Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Northland Data Points 2022

FWIW Dept. 

For years I was a subscriber to Harper’s. When my magazine came in the mail, I would invariably read the Harper’s Index first. It was a page of statements with stats, sometimes trivial but usually pointed. Rather than an essay or news story approach, they simply delivered the facts, but in a manner that did serve to tell stories. 

Here are some stats that I came across, while researching other things. I enjoy statistics, assessing them for the underlying messages they convey. Based on your feedback I may continue to do more of this now and then.

Percentage of renters in St. Louis County paying more than 30% of their income on rent: 48 to 56%
Percentage of subsidized housing in Minnesota that is in the seven-county Northland region: 9%
Percentage that rents in St. Louis County increased from 2000 to 2019: 25%
Percentage that wages increased during the same period: 8%
The gap: 17%
Percentage increase in median home value in St. Louis County, 2000 to 2019: 43%
--Source: 2021 Sate of the State’s Housing, MN Housing Partnership 

Percentage increase in number of Minneapolis carjackings from 2019-2020: 537%
--Source: Senator Amy Klobuchar roundtable

Iron Ore shipments from Duluth, March 2022 (in tons): 89,805
Iron Ore shipments from Duluth, March 2021: 152,933

In March 2017: 277,318 

Decrease in tonnage from last year, year to date: 37.5%

--Source: BusinessNorth.com, April 20, 2022

Number of Minnesota cities listed in the "Top 100 desirable cities to live in" according to the WSJ/Realtor.com Housing Market Index, Spring 2022: 0
Highest ranked Minnesota city: Rochester, 116

(Criteria: Affordability, with strong local economies)

Monday, May 30, 2022

Table Scraps: Primarily for Writers

If you're a writer you are probably like me. You enjoy reading what other writers say about writing. One of the writers in this list once wrote, or said, that he takes more pride in how many books he's read than how many he has written.

If you're not a writer, I'm certain that many of these table scraps will speak to you in some way or another anyway. Take your time. Relax. Chew slowly. Enjoy the flavor of the ideas as well as the words. 

* * * * 

"If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it."
--Elmore Leonard

"A good novel tells us the truth about its hero. A bad novel tells us the truth about its author."
--G.K. Chesterton

"Books are a refuge, a sort of cloistral refuge, from the vulgarities of the actual world. "
--Walter Pater

"Whenever a man's friends begin to compliment him about looking young, he may be sure that they think he is growing old."
--Washington Irving

“Music, feelings of happiness, mythology, faces worn by time, certain twilights and certain places, want to tell us something, or they told us something that we should not have missed, or they are about to tell us something; this imminence of a revelation that is not produced is, perhaps, 'the aesthetic event'.”
--Jorge Luis Borges

"In an age when other fantastically speedy, widespread media are triumphing and running the risk of flattening all communication onto a single, homogeneous surface, the function of literature is communication between things that are different simply because they are different, not blunting but even sharpening the differences between them, following the true bent of the written language."
--Italo Calvino

"More fundamentally, I'm interested in memory because it's a filter through which we see our lives, and because it's foggy and obscure, the opportunities for self-deception are there. In the end, as a writer, I'm more interested in what people tell themselves happened rather than what actually happened."
--Kazuo Ishiguro

"Planning to write is not writing. Outlining ...researching ...talking to people about what you’re doing, none of that is writing. Writing is writing."
--E.L. Doctorow

"I had a teacher I liked who used to say good fiction’s job was to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable."
--David Foster Wallace

    "What the United States does best is to understand itself. What it does worst is understand others."
    --Carlos Fuentes

    "Don't classify me, read me. I'm a writer, not a genre."
    --Carlos Fuentes

    "It's possible, in a poem or a short story, to write about commonplace things and objects using commonplace but precise language, and to endow those things—a chair, a window curtain, a fork, a stone, a woman's earring—with immense, even startling power. It is possible to write a line of seemingly innocuous dialogue and have it send a chill along the reader's spine—the source of artistic delight, as Nabokov would have it. That's the kind of writing that most interests me."
    --Raymond Carver

        "True art is by its nature moral. We recognize true art by its careful, thoroughly honest search for and analysis of values.
        --John Gardner

          And One Last Quote
          "A day of bad writing is always better than a day of no writing."
          --Don Roff

            Sunday, May 29, 2022

            Paul Metsa Introduces His Upcoming Books and Shares Stories as Duluth Dylan Fest Winds Down

            This year there have been two John Bushey Memorial Lectures at Duluth Dylan Fest. Wednesday evening Peter McKenzie talked about his insightful Bob Dylan: On a Couch and Fifty Cents a Day, with its many revelations about Bob's first months in New York City. Yesterday, at Wussow's Concert Cafe, Paul Metsa shared insights about his career in music along with excerpts from his upcoming book, Alphabet Jazz.

            Sunbonnet Sue introduced the speaker, his speech being titled "Bob Dylan -- Highway 53 Revisited."

            There's a famous dictum for speakers that you've probably heard before. "Tell them what you are going to say, say it, and tell them what you said." Metsa honored this by telling us what he was going to say and following through. "I will be reading from my book Alphabet Jazz," he said at the beginning, though we received much more than that.

            But first, he gave a nod to the man who remains present at all these Duluth Dylan Fest gatherings, alive in all our hearts, John Bushey, whose radio program Highway 61 Revisited was a rich and rewarding feast for countless Dylan fans for more than 26 years. "John Bushey," Metsa said, "was the prime mover behind Dylan being re-respected in Duluth and the Iron Range." 

            Metsa's first reading from the book was a 1992 letter that he wrote to the Twin Cities Reader in response to a seriously brutal Dylan harangue by Burl "Ives" Gilyard. Metsa's letter was titled, "Dylan -- Still a Hep Cat." It began like this: "Although Bob Dylan certainly needs no one to defend him, I still take issue with Burl “Ives” Gilyard’s shallow musings and cavalier dismissal of the modern Jewish troubadour."

            Paul Metsa @ Wussow's. Photos
            courtesy Michael Anderson
            Great opening line, and it only gets better after that. 

            Metsa then covered a swath of territory that included Hibbing High School, the teacher there that was possibly Dylan's biggest influence, and some additional anecdotes about Hibbing and the Iron Range. 

            In the midst of all this was a story about 4th Street. In addition to beng one of the great put-down songs of all time, "Positively Fourth Street" has a couple of other interesting features. First, the song came out as a single, but was never on any of the tracks on any of Dylan's albums until it appeared on his Greatest Hits album. Second, many people have wondered whether this 4th Street put-down was rooted in a New York experience or Dinkytown, the section of Minneapolis where Dylan was resident before heading off to the Big Apple. 

            Well, Metsa pointed out that there's a Fourth Street in Hibbing, following up with an anecdote about a couple there that never listens to music. Could this be one of the reasons Bob left Hibbing? 

            For the record, there is also a Fourth Street in Duluth, one-and-a-half blocks from the home where young Bobby Zimmerman grew up. It's my hope that one day the City of Duluth will rename it Positively Fourth Street some day. (EdNote: Inasmuch as Bob left Duluth at age 6 when his family moved to Hibbing, it is doubtful that the song is referencing any of his kindergarten experiences.)

            For what it's worth, Metsa is an engaging storyteller. Whether talking about his experiences navigating the Minnesota music scene or what it's like to live in the same house where Bob Dylan once lived, he draws you in. (He has been renting the lower half of the duplex while looking for a house here in Duluth, which he now has found.)

            FWIW, Paul's first book is titled Blue Guitar Highway and is available on Amazon. He also has a third book in the worked that will be published by University of Minnesota Press titled Blood In The Tracks.

            * * * 

            In 2018, the Minnesota musicians who recorded five of the songs on Dylan's much-lauded Blood on the Tracks album got the long-overdue recognition they deserved for their contributions to that very special album. Paul Metsa featured their stories on his Wall of Power program, a very special event for everyone present. Here are my three blog posts about that special day.

            Part One  

            Part Two

            Part Three


            * * * 

            Thank you, Paul, for sharing your stories. Welcome to Duluth.

            Friday, May 27, 2022

            The Annual Member Show at the DAI Is Always A Favorite: Here's Some of What You Missed

            Nicholas Needs A Moment. Shawna Gilmore
            Charcoal and acrylic on cradled wood.
            Last night was the opening for the annual Duluth Art Institute Member Show, which is routinely my favorite art event of the year. Held in the Depot's Great Hall, it gives local artists and fans a chance to peek at what everyone is doing. It is a show for member artists and the one rule, as far as I know, is that you can only show something new, as in something you've done within the last year.

            The show is a good reminder of how many talented artists we're rubbing shoulders with in this town. And it was good to see faces again -- or at least eyes, since there was a mask requirement. An out-of-towner recently referred to Duluth as an Art Mecca. Although that is a big title to live up to, it's certainly impressive how many artists there are here and how many genres they work in. 

            Duluth Suuperior Sheepish Orchestra. Damita Beyer.
            Acrylic on canvas

            And if you've been paying attention at all, you privately know that what we saw last night was only scratching the surface as regards the breadth of work being done. 

            I love the variety of themes, too. And the titles. Naming things is just something people have been doing since the beginning of time. I do my best to include the titles of the pieces. 

            Here's a smattering of pieces I saw last night at the opening. 

            The Artist. Jonathan Thunder. Acrylic on canvas.

            Alvin. Anita Curtis. Acrylic on canvas.
            Joy in a Jar. Kelly Schamberger. Oil on panel.
            The painting is better than the photo I took, but I loved the title.
            Love and Trust. Susan Krochallk. Acrylic on canvas.

            Strength. Lin Rose. Watercolor, Arches coldpress paper, oil pastels.
            The reflection of windows, etc is not in the art but it produced such 
            an effect when I looked at this that I kept it to share.

            Porky Pine Meat. Scott Murphy. Oil on aluminum.

            Perhaps. Linda Glisson. Acrylic on paper.

            Real Time. David Austin. Acrylic and mixed media on canvas.

            Escape. Lisa Kosmo. Water-base oil on canvas. 

            I missed the title on this, but it was by Patricia Lenz, a former
            director of the DAI.

            In addition to the artwork in the Great Hall, there was some official business conducted (DAI Board Members elected) and an artist talk by Christopher E Harrison whose "paper art" was used to illustrate Jacob Lawrence's The Migration Series.

            And then there was also... the food. A wonderful selection from 
            some of our classiest eating places. Food is art, too.

            If you work in other media, there are spaces for you as well.

            FWIW DEPT.
            Duluth Dylan Fest continues tonight with the Singer/Songwriter contest at Sacred Heart. There will be additional events Saturday and a farewell brunch Sunday. Full schedule of times and places here: https://duluthdylanfest.com/duluth-dylan-fest-2022/

            Wednesday, May 25, 2022

            Crowds On Demand: Believe Nothing You Hear, and Only One Half That You See

            I heard a former newspaper editor say recently, "Believe nothing you hear, and only half that you see." It sounded like a line from a movie, but actually originated with Edgar Allen Poe.

            This quote came to mind as I was reading a David Halberstam's The Fifties. I began reading this book because (a) Halberstam is a writer who is thorough in his research and effective in laying out his narrative, and (b) I grew up in the Fifties and Sixties and believed his book might give additional insights toward understanding myself and the context of my life. 

            In Chapter 25 he writes about the factors that led the U.S. to manufacture a coup there and overthrow Mohammed Mossadegh, "the legally constituted but left-leaning prime minister of Iran" in order to install the Shah as head of Iran. The sentence that jumped off the page for me was this one:

            "Roosevelt also brought with him $1 million, in Iranian currency, of which about $100,000 was subsequently used to rent a mob and pay off key people."

            There were a couple reasons this stood out. First, it was the second time in the book something like this occurred. Second, because it still happens. And Americans think they are seeing protesters when in reality they are seeing shills, actors. How can we tell when what the cameras are showing us is real or staged? 

            Chapter 25 is in the book because it details the beginning of America's interference in the politics of independent countries, a pattern that continues to this day. If we don't like a country's leader, we think we have the right to go in and take him out. We use PR to demonize them, actors to stage protests, and apply other kinds of pressure to drive people out of power who won't dance to the tune we play. It makes me want to cry for my country. 

            In 2020 I wrote a blog post called The Art of Artifice: Capitalism and the Events Industry. In that article I share information about two companies that provide strategies, services and people to put on demonstrations. The one says they can create events anywhere in the world. Here's their promise:

            With absolute discretion a top priority, our operatives create convincing scenes that become the building blocks of massive movements. When you need the appearance of outrage, we are able to deliver it at scale while keeping your reputation intact.

            Let's stop being so gullible and exercise a little discernment. Check out The Art of Artifice: Capitalism and the Events Industry.   Related: He Who Controls the Narrative Controls the People

            Tuesday, May 24, 2022

            Mr. Jones Shows Up at Duluth Dylan Fest Birthday Party for Bob

            This afternoon we celebrated Bob Dylan's 81st birthday on the front porch of his childhood home on Duluth's Central Hillside. There were cupcakes, and a beautiful cake with artwork by the French artist Claude-Angele Boni that will be shared Thursday at the Earth Rider bash on Thursday night.

            Here are some photos, from our front lawn birthday celebration. As is the custom we always ask who came furthest and this year it was a fan from Dublin, Ireland.

            L to R: Carolyn Sundquist, Bill Pagel, Mark Poirier, and Ed Newman

            Miriam Hanson, host of Highway 61 Revisited on The North @ KUMD
            welcomes everyone. Greg Tiburzi provided the Dylan ambiance.

            Paul Metsa took the "stage" at 2. He and sideman Sonny Earl will
            be performing at Earth Rider on Thursday where the cake will be shared.

            Greg Tiburzi provided entertainment, demonstrating his Dylan range by selecting a few songs from the bard's Rough and Rowdy Ways, filling out the rest of his set with selections from the breadth of Dylan's catalog. WDIO was on hand to cover the event and a lot of mixing took place.

            A highlight for me was meeting Mr. Jones, a journalist who dropped in through a time portal evidently. I heard him say, "Something's happening here, but I don't know what it is." How he got here I can't really say. 

            There were plenty of Bob Dylan T-shirts, and lots of smiling faces as the was a truly beautiful day here in Duluth. Sun shining, and though we've not had 80 degrees in more than 280 days, it did feel like summer was in the air. 

            So tell us, Mr. Jones, what's really happening here?

            This year's Dylan Fest marks the end of an official "Year of Dylan" in the Northland, which encompasses all of St. Louis County. Events have been hosted in Hibbing, the Iron Range and Duluth throughout the year.

            Tomorrow night's John Bushey Memorial Lecture will feature Peter McKenzie, author of Bob Dylan: On a Couch and 50 Cents a Day. It will be held via Zoom and requires pre-registration. (Pre-register HERE)

            * * * 

            Tonight at Wussow's, from 5:30 till 9:00 the Basement Tapes Band will be on hand, with Greg Tiburzi opening. 

            Wish you were here. 

            Related Links
            2022 Duluth Dylan Fest Schedule 
            Five Years Ago Today at Duluth Dylan Fest
            Phil Fitzpatrick's "Three Feet Away" at DDF in 2015

            Photos of Paul Metsa and the flowers, courtesy Michael Anderson

            Monday, May 23, 2022

            Seven Things You Probably Didn't Know About Bonnie and Clyde


            Photo by Gary Firstenberg
            When I noticed that Bonnie and Clyde were shot to death in an ambush on this day in 1934, it brought a number of memories to mind, most vividly the film starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway as the famous (infamous) leaders of the Barrow gang. Here are seven things you may not know about Bonnie and Clyde.

            1. They once robbed a bank in Minnesota.

            Like the James gang decades, their primary stomping ground was the heartland, but both gangs came North to Minnesota conduct a bank robbery. The James-Younger gang assaulted to First National Bank in Northfield in 1876. More than a half century later the Bonnie and Clyde made their way north to rob a Minnesota bank.

            Bank robberies had become a major problem back in the thirties. In 1933 there were 33 bank robberies in Minnesota. On May 1933, Bonnie and Clyde robbed the First State Bank of Okabena on the Iowa border. As it turns out, three other people were arrested and convicted of that crime in two hasty trials. The Barrow gang escaped without being pursued or recognized.

            2. Bonnie and Clyde were younger than you'd think.

            Clyde Barrow was only 25 years old when he was shot to death in an ambush along with Bonnie Parker on this day in 1934. Bobbie was not yet 24. The ambush took place in Bienville Parish, Louisiana. Bien mean good in Spanish. It didn't turn out so good for Bonnie and Clyde.

            3. Though famous for robbing banks, they preferred to rob small stores and funeral homes.

            Evidently they knew where the money was.

            4. Bonnie Parker dropped out of school before her 16th birthday to get married.

            She was born in Texas. Her dad died when she was four and her mom tried to support her family as a seamstress in Dallas. Bonnie quit school to marry Roy Thornton. Their marriage involved frequent brushes with the law and was short-lived. Though Bonnie and Roy never divorced, they never saw one another again after 1929. Bonnie was wearing their wedding ring when she died.

            Bonnie Parker with pistol and a cigar.
            5. Clyde was living a life of crime before he met Bonnie

            Clyde was the fifth of seven kids from a poor farming family outside Dallas. He and his brother Buck had run-ins with the law. His second arrest with Buck was for stealing turkeys. Clyde was skilled at cracking safes, stealing cars and robbing stores. He was evidently audacious.

            6. Clyde's first murder took place in prison.

            He was first sent to prison at age 21, but escaped. When returned to prison, he was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a fellow inmate. In return he cracked his tormentor's skull with a pipe, killing him. Another inmate who was serving a life sentence claimed to be responsible. To avoid hard labor after the incident, he chopped off two of his toes. His mother petitioned for his release and when set free six days later he walked with a limp the rest of his short life. 

            It is believed that Bonnie and Clyde murdered nine police officers and four civilians during the next two years. 

            7. Bonnie Parker was a poet.

            I found this intriguing. She evidently enjoyed poetic verse, composing quite a bit of poetry in her short life. The Trail's End has been called The Story of Bonnie & Clyde. Another noteworthy poem is her story Suicide Sal. Here's the beginning of The Trail's End, with a link to the rest at the end.

            The Trail's End
            by Bonnie Parker

            You've read the story of Jesse James
            of how he lived and died.
            If you're still in need
            of something to read,
            here's the story of Bonnie and Clyde.
            Now Bonnie and Clyde are the Barrow gang
            I'm sure you all have read.
            how they rob and steal;
            and those who squeal,
            are usually found dying or dead.
            There's lots of untruths to these write-ups;
            they're not as ruthless as that.
            their nature is raw;
            they hate all the law,
            the stool pigeons, spotters and rats.
            They call them cold-blooded killers
            they say they are heartless and mean.
            But I say this with pride
            that I once knew Clyde,
            when he was honest and upright and clean.
            But the law fooled around;
            kept taking him down,
            and locking him up in a cell.
            Till he said to me;
            "I'll never be free,
            so I'll meet a few of them in hell"

            Read More 

            Replica of Bonnie & Clyde's shot up Ford V-8
            on display at the Alcatraz East Crime Museum.

            Saturday, May 21, 2022

            2022 Duluth Dylan Fest: Day One

            Inside the forger's workspace
            Saturday morning the 2022 Duluth Dylan Fest opened with two events. The local Forging Community is going to create a gate out of found materials, emulating Bob Dylan's foray into metal sculpture, welding gates out of iron. (I devoted a whole story to this subject here. (The subject: Gates.)

            As part of the opening event, people were asked to bring metal pieces that could be re-purposed as a gate... or rather, a work of art in the form of a gate. Or maybe a gate in the form of a work of art.

            Initial gate concept.
            Bin with decorative material to work with.
            The finished Gate. How cool is that?
            A previous sculpture project stands outside the Armory Annex entrance.
            Who knows what will appear next?

            * * * * *

            Tonight, Cowboy Angel Blue will be entertaining us
            at our kickoff mixer at The Rex. Join us if you're in town.
            The full schedule for Duluth Dylan Fest can be found HERE

            or here: https://duluthdylanfest.com/duluth-dylan-fest-2022/

            Friday, May 20, 2022

            RFPs and the Local Scene

            Painting from Sarah Brokke's recent DAI show, Embody
            I just received an email from the Duluth Art Institute regarding a potential upheaval they are facing. The email has a two-fold purpose. First, to inform members of an action that will effect the DAI. Second, to request help from the arts community. The help sought is two-fold. Contact St. Louis County Commissioners to ask questions and and express support for the DAI mission. Also, you can write letters of endorsement and send to Christina Woods at cwoods@duluthartinstitute.org. Here is a portion of the message from the email:

            We want to share that the Duluth Art Institute (DAI) is entering into a lease RFP process for our current space within the St. Louis County (SLC) Depot building. The county has implemented this process in short order. Our current two-year lease, which began in January 2022, has been voided, and there are no assurances that we will be chosen to remain at the Depot. The DAI was informed of the RFP process in February, and received the RFP on May 10 to be submitted by June 14. RFP award announcements will occur later this summer, with RFP lease terms to begin January 1, 2023.

            Now I personally have a beef with living in a world where the best proposals win instead of the best projects. It seems to me that an RFP should only have a partial weight in these decisions, especially when there has been a long history established. It's especially disconcerting that they have been give just over a month to defend their status or be ousted.

            It's my understanding that the St. Louis County Historical Society is facing a similar disruption. I can't imagine the challenge, let alone the expense, of properly moving everything safely, let alone the challenge of finding a new space. I am curious, too, how many people saw the RFP much earlier and have had more time to develop their proposals. 

            Events like these can be a test of our ability to turn negatives into positives. They do keep us from resting on our laurels. The short timeline is frustrating because the staff is not sitting idle. There is always more work than there is time, so we're always doing triage with regard to our "to do" lists.  

            For more information about the DAI: https://duluthartinstitute.org/

            Contact our County Board of Commissioners HERE

            The 2022 DAI Annual Member Show is coming up fast, from May 26 to June 26 in the Great Hall at the Depot. Opening reception is May 26 from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Will you be there? It's a great opportunity to see how vibrant our local arts community is.

            Thursday, May 19, 2022

            Man Was Made To Mourn: Wisdom from the Pen of Robert Burns

            It's a common literary device. A story is told in which the wisdom of an elder is contrasted or shared with a younger person. One of my favorite Jack London stories, A Piece of Steak, is about an old, used up boxer named Tom King. As he fights his young opponent Sandel, he reflects on his own career in which he was once the young tough pummeling old boxers like himself on their way to hoped-for future glory. By the story's end Sandel is a symbol of Youth, ever rising.

            Jorge Luis Borges has a very interesting story, called The Other, about an older man who sits on a park bench and comes to realize that the young man seated at the other end of the bench is he himself when he was younger. Borges's style of magical realism draws you in as the older realizes they are in two different but intersecting moments in space and time  What would you say to your younger self if you were given the chance. I think of this often.

            Robert Burns' poem Man Was Made To Mourn uses a similar device in which an older man strives to communicate something to a younger man who is walking along life's way. I discovered the poem because it contains a line that I have quoted many times since first hearing: "Man's inhumanity to man makes countless thousands mourn."

            The poem begins with the narrator out for a walk noticing an older man walking in a heavy-laden manner. In the second stanza the old man is curious about the young man's purpose. Are you out for a walk to pursue pleasure and excitement or are you beginning, too young, to walk because you feel pressed down by woes?

            We then learn that the old man is now 80 years old, and his singular refrain at the end of each stanza is "man was made to mourn." The rest of the poem is the older man's explanation of how things are in this world.

            The poem was written in 1784, long before the advent of modern medicine. Children often failed to reach adulthood, so there were many broken hearts of parents who buried their children, just one of the many ways we suffer. Ironically, the author of this poem, Robert Burns, died in his late thirties and never came close to 80.

            Man Was Made to Mourn

            When chill November's surly blast 
            Made fields and forests bare, 
            One ev'ning, as I wander'd forth 
            Along the banks of Ayr, 
            I spied a man, whose aged step 
            Seem'd weary, worn with care; 
            His face was furrow'd o'er with years, 
            And hoary was his hair. 
            "Young stranger, whither wand'rest thou?" 
            Began the rev'rend sage; 
            "Does thirst of wealth thy step constrain, 
            Or youthful pleasure's rage? 
            Or haply, prest with cares and woes, 
            Too soon thou hast began 
            To wander forth, with me to mourn 
            The miseries of man. 
            "The sun that overhangs yon moors, 
            Out-spreading far and wide, 
            Where hundreds labour to support 
            A haughty lordling's pride; - 
            I've seen yon weary winter-sun 
            Twice forty times return; 
            And ev'ry time has added proofs, 
            That man was made to mourn. 
            "O man! while in thy early years, 
            How prodigal of time! 
            Mis-spending all thy precious hours- 
            Thy glorious, youthful prime! 
            Alternate follies take the sway; 
            Licentious passions burn; 
            Which tenfold force gives Nature's law. 
            That man was made to mourn. 
            "Look not alone on youthful prime, 
            Or manhood's active might; 
            Man then is useful to his kind, 
            Supported in his right: 
            But see him on the edge of life, 
            With cares and sorrows worn; 
            Then Age and Want - oh! ill-match'd pair - 
            Shew man was made to mourn. 
            "A few seem favourites of fate, 
            In pleasure's lap carest; 
            Yet, think not all the rich and great 
            Are likewise truly blest: 
            But oh! what crowds in ev'ry land, 
            All wretched and forlorn, 
            Thro' weary life this lesson learn, 
            That man was made to mourn. 
            "Many and sharp the num'rous ills 
            Inwoven with our frame! 
            More pointed still we make ourselves, 
            Regret, remorse, and shame! 
            And man, whose heav'n-erected face 
            The smiles of love adorn, - 
            Man's inhumanity to man 
            Makes countless thousands mourn! 
            "See yonder poor, o'erlabour'd wight, 
            So abject, mean, and vile, 
            Who begs a brother of the earth 
            To give him leave to toil; 
            And see his lordly fellow-worm 
            The poor petition spurn, 
            Unmindful, tho' a weeping wife 
            And helpless offspring mourn. 
            "If I'm design'd yon lordling's slave, 
            By Nature's law design'd, 
            Why was an independent wish 
            E'er planted in my mind? 
            If not, why am I subject to 
            His cruelty, or scorn? 
            Or why has man the will and pow'r 
            To make his fellow mourn? 
            "Yet, let not this too much, my son, 
            Disturb thy youthful breast: 
            This partial view of human-kind 
            Is surely not the last! 
            The poor, oppressed, honest man 
            Had never, sure, been born, 
            Had there not been some recompense 
            To comfort those that mourn! 
            "O Death! the poor man's dearest friend, 
            The kindest and the best! 
            Welcome the hour my aged limbs 
            Are laid with thee at rest! 
            The great, the wealthy fear thy blow 
            From pomp and pleasure torn; 
            But, oh! a blest relief for those 
            That weary-laden mourn!"
             * * * *

            I hear echoes of Psalm 73 when I read this, a psalm contrasting haves and have nots. M. Scott Peck's The Road Less Travelled similarly comes to mind with its opening sentence stating so plainly, "Life is difficult." The premise here is that when difficulties come along, we ought not be surprised. 

            Which brings to mind this stanza from Christina Rosetti's poem, Up-Hill.

            Does the road wind up-hill all the way?
               Yes, to the very end.
            Will the day’s journey take the whole long day?
               From morn to night, my friend.

            If you like poetry, here is another favorite of mine:

            Related Link
            Robert Burns Biography 

            Wednesday, May 18, 2022

            Leon Russell's The Church Studio: One More Reason to Visit Tulsa

            The big happening this past week in Tulsa was, of course, the grand opening of the Bob Dylan Center. Much has been written about the event as media folk from around the world flew in to Tulsa to be a part of the million dollar bash and pay homage. Rumor has it that Bob himself was in town and went to a baseball game. 

            If you've followed the hoopla you will no doubt be aware that the Woody Guthrie Center is but a short walk from the BDC. It's no coincidence that young Bob Dylan had drawn nectar from the influence of Woody. The single original song on his first album was "Song to Woody".

            For music fans of my generation there's a third "must visit" site to take in while you're in town, Leon Russell's The Church Studio. A number of Northlanders dropped by there last week while in Tulsa. The photos here are from photographer Gary Firstenberg.

            Related Links
            Learn more about Leon Russell Here
            Leon Russell on Wikipedia

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