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By Nathan Bierma


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TIMELINE: SEPTEMBER 2004

"Wars flicker, earth licks its open sores," wrote Robert Lowell during the Vietnam War. Last month, the flicker of wars past and present emanated from our TV screens and captured the public consciousness. As the war in Iraq continued to fester, including car bombs that killed over 30 children, public debate surrounded the roles of the U.S. presidential candidates during the Vietnam War, though the distractions disappeared on the third anniversary of the attacks of September 11. Echoes of another war rang throughout the month that Germany invaded Poland in 1939 and Japan surrendered in 1945. World War II veterans marched over the bridge in Arnhem, the Netherlands, known as the "bridge too far," to commemorate the anniversary of the disastrous attack there in which hundreds of Allied paratroopers were killed. Ceremonies throughout Europe celebrated the 60th anniversary of liberation from the Nazis. There were other memories of violence last month. The rumblings at Mount St. Helens echoed a tempest of nearly 25 years ago and seemed to foretell another eruption. Other tempests, Hurricanes Frances, Ivan and Jeanne, tore into Florida.

Mulk Raj Anand, known as the founding father of the Indo-English novel, died last month at the age of 99. Harvey Wheeler, political scientist and co-author of Fail-Safe, died at 85. Eddie Adams' Pulitzer Prize-winning photography included haunting images of Vietnam. Fred Ebb wrote the song "New York, New York," and the musical Chicago. Singer Johnny Bragg formed the Prisonaires in the Tennessee State Penitentiary in the 1950s. Tsai Wan-lin was the wealthiest man in Taiwan. Pete Schoening was a mountain climber who once saved a team of six climbers by holding their weight on a rope around his waist while clinging to the world's second-tallest mountain.

Other September headlines:Barry Bonds hits 700Three new planets discoveredSpace capsule crashes into Utah desert - First birth from frozen ovarian tissue - Assault weapons ban expiresFirst presidential debate - Butterfly ballot architect loses electionTobacco industry says it didn't lie - Florida court overrules governor on feeding tube case - Museum of the American Indian opens - Plane crash survivors, presumed dead, show up in Seattle

Timeline: August 2004

Timeline: September 2003

PLACES & CULTURE

From the New York Times :

SAN JUAN DE TEOTIHUACÁN, Mexico* — As they have for centuries, the merchants here ply their trade midway between the ruins of giant pyramids and the stone steeple of the town's main Catholic church, which Spanish monks founded in 1548. Now another colossus from a different empire is being built in the shadow of the pyramids, a structure some merchants and other townsfolk here say threatens not only their businesses but their heritage. In December, an ugly cinderblock building rising from the earth is to house a sprawling supermarket called Bodega Aurrera, a subsidiary of Wal-Mart of Mexico. … The 71,902-square-foot store with 236 parking places is about a mile from a gated park where tourists flock to some of Mexico's best-known ruins, a complex of pyramids and other structures built between the fifth and ninth centuries and later called by the Aztecs "the place where men became gods." How Wal-Mart got permission to build a superstore on farmland supposedly protected under Mexican law as an archaeological site has vexed the merchants here.

MOAB, Utah* — It is a rare music festival that requires patrons to sign a risk waiver as they purchase tickets. But that is one of the peculiarities of the Moab Music Festival, which takes the idea of outdoor concerts to the extreme by ferrying musicians, guests and instruments—including, on Thursday, a Steinway grand piano —15 miles along the Colorado River for a late afternoon performance in a towering red-rock grotto. … To put on a concert in a sandy alcove 45 miles from town, preparation begins as the sun rises, with the meticulously wrapped piano being loaded on a metal motor boat and taken to the grotto. … For the performance, the 14 musicians headed down the river for some rehearsal time in the grotto at midmorning on Thursday, and the 100 or so patrons started their trip to the concert site shortly after noon. The grotto, which is within the boundaries of Canyonlands National Park, is tucked in from the river's edge by a thicket of shrubs and trees.

SEPTEMBER BOOK BLOG

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