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 Tom Clark
Awake the mind’s hopeless so
At a quarter to six I rise
And run 2 or 3 miles in
The pristine air of a dark
And windy winter morning
With a light rain falling
And no sound but the pad
Of my sneakers on the asphalt
And the calls of the owls in
The cypress trees on Mesa Road
And when I get back you’re
Still asleep under the warm covers
Because love is here to stay
It’s another day and we’re both still alive
Tom Clark: “Every Day” from Light & Shade: New and Selected Poems. Copyright © 2006 by Tom Clark. Used with the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of Coffee House Press, coffeehousepress.org (buy now)
It was on this day in 1933 that the Nazi Party won 44 percent of the vote in German parliamentary elections, enabling it to join with the Nationalists to gain a slight majority in the Reichstag. Within three weeks, the Nazi-dominated Reichstag passed the Enabling Act, which gave Hitler dictatorial powers and ended the Weimar Republic in Germany.
It was on this day in 1975 that the Homebrew Computer Club first met. It turned out to be an enormously influential hobby club. Its existence made possible the personal computer.
At the time, computers were not for personal use or owned by individuals. For one thing, they were gigantic in size — a computer easily took up an entire room. And they were very expensive, costing about a million dollars each. Not even computer engineers or programmers who made a living working on computers had access to their own personal computers.
But many of these tech-minded people wanted to build personal computers for fun, to use at home, and they decided to start a hobbyist club to trade circuit-boards and information and share enthusiasm. The first of its kind, the Homebrew Computer Club first met 46 years ago today — in somebody’s home garage in the Silicon Valley.
Among the early members: high school friends Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak, who designed the Apple I and II to bring down to the club to show it off, as well as Lee Felsentein and Adam Osborne, who would later create the first mass-produced portable computer, the Osborne 1. Other legendary figures in the computer world, including Bob Marsh, George Morrow, Jerry Lawson, and John Draper, were Homebrew members.
It’s the birthday of novelist Frank Norris (books by this author), born in Chicago (1870). His most popular novel, McTeague (1899), about a loutish dentist and his greedy young wife, was published when he was just 29 years old.
The year after McTeague was published, Norris married the woman he loved, a beautiful debutante named Jeanette Black. A year later, he published The Octopus (1901), which he intended to be the first in a trilogy called The Epic of Wheat. But he died suddenly in 1902, at the age of 32, when his appendix ruptured. His second book in his Epic of Wheat trilogy, called The Pit, was published after his death.
“I never truckled; I never took off the hat to Fashion and held it out for pennies. By God, I told them the truth. They liked it or they didn’t like it. What had that to do with me? I told them the Truth; I knew it for the Truth then, I know it for the Truth now.”
It’s the birthday of novelist Leslie Marmon Silko (books by this author), born in Albuquerque, New Mexico (1948). She grew up on the Laguna Pueblo reservation, went to law school, but quit after reading Charles Dickens’ Bleak House, concluding that:
“The law has nothing to do with justice, and injustice can’t be left unchallenged. So I decided to be a writer. Writing can’t change the world overnight, but writing may have an enormous effect over time, over the long haul.”
She is best known for her novel Ceremony (1977), the story of a Laguna man named Tayo who comes home to the reservation after surviving the Bataan Death March in World War II. The story of Tayo begins:
“Tayo didn’t sleep well that night. He tossed in the old iron bed, and the coiled springs kept squeaking even after he lay still again, calling up humid dreams of black night and loud voices rolling him over and over again like debris caught in a flood. Tonight the singing had come first, squeaking out of the iron bed, a man singing in Spanish, the melody of a familiar love song, two words again and again, ‘Y volveré.’”
Her other books include Almanac of the Dead (1991), Gardens in the Dunes (1999), The Turquoise Ledge (2010), and most recently a novella entitled Oceanstory (2011).
It’s the anniversary of the Boston Massacre, which took place on a cold and snowy night in 1770. British soldiers had occupied Boston for 18 months to protect the tax collectors for the king of England. There had been several street fights between soldiers and townsmen since the beginning of the month, so tensions were already high on the evening of March 5th. The “massacre” itself was touched off by an argument between a young barber’s apprentice and a British officer about payment for a haircut. The barber’s apprentice claimed that the officer had not paid, and the soldier reportedly knocked the kid down in the street.
A crowd of young men gathered and soldiers came out into the street. The growing crowd taunted the soldiers and threw ice and oysters at them. When the soldiers brandished their weapons, the crowd dared them to shoot, and they did. When the smoke cleared, five colonists were dead or dying — Crispus Attucks, Patrick Carr, Samuel Gray, Samuel Maverick, and Christopher Monk — and three more were injured. It was hardly a massacre, but the revolutionary members of the colonies played it up as much as they could.
A town committee wrote a pamphlet called A Short Narrative of the Horrid Massacre in Boston and Paul Revere made an engraving of the incident, showing the British soldiers lining up like an organized army to suppress the colonist uprising. Printed under the engraving were verses that described the soldiers as “fierce barbarians grinning over their prey.”
The soldiers were put on trial, and the man chosen to represent them was the American patriot John Adams. He didn’t support the British, but he was told that no one else would take the case, and he believed that all men deserve a good defense under the law.
He struggled to come up with a way of defending the soldiers without defending the crown, and on the day of the trial, he argued that neither the British soldiers nor the mob of people were to blame for the violence. Instead, he claimed it was the British policy of using soldiers to keep the peace in Boston that was to blame. He said, “Soldiers quartered in a populous town will always occasion two mobs where they prevent one. They are wretched conservators of the peace.”
Adams managed to get most of the soldiers acquitted. Only two were convicted of manslaughter. Adams’s reputation suffered a little in the aftermath. He lost many of his clients. But there were no riots in the days following the verdict, and eventually, the case became a famous example of Adams’s extraordinary fairness and good judgment.
It’s the birthday of a playwright and folklorist who was also W.B. Yeats’s early patron, long-term, and most loyal friend, a woman G.B. Shaw called “the greatest Irishwoman.” Lady Gregory (books by this author) was born Isabella Augusta Persse on this day in 1852 (some sources say March 15) in Roxborough, County Tipperary, Ireland. She helped lead the Irish Literary Revival in the early 20th century and she co-founded, along with Yeats, the Abbey Theatre.
She married Sir William Henry Gregory and moved into his estate at Coole in County Galway. She spent a lot of time exploring her new shared library. During her marriage, she worked on a memoir and wrote some short stories and poems, but she published almost none of them. They had a house in London too and spent a lot of time there entertaining in their living room poets Robert Browning and Lord Tennyson and writer Henry James. Following her husband’s death in 1892 she returned to their Coole Park home in Galway and spent the next year editing the autobiography he’d written, getting it ready for publication.
It was through a neighbor at Coole that she met W.B. Yeats, and began a friendship that would last for nearly 40 years, for the rest of her life. Yeats was also very interested in the folklore of the Irish peasantry, and like Lady Gregory, he hailed from a landed Protestant family. They decided to start an official movement dedicated to reviving Irish folklore. It first took shape as the Irish Literary Theatre in 1899 and several years later morphed into the Abbey Theatre. The first play to have its premiere at the Abbey was one that Lady Gregory herself had written, Spreading the News. She wrote about 20 plays of her own, and she did so much working and rewriting of some of Yeats’s plays for the Abbey Theatre — coming up with peasant dialogue, and such — that some scholars suggest she essentially co-authored some of Yeats’s early plays for the Abbey, including The Countess Cathleen.
Irish historian R.F. Foster has said that W.B. Yeats’s friendship with Lady Gregory was “the great enabling relationship of his life.” In his early years, she was his patron, and even after he’d become rich and famous he continued to spend summers at her Coole estate in western Ireland. Her place provided inspiration for a number of his poems, including “The Wild Swans at Coole,” “I walked among the seven woods of Coole,” “In the Seven Woods,” “Coole Park, 1929,” and “Coole Park and Ballylee.”
“The Wild Swans at Coole” begins:
The trees are in their autumn beauty,
The woodland paths are dry,
Under the October twilight the water
Mirrors a still sky;
Upon the brimming water among the stones
Are nine-and-fifty swans.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®