TR (ANNC): A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But one man is trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions: Guy Noir, Private Eye.
(THEME) (TRAFFIC, HORNS, VOICES)
GK: It was June, and I was in Chicago, trying to get away from paint fumes. The landlord Lou was painting the 12th floor of the Acme Building, everything but my office.
TR (LOU): If the fumes bother you, open a window.
GK: My window doesn't open, Lou. It's painted shut.
TR: Then go for a walk. It'd be good for you.
GK: How about you paint in here, huh Lou? It's been years.
TR: We paint when you move out, Guy.
GK: I'm not moving out of here until they take me out feet first on a gurney. You know that.
TR: Then put it in your will what color you want. (STING)
GK: The fumes were so strong, I felt like I was being embalmed for burial. And the painter outside my door was singing.
LN (SINGS, BIG):
Goodbye Old Paint, you're leaving today
You used to be white and now you are gray
The dust and the smell are making me cough
Goodbye Old Paint, I'm scraping you off. -----
GK: Hey, I'm trying to work in this office here. Okay? I'm not in the mood for all of this ebullience, okay? Just tone it down. Hum or something.
LN (SINGS, CHAIN OF FOOLS):
Paint, paint, paint
Paint, paint, paint
Paint, paint, paint
Paint that wall.
GK: Could we talk? Could you listen to me for one moment?
LN (SINGS): Fish gotta swim, birds gotta fly, I gotta wait for this paint to dry, can't help singin' these songs of mine.
GK: How about you just think long thoughts, okay? Like a writer or something. Have a little quiet reflection. Contemplate. Meditate.
LN: I did that. In college.
GK: What'd you study in college?
LN: I was in women's studies. Ladies lit. The lives of Estrogen-Americans. And then I dropped out and went into the business that there's no business like. (SHE HITS A HIGH NOTE)
GK: You became a singer.
You----- you----- you make me feel like a colorful woman. Oh yeah. (STING, BRIDGE)
GK: So that's why I went to Chicago. For clean air and a little peace and quiet.(TRAFFIC) And I had a job with the Poetry Foundation. They're the ones who publish Poetry Magazine and give out a big prize every year for poets. They were dedicating their new building on Superior Street, a very handsome piece of architecture, which Chicago is known for, as you may know. It's a city for people who like cities ----so many cities are trying to become suburban shopping malls ---- Chicago likes to keep some of its rough edges-----
SS: HEY, WHERE YOU GOING? What you walk right in front of me for? You blind? Feeble-minded?
GK: Sorry. Didn't see you.
SS: DIDN'T SEE ME??? This is me. Okay? Big woman in the green stretch pants and the Black Hawk sweatshirt. Hard to miss.
GK: Sorry. I was looking up at the buildings.
SS: WHERE YOU FROM? MINNESOTA?? JEEZE.
GK: Didn't mean to get in your way.
SS: Then don't. Or else I am gonna get in your way, big time. You know what big time means? You don't want to know. (FOOTSTEPS OFF)
GK: Lot of poetry on the street in Chicago. People putting language together. You just walk down the street and it's there-----
TR (PREACHER): "For the wages of sin is death and the gift of God is eternal life" ----- Listen to me, people (FADES) ----- that's not me talking, that's God talking.
FN: Hey. Check it out. Looky here. The Fanny Fan. Electric fan and it fits right in your underwear. Look it here. Nice breeze in your pants. Puts the Windy City right in your boxers. Keeps you nice and cool. Sell you two of them. One for the front, one for the back.
LN (LOUD): Getcher hot dog here. Your genuine Chicago dog. Onions. Relish. Tomato. Mustard. All-beef sausage in a poppyseed bun. It's your Chicago dog. (BRIDGE)
GK: The Poetry Foundation hired me to do security at the opening of their new headquarters building, so that's where I was going, though I got a phone call from the Mayor asking me to do something for him.
TR (RAHM, ON PHONE): Yeah this is Rahm Emanuel. I'm the (BLEEP)ing mayor of Chicago.
GK: Mayor. Congratulations.
TR (RAHM, ON PHONE): Yeah right. Listen, I need your help.
GK: I'm busy today, Mayor.
TR (RAHM, ON PHONE): There are some photographs of me from when I was younger and I was interested in ballet. Me in tights and toe shoes. You know?
GK: Right. You sure it's you?
TR (RAHM): One hundred percent certitude. My tights, my toe shoes.
GK: Look. I can't help. I've got a job today at the Poetry Foundation, sir.
TR (RAHM, ON PHONE): The what? Listen. (BLEEP) poetry, I want these photographs confiscated. You get me?
GK: Have a nice day, sir. (CLICK, DIAL TONE, BRIDGE)
GK: (POLITE MURMURS) The Poetry Foundation building is glass and steel behind a woven zinc wall with a courtyard with trees and moss growing in the pavement. There was a nice crowd of sensitive people and the head of the Foundation, Jack LaMar.
FN: Thanks for coming, Mr. Noir. I just felt that we needed security at the event. You never know who might turn up at these things.
GK: I'll keep an eye out for riffraff.
FN: Okay but before you throw anybody out for misbehavior, make sure it's not one of our poets.
GK: How will I know which ones are poets?
FN: You've put your finger on the problem, Mr. Noir. Good luck.
GK: There was a crowd listening to a reading by Shameless Mahoney, a big red-faced white-haired man at the podium.
TR (IRISH): Shine on, pale moon of the harvest,
On this dark night, and you, O pale one
Fearful of darkness,
Wait with me here under the willow tree
For I have had no loving since
January, February, June or July.
GK: I mingled with the people around the table with Brie and baguettes and bottles of Chardonnay in the library, and then I spotted him. A guy in a red velour sportcoat and mirror shades and white boots with tassels. ---- Excuse me, sir.
TR (RICO): Who are you?
GK: I was gonna ask you the same question.
TR (RICO): That ain't your business.
GK: Says who?
TR (RICO): Says me. This is my town. Where'd you come from? I don't know you.
GK: I'm working for the Poetry Foundation.
TR (RICO): Well, nobody told me nothing about it. So you are messin' where you shouldn't be messin' ----- Do I need to suddenly pick you up and throw you out of here?
GK: Do I need to tell you that you just split your infinitive?
TR (RICO): I'll split your infinitive in just a minute. I got every right to be here. I'm a poet.
GK: Oh yeah?
TR (RICO): Yeah. Listen to this, smart guy.
Let me not to the marriage of true minds
Admit informants. Love is not love
Which goes to the cops with what it finds.
A guy like that I'd have to remove.
Oh no, it goes straight for the mark
And posts a lookout for the breakin,
It is the car that's waiting in the dark
To race away after all the stuff is taken.
I'm no fool, and anyone who speaks
To the cops will feel the bending sickle's compass come
And I will find you if it takes me weeks
So don't think that I am slow or dumb.
If I am wrong, I'd like to see you prove it.
Until then, pick up your carcass and move it.
GK: So what brings you here? You giving a reading? -----
TR (RICO): I came cause this here Poetry Foundation is giving out a prize for a hundred grand and I'm here to collect. Easy money. (BRIDGE) I got another one-----
This Is Just To Say
I have taken the body
that was in the icebox
and which you were
probably saving for evidence.
Forgive me it smelled bad
So pale and so cold
GK: So you write in different styles. The first one was very Shakespearean.
TR (RICO): Shakespeare!!! What does he have to do with it? You saying I stole it? Huh?
GK: No, I'm saying you got a split infinitive in that poem of yours, pal.
TR: Where? I don't see one. (GK WINDS UP, SWINGS, KONK, TR GROAN, FALL)
FN: Mr. Noir----- there is no hitting in the Poetry Foundation building.
GK: It was only a metaphor. Only a metaphor. (BRIDGE) I went back off down the street, enjoying the poetry of Chicago.
TR (EVANGELIST): And what shall it profit a man if he gain the whole world and lose his own soul------ verily I say unto you-----
FN (HUSTLER): Hey hey. Getcha Fanny Fan here. What do you say? The man fan. Keeps you nice and cool on a summer day. And it airs out your pants so you can go longer between washings. And if you should cut the cheese ----- it blows it right out of there so nobody knows it's you.
LN (LOUD): Chicago dogs. Chicago dogs. This is the real thing. You're in Chicago, getcha Chicago dog. Hey, my good man, how come you're so skinny?-----
GK: I walked along Superior Street (TRAFFIC) and around the corner and there under some trees there was a car parked with vines growing over it and someone behind the wheel. (KNOCKING ON GLASS) Hello? You okay in there?
(CAR DOOR OPENS)
GK: You all right? How long you been parked here?
SS: Since February.
GK: It's June now. That's a long time to work on a poem.
SS: Well, I was writing a poem about the beauty of the blizzard and then I couldn't finish it and then the snow melted and now it's a poem about desperation. And now I'm out of gas. I got ten-thousand dollars worth of parking tickets. I smell bad. Battery is dead. So is my cell phone. My family gave up searching for me and I was declared dead and they held a funeral in May. It was a nice funeral. They read some of my poems and finally ---- you know? ----- people liked my work now that I'm dead. So I decided to stay posthumous. It just works out better
GK: Well, good luck with posthumousness. It's been good for a lot of poets.
SS: Thanks. (DOOR CLOSE) (BRIDGE)
GK: I headed back to St. Paul and the Acme Building where the painter was still at work. You're still working on the same wall you were painting a week ago.
LN: This is the second coat.
GK: Second coat?
LN (SINGS): O the coat of many colors that my mama painted me---- painted pink and green and she painted so loudly.......
GK: Look. You were hired to paint. So paint. Painting is fine. It's an excellent profession. It's unprofessional to paint and sing. Other painters don't do that. Did Monet stand around singing La vie en rose as he painted them water lilies? No. There's no need to share yourself completely with the world, okay? Keep some of yourself for yourself.
LN: (SINGS) Gotta paint......gotta sing.....
GK: How about you take up poetry instead? It's like singing. You can write lyrics. But you don't make any noise. You just write things down on paper and if people want to they can read them or if not, not. You're not imposing yourself…..you're not inserting yourself.....you don't-----
LN (SINGS): P-E-R-F-E-C-T
THAT'S WHAT PEOPLE THINK OF ME.
AND THEY'RE GOING O.M.G.
LISTENING TO MY ARTISTRY
AS I'M SINGING SWEET AND LOW
GK: Okay. Thank you. That's wonderful. That's enough. I'm going in my office and I'd like to take a nap. No more singing. Okay? Please. Please. I'm going in here and taking a nap. Good luck with your music.
LN: (SINGS, ASCENDING HIGH NOTES)-----
TR (ANNC): A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets. But on the 12th floor of the Acme building, one man is trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions: Guy Noir, Private Eye.
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).