Tonight, Garrison Keillor is recording his final A Prairie Home Companion, to be broadcast tomorrow night in its regular time slot.
There’s a certain sadness to this. My parents have listened to A Prairie Home Companion for decades, and I seem to recall that they went to a live show in the early 90s. I would listen to it occasionally — if it were on, I wouldn’t turn it off — and then when I left EB Games a decade ago and stopped working retail hours I started listening to it more regularly. I don’t catch it every week, and I’m likelier to listen to the Sunday morning repeat than the Saturday night broadcast, but it’s there.
Sometimes I wonder what baseball league the Lake Wobegon Whippets play in, and I’ve decided they play in the Green Grass League, famous to Peanuts fans for its Stumptown team and its not-a-star player, Joe Shlabotnik. Why not? Charles Schulz and Keillor are both Minnesotans, and Keillor works out of a theatre named after another famous Minnesotan, F. Scott Fitzgerald. Link three generations of Minnesotan literary giants in one fell swoop, Fitzgerald to Schulz to Keillor.
My dream for the final episode is for Guy Noir to be hired to investigate the mysterious disappearance of Buster the Show Dog, a long-running skit that ended when Keillor retired the series the first time in the 1980s. It would be like when Dick Tracy was hired to find out who kidnapped Little Orphan Annie. And then it turns out that Father Finnegan and whatever the boy’s name was are the puppet masters behind the Donald Trump phenomenon, and somehow this also involves Dwayne’s insane mother, and it turns out that Dwayne’s long-unfinished novel is, in fact, a long about Lucky and Dusty. I’m probably the only person in the world who wants something like that.
I’m looking forward to the Chris Thile era. His solo episodes earlier this year were nice. Different, but of course they would be. Thile is a different voice.
But Keillor’s era ends tonight. And, when I listen, I’ll think of it more as a celebration than an ending.