Monday, January 19, 2009

Such a noteful day!

Iva Toguri D’Aquino was the daughter of Japanese immigrants, born in Los Angeles on July 4, 1916. Being of Japanese descent, and having spent a great deal of time in Japan, I am confident she must have been a tea drinker at one time or another. She is better known as ``Tokyo Rose’’, as she was called by the Allied forces stationed in the South Pacific during World War II. ``Tokyo Rose” was actually the name given to a composite of a dozen or so female radio broadcasters responsible for anti-American transmissions intended to demoralize soldiers fighting in the South Pacific.
She was detained by US Military for a year before she was released due to lack of evidence. However, upon her return to the United States, the FBI started investigating her activities. As a result, the US Attorney’s Office charged her with eight counts of treason. She was stripped of her citizenship and convicted on one of treason in her 1949 trial. This made her only the seventh American to be convicted on a treason charge. She served six years in Alderson Federal Prison Camp in West Virginia.
She was released from prison January 18, 1956, but the Immigration Service ordered her to leave the United States by April 13, 1956. If not for her will to fight the deportation and the determination and spirit of her lawyer, Wayne M. Collins, she would have been deported. A request for pardon was made the Presidents Eisenhower, Johnson and Nixon to no avail. Investigative journalists in 1974 learned that key witnesses had lied during testimony and further determined there were other serious problems with the conduct of the 1949 trail. On this day in history, January 19, 1977, President Gerald Ford pardoned her on his last day in office. This made her the only us citizen convicted of treason to be pardoned.

Today is also many birthdays of note. I’m going to skip the obvious, the national day of recognition of Martin Luther King Jr's. birthday, as I just discussed his ``I have a dream’’ speech a few days ago. And I won’t carry on about how odd I think it is that it is also Robert E. Lee’s birthday and Confederate Heroes Day is on the same day this year. Or that the alignment of opposing celebrations occurs on the eve of the inauguration of a president with a Kenyan father. (I won’t call Barack Obama African-American … he is as American as I am.)

Today is the birthday of Tippi Hedren, possibly best known for her performance in the Hitchcock classic the birds. She was born in 1930, so today she is 79. In 2002, she won a Best Actress Award from the New York International Independent Film Festival for her role as Grandma Rae in the 2002 short film Tea With Grandma.

It’s also the birthday of Janis Joplin, who would have been 65 today. A confirmed alcoholic and drug addict, this bluesy singer/songwriter from Port Arthur, TX was also a tea drinker. An excerpt from a January 1, 1968 article about her in The Village Voice (New York) by Richard Goldstein:
``But Janis stalks around the tiny room, her fingers drumming against a tabletop. She sips hot tea from a Styrofoam cup. She talks in gasps, and between sentences, she belts a swig of Southern Comfort, her trademark. Tonight, a knowing admirer has graced her dressing room with a fifth, in lieu of flowers. “I don’t drink anything on the rocks,” she explains. “Cold is bad for my throat. So, it’s always straight or in tea. Tastes like orange petals in tea. I usually get about a pint and a half down me, when I’m performing. Any more, I start to nod out.’’ Too bad she couldn’t have been a teetotaler. The girl did have talent.

Today is the 200th anniversary of Edgar Allan Poe’s birth in Boston, MA. While I cannot easily confirm that Poe was a tea drinker, many of his writings hold references to tea or tea accoutrements.
Given we are talking a about a writer who loved to add a strange twist to things, let’s talk about somewhat of a tea-related reference to which he wasn’t linked (clear as mud? I know…)

In the book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, in the chapter "A Mad Tea Party", the Mad Hatter asks a riddle: "Why is a raven like a writing desk?" When Alice ponders and gives up, the Hatter admits he does not have an answer himself. The author, Lewis Carroll intended the riddle to be just a riddle without an answer, but after many requests from readers, he and others thought up possible answers to the riddle. One possible answer is "Poe wrote on both", a reference to Edgar Allan Poe, who wrote The Raven.
And what the heck … perhaps a quote for the day. From another birthday girl, Dolly Parton, who is 63 today. The tea connection? It is a quote that was found under an Honest Tea cap. (Honest Tea is the drink of choice of president-elect Barack Obama, more specifically, the Black Forest Berry, which is actually not tea at all, but by their own admission, an herbal fruit infusion.)

And the quote:
The way I see it, if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.

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