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+
I Call My Mother Once A Week
by Richard Jones
My mother lives in a land
of disaster and tragedy.
Yesterday on the phone
she said, Look, a small
white plane just crashed
in the yard. Good thing
it didn’t land on the house
I said, not knowing what to say.
It was like the time she’d said,
A house down the street burned
to the ground, and I’d said,
You’re kidding, and she said,
It was an inferno, then asked,
because I know about words,
whether she had used the right one.
I said inferno was exactly right,
and she added that it was night,
pitch-black, and the young
family of four had died in the fire.
They couldn’t be saved? I said.
They couldn’t be found, she said,
and in the silence on the phone
we could almost hear the flames.
To change the subject, I inquired
about her crazy friend, Nancy.
Nancy was always up to something.
Arrested for murder, my mother said.
What? I said. She hired a hit man
to kill the wife of the man she wants
to marry. Tragedy is, the man
didn’t even really know Nancy.
Of course there’s nothing to say
in response to a story like that,
so I just said, Sounds like true love,
and my mother said, It does, doesn’t it?
Richard Jones, “I Call My Mother Once a Week” from Stranger on Earth. Copyright © 2018 by Richard Jones. Used by permission of The Permissions Company LLC on behalf of Copper Canyon Press, www.coppercanyonpress.org. (buy now)
George Washington signed the Residence Act, establishing the site of the U.S. capital on the east bank of the Potomac River on this date in 1790. The issue had been a matter of much Congressional debate for the past few years. Eventually, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton worked out a compromise: the capital would be placed in the South, and in return, Madison would agree to let the federal government assume the states’ war debt. The Residence Act mandated that the capital site not exceed 100 square miles, and that it should lie on the Potomac River somewhere between the Anacostia River and the Conococheague, a creek that flows into the Potomac. At first glance, the marshy, mosquito-ridden site seemed an unlikely place for a capital, but George Washington saw potential in the area’s many rivers.
The act also established Philadelphia as a temporary capital while the exact location was figured out and a plan drawn up for the layout of the city — a process that took 10 years. Washington hired a French architect and city planner named Pierre L’Enfant to design this new city. L’Enfant studied the maps of several European cities and chose what he thought were the best elements of each. He figured out where all the important government buildings would go, connected them with diagonal-running avenues, and then overlaid a grid of streets. The layout resulted in lots of little triangular spaces, which were perfect for statues and monuments. But L’Enfant grew too ambitious, and Washington fired him in 1792. The federal government began moving into Washington, D.C., in 1800, but George Washington, who died in 1799, never lived in the city that bore his name. John Adams was the first president to occupy the White House.
Today is the birthday of St. Clare of Assisi, born 1194. As the eldest daughter of a wealthy family, she was expected by her parents to marry well, and they began trying to fix her up with eligible bachelors when she was only 12. She managed to convince them to wait until she was 18, but by that time she preferred to go and listen to the young and radical Francis of Assisi preaching the gospel. One Palm Sunday, she ran away in the middle of the night to give her vows to Francis. He cut her hair, dressed her in black, and brought her to a group of Benedictine nuns. Later, he moved her to the Church of San Damiano, where she embraced a life of extreme poverty, after the example set by Jesus. Claire’s sister Agnes eventually ran away to join her, and so did other women, and the order became known as the “Poor Ladies.” They spent their time in prayer and manual labor, and refused to own any property.
Throughout her tenure as abbess, Clare fought for the right to adopt her Rule of Life as the official governing policy of the Poor Ladies, rather than the Rule of St. Benedict, which was more lax. She was the first woman to write the rule for a religious order, and Pope Innocent IV finally granted her request just two days before she died at the age of 59. She was canonized two years after her death, and eventually the Poor Ladies became known as the Order of St. Clare, or the “Poor Clares.”
The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger (books by this author), was published on this date in 1951. It’s about a 16-year-old prep school boy named Holden Caulfield, who is fed up with all the “phonies” and wants to go live in a cabin in California. It became a best-seller almost immediately, reaching No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list after two weeks. It has sold more than 65 million copies.
The book begins: “If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.”
In 1945 on this day, the first atomic bomb exploded at 5:30 a.m., 120 miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. People saw a ball of fire that rose rapidly, releasing four times the heat of the interior of the sun, followed by a 40,000 foot mushroom cloud. The bomb was supposed to give the United States “peace through strength.” Officials told the New Mexican citizens that an ammunitions dump had blown up.
Today, radiation levels on the spot are still 10 times that of radiation levels found in nature, and the ground is marked by a lava stone obelisk and a plaque that reads, “Where the World’s First Nuclear Device Was Exploded on July 16, 1945.”