The Story of Bob
Saturday, October 5, 2002
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(GK: Garrison Keillor; SS: Sue Scott; TR: Tim Russell; TK: Tom Keith)

(THREE BIG CHORDS)

GK: I'll never forget when I was named Outstanding Young Artist of the Year by the Women's Club here in Hubbard Falls, but I looked at the trophy last night and ---- the Year I was the Artist of was 1985. That's a long time ago.

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

GK: I've been working on my conceptual poem, "Lost Words/Found Words," which is made from words and phrases selected randomly from the newspaper, but when you select words from the Hubbard Falls Gazette you know that "beer" and "financing" and "everyone cordially invited" are going to be in there.

(BIG ARPEGGIATA THEME, APPASSIONATO, AND UNDER....)

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

(DISHES BEING CLEARED FROM THE TABLE)

SS: You didn't eat that tapioca pudding I made for you, Bob --- is something wrong?

GK: I'm not hungry, Berniece.

SS: I made an orange Jell-O too.

GK: I'm fine.

SS: There's butterscotch ice cream.

TR: Boy, that butterscotch ice cream sounds good. How about a dish for me and one for Rex, Berniece. (DOG PANTING, JINGLE OF COLLAR) Rex sure loves his butterscotch. (POPS MAKES A STRANGE GAGGING SOUND)

SS: What's wrong, Pops?

TR (TOOTHLESS): Just taking out my upper plate. Got something stuck under it.

GK: Would you mind doing that someplace else?

TR (TOOTHLESS): Got a caraway seed under there. Wow. There's enough food between my teeth to make a sandwich.

GK: I may not be home until late tonight, Berniece. I have to go see Mrs. Chumley.

SS: Oh? Is she using your poem for the October Arts Festival, Bob?

GK: I don't know. I've heard she's using something of M. David Sweezo's. (The big phony.)

SS: Oh. Well, that'll be nice.

TR (TOOTHLESS): There. It was just a caraway seed. (HE PUTS PLATE BACK IN) About drove me out of my gourd. (BRIDGE)

GK: Here in Hubbard Falls, Mrs. Chumley IS the arts. She's involved with everything ---- schools, churches, municipal stuff, Women's Club ---- if she likes you, like she likes M. David Sweezo, that big fat nothing, then you're in. You can do anything you like. Improv, performance art, song cycles, conceptual sculpture, anything.

SS: Why--- Hello, Bob.

GK: Oh, hello Mrs. Chumley. What a delight to see you again.

SS: I hope you've had the chance to hear M. David's new sound collage, "We Say They Say Essay " ---

GK: Yes. It's like asthma set to music.

SS: What?

GK: I said it was fantastic music.

SS: It's going to be performed by the Women's Chorale at the dedication of the Municipal Power Plant. Did you like it?

GK: Yes, it has some very interesting textures.

SS: It had such a multi-layered aspect.

GK: Yes, like going back and forth with the manure spreader.

SS: What did you say, Bob?

GK: I said, it has a sort of manic breadth to it----

SS: Yes, it does ---

GK: Did you have a chance to look at my poem, "Lost Words/Found Words," Mrs. Chumley?

SS: Your poem---- yes, your poem ---- yes, of course.

GK: I thought it might be something you could use at the Festival. It's very accessible, I think. People I've performed it for have been really amazed by it.

SS: Oh? Who?

GK: People. Different people. You see, it's a found poem, so it's new every day. It's like a living thing.

SS: ----Well, let me think about it, Bob. But I wanted to ask you a favor. We're going to be presenting M. David with the Mary Frances Foster Municipal Art Award for 2002----

GK: Oh. Nice. He must be thrilled.

SS: Yes. It carries a cash stipend of $5000.

GK: Wonderful.

SS: And I was hoping you could present it to him.

GK: Well, you couldn't have picked anybody better. He's done so much.

SS: Could you be the presenter?

GK: What day would this be----

SS: Saturday.

GK: I'd have to ask Berniece.

SS: You'd present the Award and then we'd hear his sound collage performed by the Women's Chorale.

GK: You know, as long as the Women's Chorale is there, they could recite my found poem. They'd love it. It's very accessible. People like it.

SS: The program is rather full, Bob. There's a dance piece and the civic repertory theater----

GK: I could make it a really short one. "Everybody cordially invited to finance some beer." That sort of thing. Not that exactly. Just using that as an example.

SS: Let me see what I can do.

GK: I'd have to know before-hand so I could---

SS: And how about you presenting the arts award to M. David Sweezo?

GK: Would I have to say something----

SS: It'd be nice. It's up to you.

GK: I sort of feel where he's concerned that maybe understatement works better----

SS: Why, speak of the devil--- here he is. Hi, M. David.

TR: Good afternoon, Mrs. Chumley.

GK: Hello. Congratulations on your sound collage, I really admire what you did there, taking that simple idea and making it into something that goes on for twenty minutes ---- it's really quite a feat ----- it's not music, not writing, and yet it's neither of them at the same time. I tell you, you've raised Xeroxing to an art form. You must be thrilled.

TR: I am. Thrilled to pieces. And the award is just frosting on the cake. Have you ever received the Mary Frances Foster Municipal Art Award, Bob?

GK: Not that I recall, no.

SS: No---- Bob never received it ---- it's for younger artists. Bob is more of a Lifetime Achievement person. More of a Living Legend and inspiration to others.

GK: Thank you.

SS: Well, I must be running. See you tomorrow, M. David. Bye, Bob.

TR: So what you been up to, Bob? Haven't seen or heard anything of yours since that sound collage Mrs. Chumley commissioned for the millennium ---- the one where you put the 2000 radios along Main Street--- quite a piece. That was just before you went away for a few months.

GK: Yes --- well, I've been busy on all sorts of things, writing a novel, collecting my poems, doing some performance art, writing some memoirs ----

TR: (LAUGHING) Writing your memoirs? What? A short story?

GK: Very amusing.

TR: (LAUGHING HARD) You writing your memoirs---- somehow that strikes me as funny. (WHEEZING) The memoirs of Bob.

GK: You know something, M. David? I told Mrs. Chumley about you.

TR: (LAUGHING, BUT LESS) Oh boy, that's rich.

GK: I told her about you. Where you steal your stuff. She knows.

TR: What are you talking about?

GK: The secret is out. You're gonna be hearing from lawyers soon.

TR: You're crazy, you know that.

GK: Everyone's wise to you, pal. I was the one who brought the sound collage to this town. Not you. I was the sound collage guy. You stole the whole thing from me.

TR: Oh go take a pill.

GK: She really appreciated what I was doing, and then you came in, you little back-stabber. Stole my stuff and bad-mouthed me all over. Ingrate.

TR: Get over it.

GK: You get over it. The party is over. There's room for one avant-garde artist in this town and I'm it, buster. So pack your tape machine. (MUSIC BRIDGE)

SS (BERNIECE): You care for an extra helping of the tater tot hot dish, Bob? Made it specially for you.

GK: No thanks, Berniece.

SS: I thought it came out real nice with the Cheese Whiz topping.

TR (POPS): Me and Rex sure liked it, didn't we, boy? (COLLAR SHAKE, JINGLE, PANTING) Yes, sir. Nothing like that Cheese Whiz
to get the old system working again. Everything you want in cheese¼ bright orange, flexible, long shelf life. Makes a swell denture adhesive, too.

GK: Did Mrs. Chumley call this afternoon, by any chance?

TR (POPS): Who? The old flat-chested lady with the bad breath? That old battle-axe?

GK: Mrs. Chumley----

SS: What did she say about your poem, Bob?

GK: I'd rather not say.

TR: Didn't like it, I bet.

GK: I'm just not in the mood to talk about it right now.

TR: Oh my----- aren't we sensitive----

SS: I found something of yours on the dining room table today, Bob---

GK: What's that----

SS: I sort of liked this---- "Fledgling emerald light streaming over sacred stone boats laundry-laden in the cactus tracks of raccoon passion in the old shoe twilight." It's nice, don't you think, Pops?

TR: All I can say is, if that's literature, then I'm Rhonda Fleming.

SS: Oh, by the way, Bob, you had a message from a Mrs. Timmy that she wants to pick up the conceptual sculpture she ordered.

GK: Oh. Okay. I'll go in my studio and get it. (FOOTSTEPS, DOOR CLOSE. FOOTSTEPS. SOME TRASH IS MOVED. PAUSE) Who am I trying to kid? I ought to throw all this stuff out. All the collages and the dumb poems and the---- what's this? (TRASH, MOVING) A bucket of red paint. Where'd this come from? Must be left over from the 9/11 commemorative piece I did. The one that nobody noticed because they were all talking about that pig Sweezo and his 9/11 commemorative piece. (PRIES OPEN COVER OF PAINT CAN) It's red, all right. (STIRS PAINT, VISCOUSLY, WITH STICK) I like it. I haven't worked with red in so long.

(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 Bob say----

GK: Yes! (BIG SWOOSH OF PAINT) Yes! (BIG SLOP OF PAINT) Yes! (BIG PAINT SPILL) I love it. (BIG HURL OF PAINT) I'm done with the conceptual! I'm going to paint this town red! (BIG PAINT THROW) Bring in the redness, out with the deadness. (BIG PAINT SWOP)

(THEME)

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

© Garrison Keillor 2002

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