Friday, May 10, 2019

Ralph Nichols Dies in Seattle

Although we only worked together for about a year at The Idaho Statesman, Ralph Nichols was a role model and a man I turned to for advice.  We kept in touch after I moved to Minneapolis and I last saw him in Burien in November 2017.
He suggested in 1969 that I go to graduate school, and maybe that was his way of telling me to get out of town. So with a clear goal in mind I was able to endure the craziness of my supervisor. It wasn’t long before I would take the graduate entrance exam at the College of Idaho in Caldwell with an upset stomach.
Quoting a line from the movie The Graduate, I told Ralph I was drifting. I had no social life although I beat that dead horse to death, dating women who really didn’t interest me. I was inching loser to 30.   My social life picked up when Ralph, a coworker, moved nearby and we would go to Lucky Peak Reservoir. I look back wistfully at my Idaho years but I was isolated, lonely and I had virtually lost my close friend Ralph when he married and moved to nearby Nampa. 
He and Charice invited me to their home in Nampa to see the first NFL Super Bowl on their small B&W TV.  I was an attendant in their wedding in Boise in 1968.
The book, I and Thou by Martin Buber was a gift from Ralph.  I took a class in philosophy at Boise State to try to understand this text.  He must have thought that I would enjoy the thinking of a Jewish philosopher.

An excellent story teller with a great, Ralph would regail me with incidents from his Statesman reporting days.  He recalls that I advised him not to take the transfer to the Nampa bureau because it was a dead end.  He settled in Seattle where I would see him until 2017.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Mountain Man, Jack Malone

When I last saw Jack Malone, Longview, Wash., in about 2000 in Seattle he gave me this LP record that he produced in 1980 commemorating the individuality of Harry Truman and the Mt. St Helens volcano eruption.  Jack, a lifelong Republican, could have been amused that a “whiskey drinking mountain man” of courage had the same name as a Democrat president.  This collection of blue grass country includes “Don’t Send Your Ash to Town” by Willy and the Woodchucks.  Truman refused to leave his home near the volcano.
  I knew Jack at Roosevelt Grade School and Lewis and Clark High School in Spokane and the University of Washington.  In the 70s he managed an FM rock radio station which would have been a great opportunity for a book with photos.
Happy Easter
I suspect that little me in an Easter Bunny outfit relates to a grade school play in Spokane.  I got an ecumenical education via Spokane’s Roosevelt School.  Sadly, the costume no longer fits.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Roger Ebert Film Festival with Road Scholars

 CHAMPAIGN — I attended the Roger Ebert Film Festival with Road Scholars, a convivial group  of seniors serious about film, equality, inclusion and diversity.  Several of the films dealt with these topics while the Orange Ogre orchestrated chaos over immigration in the background. No one mentioned the “T word” during the entire week.
Film is the way forward and kudos to festival organizer Chaz Ebert (Roger’s widow) for selecting provacative films and timely panel discussions.
Much credit goes to the University of Illinois College of Media for a wonderful experience.
Appropriate tribute to a Mexican-American immigant is paid by Sam Fragoso in his short film “Sebastian.”  A voice-over reads letters written by Fragaso’s immigrant grandfather while we see an actor in a fruit orchard.  This timely look at immigration was shown at Ebertfest in Champaign.  Fragaso, a journalist, has been attending Ebertfest since he was a teen.

The Italian revival interior of the Virginia Theater’s balcolny was extremely serene during a bathroom break.  Seating in the theater is mostly uncomfortable, except in the elevated part of the balcony where you can stretch your legs over the railing.  I am not planning a return trip here, but many in the Road Scholar group have been attending Ebertfest for as many as 15 years.  People I met in Champaign-Urbana go out of their way to make you feel welcome to the American heartland, a university community in the farm fields.

Michael Barker, co-president of Sony Classic films, droned on about famous actors he has known.  Less of Barker would have been more.
Unlike Rita Coburn, a director who was stimulating and spoke about her film “Maya Angelou, And Still I Rise.”  The actress and poet rose above adversity.  The film was riveting and was a good introduction for me to Dr. Angelou’s incredible work.

“Almost Famous,” a 2000 cult favorite, was the one I most wanted to see on the big screen with an appreciative audience.  I missed Mr. Rogers so I could get a nap and see AF, a look at love, heartbreak and tenuous relations with a second rate rock band on the road.  I found a comfortable spot in the balcony for this SRO showing. 

CHAMPAIGN —Random acts of kindness.  Much thanks to the staff person at the Krannert Art Museum, who is a member of the MLK Choir, and her husband, Porter, who drove me back to the Holiday Inn after visitng the campus.  
The Martin Luther King Jr. Community Choir performed after the showing of the Aretha Franklin gospel concert (Amazing Grace 1972) film at Ebertfest that was never completed until recently.  Who was that famous British rock star in the audience and were you uneasy with the scene of Aretha and her father?
Advocacy for Justice Committee 
Salem Baptist Church
500 E Park St, 
Champaign, IL 61820
Send donation to the MLK Choir scholarship fund.

CHAMPAIGN — Sexism and ageism discrimination undermine careers of talented women artists in the entertainment and film industries.
Film director Rita Coburn at EbertFest panel said “women can’t get in the door.”  Same could be said for women critics.  Writer Carla Renata said “middle age men are afraid that women are trying to take their place.”
Actor Gina Gershon recounted rejections for parts because she wasn’t enough Asian or Black.  “Women don’t want a piece of the pie, they want a different pie,” said actresss and writer Jennifer Merin.
Producers favor ideal types so there are not many parts for her type of actress, said Jennifer Tilly who with Gershon appears in the film “Bound” that was shown at the festival.

CHAMPAIGN — After seeing the film “Rachel Getting Married” one of the women in my group who is a marriage counselor said, “I thought I was back at work watching this movie.”  Another quipped:  “They took the fun out of dysfunctional.”
Dale DeVries, professional driver of the University of Illinois bus wrote a heartfelt text message to the U of I coordinator for our Road Scholar group.  Interaction with us seniors enriched this young man’s life.
People I encountered at the Holiday Inn were open and eager to chat.  A young hotel staffer said he couldn’t watch “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” because Mr. Rogers  brought back memories of a difficult time in his life.
Another hotel staffer was in Champaign for a year helping her father who is recovering from heart surgery.

Wednesday, March 13, 2019


I applied for a DJ job at KLYK in about 1961 when I was a student in Radio-TV at the University of Washington.  I got an interview with Mr. Williams where I learned to my chagrin that this 500-watt Mutual/ABC affiliate MOR music format was automated which meant they had no announcers.  They carried Dick Van Dyke’s ABC radio program at noon.
Mr. Williams was most polite, giving me a tour of the studios which consisted of large tape machines buzzing away.  I was most disappointed but then I got my quart of Darigold ice cream in the contest I didn’t win either.
KLYK was originally KSPO, a legacy station and the first Top 10 music station in the 1950s in Spokane.  As a child I listened to the Story Lady on KSPO and Mom even took us to her live story reading from the Realty Building studio.  (The building and transmitter still stand.)
It’s most noteworthy air personality was LIttle Bob LIddle who fell asleep during his late night shift.  KLYK may have been a pioneer in late night call in talk.

It reverted to being KSPO-AM and those call letters are now assigned to an FM religious station in Spokane suburb Dishman.  

Sunday, January 06, 2019


Antisemitism, racism, George Soros and Facebook were provacative topics Sunday at the Jewish Community Action forum on antisemitism at the Jewish Community Center, St. Louis Park.
.Eric K. Ward, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, spoke at the morning session to a Jewish audience and then again in the afternoon elsewhere in Minneapolis to non Jews.  “Antisemitism forms the theoretical core of white natonalism,” Ward wrote in a Political Research Associates article in 2017.
Facebook's attempt at a smear of George Soros, who is a Jew, as related to criticism of Facebook and its ties to Russian election propoganda were covered in the media and obstensibly puts Facebook on the same page as the white supremecists.

“Live the Jewish life and don’t let antisemiticsm overtake our gift to the world,” said Dania Rajendra, center, from Newsweek and Cornell University and a participant in the JCA forum on antisemitism Saturday in St. Louis Park.
More than recognizing racism in the Jewish community, Jews need to support organizations that take on antisemitism, vote for candidates who promote diversity and reach out to others in the community, said Jewish Community Action Executive Director CARIN MROTZ.

Followup sessions on antisemitism will be held later this month by JCA.  The forum was co-sponsored by the Teamsters Union.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


FIRST FRIDAY group attended a memorial luncheon Monday for Gregg Iverson, 73, Minneapolis, who died sometime over the Thanksgiving holiday at his family’s home.  We were members of Business and Professional Singles of which Gregg was a pioneer long before I joined in the mid 80s.
I didn’t know Gregg well but was reminded of his colorful history by others who spoke at the event in the Richfield American Legion Hall.  Iverson loved a good time and attended frat parties at the University long after many of us disdained any fraternal allegiances.
He may have facilitated the election of Keith Ellison to Congress when he sidelined the leading contender, a protege of then Rep. Martin Sabo, at a debate.  “Real DFLers don’t live on Lake of the Isles,” said Iverson of the Sabo protege at the event where Gregg was one of the contenders for the job.  He continued to run for office until last month. 
One of his cousins recalled a Tom Sawyer-like housing painting event at the Iverson home that was organized by Gregg’s dad Arnie who the cousin described as a “cheap SOB.”
Iverson was “real Minnesota” Norwegian and there are fewer as the Gopher State is now more culturally diverse.
Iverson was an Air Force veteran of the Vietnam War, taught high school and worked in the state highway department administrative offices before retiring in recent years.

Watching the art house flick “Favourite” was like being inside the Trump White House madness, Rick Notch and I agreed halfway through Olivia Colman’s outstanding performance as England’s Queen Anne, a desolate and fading monarch.
Acting against sound advice, she decides to pursue a winless war that pushes the economy near bankruptcy — call it Anne’s “border wall.”  Meanwhile, the knives are out among her palace aides as they jockey for power.
You will either love or hate director Yorgos Lanthoms’ pretentious touches like the fish eye lens that suggest surrealism and the mostly dimly lit scenes that foretell death.
We agreed that “Favourite” won’t play well in Pipestone and Eveleth, but it’s one of several potential award winners debuting at the Lagoon, Uptown and Edina.  With all the choices at the theaters and online streaming it almost makes us forget about the miserably cold weather here.

With the James Baldwin novel “Giovanni’s Room” I am challenged this weekend about the cost and consequences of love and desire.  This past week I finished a second read of “Call Me By Your Name” while watching James Ivory’s “Maurice” and “Room with a View.”  I came to some conclusions about the impact of music and the marvel of nature with this sensory overload.  So I have signed up to retake Dr. Resch’s music class this winter in St. Paul.

“I, Jane Doe,” a 1948 court room drama, is a fantastic lost film from Republic Pictures, directed by John Auer.  The cinemaphotography and segues are artistic.  This gem has been restored with 4K technology in black and white — stunning!

Friday, November 30, 2018

Ex-gay reform “therapy” is about power and control by fundamentalists who fear the “other” in gays and lesbians.  This brilliant film with Lucas Hedges, “Boy Erased,” explores this theme in painful detail.
Like “Call Me By Your Name” the music track alternates mood themes with contemporary tunes and a memorable solo by Troye Sivan who is an actor in the film.  Also similar to CMBYN, the movie ends with a father son conversation.  
Russell Crowe plays the fundamentalist preacher dad and Nicole Kidman appears as the mom.  It's not about religion.

It moved from the Uptown to  the Edina and it will find an audience because this movie explores a cause of our current polarization and hate vs love.

Similarly, see Alfonso  Cuaron's "Children of Men" where fear of refugees dominates life in a grim aftermath of global warming.  This relates to a class I took on climate change in Africa where drought has driven refugees to industrial world countries like US and Europe where CO2 gases caused global warming.
On the same DVD watch the documentary "The Possibility of Hope," where experts say if we act now we can slow down the coming catastrophe.  We need a change in DC, don't we?