Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Peekskill NY. Be prepared to laugh and sing along as you celebrate all that unite us.
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Frankfort, KY for 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 with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Maryville, TN for 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 with Prudence Johnson, Dan Chouinard and Dean Magraw bring their show to Iola, KS for 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 with Prudence Johnson, Dan Chouinard and Dean Magraw bring their show to Wichita, KS for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
by George Bilgere
Today I sit on the sun porch
with my body, just the two of us
for a change, the flu
having left me for someone else.
I’m thinking about how good it is
to have been sick, to have been turned
inside out. Until we are sick, says Keats,
we understand not, and for four or five days
I understood. Fully and completely.
There was absolutely no ambiguity,
no misunderstandings of any sort whatsoever.
For awhile I thought I’d never get better.
I’d be that sick eagle, staring at the sky
on a permanent basis. But
we’re living in the age of miracles:
another jetliner smacked into New York,
only this time nobody got hurt. A black guy
thoroughly fumigated the White House.
And this morning I woke up
feeling like a little French village
the Nazis suddenly decided to pull out of
after a particularly cruel occupation.
The baker has come back to his store
and everything smells like warm baguettes.
The children are playing in the schoolyard,
the piano bars along the river
have thrown open their doors.
And here you are, with coffee
and an open blouse, and two cool breasts
from the land of joy.
George Bilgere, “Joy” from The White Museum. Copyright © 2010 by George Bilgere. Used by the permission of The Permissions Company, LLC, on behalf of Autumn House Press, autumnhouse.org. (buy now)
Today is the birthday of English author G.K. Chesterton (books by this author), born Gilbert Keith Chesterton in London (1874). He was a large man, well over six feet, and rotund. He disagreed sharply with many people, most notably H.G. Wells and George Bernard Shaw, but he was so agreeable and full of good humor that he kept them as close friends. He was also remarkably prolific, writing fast and scarcely editing what he wrote. He considered himself primarily a journalist and he wrote 4,000 newspaper essays; he also wrote some 80 books — books of fiction, criticism, literary biography, and theology — as well as several hundred poems, about 200 short stories, and several plays. His best-known character is Father Brown, a detective-slash-priest, who features in several short stories. He dabbled in the occult as a young man and he and his brother tried out the Ouija board, but eventually he returned to the Church of England and converted to Catholicism later in life; his thoughts on religion influenced much of his writing. His book The Everlasting Man (1925) contributed to C.S. Lewis’s conversion from atheism to Christianity.
George Bernard Shaw was his good friend and verbal sparring partner. They rarely agreed on anything, but disagreed amicably. Chesterton wrote of Shaw, a modernist, in Heretics (1905):
“If man, as we know him, is incapable of the philosophy of progress, Mr. Shaw asks, not for a new kind of philosophy, but for a new kind of man. It is rather as if a nurse had tried a rather bitter food for some years on a baby, and on discovering that it was not suitable, should not throw away the food and ask for a new food, but throw the baby out of window, and ask for a new baby.”
He made his points with wit and paradox, and in such a large body of work, there is no shortage of quotable material:
“The sane man knows that he has a touch of the beast, a touch of the devil, a touch of the saint, a touch of the citizen. Nay, the really sane man knows that he has a touch of the madman. But the materialist’s world is quite simple and solid, just as the madman is quite sure he is sane.” (Orthodoxy, 1908)
“Fairy tales do not give a child his first idea of bogey. What fairy tales give the child is his first clear idea of the possible defeat of bogey. The baby has known the dragon intimately ever since he had an imagination. What the fairy tale provides for him is a St. George to kill the dragon.” (Tremendous Trifles, 1909)
“Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property, that they may more perfectly respect it.” (The Man Who Was Thursday, 1908)
For the great Gaels of Ireland
Are the men that God made mad,
For all their wars are merry,
And all their songs are sad.”
(The Ballad of the White Horse, 1911)
Today is the birthday of John F. Kennedy, born John Fitzgerald Kennedy in Brookline, Massachusetts (1917). When he was 43 years old Kennedy became the youngest man ever elected president of the United States (1961).
Kennedy was born into a wealthy family and lived at 83 Beals Street in the Coolidge Corner neighborhood of Brookline. His father, Joe, was a businessman and politician and his mother, Rose, was a philanthropist and socialite. He had seven brothers and sisters and his family summered in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, and spent Christmas and Easter in Florida. He played sports avidly, joined Scout Troop 2, and exhibited a rebellious streak which peaked when he attended the exclusive Choate School in Connecticut. He exploded a toilet seat with a firecracker and was almost expelled, but his classmates still voted him “Most Likely to Succeed.”
Kennedy, despite his zest for life, was often ill and was hospitalized off and on with what was later diagnosed as Addison’s disease. At Harvard he swam varsity and got serious about his vocation, though the war intervened. Kennedy served in the United States Naval Reserve in World War II and endured a seven-day ordeal when the boat he commanded was sliced in half by a Japanese destroyer (1943). Kennedy and his men had to swim to shore for safety; Kennedy dragged one injured soldier using his teeth. After they were rescued, Kennedy was asked about his heroics. He responded, “It was involuntary. They sunk my boat.”
Kennedy’s path to the presidency began when he represented Massachusetts’ 11th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives (1947–1953). He later served in the U.S. Senate until his election as president in 1960. Along the way he authored the book Profiles in Courage (1957) which described acts of bravery by eight United States Senators throughout the Senate’s history. The book won a Pulitzer Prize (1958), making him the only president to have won a Pulitzer. He married Jacqueline Bouvier in 1955.
During his presidential campaign, Kennedy was asked if being a Catholic would affect his decision-making process. He responded,“I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party candidate for president who also happens to be a Catholic. No one asked me my religion [serving the Navy] in the South Pacific.”
In September and October of 1960, Kennedy appeared in the first televised presidential debates with his Republican opponent, Richard Nixon, then vice president of the Unites States. During the first debate, Kennedy took advantage of the makeup services offered, and he appeared relaxed during the discussion. Nixon, on the other hand, was recovering from leg surgery, refused makeup, and appeared disheveled and sweaty during the debate. Nixon’s mother even called after the show to ask if he was sick.
People who watched the debate on television favored Kennedy, but those who listened on the radio thought Nixon did better. It was the moment when the medium of television entered — and influenced — politics for the first time. The election was the closest in 20th-century history, with Kennedy winning by just two-tenths of 1 percent (49.7 percent to 49.5 percent). Fourteen electors from Mississippi and Alabama refused to support Kennedy because of his progressive views on civil rights. They voted instead for Senator Harry F. Byrd of Virginia.
As president of the United States John F. Kennedy broadened unemployment benefits, instituted the food-stamp program for low-income Americans, expanded Social Security, and increased library services and assistance for family farms. Actress Marilyn Monroe sang “Happy Birthday” to him on national television wearing a low-cut gold lamé dress.
On November 22. 1963, President Kennedy was assassinated while riding in a motorcade in Dallas, Texas. He was just past his first thousand days in office. He was the youngest president to die while in office. His mother, Rose, donated his childhood home on Beals Street to the National Park Service.
In his inauguration speech, President Kennedy said:
“In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility — I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it — and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
“And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you — ask what you can do for your country.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®