Names in the news, Jan. 19

Posted Jan. 18, 2012, at 5:14 p.m.

Fans of gothic writer Edgar Allan Poe were planning what could be the final vigil Wednesday night in Baltimore to watch for the mysterious visitor who for decades visited Poe’s grave on the author’s birthday. But the visitor has not appeared the last two years. The rose and cognac tributes of an anonymous man in black — dubbed the “Poe Toaster” — are thought to date to at least the 1940s. Notes left with the tributes indicate the tradition passed to a new generation in the 1990s. But the visitor hasn’t appeared since 2009 and has not visited the last two years. Last year’s vigil attracted impostors, including a man who arrived in a limo. Poe House and Museum Curator Jeff Jerome says he’ll wait one last time overnight Wednesday before calling an end to the tradition. Poe was born Jan. 19, 1809, and became one of America’s most widely read, influential and controversial writers. … Country music legend Merle Haggard is being treated for pneumonia in a Georgia hospital and has had to cancel the rest of his January concert dates. His publicist said the 74-year-old Haggard was taken to the hospital Tuesday after canceling a Macon, Ga., show at short notice. He had at least four more dates scheduled for the rest of this month, from Kentucky to Oklahoma. … Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has named Kareem Abdul-Jabbar as a global cultural ambassador. The NBA Hall of Famer and all-time scoring leader will promote the importance of education, social and racial tolerance, cultural understanding and using sports as a means of empowerment. “It’s a great honor and I’m thrilled that they see me as the person that could get this done,” he said in a phone interview. The 64-year-old said he remembers a similar program under President John F. Kennedy where speakers came to his school in Harlem. “So now I get to follow in the footsteps of one my heroes,” he said.

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