Thursday, March 31, 2011

Uninvited Guests on Between You and Me

by Steve Downing
           Historically, the classic bad uninvited guest is in most cases a relative. Either blood kin or in-law. The reason being: it’s often harder to say “No” to a rellie, though the “Yes” is rarely unanimous or unconditional. By the time “No” (or “Please leave”) becomes unanimous, the damage is done, and a lifetime of further family trouble is pretty much guaranteed.
            It’s the small stuff, isn’t it. Always the small stuff. The uninvited guest needs a 20-minute shower, then requires two towels, sometimes twice a day. The uninvited guest takes over your personal KAXE coffee mug, wanders outdoors with it, and drops it on the sidewalk. The uninvited guest eats and drinks too much, consistently, and is consistently elsewhere during kitchen clean-up. The uninvited guest, after eating and drinking too much, gets sick all over the heirloom night-table, and the hallway between bedroom and bathroom. Then has a myocardial infarction, in the bathroom. And dies. With the door locked. This does transcend small stuff, and it proves my point. You can forgive the uninvited guest for locking that door before he croaked in the bathroom. But shattering your KAXE coffee mug?
            You’re right there with me on this, aren’t you?

Tune in to our weekly conversation - this week on uninvited guests on Between You and Me - Saturday from 10-noon with Heidi Holtan.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Fishing, Culturology, Politics, Baseball, Gardening and Other Fantansies

by Scott Hall

This Thursday on KAXE's morning show, our Early Bird Guide, Jeff Sundin reports from the 79th Annual Northwest Boat, Sport, and Travel Show in Minneapolis (he'd rather be fishing). Travis Ryder covers the Culturology Calendar.  As of now, the Republican-DFL train wreck we have been anticipating this year isn't going to happen because they are not only on separate tracks but also on separate planets. Colleen and Chuck will try to make sense of it on Making Sausage.  Fred Friedman will be on the Sports Page, but after that his life will be on hold this weekend as the Twins open the 2011 baseball season in Toronto and College basketball has the men and women's final fours.  Bonnie the Plant Lady is back to help you imagine what might happen when (if?) the snow melts.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Public Broadcasting 101

Go to

Recent controversy surrounding NPR has renewed calls in Congress to de-fund public broadcasting in America, particularly National Public Radio.

This is distressing for us at KAXE. Public radio is not the same as NPR. The public broadcasting system is more complicated than that.

Public broadcasting is a system. National Public Radio is a nonprofit organization that creates programming for the system. Some stations elect to buy programs from NPR, but NPR is not the public broadcasting system itself.

The public broadcasting system is made up of 900 local public radio stations and more than 300 local PBS TV stations. If Congress takes away the funding from the public broadcasting system, the money will come directly out of the budgets of local stations.

Here’s how federal funding works for KAXE:

KAXE receives about 20% of its annual revenue—or about $140,000—from federal funds. These funds come from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, or CPB. They are KAXE’s third largest source of funding, after membership and underwriting.

About 1/4 of the CPB money going to every public radio station is restricted. We have to use it to buy programming that is distributed nationally and serves a national audience.  KAXE has always used its restricted money to buy programs and satellite services from NPR. We buy All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Car Talk and World Cafe. Other public radio stations (most of the other CPB-funded AMPERS stations in Minnesota, for example) choose to buy programs from other producers like PRI or American Public Media or others.

After that, we are allowed to use the other 3/4 of the money to operate KAXE. Federal money helps us pay for all of our other expenses, like operating our 100,000-watt transmitter, buying equipment and producing local programs like the Morning Show, On the River, the Phenology Show, RealGoodWords, Currents and Between You and Me.

For big stations in large cities, CPB funding is a smaller share of the budget. For small, rural stations like KAXE and rural public TV, it is a much larger share.

In our smaller market, government funding makes a crucial difference in our ability to do a good job for our community. NPR would be inconvenienced by the loss of government funding (it makes up about 2% of their budget), but entire stations—especially small, minority and rural public radio and TV stations—would be severely hurt by this same loss.

We hope you keep this in mind as you consider contacting your legislators, or as you hold discussions with your friends and family in and around our community about public broadcasting’s future.

.--Maggie Montgomery, General Manager, Northern Community Radio

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Spring Sprang Sprung

by Robert Jevne

What does spring hold for a man my age? Technically, I am not old. It was only last year I received my first invitation to join AARP, but I have to confess that my passport to randy/rowdy spring revelry has expired. If I ever had been inclined towards spring break in Florida, I no longer would be as it would most likely interfere with my occupation as Chief Obituarian of the house.

So if spring doesn’t cause in me a bacchanalia of spirit, what does it do for me? The increased daylight does provide me with more energy and warmer temperatures make it easier to be outside for more than a few minutes. My wife and I have been walking every day through the still deep snow clear across the field out to a stand of silver maples down by the river to see if the sap is running. There are a few things I’ve been noticing along the way. Oh sure, I take note of the geese flying up-river, the tracks of some critter crawling out of hibernation, the coloration of twigs, the swelling buds, the water flowing in ribbons on top of the river ice, but what I’ve really been eyeing up is an old sagging shed to see what I can salvage from it for a chicken coop. And there’s the loafing shed with its dramatically swayed back in need of straightening and the sliding barn door which no longer slides, and of course every time I look at the dilapidated fence-lines here there and everywhere on the property I think of the heifers coming and how tired my arms are going to be digging all those new post holes before they get here. And somehow I am looking forward to all these tasks. I suspect the mysterious powers of spring hold sway over me yet…in the guise of projects The transference of energy, through me, into a thing, into a place. Strategizing, laboring, witnessing change, being surprised, tiring but maybe not even opening the paper to the obituary page…for a while.

Before my attention got hijacked by the needs of our little farmette and maybe the first sign that spring had a grip on me was that my original idea for this essay was to do a hip-hop version of the Homeric “Hymn to Demeter” that famous chunk of mythopoetry which explained everything the ancient Greek needed to know about why spring sprang every year, about the tribulations of mother/daughter relationships, and about the danger surrounding guys named Pluto who drove around in gold cars and had mysterious connections with the underworld. All set to Igor Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring with DJ needle scratches and a rock-solid drum loop. But then I thought that might be a stretch for a rhythmically challenged middle-age white guy living on a hobby farm in northern Minnesota with a plate already overloaded with spring projects but then I thought - what the heck - its spring! Hit it Igor!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Culturology 3-24: Pecha Kucha in Bemidji

by Travis Ryder

Public speaking is routinely ranked as one of our top fears.  Maybe you're still haunted by memories of freezing up in front of your high school speech class.  (I remember one poor girl in ninth grade performing a pantomime with an open zipper.)  But a new global phenomenon has come to the Northwoods, and it has area folks volunteering for public speaking. In this feature, independent producer Doug MacRostie discovers the magic that is Pecha Kucha. The next Bemidji event is on Thursday, March 31st, 6:30 p.m., at the New City Ballroom. 

Bemidji-area artist Paula Jensen has a sculpture on display through the end of March at the Women's Art Registry of Minnesota Members' Show, housed in the historic Grain Belt Bottling building in northeast Minneapolis.  AMPERS member station KUMD's Maija Morton visits with Jensen about this show, her work in painting and current endeavors at her own Earth Eagle Forge.  Specifically noteworthy on her website is the documentation of progress on her eagle sculpture.  The story we aired is here.


Fri., Mar. 25         
Flautist Linda Chatterton with pianist Matthew McCright present a recital at BSU's Thompson Recital Hall, 7:30 p.m.
Grand Rapids Players present Chicago, 7:30 Fri and Sat, 2 pm Sunday at the Reif Center.
Grass Roots Concert Series presents Irish trio Chulrua at the Live Well nightclub in Nisswa, 7:30 p.m.

Sat., Mar. 26       
Free digital photography workshop, sponsored by Grand Rapids Area Library.  9 – 2:30, GR Fire Hall meeting room.  Professional photographer Jon Gregor presents.  Cameras available to borrow.  Contact the Library to sign up at 326-7640.
Central Lakes College will host auditions for the children’s play The Clown Who Ran Away, Saturday at 10 a.m.  Actors and actresses in 3rd through 12th grade are invited to audition. 
Boreal Brewers annual homebrew tasting comes to the basement of the Keg ‘n Cork, downtown Bemidji, from 2 to 6 pm.  Brewers, bring 8 to 10 bottles of your finest.  Spectators 21 and up, bring curiosity and a small cover charge.

Tue, Mar. 29       
The acclaimed men's vocal ensemble Cantus performs, 7:30 p.m. at Davies Theater at Itasca Community College in Grand Rapids.

March 23, 1971: Minnesota is among the first states to ratify the twenty-sixth amendment to the U.S. Constitution, which gives U.S. citizens eighteen years of age or older the right to vote in local, state, and national elections. Both Minnesota and Delaware claim to be the initial actor on the issue.

March 24, 1999: The U.S. Supreme Court upholds the rights of the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe to fish and hunt in ceded lands without state regulation, as dictated by an 1837 treaty.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Sign Of Spring?

by Scott Hall

We were a divided country this morning - heavy snow in the southern half of the KAXE listening area closed or delayed schools in Carlton, Aitkin, Crow Wing, Cass and Hubbard counties.  Hardly a flake north of highway 200. John Latimer stuck his nose in the studio at 7 this morning to say "I told you so!"  Tuesday's forecast predicted 4 to 11 inches of snow in Itasca County and the Iron Range. John said "I doubt it."  On Monday, 24 to 30 hours before the storm, Tornado Bob said "maybe".  They were both half right. As the sun breaks through here on the Mississippi River in Itasca County, the final tally isn't in yet for the "south of 200" communities, but it looks like 8 to 14 inches when it's all over.  And it will stick around a while.  Temps tonight 5 below to 5 above, highs tomorrow in the 20s, with sunshine.

This morning, retired U of MN Extension Specialist and Maple Syrup guru, Carl Vogt (right), told us the best sap runs often follow a big storm like this one, but other factors are equally important: "overnight temps below freezing, daytime temps in the 40s, sunshine and stable high barometric pressure, and, for some reason, light winds."

Signs of Spring

This Saturday morning John Latimer joins hosts Gail Otteson and Michael Goldberg on "Between You and Me" from 10 to noon.  They'll be tracking the arrival of Spring!  Listen to 91.7 (89.9 in the snowbound Brainerd area, 105.3 in the Bemidji area, on the web at and call during the program, 218-326-1234.

Friday, March 18, 2011

The 2011 MN Book Awards

by Heidi Holtan
The 2011 MN Book Awards are coming up on Saturday April 16th at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Downtown St. Paul.

Minnesota is a state that I'm proud to live in for many reasons - least of which is it's dedication to literature and books. Minnesota has many great independent publishers and one our greatest resources is its writers. Many of this year's nominees were guests this year on Realgoodwords and other KAXE programming.

During the month of March you can still vote for your favorite in the Minnesota Reader's Choice award here.

This week I feature my conversations with William Kent Krueger and David Housewright. They are both up for the award in the genre fiction category.

You can listen to the interviews I and other KAXE staff did with all of the authors I interviewed who are nominated for a MN Book Award this year:
-William Kent Krueger and "Vermilion Drift"
-David Housewright and "The Taking of Libbie SD"
-Julie Kramer and "Silencing Sam"
-Wendy Webb and "The Tales of Halycon Crane"

-Bonnie Rough and "The Carrier"
-Laurie Hertzel and "News to Me: Adventures of An Accidental Journalist"
-Chris Niskanen and Doug Ohman's "Prairie, Lake, Forest: Minnesota's State Parks" (you can hear the 2 hour Between You and Me on State Parks that includes an interview/conversation with Doug Ohman)
-Jay Weiner and "This is Not Florida: How Al Franken Won the MN Recount" (listen to Scott Hall's interview on the site here)
-Michael Nordskog & Aaron Hautala's "Opposite of Cold: The Northwoods Finnish Sauna Tradition" You can see Aaron's essay and photos on the KAXE blog here....
-Anton Treur's "The Assassination of Hole-In-The-Day"

Restaurants on Between You and Me

Got a memorable restaurant experience?  Tune in to Between You and Me this Saturday, March 18, 2011.  Here's a sneak into Guido's essay:

Menu Turistica
by Steve Downing

            Ever the optimist, I want to relate a best-restaurant experience, and for starters I cannot not remember the polar opposite. This happened to Dodger and me, in Venice, two decades ago. First, the setting. It’s one of those huge, old-Europe, urban, guildhall courtyards; four- and five-story brick buildings all around; statues, fountains, pigeons, wild dogs, feral cats, mendicants missing limbs and face parts; everything you hope for when you go out to eat. The restaurant’s right there in the thick of it; that is, in the open-air core of an echo chamber. Conversation back and forth across the table is all about reading lips, which of course can be very provocative and is also good practice for turning eighty. We were forty-ish.
            Then the waiter shows up. Central Stereotype Casting: arrogant Italian wiseguy (a double tautology?), possibly named Guido. We speak virtually no Italian, but that’s irrelevant. Our guy conveys condescending comprehension of everything we say, without seeming to know a word of English. He does all the talking, shouting. His body language is expansive, not to say operatic. His voice percusses over us on the plaza, then becomes one with the vocalizing of the wild dogs and feral cats and pigeons and mendicants and the general din of day-to-day life in an echo chamber. When he’s finished, it’s a relief to have him gone, and we resume reading lips.
            Way too soon, he’s back. On the center of each plate is a fish. A whole fish. Scales, tail, fins, gills, mouth, teeth, eyeballs, the works. Conveniently, they have extracted the inner organs, either before or after cooking, though the cooking doesn’t appear to have involved much beyond a pre-heat. I gamely remove a patch of scales and skin, affording easier access to the bones, which are all there.
            Ten minutes later, in the pension, gorging on hard bread and cheese, we discontinue the lip-reading and talk out loud, softly, about a truly exquisite meal we had in Antibes, the week before, and the news of the day back home: Bill Clinton has just named Al Gore as his running mate.

Dinner and (gulp) Conversation

  by Robert Jevne

   Growing up as the youngest of five children my role at the dinner table was pretty much - shut up and eat. Not that those words were ever used. As most children and other animals instinctively know, I knew the pecking order. I got pretty good at eating. I’ve been doing it most of my life. And I became an observer. The eyes and ears of the table. Everything that was over my head, which was most everything, was stored away for a later date when I would grow into it and finally understand. What I haven’t gotten better at is dinner conversation.

      Dinner at home is fine. We know and love each other well enough to let most of what passes for conversation slide into long, comfortable silence. The difficulty arises upon going out to eat. Eating in a restaurant; OK, a “nice” restaurant, is an intimate experience. The ambience can be anywhere from relaxing to romantic to adventurous. The smells and the visual style of the place, the universally dim lighting, the background music, even the murmur of private conversation going on around you and the secret pleasure of “listening in” occasionally, all pile up conspiratorially toward a goal of not just making you hungry but of making you open - sensually. Add a couple of drinks and the table is set, so to speak. But (this where the but comes in as well as the food) regardless of the ambience and the fantastic meal you’re just now beginning to dig into and all this openness you’ve just succumbed to (or maybe because of it), you suddenly become keenly aware that there, sitting approximately 30 - 36 inches opposite of you is your table-mate. Face to face. Eyeball to eyeball. Masticating mouth to Masticating mouth. Have you ever seen a photo of yourself taken while you were in the act of chewing? Did you think you looked pretty good? I didn’t think so. Now (gulp) start talking. Its part of the experience. Or should be …but…conversation, good conversation, is an art. For some it’s a performance. For some it comes naturally. For others its like pulling porcupine quills from your dogs nose - from the dogs perspective.
I have been highly entertained by various dinner companions but always with some guilt because the river always flowed in one direction. Its not something I’m proud of - my lack of ability in this area. I’m not stoic or morose. I’m not bound to silence by any sense of machismo. I am there. I have tried. Its just one of those things, one of those unchangeable things in my nature. Its called baggage. We all have either some, or too much. This is mine. I shut up. I eat. I am the eyes and ears of the table. Someday I will finally understand.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Things happening 'round KAXE

"How many computers does it take to run a radio station?"  No, this isn't a joke with a clever punchline.  It's one of the standard questions that KAXE engineer/elementary teacher Dan Houg asks of his pupils.  Whether it's Cub Scouts, College for Kids, or any other community group, Dan Houg is a master at getting kids interested in the science of running a radio station.  What did the cub scouts answer Dan? 


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

John Bauer admits to loving Neil Diamond....

What will you admit to?  Joan Downham is the volunteer hostess with the mostest today - playing all vinyl with a a lineup of Neil Diamond, Sonny & Cher, Fats Domino, Led Zeppelin, Rosie Flores and who knows what else.

Do you have a guilty pleasure?  Neil Diamond?  Captain and Tenille?  Tom Jones?  Hall and Oates?  this is your time to admit what you sing along to! 

It's all vinyl today too - what the first record you ever bought?

Monday, March 14, 2011

Aaron Brown's thoughts on cuts to Public Broadcasting

You can listen to Aaron's essay here, or read the text below:

The proposed, probable federal cuts to the Corporation for Public Broadcasting could lead me down a predictable path. I could just say, hey, give money to the cause and call your Congressional Representative. Or just give money. Mostly, we need the money because calling Congress is like calling Bigfoot. Even if you reach Bigfoot on his landline in the Pacific Northwest, he is unlikely to change his mind because of the words you say, which he may not even understand in the first place, presuming he actually exists.

Stations like KAXE exist because of members, still the largest source of revenue and the most important part of our survival. But the nickels and dimes of the working folks who support KAXE have always been augmented by the federal government and other grants. This happens because public radio is more than entertainment, it is a service, a beacon of our culture, a market for the currency of democracy and free thought.

We live in the Information Age. You can’t see this, but I’m capitalizing those words. “I” like “iPhone” and “A” like, well, one of the letters in Facebook. We still need and use industry, machines and such, just as we still use wheels, flint, bronze and the occasional arrow. But the freshest layer in our human development, and the thing that in the future will most define what we now call the United States of America, is information: Technology, communication networks and what the kids these days call “content.”

Private industry has an important role to play in the Information Age. If you’ve used a cell phone or sent a text message this year, you know why. If you’ve ever used the internet to buy things or do work, you know why. But it isn’t just the private sector entering the Information Age, it’s the public sector too, and the public square. The government once ensured that the town square was clear of garbage and street toughs so that the people could safely conduct the town’s civic affairs. Today that town square is online. Elections are won and lost on the internet. Ideas are exchanged through the internet, debated and restructured, before being excreted out through the traditional media.

If you look around northern Minnesota, the only organization offering carte blank access between the people, their information and the ability to access other people in the area is Northern Community Radio. From KAXE and KBXE to Northern Community Internet and an active Facebook cohort, this organization isn’t beholden to corporate overlords or the interests of the powerful. Because power in the information age is information, not many would give that power away in exchange for so little; your voluntary contributions and your desire to express to your elected leaders, no matter your party, the importance of vibrant public media.

There is no profit in news, or in shows about birds, or in letting regular people from your community on the air to talk about what’s important to them. These things lose money, displeasing stockholders. But without this kind of media, we lose something more important that money or the free market system. We lose our hold on the only thing that really matters these days, information, and how it affects we the people.

Aaron Brown is a writer and community college instructor from the Iron Range. You can read more at or in his book “Overburden: Modern Life on the Iron Range.” 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Between You and Me on furniture - Basil & Guido style

Don’t Try This At Home
by Steve Downing

            My one experience with furniture-making involved a doggie-bed for our dog, Basil. I was using materials and techniques developed back in the Age of Aquarius, when Dodger and I lived in a tipi, and the sweat lodge was the closest thing to a shower in our camp. The sweat lodge infrastructure was made of thin stripped cedar branches lashed together into a dome, and for Basil’s doggie-bed I simply down-sized and inverted the arrangement. I wanted to finish the thing before we left town for a long weekend, and I did, just. I folded up an old flannel sleepingbag liner for a doggie mattress and introduced the sweet cedar-scented work of art to Basil as we were on our way out the door. Basil seemed touched, I remember thinking, as we pulled out of the driveway.
            We had a cryptic text message on Saturday from my sister, who does pet patrol for us when we’re gone: “Not sure about Basil’s bed.”
            Somehow, that did not translate into “Basil has eaten your beautiful, brand new, handmade, work-of-art doggie-bed.” But when we got home late Sunday, no doubt about it: Basil had eaten the doggie-bed. Not the flannel mattress. The frame, the wood, the artistry. Consumed it. Completely. With all of the implications therein.
            Being the world’s oldest living optimist, I chose to find a helpful lesson in this. To wit: a dog can turn art into fertilizer, with less intentionality than he applies to a walk in the woods. The corollary, of course, suggests itself: humans will turn art into fertilizer without even eating it.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

What the Dresser Said

    by Robert Jevne
   This is a true story.
   Almost twenty-five years ago my wife and  I bought a dresser from a second hand store. It was nothing special, just a low, pine dresser with five drawers. We were young and broke at the time. It was cheap. Our aim was to refinish it. When we got it home I took the drawers out to take a closer look at our little project. I found a piece of paper wedged into the under side of one of the smaller drawers. There was writing on it. This is a typewritten copy of what it said:

We still own the dresser. Both of our boys used it when they were living at home.Now its in the "extra" bedroom. I sometimes wonder if the dresser was trying to communicate something to me all those years ago, but I can't be sure. It hasn't tried again since.

Artspace and Franklin Arts Center give artists a place to live/work

by Travis Ryder
Franklin Arts Center
This week's installment of Culturology covers the story of the rise of Artspace, the Minnesota-based, pioneering nonprofit developer of living, working, and performance real estate for artists and other creative people.  Established in 1979, Artspace grew out of a program of the Minneapolis Arts Commission that had more modest goals of connecting artists to existing affordable studios and apartments.  But they soon moved into redeveloping or building their own properties.  Now, their list of 36 complete and in-progress properties stretches from coast to coast, including the Washington Studios in Duluth and Franklin Arts Center in Bemidji.  We'll hear about Artspace in general from KFAI's Dixie Treichel and then get into a talk between our own Heidi Holtan and Aaron Hautala, creative director of an ad agency located in the Franklin.  Hautala talks about what the center means to Brainerd.

Many artists at the Franklin will have their studios open to the public this Saturday from 10 to 4: it’s the regular Second Saturday open house. Also at the Franklin this Saturday: the Flipside youth art session will expose young people to working with acrylics. Maria Thompson Seep will be the instructor from 10 to noon.  And the annual ‘Picturing’ photography exhibition is up in the Q Gallery.

The Lyric Center for the Arts continues their 'Range of the Arts' events series with visual art and music events now through Sunday.  The schedule is here

The original Steve Saari comedic play 'Mere Image' will take the stage at the Wild Rose Theater, in the Bemidji Masonic Temple.  Showings are Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2.

Also in Bemidji this weekend, the bluegrass group Monroe Crossing performs at the Chief Theatre at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

Friday night at the Chalberg Theatre of Central Lakes College, it's a tribute to Motown and Soul music by the central Minnesota band, the Fabulous Armadillos.  More information is here.

The West Range Country Show comes to Greenway Auditorium in Coleraine Sunday night at 6 p.m.

Also Sunday night, the Reif Center in Grand Rapids stages the musical 'All Shook Up', at 7:30 p.m.

Advance warning: next Saturday, March 19, the acclaimed Twin Cities Gay Men's Chorus will perform in Bemidji for the first time.  They'll appear at the Thompson Recital Hall on the BSU campus and tickets are on sale now through Hobson Memorial Union.

Territories of the future state of Minnesota west of the Mississippi went from French to US control in an official ceremony, held in St. Louis, Missouri, March 10, 1804.

The Leech Lake Indian Reservation is formed from three smaller reservations in the area in a treaty signed this week in 1863, and revised in 1864.  Ojibwe from other areas of the state are required to move to the expanded reservation.

Minnesota troops publish an early forerunner of The Onion while occupying the town of Berryville, Virginia on March 11, 1862.  The First Minnesota Regiment found the print run of the local paper half completed.  Members of the company print their own four-page edition, which contains humorous news about the army and the war. Copies of this paper are rare and valued Civil War memorabilia.

On March 8th and 9th, 1892, a severe blizzard hits Minnesota, with winds clocked at 70 miles an hour. The drifts are so tall in Duluth that many people must exit their houses through second-story windows.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Best Seat in the House

By Jennifer Poenix

This Saturday on Between You and Me with Heidi Holtan, we're talking about furniture. Maybe it was something you grew up with. Maybe it's a piece you love to use now.

My parents got married in 1979, and they furnished their brand new house exactly as you'd expect. Macrame plant hanger. Long, tweed curtains. Brown somewhat shag carpet. Velvet-y rust colored couch. TV stand with room to store LPs, which got played on the long stereo, designed to look like a really fancy wooden cabinet.

And then there were the chairs. Two plaid armchairs - that same "rust" color with brown accents. One was sort of tall and skinny. The other shorter and wider. Like Bert and Ernie. There was a matching hassock too. You may have called it an ottoman. We called it a hassock.

As the story goes, my dad would sit in one of them every night, and he would take off his newly acquired wedding band and set it on the arm of the chair. The dog would often sit with him.One night, the ring was gone. Vanished. My mom always maintained that the dog ate it.

Many years later, after the chairs no longer matched the house's decor, my grandpa moved to a nursing home. A few of them actually, and in a few different towns. (Grandpa was not an easy man to please, you see.) He ended up with one of the plaid chairs. The chair probably traveled at least 250 miles in this whole process.

When it came time to finally dispose of the chair, my dad decided to look for his ring. He took the chair apart. I mean, he really demolished the thing. Way, deep down inside of that chair, he found his wedding ring. Ta-da!

Every piece of furniture has some kind of story, and I hope you'll share yours this Saturday morning on Between You and Me, from 10am-noon.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Guido's deep thoughts on the Movies

Movies: What It Is
by Steve Downing

            Following up on Heidi Holtan and Julie Crabb’s ‘Between You & Me’ program on Saturday, 3/5: I’m old enough to remember the time when moving-picture technology had not yet transcended use-your-imagination. Meaning: I was watching when guys who got shot in black-and-white westerns simply tipped over and stopped moving. That’s what we did out in the back yard, too, mimicking those movies. No blood. No fatal-wound histrionics. No loose body parts.
            Today, you see the full-screen black hole of the gun’s muzzle, the bullet leaving the barrel in slow motion, the bullet entering the guy’s eyeball and turning it to glue, then exploding out the back of his head in a spray of hair, blood and brains.
            You know this did not happen. Similarly, you know that Jack Nicholson didn’t really get his nose ripped open in “Chinatown”. Willing suspension of disbelief: what it is. From Aeschylus and Shakespeare right on through to TV and the modern movie industry, our day-to-day reality relies in part on theater, on just-pretend; i.e., on unreality.
            This all underscores the two ways of willing suspension of disbelief. We know what they’re doing in the movies isn’t real. The movie-makers know what they’re doing isn’t real. They know we know they know it isn’t real. And so on. Amid all this pretense, the old philosopher’s question, “Why is there something rather than not-something?” gets turned on its ear. The question becomes not “Why?” but instead: “Is there something, anything, real?” Really.

Guido is a regular commentator to Between You and Me.  You can hear his essay here....

Monday, March 7, 2011

Pete Seeger's Log

The first real interview I ever did for KAXE was with Pete Seeger. My husband Dennis and I had gotten press passes to attend the 1984 Winnipeg Folk Festival as brand new KAXE volunteers. We hauled in a huge (by today’s standards) old Marantz cassette recorder, signed up to interview several different performers, and tried to enjoy the festival as we nervously began to prepare for a series of interviews that were to begin the next day.

But that night, at the main stage concert, someone came to get us. “Pete Seeger would like you to do the interview now,” she said. We were stunned. We weren’t ready. And Pete Seeger to boot—by far the most famous person on our list of interviewees!

We needn’t have worried. At that time Pete already had been performing for 45 years. He had been one of the original founders of the Almanac Singers and the Weavers. He had written “Where Have All the Flowers Gone” and “If I Had a Hammer” and “Turn, Turn, Turn.” He had met and worked with Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and Josh White. He had been subpoenaed to come before the House Un-American Activities Committee where he had refused to testify. He had been blackballed, had played at FDR’s White House, and had been one of the key people responsible for the folk song revival in the 1940s, 50s and 60s. Throughout his entire life, Pete Seeger consistently stood for civil and labor rights, racial equality, international understanding, and anti-militarism.

Pete Seeger had participated in thousands of interviews over the course of his career as a musician and social activist. As much as Dennis and I were nervous, he definitely was not.

One thing Pete said during that interview will always stick with me. He said, “We’re all trying to roll a big log up a hill. No matter what the cause—peace, justice, environmentalism—and no matter where you grab on, we’re all pushing that same log.”

I’ve never forgotten about that log. It’s big alright, and the bark has picked up a lot of dirt. And the rolling of that log up Pete’s hill just doesn’t happen without a lot of sweat and effort. It’s slow; incremental. It takes lots of hands and lots of guts and lots of heart.

People are pushing that log right now. They are clamoring for freedom in the Middle East, fighting to keep their collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin, Ohio and elsewhere, and working in every way imaginable to alleviate people’s suffering and make a better world, or sometimes just to take care of their families.

It is my job to ask for your help with KAXE’s interest in that log, which is to keep public broadcasting alive and well in the United States and in Minnesota. If the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) is zeroed out in the federal budgeting process, those cuts will fall hardest on rural stations like KAXE, which receive a bigger portion of their budget from government sources. People say that once the CPB is gone, there is little chance that it will ever come back. Likewise, we have to tell our story to State lawmakers who are considering additional cuts. This will require some activism, but nothing as hard as putting your body on the line as some in the world are doing—what KAXE needs are letters and phone calls of support to our elected officials. More than once. Maybe all the way until the end of September.

It looks like the US House and Senate might be unable to reach agreement on the budget, so they may keep the government functioning piecemeal, week by week or month by month for the rest of the year. Every time a “continuing resolution” comes to a vote, new cuts may accompany it. The budget question over the CPB might drag on for weeks and months or even through the entire rest of the federal fiscal year. In Minnesota, we’re gearing up for AMPERS’ Public Radio Day on the Hill on April 27th. All in all, it’ll be a long haul. Our effort has to be sustained, like pushing that log.

Pete Seeger will be 92 years old on May 3rd of this year. His interview is on an old cassette tape "archived" somewhere in a big plastic bin in the closet under our stairs. It's good to think about that interview and to remember Pete's log and his advice--that where good causes are concerned we're all in this together. We just have to grab on wherever we can and do our part!

Maggie Montgomery, General Manager
Northern Community Radio

Friday, March 4, 2011

Ione and Katherine - and the trouble they caused

by Robert Jevne

My lifelong addiction to movies began, not surprisingly, when I was a child, a time when suspending belief comes easily. Having more idle time than I knew what to do with, and an over active imagination, I got a lot of practice at suspending belief. It all started with "The Morning Movie with Ione,"  a program which combined a classic movie from the thirties or forties with a hostess named Ione. Ione would do stretching exercises during the commercial leotards. Ione would do wacky skits. There was a call-in trivia contest. A fake fish would drop from above with the prize attached - usually seven dollars. And Ione would leotards. It was hard to determine the focus of the show - Ione or movie, movie or Ione. Sometimes Ione would run a little long and the movie would be brutally cut - like the last ten minutes or so, but I was there...all the way there.
   There were several factors involved in my altered state. As the name implies, the "Morning Movie" aired in the morning when I was normally in school. I got to watch it when I was home sick. I was home from school and my Mom was letting me watch TV! What could be better? I'd watch these old movies through the fever and fog of illness. And these movies were old. They dropped into the present like time travelers with important messages about the distant past. That they were in black and white only added to their otherness. In a scene from the Philadelphia Story involving a late night swim, Katherine Hepburn gazes up at Jimmy Stewart, her eyes glistening, her her face shining silver with no color in it whatsoever. Just silver and shadow. Oh, the otherness. I was just a midwestern kid. She was a shimmering light-creature from elsewhere on whom even the cameraman could only focus softly. I knew nothing about love, but there she was all love and confusion, fever and fog. She was drunk. I was drunk.I was swimming in deeper waters. I hardly knew what it meant, but I knew how it felt.
   And then reality would come crashing in. The spell would be broken. Ione would interrupt. I became fickle and was annoyed with her. Leotard schmeotard. As much as I loved Ione, I loved Katherine more and I wanted her back. I was yearning. I was learning something about love, there in the safety of my living room - alone. Whether this was healthy or not, I don't know, but that was what movies could do. I only had to let go of reality, that's all. My heart could be broken, but only in make believe and only briefly, only as long as the commercial break. Then the movie would come back on and I would dip back into the depths, into the mystery beneath the surface of the screen. Suspended.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Culturology Calendar: March 3 Edition

by Travis Ryder
The Culturology program is not on the air every Thursday at 8 a.m., at least not yet.  Right now, we're heard roughly every other week.  But there are great events and worthwhile historical anniversaries every week of the year, so we're committing to bringing you notes from these areas Thursdays around 6:50 a.m. on the "off-weeks".

Another great batch of First Friday events will unfold this Friday afternoon and evening in Bemidji.  Natalia Himmirska and Paula Swenson are among the artists who have new exhibitions. See the Bemidji Community Art Center site for the list.

There's an opening reception Friday evening for the new exhibits at MacRostie Art Center, Grand Rapids. Deborah Splain produces three-dimensional mixed-media paintings; Jackie Solem’s photography will be paired with Loree Mitich and Susan Hawkinson’s poetry, with calligraphy by Meredith Schifsky.  See these works through the end of March.

Calendar with secret box
The annual photography exhibition and workshops, called ‘Picturing’, is Saturday at Q Gallery in the Franklin Arts Center, Brainerd. Registration starts at 8 a.m., workshops from 9 to 4, reception at 5. The reception will honor Photographer of the Year Kelly Humphrey of the Brainerd Dispatch.

Next week, the eighth annual Range of the Arts series comes to Virginia venues. The Lyric Center in Virginia hosts the first three events: Mon. March 7: Words and Lyrics event with authors Deborah Gordon Cooper, Ryan Vine and Francine Sterle. Tuesday at 6:30 is the opening of a visual art exhibit featuring bead and fiber artist Betsey Harries, wood block printer Beckie Prange, and wood carver Fran Starich. Then it’s a public art walk starting at noon on Thursday. All the details can be found on the Lyric Center’s site.

Hibbing Community College art instructor Daryn Lowman presents a photography Lecture & Demonstration in conjunction with this month's exhibition starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday at MacRostie Art Center; it's free & open to the public.

Also Wednesday: touring gypsy jazz guitarist Frank Vignola and his Quartet perform with opening local gypsy jazz act Clearwater Hot Club, 7:30 p.m. at Myles Reif Performing Arts Center.

Historical Aztec calendar

March 3, 1849 Minnesota Territory is signed into existence by President James K. Polk. At that time, the territory stretches west to the Missouri River and has a population of about 15,000, 2/3rds of them Native American.

March 1, 1881 The first state capitol building burns. Saved were the occupants’ lives and the Historical Society archives, but the building and law library are a total loss. A second capitol is built on the same downtown St. Paul site, but is replaced by the present capitol in 1905.

March 1, 1921 Patrick Des Jarlait is born on the Red Lake Reservation. He made fine-art images of Ojibwe traditional life, and also did commercial work including the Land o’ Lakes butter maiden and the cartoon bear from the Hamm’s beer commercials! Des Jarlait died in 1972 and three of his children lead active art careers.

March 4, 1941 Goalie Sam LoPresti has a landmark performance with his Chicago Blackhawks. A native of the Elcor mining location just east of Gilbert, he makes an astounding eighty saves. But you know how it is: if a goalie stops eighty and lets three through, they’ll still call him a bum. Chicago loses to the Boston Bruins 3-2.

March 4, 1942 Tammy Faye LeValley (Bakker) is born in International Falls. With her husband, Jim Bakker, she would help found three of the largest Christian television networks in the world, including the PTL ministry.

March 1, 1994 The Minneapolis group Soul Asylum wins a best rock song Grammy for "Runaway Train".

The Mom of Pop Culture and Movies: a relationship deconstructed

by Julie Crabb

I don't know the exact moment or even the exact film it was when I knew we were meant to be. The we, of course, is me and movies. I remember as a child the usual suspects: Bambi (soon to be released in blue ray and hi-def), The Sound of Music in all its' grandeur and in cinemascope, The Ten Commandments, Ben-Hur, and the old movies from the 30's, 40's, and 50's at 3:00 o'clock every afternoon. All these set in motion an enduring relationship to film. 

I began to take it seriously in the 9th grade when I saw my first foreign movie at the Ken theater in San Diego California. The movie was The Umbrellas of Cherbourg, in subtitles. I was drawn to the sad tragedy of the story and enamored of the beauty of the brilliant Catherine Deneuve.  The small, dark quiet of this indie theater became a refuge. The movies there enveloped all my senses the way music sometimes can. This movie made me want to see more french films: Jules and Jim (Francois Truffaut) and Au Revoir Les Enfants (Louis Malle) to name a couple. You follow the genre and it takes you places. 

Consider the next big movie that really moved me: The Pawnbroker (1965)-Rod Steiger won the best actor academy award for this haunting film, directed by a fairly young Sidney Lumet. Now, look ahead in Lumets' career:Dog Day Afternoon, Network, and the most recent addition, Until the Devil Knows You're Dead. Just follow the trail of credits in movies you like, it will inform you and steer you. 

Fast forward 47 years and I'm still taking refuge in small dark places to have my heart broken (Rabbit Hole-2010), my mind blown (Inception-2010), my soul stirred (Winter's Bone), my sense of joy rise (The Fighter), my anger fueled (Inside Job) and, I've been surprised (remake of True grit). Go see a movie today.

And tune in this Saturday March 5th for Between You and Me - we want YOUR stories of movies that moved you.  10-noon every Saturday morning on KAXE.