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+
The Best Thing I Did
by Ron Padgett
The best thing I did
for my mother
was to outlive her
for which I deserve
though it makes me glad
that she didn’t have
to see me die
Like most people
I feel I should
have done more
I wasn’t such a bad son
I would have wanted
to have loved her as much
as she loved me
but I couldn’t
I had a life a son of my own
a wife and my youth that kept going on
maybe too long
And now I love her more
so that perhaps
when I die
our love will be the same
though I seriously doubt
my heart can ever be
as big as hers
Ron Padgett, “The Best Thing I Did” by Ron Padgett from Collected Poems. © 2011 by Ron Padgett. Used with permission of The Permissions Company on behalf of Coffee House Press, Minneapolis, Minnesota, coffeehousepress.org. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of Carson McCullers (books by this author) born Lula Carson Smith in Columbus, Georgia (1917). At the age of 17 she moved to New York City. She was an accomplished classical pianist, and she planned to study at Juilliard, but she somehow lost her tuition money — she told contradictory stories, sometimes that she forgot it on the subway, other times that an acquaintance had taken it. In any case, her dreams of a career in music never materialized. She started writing and publishing short stories. She got married, moved to North Carolina, and worked on a novel, which was published when she was just 23 years old–The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter (1940). The book was a literary sensation, and remains well thought of to this day, with the Modern Library ranking it 17th on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.
She wrote short stories, plays, and novels, including Reflections in a Golden Eye (1941), The Member of the Wedding (1946), and The Ballad of the Sad Café (1951). Her final work was a children’s verse collection titled Sweet as a Pickle, Clean as a Pig, which was published in 1964. She died of a stroke three years later at the Nyack Hospital in New York.
President Franklin Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066 on this date in 1942. The order authorized the removal of any or all people from a military area, as deemed necessary by the military. Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor several weeks earlier, and residents of the West Coast felt especially vulnerable. There was a great outcry to do something about the tens of thousands of resident aliens from Germany, Italy, and especially Japan who lived on the West Coast. Roosevelt told the Secretary of War to execute the order as reasonably as possible, but, apart from those vague instructions, he didn’t take much active interest in how the order was carried out. As a result, the military deemed most of the West Coast to be a “military area,” and over the course of the next several months some 120,000 people — more than half of them American citizens — were sent to internment camps. Roosevelt rescinded the order in December, 1944, and began the six-month process of releasing the detainees and shutting down the camps. In 1981, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians concluded that EO 9066 was a “grave injustice” that had resulted from “race prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” In 1988 President Reagan offered survivors an apology and $20,000 each.
It’s the birthday of scientist Svante August Arrhenius, born in Vik, Sweden (1859). He founded the Stockholm Physical Society, a group of scientists of varied interests such as geology, meteorology, and astronomy.
Even though his own training was in electrochemistry, Arrhenius developed an interest in what he and his colleagues coined “cosmic physics”–the study of the relationship between the oceans, the land, and the atmosphere. In an attempt to develop a theory about the cause of the Ice Age, Arrhenius created the first model of the effect of carbon dioxide on climate. He presented a paper, titled “On the Influence of Carbonic Acid in the Air upon the Temperature of the Ground,” to the Stockholm Physical Society in 1895. He showed that global temperatures were tied to increases and decreases in carbon dioxide. He published a nontechnical book on the subject in 1908, called Worlds in the Making. In it he described his “hot-house theory” of the atmosphere. He also pointed to the burning of fossil fuels as a cause of increased atmospheric CO2. For this reason, he’s credited with being the first scientist to examine the effects of industry on global warming. At that time, however, he predicted that the rise in global temperature would be a positive thing, resulting in a more equable climate that would produce greater crop yields and help mitigate global hunger.
As prescient as it was, Arrhenius considered his study of climatology and geophysics to be merely a hobby. His main work was in the fields of physical chemistry and immunology. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1903 for his work on the electrolytic theory of dissociation.
It’s the birthday of novelist and poet Stephen Dobyns (books by this author), born in Orange, New Jersey (1941). He published a book of poetry, Concurring Beasts (1972), and a year later his first novel, A Man of Little Evils (1973). Since then, he has published many books of poetry and fiction, including the Charlie Bradshaw detective novels. His books include Cold Dog Soup (1985), Velocities (1994), Eating Naked (2000), Winter’s Journey (2010), The Burn Palace (2013), and most recently Saratoga Payback (2017).
He said, “Writing is a job, a craft, and you learn it by trying to write every day and by facing the page with humility and gall. And you have to love to read books, all kinds of books, good books. You are not looking for anything in particular; you are just letting stuff seep in.”
It’s the birthday of writer Siri Hustvedt (books by this author), born in Northfield, Minnesota (1955). She is the author of numerous works of fiction and nonfiction, including The Sorrows of an American (2008), The Summer Without Men (2011), Memories of the Future (2019), and the memoir The Shaking Woman: A History of My Nerves (2010).
She said, “Great books are the ones that are urgent, life-changing, the ones that crack open the reader’s skull and heart.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®