December 31, 2008


Just when I thought I'd read the most nonsensical thing ever written (usually by Nick Coleman), the Star-Tribune goes and tops itself with something even more non-sensical (usually by Nick Coleman). Well, today the Strib outdid itself by printing the most off-the-wall, non-sensical, delirium-infused piece of "what the fuck?" ever penned, and this time the author was none other than Garrison Keillor:

Minnesotans are a humorous people and we are attempting to elect a comedian to the U.S. Senate, which is delicate work, as you might guess. You shouldn’t sweep a comedian into office on a wave of public adulation any more than you should let him win the heroine in the first reel and fly off to Paris and suddenly start ordering meals in fluent French. You need him to move a piano up a long flight of stairs, and that’s what Al Franken is doing now. He is leading the race by 50 votes or so out of 2.9 million cast. And when he boosts the piano to the top, he’ll sit down and play Chopin.

Okay. So, this column is about the Minnesota recount for U.S. Senate between Norm Coleman and Al Franken. Right? Well. . .

Meanwhile this earthquake activity at Yellowstone has me thinking maybe I’ll fly to Paris myself. Hundreds of tremors in just a few days — "We might be seeing something precursory," says a geophysicist. As you recall, Yellowstone sits atop an enormous volcano, red-hot lava bubbling just a few miles underground, which is what makes Old Faithful blow thousands of gallons of boiling water 150 feet in the air every 90 minutes or so. You can see this on live streaming video on your computer. All around it are scores of other geysers bubbling and hissing, as the monster dozes.

Huh? Wha? What's going on here? What happened to Al Franken? Is he a geyser?

The volcano hasn’t blown for 70,000 years, which suggests to me that the Big Belch is overdue.

Well, if it suggests to Mr. Keillor, it must be true. It's SCIENCE!

And when the volcano blows and Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Utah and Nevada go 30,000 feet into the air and drift east to become part of the Midwest and Eastern seaboard, you will be able to watch it on Google Earth until the boulders start dropping on your roof and fifty feet of topsoil and the power goes out and you lose your Internet connection and all your Facebook friends disappear and you must now bang on the pipes and hope the rescue parties hear you.

And you're forced to eat your toes to survive, and then your feet, and then your legs, and then you work your way gingerly around your groin, because you just can't stand the idea of eating that part, and then Al Franken will arrive with firefighters, but they'll be too busy counting ballots to save you from eating yourself.

What? Hey, it makes just about as much sense as anything Keillor has written thus far.

I would rather be in Paris.

Gosh, he'd rather be in Paris then buried alive? Who would have thunk it?

A Yellowstone spokeswoman says, "There doesn’t seem to be anything to be alarmed about." When a government spokeswoman says that, a person looks around for the nearest exit.

Seeing as how Yellowstone spokespeople have been saying that for pretty much the park's entire existence, including when the wife and I visited last year, I'm not sure Keillor knows what the hell he's mewling about. But, just when you thought you figured out where Keillor MIGHT be going with this column. . .

I am in Miami this week with my sandy-haired, bright-eyed daughter, staying at an old hotel with an enormous pool, and Air France has a flight to Paris this evening -— a 747, my favorite plane, with that first-class section on the upper deck, vast leg room, your flight attendant Juliette Binoche serving you Camembert on a baguette with a glass of Pouilly-Fuisse, and so what if it costs $14,000, money means nothing when the End is near. Suction out your pension fund, get a suite at the Ritz, and live on oysters and champagne until the money runs out.

Wait. What? What's going on? What about Al Franken? Yellowstone? My God, man, it's like watching TV with an autistic eight-year-old controlling the remote, only worse. This discombolulated train of thought is so seemingly impossible to replicate, I feel compelled to at least try:

I am in Rochester, Minn. this week with my red-haired, dark-eyed wife, staying at our ranch-style house that's having work done in the basement, and an enormous three-season porch that serves as a giant freezer this time of year, and a monthly mortgage that's inconvenient, but affordable, and the doll's trying to kill me and toaster's been laughing at me, and the penguin dust has been accumulating on the window sills, and my favorite TV shows are now available on Netflix. And so what if I have some vague belief that Yellowstone is going to erupt based on my own mental suggestion. Where was I again? Oh, right. . . back when. . .

When I was a fourth-grader in Benson School on the West River Road north of Minneapolis, Mrs. Erickson gave us the essay topic, "What would you do if you had one day left to live?" We had just read an inspiring story about Helen Keller and the rich, full life she led despite being blind, deaf, speechless and horse-faced, and Mrs. Erickson wanted us to write something inspiring about smelling flowers and listening to birds sing and watching the sun set, but I wrote that I wanted to get on a plane and fly to Spain.

Great googily moogily. It's like some sort of stream-of-conscious rambling penned by a meth head on the walls of an asylum. A note to the Strib: Just because it's written by Garrison Keillor, doesn't mean you actually have to run with it; at least ensure it makes some sort of SENSE first. Gah.

I had never flown in my life, and we had finished a unit on Spain and learned about bullfighting, which seemed like a very cool thing to do. So it was Spain for me.

So, the elementary school Keillor was about as dumb and non-sensical as the aged, droopy-pantsed Keillor. Good to know.

Mrs. Erickson told me to choose something else. "Spain is too far," she said. "It takes almost a day just to get there."

Mrs. Erickson: the precursor to an online fisking.

I stuck with Spain. Even at that tender age, I knew that life is the journey, not the destination. So Mrs. Erickson kept me indoors for recess, which was fine by me — if she wanted to punish me, she should’ve made me play outdoors with other children.

No, no, no. If she wanted to punish the other children, she should have made them play with Keillor. She was, in fact, rewarding the other children with a Keillor-free recess.

I’ve never been to Spain because I associate it with having only a day left to live. But I’ll get there one of these days, maybe after Yellowstone blows and I’m already in Paris, propped up in bed reading about the disaster in the International Herald Tribune as my close personal friend Audrey Tautou pours Dom Perignon on my cornflakes. (My daughter is at school in a house that is covered with vines.)

Apparently, Mr. Keillor is unaware of the global impact of a full-blown Yellowstone eruption. Paris my not be inundated by pumice stones, but the general fallout would make Paris a tad less than the ideal sanctuary he envisions.

"Tell me about ze Meedwest, mon amour," she whispers. "Ze peoples, are zay fonny?" Yes, sweetheart. Until Montana landed on us, we were hilarious.

And with that, ladies and gentlemen, we have absolutely no idea what the hell this column was even about. And people wonder why so many newspapers are dying. . .

Posted by Ryan at December 31, 2008 06:01 AM | TrackBack

You are now my new favorite ThunderJournalist *thunder strike*

And the first person from Minnesota I have ever LIKED.

Posted by: Anthony at January 2, 2009 06:57 AM

I would rather be in Paris.

The airport's over that way, Gary.

Posted by: Keith at January 2, 2009 11:32 AM

The whole article was one long running non-sequitur. But the line about his daughter's school was super especially non-sequity.

Posted by: Stephen R at January 13, 2009 02:16 PM
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