Sunday, August 31, 2014

Burden of the Public Eye

"There's something about the pace of life that makes it difficult to really slow down and assess where we're going and how we're doing on this journey called life." ~ Ed Young

There's something strange about the nature of "celebrity." Many young people dream of "making it" in the field of their dreams, but few really understand the hidden cost of being famous. It might be fun at first. But when you read between the lines of many stories, you see that the mystique is also a burden.

In his biography, Bob Dylan talks about the pre-eminent need to maintain a “normal” family somewhere away from the public eye. The task took a toll on his first marriage. Some Dylan observers even went so far as to speculate that his famous motorcycle accident in the Sixties was staged as a mechanism for getting him out of the public eye for a spell, some time to slow down and assess.

This past weekend, I have been introduced to the almost incredible notion that Amelia Earhart, the first woman pilot to fly across the Atlantic, did not die in her attempt to be the first to fly solo around-the-world in 1937… that in fact it was a means for her to escape the public eye and get her life back.

According to Robert Lookup’s “Highlights of Aviation History,” (Reader Weekly, May 8, 2003) Amelia Earhart’s disappearance over the Pacific in her Lockheed Electra remains one of the significant events of first half of the century.

The idea of celebrity did not begin with Warhol. Warhol just noticed the phenomenon and used his art to highlight this tendency to elevate people to mythical stature.

In writing last week about fads (The Madness of Crowds, July 3) I became keenly aware of the passion for celebrity that was even at that time being generated by the power of emerging media. Charles Lindbergh, in his epic 1927 trans-Atlantic crossing, became ultra-celebrated. And the consequences of that celebrity were ultimately dark. Five years later, his twenty month old son was kidnapped and brutally murdered in what newspapers called “The Crime of the Century.”

Did Amelia Earhart begin to become concerned about her own rising celebrity, her own lack of a private life, her own loss of control over her future? There has always been a measure of ambiguity over the details of her disappearance. Indeed, the event ultimately succeeded in removing her from the public eye. But what really happened? This website offers the following surprising answer:

The truth is, Amelia Earhart did not vanish… at all. Rather, she was laid low after she was reported missing, changed her name, and adjacent to the WWII era she resurfaced in the United States to live out the rest of her life in basic anonymity.

In 2009 a Hollywood film starring Hillary Swank will capture pop attention, but will there be kernels of truth in this story? Or will it add more fog than illumination?

My initial suspicion is that the Earhart story is not yet over.

* * * *
EdNote: This blog entry was written in July 2008. The burden of celebrity is something many have wrestled with. It's the downside of fame. What do you think?

Saturday, August 30, 2014


Blue Van Gogh is an example of serendipity.
"You can't win the lottery if you don't buy a ticket."

There are many kinds of winning. When we win a lottery, or even something as simple as a raffle, it feels good because it's fun to get lucky like that. Even though we know it was just a game of chance, we enjoy the feeling that accompanies our good fortune. But there are other kinds of contests and competitions that bring a deeper kind of satisfaction.

This afternoon I will be hanging artwork at Benchmark Tattoo here in Duluth and the title of my show is Influences. One of the pieces in the show is titled "Winning," a mixed media composition that includes a front page story on a yellowed Maple Heights News about an eight year old boy named Eddie Newman who won the Grotto Circus Contest. I was one of four winners of the contest and received $87.50 for correctly guessing the number of animals, performers and personnel in the circus that was coming to Cleveland soon. I also received eight free tickets.

I remember well the pains I took to logically figure out the solution to this problem. I was lying on the living room floor with a sheet of paper, picking my mom's brain. "What other animals are in the circus besides lions and tigers?" She said there would be pigs, and I guesstimated 32 of those. As it turns out the number I came up with was accurate, even if there wasn't a single pig in the entourage. I didn't win because I was smarter than anyone else. I won because I entered the contest and tried.

But winning that contest did influence me. So did winning a halloween costume contest around that same time in my life. A half century later someone contacted me through social media saying they remembered my costume from that evening. I was dressed as a blob, rolling around on the floor inside two sheets that my mom dyed and sewed together for the occasion.

This art game is one of the prizes if you play and win.
In high school the Bridgewater Jaycees had an art competition in which students were invited to submit illustrations for the cover of a program for the Winter Carnival. I won $25 for a humorous set of ink drawings depicting a skier losing control on a slope and ending up splayed in a heap.

One way that winning contests influences us is that it reinforces the notion that sometimes there are good outcomes when we throw our hats into the ring.

There are many kinds of influences in life. Some we choose and some are thrust upon us. All impact us in varying degrees and who we become is directly related to how we respond to — or synthesize — these influences. Life is the process of digesting these influences.

Winning the art contest was meaningful because it utilized skill, imagination and creativity. It wasn't just a lucky number pulled from a pail.

Entering contests did not suddenly become a way of life, but these wins did produce a confidence that inspired me to enter other contests. In 1991 by story "The Breaking Point" won the Arrowhead Regional Fiction Competition, a five-state short story and poetry competition. (The story is a centerpiece in my third volume of fiction titled The Breaking Point and Other Stories.

SPEAKING OF CONTESTS.... This week I read about some kind of global activity in which artists hide art and people can search and find it. I believe there was a specific day in which this was to happen but since I did not save the link I don't know any more details beyond what I shared already.

I've hidden these somewhere in the Twin Ports.
SO, I am making a contest for you, if you happen to be here in the Twin Ports. I will be hiding five baseball sized reproductions of my art this weekend. If you find one and come to Friday evening's art opening at Benchmark Tattoo, you will win a copy of my book Unremembered Histories. If you find the reproduction of my ink on paper drawing titled Masquerade, you will win the original, which happens to be a favorite of mine. If no one finds this hidden art card, then anyone can purchase the original for $45 at Benchmark Tattoo during the month of September.

The theme for my show is Influences and the art here expresses a variety of the primary influences on who I am and have become. It is not a comprehensive “explanation” of where my attitudes and convictions come from, but it does express a large swath of the territory from which my creative passions were derived. Ask and I will explain in greater detail inasmuch as these are but smatterings and hints.

With regard to the hidden art cards, I WILL BE GIVING CLUES so do return to Ennyman's Territory and see if you can find something worth looking for. First Clue: The five art cards pictured here can be found at places I like to frequent in the Twin Ports. Second clue will be posted tomorrow here and will be Tweeted, which means it will also show up on my Facebook page.

Good luck! Maybe you'll be a Winner!

Friday, August 29, 2014

Seeing the Unseen: Contemporary Chinese Artists at the Ringling

Li Wei
I like surprises. Especially nice ones. One of the more exciting unexpected finds for me took place while traveling in Florida a couple years back: the John and Mable Ringling Museum of Art. I'd already known about Ringling Brothers Circus Museum being in Sarasota where the circus wintered like snow birds. I did not, however, know that John and Mable were art collectors.

Like many from America's privileged classes, they took up an interest in art collecting. During the Roaring 20's post-WWI European art could be snapped up on pennies for the dollar. The Ringlings even purchased a 16th century theater they found on the outskirts of Venice, disassembled and re-assembled the whole of it in Sarasota.

Unfortunately, the Thirties hit and many -- like the Ringlings -- got stung and lost all. Fortunately, a few years before, they donated their art collection to the University. And what a collection. One highlight is an enormous painting Peter Paul Rubens, but there are many other famous artists represented include Benjamin West, Diego Velázquez, Paolo Veronese, Rosa Bonheur, Gianlorenzo Bernini, Giuliano Finelli, Lucas Cranach the Elder, Frans Hals, Nicolas Poussin, Joseph Wright of Derby, and Thomas Gainsborough among others. But the highlight for me was running into two paintings by Marcel Duchamp. Very special.

The museum is host to other exhibitions and through the end of February 2015 The Ringling is featuring eight contemporary Chinese artists in an exhibition titled “Seeing the Unseen.” Artists in this show include Cao Fei, Li Wei, Wang Qingsong, and Miao Xiaochun. A promotional blurb on the show states, "Reflecting the artistic innovations of our media age, their works provide a fresh view of China’s rapidly changing socio-cultural landscape. These Chinese artists apply new concepts and technology to record and present inspiring moments veiled in daily life."

One of the featured artists in this exhibit is Liu Bolin, whose invisible man pictures went viral a couple years back. I remember seeing links being shared extensively whenever it was, not knowing who he was at that time. Here is a promotional image from the show that may jog your memory on this artist. Yes, there is a man in the photo.

Liu Bolin... 
If you're a Sun City resident or a someone who likes to escape South for the winter, the Ringling Museum is worth going out of your way to see. And this winter at least you'll have this treat to look forward to.

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Dig it.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Twin Ports Art Scene Will Be Lively in September

It looks like September is gearing up to be an exciting month in the Twin Ports arts scene with exhibition and openings in a whole range of locations. Let's start with...

Adam McCauley, Colin Witta, and Christopher Selleck will be featured in a show called Thread at the Washington Gallery, September 12, 6-9.  McCauley, who sent the poster here, expressed his excitement about the new work he will be showing. I mention it first only to get it on your calendar that the Second Friday Art Crawl is shaping up to be a good one. Start here, then walk downhill to the PROVE.

Next week's openings include:

Esther Piszczek's show Visions will be opening: Thursday, Sept 4 from 6-9 p.m. @ Beaner's Central. Thematically the work will be an exploration of pattern on glass and mirrors. Maija Jenson's interview with Esther about this show will air on KUMD 103.3 FM tomorrow morning, 8/29, at 7:45 a.m. during Northland Morning. Live Stream is available on KUMD and the interview will be recorded and archived.

To make an art night of it, you might want to start with Mary Reichert's opening at Lake Avenue Café from 4-6 p.m. featuring her beautiful felted rugs and scarves.

On Friday evening September 5 there will be an opening for Ed Newman's show Influences at Benchmark Tattoo. It's another great new space, located at 19th Avenue East and 8th Street, nearly across from Sara's Table up near UMD and Chester Bowl. I will share more about the theme in another blog entry. Dane and Kyle are outstanding artists themselves, with skin as their canvas. You might even be interested in having one of my drawings on your shoulder. This is the place to get it done.

"Blue Van Gogh" by Ed Newman

Ken Marunowski will be taking down his work at Red Mug tomorrow but you'll still get an opportunity to see it at The Shack for the month ahead. Marunowski is a plein air painter of the first degree. He also works in charcoal and other media.  

The September 11 Opening Reception at the Duluth Art Institute is going to be another great night for the arts. It's a triple header with an Earl Austin Retrospective, an exhibit titled Signs & Wonders featuring Jim Klueg and Faith Benzer, and Sean Connaughty's Ark of the Anthropocene. And a special surprise on top of all that will be the re-emergence of Sophronia in the Great Hall. I kid you not, this will be a night not to miss.

Can't get enough? Take a trip up to the Tweed Museum at UMD and feast there now and again. There's a new exhibit coming that may excite you.

And now, for something completely different.... Dylan will be in Minneapolis the first week of November. It's not too early to mark your calendars. More information coming soon

Meantime, art goes on all around you. Check in and check it out.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Visit with Island Lake Artist Elizabeth Kuth (Part II)

THIS IS PART II OF AN INTERVIEW WITH ELIZABETH KUTH. Portions of this interview appeared this week in the Reader.

After examining the many canvases and resources in her studio, we walked up to the house where she shared books of drawings. Many of the drawings are with brush and ink or other various media. With a warm zeal she described the ideas behind her work.

In a statement at the Women's Art Resources of Minnesota website Kuth explains, "As an artist I believe the commitment and passion from yourself is essential to develop a high sensitivity for quality and meaning in your work. Only you have the power to do the work, endure the struggles and sacrifices it takes to translate your inner world into a medium of expression." You can read her full statement here.

While driving home after the visit I felt a surge of desire to get into my studio to paint. The following evening this wish was fulfilled.

EN: Who have been your biggest influences?

EK: A lot of my influences come from German abstract expressionism. That is kind of an intrigue to me.

EN: Where are your forms coming from?

EK: In your genes and who you are, and who your parents were and grandparents were. That’s one thing that started to come out. That interested me because I saw a lot of bones in my earlier work. These bones kept appearing, which was interesting, because my grandfather was a bone surgeon. He did drawings and did a book of illustrations of bones.

I think a lot about spaces, from early childhood. Whether it was the dock I was on or the lake,… even when I’m painting something would hit me from early on and I would go with that for a while.

Sometimes I turn a painting upside down and look at its shapes and forms and work on it as abstract design….

A lot of my images have a sense of falling. Those back there are about something falling down. By turning it upside down I might see something that ignites something in me, and I will see something different.

A lot of my things seem to have a downward position and by turning it I see a new meaning in it.

I am looking for something that hits me…. Ah! I like this better. I don’t think about what it’s going to be until it starts to become something.

(Referring to three large paintings that she is working on simultaneously.) Now these two are doing more for me than this one. This one is too still. I look for movement. Maybe this theme of falling has something to do with vulnerability.

* * *

I do feel a need to identify something in a piece. Most of my things are figurative, filling up the whole space. There’s a suspension… but also a dominant form.

These are a couple earlier paintings of mine. Less shapes and forms, but Paul Klee-ish, something I sort of see, a playfulness.

EN: Did you know Bill Morgan?

EK: Yes. He was my teacher and mentor. Went to UWS a while in art education, but knew that was not for me. Went back later and got a Masters in Art.

I may never exhibit these things but it’s influencing me… drawing horses, capturing movement. I also work with paper, oil paint on paper, and I’m really liking them.

These were early works of mine, these early forms. I see that in a lot of my shapes… I paint around suggested forms to find the forms. The more I superimpose something, that makes more of an illusion.

Another thing I do is integrate space… I see this over and over, these forms, like bones or faces. But these lines create the magic, building up the space that way.

EN: How much comes from within as opposed to replicating what you see?

EK: No, it’s just creating and moving forms. If you go through these you’ll see how they changed so much. This one is from 2012…. This was early on, and then see how they changed. Sometimes I go back into my sketchbooks and redo them, superimposing on what was once subtle, but now evolved, showing somewhat a development. That’s what I’ve been doing with all my paintings, going back into them, so there’s push and pull. It’s not about the subject, but about forms, forms that have an emotional quality.

That’s kind of what I do.

* * *

SEE more of Elizabeth Kuth's paintings at

Featured eBook of the Day: The Breaking Point and Other Stories

Monday, August 25, 2014

A Visit with Island Lake Artist Elizabeth Kuth

A few years ago I was visiting the office of then-director of the Duluth Art Institute Kat Eldred.  While talking I became distracted (captivated) by a painting on her office wall. She said it was by an artist who lived out on Island Lake, Elizabeth Kuth, and she practically insisted I see her studio someday.

A few years passed but someday finally came. Earlier this summer I made the trek out. Here I found an artist creating a symphonies of shape, color and form under the direction of her own internal conductor. The word "impressed" is an understatement.

When I arrived that evening she first showed me the large canvases she had stored in her garage. From there we went down to her studio, which is set apart from the house. Essentially we looked at her work, moving from piece to piece, taking in the scope of her creative endeavors, frequently pausing to engage each piece. All this time she provided background on the paintings or an explanation of the problems she’d set about to resolve in each piece.

Her enthusiasm extended beyond the work to her various sources of inspiration, including the energy of horses and the mystery of deep sea monsters. What follows are sections of notes from the exchange that followed. I consider the visit to have been a privilege.

Eliabeth Kuth: This is one of my earlier ones. I just got angry and (was) using dark colors. This is one of the first ones I was doing drawing on. It’s kind of like rock painting, like prehistoric time. I am looking for simplistic form in that way. I am doing forms that are childlike or animal like. Maybe from living out here so long I have connections with nature forms.

I actually need to have a lot of quietness around me. That’s one that started it for me. Scratching marks on it… like a cave drawing.

I’ve been told my work is ethereal. I see that… It calms me down. I am so far over in a visual mind rather than a mathematical mind, so my things are about fantasy with fantasy forms. Imaginative forms come out.

* * *

This is something influencing me now. I’m making a connection with horses. Horses connect to the soul. Also this is influencing me. (She shows me a book about animals in the super deep sea.) They have a lot of mystery. A lot has a sense of birthing, or something coming out of something else and transforming it into something else.

* * *

A lot of my work is coming from the unconscious, that Karl Jungian thing…. This line is responding to this line, creating an energy that takes you that way. We’re always in constant change, and so the work is that way.

Life gets thrust upon you, and that’s the way art painting is. You thrust upon it and don’t tell it what to do.

* * *

EN: How did you become a painter?

EK: I used to draw all the time when I was a little kid, In my bedroom. There were five kids in the family. I didn’t want any conflict so I used to go to my room and draw all the time. When I got out of high school I went to a junior college and then to art school. I knew this was what I wanted to do… went to Minneapolis School of Art & Design. Then I came back here to Duluth because I didn’t have any money to carry on.

In the studio: Track lighting and three large canvases simultaneously.
So this thing of being a loner started to evolve around then. I liked to be by myself and draw. I liked to be by myself and paint. I did a lot of drawing, pen and ink things, did lithography. I was living in an apartment behind my dad’s dental business. I was doing that and working at a photography store, but that is where I found meaning.

My dad wanted me to open a gift shop downstairs in his place. I was upstairs in an apartment but his building was down below.

I got married and had two children, then took a watercolor class with Cheng Ki Chee. Did watercolor for 17 years. I taught at the Depot and adult ed classes in the area for a while.

After my divorce I went back to school. That’s when I started oil painting and printmaking. And that’s when I started to draw every day.

Do come back tomorrow to see more paintings and here the rest of her story.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Local Art Seen: The Sophronia Project (Don't Miss It)

Yesterday afternoon I finally made it to The Barn in Wrenshall, home of the Free Range Film Festival. Picture a rural Northern MN community with Grant Woods hayfields and cornfields shrouded with fog set on the outskirts of a laid back community of 399. This weekend for a brief snatch of time The Barn hosted The Sophronia Project, a collaborative digital multimedia event that is being shared in various locations about the state, including the Walker Art Museum, The PROVE Gallery in Duluth, and on September 11 the Duluth Art Institute.

Primary visionaries in this installation / interactive performance include artist Joellyn Rock, multimedia composer Kathy McTavish and netprov creator Rob Wittig. When I arrived to check things out there were a whole assortment of assistant collaborators including Tobin Dack (the electronic music man), Lizzy Siemens, and many more who are acknowledged fully on the Travelling Sophronia Facebook Page.

The collaborative project offers both physical and virtual space where participants may spin their own stories of Sophronia, an imaginary city invented (or discovered) by Italo Calvino and which appears in his book Invisible Cities.

The project is a full-scale interactive wonderment, a circus conceived for a new age, stimulating all the senses including the imagination. I share it here in hopes that you will mark September 11 on your calendar so that you do not miss it.

On the walls, the graffiti angel mixes text and digital imagery gleaned from the project database... In a glowing tent, the audience can play along with projected video and digital animations to become part of the carnival...

The mood when I arrived was suffused with energetic cheer as Ann Gumpper and others attended to assembling the final embellishments on the tent housing the heart of this audio/visual experience. My photos here only hint at what the project is like to experience.

For more information about Sophronia, visit

Joellyn Rock is a fiscal year 2014 recipient of a Career Development grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council ( which is funded in part by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, Minnesota State Legislature, and The McKnight Foundation. Graffiti Angel in Sophronia was first presented at Northern Spark 2014 with the support of Northern and the Walker Art Center. Special thanks to the Motion and Media Across Disciplines Lab at University of Minnesota Duluth.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

No Trivial Pursuit: Whatever Happened To Dylanologist Tony Scaduto?

Whatever became of Anthony Scaduto? In 1972 the Chicago Tribune called him "heir apparent to the title of Dylanologist Number One." This accolade was based on the determined and detailed analysis he brought to his research while writing his book on Bob Dylan. Scaduto was the first Dylan biographer to approach the life of Dylan as a journalist and not a fan.

The reason I ask where he is today is that sometime about a month ago I received an interesting email from a woman in Chicago who knew him when he wrote the book on Bob Dylan. She contacted me because of my blog review of Scaduto's book.

The details of Scaduto's career are sketchy. For a brief period he seems to have been high profile, beginning with the Dylan bio (1972) and his 1974 investigation into the Bruno Richard Hauptmann case whom he believes was railroaded for the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. He also wrote bios of Mick Jagger, Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe and John F. Kennedy. But he cut his teeth as a reporter for the New York Post where he was known as an expert on crime and the mob.

According to Richie Unterberger of AllMusic, "The fact that he was, for that era, old for a rock critic (he was around 40 when he wrote the book) probably worked to his advantage. It was a time when young rock critics tended to idolize their subjects, an approach Scaduto never bought into. He also had a lot of reporting experience, not just about music, but also as a police reporter, sometimes covering organized crime. He knew the importance of investigative research, and digging for material that wasn't always going to be easy to find." **

Scaduto got the assignment to do a Dylan bio when it started to become apparent that writing about rock might be something profitable. Grosset & Dunlap called and asked if he might be interested in doing a book on Johnny Winter. Scaduto re-directed. Dylan was the only subject matter that really interested him.

What's a mystery is how a high profile writer with connections to the N.Y. publishing scene would go into hibernation and not leverage these contacts and advantages. According to Wikipedia, Scaduto also writes under the name Tony Sciacca but a quick Google search there only leads to the same books on Amazon, but under a different name.

Maybe it was his boldness in writing about Frank Sinatra's mafia connections that got him into hot water. Or his daring Who Killed Marilyn? with its suggestive subtitle "And Did the Kennedy's Know?"

Scaduto worked hard to develop his craft and it paid off. In the 70's he tackled some big stories. After his season in the sun, he's carried a decidedly lower profile. If Tony's still around, I know one fan who would still like to find him. If you have an information, drop me an email. ennyman [at] northlc [dot] com.

Meantime, life goes on all around you.

* Lynn Van Matre, Chicago Tribune, Sunday May 7, 1972

Friday, August 22, 2014

Richard Linklater's Boyhood Is An Achievement

We saw Boyhood this week, a challenging film at times and a remarkable achievement. The film synopsis begins like this:

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater's BOYHOOD is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (a breakthrough performance by Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason's parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, BOYHOOD charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before.

This is not a documentary of a boy's life. It is a movie in which the entire cast ages together over a twelve year period. It's essentially a story about a boy named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), beginning at age 6 and carrying through to his first day of college in his eighteenth year.

The film begins with squabbles related to the problems of children being shuttled between divorced parents (Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette) and weaves its way through many of the life experiences we all encountered in childhood, from becoming aware of girls to school, to moving away from friends, to fitting in, to encountering drinking, drugs and social media (O.K., so my generation didn't have this) to learning responsibility. Mason has a sister Samantha (Lorelei Linklater) who also grows older with him, but this is essentially Mason's story, though every character in his family is developed and is a part of the whole.

In any good story each character has a driver, and Linklater's story is skilled at painting vivid characters in the immediate family. His mother takes two more cracks at marriage during Mason's life, both ending in failure. His father marries into a Christian family and becomes stable and more rooted. The Christianity piece is handled with respect and thoughtfulness.

Boyhood captures on film the challenges of growing up in a broken home. A generation ago this story would have been an exception to the norm, but today we see mixed families across the economic spectrum. Mason experiences having new siblings when mom re-marries, and the confusion when mom and stepdad divorce and the ties are torn along with the heartstrings.

As you can imagine, the challenge of casting child actors must have been immense. One wonders to what degree Linklater got lucky or what degree of work was involved. Mason's character did not require him to do overmuch "acting" per se. He is to some extent an existential observer of life who only later articulates some of his internal dialogue when he has matured and is in more mature relationships. This piece was handled profoundly well. The story was told visually with no artificiality plastered on. That kind of treatment would have wounded the movie.

Not everyone likes this film. There are some who say that "slice of life" is not a story. I believe there really is a story in this film which comes across as slice of life. The characters don't just age together. Each changes, each has his or her own quest. It's just not "in your face."


I did have a problem with the very last scene in this film which ends with Mason's first day of college. Linklater may or may not have meant it this way, but it seemed to be a commercial endorsement of a "path to enlightenment" that usually doesn't. The dialogue was good, and the point of it holds. Life is a series of points in time which in the moment is always now. Do we really need magic mushrooms to really experience life's magic?

* * * *
While reading some of my grandmother's poems last night I stumbled upon this one about boys. I was the oldest of four boys and it may have been written while she was taking care of us once, or maybe with her own two sons a generation earlier, who were indeed a handful I am sure.

Little Boys

Little boys just can’t be still —
Why do we think they should?
They would like to please us
If they only could.

But it is so very hard
Their chattering to still —
Their voice run on all the time
Like the busy rill.

They drive us near distracted
With their sharp demands
And their calm ignoring
 Of our coaxingest commands.

But if some happening unforeseen
Should snatch them quite away
The silence that would follow
And o’er our lives hold sway

Would terrify the boldest
And turn black hairs to gray!
Oh, that this may not happen
Each night we kneel to pray!

Elizabeth Sandy

Meantime... life goes on all around. Embrace it.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Six Things You Didn't Know About Mark Volman Plus a Lesson About Contracts

The Turtles were a 60's pop rock group with a distinctive feel-good sound and a handful of hit singles, "Happy Together" being their most memorable. Co-founded by Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan, the Turtles made national headlines when they were invited to perform at Tricia Nixon's wedding at the White House.

Here are five things you might not have known about Mark "Flo" Volman:

1. First rock n roll band to perform in the White House.
I knew the Turtles performed in at Nixon's daughter's wedding, but I'd not remembered they were the first rock 'n roll band to perform there.

2. Snorted coke on Abraham Lincoln's desk.
Volman 'fesses up in this Rolling Stone excerpt from his book Shell Shocked: My Life with the TurtlesI bet they weren't the only ones to have ever done this. I've heard rumors, and maybe you've heard them, too...

3. He insured his hair for $100,000 against fire, theft or loss due to illness.
I guess if you have assets, you need to insure them, right?

4. After the band folded the terms of their contract forbade Volman and Kaylan from using their real names again in a group. 
This explains why they performed as Flo and Eddie after that. And this is the primary lesson from today's blog post. Read your contracts.

5. After leaving the Turtles Flo and Eddie were recruited by Frank Zappa.
This explains why that guy in 200 Motels looked so much like that front man from the Turtles. Flo and Eddie cut their teeth on the possibilities of rock and became core players in The Mothers of Invention. As of a couple years ago Flo and Eddie were still doing 60 concerts a year.

6. He's also a Youth Advisor in the Presbyterian Church he attends.
According to Wikipedia, "Volman runs his businesses with his wife, Emily Volman, who met each other as college sweethearts. They are also active members of Harpeth Presbyterian Church in Brentwood, Tennessee, where they both invest their time as Youth Advisors."

Meantime, life goes on all around you. Enjoy the music.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Not All Dylan Tributes Are Created Equal: A Review of Doug West's Tangled Up In Bluegrass

Enthusiasm for the songs of Bob Dylan cross all genres of music. It wouldn't surprise me at all find that some of his tunes have even been performed on bagpipes. So there's little surprise in finding a Dylan-themed album featuring that rich bluegrass sound.

For the record, I've been into bluegrass more than four decades, purchasing the original Will the Circle Be Unbroken triple album and some Mother Maybelle Carter back when I was in college. I've played harmonicas since I went to Ohio U in 1970 and enjoy the sound that emanates from those Appalachian hills where my roots are. I'm a regular listener to the Bluegrass Review on public radio, performed with a jugband (a bluegrass sibling) and to this day own a modest share of bluegrass albums.

So when I discovered that there was a bluegrass CD comprised of Dylan tunes, I said, “What the heck” and I sprang for it. The original release date is cited as 2008, though the two reviews on are dated 2001 and 2002.

Tangled Up In Bluegrass is all instrumental, featuring the usual bluegrass instrumentation — banjo, guitars, fiddle, mandolin, and bass primarily, but hammered dulcimer, tambourine and keyboards in various combinations. In short, it’s a bluegrass outfit who likes to play Dylan music. The producer is David West, who also did the mixing and contributed in one fashion of another to every song. Without question, the performers are exceptional.

My only problem here is that when you hear a song like Love Sick, it just isn’t quite the same without the anguished vocals that Dylan brings to the mix. Like a Rolling Stone is one of rock’s greatest songs, but in the bluegrass genre it’s…. well, missing something.

When I first listened to the CD I can’t recall if I even finished it. The absence of Dylan’s tone was fully apparent and initially off-putting. A long while later I tried another run at it. Same result. It just wasn’t doing it for me.

Because of some recent housecleaning (i.e. trying to get rid of some of my possessions) I considered offering Tangled to whoever wanted it amongst my Facebook friends. But first, I decided to give it one more listen while working on a painting in my studio. And guess what….? I found myself humming along in places, and at one point it seemed necessary to break into a Zumba-esque cardiovascular dance workout.

That Dylan himself enjoys bluegrass-style instrumentation is a given. You can hear is quite often in many of his later albums, most notably High Water (For Charley Patton), a song he's now played more than 500 times on his Never Ending Tour.

For what it's worth, this might be a good addition to your collection if you're someone compelled to collect all things Dylan. My advice would be to go into it with your eyes open. Here's one of the reviews from where you can purchase it.

Warning: this is an all-instrumental album! I was looking for bluegrass covers of Dylan with *vocals*. The reason Dylan is great and brilliant is his vocals. Because I know the original songs, I can still hear the words in my head when I listen to this, but that's not enough. If that's what you're looking for, I rate it as good.

David West, who was born in 1952 -- approximately four weeks before I -- was a co-founder in 1974 of the Cache Valley Drifters and like Dylan continues to write and perform music to this day, all over the world.

Here's a second review from Amazon...

The musicianship on this album is astounding. It, truly is a marvelous musical journey --- worthy to be placed in the Dylan section of your local record shop. It's commendable seeing the musical side of Dylan explored in as much depth as his lyrics command.

The CD is sub-titled A Tribute to the Music of Bob Dylan, which it is.

* * * *

Monday, August 18, 2014

Lori Kempton Talks About Twin Ports Stage and Its Upcoming Show: Sealed For Freshness

Last week I heard rumors about things happening in Superior, a city that is waking up to once again get on the track toward reaching its full potential. One important feature of any serious community is a vibrant arts culture, which is nicely fermenting here. One of the players in this fermentation is Twin Ports Stage, a non-profit professional theater company. A primary distinction between theater companies and general community theater is that the actors are paid.

In three weeks Twin Ports Stage will be taking to the stage for their first major production, Sealed For Freshness. I spoke with Lori Kempton about their upcoming show.

EN: This is a big step for Twin Ports Stage. What's the grand vision for your production company?

Lori Kempton: While I agree it's a "big step" in terms of time and money, it's really the natural progression that we always intended. It is our inaugural stage production and so for us it is important in that sense. The broader vision and purpose of Twin Ports Stage encompasses a lot of different aspects. We intend to build a multi-purpose art facility that provides a much needed stage for our community and fellow artists. We intend to give voice to original material by regional/national writers and musicians and provide gallery space to visual artists. Eventually we intend to expand to provide pre/post production facilities for film projects. Our presence in downtown Superior will also serve as an anchor to revitalize the downtown area and provide a much needed impetus to other businesses to occupy Tower Avenue.

EN: Tell us a little bit about this first show. Who wrote it? What's it all about?

LK: It's a fun show about a Tupperware Party gone astray. As the Samuel French description notes: "Sealed for Freshness" is a play by Doug Stone. Directed by Merry Renn Vaughan, this play is set in 1968 during the heyday of Tupperware parties. Hostess Bonnie invites a group of neighbors over for a party. The guest list: perky, rich Jean, Jean's cranky and very pregnant sister Sinclair, ditzy-blonde Tracy Ann, and new neighbor Diane, who's made quite a career selling Tupperware, but at the expense of her marriage. The mix of personalities and the number of martinis consumed lead to a great deal of absurd high jinks plus revelations of an equal number of secrets and insecurities.

EN: When and where is it playing? Where can people buy tickets?

LK: The show is playing at the Manion Theater in Holden Fine Arts on the UWS Campus September 4 -14. Tickets can be purchased electronically at brownpapertickets or at the door at each performance. Ironically Twin Ports Stage, a project of the John D. Munsell Legacy Fund, is doing their first stage production on the stage that John D. Munsell loved, Returning to Manion Theater is a homecoming for many of the UWS Alumni featured in the show as well as our director Merry Renn Vaughan.

Cathy Podeszwa as BONNIE KAPICA
Victoria Main as JEAN PAWLICKI (alum)
Bridget Ideker as TRACY ANN McCLAIN
Sharon Dixon Obst as SINCLAIR BENEVENTE (alum)
Cheryl Zupec as DIANE WHETTLAUFER (alum)

EN: Why is it important for Superior to have its own playhouse?

LK: Superior currently has no public performance space. The community desperately needs a space dedicated to the performing and visual arts. In addition, there are also local theatre companies, touring companies and a number of area events -- such as the Duluth/Superior Film Festival -- that could utilize the space. We feel the our presence in downtown Superior will also serve as an anchor to revitalize the downtown area and provide a much needed impetus to other businesses to occupy Tower Avenue.

EdNote: If you’d like to keep up with everything else Twin Ports Stage is doing, go to their Facebook page and “like” them. And maybe I'll see you at the show.

Oh, and one more thing, if you don't have any plans tomorrow night, you might enjoy checking out Episodes 7 & 8 of of the Twin Ports Stage live radio theater program "Twin Ports." 

That is, only if you're not already planning to attend Amy Lynn's book release party at the Prove. The book is titled, Remnants of the Disappeared.