Author: Sam Fritz
College graduates are obsessed with the coasts. Just ask and they’ll tell you how they ‘like really want to move to the West coast, probably California’ or ‘could really see myself in New York.’ If you’re from the American heartland it can seem like a race to leave, I’ve known more than one person who has thrown the deuces to start ‘a new life’ on the coast. I won’t pretend like there’s no appeal, the coasts have hip skateboarders (or more likely penny boarders), sun flared Instagram pictures and a few of the most happening cities on the planet (not to mention some actual diversity). Most of us are complicit in this ‘grass is always greener near the oceans’ mentality. Some states like Wisconsin rebelliously champion ’Sconnie Nation’ to show everyone how cool we are and celebrate generally our main food groups of beer and brats. Even these well intentioned efforts leave something to be desired. They play into the hands of the coasts, they’re not really authentic to what it’s like living in Wisconsin, more of a glamour shot of our most type-one fun attributes – like a little sibling pleadingly saying ‘look I can have fun too.’ (we party! You guys like parties, right!?)
Not everyone buys into the coastal hype though. Armed with soothing monologues and clad in red sneakers is Garrison Keillor, the best reminder of what makes the Midwest great. He serves as a gentle reminder that the coasts don’t have a monopoly on the drama and beauty of life, it’s in every rural town if only you’re willing to look. While high flying writers from the coasts pick on the low hanging fruit of midwestern ‘conflict aversion’ or platitudes like ‘oh that’s interesting’ weaving it syllogistically into some shrouded point about our sheltered worldview, Garrison is there to remind us that ‘gosh darn it we are nice and that’s a good thing.’
Celebrating a 75th birthday with his Love and Comedy Tour, Garrison comes to Breese Stevens Field this Saturday for a night with longtime A Prairie Home Companion members Fred Newman and Rich Dworsky.