Tuesday, October 16, 2007

No News from Lake Wobegon?!

Last night my friend and teammate, Lorena, joined me at the Lisner Auditorium where we were to see Garrison Keillor do what he does best....talk about life. Over the years I have enjoyed many a lazy Sunday afternoon listening to A Prairie Home Companion on NPR. As a grad student I new it was time to leave for school in the morning when the Writer’s Almanac had come to an end. His voice bellows through the airways smooth and baritone. Not only do his words seem to sooth the tired soul, but they also have the power to awaken intellectual insight on issues we may not heretofore considered. It was through his book Homegrown Democrat (I listened to the audio version) that I came to grow into my own political beliefs and understandings. Listening to Keillor is both an entertaining pastime and an exercise in intellectual stimulation….a rare form of entertainment that has been waning in popularity from one generation to the next.

So it was with great excitement that I entered the Lisner Auditorium last night in anticipation of finally seeing this man in person. Lorena and I were ushered to our seats which happened to be blocked by two elderly couples who shot us dirty looks as they realized not only would they have to stand up in order to let us in, but I also had a rather large backpack and helmet that would also need to make the journey to the very middle of the aisle. Safely clearing the two couples we nestled into our seats and all was well. Just as the lights were beginning to dim and the auditorium fell silent a very important announcement was made….

“Would a Ms. Anna Liege Kelso please come to the entrance in order to claim her wallet?”

Up until this point I was not even aware that it was missing! Everyone in the theater turned to see who this lucky girl was to have the good fortune of being reunited with her wallet. It was as though I had just been beckoned by Bob Barker himself to “Come on Down!” Unfortunately the elderly couples who had finally gotten comfortable in their seats were not nearly as excited to receive this news as it meant they would once again have to rise from their seats in order to let me through. Despite their dirty looks and gnashing of teeth a few minutes later I was back in my seat, clutching my wallet, and Garrison Keillor walked onto the stage.

It is such an exciting feeling to see someone such as Keillor for the first time. There he was! This man who I have listened to for so many years! This man whose voice I have come to know almost as well as an old friend and now he was in front of me in real life! He immediately began with a story about a poetry reading he attended there at the Lisner many years ago…and this story bled into another story which turned into another story and finally came back around again. He weaves stories together so well that it is almost impossible to identify where one begins and another ends…a seamless amalgam of life’s experiences and observations that twist and turn until eventually returning to the place where he began.

As he continued with his stories on life, family, aging, etc. I was awaiting the moment when a character from Lake Wobegon would arrive on stage. But this was not to be. Apparently I misunderstood. I thought this was going to be part of the traveling show from A Prairie Home Companion! As time went on it seemed that this was purely a one man show. Within about an hour the lights came up, some folks asked him some questions and that was it! It was over! At first I thought it was intermission….but sadly, the show was over. I felt a little gypped. I guess I didn’t read the fine print. Oh well, maybe I’ll have to venture into the hinterlands of Minnesota if I want to see the real thing.

Although I felt a little disappointed in the brevity of the production, it was a wonderful experience to see such an important performer of our time in person. And indeed, he has a face made for radio.

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch
Garrison Keillor