The road taken, requiem for the cabin, adult contemporary and the indie artists, South Dakota’s shame, and Dale and Jim together again.
1) THE ROADS TAKEN
It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to regular NewsCut readers that even though I’m not from Minnesota, and spend the bulk of my time in the Twin Cities, I love — love — what lies outside of the metro. Yesterday, I made my first foray to Montevideo to meet Patrick Moore, whom a reader suggested would make a great candidate for the series, You Should Meet, that I’ve started (and, by the way, where is your submission?).
I’ll be writing about Patrick in a post next week (these things take time), but here’s a sense of the serendipity of walking the main drag in Montevideo. Next to the now-renovated Hollywood Theater (it’s just been sold to a local woman and is going to be an event venue), is A to Z Letter Press Printing, run by Andy Kahmann.
Andy is the big cheese behind the Arts Meander, which was held earlier this month. It’s the Upper Minnesota River arts crawl (here’s the website). He prints Bad Andy’s cards (written about on the very excellent Country Mouse Folk Blog) one at a time on the antique printing press. They go for $3 each, but it’s free to browse and read them, unless you laugh — which you will — at which point you’re required to throw a nickel into the jar.
When I ducked in yesterday, he was working on a couple of artists’ calendars for 2012, but stopped to give me a tour of the shop, which he started when he bought the building several years ago when the previous owner realized it shared a common wall with the theater next door and when preservationists saved it, the plans to raze the now-printing building fell apart.
Here’s the thing: He started his business — his art — because he and Patrick found this printing press in Forest Lake a few years ago. It cost him $1. Oh, this machine came with it…
Stop in and browse if you’re in Montevideo sometime. If he’s not there, just walk in and leave the money if you buy a card. It’s run on the honor system.
It’s next door to Java River where Clare Hathaway , shown here with Mr. Moore, is serving coffee and thinking music. In a year, she’s hoping to travel to England to study music and perform. She’ll have to in order to keep up with her siblings, all of whom, apparently, traveled the world after high school. Moore convinced her father to move to town (from the Twin Cities) just before she was born.
Bill Pauling, who owns the grocery store downtown, was having lunch at Java River. There’s a WalMart on the edge of town providing stiff competition. But, Moore pointed out, Pauling’s store has an edge the big groceries can’t touch — “people shop there to run into the other people who are shopping there,” he said.
Before I left town, we stopped in to meet Dave Lauritsen, Montevideo’s librarian, and father of WCCO reporter John Lauritsen. Apparently, at some time, he got a deer.
That once was in the library proper, but complaints prompted him to move it to his office, he told me as he turned out the lights and headed next door to Java River for a game of poker.
“You ever play poker, Bob?” he asked. That was my cue to get in the car and head back to the Cities while I still had the money in my pocket to make it there.
2) REQUIEM FOR THE CABIN
If a Minneapolis architect who studies these things is right, we’ll have to change our lingo to stop referring to “going to the cabin.” Cabins, Dale Mulfinger tells the Duluth News Tribune, are a dying icon in Minnesota. People don’t want remote, anymore, he says.
“There’s been a significant switch in the last 20 years,” he said. “People no longer consider life at the cabin to be that remote. It’s a place worthy for retirement. People want lake homes now, rather than cabins. And they want it to feel like their house, with attached garage and bedroom suites.”
What’s being lost, he says, is the sense of community by the lakes.
3) ADULT CONTEMPORARY AND THE “INDIE” ARTISTS
If you missed Dessa’s interview on MPR’s Midmorning yesterday, it was quite a treat:
A theme of the interview was her new direction, as she grows as an artist. Tinged with that excitement, it seemed, was always the concern that her current fans would think she was heading to the dreaded world of “adult contemporary.”
Coincidentally, today NPR’s Frannie Kelley writes about a review of Wilco’s work in New York Magazine in which she asks if the cool world of “indie,” is now “adult contemporary.”
The second reason he says very few people are up in arms about the evolution of a style of music (and musicians) once beloved for its outsider ethos and “authenticity” into something that has been characterized as, variously, “dad rock,” “for sale next to the register at Starbucks” or, even, as Abebe does, “NPR Muzak,” (not that we’re sensitive or anything) is our current oversupply of alternatives. If we’re not into it, he says, we no longer have to throw a fit, because we’re already on to the next one.
But some people will throw a fit, because some people like the feeling they get when they’re in the middle of throwing a fit. Abebe’s piece this week addresses these people, or, as he says, the “phenomenon” of people whose knee-jerk reaction to “adult contemporary” is to run screaming in the other direction — maybe even without listening first.
For a non-music person, it’s a fascinating look into how we treat music not so much as a personal pleasure, but as a way to publicly proclaim who we are. When an artist changes, it changes our definition of ourselves.
4) SOUTH DAKOTA’S SHAME
NPR’S latest investigation is certainly hitting close to home. In South Dakota, a cozy relationship between the state’s governor and the firm he once ran, the Children’s Home Society, is under fire, because a 1978 federal law to halt a century-long practice of forcing Native American children into boarding schools is being ignored.
“They make a living off of our children,” says Juanita Sherick, the tribal social worker on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge reservation.
The governor wouldn’t talk to NPR about its investigation.
In South Dakota, where American Indians make up less than 15 percent of the state’s child population, 60 percent of the state’s foster care population is American Indian children. The “disproportionate index” is even worse in Minnesota.
Be sure to listen to the story of Suzanne Crow, who was sent away as part of the government’s assimilation policy when she was 5 years old, and lost her own grandchildren when they were taken while she was away from home.
The investigation is generating plenty of debate among readers, like this one who thinks more attention should be paid to the conditions in which Lakota and other Native American children are living:
Though the disproportionate removal of native children is wrong, it does not change that fact that these children were far to young to be held responsible to remove themselves from a household where they were either left alone or there was drinking involved. At the age of 5 and 6 a parent should be responsible for making sure that they are in a safe place, and being taken care of by another responsible adult. The fact that this had happened enough times that the children were instituted a plan for this occasion is even more disturbing. Although it does not make it OK to place them in a non-native environment, it does seem to be an example of a situation that would normally lead to finding another home for the children.
But there’s a larger question: If a firm with ties to the governor is making millions off the system as it is, what’s the motivation for ever changing conditions on the reservation?
5) DALE AND JIM: TOGETHER AGAIN
A guy can dream. Dale Connelly and Jim Ed Poole (Tom Keith) are going to pass on their radio wisdom to a new generation at St. Olaf this evening, Dale writes today on his blog. The college will stream their presentation, starting at 7 this evening.
Let’s consider this world of the imagination that Dale describes:
I’m looking forward to it, though I’m not sure my style of radio has much appeal to the online generation. So much of everything (music, humor, companionship) is available through the Internet, it’s hard to talk about a sound-only medium without seeming, well, quaint….
I plan to encourage the group to make full use of the possibilities of the medium by embracing its limitations. Take the absence of a visual as a challenge to activate the imaginations of listeners. How? I can only go over some of the things that worked for me, but who cares about that? The next generation will have to take a fresh approach if radio is to survive this latest assassination attempt by a brassier, flashier, but inferior technology.
It makes one wonder whether the “next generation” will ever share another invisible, intimate moment like this:
A developer wants to build a casino on the parcel of land known as Block E in downtown Minneapolis. The mayor and members of the City Council support the proposal, and may include casino revenue in a plan to finance a Vikings stadium. Today’s Question: Is a casino in downtown Minneapolis a good idea?
THE BIG STORY
President Obama says his new plan for student debt will help not just individuals, but the nation, because graduates will have more money to spend on things like buying homes. The Big Story Blog will look at Obama’s plan and survey the student loan debt landscape in Minnesota.
WHAT WE’RE DOING
Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: President Obama has announced a new program to lower monthly payments for students graduating next year and beyond, and let other student borrowers consolidate loans at a lower interest rate. But with student loan debt exceeding $1 trillion, and the cost of college continuing it’s upward trajectory, will that be enough?
Second hour: Siblings can play a powerful role in our lives, and now scientists are learning more than ever about just how much our brothers and sisters impact our behavior. Author Jeffrey Kluger examines the science and delves into his own childhood to explain why who we are is as much about our siblings as it is about ourselves.
Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Former state epidemiologist Michael Osterholm on the new flu vaccine study and the flu season.
Second hour: Intelligence Squared debate: Are men finished? (I wrote a post about this last month)
Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: Three months ago, European leaders came up with a plan: Bail out Greece and preserve the European Union. But it wasn’t enough. Now, Greece teeters, Italy and Spain may be next, and a grand bargain remains elusive.
Second hour: Jane Gross cared for her mother in her final years and concludes that Medicare fails the elderly. “Everyday,” she says, “was like a crisis where we had to decide yes or no and we didn’t know what the right answer was.” Open enrollment comes early this year. Host Neal Conan talks with NPR’s Julie Rover, with questions and answers on Medicare after the health care overhaul,