Sunday, April 5, 2020

Twin Ports Art in April Goes Virtual

Sue Rauschenfels, from White Birches series
As the Proverb famously says, "Who can tell what a day will bring forth?"

There's another proverbial saying on Wall Street that states, "In presidential election years, the market usually goes up." It's an election year. The first proverb is true, the second wrong. Or at least, this is the likelihood from where I sit. With six million more unemployed last week, there's going to be hard times for some.

For part-time artists, the current transition to quarantine may prove to be a gift, since it is not so easy to find enough time for one's art while also working full time. Next year's Duluth Art Institute Member Show may be brimming with new work no one expected.

As most everyone knows, all non-essential group activities are postponed for now. Homegrown was first in a long list of events that have been falling like dominoes. Duluth Dylan Fest was canceled March 26, and the next week Grandma's Marathon was canceled.

Social media use has exploded, especially the virtual live meeting providers like Zoom, which has seen a 500% increase in users. (Along with problems. A new word has been added to the national vocabulary: Zoom-Bombing. Don't know what it is? Go ask Google.)

Meantime here are some virtual art activities to be aware of in lieu of art openings with wine and brie. The source for this list is the Twin Port Art blog, assembled by Esther Piszczek. Bookmark this site so you can return to it now and again. Esther will be updating it as she learns of more happenings to inhale.

Wednesday, April 8, 7 p.m. 
Sue Rauschenfels
Virtual Artist Talk with Sue Rauschenfels: Sisterhood on Instagram @duluthart
Corridor Gallery*, Duluth Art Institute, 506 W. Michigan Street

"Powerful female figures dominate Sue
Rauschenfels Sisterhood series. Raised in a household with six sisters, Rauschenfels grew to understand the bond between women as well as barriers that can prevent strong supportive relationships. In Sisterhood she challenges women to connect, 'I paint my sister figures side by side, and they are often intertwined and overlapped. This reflects the everyday world for women as we journey to create pathways and opportunities for our sisters from all cultures to achieve gender equality - economically, politically, and socially.'

"Working in watercolor and acrylic, Rauschenfels builds forms from organic shapes, vivid colors, and rich textures. The forward-facing figures interact with viewers while standing together in solid compositions reflective of their communities."
*The Duluth Art Institute is closed until further notice.

Shaun Chosa. Image from War Paint
Coming Soon!
Virtual Artist Talk with Shaun Chosa: War Paint on Instagram @duluthart
John Steffl Gallery, Duluth Art Institute, 506 W. Michigan Street
"Pulling from popular culture, nature and his Ojibwe heritage, Shaun Chosa creates detailed pen and ink work that is evocative and at times whimsical. In War Paint, Chosa translates his ideas onto large canvas with acrylic, 'War Paint is a social commentary on popular culture and its intersection in Indian country. Some blatant, some coded in ways only those people growing up on the Red road would understand.'"

Duluth Playhouse Virtual Classes (click link for specific dates/times)
"Our full-time staff remains healthy and upbeat while working remotely and are eagerly sharing their skills and talents by creating digital content for our community." Classes include movement for kids and adults.

Duluth Virtual Tours
"We are offering virtual tours of various spots in the City of Duluth. Duluth boasts incredible natural beauty, and for our initial release we are showcasing fifteen city parks and scenic areas throughout the city. Take a look at each one and enjoy the view, and check back often as in the future we will be adding more areas to explore and enjoy."

Glensheen in 360º
"The University of Minnesota museum has gone digital. In line with the MuseumFromHome movement and many museums across the globe, Glensheen is finding innovative ways to bring the century-old historic home to you on your couch."

Northshore Scenic Railroad Video Tours
"While the museum is closed, we are running a daily series of video tours in the museum, which can be found on the museum's Facebook page or on the Youtube channel."

Streaming Movies from Zeitgeist Arts Cinema (click link for specific dates/times)
"Tired of the choices on Netflix and Amazon? Zeitgeist and Zinema and doing some innovative programming, you can buy a pass and they will email you a link to see a streaming movie. View it with or without the comments of other viewers," says Brian Barber of Perfect Duluth Day in his Selective Focus Feature, Virtual Cinema from the Zinema. Tickets are $5."

Virtual Downtown Duluth Arts Walk
"Each week DDAW will be sharing a post to look back at some of our favorite ART from around downtown over the past two years – you know, shows that you might have missed or would like to see again! These posts will be up either Thursday or Friday of each week, so check back or follow us!"

Virtual Duluth
" is intended to showcase the amazing attractions of the area through aerial photographs and videos. This site is created and operated by Dennis O’Hara."

Virtual Duluth on Facebook 
(click link for a list of daily offerings)
"Created by Matt Dressler, Virtual Duluth is a place to post all the upcoming virtual events happening in Duluth by so many talented community members. Featuring music, movement, stories, and art."

"Starlet" by Ed Newman
Learn a Tangle! 
LitBee, by Taiwan CZT YuRu Chen, is a beautiful, organic grid tangle with just enough challenge to find drawing it very satisfying. Click the link to learn how to draw this tangle line-by-line. Add some simple shading or a touch of color and use it to decorate envelopes, birthday cards, and bills. You can learn how to draw this tangle and many more on Linda Farmer's, CZT, blog at

Book & Film
Patterned Peace, by Esther Piszczek, CZT, published by Whole Person Associates, Duluth. Available on and Duluth Fine Pianos. Original, hand-drawn artwork ready to color. Includes full pattern index.

Life & Art Entangled, a 17 minute art documentary created by Lola Visuals featuring Zentangle (R) inspired artwork on a piano created by fine-line pattern artist Esther Piszczek, CZT, and the improvisational jazz piano music of Peter Brown. Life & Art Entangled debuted at the 2016 Duluth Superior Film Festival. Watch at

Places to find my art in the Twin Ports:
Master Framing Gallery1431 London Road, Duluth

And, a huge thank you to Brian Barber of Perfect Duluth Day for his spotlight on local artists. Esther was featured in January 2019: Perfect Duluth Day Selective Focus: Esther Piszczek and myself in May 2018.

Zenith NewsE.P. Designs, is a semi-regular Zentangle® inspired art feature that appeared in this newspaper and is now available online.
Related Links
A Virtual Art Hop Like No Other
Connect with Esther on Facebook and stay updated on her classes/events, HERE

Saturday, April 4, 2020

Duluth Armory History, Including the Role Played During Our Last Pandemic in 1918

The life of Dylan is one of legends. The man himself has become something of a mythological figure during the course of his lifetime. One of the signature stories in that legendary life is his trip to Duluth to hear Buddy Holly at the Duluth National Guard Armory the last evening of January 1959. Three days later Buddy Holly, Richie Valens and J.P. Richardson (The Big Bopper) were dead, killed in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa.

The Armory encounter made an impression on the young Bobby Zimmerman, who referred to it later in interviews as well as in his autobiography. No doubt that tragedy that occurred in an Iowa cornfield made an equally powerful impression. (Read the story here.)

I mention all this because a friend who serves on the Armory board posted on my Facebook wall a link to Zenith City Online noting that this day in 1915 was the official opening of the historic Duluth Armory. [This blog post was originally published on November 22, 2015.]

From very early on the Duluth Armory had a storied existence. World War I was in effect, though the U.S. had not fully engaged. Nevertheless the Armory served as home for a full-scale regiment, comprised of the 34th (Red Bull) Division and the 125th Field Artillery.

It didn't take long for the Armory to get put to use and in 1918 our boys joined the Doughboys to engage in a war many people still don't understand. 317 Duluth soldiers lost their lives in Europe as a result.

But the worst was yet to come.

That autumn the Spanish Flu epidemic reached Duluth. The flu was so deadly that on October 8 the city commissioners put the entire city on lockdown. People were forbidden from shopping, going to church or congregating of any kind. It was a city-wide quarantine.

Four days after this edict, the Cloquet Fire hit. When I first visited Hermantown, just over the hill from Duluth's Western rim, in the late 1970's I couldn't help but notice that there were no really tall trees. I learned then about the Cloquet Fire. The reality is that the fire burned everything South to North around the entire outskirts of Duluth. Innumerable homes were lost, and more than 600 died. People who had gone to work that morning were unable to return home that night, many wondering whether their loved ones escaped or were consumed.

Where did all these people? Most were housed at the Armory and a few other structures where people could be attended to. Unfortunately, the Spanish influenza was in full force, and all these people in one place only contributed to its spread. Over 300 lives were taken by the flu. It was a dark year for the Zenith City.

As George Harrison once penned, all things must pass, and certainly these dark clouds of 1918 ultimately lifted after a season. No doubt our current quarantine and 2020 is challenging for our nation and the world, but it's not our first historic crisis. Let's pray that we avoid the worst, find our "best selves" as we come through to the other side.

Related Links
My 2013 Armory Update
The 1918 influenza pandemic killed thousands of Minnesotans

Historic Armory Post Card is from the informative Historic Duluth website Zenith City Online. Thank you, Tony, for your invaluable caretaking of Duluth's history.
PRE-ORDER an autographed copy of Tony Dierckins' Duluth: An Urban Biography

Information about our tragedies of 1918 came from a presentation by Dan Hartman at a Libations at the Library event here in Duluth.

Friday, April 3, 2020

Coronavirus Pandemic Notes and Quotes

Let's start with some positives.

1. I read that a couple in India aged 93 and 88 caught Covid-19 and have recovered.

2. A friend of mine and his daughter caught it, never went to get tested because they did not want to waste the testing supplies. Their symptoms were identical to what's been described as going around, which leads me to believe there are massive quantities of other people who have gotten it but whom are not included in the numbers. WHAT THIS MEANS IS that it is far more pervasive than we realize, but also that the death ratio is far smaller than we feared. [EdNote: We will be monitoring this situation.]

3. Both Abbott and Johnson & Johnson appear to be on a fast track solution.

* * * *
Unfortunately, it's not all roses here on planet earth, though, and we can't pretend otherwise. Some people who get the fever have said they've never experienced anything like it. “It was like somebody was beating me like a piñata,” said CNN anchor Chris Cuomo.

* * * *
A Great Escape
There are riots beginning to take place in many parts of the world including China, Lebanon, South Africa and Mexico. Prison riots are breaking out due to panic and overcrowding in many other places: Brazil, Colombia, Tehran & Iranian prisons and elsewhere. The common denominator: Fear. Fear causes people to panic and behave irrationally. It's like the static electricity that builds inside a storm, producing thunder and lightning. I believe that in many of these places, where those in authority have only a tenuous hold on power, the fear will build on both sides and, as with a dam break, chaos and destruction may ensue.

TO PUT THINGS IN PERSPECTIVE, here's an interesting article about the Spanish Flu, which originated not in China but in Kansas and was carried abroad by U.S. doughboys who were deployed to World War I, quickly spreading the flu throughout Europe. It was tagged the Spanish Flu because Spain newspapers were not censored.

* * * *
Here are some a few related articles:

"Is it possible that the politicians are the ones who are panicking, while the people subject to their whims are simply trying to deal with the fallout as best they can?"--Jacob Sullum, 'The Fear, the Panic, Is a Bigger Problem Than the Virus,' Says New York's Governor, Reason

"The line between freedom and security is beginning to blur."--Dean Middleburgh, Can We Trust Big Brother?

"Politicians and the public are alarmingly willing to violate civil liberties in the name of fighting the epidemic." --Jacob Sullum, Will COVID-19 Kill the Constitution? 

* * * *
What's the solution? Larry David says we should all just hunker down and watch television. I myself am working on a book and organizing my files for whatever comes next.

Here's another take on all these things, an article by Dr. Eugene K. Choi which states that the Fear of Covid-19 will harm you more than Covid-19. He proceeds to offer what sounds like sound advice.

I'm curious what people will be saying ten years from now regarding this moment in history. I picture some us someday being asked, "Grandpa, what did you do while the world was in lockdown?"

Thursday, April 2, 2020

A Virtual Gallery Hop Like No Other: The Louvre, Guggenheim and Local Art, Too

Sitting Bull X 4
On one level it may seem like house arrest. On another level it might be a blessing to have to slow down, to catch one's breath after years of frenetic rat race life.

What I've observed, however, is that even within only a couple weeks of lockdown we're finding ways to fill up our time with busy-ness rather than getting laid back about it all. Those on social media have discovered storytelling, and via Zoom and other technologies we're getting invited to meetings and all manner of live events.

A Post-Modern Man
If you don't mind, I'm trying to stay away from most of those events because being busy all the time--at least for me--is not what I'm looking for out of life.

Nevertheless, I don't mind sharing a few things with you if you promise to take this in moderation.

This article in Hyperallergic had links to some of the world's great art museums. For example, you can tour the Guggenheim in New York, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, or the Louvre in Paris any time you want, any time of day or night. In fact, now that we're social distancing, this is the perfect time to visit the Louvre. No lines. No fees.

The one thing I do miss about living on the East Coast is access to the art galleries in New York, Philadelphia and the National Gallery in D.C., where I saw Vermeer's Girl with Pearl Earring many years ago when it was on loan there. In that moment I understood what Dali was striving for in his efforts to channel the Dutch master.

LOCALLY, artist talks are one of the regular features of the Duluth Art Institute, but with quarantines these talks have now gone virtual. You can see some of the work via video on their Facebook page, though it's nothing like being in person any more than a Polaroid camera can capture the Grand Canyon.

The Tweed Museum of Art on the UMD campus is closed for now but rumor has it there will be a virtual component for their collection.

Duluth Downtown Art Walk has been taking baby steps in that direction. Amanda Hunter of Joseph Nease Gallery made this video of Esther Piszczek's Zentangle Art that is on display at Duluth Fine Pianos. You can follow DDAW here on Facebook.

Somehow, I stumbled on this event and thought it looked interesting. If you're not sure what to do around mid-morning any of the next few days, the Roberta and Bob Rodgers Gallery of Omaha, Nebraska has been featuring a series of events titled Wanda Ewing: Prints.

For me personally, when I was a young art student, the whole purpose of looking at art and books about art was to get inspired to make art. I've been seeing a lot of new work displayed on Instagram by numerous artists from the local community. If you have some favorite artists, and are also on Instagram yourself, seek them out and follow. There's a lot happening out there, you just need to know where to look.

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

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Jerry Thoreson Talks About the Mission of Destination Duluth

Sunset departure by @schmiescary
Duluth, located here at the Westernmost tip of Lake Superior, has always been a beautiful part of the world. It's easy to find the setting inspirational and soul-lifting, so much so that over the past 30 years the city and its region have become the #1 tourist destination in Minnesota.

Destination Duluth, however, has a different kind of mission. They not only encourage folks to visit, they're hope is to see them fall in love with the place and stay.

According to their website, "Destination Duluth is a collaborative online resource dedicated to educating and inspiring the public about the beauty of Duluth, Minnesota, thereby shaping the City's positive growth." To accomplish this goal they have become adept at using social media and digital technology to a most exceptional degree. Their Facebook and web stats are nothing short of astonishing.

For this reason I reached out to their social media wizard Jerry Thoreson to learn more and share it here.

Ed Newman: What was the original vision for Destination Duluth and who was behind that?

Jerry Thoreson, Destination Duluth
Jerry Thoreson: For decades, Duluth has suffered from three misconceptions about the Zenith City:
1. That Duluth is too cold for human habitation.
2. There are no good jobs.
3. That it is an unwelcoming community.

Destination Duluth was formed to reshape and change the dialogue about Duluth. In short, the organization set out to help re-brand Duluth and surrounding region. In doing so, the ultimate goal is to attract new/returning residents – to grow Duluth. Our hashtag says it all – #befromDuluth.

Destination Duluth was the brainchild of Branden Robinson, the Manager of South Pier Inn. He grew up in Duluth, went to Cornell University, where the seeds of an endeavor that would help re-brand Duluth were planted. In 2012 he registered and recruited Tom Livingston and Chris Swanson to assist in organizing Destination Duluth. In 2013, they recruited Jerry Thoreson to help launch their social media, which went live on May 23, 2013. The Facebook page had remarkable growth, reaching 50,000 followers in the first 500 days. In October 2019 they reached 150,000 Likes with an average reach of 120,000 and 8,000 clicks of engagement daily (2019).

EN: How has it shifted over time?

Photo credit: Matthias Martin
JT: At first we were very careful to differentiate ourselves from tourism with their “heads in beds” goal. Destination Duluth’s ultimate outcome is “heads in homes.” However, we realize that the first step in someone relocating to Duluth is visiting Duluth. So, we’ve embraced that reality and are actively seeking sponsors from the tourism/hospitality industry.

EN: You’ve been with Destination Duluth since 2013. What is your role with the project?

JT: My role started as the content manager for their social media platforms. In 2019, I was promoted to managing director.

EN: How did you end up as part of the team?

JT: It’s a long story, but in 2012 an acquaintance suggested I connect with Chris Swanson, a Two Harbors entrepreneur who founded PureDriven, a digital marketing company. In the fall of 2013 Chris became familiar with my work and sought to recruit me.

EN: What would you say have been your biggest achievements to date?

JT: According to a 2018 survey of 1,000 of our followers, over 50% stated they have visited Duluth as a result of content they’ve seen on social media. But even more impressive, 50 respondents stated they are either have moved, or are in the processes of moving “because of Destination Duluth’s influence.”

High Bridge at dawn. Photo © Kenny Palmer.  
EN: It’s apparent that Destination Duluth is a big cheerleader for our region. How did the Destination Duluth Facebook page obtain 5 million views in a single week recently?

JT: We reposted a video by of a ship coming into port that went viral with over 4 million views and 38,000 clicks of engagement. The rest of the week we were over the 120,000/day average which resulted in 5 million views for the week and over 8 million for the month of January, 2019.

Cloud Reflections by @educk3 Used with permission.
EN: You stated that tourism is delivering 12 million in tax dollars to the city today. Do you have a source for that?

JT: This story from the Minneapolis Star: Duluth rakes in record $12.4M in tourism revenue 

EN: What are the biggest tourist activities when people come here?

JT: Canal Park, ship watching and the Aerial lift bridge are without a doubt the biggest draw for tourists. Glensheen has seen explosive growth over the last few years and Skyline Drive and Enger Tower are also high on the list. Up the shore top favorites would be Gooseberry Falls and Split Rock Lighthouse.

* * * *
For More Information visit:
To follow on Twitter: #BefromDuluth

© ‎David Schauer‎. Used with permission.

Apple Develops Downloadable Coronavirus Test App for iPhones

Apple® CEO Tim Cook has announced an app for iPhones that enables iPhone® users to self-test for coronavirus. The app enables people to remain in quarantine so they avoid hospitals where they may acquire other infectious diseases.

Self-testers are instructed to obtain a saliva sample using a cotton swab. Apply the saliva sample onto a pane of clear glass, then select iPhoto to photograph the backlit sample. Select the app and results will be displayed in one of two universal symbols: thumbs up or skull and crossbones.

The app is being offered free to all persons with an iPhone and can be downloaded from Apple’s iStore. Currently the app is not compatible with Android phones, but work is underway to resolve this within the month.

“We’re very close on the development of this app for Androids. Unfortunately, there is a glitch in the code that causes Android phones to incorrectly deliver the skull and crossbones symbol one in three times.,” Cook acknowledged.

Conspiracy theories are already being circulated on Twitter. Expect an update on this story next week.

* * * * 


Apple and iPhone are registered trademarks of the Apple Inc.

Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Dylan Often Sings About the Darkness He Sees: Trouble

On The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan it was "A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall" and it's detailed one line descriptions of the troubles everywhere and all around, a branch that kept dripping, people whose tongues were broken, a clown crying in the alley, the sound of many people crying.

"All Along the Watchtower" opens with "There must be some way out of here," said the joker to the thief. "There's too much confusion, I can't get no relief."

His album Oh Mercy opens with "Everything's Broken."

And just as he's sung frequently of things changing, so he also frequently sings this refrain as well, that sorrows are many and they are a recurring part of this life, in part because of injustice, in part because of man's stupidity and inhumanity.

This song came to mind this morning when I read this story about the impact our current quarantine situation is having on Wisconsin dairy farmers. Restaurants are closed which means the cheese makers have, for now (and how long), lost a big part of their revenue stream.

"Trouble" may never be cited as Dylan's greatest achievement, appearing as it does on Shot of Love, the last of his trilogy of albums during his "Christian period." (I put that in quotes because the album is not the end of his writing songs expressing a Christian worldview or with spiritual underpinnings.) The song was performed only seven times in concert, and that was in 1989, two years before Shot of Love was released in the summer of 1981.

It's fairly straightforward, opening with a sidewinding, scratchy guitar lick. There are five stanzas, each followed by the chorus, "Trouble // Trouble, trouble, trouble // Nothin' but trouble."

The first two verses focus on where the trouble is. City, country, in the water, in the air and on the other side of the world as well. Neither lucky charms nor revolutions are going to solve it, either.

Trouble in the city, trouble in the farm
You got your rabbit’s foot, you got your good-luck charm
But they can’t help you none when there’s trouble

Trouble in the water, trouble in the air
Go all the way to the other side of the world, you’ll find trouble there
Revolution even ain’t no solution for trouble

Verse three identifies some of the causes of these troubles. We could sum it up as "the world system." I'm curious if the writing on the wall is a reference to the hand writing on the wall, interrupting King Belshazzar's great banquet in Daniel 5. This is no doubt the source for the expression which people use to this day, but probably have no clue of its origin.

5 Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall, near the lampstand in the royal palace. The king watched the hand as it wrote. 6 His face turned pale and he was so frightened that his legs became weak and his knees were knocking.
(See full story here.)

"Time is running away."
Photo by Aron Visuals on Unsplash
Drought and starvation, packaging of the soul
Persecution, execution, governments out of control
You can see the writing on the wall inviting trouble

The next verse is a summing up of our existential reality. Looking backward in time our human situation has been with us from the beginning.

Put your ear to the train tracks, put your ear to the ground
You ever feel like you’re never alone even when there’s nobody else around?
Since the beginning of the universe man’s been cursed by trouble

In the end we look around and see masses of people just like us, and looking forward this doom-sense remains bleak looking forward as well.

Nightclubs of the broken-hearted, stadiums of the damned
Legislature, perverted nature, doors that are rudely slammed
Look into infinity, all you see is trouble

Trouble, trouble, trouble
Nothin’ but trouble
Copyright © 1981 by Special Rider Music

To avoid placing the absolute worst configuration on this song, one needs to remember its context. It was written in the period where he was writing "Gonna have to serve somebody." What he is doing is laying an essential foundation of how bleakness the bleakness really is. This is what Sartre does with Nausea and No Exit. This is what Camus does with The Plague.

It is the starting point in man's search for meaning. How do we respond? How do we find a basis for hope in this world where it feels like we've been abandoned?

The placement of this song on the album is interesting, the second last track on side two. The final track is considered one of the most beautiful songs from his catalog, "Every Grain of Sand." In a sense it begins where this song leaves off, wrestling with despair. But he's now in a different place, and it's a song he went on to perform 185 times in concert, the last being Rome, Italy in 2013.

Related Links
Ode to Job
Fifty-One Years of Hard Rain
Dylan and 50 Years of Change

Monday, March 30, 2020

Latest Dylan Release Brings Back Memories of JFK's Three Visits to the Northland

Dealey Plaza, Nov. 1963. Photo credit: Walt Cisco. Public domain
It exploded around the world like a match to gasoline. The response to Thursday evening's release of "Murder Most Foul" was actually a lesson in timing. What makes a Tweet go viral has as much to do with the conditions as it does the content. It's been 8 years since Tempest, and Dylan fans wondered if there would ever be new material to consume. Wildfires occur when there are drought conditions, not when the landscape is typhoon-soaked.

I enjoyed reading all the angles by which various writers and critics throughout the land approached the song. One listed all the people referenced, another identified all the songs referenced. In another you could find all the lyrics, which would be useful for further study. The responses ranged from emotional to philosophical, and everything in between, giving many of us who remember that dreadful day an opportunity to revisit our own first-hand emotional responses to that murder most foul.

JFK's Visits to the North Country
Iron Rangers welcome JFK to the Northland. Photo credit: Lou Novak
Here's another bit of history that might serve as backstory for the song. John F. Kennedy actually visited Duluth not just once but three times, twice in the year leading up to his election in 1960 and a third time in September 1963, two months before his fateful Dallas visit. During that 1960 campaign stop he hopped up to Hibbing in his private aircraft named Caroline. Whereas many on the Coasts consider this to be flyover country, it was hardly so for Kennedy.

His first took place in September 1959 with the aim of trying to gauge what level of support he might have for a presidential run the following year.

Kennedy's second visit to this bastion of blue collar support was October 2, 1960. The campaign was in full swing at this point, and in Chronicles, Volume One Bob Dylan describes the energy generated by that visit.

"My mother said that eighteen thousand people had turned out to see him at the Veterans Memorial Building and that people were hanging from the rafters and others were in the street, that Kennedy was a ray of light and had understood completely the area of the country he was in. He gave a heroic speech, my mom said, and brought people a lot of hope. The Iron Range was an area that very few nationally known politicians or any famous people ever made it through . . .  If I had been a voting man, I would have voted for Kennedy just for coming there."--Chronicles, Volume One

18,000 may have been an exaggeration, but the size of the impact was no exaggeration. "It was the largest crowd for a political rally in the history of the Iron Range, according to the Duluth Herald."

You can actually find that October 2 Hibbing Campaign Speech here in the JFK Library archives. It begins with these words:

I must say I would not have missed coming to the strongest Democratic area that I have seen in this campaign. (Applause) I used to think they were pretty good in South Boston, but we are going to send them out here for indoctrination. (Applause)

Nice opening, and a great way to secure hearts already won.

Here are some photos from that visit.

And a few more in this article from the Hibbing Daily Tribune published on the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy assassination.

Much more can be said, but this is enough to set the stage. Young Bobby had left for college in the fall of '59 and missed these visits, but he was well aware of them, as his Chronicles notation indicates.

Related Links
JFK Campaign 1960
Vintage Duluth: Duluth Public Library
JFKs Three Visits to Duluth by David Ouse

Special thanks to Duluth-born & Hibbing-raised Nelson French for the JFK Northland links.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Closing Time: A Dozen Miscellaneous Scraps

"True art does not depend upon the reality about which it tells. It’s message lies in the new reality which it creates by the way in which it reflects experience."
--Dag Hammarskjöld

AS IF the current pandemic isn't hassle enough, we had a massive snowfall last night that took our power out this morning. As a result, to preserve my iPhone and laptop batteries, I kept them off much of the day. In normal times I could count on having the opportunity to visit a coffee shop and connect, recharge and all, but we're in lockdown.

The lockdown has had a few benefits. I've been sorting organizing files on my desktop that I never get around to, and that includes both my laptop desktop as well as the real desktop that is usually a mass of lists, notes and other scratchings.

Having spent the day shoveling snow, napping, reading and writing, it's my hope that the power will return so we can heat something, like the house, as well as a few morsels to eat.

What follows are some things I found on those scraps of paper, which I've now thrown in the trash because I don't have a good system for organizing them for future use.

Notes to myself:

1. Writing is not about rules. "Don't do this. Do that." It involves sensitivity and aesthetics.

2. Dreamt that S. was mad at me because I always procrastinate & put off writing the Dylan book I've been uniquely called to write. When I woke, the feeling was real. August 4
(EdNote: Yes, that scrap of paper has been on my desk more than half a year.)

3. Socrates. Philosopher Kings. Wise leaders, not party politicians.

4. Failed States. Show why marketing also fails:
Forced Labor
Tilted Playing Field
Big Men Get Greedy
Elites Block New Technologies
No Law & Order
Weak Central Government
Bad Public Services

5. Article Idea: How Big is your "Our"

6. He: I have a bad back.
She: Too much social climbing.

7. Ritchie County Crimes & Calamities by John M. Jackson

8. Make a meme: "Don't Ignore the Signs"

9. The Triangle Player's Forum

10. DPS: Dramatic Play Service

11. Kissinger / CIA determines to keep Allende from being elected. Once elected, they decide to overthrow him. So much for our belief in democratically elected governments. No wonder we are not respected, only feared.

12. Journalism once meant being accurate, thorough, impartial and fair. Where did we go wrong?

* * * *

"I know only too well that every real achievement, in whatever field it is, is always the work of many."--Dag Hammarskjöld

Saturday, March 28, 2020

2020 Duluth Dylan Fest Canceled -- Some Events May Go Virtual

The Zimmerman's lived upstairs in this duplex at 519 E. Third Street No.
This may go down in history as the year that never was. The 2020 Olympics were postponed. Homegrown and SXSW music festivals were deleted from our calendars. No March Madness, no Spring openers for Major League Baseball. And now it has been announced that due to the coronavirus pandemic the 2020 Duluth Dylan Fest is canceled.

The announcement begins:

Duluth, MN –The organizers of Duluth Dylan Fest are canceling this year’s festival due to the coronavirus pandemic. “It is with heavy hearts that we announce that Duluth Dylan Fest 2020 will not be taking place this year,” said committee chair Zane Bail.

The 2020 Duluth Dylan Fest had been slated to run from Saturday, May 16 through Sunday, May 24,  Bob Dylan’s 79th birthday.

* * * *
Poster from a 2014 Dylan Fest concert.
I first began writing about Duluth Dylan Fest (DDF) while there was still an annual Hibbing Dylan Days. The events gave me "something to write about" which is what all media people want, interesting events and stories that will attract readers.

Duluth Dylan Fest used to culminate on Thursday of that week with the Blood on the Tracks Express, a long evening of music and a train ride featuring some of our best local bands. When the Hibbing Dylan Days closed, due to closing of Zimmy's and other factors, DDF took up the slack, becoming an eight day festival featuring artists, poets and musicians in Duluth, the surrounding region, and beyond. This would have been the Duluth festival’s 10th year.

It's a week with many highlights, one of them being the cake-cutting celebration on the front porch of the house Bob Dylan called home till he was six years old and the Zimmermans moved to Hibbing.

* * * *
Bob Dylan Way manhole covers were placed in 2015.
This one is located at southeast corner of the Armory. 
The Duluth Dylan Fest’s mission is to celebrate the spirit of artistic freedom, intellectual honesty, and integrity of Duluth’s native son, Bob Dylan. “We’re especially disappointed because we have become friends with fellow fans who fly to the Northland from other parts of the world, and we always enjoy this shared time together,” said Bail. “We’re aware that several were already planning to book flights and find accommodations.”

For everyone on the DDF committee, the decision to cancel was difficult, but an essential step to take at this time. On the positive side of the ledger, most of the events arranged for this year will be ready to go for 2021 Duluth Dylan Fest, which will take place the week of Dylan’s 80th birthday. 

Friends of Duluth Dylan Fest can continue to follow us at or on Facebook for special events during the coming year. Rumor has it that there will be some virtual events taking place in lieu of the earthbound festivities.

* * *

It's only been about 36 hours since it was released late Thursday and every you turn someone has been talking about it. This morning on Expecting Rain you'll find review from the New York Times, The Guardian, Hot Press, Billboard, No Depression, Vanity Fair, NME, Irish Times, Uncut, El Pais, Rolling Stone,  Herald Tribune, Best Classic Bands and more. The previous day the site did an embed of the song for its header, with initial responses. The event--this song's timely release--has been pitch perfect.

Check out Scott Warmuth's Twitter Feed  (March 27)
Murder Most Foul Lyrics

Friday, March 27, 2020

Dylan Dishes Up A New Meal with a Feast of References: Murder Most Foul

Twas a dark day in Dallas, November '63, the day that will live on in infamy

Dylan does it as only Dylan can do. Near 17 minutes, a lyric tapestry of historical references against a backdrop similar to slowly moving waves a sustained cello foundation, oceanic in depth, embellished with ominous, haunting percussion and piano, perfectly choreographed to produce a mood, a mood perfectly suited to the event most central to this song and our generational angst.

Last night, Bob shared the new song with his several hundred thousand Twitter followers, accompanied by these words: Greetings to my fans and followers with gratitude for all your support and loyalty across the years. This is an unreleased song we recorded a while back that you might find interesting. Stay safe, stay observant and may God be with you. Bob Dylan

The song's title is Murder Most Foul, a song about the Kennedy assassination in Dylan's carefully crafted stream-of-consciousness style that he has used frequently in his songs. Stream-of-consciousness and crafted may seem contradictory, and I doubt anyone but Dylan can tell you which of these poles carried more influence. The objective is achieved brilliantly, capturing that mood, that historical moment, that murder most foul.

"The day they blew out the brains of the king
Thousands were watching the whole darn thing
It happened so quick and so quick by surprise
Right there in front of everyone's eyes
The greatest magic trick ever under the sun
Perfectly executed, carefully done."

So many great lines, you want to go right back into it a second time because it is so packed.

"What is the truth? Where did it go?"

And this one: "You've got unpaid debts, we've come to collect."

As I listened to it the first time through I couldn't help but think I'd heard a similar chord structure and mood song before. That is, it kept reminding me of something, so afterward I found myself searching my memory vault for this other song that had a similar mournful sound. I first turned to Tempest, then other nooks and crannies from the Dylan catalog ("Not Dark Yet" came to mind) but nothing was precisely what I was thinking. Once I opened the door to other considerations I hit upon it. Johnny Cash: "I Hung My Head." Both the mood and delivery cadence seem to echo one another.

All the references to people and places mirror stylistically Chronicles: Vol. 1 in places. Here are a few people that pepper the landscape of Murder Most Foul: Marilyn, Wolfman Jack, the Invisible Man, Tom Dooley, John Lee Hooker, Oscar Peterson, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, the Birdman of Alcatraz, Pretty Boy Floyd. There are places, too. Dallas, The Crossroads, New Orleans, the Trinity River, Tulsa--along with song references as well: Please don't let me be misunderstood, the Old Rugged Cross, Cry Me A River, Turn the Radio On, etc.

It seems like every line in the song could be elaborated on and thereby produce a book. It wouldn't surprise me if someone somewhere hasn't already started it.

There's also an American Pie quality to the song in a sense, a long song packed with references and minutia about which much has been written. Of course Maclean was emulating Dylan to a certain extent, the songwriter who broke the 3-minute song barrier with densely packed lyrics like Desolation Row and Sad-Eyed Lady of the Lowlands.

It's too early to start picking favorite lines, but I liked this one, playing off Lee Harvey Oswald's response to being fingered for the deed. "I'm just a patsy, like Patsy Cline."

Here's the song itself:

The timing of its release is interesting. We're in a very strange time again, sobering and surreal.

Related Links
Will AI Finally Solve the JFK Assassination?
Moment of Impact

Thursday, March 26, 2020

Quarantines and Updike's Four Life Forces

Model of the Tabernacle in Imna Park, Israel
You must stay at the entrance to the tent of meeting day and night for seven days and do what the Lord requires, so you will not die; for that is what I have been commanded.”--Leviticus 8:35

I once wanted to write a one-act play about the above passage from Leviticus 8. It is one sentence long but my imagination entered into it because just as Aaron had four sons who had just been consecrated for the priesthood, so also my own parents had four boys. And when I saw how Aaron and his sons were to be quarantined for seven days at the entrance of the Tabernacle (after a whole bunch of consecrations had been carried out) it made me wonder... What did they talk about for seven days?

I never did complete the play, though I'd written a portion of it. To some extent it was autobiographical in that I imagined the varied personality components that my brothers and I share and don't share. Each of us is distinct from the others, so the conversations this family had during the course of seven days in lock up could have easily been very interesting.

The first day, I projected that the conversations revolved around the meaning of all these things that they had just experienced, from the Exodus from Egypt to Moses on Mount Horeb for 40 days where he met God and received the ten commandments... and what did all those details regarding the ritual sacrifices mean, and why had their father Aaron been selected for this important office of the priesthood.

Day two would likely be more of the same, but as the days wore on I imagined (In my script) that these men talked about other things as well, including stories from childhood, stories about growing up. Maybe they got their father telling stories they's never heard before about when he grew up, and stories about Moses, who had been raised in Pharaoh's house and what led to Moses fleeing Egypt and how leadership is created. Who knows?

In my skit, though, as the week progressed there were also conflicts as the personalities grated. Time began to pass slowly and that week began to feel like a year. By the fifth or sixth day things come to a head and things change. There is a breaking that takes place, and the family ends up discovering a new kind of honesty, love, acceptance, mercy and such that it had never known before. This level of intimacy became possible only after they had been quarantined for a week in a small space where there were no distractions or diversions.

That skit was mentally mapped out and partially written perhaps 30 years ago, and I found it unearthed by this week's quarantine orders. Unless we take time and make time, most of us are so busy and distracted most of the time that we don't really know one another, including the people in our own families. One of the positive's of the Covid-19 pandemic may be how it forces us into some reflective thinking about who we are, and perhaps some deeper levels of communication with on another.

John Updike's Four Life Forces
IN THE WEE HOURS last night I thought again about John Updike's four life forces. It seemed like a relevant time to share this blog post that I wrote in 2012.

John Updike once suggested that there are four life forces: Love, Habit, Time and Boredom. This morning's ramble (reference to my daily blogging) is the product of Habit. I'm not sure I have that much to say, and the proper thing to do when you have nothing to say is to shut your mouth. But then, I digress.

When Updike speaks of love he is referring to passion. Passion is the driver that impels us to make sacrifices in order to accomplish great things. Passion is what makes Olympians, not simply skill. There are plenty of pianists with skill, but it's passion that sets apart the cream from the rest. It's passion that leads them to make the sacrifices necessary to sharpen their virtuosity.

Time is another one of those amazing things that has been endlessly debated and dissected. What is time really?

Wikipedia explains it this way: Time is the continuing sequence of events occurring in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future, a measure of the durations and frequencies of events and the intervals between them. Time has long been a major subject of study in religion, philosophy, and science, but defining it in a manner applicable to all fields without circularity has consistently eluded scholars.

Like life itself, we all know what it is but don't always do well at explaining it. That doesn't stop people from trying. Here is an interesting article from Wired magazine titled What Is Time? One Physicist Hunts for the Ultimate Theory. The article is an interview with Sean Carroll, a theoretical physicist at Caltech. He begins by noting something we all have noticed because it is obvious. The future is different from the past. We remember the past but we don't remember the future. Why? 

There was an album we listened to a long time ago called It's A Beautiful Day and it had a song on it about time. At the time I did not know that the most memorable line was actually a quote from Henry Van Dyke. "Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity."

In short, time is perceived differently based on our circumstances. Hence there are some who propose ideas like the notion that time does not exist, it is simply a perception.

The first point, "Time is too slow for those who wait," brings to mind a scene from Immortal Beloved, a film about Beethoven. Beethoven (Gary Oldman) is on his way to a hotel for a tryst with a woman he loves. But it's a rainy night and the wheels on his horse-drawn carriage get stuck in the mud. Time is slipping away and the painful strains of the second movement of his Seventh Symphony fill the theater with his anguish. Eventually, the woman becomes impatient with waiting, and leaves.

Boredom is another of those interesting forces that surprised me when Updike placed it in this list, but it's a real force. Bertrand Russell once observed, "Boredom is... a vital problem for the moralist, since half the sins of mankind are caused by the fear of it." What strikes me is that last part of this statement. People really do fear boredom. And this may be why some people fear death. What if there really is an afterlife and it was boring? Eternal boredom would truly be hell.

* * * *
It's this last life force that our current quarantine brought to mind. I wonder how well we'd all be doing if we did not have Internet connections and television sets or iPhones and were truly quarantined from one another. Would our actions be primarily driven by efforts to stave off boredom? Or would we motivated by the Passion driver, seeking to fulfill our purpose in being?

Hang in there, friends. And don't forget to wash your hands.

Related Links
The Three Phases of Time

If you have ever read the Bible from start to finish, then you will likely recall that there are certain sections that can be exceedingly tedious. I'm thinking here of certain genealogical sections and the minutia detailed in certain places like the Books of Numbers and Leviticus. When I got bogged down in these two books, I went to a blind friend and borrowed a couple vinyl records of Alexander Scorby reading the Bible. By listening, and he kept reading non-stop, I made it through without falling asleep. Maybe not the best way, but that's how I did it the first time through. 

Photo at the top of page available through Creative Commons. Attribution details here.