Friday, December 9, 2022

How Loni Blumerich Started Frosty Ridge Alpacas

Imagine. You are recently divorced, over 50 years old with four kids, working in the non-profit sector for $13 an hour, and you suddenly recognize that you will have nothing to live on when you retire. What do you do?

This may not work for everyone, but Loni Blumerich started an alpaca farm.

Loni (rhymes with Tony) bought the property in 2004. “I realized I was not gong to be able to support myself in old age, she said. "I wanted a home-based business and wondered what I could do." 

She thoguht about raising sheep, "but I am allergic to sheep, cows, horses and other livestock," she said.  Her allergic reactions triggered the asthma she’d had since she was 14.

So on one occasion she was sitting in a hospital waiting room and there was literally nothing to read except one Farm & Ranch Magazine. When she picked up the magazine she saw an article about a couple raising alpacas. The story gave her the impression that raising alpaca was lucrative and that she would be able to quit her day jobs. 

"I learned about an Alpaca show in Green Bay and decided to go." 

There were 200 alpaca there and she loved the smell. The included seminars which she eagerly attended. Afterwards, she began researching the alpaca business.

"At the time I had a house in Duluth Heights. It was a small place and didn't lend itself to raising alpaca," she said. "Especially on my small salary." 

When she Googled houses in the country this place on Maple Grove Road came up, a house with seven acres in Solway Township just west of the Midway Road. The house seemed neglected and uncared for, but it interested her. 

Her realtor said that despite her income she could qualify for the mortgage, which prompted her to put an offer on the house $1,000 higher than the first offer that had already been placed. 

The value of her Duluth Heights home had been improved under her ownership. “I’d done enough cosmetics to make a downpayment [on this place],” she explained.

The property here in Solway had been a cattle farm at one time, but the barn had burned in the 40s.

Because you can raise 4 to 8 alpaca per acre, she and her new husband Horst fenced off a portion of land and put stalls in the garage. After taking care of the overgrown pasture, they were established and ready to grow. 

* * * 

Horst (in red cap) welcomes gift shop visitors. 
Loni now lives with her husband Horst whom she met in Germany and even dated when she was young. Her grandmother lived in Germany and she would go visit for six weeks every summer to maintain relations with her family there. 

Blumerich was actually raised in Hanover, New Jersey, near Morristown. After attending Drew University she went on to George Washington University, inside the D.C. Beltway, where she graduated. 

Although Loni and Horst went their separate ways and married other partners, Horst stayed in touch with Loni’s mother. After both were divorced, Horst sent Loni an email wishing her a happy 50th birthday. Shortly after he came to America and things unfolded from there.

They went to alpaca shows for a year in order to learn as much as they could at the seminars. When they were ready they purchased six alpacas. The boys and girls must be kept apart, so they devised systems for this. 

As they grew the herd they created a store in the back of the house to sell alpaca related products (yarn, scarves, hats, sweaters and more) and other products. All profits from the store go back into caring for the alpacas. They love giving tours and while I was there interviewing Loni, several cars pulled in and Horst went out to show the families their animals, which now number 28 alpaca and around a dozen llamas.

The farm specializes in sales, breeding services, agisting, fiber, alpaca beans, and other alpaca-related gifts, deocrations and biproducts.

Follow Frosty Ridge Alpacas here on Facebook:


Thursday, December 8, 2022

December 8, 1980: The Day John Lennon Died

"Grief is the response to loss, particularly to the loss of someone or some living thing that has died, to which a bond or affection was formed. Although conventionally focused on the emotional response to loss, grief also has physical, cognitive, behavioral, social, cultural, spiritual and philosophical dimensions."--Wikipedia

The death of John Lennon broke a lot of hearts. As Baby Boomers came of age, Beatles music accompanied memories for many if not most of us. When the four broke up at the end of the 60s, the music didn't stop. We had the albums and we were also able to latch on to their individual evolving careers. Each took a different path, and none went immediately into hibernation, and many Beatles fans began collecting the solo albums they each produced. 

Like the assassination of JFK, most of us knew exactly where we were when we heard the news. I was in Mexico City, standing on the Zocalo, also known as the Plaza de la Constitucion, a large central square where proclamations are made. The Zocalo can purportedly hold up to 100,000 people but on December 9 it seemed like I was the only one there.

Surrounding the plaza are magazine stands with newspapers displayed. As I walked toward the East I was able to read the headlines. In fact, the headline of each paper was so large it filled the entire area above the fold. All carried the same proclamation: LENNON MUERTE.

The book by Keith Elliott Greenberg purports to be about that singular day when Mark David Chapman shot and killed John Lennon. It's actually a retelling of John Lennon's life, but in a format that is probably familiar to you. The story opens at the beginning of December 8, creating a context for the events of that day from commuters on subways to the movies currently playing to the mood of New Yorkers heading into the Christmas season and, naturally, the feelings John & Yoko were experiencing as their newly released Double Fantasy album came out.

And then there's Mark David Chapman. 

Here's a summary written by one of the book's reviewers on Amazon.

John and Yoko
In a breathtaking, minute-by-minute format, December 8, 1980: The Day John Lennon Died follows the events leading to the horrible moment when Mark David Chapman calmly fired his Charter Arms .38 Special into the rock icon, realizing his perverse fantasy of attaining perennial notoriety. New York Times bestselling author Keith Elliot Greenberg takes us back to New York City and the world John Lennon woke up to. The day begins with a Rolling Stone photo session that takes on an uncomfortable tone when photographer Annie Leibowitz tries to maneuver Yoko Ono out of the shot. Later Lennon gives the last interview of his life, declaring, "I consider that my work won't be finished until I'm dead and buried and I hope that's a long, long time." We follow the other Beatles, Lennon's family, the shooter, fans, and New York City officials through the day, and as the hours progress, the pace becomes more breathless. Once the fatal shots are fired, the clock continues to tick as Dr. Stephan Lynn walks from the emergency room after declaring the former Beatle dead, Howard Cosell announces the singer's passing on Monday Night Football , and Paul McCartney is lambasted for muttering "Drag, isn't it?" -- his bereavement confused with indifference. The epilogue examines the aftermath of the killing: the considerable moment when 100,000 New Yorkers stood in silence in Central Park, the posthumous reunion of the Beatles in the studio with George, Paul, and Ringo accompanying the recordings of their old friend the unveiling of a bronze John Lennon statue in Fidel Castro's Cuba, and the durable legacy that persists today.

The chief criticism of the book (by those who disliked it) was that they expected more about the day Lennon was killed, but that much of the book was filler with details of John Lennon's life that everyone (they believed) was already aware of. I think these critics are people who have already read everything else about John, so when there was "nothing new" they panned it.
For the rest of us, it's got plenty to like, and when it gets to the shooting itself, the writing does make us breathless as we get a close up view of that horrible night.
The story of James Taylor's experience was brief but tangible. Taylor lived just around the corner from the Dakota where the Lennons lived. He was on the phone talking with a lady friend who was in California when he heard the gunshots. He didn't think much of it since this was New York and police firing guns is not entirely unusual. As they continued talking a news flash crossed the screen and Taylor's friend said, "Someone just shot John Lennon." It was a disturbing revelation and he understood that those were the shots he'd heard.
Earlier this week a friend sent me a link to this interview with James Taylor, who had become friends with John Lennon through his recording experiences with Apple. It's a half hour and you may not have time for all of it, but I found it authentic and worthwhile.

It's been 42 years now. The shooting occurred at a time when Lennon was emerging again. It seemed that things were coming together. But like the proverb says, "Who can tell what a day will bring forth?" It's a reminder to not take our tomorrows for granted.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

81 Years Ago Today: The Attack on Pearl Harbor

“and if any conclusion was reached, it was that there are no simple lessons in history, that it is human nature that repeats itself, not history.”
― John Toland, The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945

TODAY in History: The Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor. Here are a few quotes and images from that historic day.

The Arizona. Nearly half the casualties were men on this ship.

“At 1:23pm Zeros were approaching Pearl Harbor where it was 7:53am. At that moment the flight commander radioed Admiral Nagumo TORA, TORA, TORA@ The repeated code word, meaning "tiger," stood for 'We have succeeded in surprise attack'." Two minutes later torpedo bombers began diving on Battleship Row.”
― John Toland, Infamy: Pearl Harbor and its Aftermath

I remember when I was young reading one of John Toland's books about the attack on Pearl Harbor. I found it mesmerizing, couldn't put it down. The December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor killed 2,403. 

The West Virginia

“It is easier to start a war than end one.”
― John Toland, The Rising Sun: The Decline and Fall of the Japanese Empire, 1936-1945

Related Links

Beyond Pearl Harbor: Things You Didn't Know

Pearl Harbor Day Reflections 

Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Oxford's Word of the Year and My Own New Word: Naptural

Seaside, Florida (Photo: Gary Firstenberg
Well, it's getting to be that time again. Pretty soon Time Magazine will announce a Person of the Year. Others will assemble articles about the famous people we've lost this year. And many of us will reflect on the dear friends we've lost. We'll no doubt get many top ten lists, and a lot of speculation about where things are headed in 2023. 

So it came as no surprise to learn that Oxford Languages, creator of the Oxford Dictionary, has announced its "Word of the Year." Funny thing. The word is actually an expression and the expression is "Goblin mode." It's a slang term that means a "type of behavior which is unapologetically self-indulgent, lazy, slovenly, or greedy, typically in a way that rejects social norms or expectations."

Seems like I've met this person, but I'm not here to name names. Like Dylan, I'm trying to avoid "finger pointing songs."

What I really wanted to share was the new word I created: Naptural. 

Instead of using artificial stimulants like energy drinks of caffeine to stay awake, take a nap. Naps are a Naptural way to recharge your batteries. Why get all wired on chemical stimulants when you can relax to renew.

I understand that some people have trouble napping. For the rest of us, it's simply good to make time for rest. True, I've been guilty of pushing the pedal to the metal for much of my life. That is, trying to pack and cram as much into my day as possible. I'm not sure it's entirely healthy.

Don't get me wrong. I am not promoting Goblin mode. Like rechargeable batteries, we ourselves need to recharge periodically. When you do, do it napturally. 

If you like the word, you're free to use it. Perhaps it will become a word of the year somewhere in the future and your friends will notice that you were an early adopter.

Here's the original story about Goblin mode, from NPR.

* * *

Monday, December 5, 2022

Santa Claus is coming to the Frosty Ridge Alpaca Farm!

Just around the corner from us is a very cool alpaca farm called Frosty Ridge Alpacas. When our grandkids were here this summer we stopped over there and the kids got to feed alpacas. It was a "meet and greet" type of event and fun.

This past week I learned that even Santa Claus likes to stop by to feed the alpacas, so I'm sending this out to invite everyone with children, or who is still a child at heart, to come out on December 10 or 17 and see Santa Claus. I do not know if he will have his reindeer, but I do know that lots of alpaca there will be happy to see Santa and children can enjoy Santa's visit as well... 

The people who own Frosty Ridge are Loni (rhymes with Tony) and Horst Blumerich. If you live in Solway you may already know Horst. He's the fellow with the thick German accent who manages the Recycle Center by the Munger Fire Station and Town Hall. 

In addition to the farm they have a gift shop where they sell yarn, hats, scarves, sweaters ad other alpaca related products. Loni will share the benefits of alpaca over other kinds of fabric, and very likely offer you some hot chocolate.

Sometime soon I will tell the story of how Frosty Ridge Alpacas came to be, but for now, I simply want to help get the word out that Santa Claus is coming!

Frosty Ridge is a stone's throw from Hermantown on Maple Grove Road. It's very easy to get here. If you come through Proctor, you can drive out Highway 2. When you get to the Midway Road light, go north (right) till you come to the roundabout. Go around the circle and head west. You will pass three roads (Susie and I live on the Sandberg Road that spears off to the left) and when you go up that next hill start to slow and the the alpaca farm entrance will be on your right. There are signs on both sides of the road, so you shouldn't have a problem.  If you pass the Caribou Lake Road you went too far.

Sunday, December 4, 2022

A Visit with Tim Hatfield, Author of an Uplifting Book Featuring the Beatles Catalog in Its Entirety

Tim Hatfield's book is titled The Beatles: All their songs with encouraging words for challenging times. It's a rewarding read for any Beatles fan, not only because of the insights Hatfield serves, but because it speaks volumes about dealing with difficult times.

Tim Hatfield
The evolution of his project from concept to finished book is a great story. The Beatles music serves as Ariadne's thread, leading us through the labyrinth of emotions we experienced during the first wave of the pandemic. 

Here's one of the lines he wrote that jumped out at me: "When times are challenging we have to be intentional about being hopeful." The book is awash with encouragement and wisdom for those traveling through tough times.

When the pandemic kicked in, when things were most uncertain, Hatfield set about to write uplifting words of comfort and encouragement to his circle of friends to help them get through these difficult times. His background as a counselor prompted him to think of others who might be feeling the uncertainty he was feeling. To give them hope he began writing one email a day using Beatles songs as the seed for each daily message. 

In this interview he related that time period and talks about his longtime love of the Beatles music since seeing them twice in the Sixties.

EN: There's a sense in which your song summaries are a bit like Aesop's Fables. Fable is a story and that ends with a moral to the story. Was Aesop trying to help his community the way you're striving to help your tribe? Does this analogy work to describe your book?

Tim Hatfield: What a cool question! It’s very kind of you, but I think my stories fall short of Aesop’s large life lessons. Structurally, his fables and my stories are the same. But I would have had to research Aesop to be able to speak to his motivation, which I haven’t. I have to believe that Aesop had an interest in helping people to make good decisions or else he wouldn’t have bothered, right? He was trying to help people be wise and responsible, a way to help his community. I think if there is a parallel with my essays, it is that I was hoping to be helpful in a more concrete way by simply being supportive and encouraging of folks who had to be in basic survival mode because of the uncharted territory of the pandemic.

EN: I like the way you dig into the roots of the Beatles' influences, especially when writing about the artists whose work they covered like Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly. Were there any especially big surprises for you in that early part of their catalog?

TH: I knew that the Beatles had been voracious consumers of as many American       r & b, soul, and rock artists as they could find (mostly in manager Brian Epstein’s record store), but I was so impressed that throughout their career the Beatles were such students of every imaginable genre of music, as well as students of the culture at large. They were creative sponges of it all, and genius integrative transformers. They changed music, which changed the culture, which changed us. I feel very fortunate to have come of age with the Beatles.

EN: Very cool that you had a chance to see the Beatles. How old were you and what was it like to be there? 

TH: I saw the Beatles twice in person in Cincinnati, first in the summer of 1964, after my first year of college when I was 18, then again two years later. The first time was at the Cincinnati Gardens, an indoor arena that was the home of the NBA’s Cincinnati Royals. It was packed with 10,000 or so very loud fans, and unforgettable. The 1966 concert, when John Lennon had been vilified because of the “more popular than Jesus” statement, they performed at the Cincinnati Reds baseball stadium, Crosley Field. It wasn’t nearly a sellout because of that, but they played great. And in retrospect, there was no way to know how momentous a time this was to be a part of – they gave up the road shortly thereafter.

EN: There were lots of groups forming and re-forming during the Sixties. What was the magic that made the Beatles stand out from the rest? 

TH: Their exponential growth, their impeccable harmonies, their remarkable eclecticism, and their astounding resilience through their meteoric rise and success. So many books have spoken to this in great detail that it seems pretty presumptuous to boil it down to just a few phrases, but I think every Beatles fan could benefit from the chance to identify their personal take on the essence of the Beatles.

EN: I know it's impossible, but which three albums would you call their most significant? Do you have a favorite?

TH: My favorite Beatles album is Abbey Road, which contains my favorite Beatles “song,” the Side B medley, which I am convinced is a microcosm of the key elements of the group’s complete body of work. I wrote at length about that before I did the book, and included it in compressed form in the book’s section on the medley. On top of this, some other astounding songs are on the album. The Beatles – all of them – loved making “Come Together.” And not one, but two of George Harrison’s masterpieces also are on the album – “Here Comes the Sun” and “Something.” The other two most significant albums? I love Rubber Soul, with one superb song after another in what I consider to be the album when the Beatles downshifted from their early songs into the beginning of their hugely creative period of work. And although Sergeant Pepper got so much ink as the breakthrough album, I’d like to point to the brilliance of Revolver as a follow-up to Rubber Soul, and to The White Album, with so much brilliant diversity and virtuosity despite the fact that the fault lines were beginning to appear in the Beatles as a group. OK, I cheated, and sneaked in 4 instead of 3………. 

EN: Your motivation for writing these stories seems fairly self-evident. What prompted you to compile all this in book form? 

TH: That’s easy. As you know, my initial strong motivation back in March of 2020 was to send my family and a few friends something, anything, that would help sustain them during those very dark, confusing, frightening early days of the pandemic. The President was lying on TV every day about the seriousness of the virus, even while the most astute public health officials were saying otherwise. It was a scary time. So, as a lifelong Beatles fan, it was an easy decision to send a song along with a little back story and some connection between the song and encouragement that my intimates could and would persevere. 

From the very beginning, I received grateful, affirming responses (e.g., “this is the best I’ve felt in weeks”;  “do this again!”) that took on a life of their own (e.g., “I have my first cup of coffee every morning with the Beatles and you. Thank you!”; “I look forward to these so much; keep ‘em coming.”). The initial mailing list of 20-some people grew organically through word of mouth to over 200, and along the way the responses from a good number of people – 10? A couple dozen? I wasn’t keeping a scoreboard, but these were people close to me, and whose opinions I trusted – began to include statements like “Have you ever considered that these ‘uplifts’ of yours could be of help to a lot of people?” and, frequently, “These should be a book, Tim!” I’d thank them, of course, but basically demurred. I was basically keeping my head above water a day at a time. 

For quite a while, I was rolling out of bed at 5:30 or so to spend the hour or two researching and writing up the song of the day so that it would arrive in Eastern time zone people’s inboxes by 8:00 a.m. My astute wife eventually pointed out that it would be possible to do my research and writing the night before (ha! A Beatles title!), then send whenever I wanted. I can be a slow learner sometimes. I sent the last of the 260 essays out early in December, decided “Well, this is it,” but within a couple of months was thinking about transforming the whole body of work into a book.

EN: Have you ever published an eBook before? Did someone assist you on the "publishing" part or did you figure things out on your own using a guide of some sort? 

TH: I never had published an ebook before, so I spent several weeks researching and networking with people to help me understand and navigate the process. I got advice from several people, and ultimately hired attorney Len Rubin for advice about copyright issues and Bill Bonney of Last Mile Publishing to format and prepare my manuscript for publication as an ebook. I’ve written both of these guys to thank them for making the book a reality.

EN: What advice would you offer others who feel motivated to publish eBooks? 

TH: If you’re passionate about the project, go for it, with the understanding that there may be way more nuanced complexity to seeing the project through than you might expect. Without the pre-publication formatting help of an expert, I don’t know if the ebook ever would have happened. And my own experience is that unless you have some serious promotional advocates and strategies in place, keeping your expectations modest about sales on the Amazon site will be helpful. I still am very glad I wrote this book, and think it’s a good read for Beatles fans, but have been disappointed that it seems to be languishing, buried in the amazon site.

EN: What other music do you enjoy listening to? 

TH: Classic rock and Motown have always been go-to for me, but I listen to all kinds of music, including classical. In fact, I’ve told friends over the years that I think the most important course I took in college was a year-long history of music from Gregorian chant to electronic music. If I started naming all the groups and individual artists I have loved over the years – and still do – there would be a huge list here.

EN: What was your fave BOOK about the Beatles from all your readings and research?

TH: It has to be The Beatles Anthology, the massive compilation of primary source material from all four of the guys. In a sense, almost everything in my book was present in or alluded to there. The Beatles Bible website also was a terrific resource. I am a huge fan of many other Beatles authors/scholars, some of whom I’ve emailed with and/or spoken personally with at the 2022 Chicago Beatles Fest, where I presented about the book. I owe all of them for their expertise and generosity. 

Related Links

Hatfield, Tim. The Beatles: All their songs with encouraging words for challenging times. Kindle Edition

Remembering Phil Fitzpatrick

The Beatles' "Flying"--A Pocketful of Insights by Tim Hatfield 

Friday, December 2, 2022

Dylan, Dylan and A Simple Desultory Philippic

My last two years in high school I took an art class with Mr. Sebes at BRHS-West. The classroom had a kiln, art supplies of all kinds and a record player. For some reason (probably because they were the most assertive and everyone went along with it) there were a couple of girls who controlled what we listened to, much the same way that some people like to be in charge of the remote when families or friends watch television.

No one seemed to mind, though, because the records they selected to play were always Simon & Garfunkel. Parsley, Sage Rosemary and Thyme; Wednesday Morning, 3AM; Sounds of Silence; Bookends... Without effort we learned the words of nearly every album because I don't believe they ever played anything else.

One of the songs was a spoof on Bob Dylan called "A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd into Submission)" which appeared on Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme. The song is rather hilarious, especially the talking part in imitation of Dylan's delivery on songs like "I Shall Be Free No. 10."

In November, after reading Bob Dylan and Dylan Thomas: The Two Dylans by Jeff Towns and K.J. Miles, I felt a need to become more acquainted with the life and work of Dylan Thomas. To be honest, I only knew of him but had never read him. To do this I borrowed several books from our library and did a little devouring. One of the books, a massive volume, featured all of his poems. One was a book of literary criticism that included an overview of his life, another a book of essays by other critics, and the fourth a Christmas tale he wrote called A Child's Christmas. His most famous poem is probably "Do not go gentle into that good night."

Much of his poetry struck me as evocative even when you didn't fully grasp what its meanings, vivid imagery throughout. It wouldn't be too far a stretch to compare some of his writing to Finnegan's Wake, or a linguistic hybrid conjoining Jackson Pollock's paint splattering with Dali's hyper-schizophrenic scenes such Soft Construction with Boiled Beans (Premonition of Civil War).

The Welsh poet won many accolades with some critics calling him the greatest living poet. Like other "rock stars" he seems to have lived a life of self-destruction, and indeed died during his 39th year on earth.

All the above flashed through my mind as i thought about the reference to Dylan Thomas in Paul Simon's parody of Dylan. Here are the lyrics, with the Dylan Thomas reference highlighted in bold. 

A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara'd into Submission)

I been Norman Mailered, Maxwell TayloredI been John O'Hara'd, McNamara'dI been Rolling Stoned and Beatled 'til I'm blindI been Ayn Randed, nearly brandedCommunist, 'cause I'm left-handedThat's the hand I use, well, never mind
I been Phil Spectored, resurrectedI been Lou Adlered, Barry SadleredWell, I paid all the dues I want to payAnd I learned the truth from Lenny BruceAnd all my wealth won't buy me healthSo I smoke a pint of tea a day
I knew a man, his brain was so smallHe couldn't think of nothing at allNot the same as you and meHe doesn't dig poetryHe's so unhip that when you say DylanHe thinks you're talking about Dylan ThomasWhoever he wasThe man ain't got no cultureBut it's alright, ma, everybody must get stoned
I been Mick Jaggered and silver daggeredAndy Warhol, won't you please come home?I been mother, father, aunt and uncledBeen Roy Haleed and Art GarfunkeledI just discovered somebody's tapped my phone
Folk rockI've lost my harmonica, Albert

Songwriter: Paul Simon
A Simple Desultory Philippic (Or How I Was Robert McNamara’d Into Submission) lyrics © Sony/ATV Music Publishing LLC, Universal Music Publishing Group

If you're unfamiliar with the tune, check it out here.

Now what's really hilarious is that when I Googled the lyrics for the song, a different version came up, whereupon I learned that Paul Simon originally recorded an England only version on his own before the Parslet, Sage version with Art G.
I was Union Jacked, Kerouac'dJohn Birched, stopped and searchedRolling Stoned and Beatled till I'm blindI've been Ayn Randed, nearly brandedCommunist 'cos I'm lefthanded:That's the hand they use, well, never mind!
I've been Walt Disneyed, Dis DisleyedJohn Lennoned, Krishna MenonedWalter Brennan punched out Cassius ClayI've heard the truth from Lenny BruceAnd all my wealth won't buy me healthSo I smoke a pint of tea a day
I knew a man his brain so smallHe couldn't think of nothin' at allHe's not the same as you and meHe doesn't dig poetry. He's so unhip thatWhen you say Dylan, he thinks you're talkin' about Dylan ThomasWhoever he isThe man ain't got no cultureBut its alright, MaIt's just sumpthin' I learned over in England
I've been James Joyced, Rolls RoycedMick Jaggered, silver daggeredAndy Warhol won't you please come home?I've been mother, fathered, aunt and uncledTom Wilsoned, Art GarfunkledBarry Kornfeld's mother's on the phone
When in London, do as I doFind yourself a friendly haikuGo to sleep for ten or fifteen years

* * * 
Was this version recorded somewhere? The references on both are hilarious. Fwiw, Tom Wilson was Bob Dylan's producer in the early sixties, as well as Simon & Garfunkel's. "It's alright, Ma" is a classic from Bringing It All Back Home. "It's just something I learned over in England" is a variant on I Shall Be Free No. 10

Thursday, December 1, 2022

When Boxers Kill an Opponent in the Ring: Max Baer and Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini

A few weeks ago I wrote about the death of boxer Davey Browne. The interesting part of the story was the response of Amy Lavelle, who was left a widow. The surprise in that story is that despite her husband's death, she was not making an appeal to end boxing, but rather spoke out about making the sport safer for the fighters. Since then I've been learning more about the boxing scene and these two stories came out of my recent reading..

Max Baer
In November 1959 Max Baer, one of boxing's hardest hitting heavyweights, died of a heart attack. Ring Magazine ranked him #22 in its list of 100 greatest punchers of all time and for one year he was Heavyweight Champion of the World. 
Two of Baer's fights were ranked as best fight of the year; the first was his 1933 win over Max Schmeling and the second his loss to James "Cinderella Man" Braddock. And of his 71 wins, 53 were by knockout.

As a young man, while fighting Frankie Campbell in San Francisco, Baer pummeled his opponent so fiercely that Campbell's brain was detached from his skull and he died the next day. Baer wept inconsolably and lost four of his next six fights. One of these was to Ernie Schaaf who died five months later after another Baer bout.

Ray "Boom Boom" Mancini

Ray Mancini was another champion boxer who had his career upended after he killed an opponent in the ring. The Mancini's unfortunate fight took place in Las Vegas, 1981. Fans were swept up in what appeared to be one of those fight classics. Tragically, when Mancini leveled Duk Koo Kim in the 14th round, the South Korean fighter never recovered. Minutes after the fight he slipped into a coma and died four days later. Mancini blamed himself and was never the same fighter after that. Until that night Mancini had a record of 25-1. Afterwards he was 4-4. When Kim lost his life, Mancini blamed himself and lost his heart for boxing.

* * *   

What prompted me to share these two stories was the discovery that when a fighter dies in the ring there is another victim, the one who's punches put him out. Over time Max Baer managed to overcome his psychological/emotional funk and went on to become world champion for a brief season. Ray Mancini faltered and never did regain his form as a champion. You can learn more about each of these fighters on Wikipedia.

* * *

Related Links

Max Baer Tribute, RingTV: Many People Remember Him

Who Killed Davey Moore: Bob Dylan at Newport Folk Festival

Who Killed Davey Browne: Interview with His Widow Amy Lavelle

Several More Recent Heart-Wrenching Ring Tragedies

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In addition to his fame as a boxer, Max Baer also appeared in 20 Hollywood films. His son, Max Baer, Jr. also became a household name... as Jethro on the popular Beverly Hillbillies television show. 

Wednesday, November 30, 2022

11 Days Left to See Robert Patrick's Currents at the DAI

The Duluth-born artist Robert Patrick has been featured in the Duluth Art Institute's Morrison Gallery at the Depot. His current exhibit is called Currents, featuring large images that hang on the walls like tapestries. The roiling images are painted on canvas tarps, which is an unusual feature of the s
Note the stipple like detail
Detail from a mid-range perspective.

Related Links

Patterns: Paul Simon's Prosaic Pathos

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