Skoglund Center Auditorium, St. Olaf College
TR: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets, but one man is still trying to find the answers to life's persistent questions----- Guy Noir, Private Eye.
GK: It was the week before Thanksgiving, and I was down at St. Olaf College on the case of a difficult alumnus. A natural gas tycoon named Bjorn Bjornson who wanted to give the college $100 million but had the wrong thing in mind. He wanted to put it into the football program, the college wanted it for the scholarship endowment. A case for yours truly, Guy Noir. (FOOTSTEPS) In the library students were bent over their books. They knew that this is that time of year when some people who thought they were heading for law school find out they are going to be telemarketers instead. I was headed for the development office and Vice-President Dolores Mangione Monachello.
SS: Thanks for coming, Mr. Noir.
GK: Mangione Monachello----- doesn't sound Lutheran.
SS: When it comes to raising money, Mr. Noir, Lutherans are much too polite. They come up to rich people and say, "We know you get a lot of requests for money and we're sorry to bother you but if there's any way you could give us a few shekels, we'd be endlessly grateful."A Sicilian like me says, "I know where your children go to school. Here's a check blank. I want to see a lot of zeroes."
GK: No wonder the school is doing so well.
SS: This guy, Bjorn Bjornsson, we've been after him for years and he's finally visiting campus today. (FEMALE FOOTSTEPS AND STOP) Yes, Miss Stenerud?
HM (SINGS): Mr. Bjornsson is on his way. His helicopter will land on campus in three minutes.
SS: Thanks, darling. (FOOTSTEPS AWAY)
GK: Beautiful woman. Nice voice.
SS: She was in the St. Olaf Choir and she never really got over it. Anyway, Bjornsson went to St. Olaf for a year and a half and was kicked out for chewing tobacco and spitting. Went back to North Dakota and found natural gas and he's a multibillionaire. He's got a soft spot for the school but the problem is he hates music.
GK: How so?
SS: He was in love with an alto and she broke up with him.
GK: Ahhh. (FEMALE FOOTSTEPS AND STOP)
HM (SINGS): He is coming. He is almost here.
GK: Miss Stenerud, I love your voice.
HM (SINGS): I was in choir for four years. I have perfect pitch and excellent breath control.
GK: I noticed your breath control right away. What would you do if I said I'm in love with you?
HM (SINGS): Join the club.
GK: Ahhh, where have you been all my life?
HM (SINGS): For most of your life, I hadn't been born yet.
GK: Oh right.
GK: Mr. Bjornsson's helicopter landed on the football field and he got out. A big guy. Blonde hair, sunburned, and a cheek full of tobacco. (TR HAWK AND SPIT) (FOOTSTEPS, OUTDOOR AMBIENCE) Welcome to St. Olaf, Mr. Bjornsson and congratulations on your honorary doctorate.
TR (GROWLY): You the President?
GK: No, sir. I'm an assistant to the president.
TR (GROWLY): I believe you've got some natural gas coming out of you.
GK: I believe it's coming from you, sir.
TR (GROWLY): Ah, yes, I think you're right. Must be that pesto fettucine.
GK: So you're thinking of giving money to the football program.
TR (GROWLY): I plan to buy the Minnesota Vikings and make them the St. Olaf football team.
TR (GROWLY): They're not doing that well in the NFL but I think they could beat Carleton and that's what's important.
GK: But they're professionals. This is college football.
TR (GROWLY): Details, details----- we'll work it out. (BRIDGE)
GK: My job was to walk around the campus and shut down any music playing so Mr. Bjornsson wouldn't be reminded of the alto who rejected him. (PIANO BACH) Sir----- Give it a rest. Take a time out. Thanks. (PIANO STOP) I went to all of the practice rooms (TR TENOR HITS HIGH NOTE, THEN FADES IN EMBARRASSMENT: Oh sorry) and wherever I found music (BIG ORGAN) I pulled the plug (ORGAN DESCEND SOUR) and all of the music majors busy practicing I made them stop (TR & SS BAGPIPES) Sir----- sir----- would you mind? Take a break, okay? (BAGPIPE LEAK, DESCEND SOUR) and in the chapel I found a few students holding a Compline service-----
HM & GK (SING w ORGAN):
Children of the Heavenly Father
Safely in his bosom gather.
To his holy courts they summon us
For I am an Olaf alumnus.
GK (NOIR): Give it a break, kids. Go light a candle and come back later. -----And then I noticed the short red-haired man in the spangly cape standing in the corner.
BB: What's wrong? I love that hymn.
GK: Who are you, mister?
BB: I'm an alumnus. Class of 1972. Religion major.
GK: You don't look like a religion major. Feather boa, all those piercings, skintight leopardskin pants, your hair dyed neon green and flaming pink, and leading a jaguar on a leash. (SFX)
BB: You didn't notice the tattoos.
BB: Tattoos all over my body. Flames mostly, reptiles, pyramids, Inca symbols, Egyptian pharaohs ---- want me to show you?
GK: No thanks. Who are you?
BB: Ben Brewster's the name.
GK: What's your story, Brewster?
BB: I sat in this chapel and heard them preach against all forms
of evil and I got intrigued by them ---- lust, pride, covetousness, false gods, paganism in general ---- and I decided to go out and see for myself. It took me about twelve years. Most things I only had to try once or twice. Some things, like gluttony, I really got into. At one time, I weighed 640 pounds. I had to go around on a fork lift. Inconvenient, especially when it came to lust.
GK: You look very sleek and slim.
BB: I gave up orgies about ten years ago. Developed an olive oil allergy.
GK: And then?
BB: Lutheran theology started to look better to me. It actually seemed rather joyful compared to the drudgery of sexual obsession and all that grunting and rolling around and howling ------ Luther liked beer. It helps you fart in the face of the devil. A few farts is good enough, it doesn't have to be an uninterrupted stream.
GK: So you came back to the church?
BB: I did. And when your body is covered with tattoos and your hair is pink and green, you find out who the real welcoming Christians are.
GK: And who are they?
BB: I found a charismatic Lutheran congregation down in Georgia. Snake-handling, holy roller, speaking-in-tongues Lutherans. The tongues were Swedish and German, but never mind. Full immersion, fried chicken, bootlegging biker Lutherans. Love it there. Feel right at home. Those folks have seen everything. A little oddity is nothing to them.
GK: So what line of work you in, Mr. Brewster?
BB: I went into the ministry. I'm a Christian hypnotist.
GK: I see.
BB: I use hypnosis to get through the rational mind into the mystery mind. The mind that allows us to believe in the unseen.
GK: You use a watch on a chain or what?
BB: I'm a Lutheran. I just use my voice. (HE CHANTS IN A MONOTONE) Okay then, how's it going, real good, Ja, same here, what you up to? Yeah, me too. Okay then. Good to see you.
GK: Boy, it really works.
HM (SINGS): Mr. Noir, Mr. Bjornson is in the Board room, he is ready to write out a check.
GK: Another hypnotist. Okay. I'll be right there. Come along, Mr. Brewster. I want you to meet someone. (BRIDGE)
There was a small crowd of people there (AMBIENT MURMURING) and Mr. Bjornsson sat at a big table, checkbook in hand.
TR (GROWLY): So this gift will buy eleven Minnesota Vikings and it is contingent on two conditions: one, no more altos in the choir. And two, you get me ten tickets to the St. Olaf Christmas Festival.
SS: We can work out the details after you write the check, Mr. Bjornsson.
TR (GROWLY): No, ma'am. We work out the details right now. I wasn't bjorn yesterday. Sign this agreement.
SS: Listen, big boy. You are barking up the wrong Lutheran. I'm Sicilian. See this butter knife in my right hand? You'd be amazed how much pain this could cause when I shove it right up your left nostril.
BB: Hold on there. Hold on. Brother Bjorn?
TR (GROWLY): Yeah? Who are you, Tattoo Boy?
BB: (CHANTING, MONOTONE) Ya know they were saying it was supposed to snow and then it didn't, so it just goes to show ya ----- Jah, the old lady's got some chores for me around the house so I was kinda hoping it'd snow, but it sure doesn't look like it, does it----- so how you doin?
TR (GROWLY, DAZED): You talking to me?
BB (CHANTING, MONOTONE): How you doin there with that checkbook, you look like you were about to write something-----
TR (GROWLY, DAZED): Yeah. (WRITING) Five hundred million dollars.
BB (CHANTING, MONO): Sign it.
TR (GROWLY, DAZED): Okay then.
BB (CHANTING, MONO): Write it out to the Music Program.
TR (GROWLY, DAZED): Okay.
BB (CHANTING, MONO): Scholarship fund for altos.
TR (GROWLY, DAZED): Okay then. (BRIDGE)
GK: So the college got the money and I found myself walking down the hall next to Miss Stenerud. Carolina Katrina Nikolina Stenerud.
(TWO SETS FOOTSTEPS)
(HE SINGS) I love you.
HM (SINGS): You aren't Lutheran, are you?
GK: Not yet.
HM (SINGS): What faith are you?
GK: Faith in miracles, darling.
HM (SINGS): Don't touch me---- people are looking this way.
Let them look if they want to
That's okay by me
I want all of St. Olaf to know
That I------ I love you so.
HM (SINGS): Please, Mr. Noir. Not now. Not here.
There's a time for us
A time and place for us
When you see the light through a Christian prism
And read Martin Luther's Small Catechism
(W. GK) We'll see.....we'll see.......we'll see.
SS: A dark night in a city that knows how to keep its secrets but one man is still 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).