A Prairie Home Companion Segment 7
Download MP3
0:00 | 00:06:10

GK: We're at a great institution of higher learning so let's do something educational, let's talk about the end of the world as we know it which means that the careers all of you students are training for will overnight become utterly worthless and irrelevant. This is the commencement address I would've given had I been invited.

I am referring to a catastrophic electromagnetic pulse created by a solar flare (WAVES) ---- an explosion on the sun (SFX) ---- like a thousand nuclear bombs (SFX) and it knocks satellites out of the sky (SFX) and turns our electrical infrastructure to toast---- power plants (SHORTING) and GPS (LADY ROBOT: In one-quarter mile make a right turn and VOICE FALLS RAPIDLY AND SLOWS then keep to the left on Highway 22) and all electronics become inoperative ---- your car (CAR DIES) and your computer (COMPUTER DIES) and your mp3 player ---- for years you've been walking around listening to music (HIP HOP) and no more (MUSIC DIES) and for the first time in your adult life you experience your environment (BIRDS) and you notice---- there are no engines, no trains ----no pumps, when you turn the faucet (DRIPS), not much there. You flush the toilet (FLUSH), that's all you get, one flush. Better get a shovel and start digging a hole in the backyard. A mob of people goes by (MOB TUMULT) heading for the grocery store (ANGRY SHOUTS), they're buying up all the frozen foods, all the fresh produce.

GK: Because, there won't be any more fresh blueberries flown in from Chile. No. The airport is deserted (BIRD CRIES). They're using the terminals as livestock holding areas (SHEEP), pigs hanging out at Starbucks (SFX), cattle in the McDonalds (SFX). Food is going to be an urgent issue for you now. Those dandelions in your front yard, very nutritious. But what about protein? You've got no meat. (CAT MEOW) You don't have that much meat. (MEOW) You've got a little meat in case of an emergency, but not a lot. (WOOF) Well, you've got maybe a week's worth. A guy goes by on a bicycle (SFX) ---- you're living in a new era, pal. Welcome to the 19th Century. (VIOLIN, PIANO. HOME SWEET HOME or SOME SUCH). You spent four years getting that degree in Mass Communications. There is no such thing anymore. Television, radio, the Web. It's all gone. When will it come back? We don't know because newspapers are all gone too. A few old printers have been dragged out of the old folks home (MUTTERING) who know how to set type by hand. And a few old auto mechanics who know how to fix cars made before 1980 that don't rely on computer elements (OLD MAN NATTERING ABOUT CARS) --- those are the skills that are in demand ---- how to get that 1948 Ford running again (STARTER, OLD ENGINE, COUGHING, MISSING).

GK: Another skill that's handy is shoving. In Montessori you were taught not to but now you're going to need to.

FN (NYER): Excuse me! Hey! (TR SHOVED, PROTESTS) Outta my way.

GK: Another useful skill is carrying large burdens on your back or balanced on your head---- like a water bucket.

SS: (STRAINING) They never taught us this in history.

GK: Well, that history is history now. Now you're in living history. So learn how to drive a team of horses (SFX) or fix an old car (SFX), learn some simple plumbing (FN: Okay. I've got the cistern on the roof, collecting rainwater, and when I pull the chain (CREAK, WHOOSH OF WATER)---- it works, Ellen! We've got a toilet..) learn how to get meat (MEOW) ---- not now but maybe someday ----- and learn how to shove. (TR SHOVES, FN PROTESTS) Or else become a philosopher and live in a cave. (FN: It is what it is and whatever shall be shall be.) Good luck, class of 2014.