Controversial former KSTP-AM show host Turi Ryder knows where to have a party.
She read from, sold and autographed copies of her memoir “She Said What? (A Life on the Air)” at the home of political movers and shakers Sam and Sylvia Kaplan. Attorney Sam explained that they purchased the property specifically for such large gatherings, a couple of which were, in my opinion, august. Paul Wellstone’s successful U.S. Senate campaign had a fundraiser there. Another fundraiser featured Bette Midler.
“Paul Wellstone offered better plans, Bette Midler has better pipes, but neither one ever endured two weeks of live broadcasting from an un-air-conditioned ice fishing house at the Minnesota State Fair,” said Ryder. “I hope the Kaplans realized how grateful I was to entertain people in such a civilized, climate-controlled and aesthetically pleasing setting. There wasn’t a crop art Elvis in sight.”
While the Kaplans-hosted event was private, Ryder plans to return to Minnesota for her one-woman show based on the 555-page book (which can be ordered at Tortoisebooks.com) filled with stories about her time here. Now based in Chicago, Ryder handles creative productions for Bloomberg Radio. She’s been told, more than once, that Minnesota is now ready for her sagacious wit and snark. “I love many things about this state. I think the best analogy is that my relationship with Minnesota was like wine aging: It took us a while to get better, Minnesota and me.”
Q: I always assumed Turi was a stage name?
A: The story of my name is that Turi is short for Keturah, an Old Testament name. As you know, I come from a religious Jewish background. Keturah was [one of] Abraham’s wives and it means incense or perfumed one. Or, if you have a little brother, “stink pot.”
Q: Speaking of little brothers, you have two boys. What if you had gotten girls?
A: I would have had more fun dressing them. The clothes are better for girls. For boys, it’s better than it used to be. At first, I was really wigged out at the idea I was growing a penis inside my body. I thought that was just the strangest.
I was really bummed I was having boys because I really didn’t know much about boys other than how to date them, which clearly, with your sons, is not going to happen if you’re anything resembling a healthy human.
Then I remembered how much fun I had as an adolescent with my mother, and I thought, “OK, maybe the boy thing is the way to go.”
As it turns out I’m just a harridan of a mother anyway, so it wouldn’t have mattered what gender I got because they have to fear for their lives. That’s how that worked.
Q: Boys are smellier than girls, aren’t they?
A: When they hit adolescence, I walked into the room and like opened up the windows. And they say, “It’s summer.” And I say, “I don’t care. It’s ‘eau de Teenager’ in here.” And then the other thing with boys, I don’t know if this is true with girls, dirty clothes are just furniture to them. You could carpet their rooms or not. It will be covered with dirty clothes, anyway, so why bother.
Q: The one innovation I was looking forward to hearing you had brought to parenting is the end of these ridiculous graduation ceremonies for kindergartners and eighth ... [she couldn’t wait to answer this one]
A: It’s freakin’ insipid! I hate it. I hate it. [Spoken a total of six times]. You’re right. It is not an accomplishment to graduate from kindergarten. It is a photo op. It’s cute. Worse yet is preschool graduation.
Q: My children are very happy that I left them where they were on the day I was born [that’s a biology-related joke, kids] because I would have told them: Enjoy rehearsing with your classmates, but you’re not attending the actual event because it’s silly.
A: I grew up with one of those mothers who said, “We don’t do that.” But because you are already spending insane amounts to send them to preschool, it’s easier to go along with it. By the time you hit eighth grade, they are not photogenic, they are covered with pimples, there is nothing interesting about looking at that. They smell bad. They haven’t accomplished anything.
And I’m not particularly keen on high school graduation in this day and age. I probably shouldn’t say this where any of my friends will see it, but, basically, an invitation to a kid’s high school graduation party is just a request for money. That’s it. “Send us money.”
And I do, because I want these people to like me later in life. Now I have a book which I expect them to buy. I’m glad I spent all that money on their ridiculous graduation things.
What do people without children do? They just get taxed without representation, like living in D.C.
Q: Why did you leave KSTP-AM?
A: Well, it’s a long story. The short story: I think I was right on the cusp of doing well. There was a lot of difficulty. It was just a mutual decision. It wasn’t personal, I loved my boss. But I think I was more trouble than I was worth, to be candid.
Then they were kind enough to get in touch with me later, and I’ll never forget. The quote I’ll remember is, “I think the Twin Cities is more ready for you now.” The flak I would draw from around here for saying a high school graduation invite is an assessment; they would not like that here. That is not nice.
It also took me a year just to learn what Minnesotan speech meant. People would say things were “interesting,” and I thought that meant that things were interesting. It means, “I would rather have my eyes gouged out with boiling hot snails.”
So I would invite somebody out to lunch and say, “Whadaya think of Malaysian Sage Bush?” And they would say, “Oh, that’s interesting.” And I would say, “Let’s meet there at noon,” and they would look at me like I was from Mars because what they had been trying to communicate is, “I would rather have my eyes gouged out with hot slugs.”
So we had a communications gap for a while, but then we got it together.
C.J. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and seen on Fox 9’s “Buzz.” E-mailers, please state a subject; “Hello” does not count.