Divine rights | 25 years ago | November 10, 1981 | Alan Lupo decided to change his name to God.
“On the day I decided to become God, I also decided to refuse to do the laundry. Should either kid dare to mumble, ‘I’m outta socks,’ I am prepared to say simply, ‘God does not do socks. There is nothing in either the Old or New Testament about warm-water cycles. Go ye forth with thy detergent and do your own socks.’
“I decided to use the handle ‘God’ after reading about Terrill Clark Williams of Fresno, California, who legally changed his name to God. He said it was something he had wanted to do for a long time. You have to sympathize with the guy a little, because Terrill is not that attractive a first name, if you ask me. Of course, he could have just changed his first name. He could have become Nunzio Clark Williams.
“I obviously didn’t understand the man’s motivation. He told United Press International, ‘As a writer I am convinced that words are man’s most powerful tool, and by changing my name to God I am demonstrating the power of God.’ In other words, Nunzio wouldn’t have been good enough.”
Rich rewards | 30 years ago | November 9, 1976 | Ariel Swartley reviewed Tom Waits’s album, Small Change.
“Strangely enough, all this skill doesn’t make for easy listening. Small Change is both Waits’s most rewarding and most difficult album. That’s the beauty of it. Where Waits’s singing was rough before, it’s now so wrenched and ragged it invites laughter. Yet by the middle of the first song it becomes believable, and by the third or fourth, moving. And it’s not just his singing that he’s pushed to the limit. The voice, the stories that are chanted, not sung, and the merciless, fast-paced huckster spiels are all part of Waits’s increasing artistry. Small Change is deliberately disorienting and demanding. Like fantasies set in a distant time or galaxy, his stories become more real as they are further isolated from our experience. Gone are the last concessions to the mainstream of rock-pop; on Small Change the rules are only his own, and the effect is utterly convincing.”
Nobel pride | 35 years ago | November 9, 1971 | William Kowinski discussed the poetry of Pablo Neruda, who had recently won the Nobel Prize for Literature.
“In the United States, the winning of a Nobel Prize is an occasion for private rejoicing. In Chile, the winning of the 1971 Nobel Prize for Literature was cause for national celebration. No one had to explain to them who the winner was. Pablo Neruda has been known and loved by the Chilean people for his poetry for over forty years.
“Neruda was born July 12, 1904, and his first volume of poetry was published when he was twenty. That first book, Twenty Love Poems and Desperate Song, is still ardently admired by Chileans. . . .
“It is not a nation that is honored but a poet. But the nation of Chile can justly participate in the honor as its people have participated in the poetry of Pablo Neruda. . . . In A Hundred Love Sonnets published in 1959, he wrote: ‘Never, forever . . . they do not concern me. Victory’s/footsteps printing the sands avail us nothing. / I live, a bedeviled man, disposed, like any other/ to cherish my human affinities. Whoever you are, I love you.’ ”