johnson

No man will be a sailor who has contrivance enough to get himself into a jail; for being in a ship is being in a jail, with the chance of being drowned. 
Quoted in James Boswell's The Life of Samuel Johnson, LL.D. (1791), perhaps the most famous biography ever written.  I don't think that Johnson (who was born on this date in 1709) was commenting on sailing generally, but rather was referring to life in the 18th-century British navy -- or marriage.

Dr. Johnson

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Jack McDuff

You don't have to be black to play the blues, you don't have to be poor to play the blues, but you have to eat pork to play the blues.
"Brother" Jack McDuff, who was born on this date in 1926, was a jazz organist who recorded over 50 albums.  When it came to eating pork, he didn't just talk the talk -- he walked the walk, as the title track from his 1965 album, Hot Barbeque, proves.  By the way, the guitar player on this album is George Benson, who became a big star a decade later.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Notorious B.I.G.

I can fill ya with 
Real millionaire sh*t
Escargot, my car go one-sixty, swiftly
Wreck it, buy a new one
Your crew run run run, your crew run run

From "Hypnotize," the first single from Life After Death, which was nominated for the best rap single Grammy.

Escargot is real millionaire sh*t, as is a car that will go 160 mph.  (The internal or middle rhyme of "escargot" with "my car go" is typical of Biggie's way with words.)  

The last line quoted above echoes the line from the famous Phil Spector-produced single from 1963, the Crystals' "Da Doo Run Run."

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Albert Einstein

When a man sits with a pretty girl for an hour, it seems like a minute.  But let him sit on a hot stove for a minute and it's longer than any hour.    That's relativity.
(Now I get it!)

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Garrett Hardin

Picture a pasture open to all. . . . The rational herdsman concludes that the only sensible course for him to pursue is to add another animal to his herd.  And another; and another. . . . But this is the conclusion reached by each and every rational herdsman sharing a commons.  Therein is the tragedy.  Each man is locked into a system that compels him to increase his herd without limit -- in a world that is limited.
From his 1968 article, "The Tragedy of the Commons" -- which demonstrates (perhaps not intentionally) why private property rights benefit not only those who own property but also those who do not (to paraphrase the great economist and philosopher Friedrich A. von Hayek).  Hardin was an ecologist who once opposed contributing food to famine-ravaged Ethiopia because it would contribute to overpopulation, which he considered to be the true cause of Ethiopia's problems.  Hardin (who had heart problems) and his wife (who suffered from Lou Gehrig's disease) committed suicide by drinking hemlock on this date in 2003.

Garrett Hardin in 1986

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Alphonse Karr

Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.

Karr was a critic, journalist, and novelist who coined this famous epigram -- usually translated as "the more things change, the more they stay the same" -- in 1849.

My favorite Alphonse Karr anecdote -- in fact, my only Alphonse Karr anecdote -- comes from a book by my new favorite author, Julian Barnes.  In 1840, Karr wrote an article insinuating that Louise Colet (the Parisian poetess who was later the lover of Gustave Flaubert, the author of Madame Bovary) had her government stipend increased due to the efforts of another of her lovers, philosopher Victor Cousin.  Colet was nine months pregnant at the time, and Karr also insinuated that the baby wasn't her husband's, but Cousin's. 

Colet's husband, a "slight and prematurely stooped" professor of music, declined to challenge Karr, who was an expert swordsman and one of the best shots in Paris.  So Louise went to Karr's apartment with a kitchen knife and stabbed him in the back -- or at least she tried to. 

Karr was not badly hurt, and graciously declined to sue Colet.  But he couldn't resist poking a little fun at his preggers assailant.  

"I certainly would have been gravely harmed," he wrote, "if my attacker had struck me with a direct horizontal blow instead of lifting her arm high over her head in a tragedienne's gesture, surely in anticipation of some forthcoming lithograph of the incident."  

Karr, who later moved to Nice and grew flowers professionally -- kept the knife and exhibited it in a glass case with this label: "Given to me by Mme Colet . . . in the back."

2 or 3 lines would rewrite Karr's famous saying to make it more apropos to the last two years: Plus on veut que ça change, plus c'est la même chose ("The more you want things to change, the more they stay the same").  

Alphonse Karr

Monday, September 12, 2011

Jay Livingston and Ray Evans

We chased lady luck, 'til we finally struck 
With a gun and a rope and a hat full of hope
Planted a family tree. 
We got hold of a pot of gold
With a horse and a saddle, and a range full of cattle
How rich can a fellow be?
On this land we put our brand
Cartwright is the name
Fortune smiled the day we filed
The Ponderosa claim.
Here in the West, we're livin' the best
If anyone fights any one of us
He's got a fight with me!
The NBC television series "Bonanza" premiered on this date in 1959.  The show lasted 14 seasons and 430, making it the second-longest running Western series of all time (after "Gunsmoke").

The television show's theme song was always instrumental, but Lorne Greene recorded a version of it with lyrics in 1964.  Johnny Cash recorded a version with different lyrics.

Jay Livingston wrote the music and Ray Evans the words for the "Bonanza" theme.  They also wrote the "Mr. Ed" theme song and won three Oscars for best original song -- the third was for "Whatever Will Be, Will Be (Que Sera, Sera)," which Doris Day sang in Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much (1956).

"Bonanza" initially aired on Saturday nights, and did very poorly in the ratings.  Because it was one of the very first television series to be broadcast in color, NBC's parent company, RCA, wanted it to succeed in order to promote sales of its color television sets.  The show was moved to Sunday nights, and within a few years it was the #1 rated television series.  It held on to the #1 spot for three seasons, and was ranked in the top five for nine consecutive seasons.

I remember watching "Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color" and "Bonanza" on my grandparents' new RCA color TV when I was a child.  My grandmother let me eat my favorite Sunday night dinner -- scrambled eggs, toast with grape jelly, and a chocolate malt -- while watching TV in her living room.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Martin Amis

It was the advent of the second plane, sharking in low over the Statue of Liberty: that was the defining moment.  Until then, America thought she was witnessing nothing more serious than the worst aviation disaster in history; now she had a sense of the fantastic vehemence ranged against her.
I have never seen a generically familiar object so transformed by effect. That second plane looked eagerly alive, and galvanised with malice, and wholly alien. For those thousands in the south tower, the second plane meant the end of everything. For us, its glint was the worldflash of a coming future. . . .
If the architect of this destruction was Osama bin Laden, who is a qualified engineer, then he would certainly know something about the stress equations of the World Trade Centre.  He would also know something about the effects of ignited fuel: at 500º C. (a third of the temperature actually attained), steel loses 90% of its strength.  He must have anticipated that one or both of the towers would collapse.  But no visionary cinematic genius could hope to recreate the majestic abjection of that double surrender, with the scale of the buildings conferring its own slow motion.  It was well understood that an edifice so demonstrably comprised of concrete and steel would also become an unforgettable metaphor.  This moment was the apotheosis of the postmodern era -- the era of images and perceptions. . . .
The bringers of Tuesday's terror were morally "barbaric," inexpiably so, but they brought a demented sophistication to their work. . . . Clearly, they have contempt for life. Equally clearly, they have contempt for death.

Their aim was to torture tens of thousands, and to terrify hundreds of millions. In this, they have succeeded.
From "Fear and Loathing," an essay by Amis that appeared in the UK's Guardian newspaper on September 18, 2001.

Martin Amis

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Big Daddy Kane

Brain cells are lit
Ideas start to hit
Next the formation of words that fit
At the table I sit
Makin' it legit
And when my pen hits the paper -- 
Awwwwwww sh*t!
From "Ain't No Half Steppin'" (1988).

Golden-age rapper Big Daddy Kane (real name: Antonio Hardy) was imitated by many, equalled by few, excelled by none.  He was one of smoothest and most confident rappers ever to hold a microphone -- he had flow out the ying-yang.  One critic described him as "an enormously talented battle MC [who] had the sheer verbal facility and razor-clean dexterity to ambush any MC and exhilarate anyone who heard him perform."  Not to mention the really cool haircut.

Today is Big Daddy Kane's 43rd birthday.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Notorious B.I.G.

Number four: know you heard this before
Never get high on your own supply
Number five: never sell no crack 
Where you rest at
I don't care if they want an ounce, 
Tell 'em bounce
Number six: that goddamn credit, dead it
You think a crackhead payin' you back? 
Shit -- forget it
Seven: this rule is so underrated
Keep your family and business completely separated

Four of the ten commandments set forth in Biggie's "Ten Crack Commandments," which was included on Life After Death, the 1997 double album that was released shortly after he was murdered.

Biggie knows what he is talking about here.  He dropped out of high school when he was 17, and within a year, was in jail for dealing crack.  He continued to sell drugs even after signing a recording contract at age 20.  His producer, Sean "Puff Daddy" Combs, ordered him to quit dealing.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Jimmie Rodgers

T for Texas, T for Tennessee
T for Texas, T for Tennessee
T for Thelma
That gal that made a wreck out of me
I'm gonna buy me a pistol just as long as I'm tall
I'm gonna buy me a pistol just as long as I'm tall
I'm gonna shoot poor Thelma
Just to see her jump and fall
From his "Blue Yodel No. 1."

Jimmie "The Singing Brakeman" Rodgers -- the first country-music superstar -- was born on this date in 1897 near Meridien, Mississippi.  

Rodgers recorded "Blue Yodel No. 1" in 1927.  According to one historian, the song became "a national phenomenon and generated an excitement and record-buying frenzy that no one could have predicted."  Nearly half a million copies of the record were sold over the next two years.

Rodgers was already suffering from tuberculosis when "Blue Yodel No. 1" became a hit.  He died of a lung hemorrhage in 1933 at the Taft Hotel in New York City, only two days after his final recording session.  He was 35 years old.

(The summer after I graduated from college, I taped a version of this song for my girlfriend Rhonda -- "R for Rhode Island, R for Arkansas -- R for Rhonda," etc.)

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

James Wood

[Keith Moon's drumming is] like an ideal sentence, a sentence I have always wanted to write and never quite had the confidence to do; a long, passionate onrush, formally controlled and joyously messy, propulsive but digressively self-interrupted, attired but dishevelled, careful and lawless, right and wrong.  Such a sentence would be a breaking out, an escape.  And drumming has always represented for me that dream of escape, when the body surrenders its awful self-consciousness.

(From a New Yorker essay about Keith Moon, the Who's original drummer.  Moon died of a drug overdose on this date in 1978.  It's fun to watch video of him performing even when he's faking it.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Margaret Drabble

Human contact seemed to her so frail a thing that the hope that two people might want each other in the same way, at the same time, and with the possibility of doing something about it, seemed infinitely remote.

Ain't that the truth!  From her 1969 novel, The Waterfall -- the 5th of her 17 novels.  Drabble's older sister is novelist A. S. Byatt, who won the Booker Prize in 1990 for her novel Possession.  Both of them know plenty about bad romance.

Margaret Drabble in 1965

Monday, September 5, 2011

John Smith

[Y]ou must obey this now for a Law, that he that will not work shall not eat (except by sickness he be disabled): for the labors of thirty or forty honest and industrious men shall not be consumed to maintain an hundred and fifty idle loiterers.

From his 1624 book, The General History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles.  

John Smith was such a troublemaker during the 1607 voyage from England to Jamestown that the commander of the expedition wanted to execute him.  But Smith cleaned up his act and was elected president of the colony in September 1608.  Shortly thereafter, he issued the order quoted above.  

Smith's pronouncement was taken almost word for word  from II Thessalonians 3:10 -- "He who does not work, will not eat."  

Happy Labor Day!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Randy Newman

From the South Bay to the Valley
From the West Side to the East Side
Everybody's very happy
'Cause the sun is shining all the time
Looks like another perfect day
I love L.A.!

From Randy Newman's 1983 song, "I Love L.A."

On this date in 1781, Los Angeles was founded by 44 Spanish settlers.  It's original name was El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora La Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula, or "The Village of Our Lady, the Queen of the Angels of Porziuncola."  (Porziuncola is a small church in Italy that tradition says was given to St. Francis of Assisi, who founded the Franciscan Order there.)

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Pauline Kael

After one of those terrible lovers' quarrels that leave one in a state of incomprehensible despair, I came out of the theater, tears streaming, and overheard the petulant voice of a college girl complaining to her boyfriend, "Well I don't see what was so special about that movie."  I walked up the street, crying blindly, no longer certain whether my tears were for the tragedy on the screen, the hopelessness I felt for myself, or the alienation I felt from those who could not experience the radiance of Shoeshine.  For if people cannot feel Shoeshine, what can they feel? . . . 

Later I learned that the man with whom I had quarreled had gone the same night and had also emerged in tears.  Yet our tears for each other, and for Shoeshine did not bring us together.  Life, as Shoeshine demonstrates, is too complex for facile endings.

From her review of Shoeshine, a 1946 film directed by Italian neorealist director, Vittoria de Sica.

Kael was the film critic for the New Yorker from 1968 to 1991.  Her reviews often incorporated autobiographical elements -- she rebelled against the "term-paper pomposity" and "saphead objectivity" of other film critics. 

Pauline Kael died on this date in 2001.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Notorious B.I.G.

There's gonna be a lot of slow singin', and flower bringin'
If my burglar alarm starts ringin'
Whatcha think all the guns is for?
All purpose war, got the Rottweilers by the door . . .
Touch my cheddar, feel my Beretta

From "Warning," one of the singles from his 1994 debut album, Ready to Die

Christopher Wallace -- a/k/a "Biggie Smalls" and "The Notorious B.I.G." -- was 26 years old when he was killed in a drive-by shooting after attending the annual "Soul Train" Music Awards in Los Angeles.  His murder, which occurred only six months after the murder of Tupac Shakur, was never solved.

Biggie is widely considered to be one of the five greatest rappers of all time -- many would say he is numero uno.  No had better or more effortless-sounding flow, and he had a talent for piling up the maximum number of rhymes in the minimum amount of time.  (FYI, "cheddar" = "cheese" = "$$$.")

September is a very special month because it has five "Rap Fridays" -- not just four, like most months.  Each of those five September "Rap Fridays" will feature the words of the Notorious B.I.G.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Alan Dershowitz

The defendant wants to hide the truth because he's generally guilty.  The defense attorney's job is to make sure the jury does not arrive at that truth.
From a 1982 interview.  In 1967, when he was 28, he became the youngest full professor in Harvard Law School's history.  He is best-known for handling the appeals of a number of celebrities convicted of serious crimes, including Mike Tyson, Patricia Hearst, and Jim Bakker.

Reversal of Fortune, his 1985 book about his successful appeal of Claus von Bülow's conviction for the attempted murder of his heiress wife, Sunny, was the basis for the 1990 movie of the same name.  

Today is Dershowitz's 73rd birthday.