Be part of the audience as Garrison Keillor leads an ensemble cast through his entertaining live radio show filled with special guest performances, comedy sketches, musical interludes, and Keillor’s signature monologue, “The News from Lake Wobegon.” Keillor will be joined by three-time GRAMMY winner Shawn Colvin, singer/songwriter Heather Masse, a member of the chart-topping folk group The Wailin’ Jennys, and Sara Watkins part of the GRAMMY-winning acoustic bluegrass trio Nickel Creek.
And now, a note from the host:
Call me a fool if you like, but the course of American life in my time has been in the direction of greater civility and kindness: the wheelchair ramps, the public understanding of mental illness, the no-smoking laws, and so forth.
There seems to be less outright meanness. On the Internet, yes, anonymity breeds viciousness, ditto the freeways at rush hour, but decent people don't stand around ragging on their favorite despised minority as much as they used to. A girl today can look forward to a life of such opportunity as her grandmother didn't dare imagine. Men and women mingle more or less unself-consciously as equals and a man who cannot deal with this is considered weird. My mother is 96, living at home, and old age is far, far easier now than when Grandpa was packed off to the nursing home.
So there are some grounds for optimism. My people believed in cheerfulness. They came of age in the Great Depression and amused themselves with kitchen table small talk because it was free. Dad always made small talk with clerks and waitresses. How're you doing today? Good. Looks like we're finally getting spring. Small talk looms larger and larger to me these days, the sweetness of it.
One morning in February, I ate breakfast in the Waffle House in Little Rock, a bowl of oatmeal with raisins and brown sugar, a cup of coffee, and when the waitress brought the check she said so sweetly, "I sure do hope you enjo-oyed your breffus, honey." And I said yes I had, though honestly, I don't associate oatmeal with enjoyment. It's more about the fear of heart attacks. But I loved the way she elongated the word "joy," and her smile, and of course the "honey," which Minnesota waitresses would never say for fear of inviting flirtation. She offered a whole other view of life- that even from ordinary oatmeal, one can derive pleasure.
It struck me harder because, a week before, I'd been driving to the Mayo Clinic at high speed in a snowstorm so as not to be late for an MRI of my brain. I was talking on a cellphone to a woman walking through Central Park in New York, and I passed a semi as he was blasting through a snowdrift across the road, and suddenly I was in a cloud of whiteness, much like the Rapture will be, but with even less visibility. Central Park was on the verge of spring, she said, and then the whiteness swallowed me up. I blew through the cloud and out the other side and hit another patch of snow, and took my foot off the gas, and the semi blew pas, horn blasting, a few feet off starboard. In the whiteness, I had unknowingly changed lanes, and he had swerved around me.
A chastening moment, and I reached up and fastened my seat belt. The woman was on her way to the museum to look at Monets. I went to Mayo and learned that I do not have a brain tumor. I might've wound up in the ditch with 10 tons of cargo on me, but I survived and found out that I probably wouldn't die anytime soon. And that is cheerful news. I hope you enjoy the show.