“Where the Wild Things Are” author Maurice Sendak is born

Year
1928
Month Day
June 10

On June 10, 1928, author and illustrator Maurice Sendak, who revolutionized children’s literature with such best-selling books as Where the Wild Things Are and became one of the most celebrated children’s authors in contemporary history, is born in Brooklyn, New York. First published in 1963, Where the Wild Things Are was pioneering in its realistic depiction of childhood anxieties and rebellious behavior at a time when many stories for young readers presented a sugar-coated version of life.

Sendak, whose parents were Jewish immigrants from Poland, described his own childhood as unhappy. He was sickly and spent much of his time indoors. His father, a dressmaker, lost a number of family members during the Holocaust, and that tragedy that haunted the younger Sendak. After graduating from high school in Brooklyn, Sendak, who developed a love of drawing as a boy, took art classes at night and in 1948 found work as a window display designer at FAO Schwarz, the Manhattan toy store. While there, he was introduced to book editor Ursula Nordstrom (who during her career worked with a number of popular children’s book authors, including Margaret Wise Brown, E.B. White and Shel Silverstein). Nordstrom commissioned Sendak to illustrate his first children’s book, The Wonderful Farm, written by Marcel Ayme and published in 1951. Sendak illustrated books for a variety of children’s authors before writing and illustrating a picture book of his own, Kenny’s Window, published in 1956.

Sendak rose to international prominence with the publication of Where the Wild Things Are, which he wrote and illustrated. It tells the story of Max, a disobedient boy who, after being sent to his bedroom without dinner, travels to a land of fanged, hairy monsters and eventually faces them down. (Sendak based his drawings of these monsters, or “wild things,” on the obnoxious relatives who visited his family for Sunday dinners when he was a child.) Although initially criticized by some reviewers as too frightening for children and banned by some libraries, Where the Wild Things Are was awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1964 for most distinguished American picture book for children, and went on to sell millions of copies worldwide. A big-screen adaptation of the book, directed by Spike Jonze and co-written with Dave Eggers, was released in 2009.

In addition to Where the Wild Things Are, many of Sendak’s books–which include Higglety Pigglety Pop! Or There Must Be More to Life (1967), In the Night Kitchen (1970) and Bumble-Ardy (2011)–are dark and subversively humorous. In a January 2011 interview on “The Colbert Report,” the author, who was sometimes referred to by friends as “Morose Sendak,” said in response to a question about why he wrote for children: “I don’t write for children. I write—and somebody says, ‘That’s for children!’ I didn’t set out to make children happy or make life better for them, or easier for them.”Sendak, who wrote or illustrated close to 100 books during his career, also designed productions for operas, plays and ballets. He died of complications from a stroke at age 83 on May 8, 2012, at a Danbury, Connecticut, hospital. Sendak was preceded in death by his partner of more than 50 years, psychiatrist Eugene Glynn.

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Cyclist Lance Armstrong is stripped of his seven Tour de France titles

Year
2012
Month Day
October 22

On October 22, 2012, Lance Armstrong is formally stripped of the seven Tour de France titles he won from 1999 to 2005 and banned for life from competitive cycling after being charged with systematically using illicit performance-enhancing drugs and blood transfusions as well as demanding that some of his Tour teammates dope in order to help him win races. It was a dramatic fall from grace for the onetime global cycling icon, who inspired millions of people after surviving cancer then going on to become one of the most dominant riders in the history of the grueling French race, which attracts the planet’s top cyclists.

Born in Texas in 1971, Armstrong became a professional cyclist in 1992 and by 1996 was the number-one ranked rider in the world. However, in October 1996 he was diagnosed with Stage 3 testicular cancer, which had spread to his lungs, brain and abdomen. After undergoing surgery and chemotherapy, Armstrong resumed training in early 1997 and in October of that year joined the U.S. Postal Service cycling team. Also in 1997, he established a cancer awareness foundation. The organization would famously raise millions of dollars through a sales campaign, launched in 2004, of yellow Livestrong wristbands.

In July 1999, to the amazement of the cycling world and less than three years after his cancer diagnosis, Armstrong won his first Tour de France. He was only the second American ever to triumph in the legendary, three-week race, established in 1903. (The first American to do so was Greg LeMond, who won in 1986, 1989 and 1990.) Armstrong went on to win the Tour again in 2000, 2001, 2002 and 2003. In 2004, he became the first person ever to claim six Tour titles, and on July 24, 2005, Armstrong won his seventh straight title and retired from pro cycling. He made a comeback to the sport in 2009, finishing third in that year’s Tour and 23rd in the 2010 Tour, before retiring for good in 2011 at age 39.

Throughout his career, Armstrong, like many other top cyclists of his era, was dogged by accusations of performance-boosting drug use, but he repeatedly and vigorously denied all allegations against him and claimed to have passed hundreds of drug tests. In June 2012, the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA), following a two-year investigation, charged the cycling superstar with engaging in doping violations from at least August 1998, and with participating in a conspiracy to cover up his misconduct. After losing a federal appeal to have the USADA charges against him dropped, Armstrong announced on August 23 that he would stop fighting them. However, calling the USADA probe an “unconstitutional witch hunt,” he continued to insist he hadn’t done anything wrong and said the reason for his decision to no longer challenge the allegations was the toll the investigation had taken on him, his family and his cancer foundation. The next day, USADA announced Armstrong had been banned for life from competitive cycling and disqualified of all competitive results from August 1, 1998, through the present.

On October 10, 2012, USADA released hundreds of pages of evidence—including sworn testimony from 11 of Armstrong’s former teammates, as well as emails, financial documents and lab test results—that the anti-doping agency said demonstrated Armstrong and the U.S. Postal Service team had been involved in the most sophisticated and successful doping program in the history of cycling. A week after the USADA report was made public, Armstrong stepped down as chairman of his cancer foundation and was dumped by a number of his sponsors, including Nike, Trek and Anheuser-Busch.On October 22, Union Cycliste Internationale (UCI), the cycling’s world governing body, announced that it accepted the findings of the USADA investigation and officially was erasing Armstrong’s name from the Tour de France record books and upholding his lifetime ban from the sport. In a press conference that day, the UCI president stated: “Lance Armstrong has no place in cycling, and he deserves to be forgotten in cycling.”

After years of denials, Armstrong finally admitted publicly, in a televised interview with Oprah Winfrey that aired on January 17, 2013, he had doped for much of his cycling career, beginning in the mid-1990s through his final Tour de France victory in 2005. He admitted to using a performance-enhancing drug regimen that included testosterone, human growth hormone, the blood booster EPO and cortisone.

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