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
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
Palm Desert, CA
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Palm Desert, CA for a performance of holiday songs, humor and The News from Lake Wobegon.
Town Hall, New York City
A Prairie Home Companion American Revival comes to Town Hall in New York City with Christine DiGiallonardo, Heather Masse, Rob Fisher and the Demitasse Orchestra, Rich Dworsky, Walter Bobbie, Sue Scott, Fred Newman and Tim Russell.
by William Stafford
This is the grip, like this:
both hands. You can close
your eyes if you like. When I say,
“Now,” it’s time. Don’t wait
or it’s all over. But not
too soon, either—just right.
Don’t worry. Let’s go.
William Stafford, “Survival Course” from Even in Quiet Places. Copyright © 1996 by The Estate of William Stafford. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Confluence Press, confluencepress.com. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of publishing colossus William Randolph Hearst, who was born in San Francisco in 1863. He demanded the helm of his first paper, the San Francisco Examiner, when he was 23 and his father acquired the paper as payment for a gambling debt. It wasn’t long before his papers had a reputation for sensationalism, or as it came to be called, “yellow journalism.” One of his writers said, “A Hearst newspaper is like a screaming woman running down the street with her throat cut.” On the other hand, Hearst newspapers also employed some of the best writers in the business, like Ambrose Bierce, Mark Twain, Stephen Crane, and Jack London.
He and Joseph Pulitzer had an open rivalry in the New York market. Reporters from Hearst’s Morning Journal and Pulitzer’s World went beyond scooping each other to stealing stories outright from the competition. Hearst had the last laugh when he ran a story about the death of Colonel Reflipe W. Thenuz — an anagram of “we pilfer the news” — and Pulitzer’s paper took the bait, even adding made-up dateline information. This prank was harmless enough, but when the U.S. battleship Maine exploded in Havana harbor in 1898, the two papers both published a supposedly suppressed cablegram saying the explosion was not an accident. There was no such cable, but it boosted sales of both papers to record levels, and the public demanded that President McKinley declare war on Spain. As the famous story goes, artist Frederick Remington was sent to Cuba by Hearst to cover the war. He wrote home, “There is no war. Request to be recalled,” only to be told, “You furnish the pictures, I’ll furnish the war.” And so he did.
It’s the birthday of Edward Kennedy, better known as Duke Ellington, born in Washington, D.C., in 1899. He took piano lessons as a boy, but skipped more of these than he attended, and it wasn’t until he started hanging around a poolroom and hearing ragtime and stride piano, played by the likes of Turner Layton and Eubie Blake, that his passion was kindled.
He once said, “I never had much interest in the piano until I realized that every time I played, a girl would appear on the piano bench to my left and another to my right.”
It’s the birthday of editor Robert Gottlieb (books by this author), born in New York City (1931). In 1957, 26-year-old Gottlieb was a young editor at Simon & Schuster, when the company was in turmoil and nobody seemed to be in charge. That summer, he received a 75-page manuscript for a book called Catch-18, by Joseph Heller. Gottlieb thought it was brilliant and offered to publish it. Heller and Gottlieb worked on the book for years; Gottlieb would tape pieces of the manuscript and Heller’s handwritten notes all over his office walls and desk and then rearrange passages. Gottlieb was a tough editor, and he pored through every line, demanding that Heller rewrite whenever he thought it could be better.
One day, Gottlieb got the bad news that best-selling novelist Leon Uris was about to publish a book called Mila 18, and Gottlieb insisted that there could not be two books with the number “18” in the title during the same publishing season. They had a long brainstorming session and went through every possible number — they discarded “11” because it sounded too much like Ocean’s Eleven, and Heller wanted “14,” but Gottlieb didn’t think it was funny enough. Gottlieb was so worried about the title that he lay awake at night thinking about it, and the number “22” came to him. For whatever reason, he thought it was a funny number, and Heller agreed. Later that year, Catch-22 (1961) was published, and by spring of 1963, it had sold more than 1 million copies.
Gottlieb went on to work with writers Toni Morrison, John le Carré, Salman Rushdie, V.S. Naipaul, John Cheever, and many more. He was the editor of The New Yorker from 1987 to 1992.
He said, “I have fixed more sentences than most people have read in their lives.”
It’s the birthday of singer and songwriter Willie Nelson, born in the small farming community of Abbott, Texas (1933). He was raised by his grandparents and aunts during the Great Depression and he earned his keep picking cotton. His grandfather gave him his first guitar and music lessons. At night, Nelson wrote songs and performed at honky-tonks with names like the County Dump and the Bloody Bucket, where the performers had to be shielded by chicken wire from flying cans and bottles. In 1959, he wrote “Night Life,” a song that was eventually recorded by more than 70 artists and sold over 30 million copies. He only made a $150 from the song because he sold the copyright, but he used that money to buy a second-hand Buick, and he drove in that Buick to Nashville, hoping to become a country music star.
On this date in 1429, Joan of Arc led French forces into the English-held city of Orléans. The French and English had been embroiled in the Hundred Years’ War for 92 years. Joan was a seventeen-year-old peasant girl who had been hearing voices telling her to take command of the French army. She persuaded the French prince Charles to give her armor and a banner and a sword.
She set sail down the Loire River to pick up supplies. Although she never actually engaged in combat, she led the charge in several battles, with her banner flying proudly. The English retreated at last from Orléans on May 8. The siege was lifted, and the Battle of Orléans marked a major turning point in the Hundred Years’ War. Joan, the peasant girl, was now the heroine of the French people. When Charles VII was finally crowned, Joan of Arc knelt at his feet.
She was captured in May 1430 and turned over to the English. Charles was in the middle of peace negotiations, and he made no move to save her. She was convicted of witchcraft, relapsed heresy — a capital offense — and cross-dressing, which was also considered a form of heresy. She was burned at the stake on May 30, 1431, and her remains were thrown into the Seine. It would be almost 20 years before Charles VII would order any sort of inquiry into her trial, and she was posthumously acquitted in 1456. The Roman Catholic Church made her a saint in 1920.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®