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February 26, 2012 |
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.