{ Ode to the Midwest }

January 4, 2015 § Leave a comment

Poetry from a native Nebraskan:

The country I come from
Is called the Midwest
—Bob Dylan

I want to be doused
in cheese
& fried. I want
to wander
the aisles, my heart’s
supermarket stocked high
as cholesterol. I want to die
wearing a sweatsuit—
I want to live
forever in a Christmas sweater,
a teddy bear nursing
off the front. I want to write
a check in the express lane.
I want to scrape
my driveway clean
myself, early, before
anyone’s awake—
that’ll put em to shame—
I want to see what the sun
sees before it tells
the snow to go. I want to be
the only black person I know.
I want to throw
out my back & not
complain about it.
I wanta drive
two blocks. Why walk—
I want love, n stuff—
I want to cut
my sutures myself.
I want to jog
down to the river
& make it my bed—
I want to walk
its muddy banks
& make me a withdrawal.
I tried jumping in,
found it frozen—
I’ll go home, I guess,
to my rooms where the moon
changes & shines
like television.
PS – Thanks, Ulzii.

{ Cultural Flowering }

November 22, 2014 § Leave a comment

“There was a tremendous cultural flowering that took place. All flowers eventually curl up, but the significance of the flower is in the seed. And the seeds were planted.”

– Steve Gaskin on the energy of the sixties, in an interview by Michael Thurman for The Sun, 1985, republished November 2014.

{ Magazine + Art Gallery. Two Forms, Same Mission? }

October 13, 2014 § Leave a comment

Joey Los is a sculptor from Gasconade County, Missouri, who works with hot molten metal, electricity and fire. Her work will be on display and on auction at the McKittrick Farmer's Mercantile. What if there were more spaces for regional artists to show their work?

Joey Los is a sculptor from Gasconade County, Missouri, who works with hot molten metal, electricity and fire. Her work will be on display and on auction at the McKittrick Farmer’s Mercantile. What if there were more spaces for regional artists to show their work?

I’ve been thinking about how, if I want to create a magazine that elevates culture and sense of place, the book’s leverage could support other vehicles achieving the same goal. The Texas Tribune’s 60+ events/year is one example of this concept (see, “8 Lessons Learned from New Journalism Business Models”), and The Intentional hosts book swaps and writing workshops. Orion, too, runs workshops and monthly web events, posts jobs/internships, and promotes reader meet-ups. Those are just some from the top of my head.

This, coupled with thoughts from last week, has me thinking: At the Dream Magazine, if we’d employ artists and photographers anyway, why not also feature their work in galleries? Keep a small one going in the lobby of our Dream Office, and work with businesses in the distribution area to host pop-up galleries on their walls. We’d cultivate culture and support regional artists beyond the pages of the mag, and at the same time, promote our brand and raise a few extra funds (from places like, say, The Missouri Arts Council, which just announced its 2015 grants). This seems totally possible, but I’m wondering if other magazines and nonprofits are doing this. Please share links in the comments if you know of any. « Read the rest of this entry »

{ Art about staying put }

October 6, 2014 § 2 Comments

I have this friend Paige, who totally gets inside my head sometimes. She sends me articles about place and community, and it infiltrates my brain-parts and strikes me when I’m, say, walking to work through alleys in Missouri’s capital city. Like today, as I passed a half dozen beautiful German buildings with boarded-up windows.

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What can we do with that? I bet Paige would know. Most recently, she sent the following items for consideration. (She’ll send stuff to you, too, if you follow her on Twitter.)

{ Rick Lowe: communities and social context as art }

From the L.A. Times:
“You have to spend years developing relationships to be able to do something like this,” he told me at the time. “It’d be an arrogant disregard of a community to come in and think you can grasp all the complexities of a place in a short time.”

This offers a welcome antidote to the art world’s relentlessly globe-trotting ways, one in which art is made on the run from Miami to Berlin to Hong Kong. Work like Lowe’s is the opposite. It is about observing, learning, considering, and, with the help of others, working to build something new. It is about staying put. The art world could certainly use more of that.”

{ Theaster Gates: restoring homes for public art }

From Paige: “I love that this guy [^] won a grant and am excited to see what he does with it. Also, it reminds me of Theaster Gates, a wonderful Chicago artist who, according to Wikipedia, is a “Social Practice Installation Artist.” I guess Lowe could be considered that as well? Anyway, one of Gates’s most famous installations is the Dorchester Projects in south side Chicago. Check it out!”

“After making his home in a former storefront on South Dorchester Avenue, Gates purchased the neighboring two-story vacant house and initiated a design project to restore and reactivate the home as a site of community interaction and uplift. The success of this project led to the acquisition of a third building across the street, which with the support of grants will be redesigned as a space for film programming and artist residencies.” (Read more on the Preservation Nation blog.)

To keep this line of thought alive, I started a Pinterest board of “Revitalized Spaces.” Follow along, if you’re into that.

« Read the rest of this entry »

{ Plato, Missouri: Center of the U.S. (a new photozine project by Ben Hoste) }

September 25, 2014 § Leave a comment

Have you ever seen Plato, Missouri, looking so good? I hadn’t. But I do really really appreciate when people pay attention to tiny rural places. So I’m really really excited that photographer (and University of Missouri J-School alum!) Ben Hoste is coming back all the way from New York to document a place just 30 miles from where I grew up. If that makes you excited too, you can back the project on Kickstarter!

For the 2010-2020 decade, Plato will be known as the exact population center of the United States, one point on an persistently westward path, which Ben elegantly says, “can be seen as the echo of manifest destiny.” He’s making photozines out of the pictures he’s taking there.

You know what I appreciate? Commitment. This will be the second time he visits and makes a zine. I also appreciate universalizing experiences:

I choose to focus my camera on seemingly momentless situations in an effort to make photographs absent of time. My goal is to explore both a local and universal understanding of America through the people and landscape of Plato, Missouri.

I think Ben makes a good enough case for his project, but just so you know, all my most talented photojournalism friends confirm he’s awesome, too. I’m admittedly a little late to the game (he was already 122% funded when I finally pledged some money), but dangit I want those photozines! If you want one to, go back it yourself, because he’ll only print as many as get backed.

(P.S. – Ben recently finished another local project, “Good Earth: Missouri’s Old Lead Belt.” It’s appropriately beautiful and eerie.)

(P.P.S. – Good Earth reminds me of Stacy Kranitz’s Appalachian photos.)

(P.P.P.S. – Speaking of documenting tiny places, remember that time I did a Q&A with the directors of Rich Hill?)

{ Kearney’s giant calzones }

April 5, 2014 § 1 Comment

Let’s start from the end of the day, when Andrea uttered, “I am going to tell my grandchildren about this calzone.”

The most unassuming restaurant I think I've ever seen.

The Flippin Sweet. Pretty sure it’s in an old garage.

As journalists and lovers of rock music, we were obligated to order the “Almost Famous.” Pretty sure it’s the best calzone I’ve ever had. Or best food I’ve ever had? I’d post a picture, but this isn’t Midwest Living, and we ate it all in five minutes. “If you were a baby, you would fit in the calzone,” says Andrea.

Anyway, to her credit, after the calzone she did add, “and the cranes,” rather quickly.

Because that’s why we’re really here. To see the Sandhill Cranes staying over near the Platte River. Us and dozens of these other suckers:

Viewing deck on the Platte River just off the Lowell Road bridge south of I-80 exit 285.

Viewing deck on the Platte River just off the Lowell Road bridge south of I-80 exit 285.

This is my third year in a row to see the cranes, but the first time I’ve planned a trip myself. First, I went with a group of journalism students, and last year I went with ornithology students. Now I’m with my Grampa Marty and good good friend Andrea. Very different experiences. I should write a guide book.

I'm fixing my hair, not tired of Grampa's company.

I’m fixing my hair, not tired of Grampa’s company. Although he does tease us quite a bit.

I knew they wouldn’t judge me if I royally messed up plans, and I needed someone to write down our bird list!

Thanks, AK!

{ Not pictured: } our hike around the Eastern Nebraska Platte River Preserve Native Prairie Nature Trail. (That’s a mouthful. They could work on marketing.) Anyway, I’ve been following Chris Helzer’s blog, “The Prairie Ecologist” for several months and was excited to see some of his work. Even though it’s April, and you kind of have to poke around in the grass to see green things.

Also, there’s a great Vietnamese/Thai restaurant on 4th Street in Grand Island, Nebraska. But what is this, Midwest Living? I’ll shut up now.

Can you tell I’m tired? I’m writing like Ernest Hemingway. We’re waking up in four hours to go to the blinds at Rowe Sanctuary. Those birds better appreciate it.

{ Ay yo Denver, it’s been nice }

April 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Did you know that Denver is in the Missouri River watershed? I got to walk near Cherry Creek and the Platte River a few times during my stay for the AHCJ Conference. It’s little, but pretty, so we’ll claim it.

I also wrote a killer post on hydraulic fracturing, health and occupational hazards for the organization’s blog. This was in addition to “8 Lessons Learned from New Journalism Business Models” here on The Gasconader.

When I wasn’t learning new things, I explored a whole lot. Highlights include three phenomenal meals with great service at Gallo Di Nero (hell yeah to its happy hour), Wynkoop Brewery (the B3K Black Lager is off the chainz), and Linger (bring a bunch of friends and/or journalists and order basically everything off the menu); and a great night at Bluebird Theatre to see Slim Cessna’s Auto Club, which somehow combines Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds with Big Smith to stunning effect.

This weekend, it’s back to the Platte, this time in Kearney, Nebraska to see the Sandhill Crane migration! More soon.

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