Alleluia! Today is Easter Saturday, the Seventh Day of the Octave of Easter. With no Saints to honor, today is the Lyrid Meteor Shower, Earth Day, and the birthday of my brother Michael in Seattle (1955).
Our Gospel for today is from Mark 16:9-15: the Disciples had not believed Mary Magdalene that Christ had risen, nor did they believe the “two of them walking along on their way to the country”. “But later, as the Eleven were at table, he appeared to them and rebuked them for their unbelief and hardness of heart because they had not believed those who saw him after he had been raised. He said to them, “Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature.” The Lyrid Meteor Shower (its radiant located in the constellation Lyra) normally peaks on this date, with, under optimal conditions, five to ten meteors of magnitude +2 per hour, not counting the occasional “Lyrid fireballs”, which can cast shadows for a split second and leave behind smoky debris trails that last for minutes. A strong Lyrid shower was observed by the Chinese in 687 BCE. Earth Day is a day designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth’s environment. Responding to widespread environmental degradation, Senator Gaylord Nelson (died 2005) from Wisconsin called for an environmental teach-in, or Earth Day, to be held on April 22nd, 1970. Senator Nelson chose the date in order to maximize participation on college campuses for what he conceived as an “environmental teach-in.” He determined the week of April 19th–25th was the best bet; it did not fall during exams or spring breaks, did not conflict with religious holidays such as Easter or Passover, and was late enough in spring to have decent weather. More students were likely to be in class, and there would be less competition with other mid-week events, so he chose Wednesday, April 22nd. Earth Day proved popular in the United States and around the world. The first Earth Day had participants and celebrants in two thousand colleges and universities, roughly ten thousand primary and secondary schools, and hundreds of communities across the United States. Senator Nelson stated that Earth Day “worked” because of the response at the grassroots level. Twenty-million demonstrators and thousands of schools and local communities participated. He directly credited the first Earth Day with persuading United States politicians that environmental legislation had a substantial, lasting constituency. April 22nd, 1970 was also the 100th birthday of Vladimir Lenin. Time reported that some suspected the date was not a coincidence, but a clue that the event was “a Communist trick,” and quoted a member of the Daughters of the American Revolution as saying, “Subversive elements plan to make American children live in an environment that is good for them.” The observance of Earth Day is now observed in 175 countries and coordinated by the nonprofit Earth Day Network, according to whom Earth Day is now “the largest secular holiday in the world, celebrated by more than a half billion people every year.” Environmental groups have sought to make Earth Day into a day of action which changes human behavior and provokes policy changes. Today is also the birthday of my brother Mike in Seattle, whose birth predates Earth Day; Liz Ellen and I have not been able to get a response out of him in about five or six years (1955).
Yesterday our #8 LSU Tigers played two away College Baseball games with the #13 Kentucky Wildcats; our Tigers lost the first game by the score of 5 to 12, and won the second game by the score of 4 to 3. And our #16 LSU Lady Tigers lost their Home College Softball game with the #9 Tennessee Lady Volunteers by the score of 3 to 6.
When I woke up to get ready for work today, I posted to Facebook that today was the Lyrid Meteor Shower, and posted to Facebook that today was Earth Day. I did my Book Devotional Reading, and on our way to work I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Ninth Day of my Divine Mercy Novena. After the Pre-Shift Meeting at the casino, Richard was on Mini Baccarat all day, and I was on a Blackjack table; I did think that my day was going to go poorly when a player with two fives against my face card elected to split the fives (not a good strategy at all), but my day went well.
On our way home from work I continued reading Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra via Kindle on my tablet. Once home from work I set up my medications for next week, made out my storelist for Richard, and read the morning paper while Richard paid the bills (our paychecks hit the bank last night). I then left the house for the Adoration Chapel for my Weekly Hour of Eucharistic Adoration; during my Hour I read the April 17th, 2017 issue of my Jesuit America magazine. When I arrived back home, Richard had not yet gotten back from doing the shopping at Wal-Mart; I plugged the bills Richard had paid into my Checkbook Pro app, and then got busy with today’s Daily Update, and when I finish this Update I will read the next chapter in The Hobbit Party: The Vision of Freedom That Tolkien Got, and the West Forgot by Jonathan Witt and Jay W. Richards before going to sleep for the duration. Our #16 LSU Lady Tigers (33-13, 8-8) will be playing a second Home College Softball game with the #9 Tennessee Lady Volunteers (40-5, 12-3).
Tomorrow is the Second Sunday of Easter (Alleluia!), now known as Divine Mercy Sunday, and the Eighth Day of the Octave of Easter. Tomorrow is the Optional Memorial of Saint George, Martyr (died about 304), and the Optional Memorial of Saint Adalbert of Prague, Bishop and Martyr (died 997). And tomorrow is World Book and Copyright Day and Tax Freedom Day, and Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, begins at sundown. We will work our eight hours at the casino, and I will continue reading Buddha: A Story of Enlightenment by Deepak Chopra via Kindle on my tablet. Our #8 LSU Tigers (26-13, 10-7) will play a third Away College Baseball game with the #13 Kentucky Wildcats (27-13, 11-6), and our #16 LSU Lady Tigers will be playing a third Home College Softball game with the #9 Tennessee Lady Volunteers.
Our Parting Quote on this Easter Saturday (Alleluia!) afternoon comes to us from Richie Havens, American singer-songwriter and guitarist. Born as Richard Havens in 1941 in Brooklyn, New York, he was of American Indian (Blackfoot) descent on his father’s side (his grandfather and great-uncle had left Buffalo Bills’ Wild West Show and ended up in Brooklyn), and of British West Indies descent on his mother’s side. At an early age he began organizing his neighborhood friends into street corner doo-wop groups and was performing with the McCrea Gospel Singers at age sixteen. In 1961 Havens left Brooklyn, seeking artistic stimulation in Greenwich Village; he drew portraits for two years and stayed up all night listening to folk music in the clubs until he thought of playing his guitar. Havens’ solo performances quickly spread beyond the Village folk circles. After cutting two records for Douglas Records, he signed on with Bob Dylan’s manager, Albert Grossman, and landed a record deal with the Verve Forecast label. Verve released Mixed Bag in 1967, which featured tracks such as “Handsome Johnny” (co-written by Havens and future Oscar-winning actor Louis Gossett Jr.), “Follow,” and a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Just Like a Woman.” Something Else Again (1968) became his first album to hit the Billboard charts and also pulled Mixed Bag back onto the charts. Two of those albums were unauthorized “exploitation albums” released by Douglas Records (or Douglas International): Electric Havens (released June 1st, 1968) and Richie Havens Record (1969). At Woodstock on August 15th, 1969 he was the first performer, and held the crowd for nearly three hours by himself (partly because the other artists scheduled to perform were stuck in traffic). He was called back for several encores, and, having run out of tunes, he improvised a song based on the old spiritual “Motherless Child” that became “Freedom”. He also appeared at the Isle of Wight Festival in late August 1969. The subsequent Woodstock movie release (1970) helped Havens reach a worldwide audience. Following the success of his Woodstock performance, Havens started his own record label, Stormy Forest, and released Stonehenge in 1970. Later that year came Alarm Clock, which included the George Harrison-penned hit single “Here Comes the Sun”. This was Havens’ first album to reach Billboard’s Top 30 Chart. Stormy Forest went on to release four more of his albums: The Great Blind Degree (1971), Live On Stage (1972), Portfolio (1973), and Mixed Bag II (1974). Memorable television appearances included performances on The Ed Sullivan Show and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson. On the latter program, the audience reacted with such enthusiasm that when the applause continued even after the commercial break, Carson asked Havens to return the following night. Havens also began acting during the 1970s. He was featured in the original 1972 stage presentation of The Who’s Tommy, as Othello in the 1974 film Catch My Soul, in Greased Lightning alongside Richard Pryor and in Bob Dylan’s Hearts of Fire. Havens increasingly devoted his energies to educating young people about ecological issues. In the mid-1970s he co-founded the Northwind Undersea Institute, an oceanographic children’s museum on City Island in the Bronx. That, in turn, led to the creation of the Natural Guard, an hands-on ecological organization for kids. In July 1978 he was a featured performer at the Benefit Concert for The Longest Walk, an American Indian spiritual walk from Alcatraz to Washington DC affirming treaty rights, as a result of legislation that had been introduced to abrogate Indian treaties. During the 1980s and 1990s Havens continued a world touring schedule and a steady release of albums. In 1982 Havens composed and performed a promotional slogan for NBC’s 1982–83 television season entitled “We’re NBC, Just Watch Us Now”. He also performed slogans for CBS and ABC, and recorded commercials for Amtrak, singing the slogan “There’s something about a train that’s magic”; and in 1985, for Coca-Cola. Havens also did corporate commercial work for Maxwell House Coffee as well as singing “The Fabric of Our Lives” theme for the cotton industry. Havens also played a small role as a character named Daze in a 1990 film named Street Hunter starring John Leguizamo. Havens was the twentieth living recipient of the Peace Abbey Courage of Conscience Award, presented in Sherborn, Massachusetts, on April 12th, 1991. In 1993 Havens performed at the inauguration of President Bill Clinton. Among the selections was the “Cotton” song, made famous by a series of television ads in the early 1990s. The release of the 1993 Resume, The Best Of Richie Havens by Rhino collected his late 1960s and early 1970s recordings. In 1999 Havens played at the Tibetan Freedom Concert for an audience of more than 100,000. In 2000 Havens teamed with the electronic music duo Groove Armada for the retro 1970s-style song, “Hands of Time.” The song was featured on the soundtrack of the film Collateral; the same song was also used in the films Domino, A Lot Like Love, and Tell No One. Havens was also featured on “Little By Little” and “Healing” on Groove Armada’s third album Goodbye Country (Hello Nightclub). In 2000 Havens also published They Can’t Hide Us Anymore, an autobiography co-written with Steve Davidowitz. He maintained his status as a folk icon and continued to tour. In 2002 he released Wishing Well, followed by the 2004 album Grace of the Sun. In 2003 the National Music Council awarded Havens the American Eagle Award for his place as part of America’s musical heritage and for providing “a rare and inspiring voice of eloquence, integrity and social responsibility.” On October 15th, 2006, Havens was inducted into the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. In 2007 Havens appeared as Old Man Arvin in the Todd Haynes film I’m Not There. In a classic front-porch jam scene, he was shown singing the Bob Dylan song “Tombstone Blues” with Marcus Carl Franklin and Tyrone Benskin. Havens’ version of the song also appears on the I’m Not There soundtrack. Havens was invited to perform at the 2008 Cannes Film Festival opening ceremony, and played “Freedom” at the request of the jury president, Sean Penn. In March 2008 Havens released a new studio album entitled, Nobody Left To Crown. The first single release was the country-tinged “The Key.” He also performed at the London, Ontario, Blues Festival in July 2008. Havens appeared in the acclaimed 2009 film Soundtrack for a Revolution, which provided a general history of the modern civil rights movement, and had modern artists performing many of the era’s musical classics. In the film, Havens performed a haunting rendition of Will the Circle Be Unbroken?. On May 3rd, 2009, Havens performed at the fundraising concert in honor of Pete Seeger’s 90th birthday. In June 2009 he performed at the fifth annual Mountain Jam Festival. The event, hosted by the Allman Brothers Band and Gov’t Mule guitarist Warren Haynes, was held at the Hunter Mountain Ski Resort in Hunter, New York. As is the tradition, the festival took place on the weekend following Memorial Day. On June 20th, 2009, Havens performed at the Clearwater Festival. On July 4th, 2009, he performed at the Woodstock Tribute festival in Ramsey, New Jersey. On August 8th, 2010, he performed at Musikfest 2010 at Foy Hall at Moravian College in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. In 2010 Havens had kidney surgery but did not recover fully enough to perform as he had before. On March 20th, 2012, he announced on his Facebook page that he would stop touring after 45 years due to health concerns. He was cremated after his death, and pursuant to his request, his ashes were scattered from a plane over the site of the Woodstock festival, in a ceremony held on August 18th, 2013, the 44th anniversary of the last day of the festival (died 2013): “I opened the Woodstock Festival even though I was supposed to be fifth. I said, “What am I doing here? No, no, not me, not first!” I had to go on stage because there was no one else to go on first – the concert was already two-and-a-half hours late. Everyone was at the hotel seven miles away and couldn’t get to the stage because the one back road they thought they could take was completely blocked. I was alone on stage for two-and-a-half hours before any of the other performers came!”