KSUT Four Corners Public Radio's Blog


Wear your red shoes this Saturday

Peter Rosen took his camera and crew behind the scenes of  A Prairie Home Companion and pointed his lens intimately and intensely at Garrison Keillor, the voice who’s made the fictional town of Lake Wobegon, Minn., seem as real as any other small, simple town in the middle of nowhere America.

Rosen’s new documentary, Garrison Keillor: The Man on the Radio in the Red Shoes, is a thoughtful look at Keillor, and the film won’t be broadcast publicly until July.

You, however, are special. You listen and support public radio and, therefore, you get to see the film at 6 p.m. this Saturday, May 16, in the Smiley Theater at The Smiley Building in Durango.

We’re showing the documentary  in Bayfield, Dolores and Ignacio, too.  For more info on those screenings, click here.

A little sneak-preview of the sneak-preview is below in the form of soon-to-be infamous Garrison Keillor quotes from the film:

QUOTES OF GARRISON KEILLOR FROM THE FILM:

I SAT THERE AT MY UNDERWOOD TYPEWRITER BUT I WISHED THAT SOMETHING REAL WOULD HAPPEN, SOME DISASTER, SOME STORM, SOME HEINOUS ACT, SOME CRAZED PERSON WOULD COME RUNNING ACROSS THE GRASS WAVING A PISTOL AND SHOUTING JIBBERISH. AND I WOULD STAND THERE AND I WOULD LOOK AT IT AND REMEMBER EVERYTHING, AND THEN I WOULD TELL THE STORY.

i loved summer when i was a kid so much, because when school was out that meant THAT you could read as much as you wanted to. this was the summer that i think i became a writer. i was 13 years old. i wore steel-rimmed glasses and i was a very solemn boy. not that i was sad but i simply was paying attention. i had been given a typewriter by my uncle george. he gave me his old underwood typewriter. i had a secret place under the stairs where my parents could not see me, because they were worried that i didn’t go outside. i just wanted to do one thing. i just wanted to find things to write about.

TO SPEAK FOR YOUR PEOPLE. THE PEOPLE THAT YOU COME FROM. tHEY’RE RAISING CHILDREN. THEY’RE KEEPING HOMES. THEY’RE KEEPING LIFE TOGETHER. AND THEY HAVE A CERTAIN WIT AND STYLE AND A TONE OF VOICE WHEN THEY’RE IN A GOOD MOOD, WHEN THEY’RE HAPPY. AND TO BE ABLE TO REPRESENT THAT IN YOUR OWN VOICE. THE SOUND THAT YOUR PARENTS, THAT YOUR COUSINS, THAT YOUR FRIENDS, THAT YOUR FAMILY MAKE, WHEN THEY’RE REALLY CLICKING, WHEN THEY’RE REALLY COOKING, THAT’S A CHALLENGE I THINK FOR A WRITER.

I come from country people who woke up with the sun every morning and who washed their faces IN cold water out of steel basins and they drank their coffee black. and they were silent as they ate. and they did not look each other in the eye. AND THEY HAD KEROSENE LAMPS, WHICH WERE NOT TO BE WASTED. AND WHEN THE KEROSENE LANTERNS BLEW OUT, IT WAS VERY DARK INDEED.

I’VE ALWAYS WANTED TO GET MORE THAN ONE LIFE: TO GET A SAINT PAUL LIFE BUT ALSO A NEW YORK LIFE AND A COWBOY LIFE, A SHOW-BUSINESS LIFE, A LITERARY LIFE, AND A SECRET LIFE. I’VE LIVED A LOT OF LIVES VICARIOUSLY AS A READER AND INVENTED A FEW LIVES OF MY OWN.

I grew up in a ravine. There was a dry creek-bed that was not far from our house, and we hung out there for years. It was not so deep, but it was so secret. WE TALKED ABOUT THE THINGS THAT INTERESTED BOYS. WE TALKED ABOUT DEATH. WE TALKED ABOUT CRIME. WE TALKED ABOUT WOMEN AND THEIR STRANGE WAYS. BOYS WHO IN THE PRESENCE OF THEIR FAMILIES WERE ABSOLUTELY SILENT AND OBEDIENT SAID the MOST AMAZING THINGS. You could tell stories for the rest of your life based on things THAT WERE TOLD to you in that ravine.

people tell me i work too hard, but i know one thing, I don’t work nearly so hard as my mother worked, raising six children, and cleaning, and cooking, and washing clothes, and then in the late summer there was always a great orgy of canning. for my father’s sake, who loved my mother’s stewed tomatoes. he was a talented man, gifted with his hands, a carpenter and a mechanic.

I set myself apart from them, thinking of their work as dull and menial, and imagining that the life of a writer was much more romantic and swashbuckling. gradually it dawned on me that in search of a brilliant career, I also found a great deal of B.S. compared to carpentry there just is way too much nonsense.

My ambition took me a long way but once i got there i wondered who i was.

i grew up in a sweet country that was one country AND so there were certain points where all roads led, and everybody together. the public school was one of those places. in anoka, minnesota some children wound up going to dartmouth or stanford or carlEton or princeton. but they spent their formative years in the public schools with the children of farmers and carpenters and cops and firemen. they all rode together on the big yellow schoolbus and they cheered for the teams and they ate macaroni and cheese in the lunchroom. a valuable experience that gives you a tribal feeling.

Minnesota is a place where if you ask an audience to sing, they’re going to do it, they were brought up to. Like the Star Spangled Banner, which like our system of government is much-maligned and badly abused, but if you put it in the right key, which is the key of G, it works pretty well, and it’s very moving. People get so much of their politics listening to other people rant and rave on the radio, sitting alone in the car, or reading somebody’s blog. and The Star Spangled Banner is one of those rare moments when we sing a song together, which means more for all of us joining in. We share a common tongue, and a fondness for jokes, a love of American landscape. And we are a union.

when I was 13, 14 years old, my father took his Kodak camera off the shelf and he took pictures of all of us. The prints came back AND I LOOKED AT MINE AND I DESTROYED IT IMMEDIATELY, BUT IT STAYS IN MY MEMORY. LOOKING AT THIS STRANGE PERSON, THESE SPINDLY ARMS AND THIS UGLY PLAID SHIRT. I looked at him and i thoughT nobody’s EVER GOING to be your friend. You’re going to end up an old man LIVING all by yourselF IN AN OLD RUSTED GREEN MOBILE HOME AT THE END OF A LONG DIRT ROAD, WITH A SIGN OUT AT THE HIGHWAY THAT SAYS NO TRESPASSING. BUT YOU DON’T NEED THAT SIGN; NOBODY’S GOING TO COME IN THERE ANYWAY. THAT’S GOING TO BE YOUR LIFE. And then I thought no, maybe radio.

When I was 18 and a freshman at the university of Minnesota, I got a job reading the news everyday at 12 noon at the STUDENT radio station WMMR up. I sat there and I read the news in my best Edward R. Murrow voice. I didn’t have much of a personality but I was able to imitate a kind of friendly sense of authority. In May we discovered that the transmitters of WMMR had been switched off for the entire school year. And so, all of that year, I had been sitting in a studio reading the news to myself. It was sort of a blow. But when you’re 18, you’re pretty resilient; you’re not easily discouraged. You commiserate with your friends, and then you move on.

Was that all real, that life that we lived in that little town? as we drive up THROUGH THE BROWN FIELDS, over the hills AND COME UP TOWARDS the grain elevator and the lake, Did that all happen? That life, WHERE WE ALL LIVED IN THAT LITTLE HOUSE, ALL OF US KIDS. AND WE WENT TO SCHOOL AND WE PLAYED IN THE BACKYARD AND IT GOT COLD AND THE SNOW FELL, WAS THAT ALL REAL? WE WONDER IF THAT ALL REALLY HAPPENED, WHAT WE THINK HAPPENED IN THE PAST.

IN MINNESOTA WE GET HOME WHEN WE GET HOME, IT’S NO BIG DEAL. AND IF WE’RE CAUGHT IN TRAFFIC AND WE MISS THE SALES MEETING, IT DOESN’T MATTER THAT MUCH IN THE END. OUR IMPACT ON THE WORLD IS SLIGHT. SO TAKE LIFE AS A COMEDY, PLAY IT FOR LAUGHS. YOU DIE, THERE’S A SORT OF DECENT GRIEF, A FEW PEOPLE REALLY DO SUFFER FROM YOUR ABSENCE BUT THE IMPACT ON THE GREATER WORLD IS NOT THAT BIG. YOU DO NOT LEAVE A BIG HOLE. THEY DIG A HOLE AND THEY PUT YOU IN IT.

It doesn’t bother you when you start out telling lies, you know, you’re just grateful to be able to get through them without fainting up here. But when you become as accomplished a liar as I am, then you’re troubled by inaccuracies in your lies. Because see the reason that you tell lies about a wonderful place is that you believe that if you get every detail right, absolutely right, and every character in that story has exactly as many hairs ON HIS OR HER HEAD as she’s supposed to have. That if you get it absolutely perfect, that you will be lifted up out of this life and set down in that wonderful place that you’ve told lies about. And all your lies become true.

WHEN I THINK OF KINDNESS I THINK ABOUT MY AUNTS WHO LOOKED OUT FOR NEGLECTED KIDS, FOR THE RUNTS AND THE ORPHANS AND THE ODD DUCKS AND BESTOWED FAVORS ON THEM. WHO EXTENDED THEMSELVES TO STRANGERS.

THEIR HEARTS WENT OUT TO THE LONELY AND THE GRIEVING. THEY DID NOT LET SHYNESS GET IN THE WAY OF CHARITY. THEY DID NOT PERMIT BULLIES TO TROMP AROUND UNIMPEDED. THEY ABHORED CRUELTY. IT OFFENDED THEM DEEPLY. THAT SPIRIT RUNS DEEP IN THIS COUNTRY, I DO BELIEVE. GREAT EMPIRES RISE AND FALL. THE FAMOUS COME AND GO. CITIES BOOM AND THEN THEY LANGUISH. BUT KINDESS IS A CONSTANT PRESENCE IN AMERICA.

IN THE SAME SPIRIT I WALK AROUND SAINT PAUL AND I THINK THIS IS A GREAT COUNTRY AND IT WASN’T MADE SO BY ANGRY PEOPLE. I LOVE THIS COUNTRY. WHICH IS ONE OF THOSE SIMPLE, DUMB DISCOVERIES THAT A MAN MAKES, LIKE THE NIGHT I CAME OUT OF A HOSPITAL IN NEW YORK CITY WHERE I STANDING BESIDE MY WIFE HAD HELD MY NAKED NEWBORN 6 POUND DAUGHTER IN MY HANDS. AND I WALKED AROUND TOWN STUNNED BY THE FACT THAT WHAT I HAD SEEN WAS SO UTTERLY ORDINARY. EVERYBODY COMES INTO THE WORLD PRETTY MUCH LIKE THAT.

I was afraid of living an ordinary life. and I realized that’s what we all get. We all get an ordinary life. And it’s good enough. It’s good enough.

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1 Comment so far
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My applause to those responsible for publishing this excerpt from the script. I saw the special and enjoyed it, particularly the last of the script about “ordinary lives”. Garrison’s story is a universal story of children, trying to be themselves without bringing on the wrath of parents and teachers. If only more children would pursue their first grade dreams of a truly happy future life, the world would be a better place. “Angry people didn’t make this country great” is a sentence worth much thought.

DB

DB

Comment by D Boozer




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