St. Michael, MN
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director JULY 4, 2021, 4:00 PM SUMMERFIELD AMPHITHEATER 4300 O’Day Ave. NE, St. Michael, MN 55376 $42/$15 Outside concert FAQs In 2021 we are going bigger, better, bolder, and in the […]
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director July 2, 2021, 7:30 PM BIG TOP CHAUTAUQUA, BAYFIELD, WI Reserved $60/$52/$42 The Lake Superior Big Top Chautauqua is a 900-seat music venue and performing arts center, located near […]
Stillwater, MN 6-30
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director June 30, 2021, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM THE AVALON, STILLWATER, MN St. Croix Boat & Packet Co., 525 Main Street South, Stillwater, MN 55082 DINNER, CRUISE, AND SHOW […]
Just Added: Stillwater, MN 6-29
GARRISON KEILLOR and some friends from Prairie Home Poetry, Stories, and Classic Duets Featuring: Prudence Johnson Bob Douglas and Adam Granger Dan Chouinard, music director JUST ADDED June 29, 2021, 5:30 PM – 8:30 PM THE AVALON, STILLWATER, MN St. Croix Boat & Packet Co., 525 Main Street South, Stillwater, MN 55082 DINNER, CRUISE, […]
“Life can only be understood backward, but it must be lived forward,” said Kierkegaard, who only lived to be 42, died of TB, too young to enjoy the blessing of old age as I do. The longer you live, the more you understand how ignorant we were and by the time we know better, it’s too late, so we let young people run the world and in our remaining years, all we need do is enjoy them. The economy is their problem.
This dawned on me Tuesday at the ophthalmologist’s, sitting with his giant ophthalmoscope up to my face, my eyes dilated, looking at his left ear as instructed, as he told me that my macular degeneration is, though hardly immaculate, not as degenerate as it was a year ago. The certificates on his wall are a blur, I can’t see if he’s an ophthalmologist or an opera singer or a member of the Optimists, but I take his word on faith and go forth in hope out onto 65th Street, which is like a beautiful impressionistic cityscape, like Renoir but with a “Don’t Walk” sign you should notice.
In college, I tried to be cynical; I liked Ambrose Bierce who said, “Democracy is four wolves and a lamb sitting down to discuss what they’d like to have for lunch.” Bierce was not an idealist, having fought in the Civil War and seen brutality up close. I had no reason to be bitter, walking around on a pleasant campus in my black turtleneck, smoking Gauloises, and this was the longhair Sixties, and so I switched over to the sentimental Democrat I am today, my politics is basically “Bridge Over Troubled Water” — “When you’re down and out, I’m on your side” — there’s less actual ideology than in most Hallmark cards — and I’m not proud of this but I admit it: I am fond of Enya and when I hear her singing “I dreamt I dwelt in marble halls” or “When love is lord of heaven and earth, how can I keep from singing?” my soul is reunited with my angelic aunts, Marian, Margaret, Ruby, Jean, who shone upon my childhood. The uncles were cranky; the aunts were sweethearts.
I am a tribal creature, bonded to people from my hometown in Minnesota, who grew up near me on the Mississippi, people I played softball with, and my fellow evangelicals — when I hear someone use the word “beseech” or “vouchsafe” or “propitiation” I know I’m in the company of people who know the same hymns I do and I want to throw my arms around them but don’t because we were brought up to avoid physical contact lest it lead to sexual intercourse. I feel a bond with people my age, 78.
But I resist bonding with fellow liberals because it gets to feeling too comfy, sitting and murmuring in unison about Mitch McConnell and how devious and evil he is, so I say, quietly, “The real problem is that he’s smarter than the others. There is an art to obstruction and he is an artist.” So they start unloading on Trump and I listen and then I put my oar in: “ Donald Trump is an original, nobody like him before or since. All the others, either party, are variants of a type, but Trump came along, boasting, wearing his contempt proudly, and enough people loved him for that to elect him. Other presidents took the job very seriously but he was more like a sultan or an emir. And here he is, the most admired man in America. Democrats approve of Biden; Republicans adore Trump. No comparison.”
This statement lets some air into the conversation. You sit around on a terrace with your fellow liberals and the conversation turns choral and my job is to soloize, offer dissent in a minor key. In the company of young progressives who see me as a person of privilege because we once had an interior decorator, I like to tell about my days at Providence College where I rode on the equestrian team and met Ophelia Brocklethorpe of the investment Brocklethorpes and thereby became a partner at 21and retired at 32 to hunt wildlife in Botswana. Fiction is my field, and macular degeneracy is an asset in storytelling, removing me from nitpicking detail, giving me the broader picture, tearing across the veldt in a Jeep, Mauser in hand, chasing the wildebeest, and afterward, Hem and I, being served dinner. There is nothing like wildebeest steak, medium rare, with a 1955 Pinot Noir. Nothing.