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 Donald Hall
When I was twelve I sat by myself in the steamliner
with a shoebox of sandwiches and deviled eggs
my mother made, and ate everything right away
as the train headed north by the Sound where trestles
of derelict trolley lines roosted nations of seagulls.
From South Station I took a taxi across Boston
to a shabby, black locomotive with coal car
that pulled two rickety coaches. It puffed past
long lines of empty commuter trains, past
suburbs thick with houses, past the milltowns
of Lawrence and Lowell, until the track curved
into New Hampshire’s pastures of Holstein cattle.
My grandfather waited in his overalls at the depot
with horse and buggy to carry me to the farmhouse,
to fricasseed chicken, corn on the cob, and potatoes.
At nine o’clock, after shutting up the chickens
from skunk and fox, we sat by the cabinet radio
for Gabriel Heatter booming news of the war.
I slept through the night on my goosefeather bed.
“Goosefeathers” by Donald Hall from The Back Chamber. © Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2011. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of Russell Baker (books by this author), born in Loudoun County, Virginia (1925). He is the author of many books of essays, including Poor Russell’s Almanac (1972), So This Is Depravity (1980), and the memoir Growing Up (1982). He died in January of 2019.
It’s the 75th birthday of humorist Steve Martin (books by this author), born in Waco, Texas (1945). He’s known as a comedian and actor, but he has also written several plays and novels, including WASP (1995), Shopgirl (2000), and An Object of Beauty (2010). He is also an accomplished banjo player.
He said: “The real joy is in constructing a sentence. But I see myself as an actor first because writing is what you do when you are ready and acting is what you do when someone else is ready.”
It’s the 70th birthday of American cartoonist Gary Larson (1950) (books by this author), the creator of The Far Side, a single-panel comic that ran from 1980 to 1995 and became beloved for its anthropomorphic deer, birds, cats, dogs, dinosaurs, snakes, vipers, and cows, often drawn with cat-eye glasses and beehive hairdos. He grew up in Tacoma, Washington.
In Larson’s world, a man sits on a bed in a disheveled room, staring at a chicken perched on his windowsill. The caption reads, “The Bluebird of Happiness long absent from his life, Ned is visited by the Chicken of Depression.” And another one in which a kid pushes at a door beneath a sign that says PULL. The sign next to him says, “Midvale School for the Gifted.”
It’s the birthday of one of the best-selling authors of all time: novelist Danielle Steel (books by this author), born in New York City (1947). Growing up, she divided her time between New York and Paris, and she was raised by relatives and family employees when her parents divorced. She married young, and had her first of nine children, daughter Beatrix, when she was 19. That’s also when she wrote her first book, Going Home (1972). She worked at a New York public relations firm during the day and wrote at night. It was her fourth book, The Promise (1978), that was her first big success.
Since then, she’s published 174 books, most of them novels, but she’s also published poetry, nonfiction, and children’s books. She wrote a memoir, His Bright Light (1998), about her son Nicholas Traina. He suffered from bipolar disorder, and committed suicide when he was 19. She’s sold more than 800 million books, and she’s been a fixture on the New York Times best-seller list for decades. She puts out at least one book every year, and has many projects going at once, in various stages of completion.
One of Steel’s biggest pet peeves is when people ask her if she’s still writing. “What this does is that it immediately puts my writing into the category as a hobby,” she wrote on her website. “As in, are you still taking piano lessons, doing macramé, have a parrot? I don’t have a huge ego about my work, but let’s face it, for me it is a job. A job I love, and I have been doing it since I was 19 years old. … I never say to guys, ‘So are you still a lawyer? … A doctor? … A brain surgeon?’”
And it’s the birthday of a famous dentist, John Henry “Doc” Holliday, born in Griffin, Georgia (1851). He studied dentistry in Philadelphia, and that’s how he got his nickname, but he was only in private practice for a few months when he contracted tuberculosis. He moved west from Georgia, hoping the desert air would prolong his life, and it was in Dallas, Texas, that he decided gambling was a more lucrative career than dentistry, especially since his chronic tubercular cough drove his patients away. He drifted throughout the West, developing a reputation as a gunfighter and heavy drinker, and wound up in Tombstone, in the Arizona Territory, in 1880. There he took up with his friends Wyatt, Virgil, and Morgan Earp, whom he’d met in Dodge City, Kansas. The Earp brothers were involved in a feud with a gang called the Cowboys, made up of the Clantons and the McLaurys. The feud led to one of the most famous shoot-outs in the history of the American West: the gunfight at the O.K. Corral, which happened in October 1881. Thirty shots were fired in as many seconds, leaving three dead and many wounded. Holliday survived the shoot-out, but died of tuberculosis six years later, at a sanatorium in Glenwood Springs, Colorado.
After his death, The Denver Republican wrote: “He represented a class of men who are disappearing in the new West. He had the reputation of being a bunco man, desperado, and bad-man generally, yet he was a very mild-mannered man, was genial and companionable, and had many excellent qualities.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®