[Vision2020] A little Garrison Keilor to get us all going the right direction.

Rose Huskey rosejhuskey at gmail.com
Wed May 3 06:24:59 PDT 2017

nions&wpmm=1> &wpmm=1

Late-night driving, right-hand thinking

A prairie strip filled with black-eyed susans between soy beans on a farm
under a rising full moon in July 2016. (Andrew Dickinson/For The Washington


By Garrison Keillor
<https://www.washingtonpost.com/people/garrison-keillor/>  May 2 at 3:21 PM 

All last week I got to drive around Minnesota late at night, drifting
through the little towns, just me and the truckers out on the road and Merle
and George and Emmylou on the radio. I was doing a little dog-and-pony show
around my home state, and I like driving at night. Less traffic, more
romance. You look ahead down the open road and you're no longer an old
retired guy in a suit and tie, you're a Woody Guthrie
<http://www.woodyguthrie.org/> song, you're a man on the run, you're the
perpetrator of the biggest art heist in years, with Hopper's "Nighthawks
<http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/111628> " under a blanket in
the backseat along with "American Gothic
<http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/6565> " and six Jackson
Pollocks <http://www.jackson-pollock.org/> . It's a big backseat.

The yard lights of farms sweep by, some well-kept farms, some ragged ones,
and fields waiting for planting, and scraggly woods and old mobile homes
half hidden in woods. You feel the contours of the hills and valleys, the
creeks and rivers, you watch the ditches for suicidal deer.

There used to be late-night DJs who would send out dedications from
listeners - "This is for you, Wayne, and she says she still cares about you"
and he'd play "I Fall to Pieces
<https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X5Odka54ygk> " - but the stations all seem
automated now, waiting to be sold at a loss for tax purposes. Meanwhile, you
stop at the gas station/mall for coffee and are stunned by the sheer number
of potato chip varieties: bacon, B-B-Q, blue cheese, green onion, balsamic,
jalapeno, mesquite, garlic, guacamole, dill pickle, rockin' picante, spicy
Cajun, three cheese, Szechuan, sour cream, wavy mango, wasabi, BLT, plus
"natural" and "old-fashioned" and "40 percent less fat" chips. A potato chip
is a potato chip. Do we really need all this?

There is news on the radio: a new tax plan, a government shutdown (no?
yes?), the chance of a "major, major" conflict with North Korea, a big
harangue against the press, but it's meaningless. The fabulist in the Oval
Office has mesmerized us, like the boy in my fourth-grade class who kept
letting poots, as we called them. He pooted frequently and in various
musical tones, and we sat waiting for the next one, and as a result we did
poorly in math and now we can't figure out our laptops. But out here on the
ribbon of highway, the land goes on and on and on, and there is a new life
waiting ahead.

At home I am an old liberal, but out here at 2 a.m., I am all about freedom.
All I need from the government is a good road - I don't need the government
to put up signs warning me to fasten my seatbelt and drive carefully and dim
my headlights for oncoming traffic. On some straightaways, headlights on
high beam, I hit 80 and 90 mph. Let Bambi's mother look out for me.

At home I try to be kind, but out here, to the disgruntled voter who feels
ignored by Washington, I say, "Put away the 12-pack and the three-cheese
chips, lose the gut, stop smoking, turn off the TV. Papa is not responsible
for your sad life. Go back to school, arise at dawn, take brisk walks, think
big, show your kids how it's done." That's me talking at 70 mph.

Out west of Detroit Lakes, tuned to classic country, Emmylou
41XXQ&linkId=73412ef2b0aa89511e44459545d59aae> 's fragile voice drifts in
with "I would rock my soul in the bosom of Abraham, I would hold my life in
his saving grace," from an album I listened to over and over back in the
'70s sitting in a basement working on a novel that even then I knew was
going nowhere.

I admire that guy. He was young and naive, uncowed, indomitable. Now I'm old
and cautious and on Social Security, a burden on the rest of you, but it
ain't over yet. I could still make my mark in the world. It's a great
country. Nuts to the guy writing the executive orders. He is a lightning bug
in the marsh. I could shuck him and head west and get me a job bartending in
Bismarck and listen to the scuttlebutt of the drifters and barflies, weave
their b.s. into a musical called "Beautiful Losers" and earn 45 million
bucks and buy an island in the Caribbean. I was kidding about the paintings
in the backseat. That was fake news. At 2 a.m. going 75 mph just east of
Fargo, I think I am on the verge of doing something really good. You watch
and see if I don't.

Garrison Keillor is an author and radio personality.

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