Thursday, February 28, 2019

A Visit with Austin Durry of Marah in the Mainsail. Performing at the Red Herring Lounge a Week from Friday

This past week I was notified that Marah in the Mainsail will be performing at the Red Herring Lounge next week or Friday, March 8. I checked out a few of their tunes on YouTube and felt motivated to introduce our local readers to these veteran musicians. Let's give a warm welcome to Marah in the Mainsail.

* * * *

EN: Where are you from? Are you all from the Twin Cities?

Austin Durry: We're all home grown Minneapolis kids who've been raised in and around the Twin Cities music scene. Except for Kian (Drummer) he reigns from Wausau, WI.

Fan frenzy.
EN: What was the unifying influence that brought you all together?

AD: We each come from very different corners of the music world with different tastes to contribute to the sound. One of the things we love about this band is the versatility of the sound. We can have a classically trained trombone player along side a crazed theatrical metal head bassist and find space for both influences in the music. My influences come primarily from stories, and movies, heavily inspired by Spaghetti Western sound tracks and movie scores.

EN: During the Exodus in the Old Testament, Marah is the name of a place where the waters were too bitter to drink. What does Marah in the Mainsail mean?

Austin Durry
AD: Marah roughly translates to bitterness. When we started we were in high school and wanted to essentially make a rock and roll pirate band. So the name came about pretty naturally. We wanted a name that was relatively abstract, and foreboding, but that didn't sound like just another band name. Over the years we've changed a lot, and completely abandoned the original pirate motif. But the name has always stuck with us, along with the taste for the dramatic, with adventure-based story music.

EN: How long have the five musicians been together? The group has a nine year history. Has it always been in this iteration?

AD: I started the band with Wilder (bass/percussion) in 2010 when we were in high school. Cassandra (female vocals) and Johnny Bones (Trombone) joined a few years later, with Kian (drums) rounding it out in 2017.

EN: What caught my attention is your statement about striving to bring a literary and cinematic depth to their work. Who are some of the literary influences you might cite?

John Baumgartner
AD: I grew up as an avid comic book fan, and as an adult have found a lot of writing inspiration in folklore stories, and vintage horror concepts. That mixed with a love for iconic Western sound tracks is kind of what the band's style is based on. We're trying to make a music experience that's more immersive than your average listening experience. Trying to make a bigger, multi-medium universe behind the lyrics that people can delve into after the album is over. I always thought it was strange that music is so often resigned to back ground noise while you do something more important, or a back drop to a movie, or a work out. Why can't the music be the story. The movie. The book. Why can't the music have action, drama, violence, intrigue. Ya know?

When we were first starting out my dad (a life-long musician) asked me "If your lyrics were a movie, is it a movie you'd want to see?" and that idea has stuck with me ever since. Basically the way we execute this is by writing albums and fantasy stories simultaneously. So each release is paired with a written novelization of the story that guides the listener through the album and all of it's characters and plot points. We've been lucky enough to have some amazingly talented visual artists that are avid fans of the band that create their own visualizations of the characters from our stories that really bring everything together in a very tangible way. It's really amazing to see the art community creating together and feeding itself.

Cassandra Valentine
EN: And musical influences?

AD: Musically we take a lot of inspiration from the band Murder By Death, kind of a dark western sound in the same vein as ours. And My Chemical Romance, who sound completely different from us, but we love their high energy, theatrical approach to live music performance, and the way they created stories and comics to pair with their albums.

Vocals/guitar - Austin Durry
Vocals/bass - Cassandra Valentine
Alternative percussion - Austin Wilder
Trombone - John Baumgartner
Drums - Kian Dziak

Marah in the Mainsail will be performing at the Red Herring Lounge on May 8, a week from this Friday.

Learn more at their website:

Youtube “Wendigo”:

Photos courtesy Marah in the Mainsail

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Local Art Seen--Jay Whitcomb's Demons & Angels: Moments of Clarity @ the PROVE

I missed the opening, but had an opportunity to check out Jay Whitcomb's Demons and Angels: Moments of Clarity during Friday's Downtown Artwalk.

Whitcomb is originally from Bristol, Connecticut,. His mother was did portraiture, watercolor and painting, so from an early age he was fairly immersed in art. He went on to study at the Pennsylvania Aacademy of the Fine Arts, focusing there on the human figure, drawing, painting and printmaking, as well as animal rendering, themes which continue to appear in his work.

This show features recent work created in response to "personal hardship, interior demons, and a journey to rock bottom and back." Many of the images are disturbing while beautifully rendered. In the accompanying statement about the show Whitcomb states, "There is ugliness found in beauty and a beauty that hides behind ugliness."

In some ways the work reminded me a Dali and of Francis Bacon, but only as echoes. It stands alone as the unique work of the craftsman Jay Whitcomb.
This show will be coming down this Friday, March 1.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Medium-Sized Insights About Medium and a Few Story Links of Note

The other day I set out to write a blog post about some of the things I've been learning as an active participant on Medium, the blogging platform created by Ev Williams. I've noted before the elegance and ease of use of this platform. I've also noted that there a lot of interesting people participating in this growing community of readers and writers.

At this point I have been enjoying--since June 2018-- the interactivity provided without the artificial nudges Facebook and LinkedIn generate. I do not mind friend requests, but I do tire of "friend suggestions" being dished up every three hours by these rival teams.

Here are a few things I've come to appreciate at Medium.

You can highlight phrases, sentences and paragraphs you like in others' pieces.

You can comment and get into discussions about what you read.

You can show appreciation by clapping.... up to 50 times if you want.

Medium also has accessible staff who will help you and actually get back to you, along with a Bot for the basic questions.

Help Center:

You can also ask Google for answers and you will get answers from other members on Medium.

What I like most is that you can import stories you have published elsewhere on the web. Medium not only imports your work, it also writes additional behind-the-scenes code that lets Google know the original source. This helps maintain SEO benefits as opposed to leaving you penalized for duplicate content.

* * * *
Because of this last feature (easy to import) many of my stories on Medium were recycled or updated from articles I published here first on Ennyman's Territory. Some, however, are new and here are few recent favorites.

A Lesson from 29 Golden Gate Suicide Attempts

9 Maxims That Carried Me Through Three Decades in Corporate America

Coyote with Broken Mouth (A Black Hills Story)

* * * *
One other feature I like about the Medium platform is that you privately share links of unfinished articles in order to get feedback on a piece before sending it public. I wrote an article about human exceptionalism, for example, which I had mixed feelings about because there were weak links between some of the ideas in the piece. I shared it with someone I trust and she affirmed what I sensed intuitively. It needs more work.

Here's another as yet unpublished piece, an interview with the author of Ennyman's Territory. The piece originally appeared five or nine years ago. Something caused me to hold back...  Maybe you can help me decide whether to let it fly:  The Leonardo Interview

In the meantime, it's time to move along and run through the rest of my "to do" list. Thanks for checking in.  Feedback always welcome.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Tuesday Is a Fund Raiser for The Armory Music Resource Center @ Chipotle. Muy Bien!

AND BRING IT WITH YOU TO CHIPOTLE AT MILLER HILL MALL, or Just Tell Them you're there to support the Music Resource Center. 
Either way, you get a great meal and the MRC receives 33%! 


If You're Ever In Hibbing.... A Walking Tour for Dylan Fans

1956 Hibbing Phone Directory. You could've just looked
up the Zimmermans and asked Bob where the hot spots
were. Movie theaters & the A&W were regular hangouts.
I recently learned about a fellow who went to Hibbing as a Dylan fan and came away feeling that the town had not suitably recognized it's Native Son. His op-ed piece appeared in our local newspaper here in Duluth, and last Monday appeared on Expecting Rain.

In response I wanted to make a few remarks about the good people of Hibbing and a little history so that no one gets the wrong idea if they, too, wish to make the trek. There really are a variety of landmarks for Dylan fans. You just have to know where to look.

For years Zimmy’s restaurant, Howard Street Books and the Hibbing High School provided emotional connecting points for Dylan fans visiting Hibbing from all over the world. On one occasion I was asked to bring a fellow visiting from Sweden to see some of the sites, which were more than satisfying for this young man who’d seen Dylan seven times in Sweden plus a concert in Barcelona. He was thrilled to have me take his picture in front of the former Zimmerman home on Bob Dylan Drive.

Like a lot of businesses on the Iron Range, a financial crisis resulted in the closure of Zimmy’s and eventually the owner of Howard Street Books shuttered the bookstore. There were tears shed over these things, because for many this was the heart of Hibbing’s Dylan Days each May.

Despite these losses, the Hibbing Library has created a really fine “Bob Dylan Walking Tour” with 14 points of interest. 

You can't beat Hibbing High for stimulating Bob memories and stories.
For what it's worth, fans will be pleased to learn that there is a group of people in the Hibbing community who have been meeting for a couple years to produce an additional landmark or touchstone for fans. Lately they have been meeting weekly with the hope of a May 24 (Bob’s birthday) groundbreaking ceremony.

It’s not my place to break the news on those details. I simply want to note that Hibbing is not indifferent to its celebrated hometown Nobel Laureate.

* * * *
Since we're moving toward spring here soon, I may as well mention that the Duluth Dylan Fest folks have been busy assembling another top-drawer week of music, poetry, authors and art. Here is the schedule for the 2019 Duluth Dylan Fest, with a few as yet unconfirmed acts....


Photos on this page by the author. Items from the William Pagel Archives. (Thanks, Bill)

Sunday, February 24, 2019

Local Art Seen: Kathy McTavish's Generative Textile Drawings @ the Joseph Nease Gallery

Kathy McTavish, 2nd from right, explains the evolution of her processes.
Friday evening a number of Duluth galleries and art spaces opened their doors for the monthly Downtown Art Walk. It gave me a chance to see Kathy McTavish's latest iteration of her work involving computer code, which is titled Generative Textile Drawings. The work is a variation of traditional quilting, involving batting, fabric, thread, polyester and coding. Coding is the thread that runs through McTavish's last several projects including Chance at the Tweed, and her Duluth Quantum Computing Project at 3 West in 2016.

Rather than projecting images in light her current work has a more substantial physicality. The stitching and designs are still generated by code, but now you can touch and feel and see an object. Kathy McTavish explained that she has been developing algorithms to create a stripped down alphabet of forms, computer generated line drawings.

Generative Textile Drawing, detail. (click to enlarge)
Some people might be surprised at this new direction, but those who know her recognize that quilting is an almost logical application of her designs. Her sister Karen is a highly influential and innovative quilter. In fact, her innovations are such that there is a style of quilting named after her sister called McTavishing. (See: Pushing the Boundaries.)

Both McTavishes are doing mathematical work of sorts, and Kathy is quick to note that the first computer was a loom. "Knitters were the first visualizers of computer design," she said.

The pieces vary in size from 42"x 40" to 84"x 42". Materials for each are listed as cotton, polyester, thread and code.  Most of the work is subtle and best appreciated up close as opposed to standing across the room. Here are several more images from the show.

* * * *

The Joseph Nease Gallery, located at 23 West First Street, is a contemporary art gallery featuring some of the most interesting work in the Northland. On March 22 there will be a public reception featuring work by the Scandinavian artist Sirpa Särkijärvi. Transcriptions will be on display through June 1. It is a show you won't want to miss.

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

Saturday, February 23, 2019

Peter Tork's Passing Brings Back Memories

Peter Tork. Public domain.
While visiting my cousin in Hamilton, Ohio in July, 1967 we went to see a Cincinnati Reds game at Crosley Field. As we drove South from Hamilton to the game we were surprised at the traffic that seemed to be backed up more than half a mile at one of the exits along the way. I distinctly recall asking what was happening that would draw such a mob.

The next day we found out. The Monkees had been performing at Cincinnati Gardens.

At this point in time I had a hard time taking the Monkees seriously. It was well-known that they were assembled for pop television, did not play on their recordings and only sang songs written by others. They were pretending to be a serious band, but were little more than entertainers. At least this was the perception.

I, being the oldest of four boys, went off to college in 1970 and considered it amusing to find my two youngest brothers to have been Monkees fans. They had all the albums from the beginning. One day, as luck would have it, I found myself listening to their Headquarters album and recognized that there was more substance than I'd originally realized.

The song that snagged me was "Shades of Gray,"leading me into a deeper listen. In short order I was reading the liner notes on all their albums and realized that Hollywood, or someone, had hired a lot of first-rate songwriters to create the music, including Chuck Berry among others.

Opened at #1 on the Billboard charts.
It wasn't till Michael Nesbitt did a gig at Baker Center while I was at Ohio U that I realized that the four guys in this group weren't all just actors. Peter Tork, it turns out, had also been a musician.

Interestingly enough Peter Tork got the call (to become a Monkee) as a result of a recommendation by Stephen Stills who initially auditioned for the role. Can you imagine? Had he gotten the assignment there would probably never have been a CSN&Y.

The Monkees television show only ran from 1966 to 1968, but they continued to record and do concerts thru 1971. Their album Headquarters opened at #1 on the Billboard charts, which shows the power of television. The following week Sgt. Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was released, muscling its way into the #1 slot and remaining there for near three months, which shows the power of the Beatles.

* * * *
One of the most interesting chapters in the Monkees story had to do with Jimi Hendrix. Hendrix, who had played guitar with a variety of groups, had gone to England for a while and ended up forming his own group, the Jimi Hendrix Experience. When he finally came back to the States, his first road tour placed the Jimi Hendrix Experience as opening act for The Monkees.

After seven shows, Hendrix and his crew packed up and called it done. No one in the audience had come to see a cutting edge opening act. "We want Davy!" the girls were shouting. Total mismatch. But as they say, "That's show business."

* * * *
Here are the opening lines from Shades of Gray, a reflective song set to a poignant melody.

When the world and I were young
Just yesterday
Life was such a simple game
A child could play
It was easy then to tell right from wrong
Easy then to tell weak from strong
When a man should stand and fight
Or just go along

But today there is no day or night
Today there is no dark or light
Today there is no black or white
Only shades of gray

* * * *

Related Links
--Setlist for that 1967 Monkees concert at Cincinnati Gardens, which I missed because I had an alternate tune in my head: "Take Me Out to the Ball Game."
--The NYTimes Obituary for Peter Tork.
--Article about when Jimi Hendrix opened for the Monkees.

Peter Tork, R.I.P.

Friday, February 22, 2019

Trivial Pursuits: Bob Dylan's Favorite Monopoly Piece

The Scottie Dog
Disclaimer: There is nothing profound to be revealed here. Just a few more tidbits of Dylan trivia. 

When I was a kid growing up in New Jersey we went through a Monopoly phase. It may have been just after the slot car racing phase, the ping pong phase or the billiards phase. You know how it is when you’re a kid. You get amped and focused.

I remember one game in Tom Browne’s basement that lasted a full week, which we funded by adding cash from my own family’s Monopoly loot. Late Friday evening we finally called it a draw.

Monopoly is one of those ubiquitous games that seems embedded in our collective unconscious. The various elements of the game are fairly common knowledge: Chance and Community Chest cards, title deeds for the various properties, green houses and red hotels, and money.

And then, there are the tokens, or playing pieces, each as much a part of the game as everything else.

Parker Brothers purchased the rights to Monopoly in 1934 and produced the game from 1935 to 1990, when it was sold to Hasbro. From 1943 on you could choose as your playing piece a Battleship, Boot, Cannon, Horse and Rider, Iron, Race Car, Scottie Dog, Thimble, Top Hat, or Wheelbarrow.

What this means is that the same game pieces kids used in the 80s were being used in the 40s and 50s. And the same game pieces we used in the 60’s were the same that Bob Dylan used when he came down from Hibbing to visit his friend Louis Kemp out on London Road in East Duluth.

* * * *
Two Degrees of Separation
What makes Duluth interesting to some extent is how "small town" it is. You're no doubt familiar with the concept of Six Degrees of Separation in which every person in the world is just six steps removed from everyone else in the world. Well, I am beginning to think that here in Duluth everyone you meet is just two steps removed from someone with a first-hand Bob Dylan story.

From my own experience here many stories can be retrieved in an instant, but this is a new one. Last weekend a friend of a friend told me that when Bob Zimmerman (Dylan) would visit his friend Louis Kemp in Duluth they used to play Monopoly. The story originated with a gentleman who does security guard work at Fond-du-Luth Casino downtown.

Naturally, I thought it would be fun to hear the story first-hand and headed into town the following eve to see what I could learn.

Timing is everything, and when I entered the front door I encountered an older gentleman wearing a white shirt and tie, a badge and a name tag that read “Gary.” He looked to be in his mid-70s so I struck up and conversation by first asking if he lived here in Duluth all his life. He said he had. I then asked how old he was, and Gary said 77.

“Oh, Bob Dylan is 77,” I said, and we were quickly into it. In short order he mentioned living down the block from Louis Kemp, a friend of Bobby Zimmerman’s from Camp Herzl. When Bob would come down from Hibbing they liked to play Monopoly. “Bob always liked to be the Scottie Dog,” Gary affirmed.

Gary, Louis, Bob and other friends would spend hours upstairs playing Monopoly. Gary remembers Louis’ mom Frieda sometimes coming upstairs to bring them grapes and hot milk, and that when Louis later had a boat in Alaska he named it after his mother.

Gary also shared how Bob would be humming all the time while playing, tapping on the edge of the table, a restless internal energy going on so that sometimes they would have to say, “Your turn, Bob.”

Buddy Holly, Winter Dance Party at the Armory,
Carl Bunch on drums. Photo: Sharon Johnson
I asked Gary whether he was at Buddy Holly’s Winter Dance Party at the Armory. Gary said he was indeed there at the Armory show with two other friends that night. While there he noticed at one point that there was a pile of 20 or so Winter Dance Party posters sitting there. In retrospect, in light of the plane crash a couple days later, he wondered what those posters would be worth today. "There were lots of people there. The music was great all around," Gary said, "but the real hit that night was Ritchie Valens."

For Bob Zimmerman the highlight was making a connection with Buddy Holly, a connection that felt like more than simply eye contact. Dylan has made several public references to that night including these comments from his Nobel Prize acceptance speech:

"If I was to go back to the dawning of it all, I guess I'd have to start with Buddy Holly... He was mesmerizing... Everything about him... Something about him seemed permanent, and he filled me with conviction. Then, out of the blue, the most uncanny thing happened. He looked me straight dead in the eye, and he transmitted something. Something I don't know what. And it gave me the chills."

* * * *
Louis Kemp and Bob Zimmerman were 11 and 12 when they met at Camp Herzl. They went on to become lifelong friends. When Louis was married in that London Road home in 1983 Bob was there as Best Man.

For the past couple years some of us had caught word  that Louis Kemp was writing a book about growing up with Bob. One chapter in the book will be about that night at the Armory, titled "Oh Boy." As for the rest of the book, it's a sure thing that there will be stories we haven't heard yet, and also a sure thing that they will be more interesting than which game piece Bob would choose when he played Monopoly.

The book is slated to be released later this year, in late summer or early fall. 

Ota Benga Story Challenges Our Illusions About How Enlightened We Are

A few weeks ago I was looking at some notes from the philosophy club that used to meet at our house a number of year ago. I was struck by a couple of significant dates. Neither was a precise date, but rather a general one, the first being the dawn of the Renaissance.

Professor Robinson stated that the although the Renaissance is loosely pegged as beginning in the 13th century, it wasn't until centuries later that it was actually "named" the Renaissance. The Enlightenment, or Age of Reason, followed in its wake, an intellectual and philosophical movement that was more of an 18th century phenomenon that flowed out of those streams.

At the time, European intellectuals took great pride in being part of this "enlightened" species of humanity. But when we look back, one wonders how they could have been so obtuse. Yes, they invented things and produced remarkable architecture and art, but by another measure--how people were treated--it's almost as if they were still in the dark ages. Consider the atrocities of Belgium's King Leopold in the Congo.

In the 19th century the American slave trade was still alive and well. In 1850, our enlightened Supreme Court declared that the Negro was not a person. The atrocities committed against Native Americans were zealously carried out by "enlightened" white folk who immigrated here from Europe. When a judge ruled that the indigenous peoples were indeed human beings with rights, the powers that be took it to a higher court to have that ruling overturned so they could take still more of their land.

Why do I bring these things up? Because the further in the past that it occurred the more we can distance ourselves from it.

This week I began reading Spectacle: The Astonishing Life of Ota Benga by Pamela Newkirk. The Ota Benga story doesn't take place in our American pre-history. It is a 20th century story that took place in New York City.

Ota Benga was a pygmy from the African bush country who had been brought to North America as a sideshow. He was brought first to St. Louis to be displayed in the 1904 World's Fair there, and then to the Bronx Zoo in 1906. Ota Benga was an immediate sensation. His home was in the monkey house.

You read that correctly. He was treated like the other monkeys, in a cage where people gawked at him, where he had no privacy. And when there were complaints about his being in the monkey house, the response was, "Yes, but it is one of the nicer cages here."

Ms. Newkirk does more than just tell the Ota Benga story though. It is a story about rich, powerful men, about exploitation and an exploration of the attitudes that enabled these kinds of things to happen.

Here's a quote from an Amazon review that sums up some of the feelings roused by this story:
"I found it mind-boggling to read about a human being that was taken from his native land and put on display at a zoo for all of the world to see like some caged animal. Even though the book is not solely about Benga, I learned so many more facts about other things from reading this book. This was a great history lesson."

Another Amazon reviewer wrote:
"Excellent historical documentation supporting story of Ota Benga. Underscores how politics, greed, fake science, failure of religious institutions, and ignorance and indifference can spawn oppression and cruelty toward any targeted group of people."

A 2015 NYTimes book review cites this passage from the preface by Pamela Newkirk:
“While on the surface this appears to be the saga of one man’s degradation — of a shocking and shameful spectacle — on closer inspection it is also the story of an era, of science, of elite men and institutions, and of racial ideologies that endure today.”

In order to give him a more fierce aspect, Benga's teeth had been filed so they were pointed. Eventually, he did find freedom from the zookeepers and went to work in a tobacco plant in Lynchburg, Virginia where he received new teeth. His desire to return home to Africa was strong and he looked forward to the day when this would happen. Unfortunately, after his plans were made, World War I had broken out and passenger ships were forbidden to go out on the open seas. The result is an unhappy ending.

* * * *
Related Links
A Fresh Lens on the Notorious Episode of Ota Benga
Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee Puts Manifest Destiny Into Perspective

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Throwback Thursday: Thinking Like A Curmudgeon

I read somewhere that a blog entry should be no longer than 400 words. Says who?

Someone once said that we should be like children. What if we discovered that the reason children are the way they are is that they were trying to be like old people.*

Who says New York has to be the cultural Capitol of the World? Why can't it be Superior, Wisconsin? Didn't Arnold Schwarzenegger go to school here? Besides, when you read the two names, it's self-evident which one is Superior.

Who says haiku poems have to be seventeen syllables? Why can't we make a haiku with nine syllables? Or twenty-three?

And what's the point of...

I'd best just stop right here lest I start to sound like a cranky old man.

Speaking of crankiness... here are a few cantankerous quotes from an entertaining diversion, The Portable Curmudgeon, compiled and edited by Jon Winokur.

"Golf is a good walk spoiled." ~Mark Twain

"She got her good looks from her father. He's a plastic surgeon." ~Groucho Marx

"I don't drink; I don't like it--it makes me feel good." ~Oscar Levant

"An optimist is a man who has never had much experience." ~Don Marquis

"The pure and simple truth is rarely pure and never simple." ~Oscar Wilde

"The average dog is a nicer person than the average person." ~Andy Rooney

"You can fool too many of the people too much of the time." ~James Thurber

"Politics is not the art of the possible. It consists in choosing between the disastrous and the unpalatable." ~John Kenneth Galbraith

* Cool website of the day: Aging and Creativity.

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

Local Art Seen: This Year's DAI Biennial Stretches Boundaries

Yuta Uchida, "Donburi
If you were unable to attend the annual Member Show Opening at the Duluth Art Institute in January, then you likely missed Vern Northrup's Akinomaage in the Morrison Gallery and the 2019 Biennial in the John Steffl Gallery on the 4th floor landing. Here are a few images from the 62nd Arrowhead Regional Biennial in the hopes that you will be enticed to check it out sometime soon. Of the 70+ submissions 26 artists were selected. Jehra Patrick was this year's juror and the winning submissions were original and noteworthy.

As the saying goes, "every picture tells a story" and many are quite pointed, speaking to contemporary issues with fresh imagery.
Juliane Shibata. "Daisies" . First Prize
"Daisies" (detail)

Richard Coburn "Christie" // Kip Praslowicz "Dunlap Island"
Karen Owsley Nease "L'Origine du monde - day"
Robb Quisling  "Ice Knot"
Thomas Rauschenfels . "#MeToo"
Larry Turbes . "Released"

The list of artists whose work is featured in this show include Andrew Amundsen, Shelley Breitzmann, Patricia Canelake, Soojin Choi, Richard Colburn, Wynn Davis, Matt Drissell, Lisa Gordillo, Richard Johnson, Stefanie Kiihn, Jennica Kruse, Araela Kumaraea, Dale Lucas, Eric Mueller, Karen Nease, Cathryn Peters, Kip Praslowicz, Robb Quisling, Thomas Rauschenfels, Wendy Rouse, Juliane Shibata, Larry Turbes, Yuta Uchida, John Ulrich, Kimberlee Whaley, and Joshua Wilichowski.

For what it's worth, you can still see the Member Show in the Great Hall through next Sunday. The Biennial will remain on display into March.

Meantime art goes on all around you. Get into.

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Tech Tuesday: Amazon Pulls Plug On New York. Spinners Go Into Overdrive.

Photo by Dorian Mongel on Unsplash
This past week Amazon pulled the plug on their planned creation of a second HQ in New York at Long Island City, Queens. Activists considered it a major achievement to have derailed the planned move, which would have generated 25,000 jobs with salaries on average of $150,000 per year.

Depending on what media outlet you choose, New Yorkers lost or won by kicking Amazon out. The anti-Amazon sentiment seemed misguided to me, though. Yes, they were going to get 3 billion dollars in incentives to build a headquarters there and not have to pay taxes. But if you have 25,000 jobs at $!50,000 a year average, this alone is nearly four billion dollars in taxable income, plus when these Amazon employees spend their money in New York stores and restaurants, all that money is taxed as well. It's not like the Big Apple is getting nothing.

The upshot is that Amazon will now invest their resources in the Crystal City section of Arlington, Virginia. (Or split their investments in two cities, with Nashville being another candidate.)

"If people even bother to compare the skylines, street life and family and neighborhood stability of Long Island City in Queens, NY, and the Crystal City section of Arlington, VA, in the year 2039, they will be appalled by the poverty of the former and the prosperity of the latter."--New York Shoots Itself In The (Amazon) Headquarters, Seeking Alpha

According to a Washington Post story, "Opponents, including freshman Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), protested that the influx of Amazon employees, to be paid an average salary of at least $150,000 a year, would cause housing costs to skyrocket, drive out low-income residents and worsen congestion on the subway and streets."

OK, this housing cost issue may be real and is the heart of the anti-gentrification movement, but what I want to know is why a solution to this issue can't be found. Why is it an either/or issue? Why can't there be job creation AND low income housing?

"New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez were among those who hounded Amazon out of a development where the average worker was to be receiving a salary of at least $150,000, according to the Washington Post."

Instead of this being a loss of 25,000 jobs for New York, Time Magazine is spinning it as a black eye for Amazon. "It is a clear loss for Amazon and a wake-up call for all tech companies."

What is the wake up call? That tech companies, if they want to grow, should export jobs to China and Japan? "We don't want jobs," hardly seems like a visionary approach to the future.

What's intriguing is how many big cities have forked over a billion dollars to build stadiums for the NFL franchises, none of which will generate even close to 25,000 jobs that average $150,000 a year.

When you read the articles that spin this as a victory for New York, you soon realize that the actual enemy is capitalism. Successful companies should be penalized is the ethos here. On the other hand, logic says that if you have more jobs, then wages will rise as companies compete for good employees, right? If you reduce the number of jobs, then unemployed people will be willing to work for less because a modest income is better than nothing, right?

The comical aspect of all this is that Time's story states that the people of New York do not want this, whereas the Washington Post article stated that 70% of New Yorkers did want this. Unfortunately, a militant vocal minority got in the way.

The deal was already signed in 2018, but before the ink was dry a surge of activist groups got riled and used their animosity to produce a change of heart in the world's largest retailer.  The Wall Street Journal explained it like this:

After getting mauled by a mob of unions and politicians, Amazon on Thursday cancelled plans to build a second headquarters in New York City. It’s a testament to New York’s toxic business environment that even $3 billion in subsidies wasn’t enough to keep the company in town.

According to a Bloomberg article, Governor Cuomo "predicted that Amazon would hire 40,000 workers within 25 years and that the city would reap as much as $27.5 billion in tax revenue—a great return on a $3 billion enticement. They had won the game, 'doing what mayors and governors have done for time immemorial, which is to get companies to locate in their region,' says Margaret O’Mara, a professor at the University of Washington who has studied the history of Silicon Valley and other technology hubs."--How Amazon Lost New York, Bloomberg

Stephanie Denning, writing for Forbes, reiterates these estimates, expressing it this way:
"From a purely economic point of view, Amazon was expected to generate $27.5 billion in tax revenue over a 25-year period, 9x the $3 billion government incentives offered. Anyone arguing that $3 billion was an overly excessive offer accidentally chased out $24.5 billion from the city. And that is just the first-order effect." --Why Amazon's Decision To Pull Out Of NYC Is A Loss

The Dems who pulled off the rout will now work overtime to spin it as a positive for New York. Their fans will swallow this line, but the truth will out. Fifteen years from now it will become apparent that Arlington was the beneficiary of New York's foolishness.

Oh the games people play.

Monday, February 18, 2019

Local Art Seen: Eric Dubnicka is on the Move

For many of us, Eric Dubnicka has developed a signature style as recognizable as a fingerprint. The textures, color selection and imagery are readily identifiable. This weekend he opened his house for a fire sale of sorts, as he is now leaving the region. Over the next several weeks he will be wrapping up here. It's my understanding that if you are interested in purchasing something, the doors are still open. Give him a shout to check things out.

FWIW Department
Spring Classes at the Duluth Art Institute are beginning this weekend. Instructors include Patricia Canelake, Bill Wise, Erin Endsley, Ann Price, Peter Prudhomme, Matt Kania, Erika Mock and others.
Visit the DAI Website for contact information.

Have a great week. 

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