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+
by Naomi Shihab Nye
In the lovely free public library
only library I ever met
that loans out garden tools
as well as books
rakes & long-handled clippers
from large buckets by the counter
I sat in a peaceful room
with citizens I will never know
reading about far-away war
war I am paying for
war I don’t want & never wanted
& put my head down
on the smooth wooden table
wishing to weep loudly or quietly
it did not matter
in the purifying presence of
women & men
shovels & hoes
devoted to growing
“Burlington, Vermont” by Naomi Shihab Nye from Transfer. © BOA Editions, 2011. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of novelist, memoirist, and screenwriter Marguerite Duras, (books by this author) born near in a small village in French Indochina near what is now Saigon, Vietnam (1914). Her parents had left France to teach in the colonial South Pacific island, but her dad became ill there and died, and Dumas had an impoverished miserable childhood in which she was abused by her mother and brother.
When she was a teenager, she became lovers with a wealthy, older Chinese man, whom she met on a ferry between Sa Dec and Saigon. She would write about him for the rest of her life, in autographical works like The Sea Wall (1953), North China Lover (1991), and The Lover (1984), which was an international best-seller and won France’s most prestigious literary prize.
Marguerite Duras said, “You have to be very fond of men. Very, very fond. You have to be very fond of them to love them. Otherwise they’re simply unbearable.”
It’s the birthday of Maya Angelou, (books by this author) born Marguerite Ann Johnson in St. Louis (1928), whose 1969 memoir I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings was nominated for the National Book Award. It begins: “When I was three and Bailey four, we had arrived in the musty little town, wearing tags on our wrists which instructed — “To Whom It May Concern” — that we were Marguerite and Bailey Johnson Jr., from Long Beach, California, en route to Stamps, Arkansas, c/o Mrs. Annie Henderson. Our parents had decided to put an end to their calamitous marriage, and Father shipped us home to his mother.”
On this day in 1968, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. He was standing on the balcony of his room on the second floor at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis when, at 6:01 p.m., he was shot in the right jaw. The day before, he’d given a speech at the Mason Temple in Memphis. He was addressing a rally for the Memphis Sanitation Strike, which involved 1,300 black sanitation workers protesting dangerous working conditions and discrimination. He’d been delayed getting into Memphis because there was a bomb threat to his plane. Toward the end of his speech, he acknowledged the recent death threats and said:
“Well, I don’t know what will happen now. We’ve got some difficult days ahead. But it doesn’t matter with me now. Because I’ve been to the mountaintop. And I don’t mind. Like anybody, I would like to live a long life. Longevity has its place. But I’m not concerned about that now. I just want to do God’s will. And He’s allowed me to go up to the mountain. And I’ve looked over. And I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you. But I want you to know tonight, that we, as a people, will get to the promised land. So I’m happy, tonight. I’m not worried about anything. I’m not fearing any man. Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord.”
It’s the birthday of blues great “Muddy Waters” (McKinley Morganfield), born in Rolling Fork, Mississippi (1915), who taught himself to play harmonica and guitar. He played in various bands in bars on the south side of Chicago, and in 1950, he made the first recording for Chess Records, a tune called “Rolling Stone.” He later became famous for songs like “Hoochie-Koochie Man” and “Got My Mojo Working.”
It’s the day the World Trade Center was officially dedicated (1973). At the dedication, Chief Architect Minoru Yamasaki said, “The World Trade Center is a living symbol of man’s dedication to world peace.”
Microsoft Corporation was officially founded on this day in 1975. But it would be 10 more years before “windows” referred to something to master, and not something to look out of while daydreaming. In December of 1974, 19-year-old Bill Gates dropped out of Harvard to form a partnership with his childhood friend Paul Allen to develop the popular computer programming language BASIC (Beginner’s All-purpose Symbolic Instruction Code) for use on an early personal computer called the Altair.
After reading an article about the Altair in Popular Electronics, the pair predicted home computers were going to take off and knew there would be a need for the software to run them. They called up the makers of the Altair, Micro Instrumentation and Telemetry Systems (MITS), and falsely claimed to have developed BASIC software for it. MITS was eager to see their nonexistent BASIC, and so Gates and Allen got to creating it quick. Gates mostly wrote the code and Allen made sure it was compatible. They completed the software in eight weeks. When Allen went to meet with MITS, it was the first time he had ever actually touched an Altair.
Five years later, the small company developed Microsoft Disk Operating System, or MS-DOS, for the IBM Personal Computer. MS-DOS was based on QDOS (Quick and Dirty Operating System), developed by Tim Paterson of Seattle Computer Products. They bought the rights to QDOS and kept their deal with IBM a secret. Gates negotiated for Microsoft to keep the rights to MS-DOS, so they could market it separately from IBM. Virtually every personal computer ran on MS-DOS in those years and made the young entrepreneurial upstarts from the fledgling Microsoft their first fortune.