The great geneticist James D. Watson is 85 today. Merle Haggard is 76. I like him for songs like “Mama Tried” and “Tonight the Bottle Let Me Down.” But “Okie From Muskogee” is one of the most vile examples of in group/out group politics I’ve ever seen. It really tarnishes the man. Billy Dee Williams is also 76. Barry Levinson, director of Good Morning Vietnam and Bandits, is 71. Marilu Henner is 61. Documentary filmmaker Rob Epstein is 58. And Paul Rudd is 44.
Under normal circumstances, Dr. Watson would win the birthday contest. But maybe because I can more see myself discovering the structure of DNA than I can drawing anything more complicated than a stick figure, I have to give the day to the great Italian painter Raphael who was born on this day back in 1483. He is usually paired with Michelangelo and Leonardo da Vinci, but unlike them, he died very young—at 37 on his birthday. (Or not; he may have been born on 28 March.) He produced a remarkable amount of work given that da Vinci had 30 years on him and Michelangelo had almost 50.
Happy birthday young man!