It all connected back to Keillor for me. The show was his creation. He was honest, funny, heartfelt and meaningful.
To me, he was the quintessence of what it meant to be a midwesterner. When I got sick in high school, things got hard. I felt some sort of calm listening to his program. It felt good. The first time I saw the show live was in in Paso Robles, California. It was a great show, filled with the stories and music that I expected to hear. The next time I went to see his show live, it was two years later. The venue was Macalester College. July 4, It was a beautiful Independence Day in Minnesota: blue skies for miles, a soft summer breeze and smiling faces all around. We got there a few hours early, found a spot on the lawn out in the shadow of Old Main and preoccupied ourselves with getting food and drinks before the show.
Some of the musical acts started to play and all around me were the nice midwestern NPR listeners that I would only expect at this show. My dad then noticed something out of the corner of his eye: while we were eating our hot dogs on top of our blanket on the lawn, Mr. Keillor had come out to start greeting fans.
I got in line to meet him. To be quite honest, I was nervous. It was intimidating. There were about twenty people in front of me, and Mr. Moving further and further up the line, when I finally got to the front, his assistant told him that he needed to get going.
We can see everyone. Then it was my turn. I walked up to him and shook his hand. I looked up at him. He had a firm handshake and he was far taller than I was, a truly imposing figure. It was somewhat intimidating. I gave his assistant my phone so that she could take a picture. I know that you did a film with him. That must have been something.
I do hope you keep writing, Justin. It takes work, though.
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Are you up to it? We sat adjacent to one of the trees along the path from the Campus Center to the library. The late afternoon sun beat down of my face as I closed my eyes and listened to the show.
It was peaceful. I felt calm. Later that year, I applied to Macalester, the place where I met this man. In March of the next year, I heard that I got in. I confirmed that I would attend on May 1, and on July 4, , Garrison Keillor performed his last show. I came here and started studying creative writing. I immersed myself into the liberal arts, sucking the marrow out of life and becoming a person who loves the act of learning.
All of this is with the purpose of being a writer, being a creator of stories. My grandmother bought me a book for Christmas. It made me feel weird to pick it up. It felt dirty with the name attached to it. I looked at it, but I am afraid to pick it up again, simply for the name on the cover. I am stuck between the memory of this man, the visage of an honest, down to earth individual who loved the stories he told, and the reality, that of a man who has hurt people, who has hurt women, who has made many women feel gross and disgusted.
I think about it and all I can think to do is blame myself, blame the guy who ever liked him in the first place.source url
Pretty Good Joke Book (2001, Paperback, Revised)
I cannot support a man who has made these actions. Now, however, I am in anguish. Just another man. His Mr. Blue columns got me out of the emotional rut I found myself in in graduate school. If it were not for the comfort of reading those columns and listening to the Prairie Home Companion, I would have never found the energy to write my dissertation, so I feel he was a huge support in my professional career.
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As a teacher and as a woman, I strongly sympathized with the MacAlister student and his bookstore employee and I firmly think Keillor was unequivocally wrong and sexist in those encounters. It is absolutely right to call him out on those encounters.
He is also a human being that has behaved very well and humanely in many other circumstances. The lovely encounter you recount is also part of him and it is not a lie. It was genuine and I am sorry you have lost your appreciation with it. I am glad that you have read a lot though not everything.
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But reading is not substitute for emotional maturity, and I hope this column helps you come to terms with your own emotional reactions to other people, so you can better understand what it means to be a human being. Monika, Justin, thanks for your heartfelt thoughts. I believe that Garrison is no Harvey Weinstein nor a pervert. My hope is that all sides will be heard from, respected. Calling someone a pervert could be considered slanderous.
Garrison is not a pervert and if you ventured to the bookstore or spoke with anyone who worked for the show, you would have found a story far different than what is reported and one that Monika depicts more accuRately and thoughtful than your piece. Andres, thanks for that mention of the revenge motivation.
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