Hail to the Church of Garrison Keillor. The Church of “the Politely Depressed.”
Partly for the attack on Keillor:
If it were up to me, I’d suggest we borrow the U.S. military’s tactics and lock Mr. Keillor in a Quonset hut, crank up the speakers, and give him an industrial-strength dose of, say, Albert Ayler saxophone solos until this “much beloved radio personality” forswears reading poems over the airwaves every morning. Ayler’s music is not a particular enthusiasm of mine. The late poet Ted Joans described Ayler’s solos as shocking as hearing someone scream “Fuck!” in St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York. But Garrison Keillor could do with a little Albert Ayler in his church, and church is what Keillor is all about. Everything that comes out of his mouth in that treacly baritone, which occasionally releases into a high-pitched, breathless tremolo when he wants to convey emotion, is a sermon. The homily runs something like this: we are good, if foolish and weak, and may gain redemption through compassion, laughing at ourselves, and bad poetry badly read.
And partly for its attack on moralism that, like a snake slithering down nightly to drink milk, keeps poisoning culture:
Most people have neither the sensitivity, inclination, or training to look or listen meaningfully, nor has the culture encouraged them to, except with the abstract suggestion that such things are good for you. Multivitamins are good for you. Exercise, fresh air, and sex are good for you. Fruit and vegetables are good for you. Poetry is not.
As Kleinzahler puts it: “‘Be well, do good work, keep in touch.’ You bet, Garrison, I’m right on it.”