The Story of Bob, a Young Artist
Saturday, December 13, 1997
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(THREE BIG CHORDS)

TR (ANNC): Once again, Rainbow Motor Oil and the Rainbow Family of Automotive Products is pleased to present....The Story of Bob, A Young Artist....

GK: My play, "The Flaming Heart," is in rehearsal at the Arts Center, and I am so sick of it. That's what happens when you work on something for years. It's supposed to open in January and I hate it. I discovered that art is process, art is not product. It's the act of creation we love, not the thing we create. That's probably why I've never finished anything. (BIG ARPEGGIATA THEME, APPASSIONATO, AND UNDER....)

TR: The Story of Bob, starring Carson (Bud) Wyler as Bob, and written by Sara Bellum.

(VIOLIN THEME, AND UNDER....)

(DISHES BEING CLEARED FROM THE TABLE)

JB: You get enough Cheese Doodles, Bob?

GK: I did, yes, thanks, Berniece.

JB: Got a whole half a bag of Cheese Doodles left, Bob. GK: I don't think I could eat another one, Berniece. Delicious, but there's a limit, you know.

JB: They're small.

GK: I'm aware of that.

JB: They're good with sour cream, aren't they.

GK: Yes. Up to a point.

JB: Is something bothering you, Bob?

GK: You know, if I had a nickel for every time somebody asked me that----

JB: You just look sort of spooked.

GK: Well, you said that you and Pops were leaving to go visit the Beemers, and I'm expecting a guest, Berniece.

JB: Pops and I are on our way out the door----

GK: Good. Thanks.

JB: So who is the friend? A girlfriend?

GK: No, she's an arts administrator.

JB: Oh. Well, that sounds nice. What does she do?

GK: I have no idea. Gives away money or something.

JB: Oh, I see.

TR (ENTERING): Whoa, boy ---- what is that I smell? P--U.

GK: What in the world are you talking about?

TR: Smells like somebody cut one, big time. Whoooo. Boy. Somebody open the windows.

GK: I don't know what you mean, I don't smell a thing.

TR: It's always the culprit who can't smell it, isn't that the truth. (HE COUGHS)

GK: Well, it's not me.

TR: Whewwwww. Quite a stinker, isn't it, Rex? (DOG WHINE) Smells like that cheese died a long time ago.

GK: Would you mind changing the channel here?

TR: How's your play coming along? Heartburn----

GK: It's called The Flaming Heart, thank you very much.

TR: Whatever. Friend of mine who's a janitor at the arts center ---- he's seen it ---- he says it's duller than dishwater.

GK: I thought you people were on your way out of here.

JB: We are. Come, Pops.

TR: He said it's nothing but a buncha yik-yakkin and then somebody shoots himself. And that you sort of wish he had done it sooner.

GK: The critical opinion of a janitor is not that interesting to me, thank you very much. Would you mind not taking your teeth out?

TR: (DENTURE REMOVAL) Got a caraway seed under there.

GK: You said you were leaving fifteen minutes ago----

JB (OFF): I'll go start the car.

GK: The car's out back. Can't you use the back door?

JB (OFF): Can't get out that way. Too many magazines in the way.

GK: Pops, would you mind---- go.

TR (MOUTH OPEN): Whatcha giving us the bum's rush for? Got a big chunk of peanut in there is what it is. Goldang it.

JB: Soon as I get time to go through those magazines, I'm going to throw em all out. (DOOR OPEN) Oh. Hi.

GK: Oh boy.

DD: Hi. I'm Denise. From the arts center.

JB: Come right on in. Bob's expecting you.

TR (MOUTH OPEN): Hi there. I'm Pops. Sorry I can't shake hands.

DD: Pleased to meet you. ---- Nice gums, by the way.

JB: We're going over to the Beemers. Back in a jiffy.

TR: Help yourself to the Cheese Doodles. Come on, Rex. (DOG JINGLING, DOOR CLOSED)

(PAUSE)

DD: Did I come too early?

GK: No, this is fine.

DD: You sure?

GK: Absolutely.

DD: Was that your family?

GK: I never saw those people before in my life.

DD: You didn't?

GK: No.

DD: But they were--- here.

GK: They got the wrong address. Came walking right into the house. I was busy in my studio, came out ---- here are these strangers sitting at the kitchen table eating Cheese Doodles, drinking 7-Up, talking gibberish ----- it was weird. I kicked em out just as you got here.

DD: Bob, I really liked your grant application. And I think you ought to send it around to foundations.

GK: Oh. Great. Would you like a white wine? Some cheese?

DD: Sure. Thanks. ---- it's a wonderful grant application. The only thing is---- I'd change the title of it if I were you.

GK: Oh? Why's that? (HE SCREWS CORKSCREW IN)

DD: Well, I like your title, "Ice Slide" ---- and of course that's what it is ---- it's an ice slide ---- but ----- I thought you might call it "Crystal Gravity 49" ---

GK: "Crystal Gravity 49" ---- I like that.

DD: Numbers in titles really help a lot.

GK: Is that right?

DD: And 49 is a hot number right now ---- a lot of foundations have given money to projects with 49 in the title.

GK: Okay, "Gravity Crystals 49" --- sounds good. (HE ATTEMPTS TO PULL OUT CORK) Cork is tight.

DD: So as I understand it --- this is an interactive work, right?

GK: Right.

DD: And it's sculpture.

GK: Yes. Ice sculpture. It's a long ice trough that goes down a hill.

DD: And people interact with it by lying on their backs on sleds and sliding down ---- and along the way there are music installations, right?

GK: That's right. Tape decks in the snow. Playing Latin dance music.

DD: That is so cool---- So it's a multimedia work ---- sculpture and dance and environmental art, all in one.

GK: Right. (HE MAKES A HUGE ATTEMPT) Huh.

DD: And then, as I understand it, the slide makes a sharp turn.

GK: That's right.

DD: And there's a tree right there.

GK: That's correct.

DD: So some people might interact with the tree.

GK: Yes.

DD: So it could also be performance art ----

GK: Right. (HE TRIES TO PULL CORK AGAIN.)

DD: And then the participant comes to the bottom and there's a poem on a big sign --- I love this part ---- it says, "Frosty the Snowman didn't melt, he was murdered, and you killed him, you in the brown suit and the wingtips. You killed him, you in the sundress and the sandals. And you ---- you in the BMW. His frozen truth illuminated the emptiness of our patios, the irony of our garbage cans. We killed the snowman so that we would not see that we are all snowmen." That is so cool.

GK: Good. Glad you like it. (HE STRAINS AGAIN) Boy, this corkscrew just isn't getting leverage here.

DD: Here. Let me try it.

GK: Yeah, but it's stuck----

DD: Here. (CORK POP) There. (POURING) Here's to you and your ice slide, Bob.

GK: Thanks, Denise.

DD: I saw the rehearsal of your play, Hot Flashes.

GK: The Flaming Heart. It's called The Flaming Heart.

DD: Right. ---So how long did it take you to write it?

GK: The play? Oh, not long. A few years. It came fairly easily.

DD: Is it finished now or is this sort of an early draft?

GK: The play? It's finished.

DD: Oh.

GK: Why do you ask?

DD: Just curious.

GK: Well, you know. I suppose an artist is never finished, really. I mean a work of art --- I think of it as a snapshot of where you are at that moment ---- and a month later, it probably would be a very different snapshot.

DD: So you'd consider making some more changes in the play?

GK: Well---- I was----- you know ----- I mean------ what did you have in mind?

DD: I'd like to record the play. On tape.

GK: Uh huh.

DD: And I'd like to put the tape in a tape deck and put it in a snowbank.

GK: By the Ice Slide.

DD: Make it a part of "Gravity Crystals 49," yes.

GK: So that people sliding down the hill on their sleds----

DD: They'd go past your play, Bob, and they'd hear a few words of it. On a warm night when the ice is soft --- maybe a whole line.

GK: I sort of wrote the play as a total experience----

DD: I know, but this introduces the element of randomness, you see. Randomness is coming back now. It's very big again. I think that funders would like this. The tape of the play is playing and somebody comes by on a sled and which line of the play you hear is determined by when you pushed off from the top of the hill. You get it?

GK: You wouldn't think of maybe putting loudspeakers up on the hill so that everyone could hear the play?

DD: No, then you'd lose the randomness.

GK: I see. Well. Let me think about that.

(THEME)

TR (ANNC): THE STORY OF BOB, A YOUNG ARTIST....was brought to you by Rainbow Motor Oil and the Rainbow Family of automotive products. Join us next time when we'll hear Berniece say....

JB: There's a big Christmas costume party at the senior citizen center, Bob ---- why don't you come?

GK: Me? No, I don't think so.

JB: I'm dressing up as Joan Rivers and Pops is going as Winnie the Pooh.

TR: I'm going as Papa Bear, the one who ate Goldilocks' porridge. JB: How about you, Bob? We've got a donkey suit. You could go dressed up as Eeyore.

TR: No--- I got it---- (HE STARTS TO WHEEZE) He could dress up in his black turtleneck sweater and his blue jeans and he could pretend to be an artist! Get it? (WHEEZING) Get it? Pretend to be an artist. Just like in real life. Hee hee hee hee hee.

GK: Very funny. So funny I forgot to laugh.

(THEME)

TR (ANNC): That's next time on....THE STORY OF BOB, A YOUNG ARTIST. (MUSIC UP AND OUT)

©1997 by Garrison Keillor

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