- Events -

New York, NY
December 2, 2018

A mini Prairie Home reunion featuring Garrison Keillor, Rob Fisher, Fred Newman, and Heather Masse and Christine DiGiallonardo.

- Events -

Minneapolis, MN
December 16, 2018

Garrison Keillor returns to Crooner's with singer Christine DiGiallonardo & pianist Richard Dworsky. Shows at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

- RADIO -

The Writer’s Almanac for November 15, 2018
It’s the birthday of poet Marianne Moore, who once said, “I never knew anyone with a passion for words who had as much difficulty in saying things as I do.”

- Radio -

A Prairie Home Companion: November 17, 2007
Live from the State Theater with Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands, The Brothers Frantzich, and The Royal Academy of Radio Acting: Tim Russell & Sue Scott.

- Radio -

I Come From Lake Wobegon
Garrison describes growing up in Lake Wobegon. Originally from the "Mr. Keillor's Sunday Night Service" DVD.

Garrison's weekly columns

For full list, click here

What happened Sunday, in case you missed it

Church was practically full last Sunday, with a few slight gaps for skinny fashion models but otherwise S.R.O., and everyone was in an amiable mood what with several babies present for baptism, and then the organ rang out the opening hymn, the one with “teach me some melodious sonnet sung by flaming tongues above” in it, an exciting line for us Episcopalians who rarely get into flaming stuff, and I sang out from the fifth pew near some babies and their handlers, some of whom weren’t familiar with this famous hymn of Christendom, though later, around the baptismal font, they would pledge to renounce the evil powers of this world and bring up the child in the Christian faith, but their ignorance of “Come thou fount of every blessing” suggested that they might bring up the child to play video games on Sunday morning, but what the hey, God accepts them as they be and though with some reluctance so must we, and I’m sorry this sentence got so long.

I was brought up evangelical and got baptized when I was 15, the morning after a hellfire sermon in which the evangelist suggested strongly that our car was likely to be hit by a fast train on our way home and we’d all be killed and ushered into eternity to face an angry God. I was the third child in a family of six and the thought that my five siblings and two parents would lose their lives on my account weighed heavily and so in the morning, as a life-saving measure, I asked to be baptized, and Brother John Rogers led me into Lake Minnetonka, I in white trousers and white shirt, he in a blue serge suit, shirt and tie, and immersed me in the name of the Holy Spirit. I have been careful crossing railroad tracks ever since.

Our church sent around a questionnaire a month ago, asking, “Why do you come to church?” and I still haven’t filled it out. For one thing, I go because I read stories in the newspapers about declining church attendance and I hate to be part of a trend. For another, church is a sanctuary from thinking about myself, my work, my plans for the week, my problems with work, my view of DJT and my PSA and most recent MRI, my lack of exercise, other people’s view of me, myself, and I, and frankly I’m sick of myself and so would you be if you were me. My mind drifts during the homily — the acoustics amid Romanesque splendor are truly lousy — and my thoughts turn to my beautiful wife and our daughter and various friends and relatives, Lytton and Libby, Bill Hicks the fiddler, Peter Ostroushko, Fiona the Chinese exchange student, and I pray for them. I pray for solace and sustenance in their times of trial and I ask God to surprise them with the gift of unreasonable joy. I pray for people caring for parents suffering from dementia and people caring for children who are neurologically complicated. I pray for the whales, the migrating birds, the endangered elephants.

And then the homily’s over and we confess our sins and are forgiven and everyone shakes hands and goes forward for Communion, a small wafer and a swallow of wine. Then a blessing and a closing triumphant hymn as the clergy and deacons process down the aisle and then I go home.

It’s an hour and a half with no iPhone, no news. Last week is erased, bring on Monday. The babies will grow up to be impatient with orthodoxy and eager to be other than whatever their parents are, but it was holy water they were splashed with, not Perrier, and who knows but what they might wander back into church one day and appreciate the self-effacement it provides.

Man does not live by frozen pizza alone. Sunday does not need to be like Saturday or Monday. Turn down the volume, dim the bright flashing lights of ambition, look into your heart, think about the others, one by one. As part of the service, you get to reach around, right, left, forward, back, and say a blessing on them all (“The Peace of God be with you”) and when else do you get to do that? Not in the produce section of the supermarket. People need to be blessed. Shouting and sarcasm and insult have not worked, so move on. God loves you, reader. Bless you for coming this far. Go in peace.

The old man repents of his materialism

Standard Time returned in a cold rain on Sunday but no matter. I’m an old man and every day is beautiful. My past is gone, my future is shrinking, and so when I open my eyes in the morning and don’t see angels bending over me, I’m grateful for another day on Earth. There will be no cold rain in Heaven and I will miss that and the chance to complain about it. I went in the bathroom when I awoke and closed the door so that if I fell down with a massive heart attack, I wouldn’t wake my wife, and I put my pants on, left leg first, then the right, not leaning against the wall, for the sheer excitement of it. Some mornings it’s like mounting a bucking horse. And then downstairs to the coffeepot and back to work on my memoir.

I have a moral obligation to write one because as a boy I rode on the hayrack with Uncle Jim who let me hold the reins and say “Ckkk ckkk” to Prince and Scout as they pulled us out to the meadow to rake up hay. I saw my grandma wring a goose’s neck and chop its head off. I saw the old crank phone on the wall. I remember when schoolkids worked hard on penmanship. I remember when there were forbidden peep shows on the back streets where men sneaked in to see pictures of scantily clad girls. Nowadays, the peep show is in your computer and the only way to stop people from looking at it is to poke their eyes out.

My dear wife and I are in the process of disposing of stuff as we leave a big house for an apartment. It is astonishing how much stuff two people can accumulate that they (1) do not need and (2) don’t enjoy. Unread books we’ll never read, meaningless memorabilia, clothes we’ve outgrown, mysterious tools, ugly art. I do not comment on her thousands of beauty products: I am grateful for her beauty and let it go at that.

In the midst of this disposal, we’ve also decided to not take a February vacation to Berlin. We’ve been together long enough to know that vacations are hazardous. I remember the three-week Death March To The Pacific Coast in 1986 with my then-wife and her three unhappy teenagers with wires in their ears. She proposed this as a bonding experience. Note the use of the term “then-wife.” Thirty days in the county jail would have done us as much good.

A few years ago, my now-wife and I rented a house on the Florida panhandle and sat in it for two weeks, listening to rain on the roof. We had brought great literature that we were ashamed of never having read, Proust and Melville and Virginia Woolf, and we used them as coasters as we sat and watched TV and never mentioned whose idea this was (hers), just sucked it up, trying hard to be cheerful.

My wife mentioned that vacation recently and a whole string of other disastrous vacations and what they had in common was that they were Planned. Planning is the culprit. We Americans are meant to be nomads, fluttering about on a whim, living in tents with precious few possessions. You buy a house because it’s what respectable people do and then you fill it up with stuff you don’t want or need, but the stuff doesn’t make you happy: experiences do.

I married a woman who makes me happy, the sight of her, her voice, her wit, her stories, and I could be happy living with her in a late-model motor home. We’d have to give up gardening but I’m okay with that. Park by the Grand Canyon for a week until we get tired of grandeur and then move to the Kansas plains. Then Arkansas. Georgia.

The deal has not yet gone through on the apartment. There is time to reverse course. No more plumbing problems: we’ll use public facilities in campgrounds from now on. No more dinner parties — they’re always about an hour too long — we’ll use FaceTime instead. We owned a house so we’d have an address for Visa to send the bills to, but now there’s e-mail. Call the agent, darling. I’ll get the RV. One suitcase apiece, plus beauty products. It’s a big country. Let’s go see it. Call for a dumpster. We can be heading for New Orleans by Friday.

A Prairie Home Companion An Evening of Story and Song Love & Comedy Tour Solo The Gratitude Tour
Schedule

December 2, 2018

Sunday

7:30 p.m.

New York, NY

New York, NY

December 2, 2018

A mini Prairie Home reunion featuring Garrison Keillor, Rob Fisher, Fred Newman, and Heather Masse and Christine DiGiallonardo.

December 16, 2018

Sunday

5:00 p.m. & 8:00 p.m.

Minneapolis, MN

Minneapolis, MN

December 16, 2018

Garrison Keillor returns to Crooner’s with singer Christine DiGiallonardo & pianist Richard Dworsky. Shows at 5:00 p.m. and 8:00 p.m.

Radio
The Writer’s Almanac for November 15, 2018

The Writer’s Almanac for November 15, 2018

It’s the birthday of poet Marianne Moore, who once said, “I never knew anyone with a passion for words who had as much difficulty in saying things as I do.”

Read More
A Prairie Home Companion: November 17, 2007

A Prairie Home Companion: November 17, 2007

Live from the State Theater with Laurie Lewis & The Right Hands, The Brothers Frantzich, and The Royal Academy of Radio Acting: Tim Russell & Sue Scott.

Read More
The Writer’s Almanac for November 14, 2018

The Writer’s Almanac for November 14, 2018

It’s the birthday of the artist who said, “I would like to paint the way a bird sings”: Claude Monet.

Read More
The Writer’s Almanac for November 13, 2018

The Writer’s Almanac for November 13, 2018

It’s the birthday of the man who wrote “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” Robert Louis Stevenson (Edinburgh, Scotland, 1850).

Read More
The Writer’s Almanac for November 12, 2018

The Writer’s Almanac for November 12, 2018

It was on this day in 1954 that Ellis Island formally closed its doors after processing more than 12 million immigrants to the United States.

Read More
The Writer’s Almanac for November 11, 2018

The Writer’s Almanac for November 11, 2018

It’s the birthday of author Kurt Vonnegut (1922), who advised other writers to “Make characters want something right away — even if it’s only a glass of water.”

Read More
The Writer’s Almanac for November 10, 2018

The Writer’s Almanac for November 10, 2018

It was on this day in 1969 that Sesame Street premiered, with the aim to “master the addictive qualities of television and do something good with them.”

Read More
The Writer’s Almanac for November 9, 2018

The Writer’s Almanac for November 9, 2018

It’s the birthday of poet Anne Sexton, who said of her mental health, “My fans think I got well, but I didn’t: I just became a poet.”

Read More
The Writer’s Almanac for November 8, 2018

The Writer’s Almanac for November 8, 2018

It was on this day in 1864 that Abraham Lincoln was elected to his second term as president of the United States, one of the few elections in world history to be held in the middle of a civil war.

Read More
The Writer’s Almanac for November 7, 2018

The Writer’s Almanac for November 7, 2018

It’s the birthday of scientist Marie Curie (Warsaw, 1867), whose laboratory journals are still too radioactive to handle.

Read More
Writing

What happened Sunday, in case you missed it

Church was practically full last Sunday, with a few slight gaps for skinny fashion models but otherwise S.R.O., and everyone was in an amiable mood what with several babies present for baptism, and then the organ rang out the opening hymn, the one with “teach me some melodious sonnet sung by flaming tongues above” in it, an exciting line for us Episcopalians who rarely get into flaming stuff, and I sang out from the fifth pew near some babies and their handlers, some of whom weren’t familiar with this famous hymn of Christendom, though later, around the baptismal font, they would pledge to renounce the evil powers of this world and bring up the child in the Christian faith, but their ignorance of “Come thou fount of every blessing” suggested that they might bring up the child to play video games on Sunday morning, but what the hey, God accepts them as they be and though with some reluctance so must we, and I’m sorry this sentence got so long.

Read More

The old man repents of his materialism

Standard Time returned in a cold rain on Sunday but no matter. I’m an old man and every day is beautiful. My past is gone, my future is shrinking, and so when I open my eyes in the morning and don’t see angels bending over me, I’m grateful for another day on Earth. There will be no cold rain in Heaven and I will miss that and the chance to complain about it. I went in the bathroom when I awoke and closed the door so that if I fell down with a massive heart attack, I wouldn’t wake my wife, and I put my pants on, left leg first, then the right, not leaning against the wall, for the sheer excitement of it. Some mornings it’s like mounting a bucking horse. And then downstairs to the coffeepot and back to work on my memoir.

Read More

The old man is learning to dance

I went to a fundraiser for my daughter’s school Saturday and wandered out in search of relief and found myself trapped on the dance floor among demented teens writhing and jerking to the throb of a DJ’s explosive sound unit and there was my girl, in a circle of girls holding hands, bouncing around in a tribal ceremony unknown to me, an old man from the Era of Dance Partners. One more reminder, as if I needed it, that soon I must take the Long Walk out onto the ice pack and not return.

Read More

One more beautiful wasted day

Last Wednesday I was walking briskly toward Penn Station in New York and I tripped and took a nosedive, made a three-point landing, rolled onto my side, and within three seconds, three passersby stopped and asked, “Are you okay?” I said, “Just embarrassed,” and when I started to get up and fell again, a fourth joined them. An old lady my age, a young black guy, a construction worker in an orange helmet, and a teenage girl. I limped east on 34th Street, and turned, and the guy in the helmet was watching me. I waved. He waved back.

Read More

It is a good and pleasant thing not to rant

It’s the details of a story that give it life, not the high moral outlook of the thing, but many people find details confusing: it’s righteousness they crave, righteousness as a rationale for anger, and so you have the current surge in harangues and fulminations and the rarity of true storytelling. It’s just human nature. But it’s sad to see.

Read More

Standing around, watching people suffer

The annual marathon ran by our house in St. Paul Sunday morning, a phalanx of flashing lights of police motorcycles, followed by Elisha Barno of Kenya and other African runners, and later the women’s winner, Sinke Biyadgilgn, and a stream of thousands of others, runners, joggers, walkers, limpers. For the sedentary writer standing on the curb, it’s a vision of hard work I am very grateful not to have undertaken. In the time I’d spend training to run 26 miles and 385 yards, I could write a book. When you finish a marathon, all you have to show for it is a pile of damp smelly clothes.

Read More

Columnist salutes a brother columnist, a red one

George Will is a great American conservative essayist and I am an aging liberal doing the best I can, but even in divisive times I am capable of appreciating him, and his recent column for the Washington Post is so excellent, a new prize is needed, the Pulitzer isn’t good enough, we need a Seltzer or a Wurlitzer. You can Google this at your leisure; “Abolish the death penalty” is the title.

Read More

Old man goes to hear an old man sing

A sweet warm fall night, Sunday in New York, and my love and I stood outdoors with friends who, like us, had caught Paul Simon’s farewell show and were still in awe of it, a 76-year-old singer in peak form for two and one-half hours nonstop with his eminent folk orchestra. John Keats died at 25, Shelley at 29. Stephen Crane was 28. Franz Schubert was 31, and each of them had his triumphs, but Simon sustained a career as an adventurous artist and creator who touched millions of people and whose lyrics held up very well in a crowded marketplace.

Read More

Old man in his pew among the Piskies

A whole string of perfect summery September days and we sit outdoors eating our broiled fish and cucumber salad and the last of the sweet corn crop while looking at news of people stranded in flooded towns in North Carolina, unable to evacuate because they are caring for an elderly bedridden relative. They stand on their porch, surrounded by filthy floodwater, waiting for rescue, and meanwhile we pass a bottle of Pouilly-Fuissé and look forward to ice cream.

This is why a man goes to church, to give thanks for blessings and to pray for the afflicted, while contemplating the imbalance, us on the terrace, them on the porch. And to write out a check for flood relief.

Read More

Old man spends Sunday among Lutherans

Back when I did a radio show in Minnesota, I liked to make fun of Lutherans for their lumbering earnestness, their obsessive moderation, their dread of giving offense. I felt obliged to make fun of them because they were the heart of my audience, but now that I’m old and out of the way, I feel obliged to do penance, and so last weekend I traveled to Bayfield, Wisconsin, to speak at an old Norwegian church, Bethesda Lutheran, celebrating its 125th anniversary there on the shore of Lake Superior. I was not paid to do this but I was offered coffee and doughnuts.

Read More

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