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January 16, 2008

Comments

Ivy

It seems fortunate that King spoke at a time when his words could be recorded, but he was still addressing, aiming his words at, a live audience. He was a master at judging the crowd's response and adjusting his speech accordingly.

Several times he saw he was loosing his audience and he went off his prepared text and drew on his experience at the pulpit to pull them back. The stirring "let freedom ring" segment wasn't prepared. Indeed, he reaches his height as an orator in these digressions.

LD Hawks

I was distraught yesterday to read that in response to questions about Amazon's new Kindle electronic book, Steve Jobs said that people simply don't read anymore. He followed by mentioning that most Americans read less than one book last year, which is also disheartening.

While the facts are what they are, and I am not dying for a better electronic book from Apple, my iPod and PowerBook are loaded with audiobooks, some select few of which I have also stored on my iPhone.

I do not think that Steve Jobs got where he is today without reading, and although the context for his comments was for future marketing, I am saddened that anyone so prominent (and so "cool") would not express some disappointment about this trend.

If we can be encouraged to buy and do things to be "cool," then surely reading can be one of those things. I am not saying it is Jobs or Apple's objective to do so, but it seems that anyone who has access to the public has some influence which could be used to set the bar a little higher and to inspire us to buy things that improve our selves.

Gary Henry

Great to get the news of your blog, Steve. I am both a reader and a writer, and no one has enjoyed using your products over the years than I. Through your products, I have long known that you must be a person who loves books and reading as many of us do. It will be a treat to get to know you more personally through your blog. All the best, Gary Henry

Franz Martin

Hello, Steve.

Thank you for the moving quotes by Dr. Martin Luther King, and your own comments, as well. Of course, I regret that we lost Dr. King; however, his timeless messages still teach us so much about how we all benefit from just doing what we know is right. I also want to tell you that at the close of a journalism conference in Ft. Lauderdale in 2006, a friend of mine and I visited your Delray store "on the way" to the Ft. Lauderdale airport. What a venture! What a store! Until then we had both only ordered our goodies. Each of us left the store with - you guessed it - "stuff" and no idea of how we would get it all on our planes. We are both very resourceful women and, yes, we did manage to get everything boarded. The best part is that we had known each other for 12 years and, until that day, she and I did not know that, along with so many other things, we also had a love of Levenger in common. Now, we update each other on what we buy from Levenger. You must keep up your good work - and know that I would rather feel gratitude than pride on any day.

Timothy Williams

Very nice info and resource. MLK has been a great influence to many in America and around the world. In turn he was influenced by many before him who led the Social Justice movement for making the American ideal include women, minorities, children, even animals. One of the best sources of this movement is the 'Christian Century'. Some of the results are the creation of universities, hospitals, children's shelters, homeless centers, etc.
The vision of a better world came with the pilgrims and continues today in many forms.
TheDream of MLK and many of us is still
chalenging us today to work for an inclusive, educated, healthy, envioromental and economical fair society. Americans still strive for the Dream of access to education, heath care, employment and Justice....for all our people. also as a beacon to the world we all inhabit and still need to learn to live in Peace and Hope.

Jeanne

What an interesting post. My children are learning about MLK, of course, and I remember a lot of the issues and photos, even though I was quite young. One of the pieces I love, and play around this time, is James Taylor's song about MLK. "Let Us turn our thoughts today, to Martin Luther King..." It's how I introduced my oldest to King and his work in the world. He still sings it. :> However, the capacity to listen to and read King's stirring words is really miraculous. Wish the same could be said about Teddy Roosevelt, Harry Truman and several others! As to the comment by Steve Jobs - from previous posts - people DO read. Everyone on Wall Street said the "Book was dead..." only to see the rise of the book selling giants Borders and Barnes and Noble, so I'm not sure where Mr. Jobs got his stats, but I don't believe this for a minute! (As a librarian's daughter and a soon-to-be-published author, I'm also praying it isn't true! Ha!)

Beri

Hello Steve,
I am very excited about reading your new blog. I've always admired Levenger as a very well-established company. I didn't notice before, but I just realized we've actually met in person at the paperworld show last year. I was exhibiting there, and you came by. We didn't get to talk much though. :) I just want to say that I will come and visit your blog often, and thank you for giving us readers great quotes and insights. Wish you all the best!

William

Welcome to blogging! I am an avid user of the Levenger circa system and even featured a post on how I use the products to organize my busy days gathering, tracking and organizing information for my blog posts.

Melissa Newton

Thanks for the insightful words. If folks truly want to honor his memory they can make the King Holiday a day on and not a day off. Go out into your community and help solve a problem. Volunteer at the homeless shelter or church, do something proactive to address what is happening in your communities. That is what Dr. King hoped would happen.

Robert McDowell

Dear Steve,

Your excellent article on Martin Luther King makes me think of the importance of mentors.

When I was growing up in Southern California, I never missed an opportunity to see my beloved Dodgers play. After all, this was the team that Jackie Robinson had played for, the team that had broken the shameful ‘Color Barrier’ in the sport that was then our primary national game.

One day as a teen I was on the concourse at Dodgers Stadium buying Dodger Dogs when I noticed two fans in wheelchairs struggling to negotiate a large bump on the walkway. I started over to help, but someone beat me to it. To my surprise, it was Dodgers vice president Tommy Hawkins. I recognized him because he’d also been an award-winning broadcaster after a ten-year NBA career with the Royals (now Kings) and Lakers. A handsome man with a zillion-watt smile, Hawkins not only assisted those two fans, but he took the time to talk to them, to connect, and to make sure that they were ok.

I was so impressed by his behavior I wrote a letter to him describing the incident and thanking him for being so thoughtful. To my surprise, I got a long letter right back in which Tommy Hawkins thanked me for taking the time to write to him!
I’ve never forgotten something he said in that letter. He told me he’d learned early in life that you never knew who might be observing you in any moment, so it was wise to be aware of your conduct. “Never do anything you’d be ashamed of if someone played it back to you,” he wrote.

I’ve never forgotten that. Though I haven’t always been successful living up to it, it’s lodged in my mind and has saved me on several occasions from thoughtless acts or words. To this day, I am grateful to Tommy Hawkins for his kindness to those fans, and for unintentionally mentoring me in compassion and awareness.

Who are the mentors, unintentional or intentional, who have shaped you?

beth

Welcome to the blogging world, and congrats on a relevant and insightful first post! I am a reader, raising children who can be found every day snuggled in an easy chair, absorbed in some sort of book. I think the notion that people will stop reading books is ridiculous, but I do believe that those who do not endeavor to read something other than myspace and yahoo news briefs will find themselves extremely disadvantaged in life. I hope you continue to emphasize and encourage this meaningful avenue of education!

I 'discovered' your company through the internet (a rave review on lifehacker.com), which led me to purchase my first circa products last week. I love my new notebook and have sung its praises to my coworkers, family and friends! Thanks for bringing innovative and relevant products to the marketplace!

Dr. Jean C. Sloop

In 1958, I was a young music instructor at
Earlham College, a small but excellent liberal arts college in Indiana. Our newly installed President, Landrum Bolling, brought to campus a relatively unknown black
convocation speaker named Martin Luther King. Fifty years later, I have vivid memories of the event, and the charismatic impact this man had on his audience. Unlike the well-known speeches that are deservedly
shown and revered across the years, King's delivery was rather low-key but no less effective. Somewhere in my messy house I have a little sheaf of notes I took for my private journal, but the central theme of his message has stayed with me across the
decades: "We've come a long way . . . We
have a long way to go . . ."(direct quote).
I treasure the privilege of having been in his presence, and still experience a shock to realize that at the time, he was only two
years older than I: unbelievable. The stature of the man spanned far beyond his years even before he became an American icon. As a young teacher, it was a powerful
and inspirational influence on my life, and I shall continue to be grateful for that.

Dr. Robin Markowitz

Hello there!

Some tech glitches, but if this does make it through, I would like to say, as both a scholar and as a person whose life was, somewhat ironically and quite sadly, inspired by Dr. King's passing to live my life in a new, more puposeful way. As a child, we were gathered in front of a television to view the funeral; I remember that I was not frightened on seeing him in his coffin, which might seem odd, but there was a "distraction." Dr. King, on tape, gave HIS OWN eulogy, at his own funeral! It was an old TV: not state-of-the-art '68 and the speakers weren't all that great, normally. Oh, but we children were not prepared for what came out of those speakers. Surely, his recorded words bounded about the cavernous church, built for preaching, singing, and organ playing, but our little TV became . . . what can I say? It became almost possessed in that his voice and its powerful message regarding the purpose of a life well-lived, literally recocheted off the walls, floor, ceiling, and every other spot in the room! Our diverse group of children and a few adults were bombarded by a sound so powerful, it literally galvanized many of the people watching and listening. I saw the eyes of children of many different ethnic/"racial" and religious backgrounds grow larger as the now dead man "spoke." No one made any other sounds - no child took their eyes and ears away from King's originating direction - the little television.

It was not magic; I do think that was the day I truly no longer believed in such things as Santa Claus or other childhood fantasies. Dr. King's charismatic vocal trasformation of our little TV in our ordinary room (not a classroom) taught us that *people* made magic happen by what they had to say and how they said it.
The wonderful post about Dr. King's writings is very instructive; I've been reading him since I was 13, and now I understand a truth: if one is not well read, one should not write. No matter who you are, or what your "good" motives. JFK, Sr. (Jack Kennedy, the President) allegedly "wrote" a book while lying flat on his back in a hospital with a gaping hole where part of his back should have been -- all while he was supposed to have been writing "Profiles in Courage." (Levenger's wonderful reading aids might have helped!) In any case, his friend, Ken O'Donnell took the premise of "Profiles . . ." and the one vote that saved a U.S. President from conviction and dismissal from office and set about getting the book to publisher. Jack must have originally thought that it took great "courage" to do such a thing, and sent Kenny off in search of the story behind it all. O'Donnell walked into the cavernous NY public library (not the Manhattan library close by; this was the one with the lions). He asked a librarian about this bit of history and she did her job: she went to the card catalog and found a very old textbook about the Reconstruction period.

And that text - that secondary or tertiary source - became the foundation for Jack's famous book with the wonderful title. As President, a lot of people bought it. Perhaps fortunately for him, most placed it on their coffee tables, never to be opened. Youngsters today report often on the 'net and elsewhere that the oft-assigned book is "boring" and that they really didn't read it. Hurrah!
Unlike Dr. King, Jack (or whomever) did not read deeply enough, and the book stands today as a shameful document; younger brothe Bobby later tried to fix it up with a long new intro . . . and now Jack Kennedy's daughter has written an entirely new "Profiles" for our time.

But dear readers, there is hope in this, after all. For one thing, there is a new book about "the education" of the young President on the job, and that is good for younger readers (and they do still read: just not necessarily in the same ways). More on that in a bit. I do want to stress, though, that young people DO read.

Just today, I played a genuine early '50s "beat"-style poetry-reading for the young who simply have never heard of such a thing. Oddly, it was not by a beat poet, exactly. Seems that since most young kids no longer even know who Kurt Cobain was, Bob Dylan is cool again! And I played the one and ONLY poetry reading he ever gave in his life. I explained that the poet was just a bit older than they are now, and that one can hear, now and then, how unsure and even frightened he was as he read his long, heartfelt writing. They heard the burst of immense applause, and I explained that the room was not nearly as large as the applause made it sound. I further explained that the audience understood that he was very young and utterly terrified, but brilliant - and they wanted to confer support.
This was a youngster not different in many ways to today's hip-hop wordsmiths, and this was the most moving revelation for today's young. "American Idol" will not be the same after this experience.
Kids "read": it's just that reading has changed, and can change again. Do not despair.

Lastly, though, this is a cautionary tale. Much more reading on the part of Jack Kennnedy, much earlier, might have averted a permanent document of which he was no longer at all proud. It was either late '62 or '63 when the young leader sort of hung his head in saddened confusion: he said aloud that what he had been taught "in school" was simply wrong. He knew HE should have read more himself. It was not too late when the book was promised to have waited a month or so and truly investigated for himself all the aspects of the Reconstruction period, but he did not do that. He did not read the original sources; he was not inspired to "write" the book that carried his name, and he came to realize, near the end of his brief life that he had left behind a document of shame.

I do not believe lazy scholarship is a deadly sin, but in some cases it is close. Levenger makes it "easy" or at least easier for teachers-professors to help youngsters to have the best reading tools so that when and if their time comes, they will be as ready as the Rev. Dr. King to write and to act and to show others the way, as when he "spoke" posthumously to a roomful of children, myself included, about what really matters in an individual's life.
Thank you.

Mayberry Magpie

Love your products and am glad you're blogging. See you in the blogosphere!

Dr. Robin Markowitz

Major typo apology! Clearly, the early **1950s** was NOT a time for the "beats." (Not to mention that the young wordsmith would have been about 11 years old!) I had sent a repaired post, but had technical glitches. The poetry-reading was in the SIXTIES!! Of course. Oh, and this is the best "blog." It's worth the effort.

M. P. Hollins

The king children and I were reared in the same city and attended the same prejudicial public school system. So, as a native of Black Atlanta during the civil right era, it is difficult for me to understand Dr. and Mrs. King from an intellectual viewpoint. To believe in social, economic and environmental justice is to participate in change. And unfortunately, I've have not seen too many people willing to give what it takes to promote change in our 21st culture. Lynching jokes, the stalled Katrina recovery, inferior public schools, increasingly high infant death rates, wide gaps between the poor and middle class and the total dysfunctioning of large non-profits. Then we place on this pile the market driven greed based economy, global warming and higher and higher gas and food costs. So my question is how do I really honor the legacy of Dr. and Mrs. King if I am unwilling to place my body on the picket lines.

Kelly

In a response to Ivy's comment on the Kindle etc.

“Outside of a dog, a book is man's best friend. Inside of a dog it is too dark to read.” These two truths came from the mind of Groucho Marx. While I am known to be a dog-lover in the extreme, I have to agree that I enjoy reading more than almost any other of life’s pleasures. I think this must have come from growing up in a family that loved books. My mother has been a voracious reader all her life. My sister and I devoured Trixie Beldon and Nancy Drew books in our adolescence. I remember spending sunny Saturday afternoons sitting on a scrap of board badly nailed into the crook of an apple tree, a book balanced precariously on my knees, a box of Oreos balanced precariously on a nearby branch. Life didn’t get much better than that at 12-years-old.

In high school I became addicted to Shakespeare, enjoying the effort I needed to expend to understand Shakespearean English as much as the stories themselves. As my literary horizons were forcefully expanded in college, I almost felt a panic at the thought that I would never live long enough to read everything there was out there that beckoned.

I married a man who felt the same way about literature and reading and for the last 27 years we have fed each other’s addiction with gifts of “must read” books. On our first date we fell into a discussion of Shakespeare. I knew this was the man for me when he quoted Hamlet at some length --- “oh that this too, too solid flesh would melt, thaw and resolve itself into a dew”--- all in the voice of Donald Duck. What girl wouldn’t be completely smitten after such a performance?

I remember one evening sitting with my husband in front of the television watching Twilight Zone. The story, still seared into my memory, was about a quiet, bullied, very myopic bank teller whose only joy in life was sneaking into the vault of the bank at which he worked to read whenever he had a free minute. One day, while sitting in the vault, an atomic explosion devastates the rest of the world (this was Twilight Zone, remember). He is the only surviving human being. The scene switches to him happily collecting piles and piles of books among the rubble of the city library. His greatest joy had come to pass. Here he was alone in the world with as many books as he could ever possibly read and no one to stop him from doing so. In the last seconds of the film he trips and accidentally steps on and breaks his glasses. His horrified face fills the screen as the show ends. My husband and I sat there in silence for a moment, unable to even look at each other. We both felt we had never watched anything so dreadful on television. Twilight Zone had finally gone too far.

I wonder if the children of today’s very real world have the chance to develop such a love of reading and good literature? In a world of flashing images, instant messaging, texting and constant video and audio input, I wonder if books have become anachronistic? I will admit that I love technology. When I turn out lights for the night in my study, a firmament of tiny blinking green, red and yellow dots of light from modems, chargers, transformers, wireless hubs and other metal or plastic boxes I don’t even the know the name of surrounding my computer desk. I am not opposed to trying out new technologies that take the written page and transform it into electronic bites. I don’t think that movement should be fought or boycotted. Thankfully, someone ages ago sat down with the first bound book and got comfortable with it instead of deciding the scroll was good enough for him. Glad that whole bound book thing caught on. But it is not impossible to imagine that in a few generations, the paper book will be as anachronistic as the 33 rpm record. I admit to a feeling of panic at that. There is something about the feel, heft, smell, and even the sound of a bound book of paper pages that is an integral part of the joy of reading. I agree with Anonymous who once said, “ A book is the only place in which you can examine a fragile thought without breaking it, or explore an explosive idea without fear it will go off in your face. It is one of the few sources of information left that is served up without the silent black noise of a headline, the doomy hullabaloo of a commercial. It is one the few remaining havens where the human mind can get both provocation and privacy.” Few things in life can offer that kind of comfort, except perhaps, a dog.

Donna Guiliano

Yes, the stones are still placed at Thoreau's Walden Pond. In fact, I'll be adding another one when I go there in a couple of weeks. There is something about sitting in a quiet spot, pen and journal in hand, watching the pond and just letting the words flow. I was also reading on the website about keeping a journal. When our first grandchild was born last June, my husband and I started a journal. We both write in it. We write about our grandson, what he's doing, when we visit, how we feel about him, etc. Eventually we will give it to him, but for now, it is a way to save our memories, and record our relationship with this amazing new person.

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