Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Frankfort, KY for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Maryville, TN for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Fort Lauderdale, FL
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Fort Lauderdale, FL for a performance of classic love songs, poetry, The News from Lake Wobegon, and a conversation about Why You Should Go On Getting Older
Palm Desert, CA
Keillor & Company with Prudence Johnson and Dan Chouinard bring their show to Palm Desert, CA for a performance of holiday songs, humor and The News from Lake Wobegon.
Town Hall, New York City
A Prairie Home Companion American Revival comes to Town Hall in New York City with Christine DiGiallonardo, Heather Masse, Rob Fisher and the Demitasse Orchestra, Rich Dworsky, Walter Bobbie, Sue Scott, Fred Newman and Tim Russell.
It’s the age of gratitude, the decade I’m in. Gratitude for bromides: you wake up to find that your excellent hamburger of the evening before has made you gassy and you fizz two tablets in a glass of water and feel quick relief. It was a man named Hub Beardsley who got the idea for Alka-Seltzer back in 1928, according to Google, and it was Larry Page and Sergey Brin who invented Google, and if you’d been around Palo Alto in 1998 and befriended two nerds and bought them hamburgers, you might be fabulously wealthy today and be weird and miserable, a problem that bromides cannot touch.
A physicist, Dr. Ivan Getting, and an engineer, Col. Bradford Parkinson, are credited as the creators of GPS though it was the U.S. Navy and Dr. Roger Easton at the Naval Research Laboratory who pushed it to completion with a network of satellites with accurate atomic clocks that will guide your car through Tangletown and make it possible for newly arrived immigrants to work as Uber drivers. And so my wife drives and I don’t correct her — I’m not in the business of correcting atomic clocks on satellites — I tell her about the husband and wife driving along and they hit a bridge abutment and in the next moment they’re in heaven and he’s at a heavenly golf course and he hits a hole in one and turns to her and says, “You know, if you hadn’t made me quit smoking, I could’ve been here years ago.”
Someday GPS will be able to tell jokes or answer questions about the history of wherever you’re driving through, which was my job when I rode with my dad from Minnesota to New York City in the summer of 1953: I read to him from the state guides put out by the Federal Writers’ Project in the Thirties, a geo/historical narrative that followed the main roads. So I read: “At 3.1 miles, on the left, is Lincoln State Park where Abraham Lincoln spent his youth from age 7 to 21 and where his mother, Nancy Hanks, is buried in Pioneer Cemetery” and though I was only eleven, I made myself useful to my dad.
The Federal Writers’ Project was part of the Works Progress Administration of FDR’s New Deal and it’s a government program that could be usefully reintroduced today. The purpose was to offer employment to thousands of impoverished writers, but it accomplished more than a handout: it saved thousands of people from writing bad poetry and drippy memoirs and self-conscious fiction and instead to create useful nonfiction that explained the country as you drove through it.
I see this as a turning point in my life: my dad wanted to go to New York City where he’d spent some good years during WW2 working in the Army Post Office on Fifth Avenue. He did not want to take me with him. That was Mother’s idea. She felt that the father of six children should not go gallivanting off to the big city, leaving her at home with three toddlers and a half-acre garden. I was sent along as his ball and chain and he resented it, but he knew she was right, so off we went. And in reading from the FWP guides through Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, and Pennsylvania, I made myself a partner on the trip. We bonded. I read interesting stuff in a loud clear voice for three days straight on two-lane roads. I believe this is where the seeds for my career in radio and as a writer were sown. So every summer I say thank you to the spirit of my mother, Grace, remembering that skinny kid with wire-rim glasses in the front seat of the Pontiac back out of the driveway with a silent father at the wheel and a pile of state guides beside me. He doesn’t know it but he is heading in a lucky direction in life.
The beauty part of being a writer is that once you pass fifty you’re surrounded by piles of unfinished work so you never run out of things to do. Singers start to decline around fifty, hockey players are finished by thirty-two, and most songwriters are done before they ever start. But an old man who writes stories sits down in the morning amid stacks of fragments and first drafts and failures that fortunately avoided publication, and this occupies your morning and you gain the illusion of productivity that gives you license to waste the afternoon on the phone and the evening watching a ballgame. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow, especially those of long ago.