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Spring Break

February 26, 2012 | 9 Comments

A good show in Duluth though the monologue was a little wavery and now we head into our spring break, a long one, four Saturdays of compilation shows (Joke, Nashville, St. Patrick's, New York) until we're back live in Milwaukee on March 31. Big sell-out crowd in Duluth at the auditorium next to the harbor where the oreboat museum William A. Irvin is tied up and beyond it the magnificent Aerial Lift Bridge illuminated at night, like a big D turned on its side. A gaggle of young women in the audience to see Trampled By Turtles and they all screamed when the boys were introduced. I'm an older guy and don't scream for anybody anymore and sometimes wish I could. The jazz band from Grand Rapids High School played with great esprit and I hope that came across in the Freddie Hubbard and Chick Corea pieces, the love of music among 17-year-olds, and the charismatic band director, Dale Gunderson, punching up the big beats. Our way of saluting a terrific school music program and the great cause of music education. And it was a large pleasure to have Fred Newman back so I could write a script that had "(MAN SINGS "MY WAY" AND DROPS THROUGH TRAP DOOR, LOUD FALLING CRY, AND INTO TANK OF GELATIN) in it, which Fred does so beautifully, from the cheesy vocal to the big squort. The crowd loved the three winter poems by Louis Jenkins. And a friend in Duluth contributed "10 THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW BEFORE MOVING TO DULUTH" including item no. 8 ---- "Superior is not. Not even close." ---- about which we are sure to receive letters from the wounded ("I have been a big fan of your show right up until that moment last Saturday when you delivered your gratuitous slur on my hometown of Superior, Wisconsin. Whatever inspired your cruelty, I do not know, but I can tell you that public radio has just lost a faithful supporter. I hope and pray that you get lung cancer.") ---- but the Duluth audience fell apart over it. Giddy with pleasure.

After the show, stood around hobnobbing with visitors backstage, an old friend from Sunday School days who brought along a panoramic photograph of Bible conference attendees in July, 1947, at the Grace & Truth Gospel Hall in south Minneapolis. Nothing of interest to the average person, but she and I pored over it, identifying people we knew, cousins, aunts, uncles. And my old friend from early radio days, Marilyn Heltzer, down from Bemidji. And the cartoonist Chris Monroe, a Duluthian. And some skiers from the Birkebeiner over in Cable, Wisconsin. Then left my daughter with her Aunt Kay and drove back to the Cities with a friend so I could make it to church Sunday morning, not that they don't have churches in Duluth, but anyway. A long conversation about the future of the show that boiled down to "As long as it's fun and as long as it's good" and then fell asleep. I was not, thank goodness, the one driving.

Spring break is not a vacation. Projects for the next month: a duet record with Heather Masse, a collection of my light verse ("Verse, Lyrical, Vulgar & Profound"), a complete rewrite of a Lake Wobegon screenplay, and starting a book of memoiristic essays. And then launch into the spring season and the round of outdoor shows at Wolf Trap, Ravinia, and Tanglewood, Interlochen, and the finale at Hollywood Bowl, July 13. It sounds more rigorous than it is, but for someone in this line of work ---- who remembers his 20s and 30s and the long dry stretches of failed attempts and the phone never ringing and underemployment, and then in his mid 40s a pointless sabbatical in Denmark ---- it is just plain joyful to have work to do. At 69, on the verge of the three-score-and-ten, I operate on the One Day At A Time plan and feel less stress than ever before in my life. My 20s were wild with anxiety, ditto the 30s. The early years of the show were fraught with agonized insecurity that, in retrospect, strikes me as weird and arrogant. Now I'm just grateful for the work. Hope your March is calm and happy. See you in Milwaukee.



Thank you for it all. It is hoped that the One Day At A Time plan keeps making you happy. It sure makes each of our days happier. You can never know how much we thank you for it all. Each show enriches and provides a deeper appreciation for life --as any art form should. The sun shines brighter on Saturday than any other day of the week.


Lucky Man
(Busy is Happy)

Many people love you for your show
And some hate you for your politics
But you are in the know
And the others know where to stick it.

Dear Garrison & APHC,

Enjoyed the Duluth show. And did get a very healthy sense of exuberance from mighty Grand Rapids High School jazz band. Searing, soaring music!

About the wonderful Wildlife skit . . . did I hear Sue Scott's character use the term "baby mama"? I couldn't believe my ears. That was FUNNY! I'll have to revisit the audio to be sure.

Enjoy your ambitious spring break.


Dear G.K.,

Such a wonderful surprise to pay a visit to the website and see your column once again. Hope we can see these a bit more frequently! Especially while you're on spring break......Remember how we looked forward to them each week and were never disappointed.

It was encouraging to read your words about the show....."as long as it's fun and as long as it's good...", and "It is just plain joyful to have work to do". Of course this reader wants to interpret these comments as a possibility that we may be enjoying your company on Saturday evenings for longer than we thought. Because we are the same age, birthdays only a few days apart, I certainly understand there must be times you think retirement is the answer. We all hope you decide it may be the answer at some point, just not quite yet. Each and every show is such a wonderful respite from the troubled reality of the world.

And best of all, you're doing a duet CD with Heather during your spring break. Music to my ears, quite literally. It's been too long. With any luck at all, it will be available in time for our upcoming cruise.

Thanks for your welcome update on upcoming plans.

Brenda Lancaster

I will see you in Milwaukee, indeed. After listening to you on a regular basis for 27 years, my husband and I will finally get to see you in person and I can hardly contain my excitement. Upon hearing of your retirement at the end of this year we wanted to be sure and see your show this once. We were living in London when you performed there in the early 90's but being poor PhD students we could only afford the free things.

It must be odd to have so many people who feel like they know you really well and yet are complete strangers as far as you are concerned. You have an amazing gift of being able to understand people and communicate that in a way that I have never seen in anyone else. It forms a connection between you and your listeners that is quite amazing.

I am counting down the days until we see you and I promise to contain myself and not hoist on you any inappropriate affection.

Take care,
Marla Norris

I have enjoyed the show for a long time and will continue to do so. However, I found your rendition of IN THE GARDEN to be in very poor taste. This will not keep me from enjoying your show in the future!

I'm so glad to see "Post to the Host" again! Like others, I am hoping you will continue to find enough joy in your hosting duties to continue doing them a while longer - but I really hope that you will continue to let us post to you, host or not.

And maybe let us hear from the Old Scout, from time to time?

(I am tempted to suggest that writing is so much easier than performing, so you can do it longer - but I suspect that might get solidly rejected.)

HAIL,GK,I've been an avid fan of your offerings since 'way back in the 1970's,swam with your intellect, hoo-hahed at your joke collections,loved much of the music,sound effects,philosophy,and satire, overlooked your gaffes and faux pas, held my nose regarding some of your political stances, took 2 cruises with you,and, in general,continue to hope your venue outlasts mine.I dream of the day that you muster up the nerve to satirize the off-the-chart "protected" groups with the same glee and gusto that Norwegians, Lutherans,Swedes,Finns,Canadians, Floridians et al are represented in your boundless humor. There's a lot of fun there for the brave! Think about it, please.

I, too, am pleased to see you are writing comments again. Your Saturday show is always a delight.

Went on the cruise to Norway - left passport in baggage. I could not get on board without it, thought I might cry. You came along saying, "We won't leave without you". What a relief you are. No matter what happens in the world - you are there with laughter & good thoughts.

Stay well.
St. Louis, MO

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