Why am I not surprised he changed his name? “Garrison” surely does resonate better than “Gary” if one has literary pretentions. And Mr. Gary Edward Keillor is nothing if not pretentious, droning on the way he does in that feather-bed voice about people he doesn’t really know who seem realer than any real people could be. But that’s his radio show, A Prairie Home Companion (even the name is pretentious!), and that’s not really where I connect with him as a pundit (although I do love “Guy Noir, Private Eye”).
No, it’s his weekly newspaper column that began running in our so-far-surviving daily, the Wisconsin State Journal, that brings me to the mind of Keillor. His wry, self-effacing observations are priceless, albeit a bit populist and ultra-lib – even there, he’s liable to make fun of those views.
He writes like a man in constant search of himself, humanity, and a way to live in peace while not denying we are all surrounded by wolves – even the wolves have something to fear.
In addition, I find him funny, a rare thing in these strident days of ironic relativism when most comics get their materials by ridiculing anything of value and truth.
As an intro, here are quotes from one about a ridiculous incident that he then ties into the way the world is changing, “Save our national sense of humor!“:
[Have you heard about] “the Domino’s Pizza hooha in which an employee … shot a video of another employee making a salami sandwich, farting on it and adding some cheese he had pulled out of his nose — which was posted on YouTube and promptly viewed by millions of slackers and mouth-breathers and apparently had such an effect on Domino’s business that its president, Patrick Doyle, made his own YouTube appearance defending the brand.
“This is the world turned upside down, in which satirists finally have some power to step on the big boys’ toes and make them squeal. Two minimum-wage employees with a cheap videocam are able to make such a stir that a man who earns almost half a million a year has to stand up and say that the Conover store has been closed and sanitized, that the two “team members” are charged with felonies, that Domino’s makes a delicious and hygienic pizza, and that the company is now reexamining its hiring practices so as not to admit to its team the sort of person who would pull cheese out of his nose and fart on the salami. ‘It sickens me,’ he said.
“In the real world, the booger video is piffle. A joke. It doesn’t require the company president to make an official statement — Matt the night manager just says, “Hey, you guys, cut it out and go clean the toilet. … [But] it isn’t the real world anymore… It’s an electronic world that keeps you in the loop as you zoom around … [and] shower the world with your e-mails and check your Facebook friends to see what they ate for breakfast and download anything you care to look at.
“I call on all Americans to stand up for the Conover Two and for our national sense of humor that has served us so well for so long boopboopbadoop. People have been grossing each other out for centuries and this is no time to stop. Is this a felony? No, it’s snot.”
For all 334 columns Gary has written for Salon.com since 1997, click here. Be warned, the first couple hundred were as Mr. Blue, giving advice on writing, love, erotica, and, well, NOT public radio sort of stuff!
PICTURE OF THE DAY
The pig reminds me to stick to my diet.