A live performance at the Brady Theater
Long Beach, CA
A live performance at the Carpenter Performing Arts Center
A live performance at the Saenger Theatre
A live performance at the Yavapai College Performing Arts Center
Buffalo, NY — with Robin & Linda Williams
A live performance with Robin & Linda Williams in Asbury Hall at Babeville
Late March is a time of rare unanimity here on the northern tundra when everyone — socialists, monarchists, anarchists, humble peasants, mighty tycoons — is ready for the snow to melt and green grass to appear and a warm breeze blow through the open window, which is unlikely to happen anytime soon and so we must live with the fact that the world is beyond our control.
The president must have felt that way Sunday night: the leader of the Free World and yet he was powerless to prevent a woman from going on “60 Minutes” and talking about having sex with him in 2006 at Lake Tahoe though she wasn’t attracted to him but thought he might put her on his TV show.
On the other hand, you can go on YouTube and see video footage from security cameras at Mandalay Bay Hotel in Las Vegas that shows how utterly simple and ordinary it is to haul carts of luggage containing assault rifles and ammunition up to your suite on the 32nd floor and use them to kill 58 people and injure 851 in a crowd of concertgoers a couple nights later. I’m sure the shooter felt fully in control the whole time, including the moment he shot himself.
My daughter marched on Saturday with thousands of young people, in favor of controls on the sale of deadly weapons. I grew up in an era when the word “school” and the word “shooting” were alien to each other, and that is no longer true. Every child in America has had to practice a school lockdown.
And Sunday night, I skipped “60 Minutes” in favor of supper with family and hearing a college sophomore talk about school, how he enjoys reading John Milton’s “Paradise Lost” and studying French and looking forward to his semester abroad in Cameroon. This is the real story, not infidelity or mass shootings, but ambition: the urge, no matter the season, to venture forth and experience the world and gain some useful understanding.
I’m engaged in some of that myself. A young cousin of mine told me that she wishes she knew more about our family’s history and so that is now my assignment. I earned my living writing fiction but apparently it is the truth she wants and how does one find it in a family that was so good at keeping secrets?
Our colonial ancestors who were loyal to the Crown and fled to Canada when the Revolution broke out — I don’t find letters from them laying out their principles; they simply packed up their goods and left before they could be lynched. My great-great-grandfather David Powell who left his wife and sons in Illinois in 1859 and went off to the silver rush in Colorado for four years — was he, in fact, running away from the Civil War? We have no record of any of our people fighting for the Union. Our grandfather was born in New Brunswick and came to Minnesota to help out his sister whose husband was dying of TB: he was a man of great probity, a devoted Christian, an elder in the church, and yet we have word from a contemporary of his that Grandpa was “quite the hellraiser” in his youth. What do we not know and do we want to find it out? There are several cases of marriages that, though done in a rush, did not precede the birth of the first child by the proper length of time. There is a lonely grave in the family cemetery of a cousin who died of a botched abortion by a physician who had done prison time for treating the fugitive John Dillinger in 1934. She lived near my parents for a couple years and was a friend of my mother’s. We do not know her story and we wish we did.
As for me, I did my best to die young but survived and now, looking back, I find that my miserable youth is a dim memory, but I clearly recall several sterling plays I made on a ballfield, and the day I married my wife on 99th & Amsterdam in New York and walked to our wedding dinner on 86th, and the brilliant day I turned 70 aboard a ship in the middle of the Atlantic. Maybe it’s true that the light dispels the darkness. Spring will be here before you know it. It is likely to come suddenly. Prepare to be enlightened.