Sunday, October 18, 2015
In 1926, Sinclair Lewis, America’s premier contemporary novelist, came to Kansas City to do research for his “preacher novel” – the book that became the acclaimed Elmer Gantry. For background information on this sensational piece of fiction, where did the author of Main Street and Babbitt go? To whom did he talk? And what did the eventual Nobel laureate learn from the city’s leading clergy that contributed to his controversial views of Midwest Protestantism?
MidAmerica Nazarene University’s Tyler Blake tells how Kansas City, its churches, and a circle of fascinating individuals — free thinkers and fundamentalists — became the subjects of study in Lewis’ “laboratory.”
Friday, October 16, 2015
Calling all young Chiefs football fans and fans-to-be!
Join the Library and mascot KC Wolf in celebrating the release of the new picture book Kansas City Chiefs ABCs and 1-2-3s, illustrated by Kansan Rob Peters. Listen to football stories, play games, and have your picture taken with the Wolf. Appropriate for all ages.
Thursday, October 15, 2015
As our 27th president from 1909-1913 and then as chief justice of the Supreme Court from 1921-1930, William Howard Taft was the only man ever to head two of America’s three governing branches. But between these two well-documented periods in office lies an eight-year patch of largely unexplored political wilderness — a time when Taft somehow rose from ignominious defeat in the 1912 presidential election to leadership of the nation’s highest court.
Monmouth College historian Lewis L. Gould delivers the first in-depth look at this interval in Taft’s singular career in a discussion of his book Chief Executive to Chief Justice: Taft Betwixt the White House and Supreme Court.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Internationally recognized Kansas City artist Peregrine Honig fixes her creative gaze on Lewis Carroll’s classic work of children’s literature, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, and curates an exhibit that invites viewers to experience a sense of psychedelic discovery and bewilderment akin to Alice’s dreams and conflicts while wandering the Wonderlandscape. Honig has assembled an acclaimed collective of award- winning artists and fashion designers for her exhibit Intimate Riot.
Wednesday, October 14, 2015
Among the swarms of visitors to San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge each year are, tragically, hundreds of troubled souls intent on committing suicide. Many who didn’t follow through have Kevin Briggs to thank.
The former highway patrol officer and sergeant has talked scores of people back to safety along the 220-foot-high span, drawing from his own personal struggles — a bout with cancer, multiple heart operations, divorce, and depression — to strike the right tone of empathy while using an instinct for improvisation. In two decades of work on the iconic bridge, he lost only two would-be jumpers.
Tuesday, October 13, 2015
2015 commemorates not only the 125th anniversary of the birth of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, but also the U.S. Census Bureau’s declaration that the American frontier had closed. As historian Tim Rives explains, these two events are not unrelated.
Like other progressives of his generation, Eisenhower saw the extinction of the frontier as the end of the first phase of American history, and the beginning of a new age in which the federal government would replace the lost reservoir of free land and abundant resources with economic cooperation and individual security through social programs. More than any other single factor, Eisenhower’s interpretation of the vanished frontier is what distinguishes his “Middle Way” political philosophy from the conservative wing of the Republican Party he led through two terms as a president.
Tim Rives is the deputy director and supervisory archivist of the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene, Kansas.
Sunday, October 11, 2015
Kansas City’s Green Duck Tavern, at 26th Street and Prospect Avenue, was once an unassuming seat of power, owned by politician and civil rights activist Leon Jordan and a place for him and other leaders of the political organization Freedom, Inc., to map out strategy. A recent addition to the Kansas City Register of Historic Places, it also is where Jordan was gunned down gangland-style one early morning in 1970.
Joelouis Mattox, who serves as historian for the city’s Historic Preservation Commission, discusses the Green Duck and other notable places in KC with … um, checkered reputations. Also among them: the Castle Theater at 12th and Paseo; the Rhythm Lanes Skating Rink, Ray’s Golden Lounge, and Inferno Lounge on Troost; the Carver Theater and the Linwood Theater, both on Prospect; and Party House and the Log Cabin Lounge, both on 31st.
Saturday, October 10, 2015
Film director Debra Granik introduced Ronnie “Stray Dog” Hall to a national audience in the Academy Award-nominated Winter’s Bone, in which she cast the real-life Missouri biker as drug supplier Thump. Granik was so taken with Hall’s personal story — behind the tattoos and leather vest is a decent, tender-hearted man troubled by his time in Vietnam but devoted to helping his immigrant family and fellow veterans — that she made him the subject of her new documentary Stray Dog.
The acclaimed doc kicks off a series of monthly films at the Library as part of the PBS-backed Indie Lens Pop-Up community cinema initiative. Hall, Stray Dog’s star, is featured in a subsequent discussion of the social issues it spotlights.
Friday, October 9, 2015
Celebrate Alice’s 150th birthday at a Mad Hatter tea and birthday party. Come in an outlandish hat or make your own. Crafts, games, snacks, and other silly fun suitable for all ages.
Thursday, October 8, 2015
The life stories of Langston Hughes, Jean Toomer, Arna Bontemps, and other luminaries of the Harlem Renaissance extended well west of New York City. Hughes, for example, was raised in Kansas, and his move to Mexico opened a window on African Americans’ transnational experiences. Toomer’s interaction with a multi-national, multi-racial population in Taos, New Mexico, buttressed his notion of a “new American race.”
Emily Lutenski, an assistant professor of American studies at Saint Louis University, offers a newly nuanced look at the roots and influences of these key literary figures in a discussion of her book West of Harlem: African American Writers and the Borderlands.