Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Frankfort, KY for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Maryville, TN for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Iola, KS for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Torrance, CA. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unites us.
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Fort Lauderdale, FL for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Sleeping Next to the Man on the Plane
by Ellen Bass
I’m not well. Neither is he.
Periodically he pulls out a handkerchief
and blows his nose. I worry
about germs, but appreciate how he shares
considering his size—too large
to lay the tray over his lap.
His seatbelt barely buckles. At least
he doesn’t have to ask for an extender
for which I imagine him grateful. Our upper arms
press against each other, like apricots growing
from the same node. My arm is warm
where his touches it. I close my eyes.
In the chilly, oxygen-poor air, I am glad
to be close to his breathing mass.
We want our own species. We want
to lie down next to our own kind.
Even here in this metal encumbrance, hurtling
improbably 30,000 feet above the earth,
with all this civilization—down
to the chicken-or-lasagna in their
even as the woman behind me is swiping
her credit card on the phone embedded
in my headrest and the folks in first
are watching their individual movies
on personal screens, I lean
into this stranger, seeking primitive comfort—
heat, touch, breath—as we slip
into the ancient vulnerability of sleep.
Ellen Bass, “Sleeping Next to the Man on the Plane” from Mules of Love. Copyright © 2002 by Ellen Bass. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of BOA Editions, Ltd., www.boaeditions.org. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of American poet Ted Kooser (books by this author) (1939), best known for his homespun, conversational poetry that explores rural life. Kooser was born in Ames, Iowa, and when he graduated from high school his guidance counselor, who was also the football coach, suggested he could be an architect after noticing Kooser had received all A’s in art class. Kooser had initially hoped to be a painter because he thought that might make him romantically interesting to girls, but he thought architecture might work too, so off he went to Iowa State, intending to study architecture, but during his junior year he had an epiphany, left his architecture class, walked down the road, and threw his slide rule into Lake Laverne. He dropped out of architecture school and devoted himself to writing.
Like Wallace Stevens, another famous American poet, Kooser worked in the insurance business, spending 35 years at a desk job. He rose early every morning so he could write poetry for an hour and a half before going to the office. By the time he retired he’d published seven books of poetry including Flying at Night (2005) and Valentines (2008).
Kooser was the 30th poet laureate of the United States and won the Pulitzer Prize for his collection Delights and Shadows (2004).
About writing about everyday things he says, “Behind the screen of the ordinary can be found unique and wonderful things.”
It’s the birthday of the “First Lady of Song” and queen of jazz Ella Fitzgerald, born in Newport News, Virginia (1917). Her smooth voice and technical skill remain unmatched in the jazz world decades after her death.
Fitzgerald got her start at Amateur Night at the Apollo Theater in Harlem when she was just 17 years old. She had intended to dance during her performance but a prior dancing act intimidated her so much that she decided to sing instead. She won first prize for the night.
Fitzgerald won 13 Grammy Awards over the course of her life, including one at the inaugural show in 1958. She also received the National Medal of Arts, the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and the George and Ira Gershwin Award for Lifetime Musical Achievement.
On this day in 1928 Buddy, the first Seeing Eye dog, was presented to Morris S. Frank. Frank had lost the use of one eye in a childhood accident and the other in a boxing match as a teenager. He had used a young boy as a guide but found that he “got bored easily” and sometimes abandoned Frank for more interesting things. At age 19 Frank contacted a woman in Germany who was training dogs to be guides for WWI veterans who had been blinded on the battlefield by mustard gas. Buddy was shipped over to the United States to become Frank’s companion. “Buddy delivered to me the divine gift of freedom,” Frank said. The dog became such a celebrity that an obituary appeared in the newspapers about his death in 1948.
It’s the birthday of English military and political leader Oliver Cromwell, born in Huntingdonshire, England (1599). Cromwell was born solidly middle class and had no military experience whatsoever, but his actions led to the beheading of King Charles I in 1649. After the beheading Cromwell insisted that Charles’s head be sewn back on his body so his family could pay proper respects. Custom normally dictated that the head be spiked and paraded through town.
Oliver Cromwell was named Lord Protector of the Commonwealth of England, Scotland, and Ireland. He had panic attacks before every battle but he rode at the front of the cavalry, so his men loved him. As an outspoken Puritan he created the so-called “Blue Laws” which prohibited cursing, swearing, drunkenness, adultery, and blasphemy.
The New York and Harlem Railroad Company was incorporated on this date in 1831. A wealthy banker named John Mason co-founded the company. It was one of the first railroads in the country and the first streetcar railway in the world.
The first section of the railroad opened in 1832. It ran for a mile, along Bowery from Prince Street to 14th Street, and over the next five years the line was extended in sections up to Harlem. It was powered by literal horsepower in the beginning; the teams of horses had to work very hard to pull the heavy streetcars, and usually only lived for a couple of years. Many people were concerned for their welfare. Groups formed to make sure that the horses were given ample water throughout the day, and in 1866 New York officials granted a charter to an animal welfare association called the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals — the ASPCA — to protect the horses and establish a horse ambulance. In 1837 steam engines took over part of the route but they were only allowed in the less populated parts of the city. At that time that was anything north of 23rd Street. Horsecars were still used for public transit in some parts of New York City until the early 1900s.
The New York and Harlem Railroad is now part of the Metro-North commuter rail system’s Harlem line and it runs all the way up through Harlem into Westchester, Putnam, and Dutchess Counties.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®