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 Louis Jenkins
Nowadays I am seldom bored. There simply isn’t time. Not
because I am so busy, it’s just that time passes more quickly
as one gets older. Boredom that once lasted hours is now
compacted, concentrated, so that one can experience hours
of boredom in a few seconds. Intense boredom that causes
one to nod off….But only for five minutes. Or has it been
an hour? Well, time is relative. Like that distant relative
who used to be me, plodding home after school in a day-
dream, in a fog, so that each time he wakes he finds himself
standing on the same red ant hill or running, side aching,
breathless, for miles in the wrong direction with the
murderous Willard brothers right behind.
Louis Jenkins, “Boredom” from Just Above Water. Copyright © 1997 by Louis Jenkins. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf Holy Cow! Press, www.holycowpress.org. (buy now)
The great beer-drinking tradition of Oktoberfest goes back to this day in 1810. The Crown Prince of Bavaria, Ludwig, was getting married to Princess Therese of Saxony. The royal couple wanted to invite the whole town of Munich to celebrate at their wedding festivities, which included a horse race on the fields in front of the city gate, and lots and lots of beer.
All the Bavarians had such a good time that the decision was made to have a similar party the next year, and then again and again and again, and it became a tradition. These days, Oktoberfest starts in late September and goes for about two weeks. Approximately 6 million people show up to consume over 1 million gallons of beer.
It’s the birthday of author and psychologist Robert Coles (books by this author), born in Boston, Massachusetts (1929). He’s the author of more than 60 books. Coles was in the South at the dawn of the civil rights movement, planning to lead a low-key life as a child psychologist. But one day, during a visit to New Orleans in 1960, he saw a white mob surrounding a six-year-old black girl named Ruby Bridges, who was kneeling in her starched white dress in the middle of it all to pray for the mob that was attacking her. Coles decided to begin what would become his work for the next few decades, an effort to understand how children and their parents come to terms with radical change. He conducted hundreds of interviews on the effects of school desegregation, and he shaped them into the first volume of Children of Crisis (1967), a series of books for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 1973.
When Coles was 66, he co-founded a new magazine about “ordinary people and their lives.” It was called DoubleTake, and it featured photography and writing in the documentary tradition. The magazine was printed on fine paper with big, beautiful photo reproductions, and it won lots of awards.
Robert Coles said, “We should look inward and think about the meaning of our life and its purposes, lest we do it in 20 or 30 years and it’s too late.”
It’s the birthday of the poet and translator Robert Fitzgerald (books by this author), born in Geneva, New York (1910), best known for his beautiful English translations of Homer’s Odyssey (1961) and The Iliad (1974). He was also an influential classics professor at Harvard, and he believed that Homer’s work should be always read aloud. One of his students said, “Every Tuesday afternoon, he’d start [class] by saying to us, ‘Listen to this, now […] It was meant to be listened to.’ The 12 of us would listen, very quiet around the blond wood table, our jittery freshman muscles gradually unclenching.” Robert Fitzgerald described Homer as “a living voice in firelight or in the open air, a living presence bringing into life his great company of imagined persons, a master performer at his ease, touching the strings, disposing of many voices, many tones and tempos, tragedy, comedy, and glory, holding his [listeners] in the palm of his hand.”
On this day in 1786, conflicted and love-torn U.S. Ambassador to France Thomas Jefferson composed a now-famous love letter to a married English woman named Maria Cosway. It’s more than 4,000 words long, more than three times the length of the Declaration of Independence, which Thomas Jefferson had composed 10 years before.
He had to write out this letter with his left hand because he had broken his right wrist while leaping over a fountain in giddy delight during a stroll with the woman. The letter is now referred to as “A Dialogue between the Head and Heart.” In it, he records an inner dialogue he had as he sat next to his fireside one evening, solitary and sad, shortly after parting ways with her. His Head and his Heart take turns speaking, one bubbling over with romantic desire and longing, and the other lecturing him about the need for integrity.
His dialogue begins:
Head. Well, friend, you seem to be in a pretty trim.
Heart. I am indeed the most wretched of all earthly beings. Overwhelmed with grief, every fibre of my frame distended beyond its natural powers to bear, I would willingly meet whatever catastrophe should leave me no more to feel or to fear.
Head. These are the eternal consequences of your warmth & precipitation. This is one of the scrapes into which you are ever leading us. You confess your follies indeed; but still you hug & cherish them; & no reformation can be hoped, where there is no repentance.
In the end, Thomas Jefferson’s Head wins out, and he concludes that the only “effective security against such pain of unrequited love, is to retire within ourselves and to suffice for our own happiness.” And so he apologizes to his beloved reader Maria for the sermon, and promises he’ll keep his letters shorter from then on out, and talks about the weather and the casual comings and goings of mutual acquaintances, and about the book that he happens to be reading at the time.
Maria Cosway stayed married to her husband until his death in 1789, and then moved to Italy to start a convent school. Thomas Jefferson became the third president of the United States in 1801, about 15 years after writing this letter.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®