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
West Bend, WI
Garrison Keillor brings his show to West Bend, WI for a performance of sing-a-longs, 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. 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 Peekskill NY. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unite us.
Big Top Chautauqua, Bayfield, WI
Garrison Keillor and his Prairie Home Friends (Fred Newman, Heather Masse, Rich Dworsky, Richard Kriehn & Dan Magraw) bring their show to Big Top Chautauqua for a performance of night of laughter, song and The News from Lake Wobegon.
The paper reports trouble everywhere,
Middle East, Delaware, sliding headfirst
Toward disaster. Planes in the air
Almost collide. Bubble burst
And you and I in debt, mon cher,
The kids’ music makes us despair
For them. Our pension fund is cursed
And we may soon be living on angel hair and liverwurst.
And yet our old romance perseveres,
A casual flirtation that grew zealous
Just like the climbing roses we planted years
Ago have almost overwhelmed the trellis.
Darling, when you look me in the eye
And smile, those clouds just roll on by.
Joe Crandall, “Trouble Everywhere.” Reprinted with permission of the author.
It’s the birthday of Bob Dylan (books by this author), born Robert Zimmerman in 1941. He was born in Duluth, Minnesota, and grew up in nearby Hibbing, just off the road that ran all the way up from New Orleans and lent its name to his sixth album, 1965’s Highway 61 Revisited. He moved down to Minneapolis and studied art at the University of Minnesota and, though he’d started out his musical career with a rock ‘n’ roll band, he soon converted to folk, playing gigs at a coffeehouse, the 10 O’clock Scholar, in the Dinkytown neighborhood north of campus. Rock was catchy, but it wasn’t deep enough to satisfy him, and he later said: “I knew that when I got into folk music, it was more of a serious type of thing. The songs are filled with more despair, more sadness, more triumph, more faith in the supernatural, much deeper feelings.” He left Dinkytown for New York and became the darling of Greenwich Village’s folk community.
By the mid-1960s he’d gone electric, forsaking folk and returning to his rock roots. It wasn’t a popular move among his fans, and at a show in England they booed him and called him “Judas.”
He responded by cranking the amps even louder, never one to worry about a rapport with his audience.
His lyrics evolved too, from protest songs into more literary undertakings, influenced by Paul Verlaine, Arthur Rimbaud, and John Keats (to say nothing of Dylan Thomas, who inspired Zimmerman’s name change). He’s been called one of America’s great contemporary poets, and his lyrics are studied in college poetry classes, stripped of the music. Boston University lecturer Kevin Barents directs students to consider the iambic and ballad meter on Dylan’s album John Wesley Harding. Oxford professor Christopher Ricks puts him on a par with Milton, Keats, and Tennyson. He’s been nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature every year since 1996 and he eventually won the prize in 2016. He wrote a volume of poetry and prose called Tarantula in 1966 (published in 1971), even though he had famously proclaimed himself “a song-and-dance man” in 1965, when asked outright if he was a songwriter or a poet; The New Yorker published two of his poems from that period in 2008. Perhaps it’s best to draw the distinction where he did, in the liner notes for The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan: “Anything I can sing, I call a song. Anything I can’t sing, I call a poem.”
He’s also kept up with his art, drawing and painting to fill the time when he’s on the road. Some critics compare his style to Degas, Van Gogh, Toulouse-Lautrec, and Matisse. Others say he is “spasmodically brilliant,” and one art history professor said he “paints like any other amateur.” The artist himself says, in his typically laconic style, “I just draw what’s interesting to me and then I paint it. Rows of houses, orchard acres, lines of tree trunks, could be anything. I can turn it into a life and death drama.”
On this day in 1883 the Brooklyn Bridge opened to traffic. It took fourteen years to build and twenty-seven workers died during construction, including the bridge’s designer and engineer, John Roebling, whose toes were smashed by a boat while he was doing measurements. He died three weeks later of tetanus. His son, Washington Roebling, took over the project, but he developed compression sickness, or “the bends” while underwater checking cables. He was bedridden for the rest of construction and his wife, Emily, took his instructions to workers and oversaw the completion of the bridge.
The Brooklyn Bridge spans 1,595 feet over the East River. It was the largest steel suspension bridge built to that date and connected the cities of New York and Brooklyn for the first time. Previously, you had to take a boat or ferry between the cities.
President Chester A. Arthur and Govenor Grover Cleveland presided over the ceremonies which included fireworks, celebratory cannon fire, a military band, and attachment troops. Emily Roebling was given the first ride over the bridge. She held a rooster in her lap, the symbol of victory.
It’s estimated that within 24 hours more than 250,000 people had crossed the bridge using the specially designed pedestrian promenade, which cost one cent to use. Images of the Brooklyn Bridge have been used to sell everything from Vaseline to vodka and even Italian chewing gum.
It’s the birthday of poet Joseph Brodsky (books by this author), born in St. Petersburg, Russia (1940). His father was a naval officer who got kicked out of the service for being Jewish, so the family lived in poverty. Joseph started writing poetry when he was 15, but in 1963 — when he was 23 — a Russian newspaper declared that his poetry was “pornographic and anti-Soviet.” The authorities were worried because he was becoming so popular and his readings were attracting large, enthusiastic crowds. He was interrogated, he was put in a mental institution, and then he was arrested. The authorities couldn’t actually find anything wrong with his poetry, so they arrested him on the charge of “social parasitism,” called him “a pseudo-poet in velveteen trousers,” and accused him of not doing any honest work that would make Russia a better place. His trial was in secret but the transcript was smuggled out and his defense of the right to be a poet made him a hero, especially in the United States and Europe. He was sentenced to five years in a labor camp in Siberia but there was so much protest that his sentence was commuted after a year and a half. For the next few years he continued to write, but he was harassed and finally expelled from the Soviet Union in 1972.
He went to Austria where the poet W.H. Auden took Brodsky under his wing and helped set him up with a teaching position at the University of Michigan. From there he went on to teach at Queens College and Mount Holyoke. He liked to speed around campus in an old Mercedes and he would interrupt people during conversations to jot down notes on little pieces of paper.
He published poems, plays, and essays, including A Part of Speech (1977), Less Than One (1986), and To Urania (1988). In 1987 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature—his response was, “A big step for me, a small step for mankind.” Four years later he became the Poet Laureate of the United States. He died in 1996 at age 55.
He said, “After all, it is hard to master both life and work equally well. So if you are bound to fake one of them, it had better be life…” and “There are worse crimes than burning books. One of them is not reading them.”
He published his first novel, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (1988), when he was just 25. It was his master’s thesis at the University of California-Irvine and his professor sent it to a literary agent without telling him. Chabon got a big advance and the book was a surprise best-seller. As a young writer he read a lot of John Updike, Philip Roth, and Jorge Luis Borges. He said, “I just copied the writers whose voices I was responding to, and I think that’s probably the best way to learn.”
Michael Chabon is the author of Wonder Boys (1995), The Yiddish Policeman’s Union (2007), and Telegraph Avenue (2012). He won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay (2000), an epic historical novel that spans 16 years in the lives of two Jewish cousins who create a popular comic book series in the 1940s.
Chabon writes from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. every day, Sunday through Thursday, at least 1000 words a day. About writing he says:
“There have been plenty of self-destructive rebel-angel novelists over the years, but writing is about getting your work done every day. If you want to write novels, they take a long time, and they’re big, and they have a lot of words in them. The best environment, at least for me, is a very stable, structured kind of life.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.