"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Birthdays Today

Lyricist Johnny Mercer was born today in 1909.   His best work tells stories of mature men who have suffered a little and are still singing.   Here's Sinatra doing one of Mercer's best, "One for My Baby (And One More for the Road)":

It's also Alan Shepard's birthday, one of the original Mercury astronauts, born in 1923.   Shepard was the first American in space in the Mercury program, and then the fifth man to walk on the Moon in the Apollo program.  

Before liftoff, Shepard is reported to have prayed, "Dear Lord, please don't let me fuck up."  Later, after he landed, he told reporters what he had been thinking sitting on top of the rocket.  He said, "The fact that every part of this ship was built by the low bidder."

One of the twenty or so best books I've ever read  is Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff, about the Mercury program.

No comments:

Post a Comment