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Garrison Keillor debuts in Australia
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Deste



Joined: 17 Aug 2005
Posts: 307
Location: Far, far away

PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 12:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The first time I heard about Garrison Keillor, I was a young thing working for the tiny federal arts agency in the US and my roommate, for National Public Radio.

The landslide election of a president some Americans now revere stunned me and many of my naive, idealistic friends who came to town to do work we believed in. My new position was not secure, especially when our budget was slashed to zero by the new leader's budget director. We 250 people were declared superfluous servants of a radical agenda that gave money to godless mockers of society in the name of Art.

Reaction was swift. Major figures came to Washington to speak on our behalf. Twas thrilling to be close enough to brush shoulders with Toni Morrison as she stood up in outrage to declare, "It is a myth that you need to starve to make good art."

One of the funniest, passionate, if enduringly low-key advocates of federal funding for the arts was Garrison Keillor. He wrote a witty sing-song letter to the president that outlined the reasons why our country needs art and why the paultry amount of grant money the NEA awards should be restored.

I started listening to Prairie Home Companion because of that gesture of kindness.

It is somewhat ironic to read the linked article in Slate because it begins by condemning the award of a federal grant that states the obvious--and that repeats the findings of Harvard psychologist, Robert Coles, of many decades earlier.

However, I am not surprised. Keilllor has a reputation for treating the guest musicians on his show condescendingly or brusquely. It can't always be the case since he has regulars who interact w their host w warmth and grace. When he famously rhapsodized about his new Scandanavian love prior to a premature and short-lived retirement from radio, a woman in a long-term relationship w her boss until that time, had to listen from the wings as she did her job.

The guy is a homely Midwesterner in love with New York. He's from a rigid, religious background which he had to struggle to free himself from, yet without rejecting his faith or dismissing his love for a simple way of life that is no longer his, or didn't exist in the first place.

He looks back w affection at his roots when he evokes the world of Lake Woebegone. I love those stories! Yet, I am at a loss to identify a single story in which it isn't clear that the narrator considers himself a more intelligent, enlightened and sophisticated person than any of the characters he creates.

That sense of nostalgia, loss and superiority colors the article in Slate and reminds me of the social criticism that got the equally loveable Bill Cosby in trouble.

Keillor's to be commended for the vision that pushed him forward and made him brave enough to accomplish all that he has. He's extraordinarily talented and articulate about a life that binds heart to mind. And he's very, very funny in an old-fashioned way.

He is also flawed and clearly holds values that many of us do not. And many we do.
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 12:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Beautifully written! And containing, I'm sure, an honest and even handed appraisal that few would be able to make from our vantage point at farther remove.

I guess he's entitled to his humanity. I know he helps me value and work on my own.
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God writes a lot of comedy... the trouble is, he's stuck with so many bad actors who don't know how to play funny. -- Garrison Keillor
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gingerpale



Joined: 23 Jan 2006
Posts: 1324

PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 1:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

(I wonder if GK is a Writer's Guild member-- there is a pending writer's strike here in the US.)

Rainey, there are probably 10 million people in greater LA? What percentage would you say are employed by TV & film as writers?

Deste I am stunned to see you here out of the blue--as always, a post with meat!
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Rainey



Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2498
Location: Los Angeles, California, USA

PostPosted: Mon Nov 05, 2007 1:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hard to say how many writers are employed in TV and film. Hard to know even how many members of the guild that will be striking are thus employed. Even harder to put a number to the people that will be immediately and secondarily affected even though they won't be striking.

My middle daughter works for Fox TV — her first job out of college. She works in what's called "post production" or what needs to be done to film/sound after it's recorded to make it ready for viewing. She will run out of work shortly after the strike takes effect — a week or two we're guessing.

There are many, many more like her. In fact, probably 50 or more of those folk to every writer on the lot at Fox. Then there are the contractors outside the studios — I have no idea how many of them there are.

And, finally, there's everyone else in LA whose income, in one way or another, is dependent on the dollars that flow because of that major industry.


Curious thought about GK. He wrote his film and I guess he'd have to have been enrolled in the Guild to get it produced. Don't know if he needs to be in the Writers' Guild to write for radio. Authors aren't members unless they also write for TV or film.

Some of the striking writers will go to work on the great American novels they haven't had time for when they were at work on scripts. I've heard they can't write scripts for the eventual settlement while they're striking but they can write fiction. ...or non-fiction, for that matter.
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God writes a lot of comedy... the trouble is, he's stuck with so many bad actors who don't know how to play funny. -- Garrison Keillor
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