20 JAN 02

John Giddings of 2002 Isle of Wight Festival
organisers the Solo Agency:

“I don’t want any dance music. I don’t
want any of that crap. We want real songs played by real people. Anyone
with a cassette machine can go away.”

Poe’s birthday celebrated with cognac
and roses

BALTIMORE, Maryland (AP) — A small crowd
gathered at the old church where Edgar

Allan Poe lies buried, waiting, as they
do every year, for the arrival of a


    A black-clad man arrived
just before 3 a.m. Saturday, marking the poet’s

birthday with the traditional graveside
tribute: three red roses and a half

bottle of cognac. Only this and nothing

    It is a rite that has
been carried out by a mysterious stranger every January 19

since 1949, a century after Poe drank
himself to death in Baltimore at age 40.

    This year’s birthday
tribute was normal and subdued compared with last year,

when the stranger left a note that enraged
Baltimore Ravens fans.

    Borrowing from Poe’s
“The Masque of the Red Death,” the note read: “The New York

Giants. Darkness and decay and the big
blue hold dominion over all.”

    Red and blue are the
Giants’ colors and “the big blue” is a team nickname. The

Ravens, who take their name from Poe’s
most famous poem, were to meet the Giants

later that month in Super Bowl XXXV. The
Baltimore team ended up winning the

game handily.

    “My own theory is that
after the near riot that occurred last year when he

insulted the Ravens, this guy thought,
‘I’ll just stick to the tradition and not

cause the trouble,’ ” said Jeff Jerome,
curator of the Edgar Allan Poe House and

Museum. Jerome and 15 invited guests watched
from inside the church.

    Jerome said the man,
wearing the traditional black hat and coat, with a white

scarf concealing his face, appeared to
be different from last year’s so-called

Poe Toaster.

    “He appeared to be
a younger man,” said Jerome, who has witnessed the ritual for

20 years. “He stood erect and walked quickly.”

    The man made no gestures,
other than the secret signal he sends Jerome to show

he is the genuine Poe Toaster, as he laid
the tribute.

    The three roses represent
Poe, his wife and his Aunt Maria Clemm, who are buried

beneath the newer monument. The cognac
is a mystery, Jerome has said, because

there are no prominent references to it
in Poe’s works.

    Poe was born in Boston
and raised in Richmond, Virginia. But Baltimore, where he

lived for several years during the 1830s,
has adopted him as one of its own.

    A prolific poet and
critic, Poe wrote comedies, detective stories and tales of

the macabre, including “The Fall of the
House of Usher,” “The Pit and the

Pendulum” and “The Tell-Tale Heart.”

Categories: Uncategorized

About Jay Babcock

I am an independent writer and editor based in Tucson, Arizona. In 2022: I publish a weeklyish email newsletter called LANDLINE = Previously: I co-founded and edited Arthur Magazine (2002-2008, 2012-13) and curated the three Arthur music festival events (Arthurfest, ArthurBall, and Arthur Nights) (2005-6). Prior to that I was a district office staffer for Congressman Henry A. Waxman, a DJ at Silver Lake pirate radio station KBLT, a copy editor at Larry Flynt Publications, an editor at Mean magazine, and a freelance journalist contributing work to LAWeekly, Mojo, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Vibe, Rap Pages, Grand Royal and many other print and online outlets. An extended piece I wrote on Fela Kuti was selected for the Da Capo Best Music Writing 2000 anthology. In 2006, I was somehow listed in the Music section of Los Angeles Magazine's annual "Power" issue. In 2007-8, I produced a blog called "Nature Trumps," about the L.A. River. From 2010 to 2021, I lived in rural wilderness in Joshua Tree, Ca., where I practiced with Buddhist teacher Ruth Denison and was involved in various pro-ecology and social justice activist activities.