Friday, September 30, 2022

Flashback Friday: Master MEME at the PRØVE

Dan Hansen (left) with Lucas Anderson
This blog post was originally published on 28 September 2012. Dan has since become one of my very best friends.


Fans of the local Twin Ports visual arts scene have had plenty to buzz about in recent years. And it just keeps getting better. Tonight, the PRØVE Collective and Lizzard's Gallery offer two great excuses for heading downtown. And if you're checking out one, there's no need to move the car because the other is just around the corner. 

Master MEME: Art by Daniel Hansen and Lucas Anderson

Daniel Hansen is a local disabled artist exploring pop culture, '80s pixelation, and contemporary issues. Lucas Anderson teaches art locally at Marshall Academy. The show features individual work and art they have created collaboratively. This is the capstone show for the PRØVE's first year, and it's nothing short of a "must see", even if only for the spirit in which the work has been generated and generously shared with our community.

I met Anderson this past spring through the DAI-sponsored film series Shock of the New. Last night I met Hansen for the first time as the dynamic duo were putting the finishing touches on what will be tonight's event, which is primarily Hansen's work.

I had asked Hansen how he'd become interested in art as a profession. He explained, "My interest is because it's time to get my art out there. I've been drawing since I was 3. My story is that I've had a progressive neuromuscular disease called Spinal Muscular Atrophy type 2 (or SMA). The onset was at infancy so I've always been confined to a wheelchair."

This handicap has not restrained Hansen from pursuing his passions. In advance of our meeting I asked him to briefly share his story.

"I grew up in Grand Marais the son of Mark Hansen who founded North House Folk School. I've been at the sidelines observing everyone living and achieving normal things that were absurdly complicated or impossible to pull off. Every aspect of my life requires innovation and mastery on account of gradual muscular weakening. It just so happens art is merely a side affect of my paradigm shredding circumstance. The burning desire to defy all conventions and set new precedences is my morning cup of coffee! My medium is digital. The world of illusions are my inspiration. Fun, trans-mutational, fascination are the undercurrents of everything I do...the rest is open to interpretation." 

Last night as I looked at Hansen's work it became that fun really is the operative word in much of what he pulls off here. For example, the large piece titled Chico Strikes Back is a humorous portrayal of the forgotten Marx brother who had not gotten the recognition of his other siblings. Chico is at the piano, but the stock market index atop the instrument shows a declining market value. One wonders what he's doing with that loaded gun in his hand.

Upon entering the gallery one is struck by the scale and vivid color in Hansen's pieces. On the left ad you enter is a picture titled Cheyenne. Cheyenne is a girl Hansen met via the internet whom he has talked with on the phone for seven years. The picture reflects some of the chaos in Cheyenne's life. He says she has been a great influence on him.

Another piece, titled Cake or Pi, Hansen describes as "me jamming out."

Time: 7 - 11 p.m.
Free admission, refreshments by donation
If you've never been, the PROVE is located downstairs from the Sons of Norway Hall on Lake Avenue across from the Technology Center.

Chico Strikes Back

Art About Stories... paintings by Tom Tyler

Lizzard's Art Gallery at 11 West Superior Street (across from the MN Power Building) is hosting an opening reception tonight for their new exhibition of paintings by Minneapolis artist Tom Tyler. The work in this collection is primarily based on quotes or literature, books by Hemingway, Melville, Jack London, Joseph Conrad and even Greek mythology. Though the themes in his work vary, the written word serves as a common thread.

Considering the selection of writers cited, I am already drawn to this artist and look forward to seeing tonight's show.

Tyler's work has texture and movement, undoubtedly influence by the 20th century German Expressionists whom he admires. A full-time painter, he has a BA in studio art from the University of Minnesota, where he studied with painters Jo Lutz Rollins and Cameron Booth. His work has been exhibited in Minnesota, California and New Mexico. 

Can't make it tonight? Tyler's work will be on the walls at Lizzards through November 10. Check it out.

Meantime, life goes on. See you on the beat.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Nevada Bob Turns 83

Last year I posted a nice Happy Birthday greeting for Bob Gordon and was reminded that Jehovah's Witnesses don't celebrate birthdays. Here it is a year later and Nevada Bob is now 83. So I call to wish him a happy day anyways. 

Turns out, I wasn't the first to call. Charlie McCoy, the "Real McCoy," had already given him a call to play "Happy Birthday" on his harmonica. It seems that during the course of helping Bob produce six CDs, Charlie and Nevada Bob have famously hit it off.

If you wish to learn more about Nevada Bob, here's a link to a story on the blog I maintain for him:
Recording with Charlie McCoy

And a story in the Stillwater Gazette:
Nevada Bob Gordon Records Audiobook at Stillwater Studio

You can find his memoir 50 Years with the Wrong Woman at as well as his audiobook.

Photos here courtesy Gary Firstenberg. 

Nevada Bob in Tulsa.
With Jim Bowie's favorite tool.
With the Tulsa Oilman
Showing respect to Woody.
At the Jimi Hendrix memorial.

Happy Birthday, Bob.
And many more.

Saturday, September 24, 2022

What Should We Do About Fentanyl?

From time to time, when not too busy, I enjoy reading the comments at the end of articles or news stories. You can get the same effect reading a lengthy Twitter-feed discussion. It's interesting to see people attempting to hash out solutions to problems or contemporary issues.

This morning a lengthy discussion about how to deal with the fentanyl problem was generated by Scott Adams (Dilbert creator) posting a 10-point plan on how to deal with it. His recommendations were controversial, but in his defense (a couple of respondents defended him) he did at least propose a set of actions as opposed to just ignoring it all. 

For the record, here is the size of the problem at this point in time, according to the CDC:

More than 932,000 people have died since 1999 from a drug overdose.1 In 2020, 91,799 drug overdose deaths occurred in the United States. The age-adjusted rate of overdose deaths increased by 31% from 2019 (21.6 per 100,000) to 2020 (28.3 per 100,000).

To give you an idea of how much fentanyl is entering the country, check out this ABC News story from Phoenix:

One million fentanyl pills seized from Avondale home Wednesday

(Article includes photo of the goods seized.)

By posting a ten-point plan out in the Twitterverse Adams does succeed in generating a discussion around the issue. Here are a few examples of responses to his plan...  

--Make people eat a proper diet because a bad diet leads to health issues that cause pain.

--Legalize all drugs so as to put the cartels out of business.

--It's a supply and demand issue: eliminate demand. 

--Better fathering.

--Addiction is a series of decisions. Remove victim status.

* * * * *

Scott Adams' Fentanyl Policy Idea:

And there you have it. Is this a solution?

Wednesday, September 21, 2022

One of the Downsides of Our Contemporary Culture

This is a story from Stocktwits, a daily email newsletter that gives a recap of what's happening in the market, etc. In addition to summarizing the day's Wall Street activities, they pass along stories and do in-depth breakdowns of specific companies that seem to be flying to the moon or heading into the swamp.

At the end of each newsletter they have a "Bullets From The Day" section of one paragraph summaries of various events. Yesterday's Bullets were as follows:

⚡ Hertz to buy up to 175,000 EVs from General Motors.

🔺 Apple App Store announces international price hikes.

💰 Two veteran sports execs launch Velocity Capital Management.

👎 Judge denies bid to stop UnitedHealth’s acquisition plan.

And finally, this one, today's lead Bullet:

Cancer victims urge the court to end the J&J bankruptcy roadblock. People suing Johnson & Johnson over its talc products urged an appeals court on Monday to revive their claims, saying it should not be allowed to use a bankrupt subsidiary to block lawsuits alleging the products cause cancer. The company spun off its subsidiary in October, assigned its talc liabilities to it, and then placed it into bankruptcy. The commonly used restructuring strategy paused about 38,000 lawsuits J&J was facing and sent the victims into a state of perpetual litigation

* * * *

If the talc issue is legit, it's shameful that J&J can skirt responsibility like that. Then again, the tobacco industry hasn't been put out of business even though that link to cancer is self-evident. The government likes the tax revenue generated by tobacco addicts. 

And if the talc issue is not legit, it's sad the extremes to which companies must go to defend themselves from endless litigation about nearly everything.

I'm curious how much money is spent on attorneys that could have been spent on research and development to make companies stronger as they launch into the future. Then again, I can hear people saying that the money spent on lawyers would probably just end up in the pockets of CEOs and their ilk. 

I dunno. It seems like the whole country is wrapped up in legal red tape. Has it always been this way? 

Well, I know that Daniel Boone was frustrated with all the red tape people were tangled in right from the start of this nation. The Kentucky pioneer was a land surveyor. He helped settlers identify their lands and get title deeds. For reasons I am unsure of, many of these would get challenged and the people would lose their land. Over time, to make things right he gave away all the land he personally owned, disgusted with the lawyers and the legal system.

By 1800 the U.S. was only on its second presidency and Boone, 66 at the time, was so fed up he left the country he bailed. He went West across the Mississippi to land owned by France. At last, he could live free. 

Unfortunately, in 1803 Thomas Jefferson made a deal with France, which we know now as the Louisiana Purchase. It stretched from New Orleans to Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana, more than a half billion acres, all for the sum of $18 million. For us this is just a history datapoint, maybe the correct answer to a question on a quiz. But for Daniel Boone, and the sons who joined him in his exodus, this was a serious bummer. He was back in the "civilized" world, with all its legal entanglements.

The point is, we have way too much red tape, too many rules and regulations, hurdles to jump, walls to bust through. And it's stifling our economy.

Map Illustration Credit: William Morris, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Monday, September 19, 2022

How Should We Then Tweet? Wisdom from the Book of Proverbs

The Book of Proverbs is one of three Old Testament books categorized as "wisdom literature." Nestled between the Psalms and Ecclesiastes, it's a book loaded with practical advice and observations. 

While reading the 15th chapter recently I noticed a number of passages that were relevant for people using social media today, which is cool because these ideas, maxims and instructions are probably 3,000 years old. I wasn't looking for them. The maxims and admonitions seemed so apropos.

We 21st century moderns think everything is different now with things so advanced. The reality is that very fundamental ways people today are just like the ancients of one, two or three millennia ago. Like ourselves, they were trying to learn how to get along with others, learning how to live meaningful lives, and wondering how we should live. 

Here are some proverbs that seem quite relevant for users of social media, especially Twitter. If you mull these over I think you'll see how relevant they are. (I've included a few from Proverbs 19 as well.)

* * * 

A gentle answer turns away wrath, 
     but a harsh word stirs up anger.
(Don't be that guy.)

* * * 

The tongue of the wise adorns knowledge,
    but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
        (Don't be this guy either.)

* * * 

The soothing tongue is a tree of life,
   but a perverse tongue crushes the spirit
         (Can't we just get along?)

* * * 

The lips of the wise spread knowledge,   <-- Let's aim to be this one
    but the hearts of fools are not upright.

* * * 

A false witness will not go unpunished,
    and whoever pours out lies will not go free.
        (Fake news creators.)

* * * 

A hot-tempered person must pay the penalty
     rescue them, and you will have to do it again. 

* * * 

A hot-tempered person stirs up conflict,
     but the one who is patient calms a quarrel.
       (Patience is a virtue. Why is it so hard?)

* * * 

The heart of the righteous weighs its answers,
    but the mouth of the wicked gushes evil.
        (There's a little too much gushing today.)

* * * 

A fool gives full vent to his anger 
    but a wise man keeps himself under control.

* * * 

A person finds joy in giving an apt reply—
    and how good is a timely word! 

* * *

What do you think?

Saturday, September 17, 2022

My First Torture Story

This week I was reading a back issue of The New Yorker and came across a Jack Handey piece on the "Shouts and Murmurs" page, which you can usually find somewhere between pages 25 and 48, or thereabouts. If you're a Jack Handey fan you're well acquainted with his eccentric sense of humor. 

The title alone had me glued to the page. As I read the opening lines it brought to mind a short story I'd written as a teen. It, too, was a story about torture. After you read Jack Handey's intro I will tell you about my story.

May 30, 2022

People think it's easy to come up with torture ideas. I wish! You can spend hours walking along a tranquil beach, or sitting in a meadow full of butterflies, and not come up with a single torture idea.

Some torture ideas will come to you out of the blue. Your mother and stepfather might be visiting, and suddenly a great torture idea will occur to you.

But most torture ideas come from just putting your nose to the grindstone--locking yourself in a small, dark room with a lamp shining in your face staring down at a pen and a blank piece of paper, until the ideas are forced out of you.  Eventually, whipping yourself, you become the proud author of hundreds of torture ideas--many with helpful illustrations. But here's the catch: nine out of ten ideas need to be thrown out. Biting snails?  Powerful suction cups? What was I thinking?

Read the rest here:

* * * * 


I may have been 15 or so when I wrote my story involving torture. In fact, the torture scene was the primary feature of the story. There was little to no character development, and probably not even a description of what these gangsters looked like or talked like. (I was just a kid. I never got closer to a gangster than my TV, though on retrospect, maybe...)

In the scene a friend and I are being held captive by these bad dudes in suits. The location is sketchy but it is definitely inner city. We're in a room on about the fourth floor. The room has large windows on two walls (must have been a corner office) showing the scale of this concrete jungle. 

In the middle of the room stood a table and a large grey desk, industrial strength, while remaining insignificant.An assortment of tools and implements re-purposed for generating suffering lay strewn across the table.

The story is told in first person and I am on the receiving end of this scene. The manner in which they secured me in my chair is as follows. First, they pushed a small cable into my cheek and out the other cheek. Then the secured the ends of the cable (to pipes on the wall?) in such a way so as to keep me fairly immobile. The only way to escape would be to jerk my head back and rip my face apart.

Now that I think about it, the bad guys did have a motive. They were looking for information. Neither my friend nor I had a clue what they were looking for. We were the wrong guys. 

In my story one of the torture implements was a belt sander, which made a mess of my friend's toes and shins. Funny how I can't remember hardly any of the other horrors except when they strung up my friend by his tongue with a fishhook.

Again for the record, I was 15. 

Torture seems to have become more mainstream since that time. Dustin Hoffman's worst nightmare in Marathon Man; Mel Gibson in Conspiracy Theory; James Caan in Stephen King's Misery; George Clooney in Syriana. And who can forget Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, that scene in the warehouse with "Stuck in the Middle with You" as soundtrack. 

I once read that if you want to generate sympathy for your main character, hurt them. 

In my story, they went a little too far with my friend, whom they ultimately eviscerated, filling his torso with fast-drying concrete and dropping him into the East River. You know how New York gangsters are, always making bodies disappear in the East River. In New Jersey they leave them in the Great Swamp.

* * * 

More thoughts on this topic are marching into my head, but I'm going to turn the page. Enjoy your weekend. And stay away from people who think torture is fun. It's not.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Almost Wordless Wednesday: Nevada Bob Completes Another Road Trip

Nevada Bob and the Seattle Skyline.
After recording his sixth album in Nashville with Charlie McCoy and a select group of session musicians, Nevada Bob Gordon toured more of the country on a road trip that took him to a wide swath of the U.S. toward the Northwest. His escort, host and cohort on this adventure has been photographer Gary Firstenberg. I can't imagine a better tour guide. Gary knows where all the haunts where all the great music makers and performers of the past century were born, lived and died. If you ever want a music tour, Gary would be your primo first choice. Not only does he know the places and spaces where music history has been made, you will also end up with a top-notch photo album documenting your adventure.

Learn more about Frenchglen in Nevada Bob's memoir
Making music in Amarillo.
Paying tribute to Jimi Hendrix. 
Will Nevada Bob do a cover of Purple Haze on his next album?
Or Voodoo Child?
Nevada Bob used this Bowie knife to cut his 64 oz. steak.
Standing tall with a Tulsa Oilman.
The Woody Guthrie Center
Standing with Bob at the Bob Dylan Center
You can never have too many banjos.

Learn more about the adventures of Nevada Bob at

Charlie McCoy on harmonica.

Read the reviews of 50 Years with the Wrong Woman on Amazon

With Gary Firstenberg. Comrades in arms.

Tuesday, September 13, 2022

"Ivermectin Saves Lives" Study Shows

Photo by the author.
Any comments on this? The second one (video) seemed especially compelling. Am interested in your thought.

* * * 

Ivermectin reduces COVID death risk by 92%, peer-reviewed study finds

The peer-reviewed study was published on Wednesday last by the online medical journal Cureus. The study was conducted on a strictly controlled population of 88,012 people from the city of Itajaí in Brazil.

Individuals who used Ivermectin as prophylaxis or took the medication before being infected by COVID experienced significant reductions in death and hospitalization.

Sunday, September 11, 2022

Elmore Leonard Delivers the Goods in The Moonshine War

Anyone familiar with his work will probably agree that the late Elmore Leonard (1925-2013) was one of the great writers of crime fiction. The characters and situations he creates are memorable, and there is always a payoff. 

I first became aware of Elmore Leonard while attending a 1985 writer's conference in Mankato. During one of our lunch periods I was seated with Joe Soucheray who told us about a novel he was working on. He was about six chapters in at the time, trying to write like Elmore Leonard, whom he considered the gold standard when it comes to this kind of storytelling. 

Over the next two decades I probably read half of his 50 or so novels as well as some of his short story collections. When I later wrote my own first novel, The Red Scorpion, there were elements of the story patterned after Leonard. Create interesting characters and put them an in interesting situation. The hero must be heroic and the bad characters truly scary and -- assuming the reader still cares about your hero -- there's something at risk, usually life and death.

This week I picked up The Moonshine War, which Leonard wrote earlier in his career. As has often been the case, I could hardly put it down. It takes place in the hills of Eastern Kentucky, a region that Leonard must have been familiar with because he's had stories there before and he knows both the setting and the moonshiner's world so well. My own grandfather was a moonshiner. When the revenuers (Federal agents) came to bust the stills he fled to West Virginia with his seven-month-pregnant wife. My father was born there two months later.

* * *

The central hero in The Moonshine War is Son Martin, a quiet man who makes good shine. His father has passed away, and he also lost his wife previous to the beginning of this story. He's a respectful and respected young man with a few quirky habits. Early on we learn that he also has secrets.

During the war (WWI, not this moonshine war) he confided to another man--Frank Long--a secret that he immediately regretted sharing. His father had produced 150 barrels of primo moonshine to be aged for eight years that he'd hidden somewhere, and now Son Martin was to be the heir. Its value would be astronomical.

Frank Long had a memory like an elephant, and the notion of acquiring Son Martin's fortune was eating him alive. Son Martin's moment of weakness was now coming back to bite him, like a rattler in those lush Kentucky hills.

Long has made a plan. His scheme: to pose as a Federal agent and bust Son Martin's neighbor moonshiners to pressure Son into yielding up his treasure. Things go awry when Long recruits some bad men be his "muscle" on this scheme. Very early in the story you encounter a couple of truly scary bad guys, and Frank Long lives to regret what he has set in motion. Lesson here: Don't play with fire.

* * *

Elmore Leonard is skilled at building the kind of tension that keeps readers turning the pages. His characters and stories feel authentic, so much so that in this case some readers will have a problem with the book. It takes place in the summer of 1931 and Son Martin has a black man named Aaron helping take care of his place. In Eastern Kentucky during those days Aaron would be been referred to with the n-word. Modern readers may disregard the heroic nature of the man Leonard paints here, or the special bond Aaron and Son share. They will stumble over the fact that this word is used in the book. 

For what it's worth, Elmore Leonard is a master. Hollywood must think so as so many of his books have been turned into films. If you like liked the movies--3:10 to Yuma, Hombre, Get Shorty, Out of Sight, Mr. Majestyk, and nearly two dozen more--you will love the books.

Thursday, September 8, 2022

Ideas for Entrepreneurs: The Coming Solar Panel Waste Business

Photo by Moritz Kindler on Unsplash
Since the early 2000s, the amount of solar panels being installed worldwide has been growing exponentially, and it’s expected to continue to do so for decades. By the end of 2015, an estimated 222 gigawatts worth of solar energy had been installed worldwide. According to a recent report (PDF) from the International Renewable Energy Agency, that number could reach 4,500 GW by 2050.

But the solar panels generating that power don’t last forever. The industry standard life span is about 25 to 30 years, and that means that some panels installed at the early end of the current boom aren’t long from being retired. And each passing year, more will be pulled from service — glass and metal photovoltaic modules that soon will start adding up to millions, and then tens of millions of metric tons of material.

Nate Berg
"What will happen to solar panels after their useful life is over?", May 11, 2018

* * * 

In 1980, I spent part of a year spray painting expensive black paint on metal solar panels. If I recall correctly, the paint had been developed by NASA for satellite solar panels. As anyone who took physics in high school knows--or who has paid any attention to how their clothing reacts to sunlight--black surfaces  absorb more heat from the sun than white surfaces. 

EdNote: What I remember most about the job was that the paint cost $80 a gallon, which would be $288 today adjusted for inflation.

A couple years later we attended a church in St. Paul which had as one of its members the president of the company I painted panels for. It was no longer in business. The only way it could survive was through government subsidies, and the subsidies went dry. 

In 2009 the Obama administration co-signed a $535 million loan to Solyndra, a solar panel company which was going to lead the way to a solar-powered future. This, too, proved to be a failed venture that cost taxpayers money.

The problem here is that once things become politically driven instead of market-driven, they eventually cease to be a reliable venture because it's all too often driven by ideology rather than market forces and common sense.  

* * * 

The world's landscapes are going to look very different someday. Regarding those tens of millions of tons of discarded solar panels... how much of that can be recycled? If you start studying this potential market opportunity, is there a way to be on the forefront and build a business around this need?

That might be a million dollar question.

* * * 

Well, this is just an idea seed. If you have an entrepreneurial bent and want to start a business ahead of the growth curve, this may be something to look into. Who in your neighborhood is knowledgeable about recycling or disposing of the materials solar panels are made of? Probably no one. So why not become the expert in this field? 

The ball's in your court.

Tuesday, September 6, 2022

Is the Old World Order on the Verge of Collapse?

How precarious is our future? Is the world really on the verge of economic collapse? What would a global economic collapse look like?

Here's a podcast that makes a case for the Doom scenario. At this moment in time most of us are living on faith, faith that the power grid will sustain us, that the banking systems will remain operational, that goods and services will continue as they have in the past. 

Peter Zeihan is a geopolitical analyst who spells out why the next 50 years will look very different than the last fifty years. 

Here's what makes the economy work: a mix or consumers, investors and workers. Because of the demographics shift taking place, all three are on the decline.  

This video is an hour long. If you listen to the first ten minutes you'll get some striking insights from a perspective you probably haven't thought that much about. 

The Old World Order Is About To Collapse - Peter Zeihan

Modern Wisdom Podcast 514

* * * 

This is just a discussion starter.

Whatcha think?

Monday, September 5, 2022

Co-Founder of Greenpeace Asks "Is Climate Change Fake?"

"We’re not in an energy crisis, we’re in a stupidity crisis."

There will be people who hate this, but my take is that it ought to be good news to know that global warming is not going to wipe us all out. Here's a blurb describing the content of this podcast. I have added a few quotes from Eric Hoffer afterword.

To be honest, I generally dislike watching videos longer than five or ten minutes. This is much longer than that, but you'll be rewarded if you even listen to only part of it.
The title is a hotlink to the video.

Greenpeace's Ex-President - Is Climate Change Fake? - Patrick Moore

Modern Wisdom Podcast 373

Patrick Moore is the Co-Founder & Ex-President of Greenpeace and an author.

Climate change has been at the forefront of political, cultural and social battles for the last 40 years. Patrick had a front-row seat as he organized the environmental movement's first ever major demonstration, but now he has some real problems with the direction it's heading in.

Here are Moore's thoughts on humanity's impact on global warming temperatures, his opinion on Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg, what people mean when they say we've only got 50 harvests left, whether we should be worried about rising sea levels and much more...

* * * 


"When hopes and dreams are loose in the streets, it is well for the timid to lock doors, shutter windows and lie low until the wrath has passed. For there is often a monstrous incongruity between the hopes, however noble and tender, and the action which follows them. It is as if ivied maidens and garlanded youths were to herald the the four horsemen of the Apocalypse." 

* * * 

"A man is likely to mind his own business when it is worth minding. When it is not, he takes his mind off his own meaningless affairs by minding other people's business."

* * * 

"Passionate hatred can give meaning and purpose to an empty life."

* * * 

This last quote brings to mind Orwell's 1984 in which so the concept of Hate Week was created and promoted. Interesting that Hoffer book was published in the same period of time as Orwell's. Both authors had a finger on the pulse of cultural trends.

Today is Labor Day in the U.S.  What are you laboring for?

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