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 Galway Kinnell
Wait, for now.
Distrust everything if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven’t they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become interesting.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again;
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Don’t go too early.
You’re tired. But everyone’s tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a little and listen:
music of hair,
music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.
“Wait” by Galway Kinnell, from Selected Poems. © Houghton Mifflin, 1983. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of anthropologist and archeologist Louis Leakey, born in Kabete, Kenya (1903). His parents were Anglican missionaries to Africa, and he lived in Kenya until he was 16. He studied anthropology at Cambridge at a time when most anthropologists believed that human beings had originated in Asia. But Leakey had read Darwin’s theory that human beings might have originated in Africa, because Africa is the home of our closest genetic relatives: chimpanzees and gorillas. As soon as he graduated from Cambridge, he moved back to Africa to prove Darwin right.
In 1948, Leakey and his wife found one of the earliest fossil ape skulls ever discovered; it was between 25 and 40 million years old. It is now believed to be the skull of the ancestor of all large primates, including humans. Then, in 1959, they turned up another hominid skull, which was 1.75 million years old. It was the oldest skull of a close human relative ever found at that point, and it helped persuade other anthropologists that Africa was indeed the place where human beings had evolved.
It’s the birthday of the Dutch dancer and spy Mata Hari, born Margaretha Zelle in Leeuwarden, the Netherlands (1876). She attended a teachers college and then married an army officer, Captain Rudolph MacLeod, in 1895. They lived in Java and Sumatra for a few years, and that’s where she picked up her eventual byname. “Mata Hari” is a Malay term for the sunrise, and means “the eye of the day.” The MacLeod marriage was marked by infidelity on both sides. He gave her syphilis, which was in turn inherited by their two children. After their son died, the parents began to hate each other. They returned to Holland and divorced, and MacLeod took out an ad in the local paper telling shopkeepers not to give his ex-wife any credit, because he would not be supporting her any longer. In order to make some money, she began dancing professionally in Paris in 1905, and occasionally worked in a brothel.
The exact nature of her spy activities is not clear, but she probably didn’t engage in much actual espionage. She was well known by sight all over Europe. She had apparently sold some outdated information about France to the Germans in 1916, and then later made a deal with the head of French intelligence to spy on the Germans in exchange for a pass to visit her Russian lover in the eastern war zone. The French became suspicious that she was a double agent, and she never was able to provide much useful information, so she was tried, convicted, and executed by firing squad in 1917. One of her prosecutors later admitted, “There wasn’t enough evidence [against her] to flog a cat.”
It’s the birthday of American journalist Jane Kramer (1938) (books by this author), whom Newsweek magazine once called “a writer who combines the skills of a social historian with those of a novelist.” Kramer was born in Providence, Rhode Island, and educated at Vassar and Columbia University. In the early sixties, she began writing on culture for The Village Voice. Those early essays became her first book, Off Washington Square: A reporter looks at Greenwich Village, N.Y. (1963). Her work caught the eye of legendary New Yorker editor William Shawn and she became a staff writer for that magazine in 1964.
Kramer’s oeuvre varies: she can write evocatively about food, the American militia, and European politics with the same apparent ease. She said, “I do not believe much in sociologies […] It is the triumph of these private people over their public ‘sociology’ that [interests] me.” She became the New Yorker‘s European correspondent (1981), contributing the “Letter from Europe” column.
It’s the birthday of essayist and journalist Anne Fadiman (books by this author), born in New York City (1953). She’s best known as the author of The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down (1997), which is about the culture clash between a Hmong family, whose daughter has epilepsy, and the American medical establishment. She started the project as an assignment for The New Yorker, but she turned it into a book when the original assignment was killed. The book won a National Book Critics Circle Award. She also wrote a best-selling essay collection, Ex Libris: Confessions of a Common Reader (1998).
Fadiman says her journalistic tendencies come from her mother, Annalee Jacoby, who was the first female war correspondent in China. Fadiman’s father, Clifton Fadiman, was an essayist, a radio host, and a book lover — her childhood home boasted shelves full of thousands of books — and Fadiman credits him for inspiring Ex Libris.
On this date in 1947, Thor Heyerdahl‘s raft Kon-Tiki crashed into a reef in French Polynesia (books by this author). The Norwegian ethnologist had set out from Peru the previous April, determined to prove that early South Americans could have traveled across the Pacific and settled in the Polynesian Islands. Heyerdahl and his five-man crew did carry some modern technology, like a radio, navigational equipment, and watches, but the raft itself was made entirely of pre-Columbian materials. The body was made of balsa logs lashed together with hemp ropes, and had gaps between the logs for the water to drain out. The cabin was built of bamboo and had a thatched roof of banana leaves. The mast was made of planks of mangrove, and it held a square sail. It was a replica of the rafts that native Peruvians were using at the time of the first European contact in the early 1500s. Heyerdahl named it after a legendary Incan sun god who was believed to have walked across the Pacific.
In three and a half months, the raft traveled 4,300 nautical miles, weathered two major storms, and proved that Peruvian Incans could have made the voyage themselves. Heyerdahl wrote a book about the adventure, The Kon-Tiki Expedition: By Raft Across the South Seas (1948), and made a documentary film of the same name.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®