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
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
Palm Desert, CA
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Palm Desert, CA for a performance of holiday songs, humor and The News from Lake Wobegon.
Town Hall, New York City
A Prairie Home Companion American Revival comes to Town Hall in New York City with Christine DiGiallonardo, Heather Masse, Rob Fisher and the Demitasse Orchestra, Rich Dworsky, Walter Bobbie, Sue Scott, Fred Newman and Tim Russell.
By Louis Jenkins
Everything in the garden is dead, killed by a sudden hard
freeze, the beans, the tomatoes, fruit still clinging to the
branches. It’s all heaped up ready to go to the compost
pile: rhubarb leaves, nasturtiums, pea vines, even the
geraniums. It’s too bad. The garden was so beautiful,
green and fresh, but then we were all beautiful once.
Everything dies, we understand. But the mind of the
observer, which cannot imagine not imagining, goes on.
The dynasties are cut down like the generations of grass,
the bodies blacken and turn into coal. The waters rise and
cover the earth and the mind broods on the face of the
deep, and learns nothing.
Louis Jenkins, “Freeze” from Where Your House is Near: New and Selected Poems ©2019 Nodin Press. (buy now)
It was on this day in 1849 that 28-year-old Fyodor Dostoyevsky (books by this author) was sentenced to death for plotting against the Russian state. The evidence: He’d been part of a group of young intellectuals who got together and discussed utopian socialist ideas and read books that had been specifically banned by the Imperial Court of Czar Nicholas. In addition, they disagreed with the political system of absolute monarchy in Russia, and they also thought that the economic system that upheld Russian serfdom was a bad one.
The Revolutions of 1848, which swept through France, Germany, Austria, and other parts of Europe during the previous year, had made the czar nervous. So he rounded up progressive thinkers and put them in prison. Dostoyevsky, already a famous writer, was a member of the Petrashevsky Circle, one of the groups that met to discuss radical liberal ideas. In the spring, he and other members of the circle were put in jail, and on this day 161 years ago he was condemned to death.
The following month, Dostoyevsky was taken out to face the firing squad. It was the middle of winter, December 22nd, a few days before Christmas, and he and his fellow condemned were taken to a public square. He wrote that day: “There the sentence of death was read out to us, we were all made to kiss the cross, a sword was broken over our heads, and we were told to put on our white execution shirts. Then three of us were tied to the posts to be executed. I was the sixth, and therefore in the second group of those to be executed. […] Then the retreat was sounded on the drums, those tied to the posts were taken back, and an order from His Imperial Majesty was read to us granting us our lives. Afterwards our sentences were read out to us.”
His death sentence was commuted to eight years of hard labor in a Siberian work camp, though in the end served only four years. He lived in crowded, filthy barracks, and told his brother that he felt like he was “shut up in a coffin” during that time. He wrote about his prison experiences in The House of the Dead (1862).
The story of Dostoyevsky’s last-minute reprieve was a story that American writer Raymond Carver loved to retell, said Carver’s friend Tobias Wolff. Wolff said, “I always had the sense he was talking about himself, too. … He had been there himself … had come very close to suffering not only physical death but also moral and spiritual annihilation.” Raymond Carver even wrote a screenplay, along with Tess Gallagher, about the life of Dostoyevsky, and his screenplay centered on the moment when Dostoyevsky was pardoned in front of the firing squad and granted his life.
Dostoyevsky lived for more than three decades after the day he appeared in front of his executioners, writing novels Crime and Punishment (1866), The Idiot (1868), The Possessed (1872), and The Brothers Karamazov (1880).
In The House of the Dead (1862) he wrote,”The degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons.”
It was on this day in 1907 that Oklahoma joined the Union, becoming the 46th state. It’s one of the top natural gas-producing states in the U.S. There are 25 Native American languages that are spoken in Oklahoma, which is more than any other state in America. It’s one of most tornado-prone areas of the world, averaging more than 50 tornadoes a year. And it’s the setting for the opening of John Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath.
It’s the birthday of the playwright Paula Vogel (books by this author), born in Washington, D.C. (1951). She’s the author of many plays, including The Baltimore Waltz (1992) and How I Learned to Drive (1997), which won the Pulitzer Prize for drama.
It’s the birthday of the playwright George Kaufman, (books by this author) born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1889). He was a humorist and a collaborator on many satirical plays, including Animal Crackers (1928), Strike Up the Band (1927), and You Can’t Take It with You (1936). He was also known as one of the fiercest drama critics of his day. Once, while viewing a play he didn’t like, he poked the woman sitting in front of him and said, “Madam, would you mind putting on your hat?” And he was once asked by a press agent how to get a new actress coverage by the major newspapers, and he responded, “Shoot her.”
It’s the birthday of Jean Fritz, (books by this author) author of books for young readers, born in Hankow, China (1915), the only child of American missionaries. She’s written a number of historical novels and biographies related to American history, including Where Do You Think You’re Going, Christopher Columbus? (1980), Can’t You Make Them Behave, King George? (1977), And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? (1973), Why Don’t You Get a Horse, Sam Adams? (1974), What’s the Big Idea, Ben Franklin? (1976), and Will You Sign Here, John Hancock? (1976). And Then What Happened, Paul Revere? was named a New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year.
Her autobiography, Homesick, My Own Story (1982), won a Newbery Honor Book Award and a National Book Award. It’s based on the journals she kept while growing up in Hankow.
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®