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Garrison Keillor: Press firmly and I'll go away

By GARRISON KEILLOR
March 07. 2018 7:16PM




THE BEAUTY OF Facebook, to my way of thinking, is the ability to unfriend people and make them disappear from your life. I wish we had a button on the steering wheel of our car that would do that.

The people in the red car waiting to enter the parking lot at the concert Sunday who didn’t understand the basic principle of taking turns: One click and they go back where they came from.

Unfriending is completely wonderful, even though it goes against what we learned in grade school about trying to get along with everybody. A noble ideal, but past the age of 12, you’re allowed to be selective. I’m 75. I’m there.

The ladies whooping and yelling at the table behind us at the café on Sunday night are not friends so it’d be hard to unfriend them, but still. A man tries to listen to a quiet conversation through the screeching of idiots on their fourth glass of Merlot giving idiocy a bad name and suddenly monastic life seems very appealing. I’m just saying.

I get along pretty well with people who disagree with me. Republicans, for example. Here in the coffee shops where I hang out in St. Paul, Minnesota, Republicans are as rare as Lithuanians.

If you met one, you’d have questions to ask: why do they dislike their Baltic neighbors so much, what do they eat for breakfast, what words do they have that are hard to translate into English? You wouldn’t try to talk them into being Latvian.

My friends tend to be Old Left humanists who are religious about recycling and yoga and holistic medicine and kale and not so much about the Lord God, so it’s thrilling for me to have coffee with an evangelical and hear Scripture quoted. I would never unfriend anyone for that, any more than I would depants them or tie their shoelaces together.

I have more trouble with people who agree with me than with those who don’t. Progressives, bless their hearts, can be very righteous about inclusivity and diversity, welcoming those who are different from us, which we learned in the fourth grade, and one listens and nods and dares not say that, in any workplace, for any serious business, it is crucial to have a reject button and the opportunity to unhire.

In fact, I have unfriended the President of the United States. This is possible in a democracy. He is a crass unprincipled Democrat posing as a Republican and I don’t need to read about him every day. I’ve seen his act with the dog and hoop and ooga horn, and I don’t learn much from repeated exposure. So it’s gone. Any headline with his name in it, I delete.

The speeches at the Oscars Sunday night seemed directed at the President who likely was watching old golfing videos of himself. It was odd: the director who said, “I am an immigrant” and was roundly applauded for it — the movie business was founded by immigrants from eastern Europe. Film is international. Applauding a guy for being from elsewhere strikes me as self-congratulatory. Or applauding for women as a gender. I worked with Allison Janney and Meryl Streep; they are the best. They don’t need to be recognized as Leading Tall Persons of America. They’re good, period.

I’m an old liberal like most of those people and I love movies and I’m sad to see the art form dying, as attendance fades and theaters close and a generation loses its fondness for the big screen. Small screen is not an art form, it’s an industry. If your iPhone video amuses you, bravo, but you cannot be absorbed by it as people are by the big screen. End of sermon.

Enough about employment practices: talk about making great movies that people will drive a few miles and sit in a theater to see.

As an old coot, I am a member of a disadvantaged minority in America and if you gave me an Oscar, I could give a speech about how diminished mental capacity should not be used as an excuse for not hiring us and I could ask all the nominees over 70 to stand up and take a bow, and if I did, you would look at your beloved and say, “Hand me that remote, love. I’ve heard enough of this old gasbag.”

And you’d click the mute button. And you’d be so right. Maybe not correct, but right.

Garrison Keillor lives in Minnesota.


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