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
City of Orgies
by Walt Whitman
City of orgies walks and joys,
City whom that I have lived and sung in your midst will one
day make you illustrious,
Not the pageants of you, not your shifting tableaus, your
spectacles, repay me,
Not the interminable rows of your houses, nor the ships at
Nor the processions in the streets, nor the bright windows
with goods in them,
Nor to converse with learn’d persons, or bear my share in the
soiree or feast;
Not those, but as I pass O Manhattan, your frequent and
swift flash of eyes offering me love,
Offering response to my own—these repay me,
Lovers, continual lovers, only repay me.
“City of Orgies” by Walt Whitman. Public domain. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of American writer Barbara Ehrenreich (1941) (books by this author), best known for her book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America (2001). Ehrenreich was a successful journalist and social activist when she decided to investigate the realities of living on a low income. She posed as a recently divorced homemaker and spent three months working as a waitress, hotel maid, Wal-Mart clerk, and nursing home aide. What she found was a sizeable portion of the population making $7 an hour or even less, with no health insurance, sandwiched into efficiency apartments with several other people, skipping meals, and sometimes living in cars with their families. The book stayed on the New York Times best-seller list for four years.
Ehrenreich was born in Butte, Montana. Her father was a copper miner and her mother was a fiercely liberal Democrat. They were strong union people with two rules: “Never cross a picket line and never vote Republican.”
She studied chemistry at Reed College and later earned a Ph.D., but she didn’t get very far in her chosen field. In 1970, she was pregnant, and in labor, in a public health clinic in New York when an experience changed the direction of her life. She says: “I was the only white patient at the clinic. They induced my labor because it was late in the evening and the doctor wanted to go home. I was enraged. The experience made me a feminist.” She named her daughter Rosa, after civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks, and began working tirelessly for social justice and women’s health advocacy. Her essays often appeared in Harper’s, The New Yorker, Mother Jones, and The Wall Street Journal.
Shortly after the publication of Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her research into treatments led her into what she called a “breast-cancer cult” that “normalized cancer, prettying it up, even presenting it, perversely, as a positive and enviable experience.” She wrote about her findings in “Welcome to Cancerland,” a long essay for Harper’s in 2001.
When asked if things have changed for the poor almost 14 years after the publication of Nickel and Dimed, Ehrenreich cites the increasing criminalization of the poor since the economic downturn of 2008. The minimum wage hike is ineffectual, she says: “Raising the minimum wage to $10 is still nowhere near enough to live on in most places; it’s laughable in most cities now. In cities like L.A., you need to make $25 an hour to live in any degree of safety, not to mention if you have a child.”
About writing, she says: “Sometimes writing is pure hell. I’ll write something down and look at it for few hours and say, ‘This is pure crap. What will I do with my life? I’ll never write again.’ It’s a bipolar business and you bounce back.”
On this date in 1873, the St. Louis, Missouri, school board authorized the first public kindergarten in the United States. The driving force behind the kindergarten was Susan Blow. She was a highly intelligent but mostly self-educated woman who had grown up in a wealthy St. Louis family. When she took a trip to Germany after the American Civil War, she was impressed by the work of Friedrich Froebel. Froebel had developed what he dubbed a “kindergarten” — a garden of children, with teachers as the “gardeners.” Blow saw that in Froebel’s kindergartens, young children were learning language, math, and science concepts through play. She began studying everything she could get her hands on, intending to bring the kindergarten concept to the United States. “If we can make children love intellectual effort,” she wrote, “we shall prolong habits of study beyond school years.”
Blow’s father approached Dr. William Torrey Harris, the St. Louis school superintendent, about opening an experimental kindergarten. He agreed, and sent Susan Blow to New York to study for a year. She offered to direct the kindergarten for free, if the school board would provide her with a classroom and a teacher. She set up a bright, colorful classroom with kid-sized tables and benches. The kindergarten was a rousing success. Blow directed the kindergarten for 11 years, at her own expense and at the cost of her health; when she retired, the St. Louis schools were serving 9,000 kindergarteners. And by the time she died in 1916, more than 400 cities offered public kindergarten in their schools.
It’s the birthday of Roman Catholic nun and missionary Mother Teresa (1910), born Anjeze Gonxhe Bojaxhiu in Skopje, (modern Macedonia), which was then a part of the Ottoman Empire. Gonxhe means “rosebud” or “little flower” in Albanian. Mother Teresa’s father died when she was eight, plunging her family into poverty. But her mother was strong and had faith. And little Anjeze, born with a club foot, knew by the age of 12 that she had a religious calling.
She left home at 18 (1928) and joined the Sisters of Loreto at Loreto Abbey in Rathfarnham, Ireland. It was here that she learned English and how to teach geography, catechism, and history. She chose her name after Thérèse de Lisieux, the patron saint of missionaries. Another nun at Loreto was also named Therese, so Anjeze opted for the Spanish spelling of Teresa. She took her first religious vows as a nun in 1931. She never saw her mother or her sister again.
It was while she was teaching at a schoolhouse outside Calcutta that she began to be disturbed by the horrific poverty around her. She was riding a train from the convent to Calcutta when she had her first calling from God. She said: “I was to leave the convent and help the poor while living among them. It was an order. To fail would have been to break the faith.”
Mother Teresa hung up her traditional habit and began wearing a simple white cotton sari with a blue border that cost $1. She’d learned nursing from the other nuns at the convent and soon began ministering to the poor, the sick, and the hungry on the streets of Calcutta. The first year, she had no income, had to beg for food and supplies, and often felt despair and loneliness. She persevered, though, and in two years, the Vatican gave her permission to start a congregation that would become the Missionaries of Charity.
She began with 13 sisters, who took vows of chastity, poverty, and obedience, and promised to give “wholehearted free service to the poorest of the poor.” By the time of her death in 1997, Missionaries of Charity had grown to be a worldwide institution, with more than 4,000 workers in 133 countries. Mother Teresa opened orphanages, homes for those with tuberculosis and leprosy, soup kitchens, mobile health clinics, and schools. She opened hospices and homes for people dying of HIV/Aids and even opened shelters in Harlem and Greenwich Village. Once, during the Siege of Beirut in 1982, she rescued 36 children in a hospital on the front line by brokering a temporary cease-fire between the Israeli army and the Palestinian guerillas. When asked how she found time to do all her charity work, she said, “I work all day. That is the only way.”
Mother Teresa became an international symbol of benevolence in the 1970s, just after the documentary Beautiful for God (1969) was released. Suddenly, people all over the world knew who she was. She was interviewed by David Frost and Barbara Walters and earned the nickname “the Saint of the Gutters.” But she had her critics, too, especially those who felt her pro-life stance hurt the very people she was trying to lift from poverty. Vanity Fair journalist Christopher Hitchens felt she exploited the poor and even devoted a lengthy essay, The Missionary Position (1995), to debunking her work. When a British documentary called Hell’s Angel (1994) was released, Mother Teresa was not surprised by its critical view of her work. She only said, “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” In the 1960s, Pope Paul VI gave her a luxury limousine and she raffled it off and gave the proceeds to charity. She washed her own sari every day, by hand.
Mother Teresa was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979. She accepted the award, but asked that they cancel the gala dinner and donate the money to charity. The committee asked her what people should do to promote peace and she answered, “Go home and love your family.”
Mother Teresa said: “By blood, I am an Albanian. By citizenship, I am Indian. By faith, I am a Catholic nun. As to my calling, I belong to the world. As to my heart, I belong entirely to the Heart of Jesus.”