Brian and I discover a memorial for Blacks who have been killed by police. The sign said, #SayTheirNames. So we did.
Brian and I took a walk and discovered a pop-up memorial for Blacks who have been killed by police or – in one case that I noticed – not by active police officers but by racism itself. This would be Ahmaud Arbery, who was chased down by two men who didn’t like that he was jogging in their neighborhood. The memorial was simple: A name on a handwritten sign and taped to a tree. Many of them included #BLM or #SayTheirNames. So we headed home and came back with a microphone and a camera.
We took a picture of all of the names that we read for this podcast episode, though I didn’t include all of them here. If you’re interested in seeing something that isn’t posted, or if you would like a high resolution copy of any of these, let me know.
Not too far away, there were even more names posted at the library.
Say His Name, The Later Birds – I came across The Later Birds YouTube channel when I was looking for sources for pronouncing certain names. I appreciate the permission to use their work in version two of this episode.
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Talking to people who were gathering for a Bernie Sanders rally reminds me of the 2004 Dennis Kucinich presidential campaign.
The night before Super Tuesday, I went to the Saint Paul RiverCentre where I talked to people who were gathering for a Bernie Sanders rally. There were 8,000+ people there. The conversations reminded me of the 2004 Dennis Kucinich presidential campaign.
Various voices from the Bernie Sanders Rally, March 2, 2020
Minneapolis Writers Guild – Find them on Facebook – “The Minneapolis Writers Guild is a group of a dozen or more active writers, all of whom are writing long-form fiction or short stories. We meet every Wednesday for two hours (6:30 – 8:30) in the Longfellow neighborhood of South Minneapolis. If you are interested in joining us or have questions, send a note to: firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Ebooks Minnesota – Books available for free to Minnesotans from Minnesota publishers.
Minnesota Self-Published Books – “Enjoy books from local authors in the Indie Minnesota collection, as well as indie published titles selected as some of the best by Library Journal in the Indie Author Project Select collections.”
What do you really need to survive? Old bike tires? A copy of “Moby Dick”? A toaster? Someone to love? Can you live without the box of computer parts?
We begin with writer Michael Kleber-Diggs who contemplates whether he would ever be chosen for a survival team and end up at the doorstep of Mary Jane LaVigne and Allen Christian’s House of Balls, an art studio on the West Bank in Minneapolis. In between, there is a memorial service and everything you need to survive the apocalypse.
We first heard Michael Kleber-Diggs at Story Club Minneapolis (find them on Facebook) at the Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis. At the time I was working on an episode about “stuff” and thought the essay he presented – “Disaster Plan” – would fit nicely with what I was doing. So I was thrilled when Michael was able to join us for our storytelling event in February. If you would like an invitation to the next event, sign up for the newsletter.
On Halloween 2018 I was invited to a duel memorial service under the Tenth Avenue Bridge in Minneapolis. I did not know the deceased, but my friend who did asked me to come to see if I could record the service. It was an honor to be there and an honor to hear stories about the couple from people who knew them. Tape from this day is included in this episode, although that wasn’t the original plan. It just turned out that way.
What is something that you have that you should take to the Goodwill but for some reason can’t let it go?
The theme for our storytelling event this time around was “things you should let go but for some reason can’t.” Brian and I were sitting at the bar at Pizza Luce when the idea came to me. However it was Brian who jumped on it. He was right. Our “stuff” is a great source for stories that take us to some interesting places. In Patrick’s case, we end up in an old grain elevator.
Playing Bridge with the Roosevelts by Mary Jane LaVigne
Writer Mary Jane LaVigne reads “Playing Bridge with the Roosevelts”, which was published in the Chicago-based Slag Glass City that focuses on livable cities with a special interest in post-industrial greening of urban spaces “from rooftop gardens to elevated bike trails to vertical farms.” On the Slag site there’s a really nice picture of the House of Balls, Elmer and that big bear. Check it out!
Of course, thanks to everyone who came out to our storytelling event. Also, thanks to everyone who helped me with some recordings, Megumi, Michael, G.W., some cool people who attended the Design Lecture Series at the Walker Art Center and a very nice couple at Como Park. You all make doing this podcast a lot of fun!
A compilation of a podcast series Brian and I did for the Minnesota Fringe Festival, this episode looks at why we tell stories and how they can be elevated in a live performance.
You can’t win if you don’t enter.
The Minnesota Fringe Festival is a performing arts festival in Minneapolis and Saint Paul where you can see a crazy number of shows over eleven days in August. As an artist putting up a show, you’ll get to do your show five times with the support of Fringe staff, professional technicians and volunteers. For a chance to get spot in the 2019 Minnesota Fringe Festival, you’ll need to submit your application by February 14. If your number gets drawn on February 25, you’re in the festival! You can find more information on the Fringe website.
We would love to see you there.
We’re hosting a QuOTeD Social & Storytelling on Friday, February 22 at the Urban Forage Winery & Cider House in Minneapolis. More details are here. Or you can follow the event on Facebook.
In the original FringeCast we talked to over 120 people and discovered different theater companies, businesses and blogs along the way. We were so grateful for the insights everyone shared. Here are some highlights:
These are stories of persistence: A single mother who is trying to get some help. Campaigners who don’t know when to quit. A fight against segregation. Cafeteria workers who are trying to get the attention of management. A student who won’t take no for an answer. A Senator who won’t say yes.
Thanks for Listening!
Let me know what you think about this! You are always welcome to contact me here.
This episode called for a transcript because some of the oral history tapes I used might be a challenge to hear in some spots, although I don’t think it will be needed in most cases. So why use these tapes in the first place? It’s the kind of stuff that wouldn’t likely make it on most radio shows. Nor would some of these interviews ever make it into an exhibit at the Minnesota History Center, for example. So I just like the idea of using some of these “scraps” in an audio format by mixing them with other voices. They are voices worth hearing.
A Single Mother’s Pivotal Moment
I met Faith on the 2004 presidential campaign for Dennis Kucinich. We spoke on my porch earlier this fall. Or was it late summer? Whatever it was, it was warm enough to sit on the porch. I grabbed the microphone when Faith started to tell me the story about the time she applied for a government program that was supposed to help young single mothers get on their feet. The powers that be told her that she had little hope of ever being successful and that this was the reason she wouldn’t qualify for a housing certificate that she desperately needed. Faith did more than be persistent. She got a handle on her view of things and that changed everything.
1964 – Do Something
The piece I share here was adapted from the one I submitted to the 2018 Sonic South competition held by the Southern Oral History Program at the University Of North Carolina. The idea was to use interviews from their archives to talk about persistence. The language used in these interviews sounded like persistence to me: “We kept going back…” They were done as part of the 50th Anniversary of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee:
Interview with Dunn, Arlene Wilgoren by Karlyn Forner, April 16, 2010 U-0447, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection #4007, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Interview with Stoller, Nancy Elaine by David Cline, April 16, 2010 U-0456, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection #4007, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
In addition to these, you might be interested in hearing other interviews about SNCC. Here’s a link to several of them:
There is also this article about the segregated cafeteria at the Arkansas State Capitol:
Kirk, John. A. (Summer 2013). Capitol Offenses: Desegregating the Seat of Arkansas Government, 1964-1965. The Arkansas Historical Quarterly, Vol. LXXXII, No. 2, pp. 95-119.
While the piece I did about persistence was a quick sketch, this article takes you back to a moment that sparked protests and goes into a lot more detail about the legal arguments around segregation. You can access it here:
Interview with Mary Smith by Valerie Quinney, April 10, 1974 E-0079, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection #4007, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Interview with Ashley Davis by Russ Rymer, April 12, 1974 E-0062, in the Southern Oral History Program Collection #4007, Southern Historical Collection, Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
There are tons more interviews on this topic, which you can find here:
This story about persistence has all of the ingredients of a Hollywood movie with the possible exception of the ending. It’s hard not to be inspired by Elizabeth Brooks. She had questions. Why were checks being shortened? Why was it impossible to get on permanent payroll? It’s funny that it should be considered to be brave to insist on answers to basic questions or to ask for basic fairness. But it was and I suspect it still can be. Can you think of a question that you keep to yourself because you don’t want to rock the boat? That’s what I mean. But even as the cafeteria workers stood up for themselves, Mary Smith worried about speaking poorly of management. As a woman, I identified with this. Maybe the guilt and co-dependency is based in something other than gender, but that’s how it feels to me.
Senator Paul Wellstone
Paul Wellstone comes up in this episode in a few different ways and is at the center of some great stories about persistence. It starts with a memorial we saw for him and his wife Sheila at the University of North Carolina where Brian and I attended the Sonic South listening event in May 2018. The memorial is near Lenoir Hall, where the cafeteria workers’ strike takes place. I wondered if Wellstone was a student there at the time and if he was, did he support the strike? Then I found this book that answered my question:
The podcast Press Record was the first place I had ever heard of Silent Sam, a confederate monument that until recently occupied a prominent spot at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. While the statue was still there when Brian and I attended the Sonic South event in May 2018, it was later removed by protesters. The fate of Silent Sam is yet to be determined.
Speaking of great history podcasts, also check out John Biewen’s Scene on Radio. Season 2, Seeing White, “deconstructs the meaning of whiteness”, while season 3, Men, looks at sexism/patriarchy/misogyny. Coincidentally, This American Life recently featured Biewen who talked about the history that was never mentioned when he was growing up in Minnesota.
Funky President Kucinich
The best I can tell, the original Funky President Kucinich was produced by Shannon Larratt. At least that’s where the website Muzabra points and I believe that’s where I first found it. In 2003, for another project I called Dissection: Bush Addresses the Nation I added Paul Wellstone’s voice to the work. I also added the voices of Geroge W. Bush – from the speech he did announcing his intentions to invade Iraq – as well as Winona LaDuke and Michael Moore, which came from a rally they held with Ralph Nader and Phil Donahue at the Target Center in Minneapolis.
Leave A Message Project (LAMP)
In 2003, supporters of Dennis Kucinich for President were invited to leave a message on my answering machine. I wanted to know how they would like Senator John Kerry to distinguish himself from George W. Bush. A slightly longer version of the piece was played for the platform committee at the 2004 National Democratic Convention.
Music & Sound
Scheming Weasel, Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 License http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Showdown, Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
Tenebrous Brothers Carnival, Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
Faceoff, Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0
If you ask someone about their first car, they’ll probably tell you a story. Cars can tell a family history, teach us to deal with adversity and embed themselves into our fondest memories.
What was your first car?
Whenever I mentioned working on this episode, people often couldn’t resist telling me what their first car was. That’s when I know I have a decent question. I’m always looking for questions where an answer naturally comes to mind, as opposed to something that stumps people. And of course I’m looking for questions that spark stories and even tangents. Tangents are good. If you’re having the same response and want to tell me a story, please do!
Bringing people together to tell stories, as we did to gather some tape for this episode, is also useful. Because when you hear someone tell a story, it often triggers your own stories.
I was surprised that taxis came up as often as they did (you can also put that on your bingo card!). So this made me curious and I went down the Internet rabbit hole and found a gem of a story about a guy in Vermont who was on a quest to get his hands on an old New York Taxi. I was thrilled he said I could use it in this episode.
Militaire Electronic, Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/
100 people answer the question, “Going back as far as you can go, what is your very earliest memory?” The ages associated with memories range from being a baby to 12 years old.
Some remember just flashes, while others have lots of details. These memories are parts of a story, like pieces of a puzzle. Colors come up, a yellow Rambler, for example. But none are mentioned more than purple. Moms and Dads. Bottles. Bikes. Grandparents. Houses. Fences. Yep. We seem to remember those too. There are toys and shoes and lots of other shared images that I’ll let you discover on your own.