A Prairie Home Companion’s 50th Anniversary Tour comes to Akron, OH with Heather Masse, Christine DiGiallonardo, Rich Dworsky, Sue Scott, Fred Newman and Tim Russell.
A Prairie Home Companion’s 50th Anniversary Tour comes to Scranton, PA with Heather Masse, Christine DiGiallonardo, Rich Dworsky, Sue Scott, Fred Newman and Tim Russell.
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson, Dan Chouinard and Dean Magraw bring their show to Spokane, WA for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
A Prairie Home Companion’s 50th Anniversary Tour comes to the Grand 1894 Opera House in Galveston, TX with our favorite regulars, Rich Dworsky, Sue Scott, Tim Russell and Fred Newman. Additional guests to be announced.
New Philadelphia, OH
Garrison Keillor brings his solo show to Kent State University. Poetry, Limericks, Sing-Along and the News from Lake Wobegon.
A balmy, even summery, fall in Minnesota and then suddenly snow fell and my aging homeowner pals back home are reconsidering their options. The supply of teenage labor to shovel walks is spotty and you hear horror stories about ice buildup in the attic, water dripping from the ceiling, tons of ice inside the roof because the vapor barrier was put in wrong, and then of course there is the ever-present danger of slipping on a frosty sidewalk and twisting your back as you fall and something cracks and suddenly you are on the waiting list for Cripple Creek Care Center. A friend told me about a squirrel who’d climbed down the chimney to get warm and fell into the old coal furnace and tore around the house in a panic, scattering soot everywhere until they finally chased him out: “I got a .22 and I could’ve shot him but he was moving pretty fast and anyway the kids were watching and they were cheering for the squirrel.”
These are true Minnesotans, stalwarts, stoics, not summer soldiers, and the thought of decamping for the Florida swamps or the Arizona desert is for them something like gender transition or conversion to Zen Lutheranism, something to be postponed as long as possible.
I talked to Earl, the last friend of mine still farming, who had finished discing up his corn stubble just before the snow fell. “So you’re getting set for next spring?” I said. He said, “That’s under discussion right now.”
He’s 79, his wife is ready to sell the farm, their kids are long gone to distant places, she’d like to move to Arkansas where the oldest daughter lives with three grandkids. He’s Norwegian and I think that if Elaine stopped campaigning for Arkansas he’d come around and be in favor of it. He’s tired, his back hurts. But he’s lived here almost his entire life, he knows the history of this place going back 150 years.
I feel for them. I took the easy way out and absconded to New York to live in a big building with a super and a doorman, which is assisted living under another name. Dripping ceilings, invasive squirrels: the super deals with it. Winter is a rare event in Manhattan, a couple of decent snowfalls and thousands of apartment kids take their plastic saucers to the park and slide, and the next day it all melts.
“I got to get a new snow blower,” says Earl. “One you can ride on. That driveway keeps getting longer and longer.” I ask about Elaine and he tells me the joke about Lena going to the doctor because her hearing is so poor. He looks in her ear and finds a suppository stuck in it. “Well,” she says, “I guess that explains what happened to my hearing aid.” The doctor asks if she wants him to look and she says, “Let me think about it.”
These are my people. They know the same jokes I know. I ask again about Elaine and he says, “She’s fine,” and then he tells about Lena reminding Ole that her birthday is coming up and he says, “I know, what would you like? A diamond ring?” No, she says. “A trip to Mexico? A new car?” “No,” she says, and eventually she says, “I want a divorce.” He thinks and says, “Well, I wasn’t planning on paying that much.”
Despite damage to the ozone layer, corporate greed, various viruses, AI, the widespread acceptance of dishonesty in public life, my people persist. Other species are dying out, the family farm has been eulogized for years, other nuclear powers threaten to push authoritarianism farther even as America floats in a state of confusion, but I talk to old friends on the phone who are hanging on as best they can. Winter can be brutal: water freezes and expands and then it thaws, you’re rising and falling like a boat on the sea, you can hear the house creaking at night. But what can you do? Like Earl said, “A guy’s girlfriend called him up, crying, said, ‘I’ve lost my job, been evicted from my apartment, my car got totaled, and I’ve been diagnosed as bipolar and OCD. I can’t go on.’ The guy said, ‘Let me take you out dancing on Saturday.’
“She said, ‘I’m killing myself on Saturday.’ He said, ‘How about Friday then?’”
I’m heading for Minnesota in January for three weeks. Solidarity. Drop in for a cup of coffee and talk about winter when we were kids. That’s when winter was winter. Don’t get me started.