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June 02, 2008

Garrison Keillor... Still a Colossal Asshat

Why is it some people are never all that keen on taking their own advice? If only Garrison Keillor had honored the fallen in the manner he seems determined to impose on others - with a moment of silence:

A patriotic bike rally is sort of like a patriotic toilet-papering or patriotic graffiti--the patriotism somehow gets lost in the sheer irritation of the thing. Somehow a person associates Memorial Day with long moments of silence when you summon up mental images of men huddled together on amphibious assault vehicles and pilots revving up B-24s and infantrymen crouched behind piles of rubble steeling themselves for the next push.

You don't quite see the connection between that and these fat men with ponytails on Harleys.

But instead, he chose to bray like a jackass about those fat men in ponytails. You know, the kind of poseurs who need to be airlifted to Baghdad so they can show their support of the troops in a more tangible way:

The group ...organizes to help veterans through its “Help on the Homefront” program. “That’s for people who have come back [from military service] and need something,” says Cullen. “It might help to get a [wheelchair] ramp on their house or financial assistance because their benefits are hung up somewhere or something like that. We take all the money we take in donations and all of it goes to helping these soldiers and veterans.”

Last fall, the group escorted an elderly veteran in a nursing home as he visited a World War II museum.

The group also escorts soldiers to the airport and meets returning soldiers with their moving display of red, white and blue.

“Last fall, the troops came down to the armory at Hornell,” says Cullen. “We met them down by Painted Post and gave their bus an escort about 50 miles back to their home base. We had a group of motorcycles, their buses, and then a large group of motorcycles. We don’t hold them up. As soon as they get there, we just go.”

‘I can be there’

When Debbie Johnson joined in March 2006, there were only 6,000 Patriot Guard Riders. Now they number 140,000 nationally, with 2,000 members in New York State.

Johnson says she is far from the only Patriot Guard Riders member who knows in her heart what it’s like to walk behind the flag-draped coffin of a child, parent, spouse or sibling.

“There are other families [in the group] who have lost sons from this area,” says Johnson, “and nobody else knows it.

“When I stand there with the group, I can be there for another family,” she says. “I can absolutely understand what they’re going through. You look at each other, and you know what the other person is feeling. You don’t even have to say anything. It gives me an opportunity to just say thank you.”

Despite her own grief, Johnson, who is now a ride captain, briefly feels better when she is with her fellow Patriot Guard Riders.

“I don’t know that healing is the word for it,” she says, “but it gives me a moment to not think of myself.”

During motorcycle season, Cullen, one of the most dedicated members of the group, travels to “everything within 100 miles,” he says.

“David is awesome,” says Johnson. “There are those like David who log thousands of hours and thousands of miles doing this, but there are others who show up once in a while. We’re still people who work, who have families.”

Cullen is often asked why he dedicates so much time to the Patriot Guard Riders. “And I always say, ‘A better question is, why aren’t there more people doing this?’ ”

Yes, if the vulgar rabble cycling around the Mall that day really cared about honoring our troops, they'd celebrate the holiday as Garrison Keillor did when he was finally! able to escape the depressing reminders of actual war, fighting, and death:

... the parade of bikes had to stop for us, and on we went to show our patriotism by looking at exhibits at the Smithsonian or, in my case, hiking around the National Gallery, which, after you've watched a few thousand Harleys pass, seems like an outpost of civilization.

There stood Renoir's ballerina in pale blue chiffon and Monet's children in the garden of sunflowers. And Mary Cassatt's The Boating Party, which I stood and stared at for a long time. A lady in a white bonnet sits in a green sailboat, holding a contented baby in pink, as a man rows the boat toward a distant shore. The man wears a navy blue shirt, he is preoccupied with his rowing, and the lady looks wan and mildly anxious, as well a mother should be. The baby is looking dreamily over the gunwales. Is the man a hired hand or is he the husband and father?

A work of art can lift you up from the mishmash of life, the weight of the unintelligible world... vulgarity squats on you like an enormous toad and won't get off. You stroll down past the World War II Memorial, which looks like something ordered out of a catalog, a bland insult to the memory of all who served, and thousands of motorcycles roar by disturbing the Sabbath, and it depresses you for hours.

One can't help but feel his pain. Who wants to be reminded of war and death on Memorial Day? Far better to forget all that ugliness! All those reminders of America's shameful attempts at global hegemony! How dare those vulgar twits interrupt your peaceful enjoyment of ballerinas and sailboats by reminding you of depressing dead people! If they were serious about honoring the fallen, they'd raise some money and do some real good.

Or... something.

Real patriots like Garrison Keillor, you see, don't honor the fallen through pointless attempts to comfort bereaved military families. They don't try to ensure America doesn't leave our prisoners of war or missing in action behind. Real patriots know the true measure of an American patriot lies in his ability to conjure up heretofore unsuspected penumbral rights from the declining mores of European Union nations, a few stray crumbs of Camembert and the leftovers of an unassuming little Fume Blanc while savoring the philosophical and aesthetic grace notes to be found in works like Serrano's Piss Christ.

Which is even more enjoyable if one can do so in peace and quiet, free of the odious presence of the noisy rabble who make such activities possible.

America would be a far better place if we could have an unbiased and unrestrained press that understood who was off limits, an end to racial discrimination (except in those cases where it is desireable), and freedom for all (except, of course, the annoying).

Oh well. Perhaps in an Obama administration.

Posted by Cassandra at June 2, 2008 05:00 PM

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Comments

Keillor, may have just been in the midsts of a morally superior, effete ... er, elite snit, longing for the solitude, and safety of strong women, at Lake Woebegone.

What with all those oily, raw Harleys making noises, felt as much as heard, rumbling along in an unabashed, heartfelt show of that pentacle of knuckle-dragging attributes, patriotism and respect for those who have served and paid the price.

Why it's enough to send the stock in Depends for the protected class, Kimberly-Clark Worldwide, Inc.©, through the roof, not to mention making legs tingle in newsrooms all over the nation!

Yeah, old fat men sure can stir up trouble. Heheh

Posted by: Chris OMG my leg is all a twitter Matthews at June 2, 2008 05:36 PM

I dunno. It sounded like a nice day at the art museum. Maybe he should have just stayed inside and enjoyed himself rather than risk being depressed by other human beings. Particularly on the Sabbath. The poor man.

Posted by: spd rdr at June 2, 2008 06:28 PM

I still can't get over the colossal cluelessness of not knowing Rolling Thunder is mostly military vets. What a maroon.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 2, 2008 07:17 PM

"L'enfer, c'est les autres," my lost little friend. He is just making sure that it remains so.

Posted by: spd rdr at June 2, 2008 09:26 PM

Somebody should tell Keillor that if it weren't for the vulgar vets he disdains, he wouldn't have the opportunity to enjoy those lovely Renoirs and Monets. Many Nazis also had exquisite artistic tastes (when they weren't planning the Final Solution and bombing the crap out of Britain.) Those paintings probably would have ended up in Goering's private collection.

Posted by: Donna at June 2, 2008 09:51 PM

.

Hey, hey, hey....

He's just sending us all a message straight from the lefty hangout of Lake Cluebegone!!

.

Posted by: OBloody Hell at June 2, 2008 09:58 PM

Kinda makes ya wish there was no exit from Lake Woebegone, huh?

Posted by: bthun at June 2, 2008 10:00 PM

Not all pony-tailed Harley riders are fat.

I'm one o' them thar Patriot Guard Riders...

Posted by: camojack at June 3, 2008 01:21 AM

He should not only take his own advice about silence. It sounds as though he would be well served to take note of Debbie Johnson's comment about how participating in the PGR events gives her a "moment to not think of myself.”

Posted by: MaryAnn at June 3, 2008 06:03 AM

...we went to show our patriotism by looking at exhibits at the Smithsonian or, in my case, hiking around the National Gallery...

Yeeees, both penultimate locations for reminding one of the sacrifices made on one's behalf during times of wuh. Wuh. *War*.

Oh, my. That *was* exhausting.

Posted by: Garry the K at June 3, 2008 06:21 AM

Exactly, MaryAnn.

And I know that camo. That's why I put that in :)

I spent Memorial Day up in your neck of the woods, though it was a good bit farther north. I thought about writing about it but it didn't seem right to politicize it. But that was a good part of what made me so angry about Keillor's op-ed. Everywhere we went, we saw people celebrating Memorial Day the way it was meant to be celebrated, and more often than not there were quite a few pony-tailed guys on motorcycles in attendance. Many times they were the honor guard, or surrounding the flag.

Good people, remembering good people who fought with them and who will remain forever young, if only in their memories. I don't think Garrison Keillor has the slightest idea what kind of people he is talking about.

Posted by: Cassandra at June 3, 2008 06:52 AM

Yeah, here's Memorial Day http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_VSBgzKmIkU

camo, some guys like you rode past the home of SGT James Hackemer as a sign of support for his family as well as in memory of our Fallen Heroes. Hack's currently recovering from serious injuries sustained in March of this year in Iraq.

Posted by: MaryAnn at June 3, 2008 08:17 AM

Don't you need a colossal head to wear a colossal asshat?

Posted by: Don Brouhaha at June 3, 2008 08:32 AM

Yeah.

Too bad it's empty :p

Posted by: Cassandra at June 3, 2008 08:35 AM

Every day is Memorial Day for the Patriot Guard Riders

Posted by: SFC D at June 3, 2008 09:14 AM

I notice that Keillor forgot to tell us that after visiting those museums he went to stand for a moment in silence at any of the war memorials in DC, not even to the Vietnam war memorial to remember the 'victims' as his kind like to paint them.

Posted by: Retread at June 3, 2008 09:15 AM

Keillor = asshat

Posted by: MikeD at June 3, 2008 10:01 AM

I quit listening to Keillor years ago when he stopped being funny.

Somehow I think the Patriot Guard Riders would be more welcome(and at home) in a real Lake Woebegone than Keillor would.

Posted by: Schnauzer at June 3, 2008 10:11 AM

So True Patriotism demands that you stand around admiring French paintings? C'est la guerre.

Posted by: Tim at June 3, 2008 10:47 AM

The "Patriot Riders" exhibit their strength in numbers that remind like minded souls that they are not alone and others share the sorrow of suffering families and fallen Patriots. It is also spiritually uplifting to be with like-minded souls with shared values in a clueless, out-of-touch elitist society.

Faith! Hope! Charity! What is so difficult to understand?

Posted by: vet66 at June 3, 2008 12:10 PM

The Patriot Riders have been very active in supporting us. They, along with the state police provided and escort home for the buses carrying my troops just back from Iraq. They have been to almost every units mobilization ceremony and there when they return. While that and parades are their most recent visible face, many people don't remember that the Patriot Riders started up as a result of the actions of the vile Westboro Baptist Church. They used their "loud machines" and "fat bodies" to shield family members of fallen heroes from the protests of that despicable group who would protest the funerals.

Posted by: Frodo at June 3, 2008 12:20 PM

I remember, Frodo. And I wished then (as I still do now) that I owned a bike on which to ride with them. I thought about using my Durango, but that just didn't seem to fit the *model*.
heh
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at June 3, 2008 12:43 PM

The Thunder Run has linked to this post in the - Web Reconnaissance for 06/03/2008 A short recon of what’s out there that might draw your attention, updated throughout the day...so check back often.

Posted by: David M at June 3, 2008 01:05 PM

I thought about using my Durango, but that just didn't seem to fit the *model*.

Couple of the Durangos over here have turrets, Doc-Lady Sly.

Get one! Hello Kitty on the sides, an M2 peeking primly from the gunshield...

Posted by: BillT at June 3, 2008 02:25 PM

I've met Dave Cullen and Debbie Johnson. My sister and I (neither of whom own a Harley) have proudly stood with them and other Patriot Guard Riders at Funeral Homes, churches and cemeteries, silently holding flags in honor of a fallen hero. Mr. Asshat was nowhere to be seen.

Posted by: nan at June 3, 2008 04:38 PM

I don't understand how Keillor was showing his patriotism by visiting museums, looking at statuary and paintings. That's like showing patriotism by going to the movies or sitting and reading a good novel.

Maybe it was because it was in a National Museum, paid for by tax payers, free to work and earn their livings due to the sacrifice of those veterans who gave their lives so that punks like Keillor could stand on a stage and not be funny.

Posted by: Sloan at June 3, 2008 05:31 PM

"Hello Kitty on the sides,..."

Hello Kitty my a$$!!!
This is more like it.

Although, the Princess might like this.
heh
0>;~}

Posted by: DL Sly at June 3, 2008 06:54 PM

I know that camo. That's why I put that in :)
I spent Memorial Day up in your neck of the woods, though it was a good bit farther north. I thought about writing about it but it didn't seem right to politicize it. But that was a good part of what made me so angry about Keillor's op-ed. Everywhere we went, we saw people celebrating Memorial Day the way it was meant to be celebrated, and more often than not there were quite a few pony-tailed guys on motorcycles in attendance. Many times they were the honor guard, or surrounding the flag.
Good people, remembering good people who fought with them and who will remain forever young, if only in their memories. I don't think Garrison Keillor has the slightest idea what kind of people he is talking about.
Posted by: Cassandra at June 3, 2008 06:52 AM

Up in my neck o' the woods, eh? Well, I wasn't home for Memorial Day Weekend anyway...I was on a 44' catamaran out of St. Martin.

camo, some guys like you rode past the home of SGT James Hackemer as a sign of support for his family as well as in memory of our Fallen Heroes. Hack's currently recovering from serious injuries sustained in March of this year in Iraq.
Posted by: MaryAnn at June 3, 2008 08:17 AM

Quite a few of the Patriot Guard Riders are veterans themselves. We understand all too well what it's like...and are more than happy to be supportive of our troops.

Posted by: camojack at June 4, 2008 01:32 AM

Well, I wasn't home for Memorial Day Weekend anyway...I was on a 44' catamaran out of St. Martin.

Show off... :p Hope you had fun!

Posted by: Cass at June 4, 2008 07:08 AM

What can you expect from an over grown doofus like Keillor who has to wear red sox in order to know were his ankles are.

Posted by: Doc at June 4, 2008 10:39 AM

Show off... :p Hope you had fun!
Posted by: Cass at June 4, 2008 07:08 AM

Oh, I did...definitely. Next month I'm off to Alaska.
(It's the only State I've yet to visit...)

Posted by: camojack at June 5, 2008 01:25 AM

Come on guys, pity the poor guy. Generally when someone os so ignorant and hateful it's because they are covering up thier own short comings. His must be HUGE!

Dear Mr. Keillor,

When I received a copy or your article "Roar of the motorcycles drowns out patriotism" (published Thursday, May 29, 2008, in the Duluth News Tribune) via e-mail yesterday, I was astounded at the lack of knowledge and understanding you exhibited.

The entire premise of your article seems to be that only cultured people who appreciate art are the people to be admired, while those who ride motorcycles are sloppy, noisy people who just want everyone’s attention. This point of view is in direct contrast to your last line, “…we are suspended in time, united with every other man, woman and child who ever voyaged afar.” Those bikers whom you have condemned “voyaged afar” to show their support for our country and their fellow veterans, but you will obviously never be united with the likes of them, because you have already decided that they are all alike and not worth your time.

Haven’t you ever heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover”? How incredible that you would eschew an entire class of people – motorcycle riders – simply because you think their bikes are too loud and you don’t like the way they look. You also mistakenly assume that none of them have any idea what actual war is about; yet, many, many of those riders served their country in Vietnam, Korea, and even World War II, as well as in the Gulf War. They have a better understanding of warfare than it seems you ever will, with your died-in-the-wool Democrat view that all war is wrong, no matter what the cause.

Did you know that the Run for the Wall is dedicated to prisoners of war and those missing in action (POW/MIA)? Did you know that the Run for the Wall motto is “We ride for those who can’t”? These are not egotistical overgrown kids looking for attention, Mr. Keillor; they are Americans devoted to giving attention to those who deserve it, our soldiers and our veterans. This devotion is reflected in their Mission: “To promote healing among ALL veterans and their families and friends, to call for an accounting of all Prisoners of War and those Missing in Action (POW/MIA), to honor the memory of those Killed in Action (KIA) from all wars, and to support our military personnel all over the world.”

They also have a stated Philosophy (yes, they have been exposed to the arts and sciences): “We strive to maintain a safe, supportive and private atmosphere in which all participants can reflect and heal on their journey to the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, D.C. in the hope that they can return home to a new beginning.” They do promote safety; no one is allowed to ride unless they have the required motorcycle insurance and possess a motorcycle endorsement on their license. These are responsible citizens, Mr. Keillor, not a bunch of heathens, as you have portrayed them.. If you had bothered to explore their web site, www.rftw.org, before writing your article, you would know these things already, and you may not have been so quick to criticize them.

Because you associate Memorial Day with long periods of silence doesn’t mean that everyone has to do so. These Americans, these bikers, are memorializing their own experiences and those of their comrades in the way that feels best and most comfortable to them. Just because you don’t see the connection doesn’t mean there isn’t one. You would do well, Mr. Keillor, to do a little research into a group or organization such as this before labeling them as the dregs of society, as you have insinuated. You assume that they don’t read books and that they have no idea what it is like to face death for your country. How wrong you are, and how sad that through your own ignorance you have attributed ignorance to these true patriots.

The bikers I have met throughout my life are some of the best people I know; they are intelligent and zealous in their beliefs and goals to promote peace and understanding, as well as education and training for motorcycle riders. Are all bikers wonderful people? Of course not. To stereotype all bikers as perfect would be just as ignorant as categorizing them all as “fat men with ponytails on Harleys.” Many of my friends are bikers, and they would not hesitate to help you if they came upon you stranded on the side of a Minnesota highway, Mr. Keillor – but would you even be willing to accept their assistance?

My brother and his friends, several of whom ride Harleys and other brands of motorcycles, are correctional officers at a prison in Arizona; they like the freedom of riding their bikes in their off time. Being in law enforcement, their hair is very short, or completely shaved – similar to many soldiers and veterans. The hair does not make the person, nor does the bike or lack of one. You also seem to have the misconception that all bikers are a bunch of drunks; I can assure you that there are plenty of bikers who do not drink at all, nor do they do drugs.

The beauty of bikers as a whole is that, unlike you, Mr. Keillor, they show tolerance and respect for all different kinds of people, who come from all walks of life. That fat man with a ponytail riding a Harley will show respect to and perhaps converse with the banker or doctor riding a Honda Goldwing, simply because they are part of a brotherhood – and he will get the same respect in return.

In an age where our schools are desperately struggling to promote diversity and circumvent antagonism among the students and future leaders of our country, who come from many different cultures and backgrounds, I am simply amazed and disappointed that you would express such an inflammatory, one-sided view of an entire group of people without having any true knowledge of their background and their intentions. Shame on you, Mr. Keillor.

Jocelyn King

Trinidad, Colorado

Posted by: Michelle Goodall at June 5, 2008 07:49 PM

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