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Keillor writes: "There is a long aisle at our grocery store with soda pop at one end and tea and coffee at the other, which my love and I get to after the butter and eggs and 2% milk."

Garrison Keillor. (photo: NPR)
Garrison Keillor. (photo: NPR)


A Walk Down the Aisle

By Garrison Keillor, Garrison Keillor's Website

12 April 18

 

here is a long aisle at our grocery store with soda pop at one end and tea and coffee at the other, which my love and I get to after the butter and eggs and 2% milk. We come to the beverage aisle and she selects the coffee, dark ground, with names like Swan Lake and Machiavelli. I notice the can of Maxwell House percolator grind and think of Mother and Dad. And there between the coffee and the soda pop is an extensive collection of waters.

In St. Paul, where we live, water comes out of the tap. You pay for it, of course, but the price per serving is miniscule compared to the serious money you shell out for fruit-flavored water, sparkling, caffeinated, antioxidant, and even hydrogenated. One water, enhanced with green tea and ginger, promises to create thermogenesis to increase metabolism and burn body fat.

It’s interesting to walk through an enormous grocery store on the evening of a day when I’ve been reading about the end of World War II, when most of the world except for America was badly damaged and people in Europe and Asia were hungry, many on the verge of starvation. People were eating rodents, crows, dogs, scavenging in the ruins for edible garbage. If you wanted good food, you had to pawn the silverware and go to a black market. This happened within the lifetime of some of us.

No wonder my parents in 1947 bought themselves an acre of land and built a house on it, keeping half an acre for garden, and every summer, we went through a frenzy of canning to fill the basement shelves with jars of corn, peas, beans, tomatoes, squash, and jams and jellies. Six children under their roof and we never went hungry.

My generation, which came of age in the 1950s, was the beginning of teenagerness: we adopted our own mode of dress, our own music, our standard of coolness, which was based on alienation from the previous generation. Adolescence, as we defined it, would not have been tolerated in a time of hardship and scarcity, but we reveled in self-consciousness. Some of us maintained immaturity right up to retirement. We called it The Arts but really it was adolescence.

And now we discover that old age is utterly anonymous. Past 70, we’re all marching into the swamp and it’s the same swamp for everyone. Bombs are falling around us, friends are struck down, eventually we will be, too. We live day to day, the huddled masses of the aged and infirm, watching our successors march on ahead.

What bothers me is that we’re cutting music and drama in the public schools to pay for Gramma to get an MRI if she has a headache and pay for Viagra at $10 per pill to give men in nursing homes to keep them from rolling out of bed at night. Why? Because we old-timers vote and children don’t.

The old need to look after the young and honor the future. I run into people who retired on lovely pensions at 62 and now enjoy making bad art and writing stuff nobody wants to read, an enormous bulge of aging boomers squeezing through the pension pipeline, their expensive health care paid for by semi-literate 30-year-olds penalized by lousy schools where languages were dropped and tests dumbed down and class size rose past 30 and 35, who are now forced to support a growing population of seashell collectors and bad poets and people making videos of the Grand Canyon. After 27 years as Assistant Vice President for Institutional Advancement at the Associated Federation of Organizations, you now get to be a teenager again.

That is what I think of as I look at the $6 can of hydrogenated citrus-flavored organic zero-calorie caffeinated water guaranteed to whip up your metabolism and make you skinny and youthful again. And so I don’t buy it. I go home and, out of solidarity with my ancestors who endured hardship of many kinds, I put a glass under the tap and fill it with water. No ice, no lemon, no sparkle. When you can appreciate a glass of pure water, you’ve touched base with reality. You are back in 1950, on Grandma’s back step, pushing the pump handle down, holding your tin cup under the spout. The chickens cluster around for their share and the barn cats. Some places in the world know terrible drought, but not us. Praise God for His grace and goodness.


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-23 # babaregi 2018-04-12 19:53
He's right about us spoiled old geezers; AKA baby-boomers that have let everything go to hell on our watch.

We're going to drain the system dry on our way out and we don't want to hear any grumbling about it from the young whipper-snapper s following behind us.

We're the Pepsi Generation, after all, and we're special, don't you know?

We revel in cultural decay and hedonism and we really know how to party! For example, our music was great and today's music sucks!

Anyway, you Socialists and Commies aren't going to do a damned thing about it. How could you? You don't even know how we got to this place and are brainwashed and in utter denial.

Here's a hint for you conspiracy theorists:

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-08-12/birth-cultural-marxism-how-frankfurt-school-changed-america
 
 
+41 # Texas Aggie 2018-04-13 07:59
It isn't the Left that is pushing the hedonism. We're the ones driving hybrids and electric cars, not the Regressives. We're the ones protesting the spread of assault weapons, not the Reactionaries. We're the ones using LED lights, not the conservatives. Places like Mar-A-Lago are owned and run for the benefit of the Rich, not the ordinary person.
 
 
-20 # babaregi 2018-04-13 10:58
Quoting Texas Aggie:
It isn't the Left that is pushing the hedonism. We're the ones driving hybrids and electric cars, not the Regressives. We're the ones protesting the spread of assault weapons, not the Reactionaries. We're the ones using LED lights, not the conservatives. Places like Mar-A-Lago are owned and run for the benefit of the Rich, not the ordinary person.


Texas:

I get that you mean well and want everyone to know how virtuous you are (known as virtue-signaling).

Your narcissism leaves you wide open to being played by others that don't actually care about you and who consider you a 'useful idiot'.

I gave you a link to open that should have given you pause to wonder. No feedback on the evidence?
 
 
+9 # ddd-rrr 2018-04-13 14:02
It's always a good idea to check out the reputation for truthfulness
(and the political "leaning") of a source that one is referred to
before believing what is stated on it -- and, having just done that
regarding "zerohedge", I wouldn't believe anything posted there!
 
 
-6 # babaregi 2018-04-13 20:20
Quoting ddd-rrr:
It's always a good idea to check out the reputation for truthfulness
(and the political "leaning") of a source that one is referred to
before believing what is stated on it -- and, having just done that
regarding "zerohedge", I wouldn't believe anything posted there!

ddd-rrr
You're welcome to believe anything you want about the source. What is important is to examine if it's true or not.

There are plenty of other sources to check out if you were actually curious about why you are such an ardent Leftist.

Otherwise you're merely finding excuses to disregard challenges to your bigotry.

I wouldn't have a problem with Leftist bigotry if it didn't have so much force behind it to screw up our culture since it is so widespread these days.

That's why I come here to attack you guys with logic that counters your narrative.


Here is another source you will, most likely, have a problem with:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UVUnUnWfHI
 
 
+6 # ddd-rrr 2018-04-14 15:37
The term "Leftist bigotry" almost defines the meaning of "oxymoron", whereas
"Rightist bigotry" does not! If you do not understand why, look up the definition
of "oxymoron", and it should be clear! If that isn't sufficient, then look up the
definition of "bigotry". If that doesn't "do the trick", look up the meanings
of "leftist" and "rightist", and then try to tell me which one is more
accepting of a range of views, and which one is not.

Also, look at history: in terms of right vs. left politics, economics, and social-views,
the successes were more often on the side of "Leftists", and the failures
(many spectacularly so) were on the side of "Rightists".

I'll go with the “wise and sensible Leftists", thank you! 8^)
 
 
+1 # babaregi 2018-04-14 21:15
ddd-rrr

Gee, it must feel great to be so certain about yourself and your ideas.

“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts.” — Bertrand Russell, quoted in the book A Word a Day
 
 
+5 # margpark 2018-04-13 17:18
OK. I read it. I cannot say I agree with the conclusions but it is a fair description of liberal enlightenment. Obviously you prefer conservative rules. And I consider political correctness the same thing as simple politeness.
 
 
-14 # babaregi 2018-04-13 21:12
Quoting margpark:
OK. I read it. I cannot say I agree with the conclusions but it is a fair description of liberal enlightenment. Obviously you prefer conservative rules. And I consider political correctness the same thing as simple politeness.


I don't think Leftists have an 'OFF' button and accept most any extreme Leftist position as valid (Antifa, Communism, radical feminism,/misan dry, anti-White male bigotry, etc.)

Mainstream Conservatives have limits (such as racism) and avoid being associated with Skinheads and the like.
 
 
+20 # ericlipps 2018-04-14 09:28
If you say so.

Unfortunately, the "mainstream conservatives"y ou describe aren't the ones driving the bus on the right these days. That job has been taken over by the wackos.

As for "Leftists," you obviously don't have a clue: you lump liberals with Western European-style socialists with Soviet-style totalitarians, as though they were all the same or at least willing to buy into the same ideas. Joe McCarthy would hve loved you.
 
 
-4 # babaregi 2018-04-14 12:07
Quoting ericlipps:
If you say so.

Unfortunately, the "mainstream conservatives"you describe aren't the ones driving the bus on the right these days. That job has been taken over by the wackos.

As for "Leftists," you obviously don't have a clue: you lump liberals with Western European-style socialists with Soviet-style totalitarians, as though they were all the same or at least willing to buy into the same ideas. Joe McCarthy would hve loved you.


Yes, I do say so.

You (personally) may be moderate but you act as an apologist for the wackos among you and that makes you (if not a wacko yourself) at least an enabler. You say you aren't and probably believe it with all of your heart; all fanatics (of any persuasion) do.

This is how leftist movements become totalitarian beehives and then claim it wasn't the ideology that was flawed but that people deviated from the wisdom of it.


Until you start policing yourselves you have little ground to complain about 'the other guy'.
 
 
+79 # goodsensecynic 2018-04-12 22:42
I empathize with Mr. Keillor's sentiments, but I also disagree. It's not medical care for the elderly that's responsible for problems in the school system.

Part of the problem of health care is that Americans pay about twice as much as other countries for health care and get about half the preferred outcomes. A lot could be done if Mr. Obama hadn't chickened out (or maybe never intended to in the first place) on the matter of universal, public health insurance.

Another part of the solution would be to shave about 10% off the military budget and use the savings to feed, house and educate the vast majority of America's children.

And, of course, there's Paul Ryan's parting gift to the American people - a 1 trillion dollar deficit spent on providing tax breaks to the rich and (in)famous.

This isn't an intergeneration al problem in which greedy sick old people like Keillor and me starve the public schools of art and music (and probably history and literature as well).

It's a problem of a late capitalist political economy in which we are coerced into bringing death to human beings around the world ... and to all other species as well.

Don't blame the old farts ... blame the far-famed "military industrial complex," "zombie capitalism," Betsy DeVos, Donald J. Trump and the merry minions of mendacity that dominate the current cultural agenda.
 
 
+3 # Benign Observer 2018-04-15 09:24
Beautifully said. Thank you.
 
 
+13 # pstamler 2018-04-12 22:56
Garrison, Medicare and Medicaid don't pay for Viagra.
 
 
+6 # Diane_Wilkinson_Trefethen_aka_tref 2018-04-13 14:44
Quoting pstamler:
Garrison, Medicare and Medicaid don't pay for Viagra.
Technically that is true. However, the generic form of Viagra , sildenafil, is available on Medicare Advantage Plans such as that of Optima Health.
https://www.optimahealth.com/documents/drug-lists/2018-formulary-optima-medicare-prime.pdf
Page 136.
 
 
+16 # vicnada 2018-04-12 23:34
Let personal growth giant, Anthony Robbins, bully back the buzz saw. He's built for it and has earned his moment. Let it last.

In the meantime, I've been waiting to grab my tin cup and join you at the pump. It's quiet except for the chickens clustering.

Welcome back, Good Bard.
 
 
+23 # John of Milpitas 2018-04-13 01:35
We here in the San Francisco Bay Area are blessed with some of the best water that our Mother Earth has to offer in the form of melted snow from the Sierras known as Hetch-Hetchy, I shake my head seeing my neighbors purchasing bottled water or water out of a machine.
 
 
+2 # twestheimer 2018-04-13 05:01
I wish municipal water was pure/health. It is treated with all kinds of chemicals to make it sterile for people to drink and not erode the pipes etc. Fresh water is not sterile but full of good microorganisms and might not be great for pipes but good for us! Usually tastes better too.
 
 
+22 # Texas Aggie 2018-04-13 08:10
Those "good organisms" include coliforms, Cryptosporidium , Salmonella, Giardia, Entamoeba, and a whole host of enteric viruses, any of which will make you sick and can kill you. That isn't what most people would consider "good for you."

Unfortunately with the massive cuts in taxes at the state levels, the part of the infrastructure that has suffered the most is sewage and water treatment, so tap water isn't always as good as it should be. The push for privatization of utilities is just making the situation worse.
 
 
+8 # lfeuille 2018-04-13 17:35
Ask the people of Flint what happens when the water pipes are allowed to erode. The problem with municipal water in many places is not sterility. It's the heavy metals from eroding pipes and industrial installations and the microorganisms that slip through the sterilization process.
 
 
+43 # kyzipster 2018-04-13 05:59
This is the best, perhaps the only argument I've seen coming from Republicans to attract younger voters. Create a resentment of older people by telling them they're paying for their Social Security and Medicare, like they're a bunch of 'Cadillac driving welfare queens.' Ignoring the fact that older people paid into it their entire lives. It concerns me because I've seen this resentment coming up in conversations with younger, liberal minded people in the real world.

There's a lot to be said about the mess being left behind by Boomers but this isn't very helpful.
 
 
+2 # EternalTruth 2018-04-16 03:18
Yet another attempt to divide and conquer . Keep the masses so stirred up and resentful of each other (the other generation, the other ethnicity, the other party, the other country, the other religion, the other opinion) that we’re too divided and distracted to mount any meaningful resistance to the ones pulling the strings .
 
 
+44 # Porfiry 2018-04-13 07:23
So the major problem is us old folk? At 84 I'm happy to pay school taxes for the greater good. You want Social Security and Medicare gutted on behalf of children? Get real. The latest tax law benefits only large corporations and the very rich. The plan was to cut EVERYTHING: school, SS and Medicare and -aid, everything except the military. 'Taint the fault of us old folk.
 
 
+3 # ddd-rrr 2018-04-13 08:08
Ah, yes, but there are perks available to us oldsters (BTW, I retired in 1962,
something possible for someone at 221 years of age...!8^),
and I still enjoy receiving that 10% off
for having made it to the
counter edge
to pay for my
fast-food order...!
 
 
+13 # Moxa 2018-04-13 09:26
I think this article is insulting to older people. In the first place it is our extremely unbalanced and unfair economic system which pits one generation against another in terms of available resources. The richest country in the world would have enough for everyone if distribution were equitable.

Secondly, I don't believe that young lives are more or less important than old lives. There is just life itself, and no one is more important than anyone else. It is a faithless idea that we have our meaningful trajectories and then, at a certain age, cease to have any purpose or worth. And Keillor's comment about people making bad art and writing things that nobody wants to read
seems arrogant and contemptuous coming from a highly successful and acclaimed writer and entertainer.

People should not be valued or devalued because of their age or their intelligence or their artistic ability or their current productivity, but because they are people.
That is a theme that actually lives in Garrison's very human Lake Wobegun stories. Here he sounds bitter and judgmental.
 
 
+3 # kyzipster 2018-04-13 16:08
He's also ignoring the millions of poor seniors, living in public housing, working as greeters at Walmart, life savings and even homes devoured by medical and nursing home bills. I really hate the word 'privilege' these days but I can think of no other word here. Out of sight, out of mind.
 
 
0 # PABLO DIABLO 2018-04-13 09:27
The usual crap from an old guy, "It used to be great. Now it sucks".
 
 
+3 # bardphile 2018-04-13 16:05
It's worse out here in lala land. My neighborhood is little stucco houses built in 1950. The widow lady on one side of me, an original owner, bought in at 20 grand, paid off long ago, and pays way less in property tax due to prop 13. She's sitting pretty. We bought in 1990 for $245,000; I paid off my mortgage when I retired 3 years ago after a lifetime of working--no pressure here. My neighbors on the other side aren't so lucky. Family raising 2 kids. The mom had to go back to work after her stroke to keep from losing the house. They pay way more in property taxes (prop 13 again), and are barely hanging on. Meanwhile the widow and I get senior discounts on tons of stuff that the family next door pays full freight for. We're all building equity, but few of us, myself included, could buy back in at today's inflated prices. (Houses now worth about 650). This has nothing to do with socialism or communism, babaregi. 80 years ago, seniors were at the bottom of the heap, and the New Deal came to the rescue. The system over-compensate d over the years as the economy lost millions of jobs, and now seniors (as a group) are at the top. Garrison's right. In consequence, I refuse to join AARP and contribute to a mindset that, like starving lions (only we're not starving), is eating the young of the pride.
 
 
-1 # lfeuille 2018-04-13 17:47
OK, now were back to the elitist Keillor that many of us found so offensive during the campaign. Maybe he is wealthy enough to get by without Social Security and Medicare, but most seniors are not. News flash: Most of us are not drinking fruit flavored water. With crap like this he dissipates whatever sympathy he gain from being the apparent victim of unfair charges of sexual harassment. Is he really so clueless as to believe what he writes?
 
 
+9 # janla 2018-04-14 13:55
I certainly hope that nobody believes that everybody can retire at 62 and live a frivolous life thereafter. I, for example, just retired at 74 because I needed to wait that long. I am certainly not into making bad art and writing pointless materials, but I have a learned a thing or two throughout my life that might be worth sharing. My water comes from the tap and when I need to wait for it to warm up I save that water for my plants.
 

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