Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Almost Wordless Wednesday: UWS Faculty Show @ Kruk Gallery

Susan Maguire, Wolf and Hands
Mike Maguire, Portrait
Mike Maguire. Loon Valdez in foreground, Walking Birdman (pastel) on the wall.
Tim Cleary, Tracery

Susan Maguire, Untitled
Susan Maguire, Heart and Green Hand

The UWS Faculty Show held its opening reception this past Thursday. 
On display were works by
Kim Borst
Tim Cleary
Shannon Cousino
Denise DeGidio
Gloria Eslinger
Susan and Mike Maguire

Parking is easy as pie. There are three slots for cars
directly outside Holden Hall on Caitlin. During most 
visits to the gallery I've found all three vacant.
There is no cost. If you follow the arts here in the Twin Ports
you owe it to yourself to discover the Kruk.

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

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Untold Story of the Talking Book Is Quite a Story + 10 Insights I Never Considered Before.

As any follower of this blog knows, I'm a reader of talking books while commuting. There have been occasions over the years when someone will make a dismissive remark about listening to books is not really reading. Though the mildly abrasive dismissal would be disregarded as floof, it eventually became clear to me over time that listening to books is not considered real reading in some circles.

So I found it quite delightful to discover a whole book devoted to this matter, which I'd been listening to, I mean reading, this past week during my commute. The Untold Story of the Talking Book is Matthew Rubery's contribution to the debate, recounting the history of audio books beginning with Thomas Edison's recording of "Mary Had a Little Lamb" on a tinfoil surface that could be played by phonograph in 1877. Today's audiobook industry is a billion dollar business.

What's fascinating in this story is how many different arguments arose along the way, and how many funny predictions about the future were generated by this "new" technology. For example, there were some who said audio books would replace printed books. In retrospect we see a lot of similarity between that prediction and the kinds of statements made with other inventions. Radio would disappear eventually when eclipsed by television, supposedly. Television would disappear when the Internet was in full swing. Retail stores will disappear when eclipsed by Amazon.

The author was in part motivated to research the topic because he himself liked audio books but was self-conscious about saying so in light of the nay-sayers. Here are a few of the insights that stuck with me after reading this audio book.

1. Edison expected the "talking book" to take of faster than it did. Ultimately it was half a century before the first full length novel had been recorded and reproduced.

2. Though many blind people welcomed talking books, there were also braille readers who felt listening to audio books wasn't really reading. Even though only 15% or so of blind people could read braille, there were some who quite opposed to the idea. Reading braille requires "deciphering code" which is more like deciphering letters on a page.

3. After World War 1 there were many soldiers who had been left blind as a result of injuries. Audio books were an easier way to "read" than having to learn braille. This became the impetus for the acceptance of audio book recordings, in album form at that time.

What was interesting, though, is that there were only a couple hundred soldier who had become blind. Even though there were tens of thousands of blind people already hungry for this new technology, it was sympathy for these newly blinded that pulled on the heartstrings of the masses to fund the mass recording of audio books.

4. The next debate had to do with censorship. Some books should not be made available to the blind, like Flaubert's Madame Bovary. But then, who has the authority to decide what was decent and indecent?

5. Which led to the next debate regarding one of the advantages of braille. No one would know what book I was reading under the covers, whereas if I'm listening to audio books...

6. The logistics of shipping and storage of audio books could be a problem. One novel could be 80 discs. War and Peace and the Bible were closer to 200.

EdNote: The first time I read the Bible through I found the book of Leviticus to be quite tedious. Because I had a blind friend who had a full set of albums of the Bible on recorded discs, read by Alexander Scourby, I borrowed the Book of Leviticus to listen to. I tethered my mind to the reader and forced myself to plow through. It worked!

EdNote 2: This experience taught me how storytelling is much easier to engage with than blah-blah-blah data. Whether you're in advertising, PR, sales or sipping a brew with your best friend's girl, stories will be much more engaging than "just the facts, ma'am."

7. The whole debate about whether a talking book is a book led to a reminder that throughout human history the village storyteller passed the tribe's knowledge on orally. Gutenberg and the printing press was a relatively modern development. If the Pentateuch was indeed scribed by Moses, as is claimed for itself, then everything that he recorded must have been passed down to him orally.

8. Another fascinating thought was this one. The author points out that the introduction of every new technology calls into question the previous competing technologies and causes us to think more deeply about both. Folk guitars and electric guitars, for example. In Hollywood, "talkies" did indeed eclipse silent films, but Michael Crichton was wrong when in the mid-nineties he told the National Press Club that the Internet would eliminate television.

9. Some argued against audio books because the listener would be more passive. Reading requires engagement, or so they said. (Are you still with me?)

10. One more major battle area had to do with how the books were read. Should they be read by professional actors or by straight readers who do not "add" to the reading? What about sound effects, as in radio theater? Does this add or interfere? (Personally, I totally dislike it.) Much debate swirled around many of these decisions.

* * * *
In short, I had no idea there were so many dimensions to this story. Today we have downloadable books on Audible and iTunes, CDs and streaming audio. One sci fi writer, a contemporary of Jules Verne, had a story in which people had audio books in their hats which they could listen to wherever they went. A Sony Walkman? It seemed fantastical at the time.

Bottom Line: If you don't want to call audio books reading, fine. They are great companions anyways. I just finished a biography of James Madison the week before, a president we seem to know so little about today, yet whose ideas are totally embedded in the founding fibers of our nation. But that's a story for another day.

Here's Matthew Rubery's book on

Monday, September 17, 2018

Notes from an Op-Ed Writing Workshop with Author Michael Fedo

It's hard to believe four years have already passed since I interviewed Michael Fedo about writing and his powerful account of the 1919 lynchings in Duluth.

Sunday afternoon Mr. Fedo made a presentation in the August Fitger Room on the topic of Op-Ed Writing. I took a special interest in the talk for a trio of reasons. First, of the 450 articles I've published I don't believe I've ever managed to get an op-ed piece into print. I suspect that a number of my 4000+ blog posts might be suitably converted into publishable pieces going forward though. Armed with my notes from the presentation, I feel a new surge of interest in tackling the form.

A second reason for attending was simply to meet some of our other local authors, since one never knows where a chance meeting will lead. I did see a number of familiar faces.

Although I was intrigued by the title of his new book which he was also up here to promote, titled Don't Quit Your Day Job, my third reason for attending was simply to get first-hand experience regarding how to conduct a writing workshop-book signing event. I learned a lot.

As for his advice to not quit me day job, it comes a bit late for me. I quit my day job this past December. Retirement has been good so far. I continue writing, blogging and have a little more time for painting (making art) and fixing things around the house.

The Op-Ed Writing Workshop
Michael Fedo
Jim Perlman, of Holy Cow! Press, Fedo's publisher, was a co-sponsor of the event. Evidently this was one of the projects Jim had been working on when I inquired as regards one of my own book concepts a year ago. He said he was overbooked, had five other projects in the works. Mr Fedo's was evidently one of these.

Felicia Schneiderhan of Lake Superior Writers welcomed us to the 90-minute workshop and
introduced Michael Fedo.

Mr. Fedo, began be defining for us what an op-ed is. Essentially they are editorials submitted by freelance writers. The challenge for all of us lesser known lights is that we are in competition with the likes of George Will, Thomas Friedman and other syndicated writers of national renown. So the first item of note was double-underlined. If you write about same things, you will be less likely to get published over these other writers.
Their pieces will get picked up instead of yours simply because their names sell more papers, even if your piece is better written. So we are at a disadvantage, unless we write about other topics than what these writers are addressing.

Michael Fedo said he has published a dozen such pieces, none of them addressing the major issues of the day. "Once in a while an editor will accept something whimsical or even humorous," he said. And despite the serious, non-whimsical story of the lynchings in Duluth, by the end of the workshop it was clear that his bailiwick is more lighthearted fare.

If you were in attendance you would have received a pair of handouts. The first handout was a list of 100 places where you can submit Op-ed pieces, many of which pay real money when you are published.

This past 10 years, though, a change has been taking place. Newsrooms are shrinking. Editors and staff are over-worked. As a result they have less time than in the past. Also, many no longer pay for op-ed. Typical pay, however, is $50-200 for regional and national op-eds pay even more, though these are likely to squeeze you for exclusives. So be it. Who doesn't want a New York Times byline?

He then noted that most publications post their submission requirements and you should familiarize yourself with these. Some publications may have different requirements on weekends, which I did not know.

Reading an example of his work.
1. To increase odds of acceptance, have a topic that you believe only you can write. Personal experience is a good place to look for these kinds of stories.
2. Most things are not written in first person unless you are offering an anecdote to make a point.
3. Think of your piece as a story. Everybody loves stories. The best essays are stories. Op-ed pieces should also tell something of a story. He cited a few examples, such as lessons you may have learned while raising a child with disabilities. If you can find a subject within your experience you will have an edge.
4. He noted that "hot" news stories can be a challenge because of their timeliness. Three days is too long to put together a story in response to an event of major timeliness. The stories you write should have “legs.” In the vernacular of blogging, you want "Evergreen Content” that is as relevant two years from now as last weekend.
5. Mr. Fedo said that this may be a cliché but it's borne itself out in real life: “An expert or authority is someone who lives 100 miles or more out of town.”

At this point he read one of his own published op-ed pieces titled "Can Capidulance Be the Next Yadda-Yadda-Yadda?" in which he lightheartedly addressed the issue of who gets to create new words.

More advice followed...
6. Pay attention to Word Counts. 400-800
7. If you are publishing with regularity you would be wise to Google yourself.
8. The Key to getting published is to write things only You can write.

Example: Where the Ear and the Anecdotes Play

9. I found this item interesting because it reinforces some thoughts I've been noodling for a future blog post. The difference between British and American writers is this: Brits interested in their Art; Americans are interested in being Stars.
10. Poignant Xmas stories, Mothers Day, a picnic gone awry, Commemorative days can often find a home in print but may require longer lead times.

Example: A Folksinger Remembers 22 November 1963

Distinguishing Characteristics of the Op-Ed
1. Length.
2. See what they are looking for.
3. Requirements: check website
4. Research readers.
5. What is your objective?
6. What is the point?
7. Begin with a Hook.
8. Is your voice distinctive?
9. If you are an authority or have a special background, identify yourself.
10. No query necessary. Just send the piece.
11. Op-Ed editors are swamped. Do not expect to receive a rejection letter.
12. Send your piece to multiple markets. Indicate on your submission that you are selling One Time Rights.
13. Your cover letter email should mention 2 or 3 credits if you have been published elsewhere.

As workshop attendees, we were invited to submit an op-ed sample to Mr. Fedo which he would edit for us. Two of us were invited to read the pieces we submitted. I read, "Seven Reasons To Be Careful About Physician-Assisted-Dying." Anne Moore read her entertaining piece about Florida titled, "Steppin’ in High Cotton." Mine was somewhat serious, and hers was seriously fun.

* * * *

After a short break Michael Fedo read to us from his 10th book. Everybody’s story is different, he said. "This one is mine."

He first read from first chapter: Authorities and Experts May Be Wrong, which I re-read last night for my "bedtime read." Sometimes you have to be careful who you listen to.

Much of his writing has been humor writing, so chapter two is called "Finding the Funny." He explained that there writing funny means making reader believe “this could almost really happen.”

His third reading was an excerpt from chapter nine, "Three Incarnations of a Book," dealing with matters related to his book about the lynchings in Duluth, which almost became a movie.

He next read from chapter 10, "About Garrison Keillor." The author had been given an assignment to do a book on the public radio's biggest name, but Mr. Keillor preferred to place roadblocks in the project rather than assist.

It's a memoir designed to be both entertaining and instructive. Like his workshop I am confident it will be successful at both.

It was nice to see all the writers here yesterday. I can't wait to see what we publish next.

* * * *

You can find Michael Fedo's book here on

Sunday, September 16, 2018

Magnolila Salon Releases Schedule for Upcoming Weeks, Plus Intro to One Week Live @ Beaners

Doop-doo-doo, lookin' out a back window @ the O.
After a brief hiatus the Magnolia Salon is ramping up for the Fall. 'Tis an unseasonable beautiful time of year in the Northland. The Oldenburg House, which hosts the Salon, sits adjacent to Jay Cooke State Park and is certain to be in full presentation mode for the next few weeks. Even if you don't participate in the meetings, I would strongly urge you to come down to walk the trails nearby.

When my kids were growing up this was one of my favorite places to bring them to get out for a spell, hiking, skipping stones in the waters below the Thompson Dam and just hanging out. If you're a bike rider, the Munger Bike Trail runs from West Duluth to Hinkley, and autumn has to be the most beautiful time of the year for the trip.

Here are the presenters and themes for the next four weeks.

September 20
Sarah Bamford Seidelmann, author of The Book of Beasties and Duluth’s very own physician-turned shaman and healer, introduces us to the power of animal totems, inviting us to explore why certain ‘beasties’ show up in our lives and what teachings they are trying to share. Come and enjoy Sarah’s quirky and delightful insights drawn from the wisdom of nature.

* * * *

September 27
Arna Rennan presents Scandinavian Roots Music, singing in the Norwegian folk tradition known as kveding, accompanying herself on ancient instruments, and sharing stories, ballads, hymns and cowcalls. Explore Arna’s love for this musical form that inspired Greig and continues to fascinate present day composers.

* * * *

October 4
Adam Herman, musician and author, discusses his debut novel Limbo and uses his soulful voice to explore traditional American music. Reviewer Sam Neumann says ‘Limbo is legitimately laugh-out-loud funny, a rare quality in fiction. Adam’s prose reads like Dave Barry on mushrooms.’

* * * *

October 11
Pat McCoy, expert cook and Director of Nutrition Services at Cloquet Community Memorial Hospital, shares the latest insights from the art and science of healthy cooking - how to select, purchase, prepare, and enjoy a broad selection of foods. Learn how to reduce your disease risk by improving your dietary choices and practicing mindful eating.

* * * *

This coming WEDNESDAY is the opening reception for the late John Steffl's exhibition Resonance at the North Shore Bank downtown. The buzz is already building for what promises to be a most exceptional event.

And the Last Week of September will be the Beaner's Central One Week Live (OWL) Volume 17 Recording Festival.

Can't read this? Don't worry. The information is all here below.
The lineup again looks exceptional. I will share more but some of the highlights you can look forward to. For example, Jacob Mahon, who is opening the week on Monday with his Salty Dogs, was winner of the 2017 Duluth Dylan Fest Singer/Songwriter Contest. And he is just the warmup  pitch. Here's your schedule.

Sun 23
Jacob Mahon & the Salty Dogs, One Less Guest and Dan Dresser

Mon 24 Rich Matson and the Northstars
Drew Peterson
Biochemical Characters

Tue 25 Christopher David Hanson   Feeding Leroy
Trash Cats

Wed 26 14th Annual Songwriters Competition hosted by Ryan Lane

Thur 27 Woodblind A Band called Truman Hardaybra

Fri 28 Plucked up String Band
The Fish heads Lady Slipper Ten Crow Moon

Josie Langhorst at Sacred Heart in May.
Sat 29 Holy Hootenanners
The Langertsons
Edward Ojard

A quick note about Edward Ojard. He's the youngest performer to be part of the One Week Live recording project. He was 9 years old when he released his first full-length original album entitled "Butterfly Dances." He's now 10 and releasing his second, I have been told. The youth began composing at age 4, has studied Suzuki techniques and performed with the Ragtime Society. 

That same last evening we'll also get a chance to hear Josie Langhorst and the band she's part of, The Langertsons. Josie's set during the 2018 Dylan Fest Singer/Songwriter Contest absolutely floored me. Had I been a judge she would have taken home the first prize honors. There were four judges there who saw that there was a whole evening of remarkably talented competitors. Of note: Josie is only 12... or at least was 12 in May. I tip my hat to these young ones. 

When I think of the talent in this town--Sparhawk and Low, Gaelynn Lea, Ingeborg von Agassiz, and so many others--it's a wonder Rolling Stone doesn't set up an outpost here. I'm serious.

* * * *

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

Grandma Moses Painting Sold for 100K

Grandma Moses
One article title reads, "How To Write 5,000 Words An Hour." Another reads, "Are These the Last Days of the NFL?" And then I look at some of the feeds on Medium and read, "(Why) America's Collapsing at Light Speed" by a blogger who gets thousands of claps by near daily essays like "How Capitalism Turned America Soviet" and "Why A Divided America Is Collapsing."

The first headline, which I believe I saw on Medium last night, feels preposterous. That would be 83 words a minute, or 1.3 words a second. Assuming all your words were five letters on average, you'd have to type letters at a rate of one every .26 seconds. Of course you can't leave out the space bar between words, so this gives you .23 seconds per character (including spaces), and the hope that your brain can generate a stream of thousands of words an hour without ever having to think.

The second headline above, from this morning's Washington Post, almost made me look. But when in the blink of an eye I learn that America itself is heading for a fast collapse I decide not to worry about the collapse of the NFL. It's doubtful that the NFL will survive the collapse of America, though one never knows. Football fans are pretty avid at this time of year.

In light of all this trauma a story story about Grandma Moses seems like small potatoes (which our garden produced in abundance this year.)

"Never Too Late To Start" Department

Public domain reproduction of one of her paintings.
I saw this story in the Art Daily last week. A painting by Grandma Moses fetched $100,000 big ones in an art auction earlier this year. Art critics have labeled her work Folk Art. Or Naive Art. Essentially she was self-taught and unschooled, simply enjoyed painting.

The Wikipedia page on Grandma Moses begins like this:

September 07, 1860. Anna Mary Robertson Moses (September 7, 1860 - December 13, 1961), known by her nickname Grandma Moses, was an American folk artist. She began painting in earnest at the age of 78 and is often cited as an example of an individual who successfully began a career in the arts at an advanced age. In this image: Anna Mary Robertson aka Grandma Moses (American, 1860 - 1961), Halloween, signed and dated July 7, 1958. Sold May 20, 2018 for $100,000 against an estimate of $30,000 - $40,000. All images provided by I.M. Chait Gallery/Auctioneers.

The surprise for me was seeing that she passed away in 1961. I vividly recalled the factoid that she had reached 100, but somehow imagined it to be later than that early date. I remember a Life magazine story on the very senior citizen and a thirty second search shows what the current price for a copy of that issue is going for on eBay.

Here is some additional info from a page in the National Museum of Women in the Arts:

Moses disliked spending time knitting and sewing, but she began entertaining herself and her friends by making needlework pictures and quilts portraying colorful scenes of farm life. At 78, when arthritis rendered her unable to embroider, friends suggested she try painting these scenes instead. 

Moses worked with whatever materials were at hand, used house paint and leftover canvas or fireboard for her first paintings. As a self-taught artist, Moses had little concern for perspective or proportion.

* * * *
I like how she sort of "fell into painting" because of her declining ability to do what she'd loved. Maybe that's the takeaway from her story. It's not uncommon to hear people say, "When God closes one door He opens another." Grandma Moses appears to be the poster child for this aphorism.

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

Friday, September 14, 2018

Local Art Seen: Murals, DAI and Earth Rider Fest + Bonus Tracks

Driving through the North End of Superior you will have no doubt noticed a mural that has been in process there for quite some time on the Earth Rider brewery building. Artist Tom Napoli has been working on an image perfectly suited to the narrow, horizontal space. Yesterday I grabbed a few pics of the work in progress. I find it quite striking.

When I turned and looked West I could see that the big tent was up for Earth Rider's First Anniversary Beer Fest. They've brewed up some special Bier for the occasion and lined up a long list of favorite local bands. Tonight's show will kick of with The Polkarobics at 5, Woodblind at 6, Ingeborg von Agassiz at  7, RADDA RADDA at 8, closing out with Rich Mattson and the Northstars at 9:30.

A long narrow ore boat for a long narrow wall.

I'd made an attempt to visit the UWS Faculty Show mid-afternoon because of my inability to attend the opening, but it wasn't meant to be. The doors were locked. Opening at 5-7 no doubt went off without a hitch. I will catch the show and share what I find.

At the DAI I poked in during the lunch hour to catch the three shows there. Aaron Squadroni's Mesabi Land Portraits is displayed in the John Steffl balcony gallery, Nik Nerburn is a Camera in the Corridor Gallery and Amanda Breitbach's Land/People in the George Morrison Gallery. The open reception last night did not include two of the artists who were unavailable.

If you have been paying attention, we have quite a number of new murals that have made an appearance here the past few years. It's actually impressive, considering how short our "growing season" is.

* * * *
Flashback Friday
Life is a Gift (Feb 2009)

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Throwback Thursday: A Word Spill

Mad fixations


Man your stations
Conquer nations
Strangely strident

Nullifies my


Prose Creations

Mind striations

Sense negations

What's the meaning?
What's the game?
Noodling words
Should have a name.

How can these lines, though, have a name?
They bubbled out, without an aim.
Without an aim, they gurgled forth,
Can anyone predict their worth?

I'll tell you what. There is a key,
To find it you must talk with me.

Featured eBook of the Day: The Red Scorpion

Local REMINDERS for Tonight
Earth Rider Fest in Superior
Faculty Show Opening Reception, UWS Kruk Gallery
DAI Opening Reception 

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Professor Steve Ostovich Discusses the Value of Philosophy for Business and Life

Gordon Marino (L) waits for next question from  Steve Ostovich.
I first me Steve Ostovich in June at the Magnolia Salon in Carlton. The discussion that evening centered around Gordon Marino's book The Existentialist's Survival Guide: How to Live Authentically in an Inauthentic Age. Dr. Ostovich, philosophy chair at St. Scholastica, had prepared a series of questions for Gordon Marino, much like William F. Buckley's Firing Line, though with somewhat different subject matter. Ostovich played the role of interrogator.

A good bracing discussion ensued and afterwards I reached out to suggest we share an hour over coffee sometime. The discussion generated themes for an interview relating to philosophy and life.

EN: Maybe we can begin with a brief outline of your career path. 

At Perk Place, Kenwood 
Steve Ostovich: After finishing a BA with majors in philosophy and theology at Marquette U. (in Milwaukee), I went to seminary in North Carolina at Duke University. I quickly found that my questions were not shared by my classmates, so I came back to MU, did an MA in biblical studies concentrating on the Hebrew Bible, and looked around for someplace to pursue a PhD. Lots of opportunities, but I ended up staying at Marquette where I could do exactly what I wanted combining philosophy of science and political theology. It was during this time I was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship and did research for a year at the university in Muenster, Germany. When I returned, changes in the department led me to spend two years as an investigator for the Affirmative Action Unit and the City Attorney’s Office in Milwaukee. Eventually I returned to scholarship and college teaching. I came to CSS in 1982, my first full-time appointment, and have never left.

EN: In what ways would the study of philosophy be of value for business leaders? 

SO: The simplest answer may seem facetious, but I don’t mean it to be: “career advancement.” Businesses often look for particular skills in entry-level hires, but when you pay attention to who ends up leading the firm, very often it’s the person who started with a strong liberal education: nothing is more liberating than philosophy. Philosophy develops critical thinking and communication skills, but this is only part of the story. Philosophy fosters leadership ability in working with others—philosophy is based on discussion, thinking deeply and critically and developing visions, and helping the members of a community—business, academic, or other—identify and move in a common direction. This is why leadership demands more than management or administrative skills. People who have pursued philosophy also typically are ethical leaders, not so much because they have studied ethics but because they have learned to value others in the organization or community and the world.

EN: What are the big issues in philosophy today? 

SO: Philosophers are all over the place in the kinds of issues and problems they address; this goes with the territory inasmuch as we’re interested in the principles and ways of thinking that inform whatever we’re doing and in learning to make a good life from our pursuits. But there is a big problem, a common problem, facing philosophy as a community of professionals: inclusiveness. We know better than most how diversity is a requirement for good thinking and living, but the discipline is rooted in a classical, Euro-American centered (that is, white male) tradition. So we, too, are faced with actively pursuing a more diverse philosophical community inclusive of women, people of color, and, in general, voices from other cultures, classes, and parts of the world. And, I’m happy to say, we are making some progress.

EN: How does the study of philosophy help us to become better thinkers? 

SO: First of all, we’re the discipline most centrally concerned with what it means to think; this is why logic is so important to us. We strive to practice good writing and oral communication, skills essential to good thinking. Philosophy also can lead to an awareness of the different ways people put the world together both critically and culturally while providing the tools to evaluate these differences. But all this requires we learn how to listen. Socrates doesn’t seem to have written anything down, but he engaged in discussions in which he hoped to learn from the way truth revealed itself to others as evident in their opinions. To do this, one has to listen closely and openly and respond honestly. This is what we still try to do.

EN: How has Academia changed over the past 40 years? 

SO: We have lost a common understanding of the role of higher education in our society. This is part of a general trend in which private goods defined in economic terms take precedence over the public good, and deeper values all but disappear from public discourse. The consequence for higher education has been a drastic cut in funding and support generally. Fiscal concerns are taking over the academy: boards of trustees and administrators fixate on the bottom line as institutions struggle to survive; faculty and staff are treated like employees and the professoriate becomes a job rather than a vocation; and students become consumers whom we train to be distracted workers rather than active members of a democratic society. It is still possible—indeed, likely—for students to get a first-rate education, but we are turning education into a service industry. We want to be empowered to achieve our wants and desires, but there doesn’t seem to be a place for us to discuss what these should be. So we lose our freedom even as choices proliferate, and while we become good at shopping, we lose the capacity to act. We need to resurrect public discussion of the role of the academy in a healthy society.

EN: Who would you say are your favorite philosophers? Are there any that you especially align with? 

SO: One of the benefits of teaching at a small liberal arts college is I have to teach a wide range of courses in philosophy. This broadens my experience and reading which is good for me as well as for students. Having stated this, I would say my favorite philosopher to read, teach, and discuss is the eighteenth century Scottish empiricist David Hume. What makes him attractive is not so much that I agree with him but his style of thinking and writing, both of which are characterized by humility regarding the possibility of knowing truth. Other favorites (and philosophers about whom I have written in most cases) are: critical theorists like Walter Benjamin, Theodor Adorno, the still vital Jürgen Habermas, and Hannah Arendt, whose collection of essays Thinking without a Banister, I currently am reading; twentieth century French thinkers like Albert Camus, Simone de Beauvoir, and Maurice Merleau-Ponty whose work I am reading with a post-baccalaureate student; and Charles Sanders Peirce and William James, American pragmatists whose concerns are still important and whose style is delightful. Also, my German Doktorvater, the political theologian Johann Baptist Metz. Finally, I still treat the Hebrew Bible as an important philosophical resource for thinking differently.

EN: How about favorite authors? Who are you currently reading? 

SO: Sherman Alexie broadens my world and W. G. Sebald feeds my melancholy. Among essayists, I will always read a piece by Tariq Ali, for even when I don’t understand him or when I disagree with him, I always learn something from him. Among living poets, my colleague and friend Ryan Vine writes lines that speak. My brother and wife now have me reading the mystery novels of Louise Penny. And I just finished a non-fiction history of the Vienna Circle, Exact Thinking in Demented Times, by Karl Sigmund.

Related Links
Fall Schedule for Magnolia Salon (Upcoming Events)
Thursday Evening, Sept. 13: Starry Skies Lake Superior
About Magnolia Salon

Meantime life goes on all around you. Engage it. 

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Earth Rider Celebrates One-Year Anniversary, PLUS Other Items of Note -- Gaelynn Lea, DAI, Kruk, Zeitgeist

Five years ago former mayor Don Ness declared that Duluth was Minnesota's "Beer Capital." He proclaimed this in response to the number of craft breweries here that had been spawning like mushrooms beneath a blanket of moist forest fog. Since that declaration there have been still more "brewhouses" fermenting the scene, one of these being Earth Rider tucked away on Superior's North End.

Earth Rider founders Tim & Brad Nelson will be celebrating the one-year anniversary of Earth Rider Beer this week on Thursday, Friday & Saturday evenings. Brad Nelson's connections to the local music scene (a drummer with Jamie Ness with the Boomchucks, the Freelwheelers and others) enabled him to book three nights of great music from amongst the Twin Ports' best.

Last September I got a tour of the facility just days before they began their new line, everything glistening in the sunlight coming through the windows. Hard to believe it's already been a year. Lest I fail to mention it, their award-winning beer tastes great.

Earth Rider Fest begins Thursday Sep 13 and runs thru Saturday. Details here on Facebook.

Question: Do you know why the Facebook logo is blue?  
Answer: Because founder Mark Zuckerberg is red/green color blind. 

Amanda Breitbach, Land/People
Sept 13 .   DAI Opening Reception .  6-9 p.m.
Thursday evening the Duluth Art Institute will kick off three new exhibitions with a Reception and artist talks. Details here at the DAI website.

The Zeitgeist is looking for volunteers to help them conduct bike and pedestrian counts all around Duluth this coming Friday September 13th. Sign up for a shift here:

The information will help influence and inform Twin Ports transportation decisions going forward. Training will be provided to all volunteers. If you can count to 10, you have the skills they are looking for.


This announcement came in last night from Gaelynn:
In case you didn't know - my new album, "Learning How to Stay", came out on Friday, September 7th! It features 9 of my original songs and my takes on two traditional fiddle tunes, all backed by a full band. I was lucky to work with a number of talented musicians on this album, including Dave Mehling, Al Church, Martin Dosh, Andrew Foreman, Alan Sparhawk, and many others. The album has received a few lovely reviews so far, in Strings Magazine, No Depression, and Louder Than War... And it's only a few days old, so hopefully it will be discovered by other publications down the road. Ultimately the reviews are not what matter, though... I started this record over a year ago and I am so excited to finally be sharing the music with YOU!

If you haven't listened yet, you can stream it online worldwide now! For those of you who prefer physical copies, CDs and vinyls will soon be for sale here, or they can be purchased at a show! If you pre-ordered a copy through my GoFundMe, you'll be receiving your copy in the mail within the next couple weeks!

Her website includes lots of info. She's back from her European tour and doing a month of gigs out East. You can get the album on her website:

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UWS Faculty Show
The Holden Fine Arts Faculty at UWS is hosting an opening reception for their faculty show, on display at the Kruk Gallery there on the campus. The reception is from 5-7 Thursday. I would encourage you to plan your evening by starting there and then heading over to the DAI... No, wait, there's the Earth Rider Fest... Oh fooey. Maybe sneak a peek at DAI... no, hmmm
Looks like Thursday will involve some hard decisions.

Here's a description of the show: Giant woodblock prints, hand printed photographs, indigo woven cloth, and a huge ceramic chicken covered in tar. These are some of the treasures on view during the UWS Faculty exhibition in the Kruk gallery. Come see the creative power house that is Holden Fine Arts Faculty.

Details here on Facebook.

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

Sunday, September 9, 2018

Airstreamers Arrive in Dylan Country

Kim Kervina welcomes the Airstreamers to Duluth
at Indian Point Campground.
If you're a fan of music history, especially the roots of Americana, you'll very likely be jealous of the caravan of Airstreamers that rolled into Duluth this weekend. Street rodders have their road tours, as do bikers. Till recently I was unaware, though, of the passion for doing the caravan thing that Airstreamers have been sharing and experiencing. They have seen a lot over the years.

This year's Airstreamer caravan consists of people from Ontario and Maine to Florida, Texas, New Mexico, California and everywhere in between.

The theme for this year's traveling road tour is Highway 61 Revisited. It's certain to be a music and blues fan dream, led by Mary & Ingo Werk.

When you look at the itinerary you realize how much work goes into this month-long happening. Here's a synopsis from their H61R Driver Manual:

The Caravan starts in Duluth MN, where the iconic singer-songwriter, musician, author, artist and recipient of the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature Bob Dylan was born. We tour all Bob Dylan sites of significance in Duluth as well as in Hibbing MN, where he grew up. His 1965 album “Highway 61 Revisited” inspired this Caravan, as this once major American highway still connects us to the places known for their musical heritage. 

Next are the Twin Cities, where the multi-talented recording artist Prince, who passed away in 2016, resided. We tour his extraordinary private estate and production complex just outside of Minneapolis. Going South on 61, Memphis TN is a music explorer’s delight: Elvis Presley’s Graceland, Beale Street, Sun Records where Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash cut their first record, Stax Studios of Otis Redding fame and the birth of Soul Music. We see it all, and much more. Crossing the state line to Mississippi, 61 turns into the Blues Highway. This stretch is an education of the Mississippi Delta Blues and the rich history of this unique art form. We visit the Blues Museums featuring legends as well as Morgan Freeman’s Ground Zero Blues Club. We even visit a Grammy Museum dedicated to the Blues in the middle of nowhere. Heading South, Louisiana has its own music traditions. Our final destination is New Orleans LA, the birthplace of Jazz: Dixieland, Louis Armstrong, French Quarter, Fats Domino, etc. The Big Easy is this Caravan’s Grand Finale. If you got the rhythm, this Caravan is for you!

The opening event at noon Sunday was an hour long welcome from a few members from the Duluth contingent. After a bit of pot luck eats (yummm!) Ingo Werk briefly shared that there was a 100% Present attendance for this tour, the last Airstreamer arriving to the campground at approximately 11:28 p.m. last night. Ingo then led us in song, the first verse of Blowin' in the Wind, setting the one for this first leg of the tour.

Ingo then introduced Kim Kervina, from Visit Duluth, who played a role in orchestrating this first portion of the Airstreamers' adventure. Kim was followed by Ed Newman who gave a 20-minute talk titled Bob Dylan 101, primarily detailing key events in Dylan's early life, including his 1959 encounter with Buddy Holly at the Duluth Armory, interweaving stories and connecting a few dots. As Alexander Pope was observed, "If a man is worth knowing at all he is worth knowing well."

This spring on Bob Dylan’s birthday May 24 Duluth Mayor Emily Larson opened her remarks by asking, “How much of who we are has been influenced by our first formative years?” These first few days in the Northland will provide the Airstreamers numerous clues regarding those influences that you might not readily grasp from just reading a book or two about Duluth's native son.

Left to Right: Zane Bail, "Ennyman", Ingo Werk & Miriam Hanson
For me, one of the notable features of living in this region and circulating amongst other fans of the Nobel Laureate is that because of the proximity one will occasionally meet people with one or two degrees of separation from Dylan. Nearly every one has a story, or stories of others with stories. The net impact is that Bob Dylan isn't a storybook character in some mythological fairy tale, but rather a real person who went to school, read books, liked to do thing kids do, went to summer camp, listened to the radio, enjoyed music, signed other kids' yearbooks, liked motorcycles... and more.

Zane Bail then shared the backstory on how Bob Dylan Way came into existence through the efforts of her husband Don Dass, city council president Don Ness (who was later elected Mayor) and the late Steve O'Neil, a county commissioner. After decades of wrangling over whether or not to do it, and where, Don Dass wrote a letter suggesting Leif Erickson Park be re-named. This was a trigger that set in motion a real solution which now runs from the Duluth Depot to the Armory and includes three Dylan-themed manhole covers.

Zane then introduced Miriam Hanson who spoke briefly about the influence of John Bushey and his KUMD radio hour Highway 61 Revisited, which aired for over 26 years. Miriam was "knighted" by John Bushey to carry the torch after his passing in February and she's done an admirable job filling John's large shoes.

Miriam's story begins with listening to Highway 61 Revisited as a 15-year-old teen, finding inspiration to see the larger world. She began her life here in Duluth but left and spent a dozen years in the Caribbean before returning to Duluth, living once again in the Central Hillside, recalling for us how when Bob was here with Paul Simon he pointed up to the hills of Duluth and remembered them well.

I brought some of my books to share.
Monday the Airstreamers will be taking in Dylan-related points of interest in Duluth including his birth home on the Hillside where he lived till he was six and the Armory where Robert Zimmerman saw Buddy Holly perform just days before "the music died." A portion of the Bill Pagel Archives will be on display at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum Library. Tuesday will be a tour of several points of interest in Hibbing where young Bob grew up.

Wednesday the Airstreamer Caravan will leave the Northland and make their way to the Twin Cities where they will take time to take in additional sites in Minnesota, with tour guide Magic Marc Percansky sharing some points of interest.

One of the scheduled stops this week will be Red Wing, MN, so as a closing number it seems a good place to share the opening lines of Dylan's Walls of Red Wing.

Related Links
The Day the Music Almost Died
Highway 61 Revisited, Streaming Live on KUMD
Ennyman's Dylan Gallery (Paintings & Drawings)

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

Twin Ports Arts Happenings: Second Half of September

There's some very cool new work @ Art on the Planet, Tower Ave, Superior
Autumn is in the air. We had frost on the roof of our garage a couple days back. In a few weeks the rich glory of the season will be bursting through the trees.

For events tonight and the first half of the month check THIS LINK. What follows are listing for art happenings for the second half of the month.

But first, let's start with Thursday's Earth Rider Fest
Thursday-Saturday, Sept. 13-15.
1617 North 3rd Street
Superior, WI 54880

Three evenings of music under a Big Top Tent, with some of the Twin Ports hottest performers including Teague Alexy, Woodblind, Feeding Leroy, Black River Revue, Ingeborg von Agassiz, Black-Eyed Snakes and more. The event celebrates an inaugural year of achievements including mashing its first batch of Superior Pale Ale in September of 2017. Since that day, Earth Rider was voted Best Brewery at the Gitchee Gummee Brewfest, North Tower Stout won a bronze at the World Beer Cup in the oatmeal stout category, and the readers of Lake Superior Magazine voted to give Earth Rider a Best of the Lake award. Full details here.

Saturday, September 15, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m.
34th Annual Fall Fest, Chester Bowl 
We used to go to this every year when our kids were young. Great event then and probably even moreso today. "Music, food, crafts, locally grown fresh produce, vendors, and informational booths about local programs. The annual event has grown over the years and will host over 130 vendors, a great line up of music, 8 food vendors, face painting, and activities for children and families. Music Lineup: 10-11:30 a.m., Emily & the 35's, 12-1:30 p.m., Black River Revue, 2-3:30 p.m., Superior Siren (solo show)

Suggested donations of $5 per person or $10 per family will be accepted at the entrance to support Chester winter program scholarships for kids in need who want to participate in winter sports. Rain Date: Sunday, September 16, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Visit the website (blue link above) to get information on Fall Fest's free shuttle service.

Tuesday, September 18, 6-8:30 p.m.
Wine & Weave with Sue Brown, Duluth Fiber Handcrafters Guild Studio at the Depot, 506 Michigan Street
"The looms are warped and ready to weave. Enjoy the fun of weaving without all the prep work…and with a glass of wine. Complete a rag rug place mat and get a taste of what weaving on a floor loom is all about." Cost: $35 ($40 non-members)

Wednesday, September 19, 5-7 p.m.
Resonance: A Celebration of the Art of John Steffl
North Shore Bank is hosting an exhibition of the work of the late John Steffl, whose immense contribution to the local arts has been immeasurable. A true artist he also influenced countless students while teach ceramics at UMD. An active promoter of public art he curated shows at the North Shore Bank for many years. Another hat he wore for a season was as Executive Director of the Duluth Art Institute, for which the balcony gallery there was named in his honor.

Steffl once wrote: “...transubstantiation is transforming pain and fear into a universal resonance... one of the gifts my upbringing left me with was the ability to see beauty and sacredness in the world."
For more details about the show and the venue, check out this Facebook page:

Thursday, September 20, 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m.
Chelsea Branley @ Art on the Planet
Third Thursdays in Superior, Art on the Planet & Wine Beginnings, 1413 Tower Avenue, Superior, WI
Art on the Planet and Wine Beginnings, as well as other Superior businesses are offering special events or incentives (sidewalk sales, street performers, special sales or samples during extended hours, etc...) Third Thursday of each month through October! Watch the social media hashtag #thirdthursday for updates!

Saturday, September 22, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.
ART on Tap, Bent Paddle's New Taproom, 1832 W. Michigan Street
Join many local talented artists in this relaxed setting as they share their creative talents and ... maybe, have a beer!

Monday, September 24, 7-9:30 p.m.,
Art, Naturally: Karen Savage Blue, Painting under the full moon, Hartley Nature Center, 3001 Woodland Avenue
Karen Savage Blue grew up roaming the fields of Hartley and is excited to share this natural sanctuary with participants of all levels. Paint with an award-winning artist whilst sipping a beverage under the full moon. All supplies and one beverage included. Cost: $40/session

About the Art, Naturally monthly series: Immerse yourself in nature to connect with your creative side. Local artists lead one evening painting, felting, and sketching classes at Hartley Nature Center. All materials and one beverage included. Class tuition includes a non-refundable $5 registration fee. Made possible by Hartley Nature Center, the Duluth Art Institute and Western Bank.

Sunday, September 23-Saturday, September 29, 7-10 p.m.
One Week Live, Beaner's Central Concert Coffeehouse, 324 N. Central Avenue
Another whole week of live bands, including a song writer's competition. Click on the website above for a list of bands, times, and dates. Nightly Admission: $7.
Acts include: David Dondero, Plucked up String Band, Band Called Truman, Rich Mattson and the North Stars, Drew Peterson, Jacob Mahon, and many more.
Visit THIS LINK for full slate of bands and dates.

Friday, September 28, 4-9 p.m.
Downtown Duluth Arts Walk, multiple locations
"The Downtown Duluth Arts Collective presents this night of art and entertainment, featuring Downtown Duluth art galleries, eateries, bars and performance venues. The Downtown Arts Walk is a multi-location, walkable, year-round event held on the final Friday of each month. Posters and flags bearing the logo are up at each location. The Downtown Duluth Arts Collective is a group of colleagues representing more than 25 arts businesses and groups, individual artist studios and cultural centers." Look for the DDAC Flag/logo at participating venues (attached). Email manager @ or call 218-461-8380 for more information. FB Page

September 28, 29, 30, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Lake Superior 20/20 Studio Art Tour 
Larsmont Schoolhouse, Scenic Highway 21 and other locations in Two Harbors.

This weekend was selected because 99 times out of a hundred it is the most beautiful weekend of the year to be traveling about on the Scenic North Shore, one of the most beautiful drives in North America. The open studios is simply icing on the cake. Full details of the art spaces you can visit are here on the Studio Art Tour website.

"The Lake Superior 20/20 Studio Art Tour offers visitors a variety of artistic talent to peruse while enjoying the autumn splendor of Minnesota's North Shore. Glass, ceramics, woodwork, painting, printmaking, jewelry, sculpture, and photography, will be exhibited, demonstrated, and offered for sale on this tour. Many sites are providing hands on activities.The tour is well-marked along Highway 61 and the many adventurous side roads between Two Harbors and Duluth.

"Look for the bright neon green signs and balloons with the tour’s logo. Included in the website above (click blue text to link to site) is a downloadable map, addresses, and contact info for your GPS convenience." [Author Note: Although I enjoyed the last two years of exhibiting at this fair, I am not a vendor this year, however, I will enjoy visiting all of my talented LS 20/20 artist friends as they share their talent during this wonderful 3 day tour.]

We'll see you on the scene.