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+
There’s been a Death, in the Opposite House
by Emily Dickinson
There’s been a Death, in the Opposite House,
As lately as Today —
I know it, by the numb look
Such Houses have — alway —
The Neighbors rustle in and out —
The Doctor — drives away —
A Window opens like a Pod —
Abrupt — mechanically —
Somebody flings a Mattress out —
The Children hurry by —
They wonder if it died — on that —
I used to — when a Boy —
The Minister — goes stiffly in —
As if the House were His —
And He owned all the Mourners — now —
And little Boys — besides —
And then the Milliner — and the Man
Of the Appalling Trade —
To take the measure of the House —
There’ll be that Dark Parade —
Of Tassels — and of Coaches — soon —
It’s easy as a Sign —
The Intuition of the News —
In just a Country Town —
“There’s been a Death, in the Opposite House,” by Emily Dickinson. Public domain. (buy now)
It’s Guy Fawkes Day, or Bonfire Night, in the United Kingdom. It commemorates the failure of Catholic conspirators to blow up the Houses of Parliament in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605. At issue was the anger of Roman Catholics toward King James I, who refused to extend religious tolerance to the Catholics. The conspirators, led by Robert Catesby, planned to target Parliament at its opening ceremony, thereby killing the king and queen and clearing the way for a new era of Catholicism in England. Someone tipped off the authorities, and one of the conspirators, Guy Fawkes, was caught red-handed stashing explosives in the cellar on the night before the planned attack. Fawkes was tortured, tried, convicted, and executed for treason, along with any other conspirators who weren’t killed when they resisted arrest.
The first observation of Guy Fawkes Day took place that same year, when bonfires were lit to celebrate the safety of the king, and has been going on ever since.
It’s the birthday of Uzodinma Iweala (1982) (books by this author), born in Washington, D.C., to Nigerian parents. He wrote Beasts of No Nation (2005) while he was going to school at Harvard. Beasts of No Nation is about a boy from West Africa whose father, a village schoolteacher, is killed by guerilla fighters who come to town. The boy, Agu, is forced to become a child soldier with those guerilla fighters. He narrates the brutalities of war, and his gradual embrace and enthusiasm for violence, his experiences coming of age in such conditions, his faltering belief in God, his deferred dream of becoming a doctor. The book is written in the first person, in an English cadenced in the idiom of Iweala’s parents’ native Nigerian languages. At the beginning, the child narrates: “I am not wanting to fight. I am not liking to hear people scream or to be looking at blood. I am not liking any of these thing.”
It’s the birthday of playwright Sam Shepard (books by this author), born in Fort Sheridan, Illinois (1943). He grew up mostly in California, but one day took everything he owned, put it in his car, and left. He ended up in a traveling theater troupe on the East Coast, and he said, “We crisscrossed New England, up into Maine and Vermont. The country amazed me, having come from a place that was brown and hot and covered with taco stands. Finally, we hit New York City and I couldn’t believe it. I’d always thought of the ‘big city’ as Pasadena and the Rose Parade. I was mesmerized by this place.”
Shepard got a job as a busboy, and the headwaiter at the restaurant was Ralph Cook, founder of Theatre Genesis, an off-off-Broadway theater doing experimental work. They needed some new one-act plays, so Cook encouraged the enthusiastic busboy to submit work, and Shepard wrote play after play, sometimes writing an entire play in one sitting. In 1964, his first plays were produced, Cowboys and The Rock Garden, at a church in the East Village, St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery. Sam Shepard was 20 years old.
He wrote more than 40 plays before his death in 2017, including Buried Child (1978), which won the Pulitzer Prize, True West (1980), A Lie of the Mind (1985), and Ages of the Moon (2009).
He wrote on a typewriter and refused to do any research online. He said, “The things that I wonder about most are not on the Internet, I promise you that.”
It’s the birthday of writer and activist Vandana Shiva, (books by this author) born in Dehradun, India (1952). Growing up, her hero was Albert Einstein, even though she went to school at a convent that didn’t even teach science or math. She taught herself, and ended up at a Canadian university, where she got a Ph.D. in theoretical physics — her dissertation topic was “Hidden Variables and Non-locality in Quantum Theory.” She was all set to stay in Canada and become an academic. But she said: “There is a question in my mind. We have the third-biggest scientific community in the world. We are among the poorest of countries. Science and technology is supposed to create growth, remove poverty. Where is the gap? Why is science and technology not removing poverty?” So she took three years off to go back to India and learn more about the society and culture that produced her and then come back to teach.
As she started learning about technology in India, she saw how much it connected to power structures and resources. She moved more and more into environmental work. She was horrified by the news of Indian farmers committing suicide after their crops failed, and she started advocating for saving seeds, promoting diversity of crops and local food movements. She set up a big organic farm and training center in the foothills of the Himalayas, where she grew up.
She said, “You are not Atlas carrying the world on your shoulder. It is good to remember that the planet is carrying you.”
She is the author of about 20 books, including The Violence of the Green Revolution (1992), Monocultures of the Mind (1993), Water Wars (2002), Earth Democracy (2005), and most recently, Soil Not Oil (2008).
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®