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Me and Montaigne In Connecticut Today

Barnes & Noble on the UConn campus, 6 pm today. Details here.

Whether grabbing an electrified fence, fighting fires, failing to fix a truck, or feeding chickens, Michael Perry draws on each experience to explore subjects as diverse as faith, race, sex, aromatherapy, and Prince. He also champions academics and aesthetics in a book that ultimately emerges as a sincere, unflinching look at the vital need to be a better person and citizen.

Michael Perry is a humorist, radio host, songwriter, and New York Times bestselling author of several nonfiction books including “Visiting Tom” and “Population: 485” as well as a novel, “The Jesus Cow”. Perry lives in northern Wisconsin with his family. You can learn more at his website http://www.sneezingcow.com.

“Montaigne in Barn Boots”: “Perry’s poignant, balanced, achingly funny prose is more than an ode to or critique of Michel De Montaigne. Instead Perry uses the original essays to better understand his own life and bring a bit more humanity to an increasingly divisive world” – Los Angeles Review of Books

Montaigne and the Power of Youth

While flying east to tour for Montaigne in Barn Boots I re-read some of the book to prepare for my New York and Connecticut events. This passage (from Chapter 9: “What To Do”) has fresh resonance:

 

As I type these words, I am fifty-one years old. Middle-aged, late middle-aged, whatever. Not young, not ready to flop and stop. Raised to respect my elders, I have now watched many of them grow brittle of thought and bitter of mind. It seems that somewhere around my current life stage, people make one of two moves: Some stiffen, dig in their heels, and attempt to block the future; others reinvigorate life by blending it with the spirit of youth. I hope I will— and I am working to— bend toward the second. I am not talking here about the embarrassment of an oldster trying to vibe with the kids. Nor am I talking about abdicating principles. I am talking about offering a hand, opening new doors, and sometimes— when new blood is best— stepping aside and standing down. “Youth is making its way forward in the world and seeking a name: we are on our way back,” said Montaigne, who felt that too much was made of mere seniority and often punctured the idea that age automatically conferred wisdom or compelled deference. Rather, it “imprints more wrinkles in the mind than it does on the face; and souls are never, or very rarely seen, that, in growing old, do not smell sour and musty.”

Recently I told someone I was learning a lot from Chance the Rapper. The person responded with a chuckle, but I was dead serious. I wasn’t looking to co-opt the art of this twenty-three-year-old man, or dress like him, or try to fake up some hip appreciation of his oeuvre; rather, I was observing how he carried himself as a citizen, as a partner, as a father, and as a self-employed artist. I am working on this idea, striving for this balance, by which in growing old I might benefit from some youthful osmosis.

“Roughneck Grace” Just happy to have some

Every week the Wisconsin State Journal runs “Roughneck Grace,” a weekly column written by Mike (many of the columns will be adapted from Mike’s Tent Show Radio monologues). This week’s “Roughneck Grace,” titled, “Just happy to have some” can be seen online here.

New Tent Show Radio tonight featuring Riders in the Sky and the Big Top Opry 2

If you’re within range of (or can stream) one of these stations tonight (Saturday, February 17th) we hope you’ll join Mike as he hosts another edition of Tent Show Radio from Big Top Chautauqua. In between all the music, Mike tells a story about the most dangerous month of all. Information on streaming the show here.

You can join the Tent Show Radio Facebook page here, and many previous Tent Show Radio episodes available for streaming anytime – just click here. 

New Tent Show Radio tomorrow featuring Riders in the Sky and the Big Top Opry 2

If you’re within range of (or can stream) one of these stations tomorrow (Saturday, February 17th) we hope you’ll join Mike as he hosts another edition of Tent Show Radio from Big Top Chautauqua. In between all the music, Mike tells a story about the most dangerous month of all. Information on streaming the show here.

You can join the Tent Show Radio Facebook page here, and many previous Tent Show Radio episodes available for streaming anytime – just click here.