Story, May 25, 2013

Filene Center at Wolf Trap

Vienna, VA


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Story

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(MUSIC)

GK: The art of storytelling is learned when you are young and your mother asks you why you are two weeks behind on your math assignments and it won't help to tell them "I don't feel like it" though that is the truth, and so you have to think of a story. You say, Mom, Dad, I was on my way to the library when I saw an old dog crossing the highway (SFX) just as a truck full of chickens came by at high speed (SFX) and then a circus truck carrying two elephants (SFX) and I held the dog, otherwise he would've been killed and he was terribly grateful (SFX) and he led me to a camp by the river where an old man was fishing (SFX) and he didn't speak English (GIBBERISH) but he invited me to sit down and have some soup (SFX) with him and his dog (SFX) and it was a vegetable soup and ever since I ate it, I've had mysterious visions of flying dolphins (SFX) and whales singing hymns (SFX) and angels playing ping pong in the clouds (SFX) ----

Unfortunately young people don't learn to tell stories anymore. When young people tell stories, they don't tell, they go like...

FRED: So he goes like, Oh yeah? and I go, like, Really? and he sort of goes, like, What? and then Patty is like, Oh? And then I go, like, No way.

GK: You see the difference? When I told my mother the story about the dog crossing the road and the old man and the elephants and all, she knew I was lying but she respected me for making the effort. She sent me to my room for punishment and for a storyteller, going to your room is exactly what you want. Your books are there and your paper and pencils. You can sit in your room and write stories.
Mostly, I wrote stories about lonely guys whose best friends were animals. Like "Brent And His Singing Elk, Bud".

You're my best friend, Bud, said Stan, as he sat in his
lonely room, the walls covered with posters of airbrushed
Hollywood starlets. You're the only one who really understands me
(ELK). They look at me and see a nerd with dumb hair and hand-me-down clothes and size 12 shoes, and you look inside and see the artist who I really am. (ELK) But they'll see. Tomorrow I'm going to take you to school with me, Bud. (ELK) I've entered you in the talent show. I want you to sing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow," Bud. (ELK)
You can do it. Sing it, Bud. (ELK SINGS "SOMEWHERE"). And so Stan took Bud to school but Bud got panicky at the last minute (SFX) and he forgot "Somewhere Over The Rainbow" and he did "Oh What A Beautiful Morning" which is not that good a song, even sung by an elk. (ELK)

GK: So that's how I got started telling stories.

FRED: What happened then?

GK: Well, first I was a fashion model for a couple years and then I went to the Antarctic and then I pitched a couple seasons for the Toledo Mudhens until I injured my arm throwing a cow over a brick wall in a promotional stunt. And then I became a fiction writer.

FRED: In Minnesota.

GK: In Minnesota. And in Kuala Lumpur. And the outer islands of the Rawalpindi Archepelago. But mostly in Minnesota.

FRED: And you perfected the craft of storytelling.

GK: Actually I learned it from Lana.

FRED: Lana.

GK: Lana Mahalakuhana.

FRED: Who is Lana Mahalakuhana?

GK: Lana Mahalakuhana? That's a whole other story.

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Old Sweet Songs: A Prairie Home Companion 1974-1976

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