Thursday, March 31, 2016

Another Feature of the Brave New World

Idea for a scene in upcoming futuristic sci-fi Hollywood flick.

It's a typical day in the life of a middle class business man named Jack. Jack's trip to the office begins with getting situated in his self-driving car, then putting on and adjusting his VR goggles. As his car passes through slums and tenements, he only sees happy faces and cheerful neighbors, suburban lawns, fountains and flower gardens. It's the ultra-modern techno-version of the brain-in-the-vat supra-pleasing stimuli-feed. Whatever your station in life you can now live in the right neighborhood.

He's wearing an Oculus Rift virtual reality headset, version 9.01. The original had been launched in 2016, but had some kinks and was somewhat pricey. Now, 15 years later, they were $39.95 and available everywhere, with a version even available in Wal-Mart. Originally developed for Gamers, the units have been a standard feature in self-driving cars for the past three years.

On his way to the office Jack can go anywhere in the world, from Google Adventure to Google Zoo. It's Google Augmented Reality at its finest. He never has to push a button; he simply mutters commands.

One of the cool parts of going to Google Zoo is that there are no cages for the virtual animals. The park is packed with all kinds of creatures, including numerous species that have now disappeared from the planet. Google Sea also has similar features. The whale may be part of the past in real life, but here in Google Sea you still get the opportunity to hear them, and get near them. If you're lucky you can even touch one. And if you're really lucky you can participate in saving a beached whale and feeling really good about it.

Yes, the experiences are virtual, but the feelings are real. We certainly want to feel good, and nothing feels better than helping others, even if it's only virtual.

Google Adventure is a project that began in the early 2020s, transforming Hollywood classics into 3-D VR in which you get to become a character. After purchasing the entire library of Universal Studios, and signing a licensing agreement with Ted Turner, Google began converting the films from entertainment to participatory experience. In many cases, as with early Hitchcock films, you can choose to experience your role in color or black & white.

It may be that your job entails mindful attention and mental preparation rather than diversion as you commute. Many executives will choose Tony Robbins and other success workshops instead. You can even overcome fear on the Firewalk, and dare to be great.

* * * *
I decided to pass over Throwback Thursday and throw in a few Throw-Forward thoughts after reading about the current status of VR and last week's Oculus Rift Game Developers Conference.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Or does it?

All trademarks, such as Oculus Rift and Google, are property of their respective owners.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Dylan Mural Makes Monumental Impact In Minneapolis

Marc Percansky (center) with team of artists from Brazil.
I was surprised at how popular the Mall of America became after it was completed in 1992. Over and over again I heard people from out-of-state say they were looking forward to visiting it when coming to Minnesota. Now, there is a second attraction that seems to be generating out-of-state buzz and even international chatter. It's the new Dylan mural in downtown Minneapolis, and having visited it this past weekend with my family I can see why. It's an impressive tribute to the legendary Minnesota-born singer-songwriter.

The mural itself is quite extraordinary, but equally noteworthy are the stories behind the mural. Marc Percansky graciously offered details about the painting of this monumental work of art, calling it one of the Twin Cities' greatest landmarks. I have no doubt it will live up to this label.

"It is already turning into a major tourist attraction," said Percansky. "I guess you could call it the world's largest Bob Dylan Mural. People that pass by it who haven't seen it before love to stop and take photos of it. To me it is very thrilling and I am fortunate that it is in my hometown!"

Shortly after it was completed friends of mine sent me stories that were in the Minneapolis papers. And in the first six months it seems there have been endless numbers of photos posted online from all over the world. But Percansky insists, "There is nothing like seeing it with your own eyes. Standing in the parking lot and looking up at it from a proper distance at all 5 stories high. It is really a mind blowing work of art!" Now that I've stood beneath it, I have to agree.

Primary credit for this achievement goes to Eduardo Kobra, who Percansky calls "the Bob Dylan of his field. No one else could have done as good of a job as him."

The more Marc and I spoke the more I learned, so I thought it would be worthwhile to share some of that here. I asked the kind of things I thought inquiring minds might want to know.

EN: Who were the artists?
Marc Percansky: Four Brazilians -- Agnaldo Brito Pereira, Cesar Almeida, Marcos Rafael and Eduardo Kobra -- and two Minnesota artists -- Erin Sayer & Yuya Negishi who moved to the Twin Cities from Japan in 2010.

EN: How long did it take to complete?
MP: Painting began on August 26th and was completed on September 8th, 2015. Kobra's whole concept was already planned in Brazil before he came over. Then he mapped out a strategy 20 days before they started to get the job done on time. It then took 12 days with around 12 hours a day to finish it. Joan was the onsite coordinator and made sure the artists had everything they needed while they worked. They would often have their lunch meals prepared right there. They were very hard working guys. The weather was very cooperative during that time. I only recall one rainy morning towards the end that held things up just a bit. On the last day Eduardo finished his signature just above the Brazilian Flag. He then gave it a thumb's up to the crowd and then later that day left town with his studio crew to do another mural.

EN: How much did it cost?
MP: About $50,000.00

EN: How long did they plan it before tackling the actual assignment?
MP: Goldman Sachs, which co-owns The 15 Building at 15 South 5th Street, hired the Hennepin Theatre Trust to manage the project, which was launched in November of 2014. The huge white wall on the west facade was the perfect location for this mural. It is right in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.

EN: What approvals were needed?
MP: To my knowledge, only city approvals were needed.

Marc created two pages to catalog the articles and other details about the project here at his Magic Marc Productions website. This is the link to the second page.

Here are some other links Marc sent last night:
Eduardo Kobra's Website: 
Hennepin Theatre Trust's Website: 
Made Here's Website:

What a difference a little color makes on a drab day in the city.

Top of Page Photo Credit: Bob Dylan Mural by Eduardo Kobra - Agnaldo Brito Pereira, Cesar Almeida, Magic Marc, Marcos Rafael and Eduardo Kobra / Downtown Auto Park / 509 Hennepin Avenue / Minneapolis, Minnesota / September 5th, 2015 / Photo by Joan Vorderbruggen

Monday, March 28, 2016

Local Art Seen: Opening Reception for Art On The Plaza Generates Buzz

Last Friday the opening reception for Art On The Plaza attracted two television news teams and Wisconsin State Senator Janet Bewley. Pretty big little party. All the usual suspects were there, people central to the local Wisconsin art scene like Patricia Lenz, Laurie Kempton and Kat Senn, among others. The acoustic duo Similar Dogs performed a variety of covers and original compositions, creating a generous welcoming background vibe. The space itself was packed, front to back and side to side with art, guests and friends of the young gallery.

According to Kempton, the only thing that could have made this a better space would be to have also had a stage, a natural response coming from a playwright and member of Twin Ports Stage.

For more details about Art On The Plaza you can visit and "Like" their Facebook page.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Check it out.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

An Easter Reflection: Gardens in the Bible and Dylan

"I come to the garden alone, while the dew is still on the roses... and he walks with me." -- Austin Miles

From the beginning, gardens are featured in the Bible. The second version of the creation story (Genesis 2) begins with an account of the making of Adam and Eve and placing them in a garden in the east called Eden. The story of the off-limits tree with its forbidden fruit is as familiar as the story of the Exodus, the Ten Commandments and the Resurrection. Whatever one believes about these things, they are part of our cultural history. 

Biblical imagery features prominently in the lyrics of many Dylan songs, one of them being "Gates of Eden" from his album Bringing It All Back Home. The poetic prose dances with vibrant imagery, forceful and enigmatic. Much of it appears indecipherable, yet leaves a haunted frightening feeling that is a mixture of hope and fear. 

The Eden story ends with this statement: "After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life." (Genesis 3:24) What is this cherubim with a flaming sword? Where is this place that has been perpetually guarded? Is it literal and geographical or something else? In many places the Bible is a book of mysteries.

In the self-same chapter, where God has pronounced judgment on the man and the woman, He also gives a basis for hope. Their offspring will one day crush the head (the power) of the serpent with a heel. In a world where everything's broken, we need a basis for hope. The events of "Holy Week"... from Palm Sunday to Good Friday (history's darkest day) to Resurrection Sunday show how this prophetic statement played out regarding the head of the serpent being crushed by the heel of Adam and Eve's offspring.

It was Thursday of that week that Jesus, after sharing a final supper with his disciples, retreated to a garden called Gethsemane. The word gethsemane is derived from two Hebrew words: gat, which means "a place for pressing oil (or wine)" and shemanim, which means "oils." During Jesus' time, heavy stone slabs were lowered onto olives that had already been crushed in an olive crusher. He knew what was coming, and understood that he would soon be the one who is crushed "in the winepress of God's wrath."

San Francisco, 1979 (photo credit: Bill Pagel)
This is the garden that is featured in the first verse of Bob Dylan's song "In the Garden." In the garden, the authorities came to take Jesus away. Hours earlier he had washed his disciples' feet, even the feet of Judas who betrayed him. Hours later the religious leaders brought him to Pontius Pilate, with a mob incited to cry out for his blood. 

After he was crucified his friends laid him in an unmarked donated tomb. There must have been a garden there, too, for on that first "Easter Sunday" when Mary brought Peter and John to the empty tomb, Mary had a brief encounter with the risen Jesus, but didn't recognize him. She thought he was the gardener. (Full story of that morning here.)

Dylan followers know that over the course of more than half a century Dylan has had many creative periods that have been placed into categories. Folk, rock, Nashville, Never Ending Tour, among others. The three albums in his "Gospel" period began with his critically acclaimed Slow Train Coming. This song here appeared on his second of this trilogy titled Saved. The third, Shot of Love, did not receive the same love as the first, but I would suggest it has some really superb songs on it. 

Dylan first performed "In the Garden" in San Francisco in 1979. Through April 2002 he performed it 329 times in concert, suggesting that it is still meaningful to him.

In the Garden

When they came for Him in the garden, did they know?
When they came for Him in the garden, did they know?
Did they know He was the Son of God, did they know that He was Lord?
Did they hear when He told Peter, “Peter, put up your sword”?
When they came for Him in the garden, did they know?
When they came for Him in the garden, did they know?

When He spoke to them in the city, did they hear?
When He spoke to them in the city, did they hear?
Nicodemus came at night so he wouldn’t be seen by men
Saying, “Master, tell me why a man must be born again”
When He spoke to them in the city, did they hear?
When He spoke to them in the city, did they hear?

When He healed the blind and crippled, did they see?
When He healed the blind and crippled, did they see?
When He said, “Pick up your bed and walk, why must you criticize?
Same thing My Father do, I can do likewise”
When He healed the blind and crippled, did they see?
When He healed the blind and crippled, did they see?

Did they speak out against Him, did they dare?
Did they speak out against Him, did they dare?
The multitude wanted to make Him king, put a crown upon His head
Why did He slip away to a quiet place instead?
Did they speak out against Him, did they dare?
Did they speak out against Him, did they dare?

When He rose from the dead, did they believe?
When He rose from the dead, did they believe?
He said, “All power is given to Me in heaven and on earth”
Did they know right then and there what the power was worth?
When He rose from the dead, did they believe?
When He rose from the dead, did they believe?

Copyright © 1980 by Special Rider Music

* In May, the Red Mug Coffeehouse Chicago artist Damiel Botkin will have an art show featuring his Dylan-inspired art. One of his paintings is based on lyrics from Gates of Eden. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

A Dan Hansen Guest Post: Talkin' 'Bout The King


I've quite a few friends who are writers, one of them being Dan Hansen, a local artist I've been getting to know. This past winter we've been working on a couple collaborations that have gotten us jazzed.

Speaking of jazz, Dan has shared with me a couple of times about one of his personal "heroes"... a jazz drummer Dave King. Heroes perform a valuable function, inspiring us, modeling qualities to internalize, strive to exemplify and emulate. The following is a short essay Dan wrote about Dave. Dan also produced the illustration inspired by his encounters with this unusually gifted man.

I don't talk about things I love much. I love Zelda ll, the Adventures of Link. That's not inspiring or even coherent to anyone not born of the Nintendo era. Everyone has their music idols. I get that. I'm going to talk about my TRUE idol Dave King.

I saw this guy live for the first time in 2003 when he played at UMD with his band Happy Apple. What I remember is the most transcendental maniac fest of hysterical proportions I had ever experienced in my life... and this was jazz. Dave wasn't just a drummer, he was Chico Marx on brain serum. This was a big deal. Not only was this guy the best drummer I ever witnessed (what do I know about drumming?), but he was the funniest comedian I had ever experienced. His expressions alone while playing were brilliant madness, producing buckets worth of tears from laughter. Then he'd start talking... His monologues were the funniest thing I'd ever heard. He makes Bill Bur look like Rocky Balboa. I couldn't figure out why this guy was not famous like Carrot Top or Wayne Newton. 13 years later with 8 or 9 bands he plays with he's still not famous. It's a travesty he's not at the top of the charts. I guess it's jazz...

It's weird how what's truly great is not honored in society. Now this is going into a serious route Dave would condemn... showing vulnerability. According to Rational Funk with Dave King, this would be a cardinal rule you never break. It's easy to show vulnerability, it's not easy to show mastery.

This revelation made me feel extra useless as a disabled person... like I'm supposed to adopt a Tony Robbins approach? The Dave King approach would be to tell everyone they are living on an inferior surface of the earth, and only I knew the proper locations to thrive. Dave King would then hand out vouchers to save the necessary inhabitants of the brave new swill. They likely would be candidates I approved of whom I could build futures with. This would create growth in the economy, leading to absurd levels of personal fulfillment unprecedented in human history. All because Dave King saved the world by witnessing my spark. I can live with that.

* * * *

Do you have a fave artist, musician or writer who is pushing the envelope, but beneath the radar? Tell us more. You can learn more about Dave King at his website,

Whatever your gifts, explore them to the max. You only go around once in life. End of story.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Throwback Thursday: The Leonardo Interview

In 2009 I was interviewed for the ezine Leonardo, which dubs itself as the Virtual Voice of the iRenaissance. The topic was blogging.  

Leonardo: How do you view your blogging? Is it a job or a hobby?
ennyman: I've never considered it in those terms. Definitely not a job, though I feel a certain responsibility about it, much like one who has a job considers it important to show up every day. It's more of an exploration driven by passion.

Leonardo: How has Ennyman's Territory changed since you first began this blog.
ennyman: Initially the blog was simply an exploration of what blogging is and how it could be used. My content consisted primarily of extracts from 30-plus years of journal writing, with pictures of my art to illustrate each entry. The journal notes and quotes would be elaborated on with current feedback to what I had written in the past, amplifying or elaborating upon the initial entry.

Leonardo: What is the origin of your blog address, Pioneer Productions?
ennyman: Being a descendant of Daniel Boone, I have always identified with pioneers. Boone was a "long hunter" or what Minnesotans call Voyageurs. He would go out for a while and return with the goods that provided for his family. But he was always exploring. Even near the end of his life while living in what is now Missouri, he went by canoe all the way up to what is now Minnesota seeking the headwaters of the Mississippi.

Leonardo: Your visual art seems to go in a lot of directions. Do you consider the source of your creative energy to be hyperkinetic or a living spring?
ennyman: Well, to some extent it's both. I believe there's a well in each of us which we can tap into and draw from, a living spring. But yes, there are times when a catalyst sets off a burst of ideas and it does feel a bit hyperkinetic as you put it.

Leonardo: Do you have an aim with Ennyman's Territory?
ennyman: Several. I like to challenge people to look at things from a new angle and to think. Also, the artist in me is always in search of an audience, I believe. For example, when I built my first website in the mid-90's it was in part a place to showcase my stories which I had poured myself into, but continually failed to get published. Putting them online not only gained them readers, it resulted in one being made into a short film, and three being translated into foreign languages -- Russian, Croatian and French. Two of my daughter's short stories which I'd posted got published as well, in California and New Zealand. Ultimately, it is my aim to leave the world a better place than I found it, which I believe everyone should be striving to do.

Leonardo: What are some things you want to write about that you don't currently have time for?
ennyman: The list is endless. Infinite, really. Here's a quick skim of the first ten things that come to mind.
1. Interview my father-in-law in more depth, possibly place it on YouTube. He was the second Minnesotan drafted in World War II, and is currently 89. (This was written in 2009 before his passing at age 94.)
2. Explore in more depth our fascination with stats. Internet stats, population stats, baseball stats, astronomical stats, economic financial stats, number of fights Rocky Marciano had without a defeat, etc.
3. Explore the notion that organized power can only be restrained by organized power based on the idea that Einstein was a pacifist who became non-pacifist due to Hitler.
4. The Owens-Blevins shootout in Holbrook during the 1880s.
5. Why does beauty make us cry? The Grand Canyon… Chopin… the Corn Palace in Mitchell South Dakota. 
6. SWAT Team abuse. Who pays for the damage after the wreckage? How much of this goes on that we don't know about?
7. Tina Mion
8. Gordon Lish
9. The crippled newspaper industry. How serious is it? What difference will it make if we lose our local newspapers? The numbers speak for themselves.
10. Life On Mars, the David Bowie song from his Hunky Dory album, not the actual Red Planet.

Leonardo: We'll look forward to what comes next.
ennyman: Yes, it's one day at a time here. Today, sunrise in Sedona... tomorrow, back to the ranch in Minnesota.

Leonardo: Thanks for your time.
ennyman: And for your interest.


EDNOTE: The Leonardo ezine referred to here is not to be confused with the MIT publication of the same name at It is a fabrication.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Almost Wordless Wednesday -- Revolution Jones at the Top Hat Tavern

Local art seen, and heard: Revolution Jones at the Top Hat Tavern.
Formerly The Cove, among other names... Live music returns to Souptown.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Too Much Of Nothing -- Dylan and the Basement Tapes

When Bob Dylan arrived in New York he famously introduced himself as a folk singer. There was a socialist aspect to this kind of music. There was an intelligence to the songs. Folk music was for the common man, about the common man. And Dylan adopted this approach, emulating his idol Woody Guthrie, frequently singing songs about drifters, outlaws, down-and-outers and people on the fringe.

Another feature of the folk scene included song sharing. You borrowed what you loved and shared it. Hence, Dylan's first album was a collection of covers penned by others, though absorbed and re-engineered in his own inimitable style. And the wider public learned about Dylan from the performers who borrowed the songs he himself had begun writing and performing and soon recording.

Two groups that especially helped propel Dylan into the national spotlight were The Byrds and Peter, Paul & Mary. The Byrds covered so much Dylan that a whole album could be assembled from their recordings of his early songs. Though abbreviated, Dylan's "Mr. Tambourine Man" (and the album by that name) put the Byrds on the map as international folk rock stars.

Peter, Paul & Mary likewise adapted a number of Dylan's songs and scored hits with them, pulling "Blowing in the Wind" and "Don't Think Twice, It's Alright "from his Freewheelin' album, as well as a number of others.

When Dylan morphed into a rock star there was a lot of confusion amongst some of his fans who pegged him as a folk singer. Instead, he was returning to his earlier roots, which included a fascination with the rock 'n roll of the Fifties, ripping it up with an electric guitar in a band called The Golden Chords. This time around, though, he was writing the songs, and the band he'd assembled was indeed ripping into it, pulling out all the stops as they circumnavigated the globe.

The crash came next. And the quiet transitional period in Woodstock. His band, the former Hawks, was invited to join him there and like all lovers of music they made music together. Lots of songs were generated, and tapes recorded. (You can read a great insider perspective from Levon Helm's This Wheel's On Fire.) It was a gestation period during which Dylan morphed into yet another iteration of himself, with John Wesley Harding emerging next.

But in between, there were these basement tapes. Others were aware of these new songs, and "Too Much of Nothing" was one of them, made popular by Peter, Paul and Mary. In point of fact, by the time The Basement Tapes came out in the summer of 1975 most people were only aware of the version by the folk trio.

There are key differences between the versions. Dylan's version is a haunting tune that corresponds with the lyrics, whereas Peter, Paul and Mary sing with a lilting cheerful tone that does little to convey the song's bleakness. Dylan sings mournfully and the chord structure is solemn.

But another contrast is the chorus. Peter, Paul & Mary sing, "Say hello to Valerie, say hello to Marion, send them all my salary on the waters of oblivion." Dylan originally wrote and sang, "Say hello to Valerie, say hello to Vivien..." This may seem like a small difference of little relevance, but the names may have had an origin. T.S. Eliot's two wives were named Valerie and Vivien and there may have been more intentionality to the name selection than to simply make a nice rhyme.

Nevertheless, we borrow what we love and I suppose have the freedom to make it our own. Paul Stookey purportedly says Dylan thought less of the group after this incident.* It's a much darker song than Peter, Paul and Mary delivered.

Too Much Of Nothing

Now, too much of nothing

Can make a man feel ill at ease
One man’s temper might rise
While another man’s temper might freeze
In the day of confession
We cannot mock a soul
Oh, when there’s too much of nothing
No one has control

Say hello to Valerie

Say hello to Vivian
Send them all my salary
On the waters of oblivion

Too much of nothing

Can make a man abuse a king
He can walk the streets and boast like most
But he wouldn’t know a thing
Now, it’s all been done before
It’s all been written in the book
But when there’s too much of nothing
Nobody should look

Say hello to Valerie

Say hello to Vivian
Send them all my salary
On the waters of oblivion

Too much of nothing

Can turn a man into a liar
It can cause one man to sleep on nails
And another man to eat fire
Ev’rybody’s doin’ somethin’
I heard it in a dream
But when there’s too much of nothing
It just makes a fella mean

Say hello to Valerie

Say hello to Vivian
Send them all my salary
On the waters of oblivion

* * * *
NOTE: This year's Duluth Dylan Fest concert will feature musicians performing songs from The Basement Tapes. There are a whole host of activities slated to make this year and especially special week. Dylan himself will be 75 and the occasion will be marked in events around the world, I'm sure. You're invited to join us here. Learn more at the Duluth Dylan Fest Facebook Page.

*see the Wikipedia entry on this particular point.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Time Will Tell... Enya's "Only Time"

“Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.” ― Kurt Vonnegut

"Time has no divisions to mark its passage, there is never a thunderstorm or blare of trumpets to announce the beginning of a new month or year. Even when a new century begins it is only we mortals who ring bells and fire off pistols." -- Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain

Time is one of those things that many a mind has pondered. It's relevant to all in all walks of life. Much has been written about it. Napoleon famously said, "I may lose a battle but I will never lose a minute." Peter Drucker, in his book The Effective Executive, devoted a chapter to the importance of managing one's time.

Enya approaches time from another angle. Time is something that tests us, and though our intentions may be good and feel real, only time will tell.

Youth and idealism go hand-in-hand, and they're meant to. A portion of this is due in part to our lack of life experience when young. The world's wrongs stand out, but the forces arrayed against fixing them are far more veiled, and more pervasive than one may easily see.

We can also be idealistic about love. Hollywood fuels this fire, and profits from it. Proclamations of faith and love are easily made, but hardships test those ideals. As the proverb says, "The crucible is for silver, the furnace for gold and the Lord tries hearts." Life tests us. Relationships test us as well. And as Enya sings here, time is the real test. We make promises, take vows... then bruise one another. Can we forgive? Does time heal all wounds?

Finally, one more fine quote on this theme:
"Time is the measurer of all things, but is itself immeasurable, and the grand discloser of all things, but is itself undisclosed." -- Charles Caleb Colton, Lacon

In other words, only time will tell.

Only Time

Who can say where the road goes?
Where the day flows?
Only time
And who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose?
Only time

Who can say why your heart sighs
As your love flies?
Only time
And who can say why your heart cries
When your love lies?
Only time

Who can say when the roads meet
That love might be in your heart?
And who can say when the day sleeps
If the night keeps all your heart,
Night keeps all your heart?

Who can say if your love grows
As your heart chose?
Only time
And who can say where the road goes?
Where the day flows?
Only time

Who knows? Only time

About Enya
Born in 1961, Enya is an Irish vocalist, instrumentalist and composer.
In addition to performing for Pope John Paul II, Enya participated in a live broadcast on British television for Christmas Eve in 1997, before she flew home to County Donegal to join her family at midnight Mass. She still sings in her mother's choir every Christmas at midnight Mass, at St. Mary's Church. 

"My influences are with Irish music, church music and classical music," she said in a 1997 interview. 

In 2006, Enya ranked third in a list of the wealthiest Irish entertainers with an estimated fortune of £75 million, and No. 95 in the Sunday Times Rich List of the richest 25 Irish people.

Meantime, life goes on all around you... like the river of time.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Another Feature of This Year's Duluth Dylan Fest: Rare Photos and Documents from a Private Collection

About a month ago we posted a tentative outline for events to be held during Duluth Dylan Fest this coming May. The Duluth Dylan Fest is rolling in fast, and some of this year's new events are looking to be exceedingly special. One of these is a collection of rare documents and photos that will be on public display at the Karpeles Manuscript Library Museum. Some, if not many, have never been seen before. It's a truly remarkable gift to the Dylan fans who visit here to celebrate Bob's 75th birthday the last week of May.

The source of this generous contribution to this year's Dylan Fest is the Bill Pagel Archives. Serious Dylan fans have been long acquainted with his BobLinks website which gathers and shares Dylan concert reviews, setlists and links from nearly the beginning of his touring career. (Eager to learn where Dylan will be next, visit

I first learned of the site when I posted a Dylan concert review on my own website in 1998 and it turned up there afterwards. In addition to being a collector, he is also a historian and researcher, though no real collector worth his salt is going to collect without a deep understanding of valuations, thus requiring that one become a dedicated researcher. His enthusiasm for collecting all things Dylan garnered him chapter one status in David Kinney's The Dylanologists.

Celebrations will be occurring in various locations in various parts of the world that week, no doubt. (I just received notice of a 75th birthday party in Oregon, for example.) The fact that this is Duluth's native son makes this event unique in many ways. If you join us, here are some of the places you may wish to visit as seen in a clip from the Smithsonian on How Robert Zimmerman Became Bob Dylan.

One highlight for many will be the time spent at Karpeles. Here are a few of the items you might enjoy.

Sheet Music for Chimes of Freedom with Dylan’s writing over the music 1964
Written over the sheet music for the song, Dylan signs and dates, doodles, and quotes part of one verse of Chimes of Freedom, which appeared on Another Side of Bob Dylan

Newspaper Advertisement for Golden Chords first paid performance 1958 
Robert Zimmerman had a music group while in Hibbing called the Golden Chords. This newspaper advertisement is from their first paid gig. It was at the National Guard Armory building in Hibbing, MN. The Golden Chords were comprised of Monte Edwardson on guitar, Leroy Hoikkala on drums, and Robert Zimmerman (Dylan) on piano. They played during the intermission of a sock hop. The performance took place Saturday, March 1st, 1958.

1965 Dylan Acetate Recordings 
Unlike ordinary vinyl records, which are quickly made by a mass-production molding technique, an acetate disc is created by using a special machine to cut the groove into the surface of a special lacquer-coated blank disc. This is a real-time operation requiring expensive equipment and expert skill for good results. They are made for special purposes and almost never for sale to the general public. They may have been used as "demos" of new recordings by artists or record labels, or simply to allow the artist to bring the recording home to listen to.

Camp Herzl photographs 1957
Early teenage photographs of Bob Dylan are very scarce. Here are two photographs of Robert Zimmerman during his visits to Camp Herzl in Wisconsin.

A teenage Robert Zimmerman attended Camp Herzl, near Webster, Wisconsin during the summer. The first photograph, taken in June of 1957 at Camp Herzl, shows a young Zimmerman holding a guitar, and to the left and right of him two life-long friends. Also pictured are Paul Black, who is furthest to the back in the photo. Farthest to the right is Dave Unowsky. We are looking to identify the person farthest to the left in the rear.

Dylan’s first solo concert flyer Nov. 4th, 1961
Before recording his first album in November of 1961, Dylan played in coffeehouses and clubs around the village. This flyer is from Dylan’s first solo New York concert. Izzy Young, owner of the Folklore Center, promoted the show and lost money on this venture. Bob performed the show at Carnegie Chapter Hall on Saturday November 4th, 1961.

Robert Zimmerman on motorcycle with Dale Boutang 1956  
Dale was “the best rider in Hibbing, a cowboy on wheels and a seasoned weight-lifter.” Dylan and Dale are pictured here with Boutang’s Harley 74, 1956. The photograph was taken by Beatty Zimmerman, Bob’s mother, in front of the Zimmerman home at 2425 E. 7th Street in Hibbing, Minnesota.

* * * *

And this is only the beginning. The rarest I am not even permitted to talk about.
To stay current with announcements and dates, visit the Duluth Dylan Fest Facebook Page.

Photo Credits
Top Right: Dylan portrait by local artist Moira Villiard
Lower Photo: Mural in Haight-Asbury district, circa 2008

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Throwback Thursday: The Hard Part

"The writer of any first person work must decide two obvious questions: what to put in and what to leave out." ~Annie Dillard

Someone asked how I come up with something new to write about every day. Frankly, that is not the challenge. The real challenge is how to eliminate topics because there are so many competing for this space at any given time. It's like a rural man who arrives in the big city without a plan. He's not sure which direction to go because so many avenues beckon. If the city is New York, any direction will yield an adventure.

[This paragraph is deleted.]

[This paragraph was delicious, but it is deleted, too.]

[This paragraph felt like it was not going where I wanted it to, so it is deleted as well.]

Evidently my thesis is not accurate across the board. Some avenues really are dead ends.

Ernest Hemingway, one of the great writers of the twentieth century, once remarked that "if I had more time it would have been shorter." In other words, he likewise left a lot of material on the cutting room floor. That's what artists do. They explore, try things, and when it works it is often magical. When it doesn't you realize it's got to go.

It might be that some people so love whatever they create it can't be touched lest it be marred. Editors hate working with these kinds of writers who treat every word as if it had been delivered by divine inspiration.

This morning when I sought out the context for the Hemingway quote cited above, I discovered an interesting blog devoted to this writer who made such an impact on the literary scene. One page features the top 5 quotes misattributed to Hemingway. This quote of his has also been attributed to T.S. Elliot, Voltaire, Mark Twain and even Blaise Pascal. Hmmm.

As regards brevity, Lincoln's Gettysburg address was delivered in three minutes, yet it has been remembered for more than a century and a half. Think about it. And... have a great day.


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Seen at the Piszczek & Pierce Piano Shop

Pierce & Piszczek Fine Pianos, 405 E. Superior Street. 
Zentangle (R) Inspired Art by Esther Piszczek, CZT, 
and nature photography by UMD Professor Ladona Tornabene, Ph.D.,

Music and art... what a fine idea.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Tentative Rules for 2016 Dylan Fest Music Video Contest

There's always music at Dylan Fest. (Pictured: The Freewheelers)
It's coming up fast, the 2016 Duluth Dylan Fest. In addition to many of the traditional events, such as the Blood on the Tracks Express and the Singer-Songwriter Contest, a number of new activities have been added this year to honor the Northland's native son, as well as give visitors, friends and fans more opportunities to participate or simply mingle.

One of the new events for this year's festival, which coincides with Bob Dylan's 75th birthday, will be the Dylan Music Video Festival. In some ways this contest reminds me of a filmmaker's version of the Rubber Chicken Theater's Chicken Hat Plays, a mini-X-Games for actors and playwrights.  The difference is that in the Chicken Hat Plays, teams have 24 hours to write, rehearse and perform a play. In May, filmmakers will have 48 hours to film, edit and complete a music video for a Dylan song.

The finished music videos will be screened at 7:00 p.m. at the Zinema 2 in downtown Duluth. The audience will vote for their top three films which will then be given a wider re-screening during the Duluth Superior Film Festival, which takes place here the following week, June 2-5. And, of course, there will be some "awesome prizes."

Here is the current status of the rules, courtesy Andy Bennett and the Duluth Dylan Fest committee.

The contest will kick-off with the filmmaker’s selection of a Bob Dylan song selection card on Sunday, May 22nd at the Dylan Festival launch party at 7 p.m. at Carmody Irish Pub. All filmmakers must be present at this event to select their film selection card. (EdNote: The annual Dylan Trivia competition is slated for 9 p.m., so stick around.)

The only pre-production work that can be accomplished prior to Sunday, May 22nd at 7 p.m. is the following:
a. Organizing Crew
b. Organizing Cast
c. Securing Equipment
d. Scouting and Securing Locations

All work on the actual music video must take place between the DYLAN FILM FEST TIME FRAME, which is 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 22nd and 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 24th. Any creative work in advance of this time frame is prohibited. Creative work includes, but is not limited to:
• Writing the script
• Rehearsing
• Costume/Set Design
• Shooting
• Editing
• Sound Design
• Rendering
• Outputting to tape or other media

No stock footage or footage shot or created at another time may be used.

Animation and special effects are permitted, but must be created during the Dylan Film Fest Time Frame

Still photographs are permitted, provided that the team has the rights to them. The photos do not need to be created during the Dylan Film Fest Time Frame.

Your finished music video, including the required credits spelled out below, can be no more than 20 seconds beyond the official song time detailed on each song selection card.

Before the finished film begins, you need to have:
• 3 seconds of black
• A 5-second title card with: team name or director name, and song title
• 2 seconds of black

• You may use any type of film or video camera to film your music video. You can use as many cameras (or as few) as you want.
• No harming animals. Please and thank you.
• All cast and crew must be volunteers.
• Film must be presented at the Zinema 2 in one of the following formats:
o (preferred) a playable DVD
o a self-contained SD Quicktime file with no proprietary codecs on either
o a USB flash drive

* * * *

To learn more about this year's celebrations, gatherings, music and more, visit the Duluth Dylan Festival Facebook page.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Local Art Seen: Art on the Plaza and a Handful of Upcoming Events

If you've not yet been to Art in the Plaza you may find it a worthwhile stopping point if you're in the neighborhood. The gallery is tucked into a small space in Belknap Plaza near UWS. I happened by last week and captured the photos on this page. Art in the Plaza is a project of the Superior company Twin Ports Stage. The store is dedicated to providing artists with a venue to sell their work. It's open 30 hours a week, including Thursday evenings.

* * *

Though I don't usually cover the music scene, which is better covered elsewhere, this Friday Revolution Jones will be performing at Top Hat Tavern on Tower Avenue in Superior. It's an eight o'clock show and a nice opportunity to see what the old Cove has become in its current iteration. Revolution Jones features Reggae-style music. It's a St. Patrick's Day weekend bash. Details here.

Saturday March 19 from 10 a.m.-3 p.m., the Unitarian Church at 835 W College Street is hosting a Treasures of the Earth, Green Art Fair.  The event is a gathering of regional artists who create art/items with natural materials (stone, wood, fiber) and/or reused/recycled items.

Also happening March 19: the Great Lakes Aquarium, Merrill Lynch Fine Arts Gallery is presenting a new exhibit featuring the work of watercolor illustrator Maury Aaseng. The show is titled "Saturated Life". The opening reception is from 2-5 p.m.; admission free. Aaseng's show is slated to run from March 14-May 27. Drawing and Illustration books by Maury Aaseng will be available.

This weekend another kind of art and still will be on display at the DECC: the annual spring ritual known as the World of Wheels, billed again this year as Motorhead Madness. Cars are stars this weekend at the DECC. Purchase your tickets here. The history of the automobile is a history of style. Motorhead Madness is where collectors gather to share some of their favorite "works." Local car clubs and their fans will be filling the DECC, Pioneer Hall and the other halls.  Hot rods, street rods, and all the energy they generate, along with suitable eye candy, cotton candy and more.

The Reader Weekly is seeking original artwork from local artists to illustrate the publication's covers this year. Selected works will be auctioned off at some future date with a portion of the proceeds used as a fund-raiser for the Duluth At Institute. Contact publisher Bob Boone or staff writer Paul Whyte for details:

Esther Piszczek's Zentangled designs can be found on both sides of the bridge.
Meantime, art goes on all around you. Discover it anew.

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