St. Michael, MN
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director CHANGE: JULY 4, 2021, 4:00 PM Le Musique Music Room 4300 O’Day Ave. NE, St. Michael, MN 55376 $42/$15 Due to the extreme heat, we have moved this concert […]
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director July 2, 2021, 7:30 PM BIG TOP CHAUTAUQUA, BAYFIELD, WI Reserved $60/$52/$42 SOLD OUT Live Stream available (only 7/2 7:30PM) The Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua is a 900-seat […]
Just Added: Stillwater, MN 6-29
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director JUST ADDED June 29, 2021, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM THE AVALON, STILLWATER, MN St. Croix Boat & Packet Co., 525 Main Street South, Stillwater, MN 55082 DINNER, CRUISE, […]
Las Vegas, NV
May 20, 2020
Garrison Keillor hits Las Vegas with a new solo show!
by Billy Collins
Today I was awakened by strong coffee
and the awareness that the earth is busy with whales
even though we can’t see any
unless we have embarked on a whale watch,
which would be disappointing if we still couldn’t see any.
I can see the steam rising from my yellow cup,
the usual furniture scattered about,
and even some early light filtering through the palms.
Meanwhile, thousands of whales are cruising
along at various speeds under the seas,
crisscrossing one another, slaloming in and out
of the Gulf Stream, some with their calves
traveling alongside-such big blunt heads they have!
So is it too much to ask that one day a year
be set aside for keeping in mind
while we step onto a bus, consume a ham sandwich,
or stoop to pick up a coin from a sidewalk
the multitude of these mammoth creatures
coasting between the continents,
some for the fun of it, others purposeful in their journeys,
all concealed under the sea, unless somewhere
one breaks the surface
with an astonishing upheaval of water
and all the people in yellow slickers
rush to one side of the boat to point and shout
and wonder how to tell their friends about the day they saw a whale?
Billy Collins, “Whale Day” from Whale Day. Copyright © Random House, 2020. (buy now)
Today is Juneteenth, also known as “Freedom Day” or “Emancipation Day.” It’s a holiday commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. It was on this date in 1865 that Union soldiers arrived in Galveston, Texas, to spread the word that slavery had been abolished. Of course, the Emancipation Proclamation had gone into effect some two and a half years earlier, in January 1863; most Confederate states ignored it until they were forced to free their slaves by advancing Union troops.
From the balcony of Galveston’s Ashton Villa, General Gordon read the contents of General Order Number Three:
“The people of Texas are informed that, in accordance with a proclamation from the Executive of the United States, all slaves are free. This involves an absolute equality of personal rights and rights of property between former masters and slaves, and the connection heretofore existing between them becomes that between employer and hired labor. The freedmen are advised to remain quietly at their present homes and work for wages. They are informed that they will not be allowed to collect at military posts and that they will not be supported in idleness either there or elsewhere.”
Galveston’s former slaves celebrated that day and formal Juneteenth festivities were held in other parts of Texas on the first anniversary. Celebrations of the holiday have waxed and waned over the years. Today, Juneteenth is celebrated in communities all over the country, and as of April 2012 it’s officially recognized as a holiday by the governments of 42 of the United States. Observances often include a reading of the Emancipation Proclamation and performances of traditional African-American music, dancing, and literature.
On Thursday, June 17, 2021, President Biden signed a bill to recognize Juneteenth as a Federal Holiday to commemorate the end of slavery in the United States.
Today is the birthday of mathematician, physicist, and religious philosopher Blaise Pascal (books by this author), born in Clermont-Ferrand, France. He was a child prodigy and by the time he was 19 he had already perfected the first mechanical calculator for sale to the public. In the field of physics he discovered that air has weight and proved that vacuums are possible in nature. In mathematics he founded the theory of probabilities and developed an early form of integral calculus. He also invented the syringe and the hydraulic press.
He was often torn between a spiritual life and a scientific one. When he was 23 he began to feel the need to withdraw from the world and devote his life to God. He did just that, for a while, but soon threw himself back into his scientific pursuits, working so hard he made himself ill. He returned to religion for good after a mystical conversion experience, which he called the “night of fire,” in 1654 and entered the Abbey of Port-Royal in January 1655. He lived as an informal hermit and he never again published under his own name. He only wrote things that the monks requested, and he produced two great works of religious philosophy: Provincial Letters (1657) and Thoughts (1658).
In 1987 he published a book called The Satanic Verses which got mixed reviews. Most Western critics didn’t notice that it would be offensive to Muslims. But a month after the book came out it was banned in India and book burnings throughout the Muslim world followed. Ayatollah Khomeini eventually announced that Rushdie should be sentenced to death for blasphemy, and he placed a $1.5 million bounty on Rushdie’s head. Rushdie had to go into hiding. His Italian translator was threatened and stabbed. His Japanese translator was murdered. His Norwegian publisher was attacked and left for dead. Rushdie spent the next nine years moving from place to place. He lived in more than 30 houses. He found it difficult to write so he helped set up an international organization for the protection of persecuted writers. The death sentence was finally lifted in 1998.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by the United States Senate on this date. It’s often viewed as the most important United States civil rights legislation since the Reconstruction and it prohibited discrimination based on race, color, religion, or national origin in employment, voting, and the use of public facilities. It was first proposed in 1963 by President Kennedy, but failed to pass. Lyndon Johnson put forward a more robust version the following year but it had faced a long battle in Congress, including a 57-day filibuster organized by Richard B. Russell. Eventually, the Senate voted to end the filibuster and passed the act, with a 71-29 vote.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®