Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
April 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor comes to the Rochester Civic Theatre for a night of stories, songs, poetry, and humor. Tickets $50 and up
February 19, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 2 of 2. Tickets $30+
February 18, 2020
Garrison Keillor with Heather Masse at the Dakota. Night 1 of 2. Tickets $30+
“Long Island Sound” by Emma Lazarus. Public Domain. (buy now)
I see it as it looked one afternoon
In August,-by a fresh soft breeze o’erblown.
The swiftness of the tide, the light thereon,
A far-off sail, white as a crescent moon.
The shining waters with pale currents strewn,
The quiet fishing-smacks, the Eastern cove,
The semi-circle of its dark, green grove.
The luminous grasses, and the merry sun
In the grave sky; the sparkle far and wide,
Laughter of unseen children, cheerful chirp
Of crickets, and low lisp of rippling tide,
Light summer clouds fantastical as sleep
Changing unnoted while I gazed thereon.
All these fair sounds and sights I made my own.
It’s the birthday of the novelist S.E. Hinton, (books by this author) born Susan Eloise Hinton in Tulsa, Oklahoma (1948). Growing up, she loved to read, but her biggest dream in life was to be a cowboy. So she wrote a couple of books about cowboys, and then when she was 15 she started working on a book called The Outsiders. She wrote and edited much of her novel during her junior year of high school, the same year that she got a D in her creative writing class. The Outsiders was the story of two rival gangs, based on the gangs at her high school in Tulsa — one of them was a group of kids from working-class families, the other, children of rich families.
The Outsiders was published in 1967, during her first year of college at the University of Tulsa. It became one of the most popular young adult books ever, selling more than 14 million copies, and continues to sell hundreds of thousands each year.
It’s the birthday of the painter Edward Hopper, born in Nyack, New York (1882). By the time he was 12 years old, he was already six feet tall, skinny, and gangly. He got made fun of by his classmates, and became painfully shy, spending much of his time alone and drawing. His parents encouraged him to become an illustrator, and he studied at the New York School of Art. He was taught the old-fashioned style of painting meticulously accurate pictures of the real world.
After he finished art school, he took a trip to Paris, where he realized that he had fallen in love with light. He said the light in Paris was unlike any he’d ever seen before.
Hopper later said that Europe had ruined him as a painter, and it took him 10 years to get over it. He spent the next several years working as an illustrator for an advertising agency in New York City, a job that he hated. In his spare time, he drove around and painted uniquely American places: train stations, gas stations, corner saloons.
Hopper had sold only one painting by the time he was 40 years old, but his first major exhibition in 1933 at the Museum of Modern Art made him famous. His pieces in that show had titles like “Houses by the Railroad,” “Manhattan Bridge Loop,” “Room in Brooklyn,” “Roofs of Washington Square,” “Cold Storage Plant,” “Lonely House,” and “Girl on Bridge.” Though his work was more realistic and less experimental than most other painters at the time, he painted his scenes in a way that made them seem especially lonely and eerie.
Hopper was a man of deliberate habits. He lived and worked in the same walk-up apartment in New York’s Washington Square from 1913 until 1967. He ate almost every meal of his adult life in a diner, and he tried never to ride in a taxi. He never had any children with his wife, and he never included a single child in any of his paintings.
Edward Hopper said, “Maybe I am slightly inhuman. … All I ever wanted to do was to paint sunlight on the side of a house.”
It’s the birthday of Tom Robbins (1936) (books by this author), born in Blowing Rock, North Carolina. He decided he wanted to be a writer when he was a boy of five. His family was, he says, “kind of a Southern Baptist version of The Simpsons — except that my father never would have eaten pie off of the floor and I played the part of both Bart and Lisa.” They moved to Virginia when he was 11. He studied journalism at Washington and Lee University for a couple of years, but he left when he got in trouble for bad behavior and for failing to earn a letter in basketball. He hitchhiked around the country, instead, and wound up in Greenwich Village.
He was drafted near the end of the Korean War, and joined the Air Force. He really didn’t want to serve, but it never occurred to him to dodge the draft in Canada. He figured the best he could do was to find a noncombat post, so he studied meteorology at the University of Illinois, and then taught it to the South Korean air force. After the war, he returned to Virginia and studied art, then worked for the Richmond Times-Dispatch as a copyeditor. After living in the Village and overseas, he no longer felt at home in the South; he got fed up and moved to Seattle in 1962, explaining, “I only knew two things about Seattle: one, it was a long way from racist, sexist, homophobic, hide-bound, purse-lipped, gun-toting, church-crazed, flag-saluting, bourbon-swilling, buzz-cut, save your Confederate money, boys! Richmond, Virginia; and two, there was reputed to be something not quite right about its weather.”
His books are full of whimsy and sly humor, a little mysticism, and a dose of the bizarre. His first book, Another Roadside Attraction, was published in 1971, and is about a married couple — proprietors of a hot dog stand — who steal the mummy of Jesus. Even Cowgirls Get the Blues (1976) features a hitchhiker with abnormally large thumbs. Jitterbug Perfume (1984) is about a king who lives for a thousand years and ends up as Einstein’s janitor. He’s written nine novels, a memoir, and one collection of essays, reviews, and short stories.
He’s also something of a punning philosopher. “‘Joy in spite of everything,'” he says,” is yanking the bell rope despite physical affliction — it has become my Quasi Motto. One of my books is a hallucinogen, an aphrodisiac, a mood elevator, an intellectual garage door opener, and a metaphysical trash compactor.”
Today is the birthday of the American poet Stephen Vincent Benét (books by this author), born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania (1898). His father was a military man who read poetry to his children. All of the Benét kids grew up to become writers of some sort.
Stephen published his first book at age 17, went to Yale, and served in World War I as a civilian, because his poor vision kept him out of the Army; after the war, he submitted his third volume of poetry — Heavens and Earth (1920) — in place of a master’s thesis. He also wrote three novels and some short stories, but he’s best known for a long poem that he wrote while in Paris: John Brown’s Body (1928). It’s an epic in eight sections, and tells the story of the Civil War, beginning with John Brown’s raid on Harper’s Ferry and ending just after Lincoln’s assassination.
He also wrote the short story The Devil and Daniel Webster (1937), which was originally published in The Saturday Evening Post. It’s a tall tale about a New Hampshire farmer who sells his soul to the Devil and then hires orator Daniel Webster to argue his case in front of a midnight jury of American villains. Webster rises from his grave to take the case, saying, “If two New Hampshiremen aren’t a match for the devil, we might as well give the country back to the Indians.”
He wrote, “Life is not lost by dying; life is lost minute by minute, day by dragging day, in all the thousand small uncaring ways.”
It’s the birthday of American poet Emma Lazarus (books by this author), born in New York City (1849). She came from a wealthy Jewish family, and her father paid to have her first collection of poems published when she was 17. Her early work impressed Ralph Waldo Emerson, and they corresponded for many years. In the 1880s, she was horrified to hear of violent anti-Semitic attacks in Russia and Germany, and her work took on a new Zionist focus. She became concerned with the plight of the poor and the refugee, and organized relief efforts for immigrant Jewish families. The Statue of Liberty committee approached her in 1883 and asked her to write a poem that they could auction off to raise money for the monument. She responded with “The New Colossus.” The statue was erected in 1886, but she was in Europe. She sailed back to New York the following year, but she was too ill with Hodgkin’s lymphoma to go on deck to see it as the boat passed, and she died without ever seeing the statue she’d help raise. “The New Colossus” includes the famous lines, “Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.”