Sunday, October 21, 2018

Those Pesky Dead Flies in the Perfume (When Success and Shame Go Hand-In-Hand)

“Behind every beautiful thing there’s been some kind of pain.” — Bob Dylan

The Old Testament book of Ecclesiastes has so many thought-provoking verses. One of my favorites is Ecclesiastes 10:1 which goes like this:

“As a dead fly gives perfume a bad smell,
 So a little folly outweighs wisdom and honor.”

The longer one lives, the more opportunities one gets to experience this seemingly universal conundrum. Why is it that so many of our heroic or gratifying experiences get marred by a dead fly in the ointment? Here is a stroy from my life, by way of illustration.

A Hero, Sort Of

When I was a kid, playing baseball was something I lived for. It seems like we played every day while I was growing up, whiffle ball, baseball, Little League, Pony League and sandlot, stickball in the streets. I went out for baseball in high school playing on the Freshman team, Jr. Varsity and eventually got a Varsity letter in my Junior year.

Mr. Dennison, our JV coach, seemed to like my hustle and my sophomore year I started the first game at shortstop, but struck out twice against a kid with a mean curve ball. There were other infielders and Mr. Dennison left me on the bench the second game. He was looking us over, getting a feel for how we'd perform in game situations.

In the third game I also started on the bench, which is not where you really want to be. The opposing pitcher was a hefty fireballer but he was also a bit wild, and in the late innings, after a strong base hit and an error he walked the bases loaded. Coach D. came over and said, “Think you can hit this kid?”

I said, “No problem,” and I believed it.

I loosened up and planted myself in the batter’s box waiting for the pitch. He fired it chest high down the middle and I smashed it over three hundred feet down the left field line, foul. Strike one.

There was a big sign out in left field that had the numeral 300 in black letters on white background. As the ball flew past that I knew exactly what it meant. Now I knew I could get around on him. I used a 33" bat and loved the sound it made when you connected, and that one connected. After checking the bases he started his motion and once again fired the ball in like a cannon.

I once read an article about Henry Aaron that noted how quick his wrists were, so I did special exercises that one of our coaches showed us in order to strengthen our wrists and improve their quickness. And when I swung the bat, once again it struck the ball with force and sent it flying out over the left fielders head past the 300 foot marker, again just foul.

Roger Maris, who broke Babe Ruth’s record of 60 home runs in a season, was a left-handed hitter who played in the original Yankee Stadium where the right field fence curled in to 297 feet. Many of his homers were no further than I was hitting them that day. So now it’s bases loaded, the count two strikes. I told myself to hold back just a tad, determined to keep it in play. We were down by two runs and it seemed important to come through so I could earn my spot as a starter.

The pitch was, of course, another speedball, since that was the pitch he relied on. I remember it being a little high, but I was on it. Crack! You could tell by the sound it was a goner, this time flying out to right center field between and beyond the outfielders. The first run already scored before I reached first. As I rounded second I could see an outfielder had retrieved the ball. I was tearing toward third and the kid coaching raised his hands signaling me… to what? Was that a signal to slide or to stop?

I executed a beautiful slide, but was a foot short of third. Somehow I thought the ball was already on its way so I tried to stretch my foot, but I was still short. In point of fact, I had enough time to stand up, knock the dirt off my uniform and take a step onto the bag, but thinking the ball was incoming I just kept stretching.

Finally the ball arrived, the third baseman tagged me out, and when I got up to go get my glove — it was the third out — the whole team was laughing. To everyone watching it was hilarious. Or rather, hilariously stupid, depending on your point of view.

I did earn my spot as a starter, and by the end of the season had the fewest strikeouts on the team, second best batting average and a lot of good memories. That ridiculous moment trying to stretch my leg a foot was like a dead fly in the ointment though. It’s impossible to think of that game-winning drive without recalling the silly way it ended. There’s something humiliating about such public stupidity.

Which brings to mind the time I jumped out of a moving car thinking I would impress a lass I had a crush on. Alas.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Serendipity, the Duluth Armory and a Dylan Fan from Germany

Tuesday afternoon I got a call from Visit Duluth asking if I might be available to give a tour of local Dylan sites to a journalist from Germany who had just arrived fir the day. I just happened to be downtown when the call came and we arranged to meet at Amazing Grace, a coffeehouse in Canal Park's DeWitt-Seitz Building. I was waiting at a table when our faithful Visit Duluth liaison Maarja Hewitt arrived with our Deutschland guest Christoph Moeskes in tow.

Moeskes is editor for a German travel publication called America. He's also an avid Dylan fan, and having the opportunity to tour a bit of our Minnesota North Country was an opportunity he didn't want to miss. The meeting place was selected somewhat randomly inasmuch as our purpose was simply to find a connecting point and then tour a few sites beginning with Bob Dylan Way.

Fate intervened, however, with a few quick, simple twists. First, Tuesday was an open mic afternoon for the Music Resource Center (MRC), under the auspices of the Armory Arts and Resources Center (AARC). The AARC is tied to the Duluth Armory where young Robert Zimmerman saw Buddy Holly perform in one of his last concerts. The first duo to perform on stage included Tristan Espamer and Manny Eisele, Manny riffing a white electric guitar with Tristan on bass. The usic has a Santanaesque quality, only missing the eccectic percussion accompaniment. Manny was the son of local artist Carla Hamilton, who grew up in nearby Wrenshall, left home at 18 and ultimately lived in Stuttgart for 18 years. Returning to the States in 2012 she has been an active force in the local art scene.

As soon as I mentioned this to Christoph and Maarja, Carla herself came in and sat down at the next table, whereupon I called her over and introduced her to our guest from Germany. I thought it would be a nice touch for Christoph and Carla to exchange a few words in German. For laughs I shared three sentences I know from junior high German class.

Then, another twist of fate occurred. Mark Poirier, head of the AARC, arrived for the MRC open mic event. We introduced Christoph and he invited us to take a quick tour of the interior of the Armory, a rare and unexpected opportunity for sure. The planned ride along Bob Dylan Way would be moved to the last part of the two hour tour.

The Duluth Armory was built in 1915 and has a storied history. In 1918 a great fire consumed as many as 35 communities on the south and west outskirts of Duluth. The Armory served as a shelter and meeting place for families that were separated. And for the decades afterward it became a cultural hub for entertainers and public speakers including Bob Hope, Harry Truman, Liberace, The Supremes, and most significantly for Dylan fans, Buddy Holly.

A site recognized on the National Register of Historic Places, there has been a hardworking board comprised of volunteers striving to save the structure and fulfill a vision to make it a significant resource again for the community.

Check out this 1935 audience that came here to hear the symphony.
Mark Poirier (left) discusses Armory status with Christoph Moeskes.
(L to R) Ed Newman, Christoph Moeskes, Maarja Hewitt
And so with an open door Mark Poirier ushered Christoph, Maarja and I were into the Drill Hall, where troops once practiced digging fox holes, where masses gathered for entertainment, where rural refugees found consolation after that tragic fire. Standing there before the stage one is immediately struck by all the history that has been made here. It seemed you can still feel the presence of those echoes from time past.

We then slipped up to the Green Room, that staging area where performers prepare for going on stage. The dilapidated walls hardly diminish the feeling one gets from knowing that Buddy Holly, Richie Valens, Johnny Cash and so many others each waited here, tuning their guitars, assembling their "game face" and pulling themselves into a presence that would take the stage. And what a big stage it was, large enough to contain an orchestra, which it did at one time.

Mark and Christoph enjoyed an engaging conversation throughout. 

Bob and his family lived upstairs.
OUR NEXT STOP was the duplex where Abe and Beatty Zimmerman lived upstairs when they brought young Bobby home from the hospital. St. Mary's hospital is only a few blocks from the Zimmerman home which is on 3rd Avenue East a half block above 5th Street. Christoph took photos and looked for the plaque, which he enjoyed.

While driving on Fourth Street Christoph and I both agreed that Duluth should rename it Positively Fourth Street. I went so far as to suggest we rename Highway 61 as well... Highway 61 Revisited.

We worked our way to the Duluth Depot where Bob Dylan Way commences. We stopped at the first intersection to give our guest an opportunity to take a photo of the Dylan-themed manhole cover there, then we tucked our vehicle between the buildings to crawl along the passageway which ultimately leads from the Depot to the Armory.

I broke off at this point, appreciative of the opportunity share a few moments with our European visitor. His next stop was to be Hibbing, where the Zimmermans moved with six-year-old Bob and brother David 1. Christoph started the adventure in Minneapolis, taking in a number of sites there including the impressive six-story-high Dylan mural adjacent to Hennepin Avenue. The editor planned to head over to Bemidji from Hibbing before returning to the Twin Cities to make his departure.

Christoph... Thank you for making time to visit with us here. We look forward to the stories you share about America, in America.

Related Links
The Historic Duluth Armory

Items of Note Regarding the Historic Duluth Armory
Christoph Moeskes' magazine, America

REMINDER: The Potter & Potter Houdiniana auction begins at 10:00 a.m. You can follow along in real time and also bid if registered. Details here.

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Get into it.

Friday, October 19, 2018

A Visit with Amazon Bestselling Author Jill Klunk

I first became aware of Brian Tracy about thirty years ago or so when I was taken up with books and tapes from the "motivational" section of our library. W. Clement Stone, Napoleon Hill, Zig Ziglar, and others of their ilk were part of the motivational diet I was slurping in big gulps at the time. I most vividly recall Brian Tracy's Psychology of Selling as being dense with useful insights, later purchasing the two CD set to listen to while commuting.

In June I began contributing as a writer on Medium, the blogging platform developed by Ev Williams (who previously co-founded Blogger and Twitter.) If you're a writer, there's much to like about what Williams and his team have created. Facebook is a social community of one sort, and platforms like Pinterest and Instagram seem to be visually oriented communities. Medium, on the other hand, is a virtual community for writers and readers. Imagine going to a party where everyone you meet happens to be a writer. And it isn't just Americans here, but writers from every corner of the world.

Jill Klunk, like myself, is relatively new to Medium, but not to writing. She had the privilege of being selected as a contributor to a new book by Brian Tracy titled Ignite Your Life, which became an instant bestseller on Amazon.

EN: You were selected to contribute to Brian Tracy’s 2016 bestseller Ignite Your Life. How did you come to be chosen for this opportunity?

Jill Klunk: I responded to a FaceBook post. DNA was looking for candidates to submit their story on how they got to be where they were. So, I shared this opportunity with my Mentor and we felt it was a great opportunity. On October 23, 2015 I received a letter from Celebrity Press, LLC congratulating me for being selected to participate in Ignite Your Life. On December 17, 2015 I received a letter from Celebrity Press congratulating me that I had been selected by the Editor as one of their recipients of the "Editor's Choice Award" in recognition of the best chapters in the book Ignite Your Life. A couple of weeks later I was interviewed by Lindsay Dicks and Nick Nanton, Esq. On November 4, 2016 the book Ignite Your Life was officially released for publication and my story was one of the 40 stories featured in this book.

EN: The chapter you wrote was about Attraction Marketing. What is “Attraction Marketing”? And how does this differ from Inbound Marketing?

JK: Attraction Marketing is providing your audience with information to build trust and relationships to attract them to my products. It is one of the most powerful ways to provide value and grow my business. I attract people to my business through Facebook, postings, word of mouth, as a minimum.

Like Attraction Marketing, Inbound Marketing is a technique for drawing customers to products and services via content marketing, social media marketing and search engine optimization.

EN: You had a successful career in real estate.

JK: Yes, I did have a successful career in real estate for 13 years. In real estate I not only sold and listed properties I was responsible doing my own marketing, ads in newspapers, postings on Facebook and preparing my own newsletters to my firms and Clients. This was in essence my "jump off" into writing.

EN: How long have you also been writing? 

JK: I started writing stories in college (2002) and wrote them very sporadically until I got into the real estate business. When I would be showing homes to my Clients I would share information with them about neighborhoods, cities and my experiences. This ultimately was what prompted me to pursue writing more seriously.

EN: What lessons from your real estate experience would you apply to people who want to be successful as writers or entrepreneurs in other fields?

JK: Number 1 rule in my book is to just be your self. Your Clients can sense when you are being sincere and when you are not. My favorite story I share with my Clients is: A young man, a college student, lived across the street from me. He approached me one day and said "Miss Jill, my grandparents are coming to my graduation next week and would like to look at homes. Are you available?" My immediate response was absolutely.

As it turned out his grandparents had recently lost everything they had in Hurricane Sandy and were considering Conway SC as one of the areas to move to. After looking at homes, they decided to purchase a home in the neighborhood their grandson was living in.

EN: What was your biggest take-away from working with Brian Tracy?

JK: All of my dealings with Brian Tracy were through Celebrity Press, LLC and Dicks and Nanton Agency. I never spoke with him directly. The folks from Celebrity Press were very professional and I would highly recommend then.

* * * *
Here are some links where you can follow Jill Klunk or find the Brian Tracy book which she contributed to:

eBook: IgniteYour Life

* * * *

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Get into it.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Throwback Thursday: Car Quotes

"Two wrongs don't make a right, but three lefts do." ~Jason Love

Yesterday I wrote about the cars of the Alcatraz East Crime Museum. It seemed like for Throwback Thursday it wouldn't be too far out of line to share a few more quotes about cars.

* * * *

In 2009 the Street Rodder Road Tour was in town, passing through on the third leg of its eight scheduled week-long road tours for that year. More than 300 local folks brought their classic cars as well to make it the second such annual event at the AMSOIL Center in Superior, Wisconsin.

In honor of the occasion I thought a few car quotes would be in order. Funny thing is that when you look up "Hemingway Quotes" in Google, you get quotes by Hemingway, and when you look up "Quotes about Suffering" you get proverbial wisdom about suffering. But when you type in "Car Quotes" you get pages of sites dedicated to pricing your ride, or someone else's vehicle. It takes a little more work to pull up quotes about cars.

Nevertheless, I achieved my aim and thought a few of these worth sharing.

"The best car safety device is a rear-view mirror with a cop in it." ~Dudley Moore

"Never drive faster than your guardian angel can fly." ~Author Unknown

"Car sickness is the feeling you get when the monthly payment is due." ~Author Unknown

"The shortest distance between two points is under construction." ~Noelie Altito

"I spent a lot of money on booze, birds and fast cars. The rest I just squandered." ~George Best

"When buying a used car, punch the buttons on the radio. If all the stations are rock and roll, there's a good chance the transmission is shot." ~Larry Lujack

"In less enlightened times, the best way to impress women was to own a hot car. But women wised up and realized it was better to buy their own hot cars so they wouldn't have to ride around with jerks." ~Scott Adams

"The best way to keep children at home is to make the home atmosphere pleasant, and let the air out of the tires." ~Dorothy Parker

Enjoy your day, and and your ride.

Related Links
F. Scott Fitzgerald's Love Affair with Cars
Cars of The Great Gatsby

Meantime life goes on all around you. Get into it.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Cars of Alcatraz East Crime Museum

"Break the rules and you go to prison. Break the prison rules and you go to Alcatraz." 

Alcatraz East, new home of the Crime Museum.
They say crime doesn't pay, but it has certainly sold a lot of newspapers and generated plenty of stories. From the earliest years of Hollywood, tinseltown has produced a wide array of films and TV shows about bootleggers, hustlers, mob violence and the consequences of a life of crime. In 1931 Edward G. Robinson made a splash as a small time criminal who goes to the big city to make a fortune in Little Caesar. The following year Howard Hughes' Scarface hit the silver screen, loosely based on the Chicago mob boss of the same nickname whose career had just come to a close. In fact, Hollywood produced seemingly countless Capone films. More than 20 actors have played the notorious mob boss, and a dozen more have played characters based on the man. Books are equally numerous, one of them by Deidre Marie Capone, whose grandfather was "Uncle Al's" brother.*

When we were kids my brother and I loved watching The Untouchables on television, with Elliot Ness heading up the good guys trying to reign in Capone and company. At that time we thought the bad guys were cool, so when we played I'd be Machine Gun Kelly, and others would play Baby Face Nelson, Scarface or Johnny Torrio. When all of us kids grew up we were a ripened market for Brian De Palma's slick, no-holds-barred version of this Chicago gangland story starring Kevin Costner and Sean Connery as the good guys and Robert de Niro as the ultimate Capone.

John Dillinger's 1933 Essex Terraplane, purchased in 1934. FBI agents
nearly got him, but he escaped with his girl friend Evelyn Frechette.
You can still see a bullet inside the car from the shootout.
Another name that resonated with readers of crime stories was John Dillinger. And when Warren Beatty wore the mantle of Clyde Barrow, that film put a human face on the life of crime. Beatty must have enjoyed playing the role because he later decided to wrap himself in the character of Bugsy Siegel, the gangster who helped create The Strip in Las Vegas and the glam in glamour.

We visited our kids when they were in California for a spell and one of the highlights of the trip included a visit to the Rock, the island of Alcatraz. In 2016 a Washington D.C. crime museum closed and its artifacts, memorabilia and collections were moved to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee to a new home called Alcatraz East.

The Alcatraz East museum features 20 different exhibit areas focused on five themes: the history of American crime, the consequences of crime, crime scene investigation (CSI), crime fighting, and pop culture. Authentic pieces used as evidence in well-known criminal cases, and interactive exhibits and activities, are on display. And some rather famous cars as well.

Replica of Bonnie & Clyde's 1934 Ford V-8, shot full of holes for the film.
The flathead V-8 engine was introduced in 1932, and soon became an instant hit. 
You can see we've travelled far afield of the purpose of this blog post which was to share a few of the cars featured at Alcatraz East. Cars have played a defining role in U.S. history since Henry Ford's invention of the assembly line. Cars are featured in at least two of F. Scott Fitzgerald's books (we especially remember the role cars played in The Great Gatsby) and GM wasn't far off when it pegged Chevy as "the heartbeat of America."

Prohibition-era gangsters rushed through the city with Tommy-guns blaring, and bank robbers made their daring escapes in their getaway cars with running boards. In Bonnie and Clyde, those shootout scenes and especially the final takedown in this cream-colored '34 Ford (pictured above) probably set new standards for realism in Hollywood violence.

Serial killer Ted Bundy's 1968 Volkswagen Beetle is also featured in the museum. His name alone gives one the creeps. The vehicle was integral to both his murders and his ultimate conviction when it yielded important DNA evidence. The car is displayed without the front passenger seat in the same way Bundy used the car.

Until OJ attempted to make his great escape in his white 1993 Ford Bronco, the slowest white Bronco in this country was John Elway. That Bronco driven by Simpson’s friend Al Cowlings is now parked inside Alcatraz East. Do you remember where you were during that slow speed chase with OJ in the back seat? I do.

For the record there are a couple vehicles from the "good guys" side here as well including a County Sheriff's car and a Surveillance Vehicle that had been used by the Food & Drug Administration.

Pigeon Forge is located Southeast of Knoxville near the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a most beautiful part of the world. According the Rachael Penman, director of artifacts and exhibits,“Our crime cars each represent a cautionary tale, symbolizing a warning about the consequences of crime, while our law enforcement vehicles are positive reminders of all that law enforcement does every day, both in public and behind-the-scenes, to keep us safe.”

Related Links
For more info or to purchase tickets:
* My interview with Deidre Marie, Last of the Capones
Claudia Oltean's Another Chance to Die
Writing Crime Fiction In Prohibition Era Detroit
Our Visit To Alcatraz 

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Engage it.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Tech Tuesday: A Mid-Month Medium Update

I've been quite active on Medium lately, the ad-free blogging platform for writers and readers, which no doubt contributed to the dream I had as I was waking this morning. The dream went something like this...

Out of the blue someone contacted me and asked if I ever co-authored any of my blog posts. He said he wanted to co-write something with me on Medium.

I replied, by email, and said I had not but would consider it. I asked what he would like us to write about. He replied, "Columbus' second voyage to America."

No doubt this topic came up because of the annual controversies surrounding Columbus Day/Indigenous Peoples Day which was in the news last week.

In the dream I agreed to work with him on this because it is by writing about things that I learn new things and it was something I actually knew little about. So I asked him to send something and I would edit and add to it, but what he sent was a link to a Wikipedia page about the explorer's second voyage to the "New World." He had not written anything at all. I replied that Medium doesn't work that way. You can't just plagiarize something by taking it from somewhere else and calling it yours.

At this point I woke up and thought, "Wow, that was interesting."

* * * *
For those unfamiliar, Medium is a relatively new social media platform started in 2012 by Ev Williams, who co-founded Blogger and later Twitter. One objective was to create an environment where professional and non-professional writers could share their work and find readers. Ease-of-use was likewise a pre-eminent objective as well.

After walking along the edge and sticking my toe in the water here and there from January till spring, I was enticed (inwardly moved) to finally dive in head first and swim in the Medium pool to see what would happen. It seemed to me that the only way to really understand the medium was by means of total immersion.

In June I made a six-month commitment to see what I could do with it. The initial attraction for me was that one could import previously published articles simply by copying the URL of your original article (if it's online) and pasting it into Medium, which does most of the heavy lifting for you.

You may still have to tweak a few things to get the look just right, but it's all very intuitive with no HTML required, and the pages are all WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get.) The look is clean and reader-friendly.

The more you are involved with Medium the more you appreciate all the thought that has gone into the platform. There are seemingly countless details that had to be considered which you might not notice as a reader, but as a writer you slowly find out the good people at Medium are looking out for your best interests.

Here's a feature that I especially like as a reader. Each article lets you know up front how long the story or article is going to be should you decide to read it. That is, they tell you how much time it will take you to read this if you start it. For example, when I posted an essay titled Thoreau's Journal, they put a little time stamp there below the header that says Oct 5 - 4 min read. There is nothing more annoying to begin reading something that is 25 pages long when you have only five minutes till your next meeting.

Whereas Blogger organizes content by author, Medium organizes it's content by themes, by using tags to batch content. Another way that this is achieved is through publications. Here is a listing of the Top 100 Publications on Medium. Most of these are Medium publications, though many well known publications have representation here. When you look at the top 100 list you will see that #2 there is The Economist and #8 is the Washington Post.

By reading through the list you can see the kinds of topics people are interested in. Much of it here is related to careers, tech and business, but there are also publications for writers, lovers and crypto fans. Although I very quickly became designated a "top writer" about art here, it's apparent that art is not the most important topic that readers are gathering to in this online blogspace.

Licensing.  Another thoughtful feature on Medium is that when you publish your article you can select what degree of rights you want to maintain. I hadn't noticed this at first, but when I learned of it, I quickly adopted it as an important step when publishing. You can choose to make your story a free public domain story via Commons, or you may restrict it from being re-used altogether. I have been trying out different selections, usually offering the right to re-print so long as I am given attribution.

I only recently learned that like the Wall Street Journal and other newspapers, there is a limit to how many free articles non-members can read. But even this has been addressed so that authors can acquire a link that enables friends to read your aticle even if they've already hit their limit for the month. Here is link to my article John Updike's Four Life Forces using this "free access" link.

One more thing I appreciate. Like Quora this is a very international community. I'm being followed and clapped for ("Claps" on Medium are like "Likes" on Facebook) by people with a whole range of unusual backgrounds, from Africa to India to Japan and Latin America. I am reminded of how when I built my first website in 1995 and put my stories online I eventually had three of these stories translated into foreign languages--Croatian, Russian and French. ("It's a Small, Small, Small, Small World.")

Like Facebook, Linked In and other social media platforms, there seem to be continuous changes afoot in an effort to make it better. So far I've been very happy in this new community. There are a lot of folk here striving to help you succeed, and editor/publishers who will notice your work if it is good. I've contributed to four or five at this point now. I'm looking forward to seeing where this saga will lead me. And you're welcome to come along.

Read Ev Williams' The Medium Model.
How Medium Works With Writers (3 min. read)

Meantime, life goes on... Have a great day.

PS: In the "real world" Peter Spooner will be giving a talk at the Tweed Museum tonight on the paintings of David Ericson from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. in the Court Gallery.

Monday, October 15, 2018

Gaelynn Lea: Duluth Treasure to National Treasure

Learning How To Stay
This afternoon I was on the receiving end of a press release about Gaelynn Lea's upcoming album release show at Sacred Heart. Rather than re-write it in my own words, I've decided to post it as is, with a few comments as preface.

I have a number of special moments or memories that come to mind when I think of Gaelynn. The first time I heard her perform was at the Tweed Museum of Art, the occasion being (if I remember incorrectly you will forgive me) her senior recital. Whatever the occasion was, her violin playing was pretty phenomenal.

Over the years our paths have crossed numerous times through our affiliation with the Duluth music scene. Twice I performed in Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan concerts in which she also was also a performer. Her rendition of Bob Dylan's "All the Tired Horses" at one of these Sacred Heart concerts may have successfully realized Dylan's vision for the potential of a tune some had considered a throwaway.

Gaelynn has performed a number of times at Beaners and sometimes just hung out there I believe. One of my special memories was the day she got engaged. We were at Beaners and she was showing me her engagement ring, wearing the smile that has melted so many hearts.

She's known hardship and fought through in such a remarkable way that she is an inspiration to everyone who knows her. Here's the press announcement regarding her upcoming concert.

PRESS ALERT: Gaelynn Lea's Duluth Album Release Show

Photo credit: Richard Carter
When Gaelynn Lea won NPR Music’s 2016 Tiny Desk Contest, her two decades as a hardworking and talented Duluth musician finally crystallized in a beautiful moment of national recognition. It was also just the beginning of a grand adventure. With the wind of her award at their backs, Gaelynn and her husband Paul sold their house, quit their jobs, bought a van, and hit the road.

Since then, Gaelynn has played over 425 shows in 42 states and seven countries, adding nearly 100,000 miles to their Ford Econoline’s odometer. The singer-songwriter and violinist has graced the stage of renowned venues like Nashville’s Music City Roots, The Kennedy Center, House of Blues and even BBC World News. This June she was featured at arts festivals in both Iceland and Switzerland, and then went on to play Winnipeg Folk Fest in July, Travelers Rest Festival in August and Halifax Pop Explosion in October. Yet somehow between this perpetual blitz of performances, Gaelynn also managed to release her third full-length album this Fall.

Until this point Gaelynn Lea has presented most of her songs using only a few tools: a violin, a voice, and a looping pedal. But for her latest, Gaelynn Lea enlisted the help of some musical friends to bring her new album to life. "With album credits to the likes of NPR’s Bob Boilen, Low’s Alan Sparhawk, HALEY and DOSH (to name just a few), Gaelynn Lea has assembled a crack team of spirit guides for her step into the world of rock on her surprisingly rhythmic new record." (Mike Novitski, former host of Duluth Local Show on The Current) Learning How To Stay is an 11-song collection that runs the gamut sonically from pensive and luscious to aggressive and intentioned, from folk to decidedly pop, and even includes a couple of traditional fiddle tunes.

"This album is Gaelynn Lea in the spotlight. Assembling a near perfect backing band that highlights and never overshadows; it’s Gaelynn’s tremendous skill as a songwriter that’s on full display." (Walt Dizzo, KUWS Music Director) With her singular voice and deeply-affecting violin, she guides the listener through a journey that explores the contrasting nature of existence: dark and light, birth and death, anger and forgiveness, sorrow and joy. Learning How to Stay encourages the listener to stay present for it all.

Photo credit: Evr Glow Media
Gaelynn is returning to the Northland for a hometown show at Sacred Heart Music Center on Saturday, November 17th. For this special album release concert she will be backed by her full band; they will be doing a live performance of Learning How to Stay from start to finish. Doors open at 7pm and music will begin at 7:30pm. Special guests Ingeborg Von Agassiz and Jerree Small will open this all-ages show. Tickets are $12 in advance and $15 at the door. This venue is wheelchair accessible; please email at least 24 hours in advance if accommodations are required and we will do our best to meet your needs.

In addition to performing and recording, Gaelynn also loves to do public speaking engagements about disability awareness, accessibility in the arts, and living an enriching life. She has a congenital disability called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, or Brittle Bones Disease. Gaelynn is a strong voice in the disability community; she uses her music as a platform to advocate for people with disabilities and to promote positive social change.

Gaelynn Lea (+ Full Band!)
Duluth Album Release Show
Special Guests Ingeborg Von Agassiz and Jerree Small
November 17th, 2018
Show at 7:30pm, Doors at 7:00pm
Venue is Wheelchair Accessible
All Ages Show
Tickets: $12 adv / $15 doors
Ticket Link:
Facebook Event:

Gaelynn Lea Official Website

Social Media

2018 "Lost in the Woods" Music Video
2017 Paste Music Session
2016 NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert
Great Big Story's Funk Plus One 
POPSUGAR Interview

Album Reviews:
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The Current: First Listen
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Sunday, October 14, 2018

Mark Gober Shares Ideas About Consciousness from His New Book, An End to Upside Down Thinking

One evening this past month my mind went down a path that began like this: What If We’re Wrong?

I then began scribbling down notes, which I set aside to ponder later.
What if we’re wrong about what it means to be good citizens?
What if we’re wrong about voting being something that really, really matters?
What if we’re wrong about democracy being good? Is Democracy sacred? Why? Our American experiment is a little over two centuries old.
What if political action is a massive distraction from more important things in our families and communities?

When I began reading Mark Gober's book An End To Upside Down Thinking a whole new set of questions emerged, pertaining to the nature of reality and consciousness. At one time Copernicus must have asked, "What if the earth was not the center of the universe?" Gober believes that in time many of the commonly held beliefs of science, as regard consciousness, will be upended. His book is a contribution to this revolution.

The book, which I wrote about here on Friday, explores a lot of areas where commonly accepted views are being challenged, where more "what if" questions need to be revisited. What follows here is an interview with the author.

EN: You have invested a lot of time into investigating your instincts or presuppositions about consciousness. What were the catalysts or trigger events that nudged you in this direction?

Mark Gober
Mark Gober: In August 2016, I randomly stumbled across podcasts that challenged everything I thought I knew. The more I investigated, the more I realized I needed to re-think existence and who and what we are. To be clear: before this, I had no explicit instincts or suppositions about the ideas discussed in my book. If anything, my views were opposite what they now are. After my initial exposure to thought-provoking podcasts, I then researched extensively for a year while continuing in my day job in finance/consulting. Over a few weekends in July 2017, I wrote what is now my book An End to Upside Down Thinking. Why write a book? I realized the ideas represented a revolution bigger than any we've ever seen. For example, we used to think the earth is flat. Then we thought (incorrectly) that the earth was at the center of the solar system. The next one is: we used to think the brain produces consciousness.

EN: In my philosophy of mind class in college, our first assignment was to write a paper addressing this issue: what would you experience if you woke one morning and your brain had been exchanged with someone in England? This seems like a central theme, as you ask readers to reconsider the brain’s relationship to consciousness. How would answer the question posed by my professor in 1971?

MG: In my book, I first address the fact that we have no idea how a brain could produce consciousness. This is known as "the hard problem" of consciousness. All we know is that the brain is related to consciousness. But we don't know if the brain produces it. I then provide evidence suggesting that consciousness doesn't come from the brain at all, that the brain acts more like an antenna/receiver or filter of consciousness, and that consciousness is more fundamental than matter. Matter doesn't create consciousness; rather, consciousness creates matter. Furthermore, the evidence points toward the idea that we are all fundamentally connected as part of a singular, underlying consciousness. So even though we seem to have individual experiences, our minds are actually connected.

One of the phenomena I discuss in my book is called a "near-death experience." These are instances in which a person has a severely impaired brain or sometimes is even clinically dead, and yet the person reports lucid memories. In An End to Upside Down Thinking I explain why the near-death experience can't be explained as a mere hallucination but rather it may teach us something about the broader reality that our brain normally filters or obfuscates from our perception. In the near-death experience people often report a "life review" in which they experience their life in a flash, judging themselves for how they treated others. Now here's the kicker (and finally getting to your question): in many cases, the person experiences the life review from the perspective of the person he/she affected. So let's say Bob is having a life review and is reviewing a time in which he harmed Jane. In the life review he feels the pain he caused to Jane, as if he were Jane. This example points to the notion that we are actually part of the same consciousness but in our everyday experience we are viewing life through the lens of our limited, individual brain. In the life review people seem to have the ability to view life through the lens of another.

The brain and body allow consciousness to have specific experiences. So (returning to your original question) experiencing life through the brain of another would be like viewing life through a different lens.

EN: What are the implications for how we might live life and treat one another?

Carl Jung likewise asked many questions
about the nature of consciousness.
MG: If consciousness isn't produced by the brain as I argue in An End to Upside Down Thinking, then the death of the brain/body would not imply the death of consciousness. I provide evidence suggesting that consciousness exists independently of the physical body. In other words, our consciousness lives on when our body dies. This has massive implications for how we live. If we lost the fear of the death, how might we live differently? For some, this changes everything.

If we are all truly interconnected as part of the same underlying consciousness, then all separation we see is an illusion. "You" vs. "me" and "us" vs. "them" are illusions. So if at the core level we are all the same, it becomes irrational to do harm to another. Altruism takes on a new meaning: helping others feels good because we are ultimately helping our "self" as part of the same consciousness. Altruism is then the highest form of selfishness. This changes everything. Imagine how many of the world's problems would shift if we appreciated this notion. The solution to world peace and the survival of the species, in my mind, are dependent upon the realization that we are not separate.

EN: I think here of Jesus in his parable of the sheep and goats, where he says, "As you did it unto the least of these... you did it unto me."

The book has much to ponder. You can find it here on

Saturday, October 13, 2018

George Harrison & Friends: The 1971 Concert for Bangladesh

Madison Square Garden, 1971
For Dylan fans it was one of his rare public appearances between the Woodstock motorcycle incident and the Rolling Thunder Revue. The Concert for Bangladesh, initiated by George Harrison and Ravi Shankar, served two important functions. First, it drew attention to a major catastrophe in a remote region that few Americans were even aware of, overnight turning Bangladesh into a household name. And second, by being the first concert of its kind to bring a host of famous rock musicians together for a charitable cause. The achievements and mis-steps would help future such efforts by famous musicians to bring aid to needy causes.

My aim in this blog post is to shed a little light on what was really happening in Bangladesh in the previous ten months before the concert. If you are like me, you only seem to remember the tragic cyclone, a natural disaster of epic proportions.

* * * *
There were tactually two trigger events that led to the concert, the first this natural disaster, and the second a monumental man-made disaster. I've just finished reading Paul Thomas Chamberlin's The Cold War's Killing Fields, subtitled Rethinking the Long Peace. I can't recall when I've been so moved by a single book. While reading it I have mentioned to several friends that "this is the saddest book I've read in my life." The underreported human suffering that has been perpetrated in the course of our lifetimes since World War II is nothing short of shocking when you lay it all out in one book. What Chamberlin does, probably unique, is to show how a single thread actually connects all these disparate atrocities, that thread being the cold war and corresponding fears of the major superpowers.

So much of what has happened these past 70 years was delivered through the media piecemeal so that Americans not only were left in the dark much of the time, the general impression has been that Americans have always been the good guys, the white horse heroes. The tragedy of Bangladesh was two-fold. The first was a destructive cyclone of historic proportions that devastated the country and left as many as 500,000 dead in its wake. Because East Pakistan was located 1000 miles from Pakistan there was a move for liberation which led to a military incursion by the Pakistan army that resulted in the deaths of a quarter million civilians and seven million refugees fleeing to India. This latter had been building for years and did not occur overnight, but the timing of its escalation couldn't have been worse.

The Chamberlin book outlines how WW2 changed the face of the world's power game. We tend to forget that before the World Wars European powers were colonialists whom for hundreds of years had their fingers in every corner of the known world. Suddenly this all changed. The aftermath of WW2 resulted in a variety of complicated conflicts as groups within various regions struggled for freedom and autonomy. Looking back, we've forgotten, or failed to notice, the relationship between the collapse of Colonialism and the various mini-wars in all corners of the world.

The subsequent power struggles occurred against a new backdrop, the Cold War. The big players in this new game interpreted events through their own lenses. Pakistan was an ally of the U.S. so when it began committing horrors against its own people, President Nixon and his advisors chose to support Pakistan with arms and did nothing to restrain the genocidal horror under the pretext that we need an ally like Pakistan in this part of the world. China was breaking with Moscow, and we wanted to be tightly embedded in the region.

After the cyclone the United States initially wanted to help alleviate suffering, but then National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger weighed in, indicating it would make Pakistan look bad in the world's eyes if we did more than they did for their own people. After West Pakistan's bungling relief efforts, a December election showed how divided East Pakistan sentiments were from West Pakistan. In their divine wisdom the West Pakistani leaders decided in March that instead of meeting needs they would invade and slaughter, using American made M-24 tank units. Within a few days there were radio reports of three hundred thousand killed.

Reports like this were easily dismissed as Bengali exaggerations, but when Nixon's own foreign office reported how brutal the atrocities were Nixon and Kissinger applauded the success of the Pakistan army in crushing the "uprising."

I don't need to repeat all the details, only that U.S representatives in Pakistan wrote a scathing indictment of our leaders that begins with this: "Our government has failed to denounce the suppression of democracy." The London Times reported "This is genocide, conducted with amazing casualness." Millions of refugees fled to India. Cholera and smallpox began breaking out, taking even more lives.

You can be sure that all these horrors weighed heavily on Ravi Shankar, the Bengali musician who  taught George Harrison how to play the sitar which is featured on "Within You, Without You," the opening track on side two of the Beatles' Sgt. Pepper album. Ravi Shankar, who had remained a friend of Harrison since that time, had relations in East Pakistan and he (Shankar) was well aware of the trauma there.

The Concert for Bangladesh took place at the beginning of August featuring "a supergroup of performers that included Harrison, fellow ex-Beatle Ringo Starr, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Billy Preston, Leon Russell and the band Badfinger. In addition, Shankar and Ali Akbar Khan – both of whom had ancestral roots in Bangladesh – performed an opening set of Indian classical music. Decades later, Shankar would say of the overwhelming success of the event: 'In one day, the whole world knew the name of Bangladesh. It was a fantastic occasion.'"*

The  account here is much abbreviated from that which is in The Cold War Killing Fields.  When I think back on that period in my life I can't recall a single word about the atrocities that took place after the initial devastation of the cyclone. The war in Viet Nam was the focus of our media and the complexities surrounding the political struggles of these various nations made it easy to not really say much. Americans were too distracted by other things to really try to figure out what was happening here or what happened in Indonesia where in 1965-66 500,000 to a million civilians were similarly slaughtered by their own government for reasons of their own while the U.S. simply stood by and watched.

All this to say that it was a beautiful thing what these performer did. But it makes me sad to reflect on how little I knew about the world we've lived in all the years. And this is but one chapter.

Related Links
Bob Dylan's 18-minute set during the Concert for Bangladesh
The Feature Film of the Concert directed by Phil Spector

"Still my guitar gently weeps..."


Superior North End Days Kicks Off With Art & Music: Continues Today With Parade, Street Dance & More

Sterling Rathsack @ The Spirit Room
Superior's North End community is celebrating this weekend. Today will feature a parade, a car show, activities for kids and a street dance. Here's a link so you can see the details as regards what and where and when today. The Superior Spooktacular Parade starts at 2:00. Just so you know.

Last night there was art and music in seven venues around the North End. Here are some photos from my own walkabout. If you live on the Superior side of the bridge, most of the art in these venues will be up for a while. You missed the music, however.

A couple items of note. Superior has had quite a bit of public art produced on many outdoor surfaces. If you drive on Banks, Ogden or in the alleys off Tower, you will see some of what was created during the Tower Avenue road project. This summer there was an extensive effort to help the community become aware of the storm drainage systems here. Artists were commissioned to produce sidewalk art around storm drains in various parts of the city. You can find photos of the drains at Framing By Stengl at 1720 Tower Avenue.

The Spirit Room has a variety of artists featured (Thank you, Linz) and Goin' Postal as well, as usual. VIP Vintage Pizza featured photographers, and Thirsty Pagan has photos by John Heino along with vintage signage. Art on the Planet had their doors open with music by Similar Dogs. Here are more photos from last night.

Steel Wool Spinning: Amber's Impressions Photography 

Meantime art goes on all around you.
Get into it.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Mark Gober Wants to Put an End to Upside Down Thinking

Elizabeth and Farrell Sandy, 1956, with granddaughter Lois.
My grandmother had a stroke in the early 1960’s that resulted in brain surgery at the Mayo Clinic. During the surgery, she had an out-of-body experience in which she was hovering over the operating table observing about 20 minutes of activity by doctors and nurses. An educated woman, this experience sent her on a quest to understand what had happened. Where does the “I” lie in a human? My grandmother was a conscious person looking down upon her own body.

When I was in college I would visit her and we’d discuss the range of things that were routinely on her mind. Is it possible that our minds have much greater power than we realize? Is it possible to move objects with the mind? Is mental telepathy real? Can we know the future? What about remote viewing, where we see or sense something from a distant location? What about communication with people after they are deceased?

I will tell you here that I’ve had three of the preceding experiences personally. Likewise I have had a lifetime interest in philosophy, and how the mind works. For this reason, Mark Gober’s An End to Upside Down Thinking captured my attention because of its bold promise to dispel the myth that “the brain produces consciousness.”

His book is essentially an assault on the arrogant assumptions of science, specifically as it pertains to materialism. Over and over throughout the course of a lifetime we’ve heard the old, old story of how there was a big bang and then all these atoms and molecules kept doing things that led to the emergence of DNA and life and evolution and how the robin’s nest-building developed over millions of years of evolution and the chameleon’s remarkable self-protective color shifting evolved and on and on till there was humanity.

Now that we’re all humans, Gober asks pointedly, where did consciousness come from? How did being aware during out-of-body experiences come from the evolution of matter? How does the notion of life after death evolve from nothing?

In the face of these questions, science has walked down two paths, stemming from their opposing presuppositions. If people “experience” paranormal events or a spiritual visitation after the death of a loved one – as my wife and I and my grandmother have experienced – there will be scientists who deny our experience and explain it away as something chemical in the brain for no other reason than they have already concluded that such can never be.

GOBE'R'S BOOK ADDRESSES THESE ISSUES first by explaining the paradigm shift involved, and then by analyzing the variety of ways in which the inexplicable has been experienced.

In the Preface Mark Gober sets up a framework for the ideas he is about to present. “Whether you realize it or not, most of modern society’s thinking is based upon a philosophy known as ‘materialism’—the notion that physical material, known as ‘matter,’ is fundamental in the universe. In other words, matter is the basis of all reality. Everything is comprised of matter, and everything can be reduced to matter.” Gober immediately undermines this premise.

First, he cites Dr. Bernardo Kastrup, who describes Materialism as “a reasonable castle built upon a rotten foundation.” With a few quick brushstrokes he produces a question that forms the basis of what is to come: “How does a physical body that you can touch produce a non-physical mind that you can’t touch?” Reading this brought me back to my Philosophy of Mind class at Ohio University. Our first paper dealt with the issue of where does the “I” reside in “Who am I?” The problem we had to write about was this. Suppose you wake up one day and your brain has been exchanged with the brain of a person in England. What would you experience? Gober notes that issues surrounding the mind are at the center of what Science magazine has identified as the second hardest question in science: How can something as immaterial as consciousness arise from something as unconscious as matter?

FROM START TO FINISH he delivers quotes and observations which show that Gober is not acting in isolation. For example, this statement from stem-cell biologist Robert Lanza, MD and physicist Bob Berman: “Nothing in modern physics explains how a group of molecules in your brain create consciousness.”

In some ways he's like a newborn child whose eyes have been suddenly opened. Or perhaps Plato's man-in-the-cave who discovers not only that the shadows are only shadows but there's a whole world of light and wonder above ground.

Chapter one introduces the author, with an overview of the book's contents. Chapter two is titled: The Unproven Assumption: "The Brain Produces Consciousness." In chapter three Gober finishes laying the groundwork with a deep dive into Quantum Relativistic Chaos: Proven and Accepted Science that Defies Common Sense. Chapters four through eleven each deal with specific topics beginning with remote viewing (RV), mental telepathy, precognition, etc.

When my grandmother and I would talk about these things in the early 70's she would tell me that the Soviets were studying all these things as if they were real. Gober here presents documents showing how our own CIA was also conducting experiments in these areas, with findings that verify rather than deny some of the premises of the book.

Much has been written about the conflict between science and religion, with scientists themselves on both sides of the issue. Some, in awe of the design and spectacular wonder of the creation, believe it is impossible that this all occurred by accident. Or as the psalmist write, "The heavens declare the glory of God." That is, God's signature is all over creation.

Other scientists, like Richard Dawkins, ridicule faith, much as Marx calls religion the opiate of the masses. Gober cites Dawkins' remark in the preface: "What is faith but belief without evidence?" In response, the author of the Book of Hebrews in the Christian New Testament states that Faith is the evidence of things unseen.

The front cover features a quote by former Harvard University neurosurgeon Eben Alexander, MD, comparing the ideas in this book to the Copernican Revolution, which he states will be minor in contrast. The word "revolution" is probably misleading, though. The ideas of Copernicus probably took a century to become adopted as accepted wisdom.

An End to Upside Down Thinking is a 2018 release by Waterside Press and available on Amazon. 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Potter & Potter to Feature Rare John Bushey Houdini Memorabilia in October 20 Auction

The first 15 pages of this catalog feature items from
the John Bushey collection. Smaller items are
likewise sprinkled throughout.*
Auction houses like Sotheby's and Christie's are frequently in the news when an important painting by Picasso sells or original handwritten lyrics from a famous Bob Dylan song. Less well known to the public-at-large, though not to their clients and fans, is an auction house in Chicago called Potter & Potter which has announced that their October 20 auction will include the late John Bushey's collection of Houdini pitch books and other magic memorabilia. Bushey, long time host of KUMD's Highway 61 Revisited Dylan-themed radio program, was also a highly respected magician and collector.**

Potter & Potter specializes in the sale of collectibles and antiques of all types, including paper Americana, vintage advertising, rare books, coin-op, playing cards, gambling memorabilia, vintage posters, prints and magicana -- antiques and collectibles focused on magic and magicians. If unable to attend, buyers can bid online or by phone.

The Bushey Collection is possibly the most complete collection of its kind in the world. Harry Houdini was not only a masterful magician, he was likewise a masterful promoter. For each show wherever he went he would produce a new pitch book or program that told his story. Each was unique for each city he travelled to. When I got the "grand tour" of John's handcuff collection in 2014, he said that he had acquired all but two of these.

Close-up photo of a portion of John Bushey collection
OCTOBER 20, 2018 • 10:00 AM

Our October sale features the Houdini collection of John Bushey. Known as a true scholar and student of all things Houdini and escape related, John assembled one of the best collections of Houdini pitch books and related items in America. Bushey's collection will be complemented by a strong selection of magic memorabilia, books, and posters. In addition, the auction will feature a selection of choice antique apparatus, and the largest collection of Mikame Craft-made props to ever come to market. A collection of original props, books, and decorative objects from the collection of Kalanag, the famous German illusionist, will also be in the auction. Catalogs ship approximately three weeks prior to the auction. Previews take place in our Chicago gallery October 18 -19, from 10:00am to 5:00pm.

* * * *
Potter & Potter has a full staff of people trained in all aspects of the business but, according to their webesite the two principles are Gabe and Sami Fajuri, with their experience listed as follows:

Gabe Fajuri
Finding and auctioning rare and unusual objects is Gabe's passion. Widely regarded as an authority on magic history and collectibles, he co-founded the auction house in 2007, after conducting a not-to-be-believed appraisal of Jay Marshall's legendary collection (to read the story of this Herculean task, click here). Since then, he's discovered and brought to market an astonishing variety of material, from original Houdini mementos, to rare posters, early books, and more.

Sami Fajuri
Our managing auctioneer, Sami brings decades of experience in the fields of antiques, paper Americana and collectibles to Potter & Potter. Sami has a strong background in the auction and collecting fields, having operated a wholesale auction firm specializing in philately and cartophily for over 15 years. Other areas of specialty include antiquarian books and tobacciana.

The late John Bushey, 2014. Houdini booklets on John's right, rare books to his left.
Potter & Potter auctions off more than just magicana. Their auctions feature rare manuscripts, posters, circus and Wild West, movie and music memorabilia, gaming, antiques and other valuables, though when you scroll through past and future auction listings this is clearly one of the places magicians and fans of the magic arts like to go shopping, or collecting. 

Related Links

* Those wishing to know specifically which lots or items were part of the Bushey collection may contact Terry Roses, John's mentor, via his website at
** Dylan was once asked "If you could go back in time to experience any one moment in time, what would it be?" and he replied, "To see Houdini shackled and placed in a chest when he was dropped into the East River. Here is John Bushey performing a bit of Houdini magic at the 2014 Salute to the Music of Bob Dylan.