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+
by Laura Foley
I didn’t read the news.
I raked a rainbow
of pungent autumn leaves,
played abroad with happy dogs,
held my granddaughter in my arms,
and sat beneath an amiable maple,
attentive to current events.
“One Day” by Laura Foley from Why I Never Finished My Dissertation. Headmistress Press © 2019. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
Today is St. Patrick’s Day, the annual feast day celebrating a patron saint of Ireland.
St. Patrick was born around the year 385, in a village in Wales. When he was 16, a group of Irish pirates raided his village and took many of the young men back to Ireland to work as slaves. Patrick worked for six years as a herdsman in the Irish countryside. In his sixth year, he escaped and made his way back to Wales. But, according to his autobiography, soon after he got back home he heard a voice telling him to go back to Ireland and convert the Irish to Christianity. That’s eventually what he did, but first he went to France to visit monasteries and study religious texts. After 12 years in France, he went back to Ireland, where he founded monasteries, schools, and churches and converted much of the island to Christianity.
Parades are a large part of the day’s celebrations, and New York City’s is the largest in the world, with the 69th Infantry Regiment leading 150,000 marchers up Fifth Avenue, drawing approximately 2 million spectators. The first St. Patrick’s Day parade in New York was on March 17, 1762. Boston has been celebrating St. Patrick’s Day since 1737. And since 1961, Chicago has been dyeing its river green for the holiday.
The city of Dublin is a relative newcomer to the huge parade festivities, but the celebration there has been taking off in recent years. Dublin’s first St. Patrick’s Day Festival was held in 1995 to boost tourism. Since then, the parade has grown into a weeklong event that includes a symposium with lectures on Ireland’s economic success, issues of Irish identity, and the future of the Irish state.
Tibet had declared its independence from China in 1912, but in 1951, Chairman Mao invaded Tibet, intending to bring the country back under China’s rule. The People’s Liberation Army easily defeated Tibet’s military. Over the next few years, conditions worsened for the Tibetans; insurgent groups began cropping up in the mid-1950s, and the resistance movement quickly gained momentum. The conflict moved into the capital, Lhasa, where an uprising began in earnest. Tibetans were concerned that the Chinese military, encamped near the Dalai Lama’s Summer Palace, were plotting to kidnap the political and spiritual leader. Hundreds of thousands of Tibetans surrounded the palace, intending to protect him. Concerned for the safety of his people, the Dalai Lama departed on foot with an entourage of 20 men. The group traveled at night to avoid the notice of Chinese guards. They crossed the 500-yard-wide Brahmaputra River and traversed the Himalayas. Two weeks later, seriously ill with dysentery, the Dalai Lama reached the Indian border.
Soon after the Dalai Lama left Lhasa, Chinese soldiers razed his Summer Palace, executed the Dalai Lama’s bodyguards, and looted and burned many priceless texts. China declared the uprising quelled, deported any Tibetan men of fighting age, and installed a new spiritual leader, the Panchen Lama, who was pro-China and the rival of the Dalai Lama. The Dalai Lama was offered asylum by the Indian government, and settled in Dharamsala. Some 80,000 Tibetans joined him in exile, many settling in the same area. Dharamsala, known as “Little Lhasa,” is the seat of the Tibetan government-in-exile.
It’s the birthday of playwright Paul (Eliot) Green, born near Lillington, North Carolina (1894). Green grew up on a farm, where he worked in the fields alongside black laborers, whose stories inspired many of his dramas. He began writing one-act plays while he was a student at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The No ’Count Boy (1924) won the Belasco Cup in New York City and established Green’s place as an important playwright outside of the South. His Broadway play In Abraham’s Bosom (1926) won the Pulitzer Prize for drama. Despite his success in New York, he disliked what he labeled the commercial theater of the city, choosing instead to produce something he called “symphonic dramas” — pieces combing drama with dance, music, poetry, and folklore, and intended for the outdoors. (Green was a self-taught violinist who composed all the music for his pieces.) In the 1930s, Paul Green did a stint in Hollywood, where he wrote films for Clark Gable, Greer Garson, and Bette Davis, among others. Green wrote what Bette Davis considered to be her favorite line: “I’d like to kiss you, but I just washed my hair.”
On this day in 1901, Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings were shown at the Bernheim-Jeune Gallery in Paris. It was the first major show for the artist, who had committed suicide 11 years earlier, having sold only one painting in his lifetime. The retrospective featured 71 paintings, all with Van Gogh’s characteristic bright colors and textured brush strokes. The exhibition made a splash on the Parisian art scene and helped pave the way for galleries to exhibit unconventional artists like Gauguin and Matisse in the coming years. The widely attended Bernheim-Jeune show prompted painter Maurice de Vlaminck to famously declare that Van Gogh meant more to him than his own father. Van Gogh said, “It is better to be high-spirited even though one makes more mistakes, than to be narrow-minded and all too prudent.”
It’s the birthday of the only writer who has ever won both the Carnegie Medal (for outstanding children’s books) and the Booker Prize (for fiction written for adults): Penelope Lively, (books by this author) born in Cairo (1933). Her father worked for the Bank of Egypt, but eventually her parents got divorced and she was sent off to boarding school, which she hated. She went to Oxford for college. There she met Jack Lively, and they got married. And when she was 24, she gave birth to their daughter, and a few years later, to a son. She loved to read with her kids, but it wasn’t until she was in her 30s and both her kids were in school all day that she tried writing. She has published 25 books for children, including the Caldecott winner The Ghost of Thomas Kempe (1973), about a boy named James Harrison who moves with his family to a cottage in the country that is haunted by a 17th-century ghost.
She went on to publish books for adults as well, including Moon Tiger (1987), which won the Booker Prize, Beyond the Blue Mountains (1997), Family Album (2009), and The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories (2017).
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®