Thursday, April 28, 2011

Guido reflects on a garden experiment

by Steve Downing

I’m flashing back on a long-ago gardening experiment, when I set out to grow catnip as a cash crop. I was thinking, of course, about cats’ toys, but I’d also learned that catnip’s chemical ingredient nepetalactone is an effective mosquito repellent. If the garden grew, I’d exploit the bug dope application, too.
Catnip is a weed. Not growing it is harder than growing it. This experimental patch was at one end of a vegetable garden on a hobby farm north of Grand Rapids. We rented the house and kept an eye on the property for the landlord, who lived nearby. He had a day-job in town, his dozen or so cows serving only to connect him to three generations of farmers. 

By August, my cash crop was up, flowery, looking great. Then one morning it was gone. Totally. Across the driveway from the garden, a section of barbwire fence dangled, useless as yarn.

All around our yard, those catnipped cows were down. They did not move, for a day. From time to time, one of them would roll over in super-slow-motion, but mostly they just laid there looking like an arrangement of Henry Moore sculptures. Next day, they were back on their feet, fine.

Years later, I read somewhere about a short-lived fad, perfectly legal but widely scorned: smoking catnip. I’ve never forgotten the writer’s imagery, describing his (alleged) catnip buzz: “I imagined I was a small girl running through the woods chased by geese.” I still wonder: what were those cows dreaming of that day?

Call in your gardening experiments this Saturday to Between you and Me on KAXE from 10-noon!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Ask Not...

by Robert Jevne  
   I was born on a blustery night in Chicago in 1958 to the songs of Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, Ray Charles, Peggy Lee, Elvis Presley and Marty Robbins coming over the radio and the sound of rain beating on the metal roof of the Yellow cab…OK, that’s not true but it sounded good didn’t it? And that’s what radio is all about. I’m not suggesting that radio is a lie, but it is a theater of the mind. The stories we tell about ourselves can transport and transform, tell something of the truth about us, and can, at times, play with that truth (especially during fund drives) and open a different door to how we look at ourselves. Radio is a bit of a magic act. Or at least the physics part of it is somewhat unreal to most of us. There are these waves ( Are they waves? We might as well be talking about pixie dust). Anyway, there are these waves traveling over the air always in the process of being created and simultaneously disappearing, waiting for somebody to glom on to them before they go and listen, just listen, and in that moment connect with what’s being played out in our community, and connect with a community of fellow listeners in a shared experience and it happens all over Northern Minnesota, every day courtesy of KAXE.

   I was having a hard time writing this essay. There are so many good things I’d like to say about KAXE but everything I wrote came back to ME until finally I came to the conclusion that KAXE is all about me…in a way. In the same way that its all about you. Let me break a rule of radio and pull back the curtain to prove my point. I’ve been writing essays for Between You and Me for about a month now. A couple of times Heidi introduced me by saying “Robert Jevne is an area writer and volunteer programmer at KAXE” and so on. Maybe it was a slip of the tongue or force of habit, either way, I won’t bore you with the details of what I do for a living, but suffice it to say it doesn’t involve being an “area writer.” I’m a working stiff and I’m proud enough of it, but does that reality make the other part a lie or a bit of theater? Maybe. Or maybe after a long day of pushin’ broom, I come home and leap into the nearest thing resembling a phone booth (which in these parts is most likely an outhouse) and tear off my shirt to reveal…an “Area Writer” And that’s the magical part of what KAXE can do. And it can do it for you too. Get involved an find out for yourself.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Happy 35th Birthday KAXE!

by Steve Downing

My connection to KAXE goes back to before the beginning, long pre-dating even The Bird Is The Word. So I’ve celebrated every one of its 35 birthdays, and my KAXE memories just do not stop. Here’s one from sometime in the 1980s. True story. Date uncertain.
The Road Hog, a.k.a. Bill McKeever, had determined that it was time to launch his singing career. Two of my brothers and I were working as highly sought after studio-session musicians then; it was a foregone conclusion that the Road Hog would select us for his project.
The other foregone conclusion was that the Road Hog would select Bobby Goldsboro’s 1968 mega-hit “Honey” as the song that would send him off into the pop music stratosphere.
Remember: this is a song, sung from the husband’s perspective, about his young wife, Honey, who’s a bit too young at heart, kind of dumb and kind of smart, but, oh, he loves her so. The story has a measurable narrative arc: a Christmas gift puppy, robins singing in the spring and, of course, the twig Honey plants in the yard that grows, wonder of wonders, into a tree.
The story’s dramatic tension, verse to verse, turns on the husband’s coming home at odd times during the day and catching Honey crying. He thinks it’s because she just finished watching a sad TV show, or because the flowers in the garden are so pretty, or maybe it’s related to her wrecking the car, whatever. And this is subtly nuanced, this conflict: is it Honey who’s kind of dumb and kind of smart or is it Hubby? Because one day the guy comes home and, lo and behold, while he was gone, the angels came and took Honey away.
The Road Hog’s studio band made some auspicious choices: the string and brass instruments played the music in different keys, very intentionally, to underscore the song’s hard edge. The percussion was back-beat, and irrelevant. This was all about the voice, the vocal, the Road Hog’s signature liquid growly drawl. He didn’t so much sing “Honey” as gargle it. And I feel secure in claiming that you have not heard authentic lyric genius until you’ve heard the Road Hog interpreting the lines: “And, Honey, I miss you, and I’m being good, and I’d love to be with you, if only I could.”

Call in this Saturday, on KAXE's 35th birthday, to Between You and Me to tell us about your favorite KAXE moments.  Tune in from 10-noon.

Culturology 4-21: The Music Issue

by Travis Ryder

Since its inception in the late Nineties, the Duluth Homegrown Music Festival has become a touchstone in the region's rawk and/or roll music scene.

THE touchstone, really.

The 2011 edition, coming to the Twin Ports May 1 through 8, will feature over a hundred acts, plus film and art attractions. On this week's Culturology program, independent producer Doug MacRostie profiles one standout act performing at Homegrown, Two Many Banjos. Doug interviewed TMB principal Marc Gartman and intermixed live music from the band from their winter performance at Terrapin Station in Nevis.

We also revisit a chat between KAXE Program Director and host of 'Currents', Mark Tarner, and guitarist Bill Kirchen. You may know Kirchen's work from his time with Commander Cody and his Lost Planet Airmen; specifically his Telecaster work on their Top 10 hit 'Hot Rod Lincoln'. Kirchen and his band perform tonight at Itasca Community College Davies Theater. Tickets are available by calling KAXE or at the door.

Comedy theater, from scratch, at the "Out of the Hat IV" event at Paul Bunyan Playhouse, Bemidji. Playwrights choose topics Friday night, pen scripts, convene actors, and gather props and set materials for a set of five 8 p.m. performances Saturday night. Musicians will perform between the acts. Tickets are available at Harmony Co-op and the Wild Hare Bistro. All seats are $10 and this will be a production suited for adult audiences.

Bridges Kinship Mentoring benefits from the proceeds of "Taste of Itasca", happening Tuesday at TimberLake Lodge, Grand Rapids. 14 restaurants and caterers will have their best eats available. Beverage tasting starts at 5, food at 6:30.

Also Tuesday, singer/songwriter, acoustic guitarist/fiddler, Jonathan Byrd performs at 5 p.m. Brewed Awakenings Coffeehouse is the venue in downtown Grand Rapids.

April 18, 1807 The first recorded mention of farming by white Minnesotans is made in a letter written by George H. Monk, who notes crops of potatoes, oats, cabbages, beets, beans, pumpkins, and Indian corn being cultivated at the North West Company's fur trading posts on Sandy and Leech Lakes.

April 20, 1891 Itasca State Park, the state's first, is established. Its 32,000 acres preserve more than 300 lakes as well as the headwaters of the Mississippi River.

April 20, 1921 As a response to the Duluth lynchings of 1920, the legislature passes the Minnesota Lynching Bill. It stipulates that a law enforcement officer can be removed from duty for not stopping a lynching, and that damages may be recovered by the victim's family.

April 21, 1961 The Minnesota Twins (formerly the Washington Senators) play their first game at Metropolitan Stadium, losing to the new Washington Senators, 5-3.

Thirty-five years ago this Saturday, on April 23, 1976, KAXE-FM signs on for the first time, from its original studios at Itasca Community College. It was a bold experiment in rural community-based public radio. At the time, stations such as this were either in urban areas or depended on university support. The station continues to inspire new grassroots radio movements, both in Minnesota and worldwide.

April 17, 1997 The Red River crests 22.5 feet above flood stage at Fargo, breaking a 100-year-old record. Continuing into Grand Forks and East Grand Forks on April 21, the flood pushes water levels 26.2 feet above flood stage. The worst flooding in the area in over a century, it causes more than one billion dollars of damages and displaces nearly all of the 50,000 residents of Grand Forks.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Habitat Funding and Conflicts of Interest in the MN Legislature

by Scott Hall
The Minneapolis Star-Tribune had a report Sunday on the close ties between Republican and DFL legislators and conservation groups like Ducks Unlimited and Pheasants Forever. The story raised a good question about the ethics and personal and political conflicts surrounding legislators appropriating public money for projects the conservation groups support.

There is plenty of opportunity to debate the ethics of these deals, but I like two things about them. One is the transparency of the legislators and groups involved. It's actually refreshing to see the deal go down in plain view and legislators owning up to their support. Secondly, we can hold the projects up to the standards and purpose of the source of funding. A portion of the the Legacy money is intended to be used for worthy habitat restoration projects. After more than a hundred years of draining swamps and opening the prairies to agriculture, restoration is needed and going to take a long time. Long before the Legacy amendment passed, the DNR proposed a 50 year plan for wetland habitat restoration. Everyone knew that plan would go nowhere without sustained funding and the political will to back it up. The legacy money gives DNR and conservation organizations a chance to work together on some of these goals.

It's fair to argue over what makes one project more worthy than others, and, in that debate, the political influence of a group like Ducks Unlimited could make a difference. To me, the most worthy projects must create benefits beyond the interests of the groups that support them. For example, improving duck habitat should create positive environmental outcomes beyond what's good for ducks and duck hunters - like better water quality and habitat for other wildlife.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Shaynowishkung, a.k.a. Chief Bemidji

The Chief Bemidji Statue project has established a fund at the Northwest MN Foundation to accept tax-deductible donations for a new sculpture of Shaynowishkung. The goal is to raise $116,500 for a work that will depict the Chief in a dignified and respectful way, and honor his legacy. The statue will stand in Library Park along Bemijimagaag, a.k.a. Lake Bemidji.

To donate, make checks payable to "Chief Bemidji Statue Project Fund" and mail to: Northwest Minnesota Foundation, 4225 Technology Dr. Bemidji, MN 56601. For more info, the Foundation phone number is 218-759-2057.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Culturology 4-14: New gallery in GR

by Travis Ryder
Grand Rapids is getting a new art gallery this week. A group of seven area artists
are opening the Whispering Woods gallery in the Old Central School on Friday. The co-owners, and the consigners they choose, are heavily influenced by our natural surroundings. Many use materials from the outdoors, too. Paula Brandel met with Karen Olson, Collin Clough, and Jeff Archer to talk about this enterprise. Paula asked the three about their individual work and how they came together to establish the gallery.

The Edge of the Wilderness Art League is presenting a show and sale through the end of April. It’s at the Edge Center Gallery in Bigfork and is open Fridays and Saturdays from 11 to 2. Several members of the League spoke with independent producer Justin Cook about their artistic talents and interests, and what it means to be part of the art community in the Edge of the Wilderness region.

The Appalachian singing duo, The Honey Dewdrops, performs tonight in the Hallett Library in Crosby at 6:30 p.m.

The US Air Force Academy seven-piece ensemble Academy Winds will perform tonight at Tornstrom Auditorium in the Washington Building in Brainerd. They travel to Greenway Auditorium in Coleraine for a show Friday night. Both concerts are free and the general public is admitted starting at 7:15.

Grand Rapids High School presents a production of Verdi’s opera, Aida, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7:30 at the Reif Center.

The new Steampunk-themed staging of A Midsummer Night’s Dream continues its run at Bemidji State University. Performances are Friday and Saturday at 7:30 and Sunday at 2.

Bluegrass at the Chief Theater in Bemidji on Friday: Telegraph Road, featuring the world’s fastest banjo player Johnny Butten, and the Blue Turtle Grass Band. Show starts at 7:30.

Jazz saxophonist Jeff Coffin's credits include work with Dave Matthews Band and Bela Fleck. He performs with a pick-up group of crack high school and university jazzers Friday night at 7:30 at the Bemidji High School auditorium.

The Regional Printmaking exhibition and Kiera Faber’s photography and video work are up at the MacRostie Art Center in Grand Rapids through the end of the month.

April 14, 1861 Minnesota is the first state to offer troops at the outbreak of the Civil War. Governor Alexander Ramsey is in Washington, D.C., when word of the attack on Fort Sumter arrives. He meets with the secretary of war and offers one thousand Minnesota soldiers for the country's defense.

April 14, 1870 the predecessor institution to the Science Museum of Minnesota, the St. Paul Academy of Natural Sciences is formed.

April 16, 1927 The Mesaba Railway Coach Company stops providing streetcar service between the towns of Hibbing and Gilbert.

April 12, 1937 Dennis J. Banks is born on the Leech Lake Indian Reservation. He would be one of the founders of the American Indian Movement (AIM) in 1968.

April 15, 1944 The Farmer-Labor Party and the state Democratic Party agree to merge at their joint convention. The Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) Party is unique to Minnesota.

April 13, 1967 Rod Carew plays his first major league baseball game with the Minnesota Twins, hitting a single.

April 13, 1993 The North Stars professional hockey team plays its final game in the Met Center against the Chicago Blackhawks, losing 3-2. The team moves to Dallas later that year.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

One Thing Even My Friends Don't Know...

By Jennifer Poenix

This Saturday on "Between You and Me" with Heidi Holtan, we're reprising last week's topic since Heidi had a bad case of laryngitis. We're asking you to tell us one thing about yourself that even your closest friends don't know. I think it's good we've had an extra week to think this over. There are some things about ourselves we don't necessarily wish to share, but if we think about it hard enough, there's probably something we can tell KAXE's audience.

My thing is that I often get teary-eyed while watching Sesame Street. There I said it. See? It's not so bad to share these things.

I love watching Sesame Street, Old School (Volumes 1 & 2) with my four year old son. He seems to get just as much enjoyment out of the show as I do.

 What he doesn't notice, is that sometimes I have to blink back tears. 
I think I get emotional because watching Sesame Street brings me back to such an innocent, happy time. Sitting on the living room floor, with my daycare friends, laughing our heads off, and then, when the show was over, "falling" down the basement stairs just like the baker in the counting song.

Also, some of the clips are just so darn sweet. For example, here's one that never fails to get my water-works going:

That yarn ribbon in the girl's hair! The way they plaster the posters everywhere! The lady who finds Ace! The happy reunion between Ace and the kids! The boy saying "Where were ya?!"  *sniff*

I hope you'll share something with us this Saturday, on "Between You and Me," from 10-noon.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

What's For Breakfast on Friday Mornings

Every Friday morning about 7:45 John Bauer and Heidi Holtan talk with a KAXE member and ask them what's for breakfast.  Listeners have told us this is some of their favorite programming because it's real people talking about something as universal as oatmeal.  Or coffee and a cigarette. 

Last week on What's For Breakfast Cindy Hinkanen of Floodwood was their guest.  She spends her mornings with her mother and told John all about her morning routines.  At the end of the conversation she said that she and her mother would stop by KAXE.  John and Heidi didn't really believe it, but sure enough, Cindy and Janet walked through the doors!  Listen to the conversation here! 

Friday, April 8, 2011

On What Comes Next

   by Robert Jevne
   The one thing even my friends don’t know about me is that I am an optimist. And why would I, or anyone, keep that a secret? First, it’s a recent development and second, I’m afraid they will think I’m crazy, but at this point, I feel I have nothing left to lose and I am now ready to make the leap in order to get this thing going. So…here goes. I am very optimistic about our future. Our immediate future anyway. To be exact: about the next year. Let me explain. For those of you who don’t know - We’re all going to die. According to the Mayan calendar 2012 marks the end of well… the calendar. It completes a 5,125 year cycle which will culminate in some sort of astronomical alignment and subsequent cataclysm. And I couldn’t be more relieved. All this bickering has been driving me crazy, and I’m not just talking about the current political cycle. I’m talking about since our very origins. All this struggling against nature, against each other, and even against our own selves; the whole civilization process always has been and continues to be completely out of hand. You Pull yourself out of the mud, clean yourself up a bit, pound together some kind of shelter, hunt, gather, make nice with the neighbors, put on a nice pair of slacks, slog back and forth between work and home and try, try, try to make your corner of the world a better place to rest your sorry behind and the behinds of your loved ones and what do you get? - another night staring at cable news wondering what the heck went wrong.

   Ask yourself two questions: If you knew you had only one year left to live, what would you do? Secondly, and I think more importantly: If you knew we all had only one year left to live, what would you do?

   Call me a cock-eyed optimist but I can’t help but feel this is a great opportunity and I don’t mean in the “there’s money to be made off this” sense but more in the this is our chance to fulfill our destiny as a magnificent clan of enlightened animals living peaceably in an earthly paradise sense. Think about it: If the end of us all means the end to war, pestilence, hunger, poverty, racism, pain and suffering and there’s only one year left, does it make any make sense to cling to the old divided ways for what little time we have remaining? There’s not enough time to work out our differences or to hammer out some kind of compromise. Its just time to let go of all that and love each other as we were meant to. Now. Don’t we owe each other and ourselves at least that much after all we’ve been through? And hey, its win-win because even in the extreme unlikelihood that the Mayans are wrong and somehow, someway, we manage to survive 2012, we would still have one kick-ass year under our belt and could there really be a good reason not to make it two, or ten, or a hundred, or forever?

To sum up: Yes, we are all going to die so, if this next year is going to be our last one together, let’s go out there and make it a good one.”

Thursday, April 7, 2011

KAXE Goes to the Third Annual Iron Range Earth Fest

by Scott Hall

The 3rd Annual Iron Range Earth Fest this Saturday in Mt. Iron has given us an opportunity to meet some of the people who will be demonstrating innovative things at the event. There is a strong and timely emphasis on energy production this year.  It's refreshing to meet people who are up to their elbows in research, development, and teaching about wind, solar and biomass energy sources.

In recent weeks, on KAXE's morning program, we've talked with the president of Silicon Energy, Gary Shaver.  Silicon Energy will begin manufacturing solar panels in Mt. Iron possibly as soon as this Summer. Silicon Energy is based in Washington state and uses new materials and processes they think will expand the potential of solar energy.  We also met Jesse Dahl who teaches solar energy classes at Hibbing Community College, and Dan Janisch, wind technology instructor at Mesabi Range Community and Technical College.  Both of these programs will have exhibits and demonstrations at Earth Fest. The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance in Pine River will have a program and exhibit as well.

There will also be workshops on beekeeping, bread baking, wine making, cooking with local foods, rain barrels, gardening, the art of basket making, and much more.  Exhibits and workshops will be at the Mt. Iron Community Center on Hwy 169, Messiah Lutheran Church next door to the Community Center, and Merritt Elementary School in Mt. Iron. While you are at it, stop by KAXE's booth in the Mt. Iron Community Center.

Love On the Rocks ... Ain't No Big Surprise

By John Bauer

  April Fool's Day is celebrated in different countries around the world every year.  It's not a national holiday ... but widely recognized and celebrated as a day when thousands of people play all kinds of good-humored hoaxes and practical jokes of varying sophistication on friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and in this case ... KAXE listeners.
   The April Fool's version of KAXE Morning Show last Friday with John Bauer and Heidi Holtan announced that Neil Diamond would be the closing act at the 91.7 KAXE Mississippi River Festival, July 16th.  Tickets would go on-sale at 9 AM sharp and no sooner.  Phones perplexed ... Facebook frenzied... Twitters twit ... Emails exploded and blogs blew!   Word spread faster than mayonnaise on warm bread!  Holly Holy ... was it true ... the Solitary Man was comin' to town?
   At 9 AM ... $#!% hit the fan!  People showed up at our door.  Hundreds of ticket requesting phone calls were answered with April Fools!  99% of the people were able to laugh at themselves for being taken.  Others weren't so happy.  I sincerely apologize to those who were offended and I applaud those who were able to laugh at themselves.   

One Thing Even My Friends Don't Know About Me IS...

by Steve Downing

GET TO KNOW ME  (this week on Between You and Me)

            Most of my friends don’t hunt, so hunting isn’t something we tend to talk about when we’re together. They know I hunt, and no one holds it against me; it just isn’t a component of our friendship. So this is a chance for me to do some sharing.
            One thing my friends don’t know about me: before I field-dress a whitetail, I ditch the packboots and slip into my red wingtips.
            I want to assure friends and un-friends alike that I haven’t turned into a fop. Fop-hood is not on my short list of aspirations or accomplishments. I’m a jeans and hoodie guy. Except for very, very special occasions.
            To wit: that moment of big-game harvesting. This experience is so all-consuming, so intimate, so meaningful, how could you ever over-endow it with special-ness? You can’t. I’ve even on occasion finished off the hunting wardrobe-of-the-day with a Jerry Garcia necktie that complements the rest of the outfit wonderfully well, contrasting here, blending seamlessly there.
            In the event you think I’m either joshing or heaping scorn on the whole deer-hunting adventure, I dare you, I double-dare you: dress up for field-dressing, once. I guarantee: you will never go back to the beat-up, sun-faded, beer-and-blood-stained, tradition-rich duds you’ve been wearing since that long-ago time when they actually fit you.
            Finally, the shoes and tie in the attached photo are mine. Pretend they’re yours. Ask yourself: besides the deer hunt, how many other opportunities would you have during the year to deploy these invaluable assets? I’ll say no more.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Who, me?

by Robert Jevne

Exclusivity is nothing new. Even before Facebook made it so easy to friend and unfriend everyone to the point of being meaningless, people had lists. I had a list, you had a list, everybody had a list. A list of who was invited and who was not. That much hasn’t changed. Being exclusionary is a part of human nature not just the nature of a program. Luckily, the advent of Facebook didn’t exclude the possibility of making real friends, or unmaking them and that is still very personal. Before Facebook, exclusivity wasn’t something people liked to admit to so, by convention, it was a mental list. Not something you would ever write down or show off in any way as we do now and maybe because it was clothed in secrecy, exclusion was used without mercy when someone “acted out” one too many times. “Acting out” was the equivalent of a You-tube rant except in person and granted, it usually didn’t come with a barrage of death threats from around the world or the need to drop out of UCLA or off the face of the planet when it went viral but it had its own dangers. It meant you might make somebody’s list. Somebody’s mental list. Then there you were. You - YOU were the unwelcome guest. And word spread like wildfire which is about as fast as dial-up. You’d find yourself showing up at a “friend’s” party even a “friend of a friend’s” party only to discover face to face that YOU were the one who didn’t belong there. You found out right then and there in front of all those people gathered in a tribal clump on the conversational sofas. You could see it on their faces and you, with barely one foot over the thresh-hold, before you could even muster the wherewithal to turn and run, you had to face up to the fact that it was YOU, of all people, who no longer belonged, and you had no choice but to hold your chin up and forge on with a drink and maybe a joke or two and another drink and maybe some imitations. People loved your imitations and your spontaneous break-dancing antics as well as your really loud singing replete with dramatic gestures. And the ladies loved seeing your totally awesome biceps and that pentagram you had tattooed on you chest when you were thirteen by that nice lady named Sharon who insisted you call her “Honey” and her boyfriend Eric who was a real live clown and who helped keep you from squirming. Now, he was strong. And the next thing you knew you were on a roll. You were turning this whole thing around. They were eating it up. The people were loving it. Loving YOU. You were in, baby. You were in like Flint.

Do you ever wonder what happened to that group of friends? You haven’t seen them in a month of Sundays. You should really give them a call - see what’s going on. God, those were good times, great times. Weren’t they?