July 2, 2008

The Hump Dump | Guest Blogger Garrison Keillor

I was raised as a huge fan of Garrison Keillor. Both my parents are teachers (read: ample time off), and we would spend the summers driving up, down, and across the country all the while listening to tapes of Keillor's monologues about life in Lake Wobegon. I know all about the Norwegian bachelor farmers who stand outside of Ralph's Pretty Good Grocery. Our Lady of Perpetual Responsibility strikes a vivid picture in my head, and I clearly remember laughing uncontrollably when I heard a customer's reaction to eating a piece of rhubarb pie from the Chatterbox Cafe:

Customer: Damn! This is good!
Waitress: There'll be no swearing in my restaurant.
Customer: No ma'am. That's a new support group here in town. DAM - Mothers Against Dyslexia.

I did then, and I still do know, feel at home with his voice on the radio. And it's not just the deep tenor that radiates from the speakers, either. I've been lucky enough to see him live three (3) times, once here in Phoenix and twice at the Minnesota State Fair, so it's not that. What he says has always just plain resonated with me. A few years ago, at the State Fair, I picked up a book he had recently written titled Homegrown Democrat, and it pretty much encapsulated every part of why what he says sits well with my soul. I wish I had the copyright power to share the book with you over the Internet, but I don't, so I'll strongly encourage you to travel to your local library and check it out. I'd lend you mine, but a friend in Denver is still holding on to it...

In the meantime, I want to share with you a portion of a column Keillor wrote for Salon yesterday titled, "For the Sake of the Girl With the Beautiful Swing." The entire article is here, and I can honestly say it's worth the three (3) minutes it will take you to read it. But those of you (us) that have no attention span, here's a little snippet...

A ballgame is a great place to get to know somebody. You talk sideways during the interludes of which baseball has many, and since the game itself is so orderly, you can converse in non sequiturs, and after I told him about my 10-year-old girl, who loves to swim, and we agreed on what a great age 10 is and what intense pleasure a kid is capable of, we got to the grim business of What Do You Do For A Living. He said he was a cop. I said I was unemployed. (You tell people you're a writer and they tend to clam up.)

"Tough times," he said. I nodded. We might've gotten onto politics then, but we got onto music and Ireland and so forth, but I thought, "Here is a guy the candidates have to talk to this summer." A cop is a realist and he knows where Rockwell leaves off and surrealism begins, and here is his girl taking a big lead off third base and he loves her so beautifully and unabashedly and wants the world to be there for her when it comes her time to fly.

I'm 65 and have a good life and can't claim that the Current Occupant has done me much harm at all. It's when I think about 10-year-old girls I start to get hot under the collar. This clueless man has dug a deep hole for them and doesn't seem vaguely aware of it. He has spent us deep in a hole, gotten us into a disastrous war, blithely ignored the long-term best interests of the country, and when you think of the 4,000 kids who now lie in cemeteries, and for what? -- you start to grind your teeth. For the sake of the girl with the beautiful swing, I hope we get a better president than the disgusting incompetent we've wasted eight years of our national life on. Think twice about who you put your arm around, Sen. McCain.

Have a fantastic Fourth of July weekend. And remember that the cornerstones of democracy are discourse, disagreement, and dissent.

"That's the news from Lake Wobegon: where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average."
Garrison Keillor


John Spencer said...

I've listened to his show on NPR for awhile. At first it was because I have the station set to NPR and I had no other choice, given the fact that the radio had no knob and I had to use pliers to change the station.

Over a few years, I grew from tolerating his show to enjoying it. I'm not sure what that means, but I'm not sure it's good.

Lewis Cash said...

I have to been honest and say that when I hear the show (or watched the movie) I enjoy it, but I don't get it. Every time its over I'm left wondering, did I just miss something?

Anyways, great article.

Spicedogs said...

I have been a faithful listener since 1984. I never get tired of listening to the show. I, too, have been fortunate enough to see him numerous times. Some in concert, which is a pure joy—Keillor himself and no one else, and other various performances of APHC (both Friday night rehearsal performance and the Saturday live performance).

And this particular commentary in Salon.com was a pure joy to read. Thank you for sharing.

Samuel Isaac Richard said...

John - Now I finally know the source of your liberalism... the inability to change the station from NPR. Ha!

Nole - You make a valid point. Us Midwesterners are huge fans of the "punch line." We enjoy the journey of the joke just as much, if not more than the destination of the punch...

Spice - No problem, sharing is caring. And if you want to discuss LOST theory, email me anytime!

Kim Jeffries said...

I just love him. He is a salt of the earth kind of guy. I wish we were friends.