For 15 years, aspiring novelist Walter Kirn was drawn into the fun-house world of Clark Rockefeller, a secretive young banker and art collector and an outlandish, eccentric son of privilege. Only later did Kirn realize that the purported member of the wealthy Rockefellers was a brazen impostor, child kidnapper, and brutal murderer.
In a discussion of his new book, Blood Will Out, Kirn reflects on his bizarre journey from the posh private clubrooms of New York City to the courtrooms and prisons of Los Angeles. As Kirn uncovered the truth about his friend, a psychopath masquerading as a gentleman, he also confronted hard truths about himself.
Kirn is the author of Thumbsucker and Up in the Air, both of which were made into films.
A former employee of Frank Lloyd Wright, Clarence E. Shepard specialized in residential architecture and was an artist and landscape engineer. He designed more than 600 houses in Kansas City, favoring the Prairie School style.
Among his work: the Judge Louis R. Gates House in Kansas City, Kansas, which has been placed on the National Register of Historic Places and designated a Kansas City Historic Landmark.
William Worley, a devotee of local history, discusses Shepard’s life and work. Worley, whose business interests include veterinary clinics, real estate development, and America’s largest chain of one-hour photo stores, co-founded the Kansas City Business Journal in 1982.
America is a country built by thinkers on a foundation of ideas. Alongside classic works of philosophy and ethics, however, our presidents have been influenced by the books, movies, TV shows, viral videos, and social media sensations of their day.
Thomas Jefferson famously said, “I cannot live without books.” Jimmy Carter loved movies. Abraham Lincoln loved theater. And Barack Obama has been known to kick back with a few episodes of HBO's The Wire.
Author Tevi Troy combines research with witty observations to tell the story of how our presidents have been shaped by pop culture in a discussion of his new book, What Jefferson Read, Ike Watched, and Obama Tweeted.
Troy is the former deputy secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in the administration of George W. Bush.
Railroads were essential to moving men and military supplies during the Civil War. The Battle of Atlanta, fought on July 22, 1864, was an attempt by federal troops under Gen. William Tecumseh Sherman to seize Atlanta’s rail center and cripple the Confederate war effort.
On the 150th anniversary of that battle, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College’s Christopher R. Gabel examines the importance of rail transportation to both Union and Confederate commanders.
The Confederacy’s rail system performed just well enough in the first two years of the war to keep the fledgling nation in the fight. Ultimately, though, the Southern railroads lost their capacity to support the war, while the Northern railroads achieved unprecedented levels of effectiveness.
In the 1920s and '30s, Kansas City was defined by the corruption of the political machine run by “Boss” Tom Pendergast. But the machine finally was brought down, in no small part through the efforts of reform-minded women.
Former Kansas City Mayor Kay Barnes tells the story of these “civic housekeepers” whose fight came to a dramatic conclusion with the ballot-box victories of 1940, Pendergast’s imprisonment in the U.S. Penitentiary at Leavenworth, and the smashing of machine-mob rule.
Barnes, currently a nontraditional student at the University of Kansas, served two terms (1997-2007) as the first woman mayor of Kansas City, Missouri. One of the first two women on the Jackson County Legislature, she was elected to the Kansas City City Council in 1979.
She is currently Park University’s Distinguished Professor of Public Leadership and Founding Director of the Center for Leadership, where she teaches in the MPA program, provides leadership coaching, workshops and leadership training. She joined Park immediately following her successful terms as mayor in May 2007.
The 2014 edition of the long-running Off-the-Wall Film Series, co-presented by The Kansas City Public Library and The Pitch, features musically-themed titles from 1984.
Prince’s feature film debut may be a case of ego run rampant – but it’s so much fun you’ve got to love it. Here he plays The Kid, a young Minneapolis musician on the cusp of stardom. Prince discovery Apollonia plays his new squeeze; Morris Day nearly steals the movie as our hero’s musical nemesis; the Revolution’s Wendy and Lisa play up a storm. Directed by Albert Magnoli. This title is Rated R and is recommended for adult audiences only.
These five films, presented on one Friday each month from May through September on the Rooftop Terrace of the Central Library, 14 W. 10th St., offer a tuneful sampling of what Americans were listening to 30 years ago. Featured are such musical artists as Prince and the Talking Heads, an early cinematic celebration of break dancing, and a classic cult film noted for its innovative musical soundtrack.
Nobody expected much of Sergio Leone’s 1964 Italian Western A Fistful of Dollars – not even its young American star, Clint Eastwood, who saw the project as a European vacation from his American TV series, Rawhide.
Bill Shaffer explores how the film became an international success, turning Eastwood into a major movie star and kicking off two decades of European-made “spaghetti” Westerns.
Half a century after Barry Goldwater ran for president as the 1964 Republican candidate, the late five-term U.S. Senator from Arizona remains an icon of American conservatism – and emblematic of the right’s deep mistrust of activist government and liberal-leaning reform movements.
But “Mr. Conservative” also had a lifelong interest in and commitment to environmental protection.
Fifty years to the day that Goldwater accepted his party’s presidential nomination, environmental historian Brian Allen Drake discusses Goldwater’s latent green streak and how it influenced all aspects of his life. Drake’s presentation recalls a time when environmental issues could cross partisan borders and attract the seemingly unlikeliest of champions, and suggests that today's deep political divisions need not be impassable ones.