November 17, 2018
A solo performance with Garrison Keillor at the Palace Theatre.
November 15, 2018
A solo performance with Garrison Keillor at the Admiral Theatre.
Doors at 5:30 p.m.
November 3, 2018
Garrison Keillor performs with duet partner Lynne Peterson and longtime collaborator & pianist Richard Dworsky.
5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.
October 14, 2018
Garrison makes a special appearance at the Burlington Book Festival, giving advice to writers.
A live performance at the Brady Theater
New York by Edward Field, from After the Fall: Poems Old and New. © University of Pittsburgh Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
I live in a beautiful place, a city
people claim to be astonished
when you say you live there.
They talk of junkies, muggings, dirt, and noise,
missing the point completely.
I tell them where they live it is hell,
a land of frozen people.
They never think of people.
Home, I am astonished by this environment
that is also a form of nature
like those paradises of trees and grass,
but this is a people paradise,
where we are the creatures mostly,
though thank God for dogs, cats, sparrows, and roaches.
This vertical place is no more an accident
than the Himalayas are.
The city needs all those tall buildings
to contain the tremendous energy here.
The landscape is in a state of balance.
We do God’s will whether we know it or not:
where I live the streets end in a river of sunlight.
Nowhere else in the country do people
show just what they feel—
we don’t put on any act.
Look at the way New Yorkers
walk down the street. It says,
I don’t care. What nerve,
to dare to live their dreams, or nightmares,
and no one bothers to look.
True, you have to be an expert to live here.
Part of the trick is not to go anywhere, lounge about,
go slowly in the midst of the rush for novelty.
Anyway, besides the eats the big event here
is the streets, which are full of love—
we hug and kiss a lot. You can’t say that
for anywhere else around. For some
it’s a carnival of sex—
there’s all the opportunity in the world.
For me it is no different:
out walking, my soul seeks its food.
It knows what it wants.
Instantly it recognizes its mate, our eyes meet,
and our beings exchange a vital energy,
the universe goes on Charge,
and we pass by without holding.
It’s the birthday of short-story writer O. Henry, (books by this author) born William Sidney Porter in Greensboro, North Carolina, on this day in 1862. He penned the witty, surprise-ending short stories “The Gift of the Magi,” “The Ransom of Red Chief,” “A Retrieved Reformation,” and “The Cop and the Anthem.”
He worked at his uncle’s drugstore, becoming a licensed pharmacist when he was 19, and before he turned 20 he’d headed west to Texas, where he spent time on a ranch as a shepherd, domestic servant, and baby-sitter.
He moved to Austin, Texas, worked as a pharmacist, and played guitars on street corners around the city. He eloped with a tuberculosis-infected, rich and beautiful teenage girl whom he’d fallen in love with.
Later, he got a good-paying job as a bank teller so that he could support his wife and young daughter. But he was not a good bookkeeper, and he was fired for embezzlement. He took to writing full time.
The feds did an audit of the bank he’d been working at, and when they found a bunch of discrepancies, they decided to indict him on federal embezzlement charges. His wife’s dad posted bail for him, but instead of sticking around for trial, O. Henry fled to New Orleans and then to Honduras, where he stayed for months. But when he found out that his beloved wife was on the verge of dying from her tuberculosis, he came back to Texas and turned himself in. Soon after, his wife died. He stood trial, was convicted of embezzlement, and was sent away to a federal penitentiary in Ohio.
He wrote short stories there, and he came up with the pseudonym O. Henry. Magazine editors were clueless that the stories they published were written by an inmate locked up in a federal penitentiary.
He got out of jail and wrote fast and furiously, about 400 short stories in those years following his release. He became famous, and an alcoholic, and he died less than a decade after getting out of jail, at the age of 47, from liver disease.
In 1909, the year before he died, he conducted an “autobiographical interview” of himself for The New York Times. It appeared under the title: “‘O. HENRY’ ON HIMSELF, LIFE, AND OTHER THINGS; For the First Time the Author of ‘The Four Million’ Tells a Bit of the ‘Story of My Life.'”
He wrote:”I’ll give you the whole secret of short-story writing. Here it is. Rule I: Write stories that please yourself. There is no Rule II.”
Asked by himself about writer’s block, O. Henry answered:
“Yes, I get dry spells. Sometimes I can’t turn out a thing for three months. When one of those spells comes on I quit trying to work and go out and see something of life. You can’t write a story that’s got any life in it by sitting at a writing table and thinking. You’ve got to get out into the streets, into the crowds, talk with people, and feel the rush and throb of real life — that’s the stimulant for a story writer.”
Henry said: “People say I know New York well. Just change Twenty-third Street in one of my New York stories to Main Street, rub out the Flatiron Building, and put in the Town Hall and the story will fit just as truly in any up-State town. At least, I hope this can be said of my stories. So long as a story is true to human nature all you need do is change the local color to make it fit in any town North, East, South, or West. If you have the right kind of an eye — the kind that can disregard high hats, cutaway coats, and trolley cars — you can see all the characters in the Arabian Nights parading up and down Broadway at midday.”
On this date in 1941, ground was broken for the Pentagon Building in Arlington, Virginia. In July of that year, Brigadier General and engineer Brehon B. Somervell had summoned two of his subordinates and told them to draw up plans for an office building to house 40,000 War Department workers; it should be four stories tall, he told them, and cover 4 million square feet. He gave them their assignment on Thursday afternoon, and said he wanted the plans on his desk by Monday. They delivered, and construction began two months later. Sixteen months later, the Pentagon was complete.
Sixty years to the day after the groundbreaking, on September 11, 2001, a passenger jet piloted by terrorist hijackers crashed into the Pentagon, killing all aboard the jet and more than a hundred people inside the building itself. The jet crashed into a wing that was being remodeled, so many of the offices were unoccupied; otherwise, the death toll would have been much higher.
The Hope Diamond was stolen on this date in 1792. At that time, it was known as the French Blue. The dark blue gemstone came from a mine in India, and was originally about 112 carats. France’s King Louis XIV bought it from a traveling merchant in 1668, and had it re-cut into a 67-carat heart shape. The king wore it on a ribbon around his neck for state occasions. But on this date in 1792, during the French Revolution, the royal treasury was looted, the crown jewels were stolen, and the diamond lost. It turned up in London 20 years later.
The Hope Diamond is rumored to be cursed. It’s said that the traveling merchant who sold it to Louis XIV had stolen it from a statue of a Hindu idol; he was later torn apart by wild dogs, or so the legend goes. Subsequent owners have suffered financial ruin, personal tragedies, and violent deaths. Much of the legend can be traced back to Pierre Cartier; he spun tales of a curse to tempt Evalyn Walsh McLean, a young and eccentric socialite. Cartier had sold her expensive gems in the past, and hoped to sell her the Hope Diamond as well, but she didn’t care for the setting and she was playing hard to get. So he put the stone in a new setting and gave it a sinister history, and she bought all of it for $180,000. It now rests in the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.