A Birthday Present from Little Richard

Little Richard in 2007.jpgSome books begin slowly, gradually drawing a reader in, while others never quite take hold. Then there’s The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Quasar of Rock, which has this memory from the singer’s childhood on page 5: 

“I used to give people rocks and things as presents, but I once did something worse than that. I had a bowel movement in a box, in a shoebox or something like that, and I packed it up like a present and gave it to an old lady next to Mathis Groceries, on Monroe street, in Pleasant Hill. I went to her on her birthday and I said, ‘Miz Ola, how you bin?’ And she said, ‘Oh, Richard, I feel so fine. Richard, you’re such a nice child.’ I said, ‘Miz Ola, I’ve just come to wish you a happy birthday, I’ve brought you a present. Look.’ She said, ‘Ohhh, thank you so much.’ So she took this big old shoebox with the stuff in it. I went off and waited around the corner of the house to listen for her reactions. I was hoping that she would open it while the other ladies were there, and she did. She wanted to show them what I had brought her. She said, ‘Let us see what Richard has brought for me.’ Then I just heard somebody say, ‘Aaaaaaa, aaaaaaahhh–I’m gonna kill him. I’ll kill him!’ She was crippled, but she leaped off the porch and she was walking without her stick! I laughed like a cuckoo! God bless Miz Ola, she’s dead now.”

The Life and Times of Little Richard: The Quasar of Rock, Charles White, Harmony Books, 1984.

Photograph: Anna Bleker

Presidential Dreams

In the early days of 1991, the late Senator Prescott Sheldon Bush appeared to his son, then-President George Herbert Walker in a dream:

“We were driving into some hotel near a golf course, and there was another golf course way over across the fence, though not a very good one. I heard Dad was there, so I went to see him, and he was in a hotel room. We embraced, and I told him I missed him very much. Aren’t dreams funny? I could see him very clearly: big, strong, and highly respected.”

Ronald Reagan believed in the divinatory power of dreams:

“It was always the same thing, maybe a different locale or something, but I evidently had a yen for big rooms. And I would dream that I was in a big mansion, and I could buy it for a song. A man was showing it to me, and I would go from room to room, and maybe go into the living room, which was two stories high, and there was a balcony. And always, it was within my means to buy it. And I had this dream all the time. After we moved into the White House, I was IN the big room. And I never had the dream since.”

Abraham Lincoln’s former law partner Ward Lamon recalled that the President was disturbed by a dream he’d had a few weeks before his assassination.

“… I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me, but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break?… Determined to find the cause of all of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived in the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards, and there was a throng of people gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. ‘Who is dead in the White House?’ I demanded of one of the soldiers. ‘The President,’ was his answer, ‘he was killed by an assassin.'”

Paul Haggis’ Possible Cameo in “War of the Worlds”


In 2004, the screenwriter and director Paul Haggis visited the set of War of the Worlds. At the time, Haggis and Tom Cruise were Scientology’s two most famous disciples. Haggis told the author Lawrence Wright that a tent where Scientology materials were distributed was erected on the set, and recounted a conversation he’d had with War‘s director, Steven Spielberg.

“It’s really remarkable to me that I’ve met all these Scientologists, and they seem like the nicest people,” Spielberg told Haggis, who quipped, “Yeah, we keep all the evil ones in a closet.”

About an hour into War of the Worlds, an extra bearing a resemblance to Haggis is briefly on camera. Is it him? Twenty rewinds and three screenshots have borne no conclusive proof.