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+
Young Man Lighting Up
by Raphael Kosek
The young man paused
just long enough
to cup his hand lovingly
around the cigarette
lighting it before stepping out
into the clench of four-lane traffic
weaving his way
among us as I watched him
slim and confident, bent
on reaching the store across
the street, careless with the surety
of youth, and I can only assume
he reached his destination
as I didn’t hear the screech of brakes
or bray of horns as the light
day I recalled him
and he grew
in significance because
it was so insignificant—precisely why
I kept seeing him
doing what we all do
cupping our hands
around the thin flame of something
we nurture for good or ill
as we step into the world’s
thrash—confident, fully believing
we will reach
the other side.
“Young Man Lighting Up” by Raphael Kosek from American Mythology. Brick Road Poetry Press © 2019. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
The Lerner and Loewe musical Camelot opened on Broadway on this date in 1960. It was an adaptation of The Once and Future King, T.H. White’s retelling of the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table (1958). The original cast recording features Richard Burton, Julie Andrews, and Robert Goulet. The musical ends “Camelot …’Don’t let it be forgot, that once there was a spot, for one brief shining moment that was known as Camelot.’ […] There’ll never be another Camelot again.”
Today is the birthday of Joseph Conrad (books by this author), born in Berdichev, Poland (now Ukraine) (1857). His parents had both died of tuberculosis by the time he was 12, so he went to live with his uncle in Switzerland and later joined the merchant navy, sailing all around the world and gathering experiences that he would later use in his novels and stories. The best known of these is Heart of Darkness (1899). It’s the story of an English riverboat captain in the Congo who is sent to retrieve an ivory trader, Kurtz, who has been living as a demigod among the African natives. The novella has been adapted several times, beginning with Orson Welles’ radio production in 1938. The most famous adaptation moved the novella’s action from Africa to southeast Asia and set the story during the Vietnam War: Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film, Apocalypse Now.
It was on this date in 1919 that the Quebec Bridge, spanning the St. Lawrence River, finally opened to traffic. It was a long time coming; the project had been discussed since 1852, and design and construction finally got underway in 1903. Plans were drawn up for the world’s largest cantilever bridge, with an 1,800-foot single span that was 150 feet above the river to accommodate oceangoing ships. It was designed to carry two railway tracks and two streetcar tracks, as well as two automobile roadways. Builders broke ground on the bridge in 1904, but there was an error in the estimated weight of the finished bridge: it was off by more than 8 million pounds. Engineers proceeded anyway, unwilling to stop construction on the greatest bridge in the world.
But in 1907, when it was almost complete, the bridge collapsed, taking the lives of 75 workers. Construction resumed in 1913, and in 1916 the bridge collapsed again, this time killing 13. It finally opened to public traffic on December 12, 1919, and remains the world’s longest cantilever bridge.
Today is the birthday of British social reformer and philanthropist Octavia Hill (books by this author), born in Wisbech, Cambridgeshire (1838). When she was 26, she established her first low-income housing project in the slums off of London’s Marylebone Road. Her tenements were set up to help the poor find work and improve their material positions, but she didn’t neglect the arts. Her housing estates offered music classes, public art spaces, and cultural outings. She came to see the importance of open spaces after seeing the cramped and overcrowded conditions in which the city’s poor were living. She campaigned for the preservation of, as she put it, “a few acres where the hill top enables the Londoner to rise above the smoke, to feel a refreshing air for a little time and to see the sun setting in coloured glory which abounds so in the Earth God made.” With that goal in mind, she co-founded Britain’s National Trust for Places of Historic Interest and Natural Beauty in 1895.
Neon lighting was first demonstrated on this date in 1910. It was invented by a Frenchman named Georges Claude, and he debuted it at a Paris auto show — which also happened to be the world’s first auto show.
Neon is an inert gas and when contained it in a glass tube and stimulated it with electricity, it glows red. The neon tubes became popular as novelties, and within three years, there was a big glowing sign advertising Cinzano vermouth lighting up the sky over Paris. Neon signage was adopted with increasing frequency from 1920 onward, and by 1940 nearly every city in the United States sported a dazzling array.
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