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 Christina Rossetti
Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
Yes, to the very end.
Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
From morn to night, my friend.
But is there for the night a resting-place?
A roof for when the slow, dark hours begin.
May not the darkness hide it from my face?
You cannot miss that inn.
Shall I meet other wayfarers at night?
Those who have gone before.
Then must I knock, or call when just in sight?
They will not keep you waiting at that door.
Shall I find comfort, travel-sore and weak?
Of labour you shall find the sum.
Will there be beds for me and all who seek?
Yea, beds for all who come.
“Up-Hill” by Christina Rossetti. Public domain (buy now)
It was on this day in 1832 that the world’s first streetcar, named the John Mason, began operation in New York City, running between Prince and 14th Streets in Lower Manhattan.
In 1832, 23-year-old John Stephenson received a commission from John Mason, a wealthy banker and one of the biggest landowners in the city to build an omnibus, basically a stagecoach on rails, but with the rails laid in the street. Stephenson adapted the omnibus and modeled it on railway cars, but he dropped the body of the car so that the seats were above the wheels but the floors were in between the wheels, which made it easily accessible from the street, without a railway platform.
Each streetcar was operated by two people: the driver and the conductor. The driver sat in front, on an open platform no matter what the weather was like — the thinking was that the driver would be more alert out in the open than in the comfort of an enclosed compartment. He controlled the horses and had a brake handle to stop the streetcar. The conductor sat in back and helped passengers board the train, took their money, and rang a bell to signal to the driver when to stop and go.
By 1870, New Yorkers made 100 million trips a year in horse-drawn streetcars. By 1880, there were at least 150,000 horses in the city. But each of those 150,000 horses was producing 22 lbs. of manure each day, and soon the city was a mess. One citizen wrote: “In hot weather the city stank with the emanations of putrefying organic matter.” Another wrote that the streets were “literally carpeted with a warm, brown matting of comminuted horse dropping, smelling to heaven and destined in no inconsiderable part to be scattered in fine dust in all directions, laden with countless millions of disease breeding germs.” One writer guessed that by 1930, the manure would reach the third story of Manhattan’s buildings. But in just a few decades, cars took over as the primary form of transportation, and in 1917 horse-drawn streetcars ceased to operate in New York City.
On this day in 1851, Harper & Brothers published Moby-Dick, by Herman Melville (books by this author), about a ship captain named Ahab who is obsessed with hunting the great white sperm whale that took his leg. The book had been published in Great Britain in October with the title The Whale; Melville’s decision to change the title didn’t get there in time. The British publisher accidentally left out the ending of the book, the epilogue. This confused a lot of British readers, because without the epilogue there was no explanation of how the narrator lived to tell the tale. It seemed like he died in the end with everyone else on the ship. The reviews from Britain were harsh, and costly to Melville. At the time, Americans deferred to British critical opinion, and a lot of American newspaper editors reprinted reviews from Britain without actually reading the American version with the proper ending. Melville had just bought a farm in Massachusetts, his debts were piling up, he was hiding them from his wife, and he was counting on Moby-Dick to bring in enough money to pay off his creditors. The book flopped, partly because of those British reviews. Melville never fully recovered from the disappointment.
It’s the birthday of the woman who wrote about the adventures of a girl named Pippi Långstrump, or, as we know her in English, Pippi Longstocking: Swedish author Astrid Lindgren (books by this author), was born Astrid Ericsson on a farm near Vimmerby, Sweden (1907). One day in 1944, Lindgren sprained her ankle, and while she was stuck in bed she wrote down the Pippi Longstocking stories she’d been telling her children for years. She wanted to give a copy to her daughter, Karin, for her 10th birthday. Astrid Lindgren was so happy with her work that she sent it to a publisher, and in 1945, Pippi Longstocking was published. Pippi is a nine-year-old girl with no parents who lives in a red house at the edge of a Swedish village with her horse and her pet monkey, Mr. Nilsson. She has red pigtails, and she wears one black stocking and one brown, with black shoes twice as long as her feet. She eats whole chocolate cakes and sleeps with her feet on the pillow, and she’s the strongest girl in the world. The sequels to Pippi Longstocking include Pippi Goes on Board (1946) and Pippi in the South Seas(1948). Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking books are her most popular, but she wrote more than 115 others, including detective stories, adventure stories, fantasy novels, and realistic fiction. Her books have sold 80 million copies and have been translated into Arabic, Armenian, Vietnamese, and Zulu. Lindgren died in Stockholm in 2002. She was 94. When she was asked what she wanted for her 94th birthday, she said, “Peace on earth and nice clothes.”
It’s the birthday of cartoonist and author William Steig, (books by this author) born in New York City (1907), a cartoonist for The New Yorker for many years. He’s best known for his children’s book Shrek! (1993), about an ugly green ogre who hears the prophecy of a witch that he will marry a princess even uglier than he. It was made into an animated movie in 2002. William Steig said, “If I’d had it my way, I’d have been a professional athlete, a sailor, a beachcomber, or some other form of hobo, a painter, a gardener, a novelist, a banjo-player, a traveler, anything but a rich man.”
It’s the birthday of one of the first Impressionist painters, Claude Monet, born in Paris (1840). He said, “I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers.”
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®