More on Minnesota’s angry humorist: Mark Jorgensen is a Power Line reader and graduate student in the University of Minnesota Department of Sociology. Mr. Jorgensen’s message reveals that no publication is too small to spike a column that treats a liberal icon with irreverence. Mr. Jorgensen writes us as follows:
“I have been an avid reader of your blog ever since Hugh Hewitt recommended it last winter. I followed your coverage of the
Keillor-Coleman issue with interest. Keillor’s partisan behavior was nothing new. If you recall, when the Republicans won back the House in 1994 Keillor felt compelled to say some critical things in several venues. One affected performance was on ‘Face the Nation’ in early 1995. And those familar with Keillor, his politics, and his public and private history were never surprised at any of this — the guy can be nasty.
“When Keillor returned to Minnesota in 1993 I wrote a satire about him and his homecoming and submitted it to the Minnesota Daily. It was initially accepted for publication on the op-ed page and even had a publication date. It never ran. I was subsequently given a run-around for the next several weeks. Among the reasons I was given were: the op-ed editor left, they lost it, and finally,after re-submission, that it wasn’t topical and no one listens to Prairie Home Companion anymore. Only the latter was somewhat plausible. In short, they did not want to publish it.
“As the Minnesota Daily before and after this episode has had nothing but favorable coverage of Keillor, I considered my experience simple censorship. Should you be interested, I am sending the satire as an attachment.”
We are interested and thought you would be too. Mr. Jorgensen’s column follows:
Frog Returns to Lake Wobegon
Garrison Keillor is back to stay, he says. He resumed hosting the Prairie Home Companion at the World Theater in St. Paul last October. It was inevitable, you know. All that talk from 1985 to 1987 about how he might, and then did, leave Minnesota for other parts because the local press was invading his privacy was a useful contrivance for him. At the time he needed to provide us, and maybe himself, with a palatable reason why he would leave home, kin, friends, and adoring fans. So because he values his privacy he spends most of the last seven years living in the New York City media spotlight. Right.
Don’t get me wrong. I think Garrison Keillor has immense talent as a storyteller, writer, and humorist. But he also has an immense ego. Now, ego is not a bad thing. We all carry one around with us. Its just that Garrison’s started to swell back in the early 1980’s. In the early years of Prairie Home Companion (PHC), from a radio show in 1971, and then a live performance in 1980 from the World Theater in St. Paul, it had an eclectic and devoted following. Many in the audiences at the World Theater in 1980, the Orpheum Theater in 1984 and 1985, and then back to the remodeled World Theater in 1986, were people with emotional and cultural connections to the 1960’s. Now 60’s people had no special gift for recognizing Garrison’s talents, but we did seem more receptive to them. Of course, people of all ages and histories could be found among the fans. They were all people who enjoyed PHC as good, basic entertainment.
Then, in the early 1980’s that began to change. I date the change from 1983. Some say sooner, some later. A new type of fan increasingly turned up in the audience at the World Theater. The original fans began to be displaced by the urban-rural “chic” types — they were strictly urban folk but they affected a laid-back country style of manner and dress. They weren’t called yuppies then, although many of them fit the label. For them being a fan of Garrison Keillor and Prairie Home Companion was a mark of status, cultural sophistication, and down-home wholesomeness. Many of the original fans began to fall away as the new audience grew. As these “beautiful people” of the Twin Cities grew to admire Garrison, he grew to admire himself and “his” talent. So began a great love affair. Garrison, you made a recent admission that you now realize how important a good supporting staff is for creating the final product. Many of us knew this back in 1984-85, as you felt you were outgrowing us.
Now it is a fair thing for any man or woman to see how far their talent might carry them. Leaving us was OK, Garrison. You didn’t have to make excuses. The general timing coincided with your marriage to the Danish woman, Ulla Skaerved, the “great love of your life.” That was almost coincidental. The big show about going to live in Denmark was too much, though. You could never fit in Denmark — its too small for you. There is no need to take swipes at Denmark to justify divorcing it and your soon to be ex-wife. No, much of your last seven years was spent in New York City. That was the focus of your time and energies. Many of us think there can’t be two simultaneous great love affairs in your life, anyway.
You were busy during that time in New York City. You wrote books and articles. You hosted the American Radio Theater, a PHC sibling. And you traveled. You did a lot of other things. Now New York City was good for you, for a while. You were f
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