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
March 4 in Kent, OH 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
Keillor & Company: A PRAIRIE HOME HOLIDAY. Let’s come together for a Christmas sing-along, some Poetry, the News from Lake Wobegon and some holiday cheer with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard.
Dec 11 in Joliet, IL Keillor & Company: A PRAIRIE HOME HOLIDAY. Let’s come together for a Christmas sing-along, some Poetry, the News from Lake Wobegon and some holiday cheer with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard.
Dec 10 in Ottumwa Iowa Keillor & Company: A PRAIRIE HOME HOLIDAY. Let’s come together for a Christmas sing-along, some Poetry, the News from Lake Wobegon and some holiday cheer with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard.
by Tim Nolan
Down the block a garage band plays
“Isn’t She Lovely” —here’s a kind of wealth
even if the song is fractured—and listening
tonight to the sequence of birds—I mean
their unintended consequences—is wealth—
and today I followed all the plays—each
count around the baseball diamond—no one
expected their due—the outs were out
and some of the runners were safe—there was
sense in the blue sky—it could all go
beyond nine innings—whatever—I mean
everyone agreed and understood this passing—
this endless passing of time—was a kind of wealth—
and our atmosphere would be enough—the trees
would frame the sky and the sky would be
beyond belief—so blue—as in Mediterranean Blue—
and Odysseus would come home—as he was
compelled to—sunburned, vagrant—and wealthy.
Tim Nolan, “Wealth” from The Sound of It. Copyright © 2008 by Tim Nolan. Used by permission of The Permissions Company, LLC on behalf of New Rivers Press, newriverspress.com. (buy now)
It’s the birthday of documentary photographer Dorothea Lange, born Dorothea Margaretta Nutzhorn in Hoboken, New Jersey, in 1895. She contracted polio when she was seven and developed a permanent limp as a result. When she was 12 her father abandoned the family, so she dropped her middle name and adopted her mother’s maiden name. She studied photography at Columbia University, and then in 1918 she began to travel, selling her photographs as she went. She ran out of money by the time she got to San Francisco so she settled there, opened a photography studio, and made a good living shooting portraits of the Bay Area’s upper class.
She began taking photographs of men on breadlines, striking workers, and the homeless during the Great Depression to call attention to their plight, and she did indeed attract the attention of other local photographers. She was hired by the Resettlement Administration, which would later become the Farm Security Administration, to document the displacement of American farmers during the Dust Bowl years, and it’s her photo, “Migrant Mother, Nipoma, California, 1936” that is her most famous. Her camera gave us a vivid visual memory of the Great Depression even if we weren’t around to experience it.
She was hired by the War Relocation Authority during World War II to document the internment of Japanese Americans, but when she photographed Japanese-American children saying the Pledge of Allegiance shortly before they were sent to the camps, the Army felt the photographs were too critical of U.S. policy and they were impounded.
She said, “One should really use the camera as though tomorrow you’d be stricken blind. To live a visual life is an enormous undertaking, practically unattainable. I have only touched it, just touched it.”
It’s the birthday of John Wayne, born Marion Morrison in Winterset, Iowa, in 1907. He grew up in Southern California and earned his famous nickname, “Duke,” as a child; he was never seen without his Airedale dog, Duke, and people began calling him “Little Duke.” He liked the name better than Marion, and it stuck. His first on-screen film credit was as “Duke Morrison.”
He broke into the film business via the prop department, as a scenery mover, and befriended director John Ford who started giving him bit parts in his movies. His first starring role came courtesy of Raoul Walsh and his screen name came from a discussion between Walsh and a studio executive; Duke wasn’t even there when the decision to call him “John Wayne” was made and never could get used to the name “John.” Walsh cast him as the lead in The Big Trail (1930), but it was in Ford’s Stagecoach (1939) that he became a star. His 50-year relationship with Ford produced some of his best work: including the “cavalry series” of Fort Apache (1948), She Wore a Yellow Ribbon (1949), and Rio Grande (1950), and Ford’s post-war — and more disillusioned — films The Searchers (1956) and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance (1962).
It’s the birthday of jazz musician Miles Davis, born in Alton, Illinois (1926). His father was an oral surgeon, and he grew up in a nice home in East St. Louis. The family also owned a ranch in Arkansas. He was about seven or eight years old when he started listening to a radio show called Harlem Rhythms. It was a 15-minute show, and it came on at 8:45 in the morning. Davis started showing up late to school every day because he couldn’t bear to miss the music.
About that same time, he started paying attention to the music he heard in rural Arkansas. He said:
“We’d be walking on these dark country roads at night and all of a sudden this music would seem to come out of nowhere, out of them spooky-looking trees that everybody said ghosts lived in. […] That kind of sound in music, that blues, church, back-road funk kind of thing, that southern, midwestern, rural sound and rhythm. I think it started getting into my blood on them spook-filled Arkansas back-roads after dark when the owls came out hooting.”
A few years later, he started music lessons playing the trumpet and after that he didn’t stop. He was playing professionally by the age of 15, and when he was 18 he struck out for New York to find his hero, Charlie Parker. Soon they were playing together, and Davis continued to play jam sessions with other musicians and experiment with new types of jazz. In 1959, he recorded Kind of Blue, one of the best-selling jazz records of all time.
It’s the birthday of astronaut Sally Ride, born in Los Angeles (1951). When she was young, her teachers used to wheel big black-and-white televisions into the classrooms so that students could watch the space launches, and Ride was fascinated by the space program. She was good at math and science, but she was also an athletic kid who loved to play football in the street with the neighborhood boys. Her parents worried that she would be injured so signed her up for tennis lessons instead. She was such a good tennis player that Billie Jean King encouraged her to consider a professional career. Ride started college at Swarthmore in Pennsylvania, but she didn’t like it and she was homesick. She dropped out and moved back to California to give her tennis career a try. She said, “Fortunately, I took a long, hard look at my forehand and realized that I was not going to make a fortune with that forehand.” So she went back to college, this time at Stanford, which had a better tennis team. She graduated with degrees in Physics and English — her specialty was Shakespeare. When an interviewer asked her whether Shakespearean drama helped her as an astronaut she said, “I am certain that it did.”
She had almost completed her Ph.D. in Physics when she saw an ad in the Stanford student newspaper. It was from NASA looking for applicants for the astronaut program. Traditionally, NASA had selected former Marines, pilots, and Air Force officers to serve as astronauts, but they were looking for a new pool of applicants. Ride said, “It’s something that was just deep inside me. There is really no other way to describe it. The moment I saw the opportunity, I knew that that is what I wanted to do.” She applied, and out of 8,000 applicants she was chosen to be one of 35 new members of the astronaut corps. In that new group of astronauts there were five other women besides Ride; but when they arrived at the Johnson Space Center there were only four women out of the 4,000 scientists and engineers. At NASA, Ride worked as an engineer and helped develop a robotic arm for the space shuttle. She was chosen to join the crew of the 1983 Challenger mission, making her the first American woman in space. She was bombarded with questions about how she would handle life in space — reporters asked her everything from whether she would cry to whether it would affect her reproductive organs. Johnny Carson joked that the launch was postponed because Ride was looking for a purse to match her shoes. The week before the launch she said, “I did not come to NASA to make history. It is important to me that people don’t think I was picked for the flight because I am a woman.”
The Challenger mission launched on June 18, 1983. Ride spent six days in space, helping to operate the robot arm. She was not only the first American woman in space, but also the youngest person at the age of 32. When she landed, Ride announced: “The thing that I’ll remember most about the flight is that it was fun. In fact, I’m sure it was the most fun that I will ever have in my life.” She refused to accept a bouquet of flowers, since no one offered flowers to the five male astronauts. Ride went on a second Challenger mission in 1984. She was training for a third mission when the Challenger exploded in 1986. Ride served on the commission that investigated the disaster. She left NASA not long after to teach at the California Space Institute in San Diego. Ride and her partner, Tam O’Shaughnessy, founded a company called Sally Ride Science to make science approachable for kids, especially girls. Ride and O’Shaughnessy became tennis friends at age 12, met again as adults and bonded over a shared love of science, fell in love, and were together for 27 years — but they did not publicly acknowledge their relationship until Ride’s obituary. She died in 2012, at the age of 61.
“The view of Earth is absolutely spectacular, and the feeling of looking back and seeing your planet as a planet is just an amazing feeling. It’s a totally different perspective, and it makes you appreciate, actually, how fragile our existence is. You can look at Earth’s horizon and see this really, really thin royal blue line right along the horizon, and at first you don’t really quite internalize what that is, and then you realize that it’s Earth’s atmosphere, and that that’s all there is of it, and it’s about as thick as the fuzz on a tennis ball, and it’s everything that separates us from the vacuum of space.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®