- The following program is a PBS Wisconsin original production.
[footsteps brushing snow] [closes trunk] ♪ ♪ - Hit the road with Wisconsin's own Michael Perry.
- I've pretty much quadrupled the value of the tour van.
Put new tires on it last week.
So, we are rollin' in style!
- As he travels to Menomonie and Stoughton.
- Michael Perry: All this excitement about electric cars... Yeah, I see your Tesla there, Spanky.
We've been plugging in our cars since about 1952 so... [laughter, applause] - Telling some of his favorite stories.
- But you live in Wisconsin.
And I say, "Yeah, and we have a open border agreement with Minnesota."
[laughter] - And sharing passages from his books.
- At the earliest edges of my memory, my father is plowing, and I'm running behind him.
That's one of the most important paragraphs, to me, that I've ever written.
- Ride along with Mike as he muses about life.
- I do have some rules about coffee.
Number one, you don't put anything in it.
I don't want to hear about, "Do you want room for cream?"
[chuckles] - It's Michael Perry: On the Road.
♪ ♪ - Funding for this program is provided by Stanley J. Cottrill Fund, the A.C.V.
and Mary Elston Family, the Eleanor and Thomas Wildrick Family, Wooden Nickel Fund, Focus Fund for Wisconsin Programs, and Friends of PBS Wisconsin.
♪ ♪ [applause] - Audience: Whoo!
- Audience Member: Hi, Mike!
[laughter] - How's she going there?
[laughter] I'm going to begin this evening with a reading.
In what I have come to count as my earliest memory, I am backing away from a dog.
It is a short-haired dog, a herding dog, and it has backed me down the dark end of a barn.
The dog is likely just curious, but her eyes are steadfast, and she advances with her nose extended stiffly.
There is no sound but the flat-footed scrape of my heels as I edge them behind me like curb feelers.
Far away up the concrete walk, the barn door is an open rectangle of light, but the dog is yielding nothing.
The dog moves in, chesty and intent.
I edge back again, and this time, there's nothing beneath my heels.
I tumble backward into the gutter.
The dog spooks at the sudden movement, dipping her haunches and flaring to one side, but shortly, her nose is poking along the gutter edge above me.
I can see whitewashed rafters.
The manure is mud-bath soft, and blackstrap dark.
[laughter] Above all, it smells sweet.
It is not so deep that I am in any danger, but I am well over three-quarters marinated.
[laughter] I don't remember any panic or fear.
Perhaps because I had broken the spell of the dog, but I must have called out because my father appeared and pulled me from the muck.
I was soon stripped of my togs and shivering under the garden hose.
I assume the smell tarried well into the week.
[laughter] I have a buddy who has watched his farm become a suburb.
He gets hassled now when he runs his manure spreader.
People object to the smell.
I'm not going to get elegiac.
But I'm glad cow manure is one of the trace elements of my existence.
It inoculated me against everything to follow.
Gave me an organic sense of calibration.
Wherever I am, whatever I face, I think of me looking up and that dog looking down.
[laughter] What a delightful place to start.
[laughter and applause] ♪ ♪ I love the road; I always have.
I was lucky.
I grew up on a farm in rural Wisconsin, but I had a grandfather who took us traveling.
Even my father, he took me on my first real trip out west to Wyoming, and we drove out there.
Was 16 years old; just got my license.
And I really got hooked on the road and movement and motion.
I kind of am split between two worlds.
I love being home in my quiet little room on our little farm and not seeing anybody, but I also love the wide-open road.
It's a freedom thing; there's no question.
When you reach my level, you have a dedicated tour van.
In this case, a 2002 Toyota Sienna that used to be the family minivan, and then it got demoted.
So, I took the seats out of the back, and I put a cargo net behind me so that I don't get killed by my own books, which would be ironical.
[ignition catches] This is pretty much it, whether it's the band or the books-- and usually, it's both-- I just throw it all in the back of this van, and off we go.
So, I come from a little place just north here called New Auburn, unless you grew up there.
Then, it's called "Nobbern."
[laughter] And I always say, no matter where I'm standing when I say it, I am grateful to be of and from New Auburn.
I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for a book called Population 485, and... [cheers and applause] Population 485 is that old "Can you go home again?"
It's been written many, many times by many different people many different ways.
In my case, I wrote about going back to my hometown of New Auburn after being away for 12 years.
Since that book has come out, I've received numerous emails and letters and right up to the present.
Just got one last week.
And they invariably follow a certain pattern.
They say, you know, we read your book about life in the small town, and we loved it.
We loved it so much that we've sold everything and we're moving to a small town.
[laughter] And I always say, "Well, hang on there, Spanky.
"'Cuz small towns have long memories.
"You can be 50 years old trying to live down something that happened when you was 15... in the gravel pit."
[laughter] And even me, when I moved back, I was-- I was a little uncertain because I'd been away for 12 years.
I didn't know how I was gonna fit in 'cause, like, what I like to say is that when I left New Auburn, I was a good student, a fair defensive end, and a farm boy.
I returned 12 years later a long-haired writer with soft hands and a nursing degree.
[laughter] So, there's a certain amount of street cred to recover with some of my buddies in the deer-huntin' crowd.
[laughter] I've since had to update the anecdote specifically as it pertains to the long hair.
Ah... For years, I had long hair, waist length.
There's two reasons I no longer have long hair.
And the first, sadly, is just generalized crop failure.
[laughter] Just got to the point where there was no point.
[laughter] And the other reason is that it was still real long in back, but it started to get very thin on top, and I remember looking in the mirror one day, and I said, "You know, you really ought to cut it off.
You're headed for the Ben Franklin look."
[laughter] But I hadn't made the move yet.
And then, we got paged out to fight a grass fire on the railroad track south of town.
Now, I was right up in the teeth of the flames as a volunteer firefighter, fighting from the black as any well-trained wildland firefighter will tell you that you must.
But I was right up in there.
And all of a sudden, one of the other firefighters ran up and started patting me.
Now, normally, you don't get a lot of that.
[laughter] So I said, "What are you doin'?"
And he said, "Man, your hair's on fire."
[laughter] And indeed, it was crackling right along.
So, at that point, I thought, "You know, if it ain't falling out, it's bursting into flames."
So, I just cut it all off.
But I wound up on the fire department for a specific reason.
When I moved back, as I said, I was not the same guy when I came back to New Auburn as I was when I left, but I wanted to be part of the community.
Part of the problem there is that I'm pretty much a loner.
My happiest place in the world is alone in my room, just writing, And when I moved back to New Auburn, I didn't belong to any of the local churches.
I don't drink, so I didn't go to any of the local taverns.
I don't bowl.
I don't play softball.
And I can't polka.
[laughter] So there really wasn't much left except to join the local volunteer fire department.
Now, I work with a lot of folks on the coast, mostly New York and the East Coast, but also, occasionally, a few people from LA, and they find out that I'm still on the volunteer fire department, and they say, "Oh, you must be very brave and noble," and I always say, "Eh... not especially."
And then, I explain to them that in a town like New Auburn, a guy like me ends up on fire department because I got the two things they're looking for: a pulse and a valid driver's license.
[laughter] Plus, I'm home a lot during the day, so... [laughter] But anyways, they're always, "Oh, yeah, you're so brave and noble."
And I, and I also, I also have to explain that when I moved back to New Auburn, my two brothers and my mom were already on the fire department.
[laughter] So, it's really just kind of a peer pressure situation.
I just didn't want to be the only one with no stories.
[laughter] [acoustic guitar] Somehow, I've developed this odd little career.
I don't really even know what to call it.
I mean, I'm certainly-- I'm not famous.
Now my name is recognizable in certain discreet circles, um... often involving... public radio tote bags.
[laughter] But also, I'm happy and proud and grateful to say also some... some feedbags.
I've shaken some nice calloused hands at these events.
But I am not famous.
I used to write about famous people.
I spend a lot of time in the company of famous people, observing them, traveling with them.
I know famous; I am not famous.
When I walk into the Farm & Fleet, I don't take security or nothing.
I just... [laughter] I just walk right in there, man of the people.
[laughter] And the thing is, if you do for even a moment, at least in my experience, let yourself think you are getting famous, karma has a way of cutting you down to size almost immediately.
I have a couple of stories about that.
When Population 485 first came out, it started doing better than anybody expected, including me, and they just kept extending my book tour.
And it went from being a Midwestern book tour to further and further or farther and farther-- we'll let the copy editor sort that out.
But anyways, they just kept adding on dates, and I wound up in Nashville.
So, I drive into Nashville in my rental car.
I get to the bookstore in Nashville.
There's 35 people came to see me in Nashville.
That's a pretty big number for an unknown writer from the Midwest.
So, that night, when I left Nashville, headed for my next stop, Memphis.
When I left Nashville, I thought 35 people came out to see me in Nashville.
The 'Mike Train' is rollin'!
[laughter] So, I was very excited to see what awaited me in Memphis.
This is back when publishers still had money, and they actually put you on tour, and they put me up in the Peabody Hotel in Memphis.
Very famous hotel.
I got there and very tired.
At that time, I had long scraggly hair.
I wasn't dressed as nice as I am tonight.
[laughter] And if you know about the Peabody Hotel, the thing that makes them famous: It's an ornate old hotel, but they have the ducks.
The ducks live on the roof in their little duck house.
And then, at some point during the day, or maybe more than once a day, they come down the elevator, and they roll out a red carpet, and they waddle across the red carpet into the fountain in the center of the hotel lobby there.
And it's a very world-famous thing, and people gather to see them.
So I get in at three in the morning.
I had to get up at six or something for-- It was really early, and then, I think I snuck back in for a nap.
The point is, at some point, I was checking out.
I grabbed my suitcase, my roller bag, and my backpack, and I got my long hair, and I look like I've only slept for three hours, and drove in from Nashville the night before.
And I get on the...
I get on the elevator.
And I'm thinking about Nashville, you know.
There's a lot of momentum building around this book, and we get down to the first floor, and the doors open, and there's just this explosion of cameras and people and a red carpet, and I thought, "Oprah called."
[laughter] And then, all the flashes just died down.
Everybody looked at me with great disappointment.
I realized I got on the duck elevator.
[laughter] But my favorite story about getting cut down to size fame-wise is only about three weeks old.
So, my father-in-law's name is Brad.
My father-in-law owns some property adjacent to ours, and he was, he was cutting trees.
He needs a new chainsaw.
So, he's a former executive.
So, he called me to say, "I need a new chainsaw.
What do you recommend?"
I said, "Well, you're talking to the wrong Perry boy.
But my brother Jed's a logger."
I said, "I'll call Jed, and I'll ask him what he recommends."
So, I call my brother Jed, and he gives us all these great recommendations very specific to what my father-in-law's looking for.
And then, at the end, my brother says, and he goes, "If you really want good service and a good guy take good care of you," he says, "Go on up there to... "Go on up there to Bruce, Wisconsin and go to Walt's Gun & Saw and ask for Brad."
So, I now have this beautiful story where I'm going to send Brad up to talk to Brad in Bruce at Walt's Gun & Saw.
[laughter] Some of this stuff writes itself.
[laughter] So, my father-in-law, my father-in-law, Brad, goes up to Bruce to see Brad at Walt's Gun & Saw.
And Brad is very helpful to Brad, and he gets him a wonderful chainsaw.
Gets him all set up.
He's all ready to go.
And Brad of Walt's Gun & Saw says to Brad, my father-in-law, "Well, how'd you hear about us?"
And my father-in-law says, "Well, my son-in-law's brother recommended you."
And Brad of the saw shop says, "Well, what's his name?"
And my father-in-law said, "Jed Perry."
[in a deep voice] "Oh, Jed, he's a good guy.
"Heck of a logger!
"Yah, he's a gem, that Jed.
Well, what's your son-in-law's name?"
"Never heard of him."
[laughter] I have a setlist.
A few sheets of paper with some notes in case I need to refer to something, but honestly, I've made a living out of going off on tangents.
It's not really a set list.
It's a hint list.
So, at some point, I'll just be talking and telling stories, and I'll check my phone to see what time it is and go, "Hey, probably gotta wrap it up.
The story I'm going to tell now, I don't have any smooth way to fit it in except to say it's just a perfect example of how grateful I am that I grew up in a place that wasn't so perfect and smooth.
Now, in high school, I ran track.
Matter of fact, I think it was my senior year, I was the track team.
[laughter] This is it!
And I ran the mile and the two-mile, and it wasn't bad, and I was competitive.
And one of my main competitors was a kid from Weyerhaeuser, Wisconsin.
And he and I were always neck and neck.
And so, the story I'm going to tell is that we had a track meet up in Weyerhaeuser.
And the Weyerhaeuser track coach, he was not your prototypical distance athlete coach.
Some people in this room might have even known him.
He was a very kind man, very beloved, but he, well, he had-- he wore the little satin track team jacket, you know, but it kind of only came to here.
[laughter] Plus, he burned a lot of heaters.
So, we go up to Weyerhaeuser for this track meet and what I'm building up to here is just one of my favorite quotes of all time.
We go up to Weyerhaeuser for the track meet.
Now, Weyerhaeuser doesn't have a track.
At least, they didn't then.
What they did is they sent the janitor out with that, you know, a little cart that makes the white lines.
[laughter] He just made lanes around the football field.
So, the lines are kind of crooked.
Plus, he didn't so much have turns as just, he just had corners.
[laughter] So, like, you'd be running the mile, and then, you just-- [laughter] So, honestly, I'm not make-- I can make fun of Weyerhaeuser.
New Auburn didn't even have a track either until...
I think it was my senior year, they put in an asphalt track.
And I'd been training really hard, and I was excited to see-- in the off-season, I'd been training-- I was excited to see if I'd made any progress.
And the first day of practice on our brand-new track there in New Auburn, the coach is timing my 400 splits, and they're off the charts.
And I'm so happy because I worked so hard all summer.
And then, we figured out that when they made the track, they did the math wrong.
[laughter] The track was short, but... [laughter] It was exciting there for a while, man.
[laughter] Thought I was going to the Olympics.
[laughter] But anyways, one of my favorite quotes of all time was we went to-- So, I'm up the Weyerhaeuser, and I'm running the two-mile.
And me and my buddy from Weyerhaeuser, we're neck and neck as usual, and it's down to the last couple of laps.
And if you run distance at all, especially the two-mile, once you're in the last two laps, you'd do anything to make it stop.
You're just... you're in oxygen debt.
It just hurts.
You would love to just run off into the trees and disappear.
But we're competing, and we're running.
We're making those square corners.
[laughter] And we come up to the second to last corner, and we're both just digging for everything we've got.
And the Weyerhaeuser track coach standing there at the corner.
He's got a little jacket, you know, ♪ Fat guy in a little coat ♪ And we run past him in a world of hurt, and he just goes, [mock inhales on cigarette, exhales] [in gravelly voice] "Come on, guys, pick it up!"
[laughter] [strumming guitar] Last night, I was at the Mabel Tainter Theater in Menomonie, Wisconsin.
It's a lovely place.
I've played there many times.
One of my cousins got married there.
The way it's built, it's quite intimate.
The balcony is real steep and almost overhead, and so, you really feel a closeness with the audience.
And, you know, I kind of had to give her that one.
[laughter] Last night was one of those nights where it seemed like every little aside, every little punchline got a ten-time bigger laugh than normal.
[laughter, applause] You feel, within the first two, three minutes, you get that vibe, you hear that extra punch to the laughs, and it really kind of frees you up.
You get that floating sensation, and you feel free to say things you normally wouldn't say and take little chances and get little extra laughs.
Last night just felt really nice, and I think we were all ready to laugh, too.
I'M STEPHANIE ELKINS, HOST OF MORNING CLASSICS ON WISCONSIN PUBLIC RADIO.
AND SO ENJOYING THIS PROGRAM.
WE ARE ON THE ROAD WITH MICHAEL PERRY, AND LAUGHING AND ENJOYING, ESPECIALLY THAT WEYERHAEUSER STORY.
OH, MY GOSH.
MICHAEL IS HERE IN THE STUDIO WITH US.
AND THIS IS YOUR THIRD PROGRAM WITH PBS WISCONSIN.
THEY JUST KEEP SHOWING UP WITH A CAMERA, SO I SAY, WELL, HOP IN THE VAN, LET'S GO.
>> AND THESE WERE FILLED AT SOME OF THESE JEWEL BOXES, STOUGHTON, TAINTER.
WHAT'S IT LIKE ON THE STAGE?
>> ONE OF MY FAVORITE THINGS ABOUT THOSE OPERA HOUSES IS SITTING BACKSTAGE AND THEN MAKING THE WALK TO THE STAGE.
IN STOUGHTON YOU WALK UP THE STAIRS, THEN ANOTHER STAIRS, THEN YOU'RE IN THE WINGS.
ALL ALONG THE WALLS HAVE BEEN SIGNED BY PEOPLE WHO HAVE BEEN PERFORMED THERE.
SOME OF FAIRLY CONTEMPORARY.
OTHERS ARE THE '20s, '20s, THE'20s,-- '30s, '40s.
A LOT OF THE ONES IN MENOMONIE WHERE THEY WERE VAUDEVILLE ENTERTAINERS ON THEIR WAY TO THE TWIN CITIES, THEY'D JUST STOP.
YOU CAN FEEL DECADES AND CENTURIES OF PERFORMERS WALKING THROUGH THERE.
<!32768> >> THAT HISTORY.
WE'RE ASKING FOR YOUR SUPPORT AT 1-800-236-3636.
>> THANKS, STEPHANIE AND MICHAEL.
WHEN YOU DO CALL THAT NUMBER, 1-800-236-3636, OR GO ONLINE, pbswisconsin.org, OR CHECK THE QR CODE ON YOUR TV RIGHT NOW AND SCAN THAT AND GIVE YOUR GIFT OF SUPPORT TO PBS WISCONSIN.
WE'VE GOT A NUMBER OF GREAT THANK YOU GIFTS.
STARTING AT $10 WE WILL SEND YOU A FD DID OF DVD OF THE PROGRAM YOU'RE ENJOYING TONIGHT.
WE'VE BEEN LAUGHING ALL AFTERNOON AS WE FOLLOW THIS PROGRAM.
YOU'RE GOING TO WANT TO SHARE IT WITH YOUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY.
AT THE $15 SUSTAINING MONTHLY LEVEL WE WILL SEND YOU TWO OF MICHAEL'S BOOKS ON THAT STACK OF BOOKS THAT HE BROUGHT ON STAGE WITH HIM.
BOTH OF THEM PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED BY MICHAEL THAT WE'LL SEND TO YOU WITH THE $15 SUSTAINING GIFT.
AT THE $25 GIFT WE WILL SEND YOU THE TWO BOOKS AND THE DVD OF TONIGHT'S PROGRAM AND ALL THREE OF THE MICHAEL PERRY PBS WISCONSIN SPECIALS THAT YOU'VE ENJOYED OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS.
JUST A WONDERFUL WAY TO BRING THIS GREAT TRADITION AND LEGACY OF STORYTELLING, OF WISCONSIN, INTO YOUR HOME WHILE SUPPORTING THE GREAT LEGACY OF PBS WISCONSIN 1-800-236-3636.
>> THANKS FOR ALL THAT, KERMAN.
IT REALLY FEELS GOOD WHEN YOU SUPPORT SOMETHING THAT YOU BELIEVE IN AND SOMETHING THAT YOU LOVE AND THAT YOU USE.
EVERY TIME YOU VIEW SOMETHING ON PBS WISCONSIN, YOU KNOW THAT YOU'RE HELPING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.
THIS IS A BRAND NEW PRODUCTION AND PBS WISCONSIN DOES A GREAT JOB, DON'T THEY?
THE CINEMATOGRAPHY AND ALL OF THAT.
>> I THINK THAT ONE OF THE PLEASURES OF DOING THIS PARTICULAR SHOW WAS BEING ON THE ROAD AND WATCHING HOW HARD THE CREWS WORK.
THAT'S THE PART THAT PEOPLE DON'T SEE.
I MEAN, THERE WERE FOLKS CRAMMED INTO THAT FAN WITH ALL MY MERCH AND GEAR.
A COUPLE DAYS THE WEATHER WAS MISERABLE.
THE THING I'LL NEVER FORGET WAS PULLING UP TO THE OPERA HOUSE IN STOUGHTON AND SEEING THAT TRUCK THERE AND REALIZING HOW MANY PEOPLE WERE INVOLVED.
SO I'M JUST UP THERE DOING THE EASY PART.
IT WAS AMAZING TO SEE THE CONSCIENTIOUS WORK PUT INTO DOING THAT SHOW.
>> IT'S A TREMENDOUS AMOUNT OF WORK THAT GOES INTO THESE PRODUCTIONS.
IT'S ONLY POSSIBLE BECAUSE OF THE VIEWERS.
NOT SOMETHING LIKE THIS THAT IS SO FUNNY, BUT WISCONSIN FROM THE AIR AND OTHER HIGH-QUALITY PRODUCTIONS.
BECAUSE OF YOUR SUPPORT, ONE VIEWER AT A TIME, ONE PLEDGE AT A TIME AT 1-800-236-3636.
>> WHEN YOU DO CALL THAT NUMBER, WE'VE GOT THOSE GREAT THANK YOU GIFTS TO SHARE OUR APPRECIATION FOR YOUR DONATION TONIGHT AT 1-800-236-3636.
WE'RE GOING TO BE GOING BACK TO THE PROGRAM IN A LITTLE BIT AND THERE'S A LOT MORE GREAT STORIES FROM MICHAEL THROUGHOUT THE EVENING.
BUT WE KNOW IT'S THE TYPE OF PROGRAM THAT YOU'RE GOING TO WANT TO WATCH OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
AT THE $10 SUSTAINING LEVEL WITH THE DVD OF "MICHAEL PERRY: ON THE ROAD," THE PROGRAM YOU'RE ENJOYING TONIGHT.
AT THE $15 LEVEL WE'RE GOING TO SEND YOU TWO OF MICHAEL'S BOOKS, PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED.
I WATCHED HIM AUTOGRAPH THESE BOOKS THAT WE'RE GOING TO BE SENDING TO YOU AT THE $15 LEVEL.
AT THE $25 MONTHLY LEVEL, WE'RE GOING TO SEND YOU ALL THREE SPECIALS AND THE TWO BOOKS AS OUR WAY OF SAYING THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT.
SO CALL RIGHT NOW.
SUPPORT GREAT PROGRAMMING LIKE THIS ALL YEAR ROUND ON PBS WISCONSIN.
>> WELL, ERIK HAS JUST RUN THROUGH OUR THANK YOU GIFTS AND WE HAVE LOTS OF THEM.
IF YOU NEED TO HEAR ABOUT THEM AGAIN, OUR VOLUNTEERS CAN FILL YOU IN.
ANOTHER BENEFIT OF BECOMING A MEMBER IS "AIRWAVES," OUR MONTHLY PROGRAMMING GUIDE.
IT'S A GREAT WAY TO KEEP TRACK OF YOUR VIEWING, SEE SPECIALS THAT ARE COMING UP, OTHER THINGS THAT YOU MIGHT WANT TO WATCH, OTHER INFORMATION AND ARTICLES ABOUT SOME OF THE SHOWS AND PEOPLE THAT WE'RE FOCUSING ON IN THAT MONTH.
IT'S A GREAT BENEFIT TO HAVE AS A MEMBER OF PBS WISCONSIN.
IT ALL STARTS BY YOU GOING TO THE PHONE OR GOING ONLINE AND BECOMING A MEMBER OF PBS WISCONSIN.
WHEN YOU DO THAT, YOU'RE SUPPORTING NOT ONLY SPECIALS LIKE WE'RE TONIGHT BUT ALL OF THE WONDERFUL SHOWS HERE.
SO GO FO THE TO THE PHONES RIGHT NOW AND DIAL 1-800-236-3636.
>> WE HEARD SOME STORIES ABOUT YOUR FAMILY, ABOUT YOU JOINING THE FIRE DEPARTMENT AND YOUR MOM AND YOUR BROTHERS ALREADY.
SO WE'RE GOING TO BE GOING BACK TO THE PROGRAM IN JUST A MOMENT AND THERE'S MORE STORIES ABOUT YOUR FAMILY.
ARE THEY ALL GOOD WITH IT?
>> WELL, I DIDN'T NECESSARILY ASK THEIR PERMISSION.
BUT ONE OF MY FAVORITE PARTS OF THIS SPECIAL IS WHERE I GET TO TALK ABOUT TELLING A STORY AND THEN HAVING MY BROTHER FACT CHECK ME AT A FAMILY GET-TOGETHER.
SO I HAVE GREAT DEFERENCE TO MY FAMILY.
THEY'RE VERY PRIVATE, HARD-WORKING PEOPLE.
I'M ABOUT THE FOURTH FUNNIEST PEOPLE IN THE FAMILY.
I'M JUST THE ONE WHO COULDN'T FIX TRACTORS.
>> WE'RE GOING RIGHT BACK TO THE PROGRAM AND WE'RE ASKING FOR YOUR SUPPORT.
1-800-236-3636 AND KNOW [cheers and applause] I have won what really can only be classified as the highest literary achievement available in the greater Chippewa County area.
And that is that I have submitted and had accepted and read live on the air several liners for Moose Country 106.7.
[laughter, applause] So has my brother.
[laughter] I'm about the fourth funniest person in the family.
I'm just the only one who couldn't fix stuff.
But anyways, if you're familiar, and apparently some of you are, the liners on Moose is, it's always the premise, "If you're something, then you're one of us."
- Audience: Yeah!
- "If your first date involved a two-for-one coupon, [laughter] "you're one of us.
"If you've ever lost your wedding ring in a parts washer, you're one of us."
[laughter] I once lost my wedding ring in a sheep.
[laughter] There's not enough time this evening.
[laughter] "If you've ever used a hunk of firewood as an emergency brake, [laughter] you're one of us."
"If you ever got caught taste testin' a salt block..." [laughter] Yeah!
[laughter] I like them maroon ones, you know, because they got mineral in them, and... yah.
But they don't like it if you do it right there in the Farm & Fleet.
[laughter] "If you gotta start a grass fire to locate your lawn mower, [laughter] you're one of us."
And the last one for now, and this one's a tad more esoteric.
It doesn't always get the biggest laugh, but it gets the right kind of laugh from the right kind of people.
"If all your finest silverware says, "Compliments of Citizens Telephone Cooperative, [laughter] you're one of us."
[applause] Is everything in these stories true?
I'm going to say 92% accuracy.
Now, that's not about truth.
I have no interest making up facts to get a laugh.
And I'm deadly serious about that.
'Cause if you can't be funny with a real story, then you should, you know, announce that you're doing fiction, and then, go do funny fiction.
That's cool, too.
I can speak to the experience of telling a story over and over and it takes little turns over time that you don't even realize it's taking.
[laughter] If you grew up like I did, and I know a lot of you did, nothing's funnier than somebody getting hurt.
[laughter] If your buddy gets hit in the head with a monkey wrench, once you determine that he's still breathing and probably going to be able to walk again, well, then, nothing's funnier than your buddy getting hit in the head with a monkey wrench.
[laughter] That's just how I grew up.
We had a neighbor.
Jerry, his name was, and he's a old farmer, Eastern European immigrant farmer.
Very-- He was the walking definition of the word stolid: very sturdy, very quiet, very hardworking, very kind, very thoughtful, a wonderful neighbor...
But there was only one thing that would really make him laugh, and that was you getting hurt.
I remember I was filling silo with him one time.
We's hooking up the blower, and I stood up underneath that downspout a little too quickly, and I just rang it like a church bell.
And I'm standing there, kind of weaving around, trying to get my bearings.
I look over, and there's old Jerry with his thumbs hooked behind his overalls.
He's going... [slightly suppresses his laughter] And, eventually, he just goes, "You going to be alright?
[snickers] [laughter] And I said, "Oh, I think so," and he just fell apart laughing.
But then, I got my revenge on him.
'Cause Jerry had a herd of 35 beautiful Holstein milk cows, and they were the love of his life and the pride of his operation.
And, unfortunately, there came a day when his very best milk cow took ill.
It was clear she was not going to get any better, and furthermore, she was now in a bunch-- a lot of pain.
And so, he did what you do in those days.
He called my brother, and he said, "Can you come over, bring your deer rifle, and put this cow out of her misery?"
And so, my brother comes over and with his deer rifle, and he walks up into the manger, and he dispatches the cow.
And now, of course, you have to remove the dead cow from the stanchion and the barn.
And so, my brother gets a tractor.
And he backs it up to the barn door, and he hooks a cable to the back of the tractor, and then, he runs it to the cow.
And he gets takes a hitch around one of the cow's hind legs, and then, he gets back on the trailer or the tractor.
And very slowly, trying, honestly, to be respectful, he just very slowly starts dragging this cow out of the stanchion.
Meanwhile, poor Jerry is standing there, thumbs behind his overalls, looking down at his very best milk cow as it is being dragged lifeless from the stanchion.
What Jerry doesn't notice is that the cable has pulled the cow's one hind leg that way, the other hind leg has got hung up in the stanchion, and it's being bent back like the arm on a giant catapult.
And when the hoof cleared the stanchion, it whipped around and smashed him right in the kneecap.
[laughter] So now, he's bouncing around on one leg, tears streaming down his face, and my brother stops the tractor, and he says, "You gonna be alright?"
[laughter] And Jerry says, "I think so."
And my brother says, "'Cause I got one more shell."
[laughter] [applause] And I've told that story for 15 years.
And about 10 years into telling it, I told it in front of my brother, who was there.
He went down a list when I got done.
He's like, "Well, the cow didn't kick him in the knee.
"It kicked him in the ankle.
"It wasn't a thirty aught six; It was a three oh eight."
You know, "It wasn't your brother.
It was me."
So, what was fascinating about that is we both agree the story happened.
We both agree a dead cow kicked a guy.
It's a funny story; It's a true story.
But little details sometimes slip and slide.
I really, truly, I want you to know that if I'm telling you a story that's funny, it really happened, and it was real people.
[click, beep] [playful acoustic guitar] [click] I'm one of those coffee snobs you've heard about.
I don't mind admitting it.
That said, when you're on the road, any coffee will do, including bad gas station coffee or bad truck stop coffee.
But one of the beautiful things about the last 20 years being on the road is that even certain gas station coffee is pretty dang good at this point.
I tell you what, I do have some rules about coffee, and not everyone's going to agree with me here.
Number one, it's coffee.
Don't put anything in it.
I don't want to hear about, "Do you want room for cream?"
[chuckles] Are you weak of character?
[chuckles] No, I want it dark, black, and un-mitigated.
I don't like travel mugs.
I don't like drinking out of a tiny little hole.
And I also don't like drinking anything out of plastic.
So, what I do is I get a... Basically, a paper cup is fine.
That, that does not sully the taste or interfere with the aroma or the aesthetic experience.
But I don't want to drink it through the cap.
So, of course, what I do is I remove the cap as soon as possible, and then, I just drink it straight, which is why-- and I'm going to ask you not to actually film this-- the entire base of my van is covered with coffee stains 'cause, of course, I invariably spill it.
Honestly, man, a lot of times, I'm just the stenographer.
Man, I'm-- [laughter] I don't come up with this stuff.
I just relay it.
One of my very favorite stories about them is-- So, my one brother... We was all, I don't know the number exactly.
I'll get it wrong, but let's just say before the first one of us three brothers got married, we had accumulated 102 years of shared bachelorhood.
And my middle brother, we figured he'd never get married 'cause, as far as we knew, he hadn't been on a date.
Plus, he lived in a tiny little one-room log cabin that he built himself.
When I say tiny, I'm not just speaking euphemistically.
If you step through the front door, immediately to your left is a homemade wooden table.
If you then proceed in a clockwise manner around the complex, it's a homemade wooden table, stove, sink, refrigerator, hot water heater, wood stove, chest of drawers, washer, dryer, bathtub.
Sleeps in a little area up above the purlins.
You'll notice from what I said, he has running water and electricity.
However, the bathroom was located in a separate facility about 40 yards out in the brush.
[laughter] The other thing you should know about him is that his only vehicle at the time was a dump truck.
If you invite him over to put a culvert in your driveway, he will show up in his dump truck.
If you invite him over to play canasta and have hors d'oeuvres, he will show up in his dump truck.
So, here he is, living in a one-room log cabin with no indoor toilet, and his only vehicle is a dump truck.
And yet, somehow, he has failed to "hook up" on the local dating scene.
[laughter] And then, one day, out of the blue, I get a call from my mom, and she says, "We think your brother has a girlfriend."
And I said, "Well, how can this be?"
[laughter] Because to me, this is like waking up one day and finding a fifth face on Mount Rushmore.
And she says, "Well, as it turns out, she has her own dump truck."
[laughter] So, now, my brothers-- and I mentioned being Scandihoovian stoics-- we don't talk a lot about our feelings with each other.
If there's trouble, we are there for each other, and we have proven that more than once, but day to day, we stay out of each other's business.
And same with when-- so, he does indeed-- He starts dating this woman, and I don't ask any questions.
None of my business.
Met her a couple times.
Lovely lady, beautiful dump truck.
[laughter] But none of my business.
And then, one day, I have to borrow a log chain.
So, I drive out to my brother's place out there in the country.
I go up the little path through the Jack Pines to the one-room log cabin, and I find him down on his hands and knees.
He's pouring footings for a tiny little addition, and I said, "Whaddya doin'?"
And he says, "Uh... puttin' in a bathroom," [laughter] and I thought, "Uh-ho!"
[laughter] But still none of my business, so I don't ask.
But sure enough, a couple months later, they announced that they are engaged to be married.
And it turns out that she has agreed to marry him.
She's agreed to move in to this tiny little log cabin, but first, he must install an indoor toilet.
Now, as the brother who had been in many relationships up to that point, all of them train wrecks, I took him aside and said, "Well, you see, this is how it starts."
[laughter] "First, she wants an indoor toilet.
Where does it end?"
[laughter] But anyways, they-- Basically, she told him, "I'll marry you, but you gotta put the toilet in first."
They got married at 10 AM on Saturday morning.
He finishes putting in the toilet at 4 PM on Friday.
He calls her to tell her, basically, "The toilet is in; the wedding is on."
She's not home.
He gets her answering service.
He leaves her message as only my brother can.
He says, "Yeah, I got a message for you."
[laughter] [roaring laughter] He left her the ceremonial first flush.
[laughter] [acoustic guitar] I learned from my father.
My father was a farmer, but he also logged, and he had sheep.
And so, he had the milk check, he had the logging check.
If it was a decent year, he made just enough off the sheep and the wool and the lambs to pay the property taxes.
Well, your big-wig corporate types would refer to this as multiple income streams.
I realized that while my book career has turned into more than I ever anticipated, I also knew that it would be pretty tough to make a living just on book royalties.
I couldn't, as a matter of fact.
And so, I just kept expanding it into performing, telling stories, speaking, even starting a band.
But none of it happens if I don't sit down at the desk every day and create new material and be a writer.
At the earliest edges of my memory, my father is plowing, and I'm running behind him.
I see my feet going pat-pat-pat over the soil.
I see my father, left hand on the wheel, right forearm braced against the fender, head turning back to check the depth of the plow, then forward to gauge his progress.
The soil is red and sandy in the high spots and dark and loamy in the low spots, where it curls from the plowshares like strips of licorice, leaving me this square, shin-deep trough in which to travel.
I trail the sound of the little tractor, so close to ground I can hear the soft plop of the overturned clods.
Now and then, the plow slices the soil so cleanly that a chubby white grub drops into the furrow, unscathed.
The grubs are translucent white, their black guts dimly visible as if through rice paper.
Grackles and cowbirds flock the plow, pecking through the new-turned dirt.
The grub will not last long.
There is my father on his underpowered Ford Ferguson, and there is me trotting right behind him, and there is God above, looking down as I run the straight groove of the furrow, my life laid out on a line drawn in the earth.
[cheers and applause] That's from the book Coop.
That's one of the most important paragraphs, to me, that I've ever written because it's such a privilege to A. have been raised by a loving father, a stern and strict father who had principles and expected you to live up to them, but was always loving and always fair.
And I watched him work so hard.
And yet, I could see the beauty in that work and that story I tell about running behind him as he plows; he's literally creating a line in the earth for me to follow.
The metaphors are just overflowing, and it's evocative to me, and I think to a lot of other people.
♪ ♪ >> FROM THE RIDICULOUS TO THE SUBLIME.
WE ARE ON THE ROAD WITH MICHAEL PERRY.
MICHAEL PERRY IS HERE IN THE STUDIO.
AND THIS IS A CHALLENGE BREAK.
IT IS THE PLEDGE DRIVE HERE AT PBS WISCONSIN AND WE'RE ASKING FOR YOUR SUPPORT.
WE HAVE A SPECIAL ENCOURAGEMENT FOR YOU RIGHT NOW.
PREVIOUS, EXISTING MEMBERS WOULD LIKE TO ENCOURAGE YOU TO JOIN THEM IF YOU ARE NEW.
IF YOU'VE NEVER BEEN A MEMBER TO PBS WISCONSIN, WE'D LIKE TO HEAR FROM YOU BECAUSE YOUR DOLLARS WILL BE DOUBLED RIGHT NOW DURING THIS BREAK.
AND WE ARE LOOKING FOR A TOTAL OF 40 CALLS.
AND YOU MAKE YOUR CALL AT 1-800-236-3636.
AND, MICHAEL, THAT WAS FUNNY STORIES ABOUT YOUR BROTHER AND GETTING ENGAGED.
>> YOU KNOW WHAT?
PEOPLE ARE GOING TO THINK I'M MAKING THIS UP.
I LITERALLY JUST GOT OFF THE PHONE FROM APOLOGIZING TO MY BROTHER.
I'M TELLING STORIES ABOUT YOU ON TV.
I'M SURE WE'LL DISCUSS IT LATER NEXT TO THE LOAD SKIDDER.
>> AND THEN FOLLOWED BY THAT BEAUTIFUL STORY, THE INTRO.
WE'LL TALK ABOUT THAT IN A MINUTE BECAUSE THAT'S ONE OF THE GIFTS.
THE NUMBER TO CALL IS 1-800-236-3636.
>> THANKS, STEPHANIE.
YOU KNOW, WE ARE SO GRATEFUL HERE AT PBS WISCONSIN AND WISCONSIN PUBLIC MEDIA TO HAVE SUCH A LONG-LASTING RELATIONSHIP WITH MICHAEL AND HIS WORK.
YOU MIGHT HAVE GOTTEN TO KNOW MICHAEL THROUGH THE CLOD HOPPER REPORT OR HEARD 485 ON CHAPTER A DAY OR YOU MIGHT BE TUNING IN FOR THE FIRST TIME TONIGHT LEARNING WHAT A TREASURE HE IS TO WISCONSIN AND THE STORIES THAT HE SHARES.
REGARDLESS OF HOW YOU'VE COME ACROSS MICHAEL'S WORK, WON'T YOU CALL RIGHT NOW AND PLEDGE YOUR SUPPORT FOR THIS KIND OF GREAT STORYTELLING ON PBS WISCONSIN.
1-800-236-3636 IS THE NUMBER TO CALL.
WHEN YOU DO, YOU'LL BE HELPING US REACH THE CHALLENGE THAT STEPHANIE HOLD US ABOUT.
WE HAVE A NUMBER OF GREAT THANK YOU GIFTS INCLUDING GETTING THE DVD OF THE PROGRAM YOU'RE WATCHING TONIGHT AT THE $10 A MONTH LEVEL.
AT THE $15 SUSTAINER LEVEL, WE WILL SEND YOU "ROUGHNECK RACE" AND "COOP" AND HE WILL BE HAND SIGNING THEM FOR YOU.
AT THE $25 LEVEL WE WILL SEND YOU THE TWO BOOKS AND ALL THREE OF MICHAEL'S PBS WISCONSIN SPECIALS ON DVD INCLUDING THE PROGRAM TONIGHT "MICHAEL PERRY: ON THE ROAD."
TO KEEP BRINGING THESE GREAT SHOWS TO YOU, WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT.
THERE'S NO BETTER TIME TO DO IT THAN RIGHT NOW WHEN YOUR TO THOSE PHONES AND DIAL 1-800-236-3636.
>> AND DON'T FORGET THIS IS A CHALLENGE BREAK.
WE ARE HALFWAY THERE.
WE'RE LOOKING FOR 40 CALLS.
AND IF YOU'VE NEVER BEEN A MEMBER, WHICH MEANS THAT YOU HELP SUPPORT PBS WISCONSIN FINANCIALLY, IT FEELS REALLY GOOD AND YOUR DOLLARS WILL BE DOUBLED RIGHT NOW DURING THIS BREAK AT 1-800-236-3636.
WELL, MICHAEL, WHEN WE LEFT OFF, WE WERE ABOUT TO TALK ABOUT THE PROLOGUE TO "COOP."
THAT'S THE ONE THAT YOU WERE READING AT THE END OF THAT LAST SEGMENT.
AND THIS IS ONE OF THE TWO BOOKS THAT ARE AVAILABLE FOR A PLEDGE OF $15 A MONTH.
BUT, BOY, WHAT A METAPHOR FOR THINGS.
I JUST -- I HAD THAT PIECE HALF WRITTEN FOR YEARS AND I POLISHED IT AND WORKED ON IT AND I NEVER REALLY FOUND A PLACE FOR IT.
THIS BOOK, "COOP," WHEREAS THE FIRST RADIO INTERVIEWER CALLED IT CO-OP.
BUT AS IT EVOLVED, I REALIZED IT WAS A TRIBUTE TO MY FATHER.
ME RUNNING BEHIND HIM WHEN HE PLOWED.
THAT IS A SIGNAL MEMORY FOR ME.
S FAR AS MY HANDS ARE BEING AWAY FROM BEING A FARMER, THAT FURROW IS A LINE I STILL FOLLOW.
>> I'VE BEEN READING YOUR BOOKS FOR A LONG TIME.
YOU'RE A BEAUTIFUL WRITER.
YOU SPEAK TO THE HEART AND YOU CONNECT WITH VIEWERS IN WISCONSIN.
YOU CONNECT WITH RESIDENTS FROM FARMERS TO, YOU KNOW, TRIPLE PH.D.s AND PEOPLE FROM ALL WALKS OF LIFE.
IT'S REALLY SPECIAL.
>> WELL, I THINK ABOUT PERFORMING IN THOSE OPERA HOUSES.
I THINK THAT YOU CAN ENJOY THE OPERA HOUSE AND YOU CAN ENJOY THE DIRT TRACK STOCK CAR RACES IN THE SAME GOAL.
>> WHEN YOU CALL AND BECOME A MEMBER THIS EVENING, OUR VOLUNTEERS CAN GO THROUGH ALL OF THOSE FANTASTIC THANK YOU GIFTS THAT WE HAVE.
WE KNOW THERE'S A LOT THERE TO PICK AND CHOOSE FROM.
NO MATTER WHAT LEVEL YOU PICK WILL BE ABSOLUTELY PERFECT FOR US HERE AT PBS WISCONSIN.
WE VALUE YOUR SUPPORT SO MUCH.
IT'S WONDERFUL NOW BECAUSE THERE'S SO MANY DIFFERENT WAYS THAT YOU CAN ACCESS ALL OF THE DIFFERENT QUALITY PROGRAMMING ON PBS WISCONSIN.
MAYBE YOU WATCH US OVER THE ERROR THROUGHAIR OR THROUGH YOUR CAIBLG.
CHECK OUT THE PBS APP AND GET ACCESS TO ALL OF THE WONDERFUL PROGRAMS ON PBS.
AND DON'T FORGET WE ALSO HAVE PASSPORT.
THAT'S ANOTHER OUTSTANDING BENEFIT IF YOU'RE A MEMBER OF PBS WISCONSIN.
IF YOU JOIN US THIS EVENING AT ANY OF THE SUGGESTED LEVELS, YOU'LL BECOME A MEMBER OF PASSPORT.
IT'S A GREAT WAY TO TAKE A DEEP DIVE INTO SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PROGRAMS AND MAYBE PROGRAMS YOU VICE PRESIDENTHAVEN'T EVEN DISCOVERED YET.
WE HAVE MANY BENEFITS TO BECOMING A MEMBER OF PBS WISCONSIN.
BUT IT ALL STARTS WHEN YOU GIVE US A CALL AT 1-800-236-3636.
>> WE'RE GOING TO GO BACK TO THE PROGRAM SHORTLY.
WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A CHALLENGE BREAK.
WE'VE HIT 40!
THANK YOU SO MUCH.
PLEASE JOIN US AT 1-800-236-3636.
MICHAEL PERRY IS HERE IN THE STUDIO.
AND YOU WERE TALKING ABOUT HOW YOUR FATHER AS A FARMER HAD TO HAVE MULTIPLE STREAMS OF INCOME, AND YOU HAVE ADOPTED THE SAME MODEL.
AND ONE OF YOUR STREAMS IS AS A MUSICIAN.
I REMEMBER WHEN I WAS HOSTING SIMPLY FOLK I AIRED YOUR MUSIC ON THAT PROGRAM.
SO YOU ARE JUST A RENAISSANCE PERSON.
BUT IT MUST KEEP YOU PRETTY BUSY.
>> PRETTY BUSY.
WITH MUSIC, I'M VERY RESPECTFUL OF THE FACT THAT I LEARNED THREE CHORDS AND TWO RHYTHMS.
I KNOW JUST ENOUGH TO BE DANGEROUS.
AND I WORK WITH WONDERFUL MUSICIANS AROUND ME ON STAGE.
BUT YEAH I HAVE A BAND CALLED THE LONG BEDS.
THIS WOULD BE A PERFECT TIME TO MENTION THAT JUST TWO DAYS AGO THE GUY WHO FIRST TOOK ME ON THE ROAD AND CONVINCED ME TO PLAY MY SONGS IN PUBLIC, THIS GOES OUT TO BILLY BECAUSE BILLY PASSED ON TWO DAYS AGO.
I WOULDN'T BE SINGING IF IT WASN'T FOR HIM.
>> THAT'S A WONDERFUL INSPIRATION.
AND THERE IS A LINK IN THE DVD TO INFORMATION AND PERFORMANCES BY THE LONG BEDS.
SO WHEN YOU PLEDGE FOR THE PROGRAM DVD, YOU CAN HAVE MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THAT, HEAR THE MUSIC.
YOU'LL HAVE A LINK TO FIND MORE INFORMATION ABOUT IT.
THAT'S AVAILABLE FOR A PLEDGE OF $10 A MONTH OR MORE AT 1-800-236-3636.
>> THANKS, STEPHANIE.
WHEN YOU CALL 1-800-236-3636 AND GIVE AT THE $10 MONTHLY SUSTAINING LEVEL, RIGHT NOW YOU WILL RECEIVE THE DVD.
THE DVD IS THE PROGRAM YOU'RE WATCHING TONIGHT.
THERE'S ALSO FOUR ADDITIONAL STORIES THAT YOU'RE NOT GOING TO SEE TONIGHT, TWO FROM EACH OF THE THEATERS AND MENOMONIE AND STOUGHTON.
THERE'S ALSO A LINK ON THERE TO BE ABLE TO WATCH MICHAEL AND THE LONG BEDS 30 MINUTE MUSIC HOUR PERFORMANCE THEY DID A FEW YEARS BACK.
WONDERFUL PERFORMANCE, GREAT WAY TO GET THE FULL ARRAY OF MICHAEL'S WORK.
AT THE $15 LEVEL, WE WILL SEND YOU "COOP" AND "ROUGHNECK RACE" PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED.
AT THE $25 MONTHLY SUSTAINING LEVEL WE WILL SEND YOU THE COMPLETE MICHAEL PERRY PACKAGE.
YOU GET THE TWO BOOKS, YOU GET ALL THREE OF HIS PBS WISCONSIN SPECIALS, THE ONE YOU'RE WATCHING TONIGHT AND THE TWO WE PREVIOUSLY AIRED AND THE GREAT PERSONAL FEELING OF KNOWING YOU'RE SUPPORTING GREAT PROGRAMS LIKE THIS, PROGRAMS THAT FEATURE MICHAEL, STORYTELLERS LIKE JERRY APPS, INDEPENDENT DOCUMENTARIES, WISCONSIN FILM, JOURNALISM AND THE KIDS' PROGRAMS.
CALL RIGHT NOW, PLEDGE YOUR SUPPORT, 1-800-236-3636.
>> ERIK WAS JUST TALKING ABOUT SOME OF THE GREAT PROGRAMS YOU CAN SUPPORT OR HOW IT'S SUCH A WIDE-RANGING AMOUNT OF PROGRAMMING YOU CAN SUPPORT.
IT REALLY IS A GROUP EFFORT THAT KEEPS US ON THE AIR HERE AT PBS WISCONSIN.
OVER 70,000 FAMILIES HELP SUPPORT PBS WISCONSIN EVERY YEAR.
NO ONE PERSON CAN SIT DOWN AND WRITE OUT THE CHECK FOR EVERYTHING.
IT WOULD BE WONDERFUL IF THEY COULD, BUT THAT'S NOT THE WAY THINGS WORK HERE.
WE DEPEND ON EVERY DONATION NO MATTER WHAT SIZE IT IS.
MAYBE YOU CAN'T MAKE THAT WORK, BUT THERE'S ELSE THAT YOU CAN DO.
THAT'S ABSOLUTELY FINE.
EVERY DONATION IS SO IMPORTANT TO HELPING KEEPING US ABLE TO DO YOU AN OF THE WORK THAT WE WANT TO DO AND THAT WE KNOW THAT OUR VIEWERS LOVE HERE AT PBS WISCONSIN.
SO PLEASE JOIN THE PEOPLE THAT HAVE ALREADY BECOME MEMBERS BY GOING TO THE PHONE AND DIALING 1-800-236-3636.
>> WE'RE MR.
THE MIDDLE IN THE MIDDLE OF A CHALLENGE BREAK.
WE'RE GOING TO GO BACK TO THE SHOW IN A MOMENT.
IF YOU HAVE NEVER BEEN A MEMBER OF PBS WISCONSIN AND YOU'RE THINKING I LOVE THIS SHOW, I'D LOVE TO HELP MAKE THIS KIND OF THING AVAILABLE TO EVERYONE, THIS IS THE TIME BECAUSE YOUR DOLLARS WILL BE MATCHED ONE TO ONE DURING THIS BREAK AND WE'D LOVE TO WELCOME YOU AND 1-800-236-3636.
IT FEELS REALLY GOOD TO SUPPORT PBS WISCONSIN.
EVERY TIME YOU TURN IT ON OR USE THE APP, YOU KNOW THAT YOU'RE HELPING TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.
AND YOU'RE HELPING TO MAKE THESE KIND OF PRODUCTIONS AVAILABLE.
YOU'VE BEEN WORKING WITH PBS WISCONSIN FOR 20 YEARS!
AND AS A MATTER OF FACT, I MENTIONED MY FRIEND BILLY AND I JUST WENT BACK AND LOOKED.
THERE WAS AN EARLY CLOD HOPPER REPORT WHERE I WALKED THROUGH A SEMCEMETERY.
HE CARVED HEAD STONES.
THAT WAS EARLY, EARLY PBS.
>> THE CLOD HOPPER REPORT, RIGHT?
>> THAT'S WHAT IT WAS, YEAH.
>> 30 MINUTE MUSIC HOUR AND ALL THE OTHER PROGRAMS ON PBS WISCONSIN THAT ARE DONE RIGHT HERE IN WISCONSIN FOR WISCONSINITES AND OF COURSE OUR FRIENDS AND FAMILY ELSEWHERE.
BUT YOU MAKE IT HAPPEN AT 1-800-236-3636.
AND WE'RE GRATEFUL.
JUST YOUR GIFT IS THE ONLY ONE WE AREWE ARE LOOKING FOR.
WE ASKED FOR 40 GIFTS.
YOU GUYS HAVE KNOCKED THAT OUT OF THE PARK.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM EVEN MORE.
LET'S SEE HOW MUCH SUPPORT WE CAN GET FOR THIS TYPE OF PROGRAMMING ON PBS WISCONSIN.
TONIGHT IF YOU ARE MOST COMFORTABLE CALLING, THE NUMBER OF COURSE IS 1-800-236-3636.
OF COURSE ANY GIFT THAT'S GIVEN ONLINE RIGHT NOW DURING THIS BREAK AS WELL AS pbswisconsin.org.
OR IF YOU'RE SOMEONE WHO'S GOT A SMARTPHONE, HIT THAT QR CODE ON THE SCREEN AND GIVE YOUR GIFT ONLINE, ALSO WORKS WITH THE CHALLENGE RIGHT NOW AND DOUBLING YOUR GIFT AS A NEW MEMBER TO pbswisconsin.org.
YOU GET A THANK YOU GIFT AS WELL.
AT THE $10 A MONTH SUSTAINING LEVEL WE WILL SEND YOU THE DVD OF THE PROGRAM YOU'RE WATCHING TONIGHT WITH BONUS FOOTAGE.
AT THE $15 MONTHLY LEVEL WE'LL SEND YOU THE TWO BOOKS PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED BY MICHAEL AND THEN SENT YOUR WAY TO ADD TO YOUR PERSONAL LIBRARY.
AT THE $25 LEVEL WE'LL SEND YOU THE TWO BOOKS AND THE THREE DVDs, ALL THREE OF THE MICHAEL PERRY SPECIALS THAT WE PRODUCED HERE AT PBS WISCONSIN.
WE'RE SO GRATEFUL FOR YOUR SUPPORT, WHETHER BY PHONE OR ONLINE.
IT DOESN'T MATTER.
WE'RE JUST GLAD THAT YOU'RE HELPING TO SUPPORT GREAT QUALITY PROGRAMS FOR EVERYBODY IN WISCONSIN ON PBS WISCONSIN.
>> WELL, THANK YOU, ERIK.
WE'RE GOING TO BE GOING BACK TO THE SHOW IN A MINUTE OR TWO.
YOU DON'T WANT TO MISS THIS LAST SEGMENT.
MICHAEL'S GOT PLENTY OF WONDERFUL STORIES FOR US TO HEAR YET.
NOW IS THE PERFECT TIME TO JOIN AS A MEMBER OF PBS WISCONSIN.
ONE THING YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER WHEN YOU JOIN IS BECOMING A SUSTAINING MEMBER.
THAT'S HOW I DO MY MEMBERSHIP AND I LOVE IT.
I SELECT THE AMOUNT I WANT TO DONATE EVERY MONTH AND I BASICALLY SIT BACK AND KNOW THAT I HAVE MY MEMBERSHIP EVERY MONTH.
I'M HELPING TO KEEP PBS WISCONSIN ON THE AIR.
I CAN INCREASE MY SUSTAINING - DONATION IF I WOULD LIKE TO DO THAT.
I CAN MAKE ANY CHANGES THAT I NEED TO.
SO IT'S A FANTASTIC WAY FOR YOU TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR US HERE AT PBS WISCONSIN.
IT'S ONE THING YOU CAN CONSIDER WHEN YOU CALL THE NUMBER ON YOUR SCREEN AND TALK TO ONE OF OUR VOLUNTEERS.
AGAIN, THAT NUMBER IS 1-800-236-3636.
>> ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S BEEN CONSISTENT THROUGH YOUR WORK, MICHAEL, IS GRATITUDE.
>> THAT ONE'S PRETTY EASY.
GREW UP IN A LOVELY FAMILY ON A FARM IN NORTHERN WISCONSIN, WORKED ON A RANCH IN WYOMING FOR FIVE YEARS.
WENT TO NURSING SCHOOL AND ONE DAY ACCIDENTALLY WANDERED OFF INTO WRITING.
NEVER ANTICIPATED ANY OF THIS.
I'M JUST GRATEFUL FOR EVERY BIT OF IT.
NONE OF IT HAPPENS WITHOUT READERS AND PEOPLE SHOWING UP AND I NEVER FORGET THAT.
WE DON'T, EITHER.
WE ARE GRATEFUL FOR EACH AND EVERY GIFT.
WE'RE IN THE MIDDLE OF A CHALLENGE BREAK.
WE'RE GOING TO GO BACK TO THE PROGRAM IN A FEW SECONDS.
PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO MAKE YOUR GIFT.
GET YOUR DOLLARS DOUBLED.
WE'VE GOT SOME THANK YOU GIFTS FOR YOU, NICE WAYS TO SHOW OUR GRATITUDE AND APPRECIATION FOR YOUR MEMBERSHIP AND YOUR CONTRIBUTIONS.
YOU MAKE THIS KIND OF PROGRAMMING HAPPEN.
WE'RE GOING TO GO BACK TO THE PROGRAM.
GET READY FOR SOME I talk sometimes about, you know, how we're working hard, and I got a kid in college, and a kid in braces, and...
But I don't want to pretend that things are-- We're doing fine.
Matter of fact, if you saw the van out there tonight, we're up to having-- We got two out of four hubcaps, so I feel like we're really gaining.
[laughter] Plus, what I like about having two hubcaps: I mount them both on the same side 'cause that way, depending on the sort of image I'm trying to project, [laughter] If I'm feeling fancy, I might give you some hubcaps.
[laughter] ♪ ♪ This wall is along the stairs that lead up to the stage, and after you perform here, you are allowed to sign the wall.
Well, I recognize Steven Wright.
He's a comedian.
Off the sightline, I can see Gillian Welch signed the wall in 2012.
I see Nanci Griffith, who is a singer-songwriter that meant so much to me, especially in my early days when I was first doing a lot of writing.
I would listen to her music over and over.
And then, if you scan around... Oh!
I'm only ever Michael on my books, when I sign the wall, or when I'm in trouble with my mom.
A buddy of mine named Billy, who was in my band for years and years, told me one time...
He goes, "No matter where you're playing, "no matter what the show is, "you're creating a moment for people that just exists in time, and it echoes long after you're done with it."
And that's what I think of when I see all these names is just that the echoes of all these performances are still bouncing around in here, out in the world, and that's what you're hoping for when you get up on that stage.
Create some echoes that last.
[cheers and applause] I have two daughters, and...
So, I met my wife.
She was a single mom, and she had a three-year-old daughter.
And I've said before that I don't care for the term 'stepdaughter.'
I don't find it offensive.
You won't hurt my feelings if you use it, but I-- what I've always said about the term 'stepdaughter' is that that word is perfectly sufficient in conveying the situation.
It is utterly insufficient in conveying the heart.
And I was given the beautiful gift of a wonderful word by a rough-neck backwoods-dwelling Vietnam vet poet friend of mine when he said one day, "She's not your stepdaughter; She is your given daughter."
And I think that's a lovely way of putting it, and that is how I feel about her.
[applause] That said, she's dangerous.
[laughter] Um... We had a family meeting a little while ago.
My wife calls family meetings.
I-- I try, I really.
I'm the last one there.
I come dragging in even after the kids.
I really don't want to go to the family meeting.
[laughter] Uh... And there's always an agenda and stuff, and we had a family meeting.
This is when my elder daughter was in her teens.
She had her driver's license.
She was driving already to work and to school, and to volleyball practice.
And one of the things on the list that my wife brought up is she said, "We need to do a better job of eating leftovers.
"Too many leftovers are just staying in the fridge, "and that's wasteful.
"And we're not that kind of family, and we need to make a better effort to eat leftovers."
So, the very next day, I was working in my little office above the garage there, and it was lunchtime, and I was pretty hungry.
I hadn't had breakfast.
So, I went in the house, like, "Leftovers.
You can do the right thing."
Open the fridge.
Start pulling out a few leftovers.
And then, I saw in there one of the leftovers was one of those little square plastic sandwich containers, and there was a sandwich in it, and I opened it up.
It's a neatly made sandwich.
even cut, you know, the two triangles.
I thought, "Hmm, must have been something that, you know, the kid made for school and didn't remember to take it.
So, I'll eat that.
So I go out to my office and eat my lunch in my old green chair.
It's the best place to eat lunch because as soon as you're done, you just set the dish down and fall asleep.
But I mean, I start that sandwich, and something seemed a little off.
The bread was damp.
And then, it didn't really taste like I expected.
It didn't taste rotten or bad or anything.
It just kind of tasted not what I expected, and I even peeled the bread back and looked.
Like, I don't know.
The meat looked a little gray.
But I was really hungry so I just kept eating.
Well, later that afternoon, my wife comes home, and I'm in the kitchen and, of course, like all men who barely hit the bar of doing what they should have done in the first place, but still expecting a gold star, I said to my wife, I said, "I ate leftovers for lunch," and she's like, "Oh, good."
And I said, "That sandwich tasted kind of funny.
What kind of meat was that?"
She said, "You didn't eat that."
[laughter] And I said, "Well, yeah, I did.
It was in there with all the other leftovers."
She said, "Oh..." She goes, "Your daughter, the teenager, "Brought that home from school the other day, didn't eat it, "left it out on the counter, "and it's been there for two days.
"And I only put it in the fridge so that I'd be reminded to tell her, 'We don't waste food in this family.'"
So now, I started going, "Oh...
So, for the next couple hours, I just kind of waiting, but nothing really happens.
Later that evening, my teenager comes home, and I go, "Now it's time for me to be dad.
It's time to deliver a sermon."
So, we're standing in the kitchen.
She's standing at the door.
I'm standing by the sink, and I said, "I just wanted to let you know "that mom wants to talk to you about that sandwich."
[laughter] "You left out on the counter for two days.
So then, it's kind of spoiled," I said.
And I could see her turn white, and I thought, "Well, this is good.
My sermon's having the desired effect."
And she just went, "You ate that?!"
And I said, "Yeah."
She said, "Dad, that's been in my car for two months."
[groans, laughter] [applause] [acoustic guitar] So, sometimes I just gotta 'splain to them people in New York that things aren't so smooth out here.
But I also like to educate them.
Like, one of my favorite phrases is I occasionally have to remind those folks out there that out here in the Midwest, sometimes we think things up all by ourselves.
- Audience: Whoo!
[laughter] - They're kind.
They mean-- they've changed my life.
They're hardworking folks.
The people I've worked with are great, but again, just occasionally, you gotta set 'em straight.
One of my favorite stories about that is most of my book tours is just me and that van.
But occasionally, if I do a book tour with one of the bigger publishers and it's a national tour, they actually fly me around the country, and it's great.
They do a great-- It's impossibly difficult to put together the logistics of a book tour, and I'm grateful to them for that.
That said, twice, two different publicists, two different book tours, I've had the exact same experience and the exact same quote.
They call me up, and they say, "Well, Mr. Perry, "we have your book tour all organized.
"It's all ready to go.
Your flight leaves Milwaukee at 10 AM on Tuesday morning."
And I say, "Well, hold it right there.
"Go ahead and make your hand into a map of Wisconsin.
[laughter] "Don't forget Door County.
[laughter] "This right here, this, "this is the New Auburn/Fall Creek area.
"Drive five and a half hours, depending on traffic, "Milwaukee Airport.
"Go on back up to the New Auburn/ Fall Creek area.
"Drive an hour and a half due west.
"Minneapolis, Saint Paul.
"They have an airport there with airplanes that go all over the world."
[laughter] And twice, I've gotten the exact same comment from two different publicists.
There's this little pause, and then they said, "But, but you live in Wisconsin."
[laughter] And I say, "Yeah, and we have a open border agreement with Minnesota."
[laughter] I've been able to say this almost since the age of 25.
If I get hit by a truck tonight when I step out the back door, I won.
♪ [cheerful whistling] ♪ I can't believe what I've been allowed to do and experience and create, what I've had the freedom to do.
It's overwhelming when I think of it.
[laughter] When I look back at the hundreds of stories I've been allowed to write, thousands of people I've been allowed to meet, the places I've traveled, the behind-the-scenes things that I've been privy to...
I grew up cleaning calf pens in the town of Sampson in Chippewa County, Wisconsin.
If it ended today, I-- That's important, you know.
So, if it does end today, make sure you tell them, "It's alright.
It was a good run, man!"
[chuckles] This is a cold-based story, and, of course, we love the cold here.
We like to complain about it, but we love the cold 'cause it feeds that most Midwestern of traits, stoic martyrdom.
[laughter] It's like Grandma with her arthritis, like, [in grandma voice] "Oh, no, no, I'm fine.
Don't worry about me," you know, "But worry about me."
[laughter] And we're the same with the cold.
We love to complain about it, but, you know, there's a lot of folks moving in the area now, and I have to, when I have a opportunity, I educate them, 'specially if they're not from a warm area.
If you're going to brag about the cold, which we all do around here.
I said, "There's a dance to it.
You gotta know the dance."
I said, "If you walk into the café one morning "and your neighbor says, 'Hey, how cold is it out by you?'
"Sounds like he cares.
Doesn't; That's a trap."
[laughter] Never go first.
[laughter] 'Cause you're going to say, "Oh, it's 15 below."
He's going to say, "Oh, yeah, 17 below by us."
[laughter] And, of course, that's on the milk house thermometer.
It always reads a couple degrees high.
[laughter] I tell people who aren't from this area that when summer ends, we don't take our beach towels and fold them up, and put them away in the closet.
We roll 'em up and put 'em down there along the bottom of the kitchen door.
[laughter, applause] You must live in the same house I do.
[chuckles] [laughter] I also take some-- one of them that's left over, and I roll that up, and I put it on the window sill right above the head of the bed where that draft comes through and kind of catches you on the bald spot.
And it's hard to keep a rolled up towel balanced on a window sill, but by January, it's just froze right to the glass, [laughter] and you're pretty much good to go 'til spring.
You just see things differently if you understand cold.
For instance, where I'm from Up North, there, if we see a guy drinking every can of Leinie's in a twenty-four pack, we don't see a guy with a drinking problem.
We see a guy who's going to take that empty carton, stomp it flat, and then, zip-tie it to the grill of his pickup truck.
[laughter] That's just heater enhancement is what that is right there.
Which also reminds me, all this excitement about electric cars, like, "Yeah, I see your Tesla there, Spanky, but we've been plugging in our cars since about 1952, so..." [laughter] [applause] Some of the friends that I have from warmer climates, I worry about 'em, you know.
What if they wind up here in the winter?
We could lose 'em.
[laughter] And so, I try to give them helpful advice.
I give them the one-- And, you'll excuse me, this is a little bit crude.
This is as crude as I'll get.
But I teach them the old chestnut, you know, "Don't eat yellow snow."
Everybody knows that one.
But I tell 'em, "But don't eat the green snow neither "'cause [clears throat] that's antifreeze, [laughter] "and that'll kill 'ya.
[laughter] "They'll find you several hours later, "dead in a snowbank.
You'll be dead, but flexible."
[laughter] [louder laughter] That's a conceptual joke, and I'm unduly proud of it.
[laughter] Don't eat the maroon snow neither because that is hydraulic fluid and that stuff just shoots right through you.
[laughter] Um... [applause] [gentle acoustic guitar] Folks, I'm so grateful that you came out tonight.
I got one more story I'll tell, and then, we'll head out.
Just grateful for you being here.
I think I needed a laugh as much as anybody, so thank you for letting me have one with a whole living room full of friends.
I take none of this for granted.
It's all very odd and asymmetrical and unplanned, but here we are.
You know, I joked today about my brothers and all their talents, but I mean that.
That's my background.
My background is blue-collar, and I'm so grateful that I get up in the morning, and the first thing I want to do is write.
I've somehow found a way to make a livin' writing, and I would hope to be doing that when I tip over.
But I'm also glad that my background is just boots on the ground.
I think we're all going to fall eventually, and I'd like to fall from a very low height.
[laughter] So, thank you so much for coming out tonight.
I have a website and social media platforms and all that, and if you just go to, [inhales] I'm old enough that I say the W-W-W dot Sneezing Cow dot com, which, of course, never stand behind a sneezing cow.
Don't have to explain that to this crowd.
but when I'm out there on the West Coast, you know, sometimes I gotta break out charts and everything.
[laughter] I just tell them, basically, it's a situation involving several of the properties of physics, like contents under pressure, ballistics, [laughter] and the path of least resistance, [laughter] and, of course, inertia, although in this case, you might refer to it as "manure-tia."
[laughter] I don't know if it's ever happened to you.
It has happened to me growing up on the farm.
It is a jaw-dropping experience.
[laughter] Although that would not be your best move.
[laughter] [loud laughter, applause] - Audience: Whoo, whoo!
- Thanks so much.
Thanks for coming out.
A special thank you to the folks running the cameras.
People got here early to set up sound.
There are folks working in the soundboard.
There's a whole bunch of people who came here long before I did tonight to make it so that all I had to do is show up and be fabulous.
[laughter] So, thank you so much.
[cheers and applause] [acoustic guitar] It's like putting on a pair of old jeans to come back to Wisconsin.
♪ ♪ [tire and engine noise] I also think of it in terms of how I feel about my hometown of New Auburn.
I always say, no matter where I'm standing when I say it, I am forever grateful to be of and from New Auburn, Wisconsin.
♪ ♪ None of us knows what the future holds.
I have relatives in Panama.
I love it in Panama.
Maybe I'll move to Panama; I don't know.
But I will always be of and from Wisconsin.
And even more specifically, New Auburn, Wisconsin.
>> I'M STEPHANIE ELKINS, AND WHAT A GREAT EVENING WE'VE BEEN SPENDING WITH MICHAEL PERRY.
AND THERE ARE STILL A FEW MORE STORIES.
SO STAY WITH US.
AND WE HAVE THE ENTIRE PROGRAM FOR YOU ON DVD WITH A COUPLE OF -- ACTUALLY, NOT A COUPLE.
FOUR ADDITIONAL STORIES.
CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT THE ADDITIONAL STORIES THAT ARE ON THE DVD?
>> I DON'T HAVE A CLUE.
I'M REALLY EXCITED TO SEE THEM.
I JUST WANT TO POINT OUT.
I DON'T KNOW IF THIS WILL GLARE TOO MUCH, BUT I LOVE THE COVER OF THIS CD AND I THINK YOU'LL LIKE IT, TOO, BECAUSE I'M WEARING A CAP AND YOU WON'T HAVE TO DEAL WITH THIS BLINDING SHINE WHEN YOU GET THE DVD.
>> THIS IS THE THIRD PBS WISCONSIN PRODUCTION THAT MICHAEL PERRY HAS DONE WITH US, AND IT'S POSSIBLE BECAUSE OF YOUR SUPPORT AND WE'RE ASKING FOR YOU, JUST YOU, TO MAKE YOUR GIFT IN AN AMOUNT THAT IS RIGHT FOR YOU AT 1-800-236-3636.
AND ENJOY THIS DVD OVER AND OVER AGAIN.
THERE ARE ALSO SOME OTHER WONDERFUL THANK YOU GIFTS.
BUT JUST GREAT STORYTELLING AND - WE'LL TALK ABOUT THAT IN JUST A MINUTE.
BUT FIRST 1-800-236-3636.
>> THANKS, STEPHANIE AND MICHAEL.
AND THANK YOU FOR TUNING IN TONIGHT.
AS STEPHANIE MENTIONED, DON'T GO ANYWHERE.
FIRST CALL IN YOUR SUPPORT, 1-800-236-3636.
SUPPORT THE GREAT PROGRAMMING ON PBS WISCONSIN.
SECOND, STICK AROUND BECAUSE THERE'S STILL MORE FROM THE "MICHAEL PERRY: ON THE ROAD" SPECIAL TO COME WHEN WE'RE DONE HERE.
WHEN YOU DO CALL, WE'VE GOT THESE GREAT THANK YOU GIFTS.
AT THE $10 A MONTH SUSTAINING LEVEL WE HAVE THE "MICHAEL PERRY: ON THE ROAD" DVD, THE PROGRAM YOU WATCHED TONIGHT.
IT'S FOUR ADDITIONAL STORIES, TWO FROM EACH VENUE WE RECORDED MICHAEL IN AND OTHER TREATS ON THIS DVD.
WONDERFUL WAY TO ENJOY THE SHOW IF YOU TUNED IN LATE AND YOU WANTED TO CATCH THE WHOLE THING OR YOU JUST KNOW THAT PERFECT PERSON IN YOUR FAMILY THAT YOU WANT TO SHARE IT WITH WHILE SUPPORTING PBS WISCONSIN AND SHARING THAT WITH EVERYBODY ACROSS THE STATE.
AT THE $15 LEVEL, OF COURSE EVERYBODY LOVES MICHAEL'S BOOKS AND WE ARE THRILLED TO BE ABLE TO SEND YOU TWO OF THEM, "COOP" AND "ROUGHNECK RACE" PERSONALLY AUTOGRAPHED BY MICHAEL BEFORE WE SEND THEM TO YOU.
AND AT THE $25 MONTHLY SUSTAINING LEVEL WE WILL SEND YOU BOTH OF THE BOOKS AND THREE DVDs, "MICHAEL PERRY: ON THE ROAD" AND THE TWO ADDITIONAL SPECIALS WE'VE PREVIOUSLY AIRED ON PBS WISCONSIN.
CALL RIGHT NOW, PLEDGE YOUR SUPPORT, 1-800-236-3636.
>> WELL, THANK YOU, ERIK.
THAT LAST PACKAGE THAT ERIK WAS TALKING ABOUT, IF YOU'RE A MICHAEL PERRY FAN, THAT'S DEFINITELY SOMETHING THAT YOU'RE GOING TO WANT TO THINK ABOUT GETTING THIS EVENING.
THANK YOU TO ALL OF YOU WHO HAVE ALREADY BECOME MEMBERS OF PBS WISCONSIN.
I'VE HEARD A RUMOR THAT WE'RE ALREADY STARTING TO THINK ABOUT A FOURTH ONE.
SO IF THAT'S SOMETHING THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO CONTINUE TO SEE, NOW IS THE PERFECT TIME FOR YOU TO SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR PBS WISCONSIN.
WHEN YOU JOIN US THIS EVENING, YOU MIGHT WANT TO CONSIDER BECOMING A SUSTAINING MEMBER.
IT'S A GREAT WAY TO PUT YOUR MEMBERSHIP ON JUST EASY, EASY, EASY.
YOU CALL IN, YOU SAY HOW MUCH YOU WOULD LIKE TO DONATE EVERY MONTH AND THEN THAT'S IT.
IF YOU WANT TO CHANGE YOUR MEMBERSHIP AT ANY POINT, YOU CAN.
IF YOU WANT TO INCREASE IT OR WHATEVER, YOU CAN DO THAT.
IT'S A VERY EASY WAY FOR YOU TO BECOME A MEMBER AND SHOW YOUR SUPPORT FOR US HERE AT PBS WISCONSIN.
WHEN YOU DO THAT, WE ALSO HAVE THESE SUGGESTED LEVELS YOU CAN JOIN US UT.
WE HAVE A LOT OF BENEFITS OF BECOMING A MEMBER OF PBS WISCONSIN.
BUT WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT.
SHOWS LIKE THE SPECIAL WE'VE JUST WATCHED WITH MICHAEL PERRY ARE DONE WITH ONE DONATION AT A TIME.
THAT'S HOW WE'RE ABLE TO CONTINUE TO BRING GREAT SHOWS LIKE THIS TO YOU.
SO IT ALL STARTS WHEN YOU GO TO THAT PHONE AND DIAL 1-800-236-3636.
>> ONE OF THE THINGS THAT STRIKES ME, MICHAEL, WATCHING THIS SPECIAL IS THAT SENSE OF COMMUNITY THAT SHINES THROUGH WITH YOUR WORK, NOT JUST THE WORK THAT YOU WRITE, BUT YOU CREATE, YOU FOSTER THIS WONDERFUL SENSE OF COMMUNITY ON STAGE.
DO YOU HAVE FOLKS THAT COME OVER AND OVER TO SEE YOUR SHOWS?
I WOULDN'T BE SURPRISED IF YOU DO.
THERE'S DEFINITELY A FEW REPEAT CUSTOMERS.
AND I THINK -- I THINK ABOUT THAT A LOT.
I JUST DID A SHOW AT THE STOUGHTON OPERA HOUSE.
I DID ABOUT HALF NEW MATERIAL AND HALF OLD, WELL-POLISHED STORIES.
FOR A WHILE I WAS CONCERNED ABOUT TELLING THE SAME STORIES.
THEY LOVE THE FLOW OF THE STORIES.
THEY LOVE THE DISCOVERY.
THE GRATITUDE PART FOR ME IS I STILL LOVING TELLING THEM.
I LOVE TAKING THAT ADVENTURE WITH AN AUDIENCE.
HALF THE AUDIENCE IS HEARING IT FOR THE FIRST TIME AND HALF THE AUDIENCE IS RELIVING IT WITH YOU.
>> RELIVING IT WITH YOU IS WHAT VIEWERS CAN DO WHEN THEY MAKE A GIFT AND ASK FOR THE DVD FOR A GIFT OF $10 A MORE OR MORE BECAUSE IT IS THAT SENSE OF COMMUNITY.
WE'RE WISCONSINITES AND WE RELATE.
MANY OF US COME FROM FARMING BACKGROUNDS.
WE RELATE ON SO MANY DIFFERENT LEVELS WITH YOUR STORIES.
YOU CAN ENJOY THAT OVER 1-800-236-3636.
>> THANK YOU, ERIK.
IF YOU'VE ALREADY JOINED US HERE AT PBS WISCONSIN, THANK YOU SO MUCH.
WE APPRECIATE EACH AND EVERY CALL OR SOMEBODY THAT GOES ONLINE.
NO MATTER HOW YOU BECOME A MEMBER, IT IS SO IMPORTANT TO US HERE AT PBS WISCONSIN.
WE ALSO HAVE SOME SPECIAL DONORS WE WOULD LIKE TO THANK.
THESE ARE PEOPLE AND COMPANIES THAT HAVE STEPPED FORWARD TO SHOW THEIR SUPPORT FOR PBS WISCONSIN.
THE FIRST IS THE COTTREL FUND.
THESE ARE PEOPLE FROM ALL ACROSS THE STATE, FROM WAUSAU, FROM LA CROSSE, FROM ALL ACROSS THE STATE AND THEY TRULY VALUE PBS WISCONSIN AND IT'S SOMETHING THAT THEY WANT TO CONTINUE TO SEE BEING ABLE TO BRING SHOWS ABOUT WISCONSIN, ABOUT THE PEOPLE OF WISCONSIN, THE LIFE THAT WE LIVE HERE IN WISCONSIN.
SO THEY'VE BEEN ABLE TO STEP FORWARD AT THAT LEADERSHIP ROLE AND SHOW THEIR SUPPORT.
YOU CAN JOIN THEM THIS EVENING BY GOING TO YOUR PHONE OR GOING ONLINE AND BECOMING A MEMBER OF PBS WISCONSIN.
REMEMBER, THERE ARE OVER 70,000 MEMBERS THAT SUPPORT PBS WISCONSIN FROM ALL CORNERS OF OUR STATE.
YOU CAN JOIN THE PEOPLE THAT ARE DOING THAT THAT LOVE MICHAEL PERRY, THAT LOVE THE OTHER SPECIALS THAT WE LOVE HERE, ALL THE PROGRAMMING THAT WE BRING YOU YEAR-ROUND.
IT ALL STARTS WITH A PHONE CALL TO 1-800-236-3636.
>> YOU'VE WRITTEN SUCH A WIDE VARIETY OVER THE YEARS FOR YOUNG PEOPLE ABOUT FRENCH PHILOSOPHY AND WONDERFUL MEMOIRS.
>> I WROTE "40 ACRES DEEP."
FOR ME IT'S A VERY, VERY DARK PIECE OF WORK.
IT'S BEEN OUT FOR ABOUT A MONTH AND THE REACTIONS WE'RE GETTING ARE VERY POSITIVE, THOUGHTFUL, REFLECTIVE RESPONSES.
SO I'M WORKING ON THAT.
AND THEN I'VE GOT TWO OTHER BOOKS IN THE HOPPER THAT ARE LONG OVERDUE.
I'M HACKING AWAY AT THOSE.
>> YOU'RE SCRIBBLING AWAY IN YOUR ROOM OVER THE GARAGE.
>> WE'RE PRETTY TIGHT, YEAH.
>> WE LOOK FORWARD TO THOSE AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO WORKING WITH YOU MORE AT PBS WISCONSIN AND IT'S BEEN TERRIFIC TO ENJOY THIS PROGRAM TONIGHT.
WE'VE BEEN ABLE TO LAUGH AND REMINISCE AND HEAR SOME WONDERFUL STORIES AND WE INVITE YOU TO BECOME A MEMBER OR RENEW YOUR MEMBERSHIP OR MAYBE INCREASE YOUR SUSTAINING GIFT AND PICK UP ONE OF THESE WONDERFUL BOOKS OR THE DVD AT 1-800-236-3636.
>> THAT'S RIGHT.
WHEN YOU DO CALL, WE'VE GOT THOSE GREAT THANK YOU GIFTS.
STARTING AT THE $10 SUSTAINING LEVEL WE WILL SEND YOU THE DVD "MICHAEL PERRY: ON THE ROAD" THE PROGRAM THAT YOU ARE WATCHING TONIGHT.
AT THE $15 LEVEL WE WILL SEND YOU TWO AUTOGRAPHED BOOKS, "COOP" AND "ROUGHNECK GRACE."
AT THE $25 LEVEL WE WILL SEND YOU BOTH OF THE BOOKS AND ALL THREE OF THE MICHAEL PERRY PBS WISCONSIN SPECIALS, THE TRILOGY, IF YOU WILL.
THAT'S AT THE $25 MONTHLY SUSTAINING LEVEL.
WON'T YOU CALL RIGHT NOW, GO ONLINE, 1-800-236-3636.
>> WELL, IF VIEWERS WANT TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR WORK, WHERE CAN THEY DISCOVER STUFF?
THAT'S THE PLACE TO START.
>> THAT IS UNFORGETTABLE.
>> THAT'S WHAT I'VE BEEN TOLD.
THAT'S PROBABLY -- YEAH.
I'VE BEEN TELLING THAT STORY FOR ABOUT 30 YEARS, BUT IT STILL SEEMS TO WORK.
>> AND BASED ON A TRUE INCIDENT, I ASSUME.
A JAW-DROPPING INCIDENT, ALTHOUGH THAT WOULD NOT BE YOUR BEST MOVE.
>> WE ARE SO GRATEFUL YOU HAVE BEEN HERE AND GRATEFUL FOR YOUR SUPPORT.
WE CANNOT DO IT WITHOUT YOU.
THERE'S STILL TIME TO MAKE A CONTRIBUTION AND STILL A FEW MORE STORIES.
Manure, by the way.
PBS, one time, they made me say "ma-newer."
That's the biggest regret of my professional career that I succumbed to that.
If you've ever gone ice fishing after a funeral, you're one of us.
If you've ever gone to a funeral just to check out the buffet, [laughter] you're one of us.
I remember one time a publicist said to someone else, like, "Well, you know, he-- he's on the fire department.
He has a pickup truck and his own deer rifle."
And I wanted to say, "Yeah, just like my mom."
[laughter] They're following me around with a bunch of cameras here tonight.
I think they're just trying to figure out how I've managed to make a living all these years.
[laughter] I'll tell you my secret.
Too dumb to know when to quit.
[laughter] Thanks so much.
I will not say goodbye.
I will say what we always say where I'm from, which is, "Wwweeellllll, "I s'pose.
[applause] - Funding for Michael Perry: On the Road is provided by Stanley J. Cottrill Fund, the A.C.V.
and Mary Elston Family, the Eleanor and Thomas Wildrick Family, Wooden Nickel Fund, Focus Fund for Wisconsin Programs, and Friends of PBS Wisconsin.