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Hogs in Lake Wobegon

April 7, 2008 | 5 Comments

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I've never heard you speak of motorcycle riders in Lake Wobegon. Do they not exist? A mid life crisis is a great time to pick up a new passion.

Tom L.
Ingleside, TX

The tragedy of midlife motorcycle passion is only too clear to us here at Prairie Home, Tom, in the person of Russ Ringsak, an old friend. Once a highly skilled architect in a reputable firm with a letterhead, he was gainfully employed in a white shirt and tie, drawing up floor plans of senior citizen high rises and deciding where to put the wall outlets, and then he bought a bike and eventually a Harley and suddenly he was playing in a blues band and wearing leather and now he is a crotchety old libertarian and has been forced to take a job as PHC truckdriver and as a columnist on this website. I recommend having the midlife crisis around the age of 24, it makes it so much easier for all concerned.


I've never understood why a mid-life crisis hits people at 50, or thereabouts. That would mean said person would live to be close to 100. I agree with Garrison that the crisis should be had in the 20's, though that may not be as financially feasible for some as it would be later in life. How about 35 or 40?

I can emphasize with Mr. Ringsak. I purchased my first licensed motor vehicle, a Triumph motorcycle in May, 1976. My father asked what I would do in the Fall when it got cold out. I replied, "Weren't you ever 23 Dad?".

I later sold that bike for graduate school tuition at Utah State University, the jury's out if it was a fair trade. I have gone on to have a relatively successful career for 20 years. I still have the career but purchased another Triumph six years ago. Everything evens out.

Ride on Mr. Ringsak....

John H.

Never understood this whole "mid life crisis" business. I mean, I know what it means, but never understood why so many try to make "change" out to be a silly - even childish-sounding - thing. Isn't life always in flux? What's wrong with someone deciding to try something new or different. Happening in your 40s or 50s seems to be only because it is only then that most people are in a financial and life position where they CAN try radical change or do things like get a sporty car or take a trip to Africa - and yes, buy a motorcycle. "Mid-life crisis" is a term made up by stale, boring people to chastise those who have a zest for life, and feminists who are angry that there's no male equivelant of their menopause for THEM to whine about.

There are "unconfirmed" reports that I am Lutheran. Actually, I missed being brought up Lutheran by a couple of generations, since my Norwegian immigrant grandparents(immigrandparents?) got into other kinds of mischief shortly after they arrived on this side. But recently I've been hanging out with a blessed bunch at Calvary Lutheran Church in Fort Worth, Texas, where my wife and I have been spending a few months yearly to escape those Vermont winters. And this last one was a good one to escape.

Anyway I am interested in your long held conviction that the ideal instrument for a Lutheran to play is a harp. I not only play a small harp, but write songs, some of which have been well received in Lutheran and other churches. My most recent song was even greeted by this arresting comment from a Lutheran pastor's wife, "This song sounds more Lutheran than your other ones". Why she said this I can't imagine, except maybe that the song was inspired in part by the kindly attitude of yet another, yes, Lutheran pastor.

Ever since I heard some of your early shows years ago, I've always thought it would be fun to be in one of them. You sing pretty good harmony and would enjoy doing that with a song or two of mine maybe. Or if you didn't like my songs (religious or secular) that much, I could just harmonize with one of yours and accompany with harp. I could also maybe just listen quietly from a distance, applauding at appropriate times. How can I discover which if any of the above willingnesses might strike your fancy?

Maybe this is good material to post, maybe not. In any case I'm glad to be in touch with you. You "do good work".


I've been wondering if you were ever influenced by, or at least knew of the existence, of Max Ferguson in Canada. As a young VISTA Volunteer in Detroit during 1967-69, I used to listen to him and his sidekick on Canadian radio do (mostly) political satire on the day's events in Ottawa and elsewhere. He taught me most of what little I know of Canadian politics and history (maybe a sad commentary on American attitudes toward Canada in some ways, but I'd rather emphasize the positive influence and power of satire and play-acting).
Anyhow, Max was a distinguished precursor of yours, whether or not you knew his work.
Happy 35th anniversary!

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