November 28, 2009
The Town Hall

New York City, NY

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Carson

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(ORGAN)

TR: And now Wilcox Wall-to-Wall Self-Cleaning 100% Grass Carpeting ---- America’s Favorite Floor Covering presents……A MIDDLE CHILD IN THE MIDWEST……the story of Carson Wyler. Chapter 23.

(THEME)

GK: I didn’t ask to be a middle child, it was my fate, and I soon became accustomed to being overlooked. Left behind at rest stops on family trips. Left out of family photographs. Not called to dinner along with the others. ---- Mother----

SS: What is it, Larry? Why so moody?

GK: I’m Carson, Mother. Your middle child. Remember? Number three of six.

SS: Oh. Sorry. The light is dim. I couldn’t see you.

GK: It’s November 28th, Mother.

SS: Yes?

GK: Aren’t you forgetting something?

SS:What’s wrong?

GK: Like my birthday?

SS: Your what? Oh---- my gosh. Well, isn’t that something. How old are you? Thirteen?

GK: Twenty.

SS: Well---- how time flies. Are you in college?

GK: No. You promised me I could go but you never got around to writing the check.

SS: Well, we’ve been busy. What’s wrong with your arm, honey?

GK: I broke it. Somebody slammed the door on it. I’ve been in the hospital for a week.

SS: Oh. Really. Earl?

TR: Yes?

SS: Did you know that ---- that----- our son---- this one ----- has been in the hospital for a week?

TR: Who? Him? No. What happened?

GK: Never mind. I get the picture. (BRIDGE) My own family. They didn’t know me. They didn’t even know that I’d left the Lutheran church two years before and become a practicing Hindu.

TR (INDIAN): In our Hindu culture, middleness is a sacred thing, Carson. As a middle child, you occupy a central place. You are called Our Blessed Inner Child.

GK: Inner Child. I like that.

TR (INDIAN): The Child of Perfection. That is why your parents ignore you. Because you are so very very nice. You are no problem to them. So they don’t know your name. (BRIDGE)

GK: So I decided to do things to get attention. I became a wing-walker in air shows (PROP PLANE FLYING BY SLOW, ENGINE MISSING) and I joined the circus and was shot out of a cannon (SPRING WHAM, FLIGHT) and onto the back of a tiger (ROAR). I climbed the town water tower with suction cups (SFX) to the very top and sat up there and wouldn’t come down. (FN ON BULLHORN: Come down, Sonny. Your mom and dad are down here and they’re waiting to give you a great big hug and take you home. Please come down.) So I climbed down. (SUCTION CUPS, FASTER) But Mom and Dad weren’t there. They were at some gala or other. My great comfort was radio. I crawled into bed under the covers and listened to my favorite shows ----- (THEME)

TR (ANNC): Time now for ----- Dean Davis, Teen Investigator. (CAR RACING AROUND CORNER) sponsored by Pebble Beach Brand Peaches and Pebble Beach Brand Peach Preserves. Dean Davis and his collie dog Dave.

FN (TEEN): It’s the Muldoon gang and they’re heading for the candy store. C’mon, Dave. (WOOFS)

GK: I listened to Florence Beebe, North Woods Nutritionist....sponsored by Johnson Frosted Chocolate Cherries, the story of a brave aviatrix who flies the uncharted wilderness, bringing wholesome well-balanced meals to lonely-trappers (PLANE FLYING OVER) , and I never missed Brent Nolan, Best-Selling Novellist, the story of a writer torn between artistic ambition and commercial success. I listened to radio crooners like Rudy Vallee.

FN (SINGS):

There is a place where I'm longing to be,
Back in the state of Maine.
Where the wind and clouds seem to beckon me
Through the driving rain.
When I'm tired of downtown noise
I stand up and tell the boys:
"Let's grab our hats and ride our toboggan
Back to Piscacadawadaquoddymoggin.

GK: And my favorite show ---- it came on every day at 5 o’clock---- (THEME)

TR (ANNC): And now, Drexel, makers of Durite, brings you Avis Burnham, Frontier Librarian….. the story of a woman who works to bring learning and beauty to the lawless towns on the Kansas frontier.

GK: I wrote her fan letters and all I got back were form letters.

FN: Thank you for your interest in the Avis Burnham show. Avis has asked me to extend to you her very best personal wishes and her hope that you and your family will enjoy a warm and meaningful holiday. Sincerely, Brad Bates.

TR: I can’t believe this electric bill!!!! Look at this!!!! Fifteen dollars this month. What is going on around here?

GK: I'm sorry, it’s all my fault, Dad. I’ve been listening to the radio with the sound turned up. I’ve been using electricity left and right and selfishly listening to the radio all by myself.

TR: (PAUSE) Who're you? You live here?

GK: I’m Carson, Dad. Your third child.

TR (PAUSE): Oh. Are you sure? (BRIDGE)

GK: When I was twenty-five I ran away from home and came to New York, certain that my family would start a big search for me. Call the police. (SIREN) Hire detectives. (TR BOGIE: Looking for a skinny kid with glasses. Ever see him around here?) Hire a sky-writing plane (SINGLE-ENGINE PLANE) to send me a message ---- Carson ---- come home. They’d go on TV shows. (SS (SOBBING): All I want is my little boy back.) I’ve been in New York for years now and not even so much as a Missed Connections ad on Craigslist -----

SS: You, small, adorable, striped shirt, sneakers. Me: older, dress, high heels. You said, “I’ll be right back.” I said, “Okay.” Where did you go? What’s wrong?

GK: No such thing. I waited a few years and walked up to a cop and said, “I want to report a missing person. Me.” He said, “Join the Club..” So I got a job in Times Square ---- I had a trained chicken who could dance and shell a pistachio nut in five seconds (SFX) and people paid money to see it. A remarkable chicken. Until it died of the whooping cough. (SFX) I got a job running a jigsaw and making jigsaw puzzles. (SFX) I sold motorized TV antennas. (SFX) I got a job cutting hair in a home for the deaf and dumb so while I cut hair I had to carry on both sides of the conversation myself. (SNIPPING, BUZZ OF SHAVER) ----I got tired of that and took a job with Mr. Al LaFond, the publisher of Hotcha Hotcha magazine.

TR: Want ya to cruise around New York and look for hot babes, Carson. Think you can do that?

GK: I guess so.

TR: Want the real hot babes. Babes with the hot-cha-cha and the boom-boom-boom. You know what I mean?

GK: I think so. I’m only 25, Mr. LaFond. I’m from Minnesota.

TR: You’ll know it when you see it. The va-va-voom. The hot babes with the yowsa-yowsa-yowsa.

GK: How would you define yowsa-yowsa-yowsa?

TR: It’s a combination of the (GROWL) and the boom-boom-boom.

GK: Okay. And what about when I find these hot babes?

TR: You just leave that to me, kid. Heh heh heh heh.

GK: There was something about his heh-heh-heh-heh that made me not want to locate hot babes with the boom boom boom, so I quit the job and instead went to the reading room of the Public Library and sat down opposite a woman who looked very familiar. She was older and tired and wore her hair back in a bun. She wore a silk chemise, one strap falling loose over her shoulder, her lipstick smudged, holding a glass of Coke and bourbon.

SS: Hi. I notice you’re staring at me. Is there a reason?

GK: I know you somehow. Your voice is so familiar.

SS: I’m not surprised, Mr. Wyler.

GK: You know my name.

SS: Of course. You sent pictures with your fan letters.

GK: Avis?

SS: Got a match, kid?

GK: No.

SS: Here’s a match. Light my smoke, sweetheart. (STRIKES MATCH. SHE INHALES, EXHALES)

GK: I don’t think you’re supposed to smoke in the library, Miss Burnham.

SS: (LAUGHS) You’re shocked, aren’t you. You expected to find a librarian and instead you found a ----(DEEP) a real woman. A woman with needs. Kiss me.

GK: Now? Here?

SS: Kiss me and then let’s go down into the stacks and let me make you very very happy.

GK: I never was happy. Not really. I was almost happy a couple times but I am a middle child and ignored by my parents.

SS: My dress has a ripcord, right in front. It's an ejector dress, developed by U.S. Navy pilots. Pull this little string and tiny explosive charges will fling my clothes to the floor.

GK: It doesn’t look like an explosive dress. Looks like a regular dress.

SS: Pull my string.

GK: Does it make a big bang?

SS: No, it makes a little whump.

GK: Just a little whump?

SS: Sort of like this. Whump.

GK: Wow. I don't want to hurt you.

SS: Aren’t you attracted to me?

GK: Indubitably, I just never pulled a ripcord on a woman’s dress before, honest, Miss Burnham.

SS: I guess there’s no love for me in this world. I'm thirty-four. I'm too old to start over. I'm sick of radio stardom.

GK: I wish I could make you happy.

SS: You can. Just put your hand right here.

GK: What are you doing, Miss Burnham?

(PAUSE. WHUMP)

GK: Wow. You’re naked. Completely naked in the library.

SS: And if I stand up and hold perfectly still, they’ll think I’m a statue of Minerva.

GK: You’re beautiful.

SS: On radio I’m beautiful.

GK: Then I want to be on radio too. (STING)

GK: And that’s how I got into radio. Avis Burnham knew people in radio and they gave me my own show.

TR (BIG RADIO VOICE): You have excellent diction, Carson, and you have the yen to communicate, so you’ll make a fine broadcaster. You’ll stand at a microphone and simply exude warmth.

GK: I don’t exude warmth all that well, sir. I come from the Midwest.

TR: Look at Miss Burnham and she’ll warm you up.... (UP TEMPO THEME)

TR: And now live from Times Square, the Crossroads of the World, we bring you The Carson Wyler Show, with Ricardo Diminuendo and His Orchestra, and now……here he is…….the suave, the sophisticated, the sensational……(FADING)

GK: I did the show for years and then got a call from my mother.

SS: (ON PHONE) Honey? Carson? It’s me. Mom.

GK: Mom.

SS: Where are you?

GK: New York.

SS: Oh. I’ve been looking all over the house.

GK: It’s been years, Mom.

SS: Is that right? Well, I’ve been so busy. I hear you have a radio show.

GK: I do.

SS: Well, your brother Rudy just got promoted to inspector of poultry barns. And your sister is a Montessori teacher.

GK: Great.

SS: Your sisters Lynn and Loraine are in the carnival being exhibited in a tent.

GK: Nice.

SS: And your brother Lowell just returned from a trip to Canada.

GK: Lovely.

SS: What sort of show do you do? A talk show?

GK: I talk some.

SS: Well, isn’t that something. I don’t remember you talking at all when you were little.

GK: I talked a blue streak.

SS: What’d you talk about?

GK: Everything.

SS: I don’t remember that.

GK: I know.

SS: Well--- Good talking to you.

GK: So long, Mom.

SS: Bye, son. (ORGAN THEME)

TR: Once again Wilcox Wall-to-Wall Carpeting has brought you……A MIDDLE CHILD IN THE MIDWEST……the story of Carson Wyler. Join us again next week, when we hear Carson say----

GK: I feel sad all the time, Dr. Weltanschaung, and yet I bring joy into the lives of hundreds of shut-ins.

TR (GERMAN, SOMBER, EXPLANATORY)-----

GK: But I feel shut in myself.

TR (GERMAN)

GK: The train arrives at the station at 9 pm. What is that supposed to mean?

(ORGAN UP AND OUT)

Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

Old Sweet Songs

Lovingly selected from the earliest archives of A Prairie Home Companion, this heirloom collection represents the music from earliest years of the now legendary show: 1974–1976. With songs and tunes from jazz pianist Butch Thompson, mandolin maestro Peter Ostroushko, Dakota Dave Hull and the first house band, The Powdermilk Biscuit Band (Adam Granger, Bob Douglas and Mary DuShane).

Available now»

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