Saturday, May 28, 2011

Bob Abides

by Robert Jevne

   I can’t honestly say that I always associate Bob Dylan with my friend Patrick because we all know Bob is malleable and has many uses, but Patrick was the one who introduced me to him and by doing so permanently put his imprint on my relationship to Mr Zimmerman.

   Everyone, I would venture to say, has had a friend in their youth who they considered wild. Someone unpredictable, and perhaps, a little dangerous. Someone who seemed beyond the rest in scope and who could provoke great feats of recklessness and experimentation in the most timid middle-class kid. I met Patrick during one of my short stints in college and even though I had barely known him, he was the only person who after my short stint was over wrote a letter to see how I was doing. Granted, he teased me a bit about my status by quoting Dylan lyrics like “You sure got a lot of gall, being so useless and all.” I would write back some seriously self-pitying nonsense to which I might get a “ When gravity fails and negativity don’t pull you through.” Of course those were just snippets in letters full of humor and insight and about the only concern I was receiving at the time and it was in those letters he hooked me not only into a friendship with him but into a lifelong love of Bob Dylan’s music which has also worked to pull me out of myself when I needed pulling.
   Within a year I was living in the city. Patrick arrived after graduating. We knew a lot of the same people so we hung out a lot for a while, listened to a lot of music, even tried playing some, to disastrous effect. We had a lot of fun. Some might say too much. He lived with a friend of mine for a while and then things changed. Harmless strangeness became stranger, darker. He discovered drugs. He discovered his homosexuality. Then he discovered his manic/depression, promiscuity, and AIDS. I can’t do justice to any of this even now, and certainly couldn’t back then. Patrick tried to pull me out of my bourgeois trap and when he needed help, to put it bluntly, I “sure had a lot of gall, being so useless and all.” Its not that I think I could have saved him. I know better, but no maudlin confessional like this dulls the edge of what I couldn’t do.
   As I stated before, Bob is malleable and has many uses. He sends us these open-ended missives which we interpret to our own ends and for which I continue to be grateful. So I keep listening and sitting here watching the river flow.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Forever Young

This week on Between You and Me we're celebrating Bob's 70th birthday and talking about our aging icons.....

by Steve Downing 

            I have a friend in Hibbing who went to school with Bob Dylan and loves to re-live the first time he heard Bob Zimmerman perform, five-plus decades ago. This was at a school assembly, where Bob did a couple of songs. Afterward, my friend and his buddies moved on to English class, where they rendered their consensus opinion of Bob Zimmerman. Can’t sing. Can’t play. The opposite of tall, dark and handsome. Born to be an iron miner.
            The English teacher, a generation ahead of them, thought they were wrong about Bob’s music but couldn’t sway them. Their evaluation mimics a much older off-the-mark assessment, concerning Fred Astaire, after an early screen test. From the director’s notes on Fred: Can’t sing. Can’t act. Balding. Can dance, a little.
            I saw Fred Astaire on TV the other day, in “It Takes A Thief”, filmed during the 1960s. He appeared to be a thousand years old. He was not well preserved, his face wrinkled and gaunt and grey, his neck baggy, something the goofy foppish scarves didn’t hide. The forward-combed hair, blonde-brown, drooped like a rug over the trademark high forehead. And the old guy’s ears positively dwarfed every other feature; they were elephantine.
            Until that moment, my image of Fred Astaire had been stuck where it started, in black and white cinema. He’s wearing tux and tails, shiny black shoes. He’s trim and tight-skinned, everything in proportion, hair slicked back from the big brow, and the man is just always dancing, whether he’s dancing or not. He exudes charm. Also: he manages to look elegant smoking a cigarette.
            We age right along with our stars and heroes, but the process seems to happen in parallel universes. We grow old in our small, private, quotidian ways, they out there in the bright public eye, doing everything on a grand scale (including their mess-ups), with responsibilities and advantages we don’t even wish we had. Then, without warning, if we’re not dead: geezerhood.
            I love knowing Bob Dylan is now 70. I might be taking more comfort in this than I ought to. I’m okay with that.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

by Robert Jevne
Are you thinking about how you can show the world your inner generosity, but you don’t know how to get started? Do you feel the urge to reach out and touch someone but, you really don’t want to actually touch someone? Never had to rely on the kindness of strangers so you just aren‘t sure why all these people need your hard earned dollars? We can help. Here at the Kyndness Center and (that’s kindness with a Y) our trained professionals and interactive need-avatars are here to assist you with low-cost solutions to all your kindness needs. We can help you become the philanthropist you always intended to be without all the stress and our systems works quickly and easily because it’s based on your needs as a giver. You learn about caring by proxy so there are no bothersome entanglements or messy unintended consequences. How can we do this? By making all your contributions virtual when you subscribe to our website at and play our interactive on-line game “Gimme.” “Gimme” has delighted audiences of all ages with its zany cast of needs-based characters and the multitude of ways in which you can help them without leaving the safety and comfort of your own living room or the need to soil your hands. You will instantly begin to feel better about your capacity to care as soon as your giving-avatar struts into our virtual slum with a virtual bankroll the size of Texas and starts doling out the virtual love. And if you are unsatisfied with your generosity program, don’t worry. For a low monthly fee, there are literally hundreds of other needy avatars waiting on-line for you. Kyndness is just a click away at

If on-line gaming isn’t your thing; you can always attend one of our many seminars hosted by Dr Bob Problem internationally recognized expert in the field of virtual giving. Perhaps you might enjoy Dr Problem’s lecture entitled “Giving Till it Doesn’t Hurt: A Guide to Pain-Free Involvement” or maybe “A Tribe called Me: The Oneness of Always Being Number One.” and for the grown-ups “Minnesota Nicer: Competitive Kindness and How it can Improve your Sex Life.” Bob will be in Hackensack on June 23rd, Wirt the 24th, and at the Debs Civic Center for one of his incredible brown-bag lunch lectures on the 25th. Be sure to reserve your seat in advance as these will be sold out events.

And don’t forget you can always drop in to one of our Kyndness Centers located almost Minnesota-wide where you can chill-out at our internet cafĂ© and enjoy Bob Problem’s special blend of third world coffees at amazingly low prices and engage one-on-one with a kindness technician who, for a small monthly fee, will guide you on your journey towards virtual kindness. “Are you ready to get kynd?” ( that’s kindness with a Y) is not associated with or and is a wholly owned subsidiary of Vengeful Enterprises in association Bob Problem Productions.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Culturology 5-19: Women, both historical and Mad

by Travis Ryder
This time around on Culturology, we visit the Clearwater County Historical Society and their new exhibit focusing on the women who made history in the region - sometimes in quiet ways, sometimes very visibly.  Independent producer Doug MacRostie brings us the sound-rich story.

New exhibits at Duluth Art Institute cover Northwest Wisconsin-born photographer Esther Bubley, and a group of contemporary female commercial artists and advertising designers in the Twin Ports area.  They're calling the latter exhibit 'Mad Women' in reference to the hit AMC show focusing on the '60s Madison Avenue ad business.  KUMD's Maija Morton visited with one of the artists, Lisa Blade, in this piece.

Young people face a lot of stresses from their peers and society in general.  One group of young people is using drama as a vehicle to confront topics like cyber-bullying.  We visited with Brooke Wichmann, advisor of the Peacemakers' Club at Schoolcraft Learning Community.  That club is staging their original play, 'Acting Up!' this weekend at Headwaters Unitarian Universalist Fellowship in downtown Bemidji.  The curtain goes up Saturday at 6:30 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m.

We're happy to introduce a new contributor to Culturology.  Chris Quaal Vinson has a great feel for living in the northwoods.  She's the daughter of KAXE's legendary wild foods contributor, the late Gil Quaal.  On this week's program, she tells us about some of the reasons she came back to northern Minnesota.  Vinson is a columnist for the Western Itasca Review, where this commentary originally appeared.  She also maintains the blog, 'The Minnesota Farm Woman.'

Friday, May 13, 2011

The Bob Problem

  by Robert Jevne
   I would like to conduct a little experiment. Let’s pretend we are being introduced to each other. The person doing the introduction might say “Robert this is Bill, Bill this is Robert.” Then I would probably say “Hi Bill. Nice to meet you.” And you (as Bill) would say…Now, if, in your mind, your natural response was to change my name from Robert to Bob please raise your hand. Be honest. Come on. There you go...hmm…yes, its just as I suspected. Approximately 13% of respondants changed my name from Robert to Bob. This mimics real life where it seems that about 1 out of ten people I meet will do the same. Of course that percentage rises under special conditions such as when I am purchasing a used car, or a cell phone plan, or talking to any type of insurance agent. I call it “The Bob Problem.”

    Most of the time it doesn’t bother me. I try to make my used cars last and the cell plan is for two years, and I usually need something in the way of a favorable settlement from my insurance agent so I don’t take it personally. Even when my father-in-law, god rest his soul, would start out by saying Bob but change in mid-word to Robert and most of the time ended up calling me Bah-Robert. It was endearing. Sort-of. But there are times when I see a pattern developing with someone I’m going to have to deal with on a regular basis such as at work or even in making a potential new friend and I know I’m going to have to nip it in the bud. And then comes the awkward moment when I have to say I prefer Robert and they feel the need to apologize and then we have to work a little harder to get past it…or not. I don’t know if it’s a symptom of something or some kind of syndrome the name of which is only known in the most arcane annals of psychological theory. It doesn’t matter, I suppose. I know its real and I know I am not alone in being subjected to it. Sometimes I suspect it is akin to male dogs feeling the need to urinate in another dog’s territory but that’s just conjecture on my part.
   And I know that I am part of the problem. I am the one who when he was nineteen and had just separated himself from friends and family, moved to the big city and decided to start introducing himself as Robert. I guess I felt the need for a little more gravitas as I encountered people of much greater sophistication and education than myself, and at six foot three and 135 pounds I needed all the gravitas I could get to keep me from blowing away in a stiff wind. Little did I realize at the time how much gravitas required being grave. Now in my middle age as I fight gravity, and frankly begin to feel the pull of the grave, I’ve begun to reconsider my stance on “the Bob Problem.” Now the name Bob seems more light-hearted, more user-friendly, and, not to be too punny, more buoyant. And who couldn’t use more of that? Let’s just say I’m thinking about it and if you happen to meet me sometime you can try it out. I just can’t promise I’ll recognize myself

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Donation to KAXE from KAXE member Rick McDonald

Rick McDonald stopped the KAXE studios for a phony staged handshake this afternoon.  The handshake was staged, but the check in his hand was all REAL.  Rick was the recipient of the MN Power Foundation Don Shippar Community Leadership award.  The winner is given to $1000 to donate to any charitable organization of his choosing.  Rick chose to give to KAXE as well as the Itasca Ski Club.

Thanks Rick!  you are a peach!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Culturology 5-5: Printmakers-in-training

by Travis Ryder
An example of a linocut print.
Culturology caught up with Becca and Kelle, students in in the Printmaking course at Hibbing Community College.  Both are working toward the school's Associate of Fine Arts degree, designed as a bridge toward baccalaureate and graduate work in the arts. They talk about their creations so far, and the basics of printmaking, with their instructor Paula Brandel.

Hear the piece here.

The Duluth-based, internationally-recognized group Low played to a full cathedral in their hometown Friday night. Listen in as KAXE's Charlie Pulkrabek speaks with the group's Alan Sparhawk.

Culturology is KAXE's flagship arts and culture program, heard select Thursdays in the 8 o'clock hour.  It's produced with support from the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Guido on Mom's advice

FOOD GROUP ADVICE by Steve Downing

            Now that Mom’s been gone for 617 days, you’d think I would’ve stopped requiring her input long ago. Actually, in a sense, that did happen. Twice. The first time I stopped needing Mom’s advice, I was fifteen-ish. This lasted till I was around 30, when I came to see that Mom really did know a thing or two. Thirty years later, as Mom was pushing 90, she threw in the towel on advice-giving. From her perspective, our lives had gotten so complicated, by way of computers and social networking and the plain old warp-speed pace of everything, she could barely comprehend the big picture, never mind the nuances, of our day-to-day challenges and choices.
            I’m thinking here of one especially memorable motherly warning. It had to do with love. I was in college and had been jilted by my girlfriend. I was in bad shape, which I was denying. Trying to hide it. Pathetic. Mom knew.
            This was decades before cell phones and PCs, and Mom had grown up in an environment where the long-distance telephone call was regarded as a luxury reserved for reporting death, world wars, water moccasins in the basement. Luckily, she was a great letter writer. She and I wrote back and forth once a week, at least, and to say that I depended on those letters is an understatement.
            Mom and the woman who was two-timing me had only met in passing, so this wasn’t selective or personal. Mom wrote: “My dear, you mustn’t let it mean more than it means. If you do, Suzanne will turn your heart into jello and your brain into oatmeal.”
            Now you know why I still find myself wondering what Mom would say to me today about a particular decision or opportunity or screw-up. Nobody but a mother fully appreciates what a mess you might make of yourself, without guidance. I’m not saying Mom prevented the jello and oatmeal thing. I’m just saying: she saw it coming.

Friday, May 6, 2011

And the Award Goes To...

KAXE held its Annual Meeting last Saturday at our studios in Grand Rapids. It was a fun evening with a great assortment of Mexican potluck food. Thanks to everybody who attended.

Five awards plus one special recognition were given at the event.

Loren Childs, also known as the Doctor of Togomusicology, was honored for his many years of hosting "Backporch Harmony." A picture of "the Doc" now hangs in the studio where he does his show.

The Online Leadership Award was presented to Ross Williams for his work with Northern Community Internet.

The Debbie Lentz Silent Star award honors a volunteer who works in any of the numerous ways volunteers contribute to KAXE off the air. Sandy Roggenkamp received the award this year for her hard work as the president of our board of directors.

The Marcia Nottingham Community Impact award  is given to an individual who participates in KAXE and who also contributes in a meaningful way to the community at large.  This year, the award went to Aaron Wenger for his work with the engineering program at Itasca Community College.

The Bill McKeever On-Air Artistry award winner is chosen by Northern Community's Board of Directors. This year's award went to Chad Brandt.

The Phil Collins Volunteer of the Year award goes to one of our on-air volunteers who goes above and beyond. Brandon Chase is the recipient of this year's award. (Brandon was not able to attend the meeting, so that's why there's not a photo.)

Pass It Along

by Robert Jevne

   Let me start by apologizing for the way this essay ends and then by saying I love my mother very much but in the somewhat strict delineation of duties in our household when I was growing up, advice either wasn’t under her purview or her interest. With five children, she most likely was too busy keeping up with basic chores to dispense indispensable wisdom as well. If she had anything to say about our activities it most likely was “Oh… that’s nice,” and I could never figure out whether she meant it or whether she was being ironic. In fact, neither one of my parents was big on doling out advice. We were left, for better or worse, to our own devices. Being unschooled in the methodology of worldly wisdom is why, when I became a parent, I came up with mostly off the cuff advice for my own children such as “Don’t go shooting pigeons in the barn” because I knew a kid who died doing just that, or advice on doing chores like “Lift with your heart, not your back,” All short lived and with limited effect. Which is why, like my mother, I’ve forsaken trying to come up with anything more meaningful and begun to practice her style of informed detachment as my kids begin to make their way in the world. My mother, like mothers everywhere, made breakfast, lunch and dinner, cleaned the house, washed my dirty clothes and for a short number years, even washed me. The love was all in the doing, did I really need to extract advice as well?

   My mother’s parents, who were European immigrants, ran a laundry out of their basement apartment in Chicago during the depression; a situation which seems, from my distant vantage, full of the complexities of class and ethnic entanglement. Now, my mother is at the age where the complexities of life are explained to her in black and white by the pundits of television. Now she is full of advice. All of it reserved for politicians. Television, for her, is a solace, and I struggle to understand, but I still find it a frustrating impediment and I can’t help but resent the reductive process that modern life affords us at the end of our days and the type of media that takes advantage of it. I would like to think there’s a way to fight this; after all I’m the one who walks around saying, “You’ve got to lift with your heart, not your back.” To which my mother might respond with an “Oh…that’s nice”
   But there is one important thing my mother gave me in lieu of direct advice, which I keep with me at all times, and that was this (SING YOUR SONG HERE ) In other words, keep a song in your heart and pass it along if you can. And that’s not something I could have made up on my own.