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Keillor writes: "I flew back to Minneapolis for the mid-April snowstorm, as a true Minnesotan would do. Eight inches of snow instead of palms for Palm Sunday, God speaking to us: not to be missed. What caused it, of course, was over-enthusiasm at a 70-degree day, people setting out petunias, putting away snow shovels."

Garrison Keillor. (photo: A Prairie Home Companion)
Garrison Keillor. (photo: A Prairie Home Companion)

Old Man Cautions Against Faith in Probability

By Garrison Keillor, Garrison Keillor's Website

20 April 19


flew back to Minneapolis for the mid-April snowstorm, as a true Minnesotan would do. Eight inches of snow instead of palms for Palm Sunday, God speaking to us: not to be missed. What caused it, of course, was over-enthusiasm at a 70-degree day, people setting out petunias, putting away snow shovels.

Do not assume. This was drilled into us as little kiddoes. At Anoka High School in 1958, we had a great basketball team headed for State and in the first round of district tournaments it got beaten by a gaggle of farmboys from tiny St. Francis. Unlikelihood lends disaster a sort of inevitability: thus, as I board a plane, I think, “This is the end of my life. Goodbye, my darlings.” This acceptance of disaster is what keeps the plane aloft.

Other people imagine that if they exercise regularly and eat more fiber, they’ll live to be 98. I don’t. I believe that an exemplary healthful lifestyle makes it more likely I’ll be struck by a marble plinth falling off a building as I walk to the health club. I’m not even sure what a plinth is but it’s likely that one will kill me.

My grandma used to sing me to sleep with a song about two little children lost in a blizzard — “they sobbed and they sighed and they bitterly cried, and the poor little things, they lay down and died” — which is nothing Mister Rogers ever sang, but Grandma saw no reason to hide harsh reality from us. She did not tell us to look the other way when she chopped the head off a chicken. Death was a part of our lives. How many children today have observed a beloved relative swing an axe and decapitate a bird? Not many.

My fellow Democrats have been assuming for two years that our corrupt King would be brought to his knees by a keen investigator — and they are now sadly disappointed and wandering in confusion. Everyone knows he is corrupt — he himself boasted about it — he grew up admiring men who shrewdly worked the system to their own benefit, cutting corners left and right, stiffing the little guys, paying off the big honkers. Public service was never his thing, not then, not now.

Democrats are horrified by the King, of course, as most people are. He is compulsively cruel, resolute in his ignorance, proudly illiterate, and on the one occasion he was seen in church, he did not bother to recite the Nicene Creed, unlike the four ex-presidents in the church with him. He doesn’t believe in a Holy Trinity but rather a Fearsome Foursome, Himself included.

So Democrats have launched a couple dozen campaigns against him. Every Democrat with better than 5 percent name recognition is out on the trail speaking to crowds of librarians, yoga instructors, poets, birdwatchers, and organic farmers and talking about climate change, health care, and the need for civility in public life. Next spring, Democrats will nominate a beautiful person in a white robe and sandals who holds out his or her arms and birds come and perch on them.

We assume that this wonderful person will win. That is what should happen, just as we ought to have daffodils blooming in April. As a Minnesotan, I see danger in the act of leaping to logical assumptions.

I awake sometimes in the middle of the night, seeing the headline KING COASTS TO 2ND TERM. Political scientists are astonished — and historians. But bikers, Baptists, and lovers of horror novels are not. The King is a living parable, a bad dream become real. We are not an enlightened people. It is 1856 all over again, except now with social media. Nobody wants to hear this. When I say these things to my fellow Democrats, they excuse themselves and go to the kitchen and brew a pot of chamomile tea with touches of rosemary and warm up a plate of artisanal corn muffins.

They have contempt for the King, his bad grammar, his cruel stare, his love of the garish, his pettiness, his devotion to his hair, and their contempt will lead them to nominate a holy progressive who will have his or her lunch eaten. This is a Minnesotan’s view. I am looking out the window at snowy fields as I write.

Having said that, I am going for a walk. I’ll stick close to the curb, to avoid any falling plinths. Have a good day.

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+11 # Pathfinder43 2019-04-20 23:00
It is possible Garrison is on to something here. Although as a dyed in the wool Democrat who still eats a fair amount of processed meat products. . . Portuguese linguica sausage is a particular favorite of mine. . . I think he dismisses all Democrats as tut-tutting vegetarian New Age airheads a little too glibly. And some of those vegetarians can be pretty tough, by the way. I know that from trying to cook for them! That said, there is danger in holding fiercely to too rigid a definition of ideological purity. . . and that covers both the progressive idealists and the pragmatic centrists. They all have to work together, and no one state or bloc of voters should ever be taken for granted. Right up until Nov. 8, 2016, I loved paraphrasing Patton's comment about World War Two at the time of the Battle of the Bulge. The paraphrase: We can still lose this goddam election. We need to keep that in mind going forward. Whatever is revealed by congressional investigation may not result in impeachment, but it should make Trump's being unfit for office abundantly clear. But let's not assume that's all it takes. It will take the fire of AOC and the wiles of Pelosi, and all of us rolling up our sleeves. Nothing is certain, but I have a lot of optimism about the current Democratic field and the new cadres in Congress and the State houses. Let's try to keep them there. . .
+6 # elizabethblock 2019-04-21 06:37
"Hello, Winter, my old friend,
I can't believe you'll ever end!.....
I can't stand the mere idea of April snow,
It has to go!.....
I want tomatoes in my yard,
Right now the ground is really hard.
I want to sit outside on patios,
I want to lose my winter fat, it's gross,
But my wishes do not hasten warmer air,
Life isn't fair!

("Grounds for Violence," by Bartley Kives, a reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press, to the tune of "Sounds of Silence". Garrison, I think it will speak to your condition.)
+6 # revhen 2019-04-21 07:16
Ouch. How right you may be. "Smile, things may get worse." I smiled. And sure enough, things got worse.
+2 # tedrey 2019-04-21 09:26
Early every Easter morning my sister sends me a multicolor post proclaiming that "HE HAS RISEN AGAIN!" and I get very excited, because if true it would be about the best news ever for this messed-up world. But it's always just another false alarm.
+7 # MLMDVM 2019-04-21 10:21
So very many people are angry at the damage Trump has done to our country, some because of his political appointees who have damaged critical institutions like the EPA, some because of the ridiculous wall, government scientists who have been silenced regarding their findings, the majority of women for so many reasons, people of color, Latinx, LGBT, the list goes on and on. The key is to get them to vote, if not become to political activists, as I have for the first time in my life since the disastrous 2016 election. Can't write more now, as I'm on my way to a Sunrise Movement Town Hall. See you there.
+9 # susanlno 2019-04-21 13:14
I don't know where Keillor gets the idea that the DNC will allow a progressive candidate to get the Democratic Party's presidential nomination. They never have.
0 # 2019-04-21 14:41
#susanlno you are probably right but maybe,
just maybe the DNC will rise from the dead
in recognition of the season. The hope that
springs eternal, no?
+1 # janie1893 2019-04-22 01:04
Thank you, Mr. Keillor for your most mindful missive! Fearsome Foursome you say! The King would currently admit to being only slightly divine. After November 2020, he will show his true glory! God help us all.

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