The Mayor of Lake Wobegon
May 7, 2009 2:35 PM
Last night Garrison Keillor made a special appearance at the Overture Center to honor his brother Phillip, a West Side Madison resident who passed away this winter, and to raise money for the new shelter at Tenney Park.
Phillip was an avid Madison parks user, and he often skated at Tenney. The current park shelter, like everything four or five decades old (including your Mayor), is in need of more than a facelift. So the fundraising effort will allow us to build something really nice, a lasting amenity in the park, as opposed to the bare bones structure that we could provide if it were just a taxpayer-sponsored project.
The event was put together in only six weeks by Mary Lang-Sollinger. Next to the definition of "doer" in the dictionary, you will find a picture of Mary. It was an amazing accomplishment for which Mary wants no credit. But she deserves enormous credit, so she's going to get it here, and she'll just have to accept it.
Garrison put on a great show to a packed house with his Prairie Home Companion regulars Robin and Linda Williams and Rich Dworsky. It was mostly an upbeat show, but there was a very touching tribute to his brother just after intermission with a slide show of pictures, probably taken by Phillip or his family, of classic Madison scenes while Keillor and the Williams sang a song about home.
I got a chance to meet Garrison briefly at a reception before the show. I reminded him that we had met one other time at his brother's house a few years ago when I was invited to join Phillip and his family after A Prairie Home Companion appeared here. He said, "I spent a lot of time on the porch." I said, "That's right!" assuming that he had remembered my many insights in the hour or so we and others had spent talking that evening. Then he said, "You were there? I don't remember." He also pointed out that my approval ratings would now go down because of the bad economy. "Doesn't matter much what you do. The economy is bad and people will blame you for it."
Now, it's not that I was feeling especially popular or powerful when I arrived, but in a few short minutes he certainly put me in place, as if I needed it. For those who have listened to Keillor for years, this is exactly what you'd expect him to say to the Mayor of Lake Wobegon. Times are hard, and you'll take your share of the blame. Don't think too much of yourself. Don't complain. Have a piece of rhubarb pie, and you'll feel better.