“When you talk so much, you almost lose the ability to listen,” Jack Perkins said in a KARE11 interview.
The inestimable retired NBC correspondent and former anchor of A&E’s “Biography” is still turning phrases that are pearls of wisdom for everybody, especially members of the media. Perkins was in the Twin Cities promoting his book, “Finding Moosewood, Finding God,” while visiting the family of his son, KARE11 sports anchor Eric Perkins.
Perkins retired from NBC after 35 years, at the height of his career, and moved from Los Angeles to an island off Bar Harbor, Maine. It had no public utilities and was inhabited only by him and his wife of 53 years, Mary Jo Perkins. They spent 13 years in a cabin named Moosewood that became the heart of a spiritual rebirth.
“She started from a more advanced point; she’d been raised in a churchgoing home,” said Perkins. “She just waited for me patiently to catch up, I think.”
Ever since I learned that KARE11’s “Perk at Play” guy was the son of Jack Perkins, I had hoped that we’d meet. I didn’t imagine there’d be startribune.com/video, too, but there is.
Q When walking through the woods at Moosewood, did you ever come across a dangerous animal? That’s where they live.
A Never found a dangerous animal. Never came across a bear, for example. We had raccoons; they we adorable. We had deer, charming and beautiful. No wild, dangerous animal.
Q You wrote that you were pretty full of yourself when you lived in L.A., and how that changed when you and M.J. moved to Bar Island. You also say when you are full of yourself there’s no room for God. I think I see quite a few ministers on TV who seem full of themselves.
A Maybe they aren’t full of God. Certainly it’s not for me to criticize any of them. But work in television, and all the excitement and glamour and adventure, and the wars and the politics and all the rest — and you’re covering it, which means if it’s important, you must be important; you get complimented and you get compensated — all of that is so seductive. It’s easy to fill up with your own publicity and to start believing it. People tell you that you’re great. Well, I must be great. As long as you are full of yourself, yeah, there’s no room for God, or for anyone or anything else for the most part. So you have to start shedding those layers if you want to get down to what else is inside you, which I believe is the spirit of God himself living in each of us.
Q Any chance God could be a woman?
A Of course. God could be a sort we couldn’t define in our limited knowledge. That’s why we guys learn to be respectful to women, because it would be frightening to get up the Pearly Gates and find out St. Peter is actually a gal.
Q You’ve said you and your wife realized you liked each other better when you were in Maine. What were some subtle differences?
A When we were there, so much was stripped away from the Hollywood charades we had been playing back West. The reason we liked ourselves better was because we felt drawn to more simple things. Drawn to the nature about us rather than the celebrities about us.