"You'll never get ahead if you don't take care of what you have." - Doris Waddell, RIP

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn

A historic building on our U of M-Morris campus - morris mn
The multi-ethnic building was the original home of the music department at UMM. (B.W. photo)

Saturday, January 28, 2017

Song "Time Passages" apt for one's birthday

My fourth birthday in 1959, St. Paul
A while back I emailed a birthday greeting to someone whose birthday coincided with something bad from history. Her birthday was on December 7. That of course is Pearl Harbor Day.
My own birthday is today, Saturday, Jan. 28. While today's date may not "live in infamy," as FDR put it, there is a sobering distinction. It was on this date when the Space Shuttle Challenger blew up. People with this kind of birthday are reminded of the sad aspect by the media. We reflect with a note of sympathy. Then we reflect on ourselves and our own lives.
At age 62 I no longer have aversion or mixed thoughts about being a "senior citizen." Today I'm eligible to collect Social Security. Maybe I should start getting those checks before the Republican majority dismantles this and other entitlement programs. Republicans are always determined to do this. Give them a chance and they will undo the New Deal.
But I don't wish to focus on politics. Let's try to be a little more transcendent. On this occasion I wish to revive memories of a philosophical and reflective song. It dates back to the late 1970s. People my age realize what a different time that was. It was totally pre-digital. I might emphasize that life moved so very slow. Those were not optimistic times. We embraced irreverent humor a lot. Consider "The Gong Show" on TV with Chuck Barris.
The song I wish to exhibit is "Time Passages," a 1978 hit that had such a gentle feel. Singer-songwriter Al Stewart gave us "Time Passages" along with "Year of the Cat." These were ubiquitous songs on the radio.
Nostalgia is suggested in "Time Passages" but it's not a blunt message. Let's say it's nuanced and open to interpretation. This shroud of indirectness is a stamp of a masterful poet or song wordsmith. We are forced to think about how we consider our past.
Shall we consider alternate routes we might have taken? Or more importantly, should we wonder how certain friends need not have been so transitory? We wonder about past significant others or potential significant others. They linger in our thoughts. We ponder significant others, potential significant others and even imagined significant others. The latter is the most intriguing.
We think of our tangible accomplishments and possessions. We begin to wonder how truly valuable they are, if we ought to cling to our more intangible assets: our friends and faith etc. We watch cable TV news and are informed of the stock market's performance up to the minute. Are we really so gripped by that? Even if a bull market surges, does it really make us happier? Or are we clutching this "bling" that gives only an illusory sense of prosperity/security?
The Al Stewart song says "the things you lean on are the things that don't last." We needn't spend our limited time in this existence seeking to accumulate beyond our necessities. More than anything, I think Stewart is prodding us to find in our memories a gem of a relationship that might have been polished further. We all have someone like this lodged in our thoughts, right?
Do I dare make a confession like this? I'll say I knew a girl from Iowa, blond hair and a bit tomboyish, who played the trumpet in a time when female trumpet players were rare. I was annoyed by how certain instruments in the band seemed gender-specific. My first instrument was the French horn and I began to realize it was a female-dominated instrument. Buy why? Today I don't see why it should be. Once I learned the trumpet for marching band purposes, I began to gravitate toward it, and maybe my new preference was based on alleviating the gender association.
But the trumpet enabled me to meet my Iowa acquaintance. We sat side by side in an endeavor. Years later when the Internet came along with its boundless possibilities, I was intrigued by being able to look up just about anyone. George and Connie at Don's Cafe were on the ground floor for harnessing the web's possibilities. I think it was with this help that I looked up my old friend. We corresponded, writing letters of fair substance. She was married at the time but that changed.
It was so perfect from my standpoint that she took back her maiden name. I would always think of her with that maiden name. Perhaps "maiden" is a sexist term and I ought to opt for "birth name" or something.
Our correspondence tailed off and that might have been primarily my doing. We lived so far apart. At the time I was absorbed in my media work. Today I'm absorbed with domestic responsibilities. I view the potential bond through a fog of unreality. Or maybe I'm too cautious to break the chains of obligations that seem to have me frozen.
Such are the thoughts that are consistent with the song "Time Passages." In a sense, the song does have the type of cynicism that we associate with the 1970s. Stewart writes about a transitory old acquaintance who seems "just out of sight," in other words, seen through a blur of speculation only: "what might have been."
The lyrics bring to light one special relationship, a lover, a friend forgotten and lost over the years. Time has pushed this person "just out of sight." We deem the person "worth going back for." 
Stewart pleads in the song: "Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight." We wonder if we can get on that train and secure a relationship with that one special person. It's such a safe place in our thoughts, a haven in which we are soothed by that person. Don't we all have such thoughts? And aren't we realistic enough to know we must deal with reality, the present?
Stewart in fact makes us realize through his thicket of reflective thoughts that time moves forward, seemingly faster as the years pass. People like me who stumble into Social Security age realize we don't have the luxury of not making use of the days we have in front of us. Social Security gives me the confidence that I can at least eat. Memories never leave us, alas. I think of my Iowa friend as the lyrics roll by:
In these time passages, I know you're in there
You're just out of sight
Oh, time passages
Buy me a ticket on the last train home tonight
 
I invite you to acknowledge my birthday by listening to Al Stewart's "Time Passages" from YouTube. You'll be moved. Put on your headphones or activate your speakers, please. Here is the link:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pm6TsYypBpY
 
I remember one morning listening to this song on the radio, in the serenity of a northern Minnesota lake after the summer lake visitor season had passed. Dad and I were there on the eve of deer hunting. It seemed unusual being there post-summer, but also refreshing. You know how the atmosphere generally gets cleared out in the fall.
It was early in the morning and so peaceful with only the sound of the Stewart song getting my attention. It was the late '70s. In that moment there was no room for cynicism, just contentment.
If I see my father in heaven, we will certainly do something other than go hunting.
Never forget these words:
 
Age is a case of mind over matter.
If you don't mind, it don't matter.
- Satchell Paige
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, January 23, 2017

Girls surge throughout to win 72-53

Tigers 72, ACGC 53
The GBB Tigers impressed with their play at the ACGC gym on Friday, Jan. 20. We took charge to assume a 36-27 lead at halftime. We continued taking care of business in the second half, outscoring the Falcons 37-26 to win in the 72-53 final.
Our outside shooting touch was impressive. Correy Hickman showed a sharp eye with three 3-point makes. Riley Decker found the range to make two 3-pointers. Malory Anderson connected once from three-point land.
Hickman was all over the court to steal the ball six times. Decker and Nicole Solvie each contributed five assists. Jenna Howden led in rebounds with nine. Howden was also at the top of the scoring list with 19 points. Hickman and Ashley Solvie each put in 15 points. Decker's output was ten points. Then we have Nicole Solvie with eight points and Anderson with five.
Atwater-Cosmos-Grove City was not without its flashes of talent. Just look at Addison Bernstein with her 25 points. Bernstein made two 3-pointers and Maree Lee made one. Bernstein worked the boards well to collect seven rebounds. Lee performed four assists. Kendra Miller led in steals with eight followed by Bernstein with four.
 
Boys: Tigers 70, Montevideo 68 (3 OT)
A triple overtime thriller saw the Morris Area Chokio Alberta Tigers prevail over Montevideo on the road. Maybe it shouldn't have been that close. We were up by ten at halftime, 34-24. Monte showed resolve on defense in the second half, picking up momentum to get the score tied at the end of regulation. It was 53-all.
The Tigers and Thunder Hawks traded points through the first two overtime extensions. The deadlock persisted. Finally in the third OT, MACA carved out the advantage with Jacob Zosel putting in the winning points. Zosel showed poise making a layup to give his team the winning difference in the 70-68 final. He showed poise all night as he scored the team-best 30 points.
Camden Arndt was No. 2 on the list with 16 points. The list continues with Jaret Johnson (13), Tim Travis (10) and Lukus Manska (1). Johnson connected twice from three-point range while Zosel had one three-point make.
Monte displayed a balanced attack with Travis Dreyer scoring 18 points, Riley Emery putting in 17 and Isaac Douglas adding 14. Then we have Andrew Sweeney (7), Derek Kilibarda (6), Henry Strune (4) and Isaac Hoogevsen (2). Emery had the only 3-point make for the T-Hawks. Dreyer's nine rebounds topped that list.
Emery worked the boards for seven rebounds. Douglas had six assists and four steals. Douglas had a last-gasp 3-point attempt to try to salvage victory for his T-Hawks, but it was no-go.
 
Wrestling: Tigers 43, United 36
The home gym was the site for a dramatic wrestling win Thursday (1/19). Gage Wevley provided the margin of victory in this crowd-pleasing win for the Tigers. Wevley achieved a pin late in his 220-pound match. He overwhelmed Cole Bungarden in a time of 5:34. The orange and black prevailed 43-36 over the team called "United."
Ethan Lebrija was the 106-pounder for MAHACA and he decisioned Griffin Johnson 10-6. Dalton Rose came on strong at 113 pounds to get Seth Hubbard's shoulders pinned to the mat in 1:51. United's Trevon Johnson was the forfeit winner at 120 pounds.
Ben Travis was on the short end of a fall outcome at 126 pounds. Layton Wittnebel pinned Travis in :55. Gideon Joos of the Tigers pinned Trevor Geerman in 1:40. Jared Rohloff won by a 6-4 decision over Christian Kanten. Chase Metzger came on strong to win by fall over Slade Irvine in 2:29.
Brady Cardwell at 152 pounds pinned Ethen Montantes in :30. United's Peyton Mortenson got his arm raised via forfeit. Matt McNeill of the Tigers was on the short end of a fall (1:17) at the hands of Colton Struxness. Dakota Leupke of the Tigers pinned Quintin Lehmann in 5:14. Bain Laine of the Tigers lost by fall in the battle of 195-pounders. Austin Schmitt pinned Laine in 1:15.
Gage Wevley won the pivotal bout at 220 pounds, pinning Bungarden. United's Mason Hutt won by forfeit at 285 pounds. Congrats to MAHACA on its 43-36 win.
 
Girls hockey: Prairie Center 7, MBA 3
Morris Benson Area scored a goal in each of the three periods in the game against Prairie Center. But it wasn't enough as Prairie Center surged in the first and third periods with three goals in each. They polished things off with a second period goal in this 7-3 win for them. Let's compliment the MBA girls on scoring their three goals on just nine shots!
Leah Thompson scored the first period goal for MBA at 4:18. Shelby Otte scored two of the Prairie Center goals in the first, and Lupita Mora scored the other. Hallie Watzke scored the second period goal for MBA, assisted by Megan Kirkeide at 13:43. Sara McCoy put the puck in the net for the opposition.
Then in the third period it was Taryn Picht scoring for the Storm at 16:57. Otte performed smoothly again for Prairie Center as she got two of her team's third period goals, with Reece Ritter getting the other.
The goalies were Abby Hoffman for MBA and Mackenzie Och for Prairie Center. Hoffman had 28 saves while Och had six.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Our local institutions show signs of duress

The Morris newspaper was just 18 pages last Saturday. This is the smallest paper I've seen since it was twice a week. For a long time the standard was 24 pages. Then I noticed a pattern of 20-page papers toward the end of last year. I thought that was surprising because the period leading up to Christmas is normally a robust time for commercial media enterprises.
If newspapers lose their hold on the pre-Christmas business promotions, what does that mean? We have found other means to get our shopping information. Has consumerism been tamped down in connection to Christmas? Is Christmas a less high-profile or relevant holiday now? It sure doesn't seem as robust or as universally celebrated as when I was younger.
Christianity doesn't have its near-monopoly anymore. Non-Christians seem not as likely to accept Christmas as a benign happy time that we all ought to share in. There is pushback. If you're looking for a theory as to why, you might consider the tenor of much of Christianity today.
Christianity used to just go with the flow. We weren't interested in picking fights with people. Sometimes we'd actually get mocked because of our temperate nature. Young zealous Christians would point fingers and talk about the lackadaisical nature of mainstream Christian denominations.
But look at what they've created: a bloc of people loosely called "evangelicals" who are staunchly right wing in their political philosophy. They make you feel like an outcast if you say you like and admire Barack Obama. I'd like to press them on what specifically they object to, in regard to the two-term president. I suppose they'd talk about a receptiveness to LGBT rights, simple basic rights that don't need to be construed as an endorsement.
An acquaintance of mine says his church, a more rigid type of church, "doesn't allow homosexual ministers." What other categories of sinners are prohibited in that church? Adulterers? Is that prohibition official and in writing? A simple acknowledgment of gay rights does not constitute promotion of the lifestyle. At any rate, let he who is without sin cast the first stone.
My church of First Lutheran in Morris is of the moderate stripe. Some have actually left our ranks because of that. First Lutheran is in fact struggling. There was an open forum after last Sunday's service in which people openly talked about our struggles.
I'm not convinced that First Lutheran's struggles are due to any perceived softness in our philosophical outlook. Democrats can feel comfortable attending an ELCA church.
To all you fundamentalists who think you have to be Jerry Falwell-like, stop and wonder if you might be getting manipulated by the political power masters. Stop and wonder if you're being courted simply because your votes and support are needed for a Republican agenda that really cares about nothing more than lower taxes (for the well-heeled) and "less regulation." All regulations are backed by sound reason. The insurance industry actually likes fairly rigid regulation.
Denial of climate change reflects ignorance and a knee-jerk fear of government, because climate change is the kind of issue that will in the end require a dynamic government. Republicans want to push aside government as much as possible. It's up to the other side to promote ideas that are in the best interests of our broad public. Concern for the poor and powerless is in fact the most Christian position you can take.
 
Is the root in the community?
Maybe the struggles of First Lutheran are in fact connected to this drastic shrinkage of the Morris newspaper. What I'm suggesting is that maybe Morris as a whole is experiencing decline and duress. Ever consider that? Our main street has become absolutely dead. It's nothing compared to what we had in the mid-20th Century.
The withdrawal of Thrifty White Drug from its two locations was the final dagger. Nobody locally will take blame for that because there is now so little that is locally owned. The local Thrifty White people will shrug and just say they follow directives from higher up. The same applies to the Morris paper which is owned out of Fargo ND.
I remember a few years ago, someone launched a lawsuit against a newspaper because right after he sent in a subscription check, the paper announced drastic downsizing and a reduction in staff. A suit like this has little chance of actually succeeding, but it sends a message to the newspaper industry that we're paying attention. If you subscribed to the Morris paper when its average size was 24 pages, are you now a little concerned that it was down to 18 last Saturday? Does that matter to you? It would, if a similar downsizing happened with another product you purchased.
Up until now, people continued getting the paper largely because it was a ritual. If there was a local paper, you bought it. With a shrug. This kind of thinking can change but it can be a slow process.
In Elbow Lake there's a newspaper that is far more robust than in Morris. Make a comparison. It has been 28 pages the last two weeks and the pages are bigger. The Anfinsons of Benson are in charge there. Which makes me wonder: Could the Anfinsons be lured to Morris? Could negotiations be started for that? Maybe someone on behalf of the Morris leadership network should approach Forum Communications and ask them to leave town.
Another strategy might be to encourage everyone around Morris to simply cease doing business with the Forum-owned Morris paper. Don't subscribe and don't advertise. Maybe this has already started and I don't know about it. The paper has slid from 24 to 18 pages. Even the Canary publication has gotten smaller.
The Anfinsons in Elbow Lake have a manager who is familiar with Morris. Her last name was "Erickson" when she was in Morris. You need a scorecard to keep track of her last name, but that's a minor issue. Bring it on.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's a re-creation: "The People vs. O.J. Simpson"

We can all remember where we were at certain key phases of the whole O.J. Simpson matter. I remember that at the time of the "Bronco chase," I stopped by the Marv and Kathy Meyer residence in Morris. I was there to collect information related to Marv's involvement with athletics. We paused to watch the TV screen.
The pursuit of O.J. did not come across as a true law enforcement pursuit, rather it seemed like an escort. It was an escort befitting a truly important person.
Weren't we always conflicted during the whole O.J. Simpson matter? I remember reading that O.J. was a person who we had allowed into our homes for years. He played football on TV. Then he was a sportscaster and movie actor.
A defining quality of the entertainment industry is that it pulls us out of our mundane reality. This is why we can find it so intoxicating. Hollywood is known as "the dream factory" and it's literally true. Part of the illusion is that we really think we know all those stars and celebrities. Of course we don't - not even close. We felt a certain affinity with O.J. Simpson.
Of course we acknowledged that he could have committed the celebrated murders. But a part of us, owing to O.J.'s celebrity, wanted to make the whole thing into a "whodunit." Vince Bugliosi was upset about anyone wanting to use the word "whodunit." Of course O.J. did it. Eventually a civil suit nailed him. But at the time of the sensational trial, there was back and forth between the defense and prosecution that built a real sense of suspense.
It was a media phenomenon at a time when cable TV news was beginning to find its footing. We still had the hour-long Larry King show each night on CNN. There are times today when I miss Larry as part of the mainstream cable news landscape in America. So often he'd host big names who had fallen into a need for repentance! I'll never forget his great chemistry with Bill Maher. The King show was a prime place to pick up daily highlights on the O.J. trial.
Today we can watch "The People vs. O.J. Simpson" as a reminder of that trial and of that epoch in American life. The Internet was barely off the ground - it seemed remote and exotic to us. In the early days it was a cesspool of conspiracy types. It was common to hear people talk down the Internet. Today I think we have all adjusted. We know how to separate the wheat from the chaff online. In fact the online world helps do that for us with its meritocracy in search.
I watched "The People vs. O.J. Simpson" on DVD the other day. It came as a package of four separate DVDs - rather cumbersome, yes - which I checked out from our Morris MN Public Library.
My reaction? Usually when Hollywood presents something from real life, it takes some liberty with the facts in order to present compelling drama. The movie "Hoosiers," for example, was based on the real-life Milan IN basketball team, that David from "David and Goliath" - but the plot details were created almost from whole cloth. The real-life story was totally happy and with no conflict. Those Milan kids got along with each other and their coaches all the way through from elementary to the senior grade. There was no movie there! So Hollywood came up with a compelling script about how this was all about "second chances" in life. We got a town drunk to boot, a character that I thought was overdone. It was a successful movie.
"The People vs. O.J. Simpson" was totally different. I would call this movie a "re-creation." All details were presented with as much authenticity as possible. Many of the actors/actresses bore so much resemblance to the real-life people, I was astonished. This is particularly true of Marcia Clark. At one point midway through the movie, I began to feel it was primarily about Clark. She was the white woman thrust into the thankless role of prosecutor in a trial where race was absolutely at the forefront.
Clark is portrayed in a sympathetic way through most of the movie. At the end she falls down a little where she's giving the closing argument. It becomes clear that she "gets into the weeds" too much with details, whereas the big picture should have been evident to all. The football star was not going to be convicted "beyond a reasonable doubt" by nit-picky details. I recommend that you read the book by Bugliosi called "Outrage."
Clark made too big a deal out of Mark Fuhrman. I do not believe Mark Fuhrman is a racist. Seems to me, the worst thing the detective ever did was to confess to a little racial profiling, only in terms of who he might pull over, not in terms of who'd get convicted. You can argue that such profiling is unforgivable racism, and I'm sure many would, but wouldn't a little profiling have in fact saved us from 9/11, possibly?
Fuhrman's
use of the 'N' word was in consultation with people putting together an entertainment project, right? We heard tapes of Fuhrman speaking. He dropped the 'N' word so much, it didn't even seem genuine. As I read at the time, he seemed like a caricature in that regard. The writer of that op-ed wondered, "did KKK members in the Deep South in the 1930s even talk like this?"
I eventually checked out the book written by Fuhrman about the Martha Moxley cold case (at that time) of murder. You have to admire Fuhrman when reading that book. He comes across as sensible and truly caring.
Clark should have veered away from such total condemnation of Fuhrman at the end of the O.J. trial. It seemed like a put-on.
The trial wound down with an increasing sense that a fog of details and irrelevancies would set the stage for a "not guilty" verdict. And that's just what happened.
Yes, this movie was a re-creation with no details that weren't commonly known at the time. We would be just as well served with a Ken Burns documentary. The movie is quite useful in stimulating our memories.
We were all younger and more sprightly back then. And more naive. We had naivete about the sport of football and what it does to people. Now looking back, we can all sense that O.J. might have been a changed person, having changed to become horribly dangerous as the result of all his years of intense contact playing football. He played a full college career at USC. Then he got pounded for many more seasons playing runningback in the NFL. Every time he got the ball, a team of determined big and strong men on the other side of the ball converged to try to stop him with great intensity. The likelihood is very great that O.J.'s brain was impacted. It has happened to so many other former football players.
Just the other day, Bo Jackson was quoted saying if he had it to do over again, he would not have played football. I would suggest that Bo could have played a full baseball career and be in the Hall of Fame now. Bo knows.
Should we view all former NFL players as potentially dangerous? If yes, we need to re-examine our whole culture that has football in a prominent role like for our kids, many of whom choose to "go out" for football. We need to emphasize, though, that football is not an essential part of growing up, does not show you to be "masculine," and may in fact reflect bad judgment.
There was hardly any talk about concussions in the mid-1990s. We were hardly aware of the Internet. In fact, it is the easy availability of information on the Internet today that is discouraging many young men from playing football. It is setting us free.
There is one clear highlight from "The People vs. O.J. Simpson" - a scene that sticks in your head. Clark is flirting with Christopher Darden and he eventually backs away. It's at the door to her hotel room. I remember gossipy articles about the two at the time. Clark subsequently seems embittered by his rejection to the point where she reminds him tersely that "she's the boss" on the prosecution. Might this episode have disrupted the chemistry the two needed to finish out their work as prosecutors? We are left wondering. Maybe Darden should have cashed in and had sex with Clark when he had the chance.
Lance Ito? He comes off as benign in the movie, even though it seemed he got starstruck and distracted in the trial. John Travolta does not bear a physical resemblance to Bob Shapiro. But I think his acting was very effective. We see the whole cast of characters in "The People vs. O.J. Simpson."
The devotion to authenticity is rigid. The person reading the verdict stammers in a certain place just like how it happened in real life. I was waiting for that. "The People vs. O.J. Simpson" accomplished its purpose if the purpose was to be a total re-creation. If you simply want to be taken down memory lane, this movie is for you. I'm glad I watched it. Actress Sarah Paulson is incredible playing Marcia Clark. As for Cuba Gooding Jr. as O.J., well, who could play O.J. with total authenticity? Gooding comes off as endearing to a degree, whereas I wouldn't want to be in the same room alone with Simpson.
"The People vs. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story" was the first season of the FX true crime anthology TV series "American Crime Story." I wonder if the Jacob Wetterling case in Minnesota might get like treatment. It was resolved not long ago after a painful 27-year ordeal of wondering what happened.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwillyh73@yahoo.com

Friday, January 13, 2017

Might Noah Carlson be good fit for U of M?

Noah Carlson
Should Noah Carlson join the circus known as University of Minnesota football? Carlson has a caliber of play that promotes himself as a candidate. Would it be in his interests?
Carlson is an athlete from Southeastern Minnesota who made big waves coming down the stretch of his prep career. He is of interest to Morris residents - that's because he's the great grand nephew of Truman Carlson. There's a good chance you had Truman for a biology class at Morris High School.
These days the retired Carlson is most pleased to follow athletic prodigy Noah. Noah plays for Rushford-Peterson in the shadow of Magelssen's Bluff. I had the pleasure once of covering an MAHS Tiger football game at R-P during our climb to Prep Bowl. That was many moons ago. Jerry Witt was the coach of our Tigers.
Noah Carlson might fit in with the much-ballyhooed new football regime at the U of M. Let's stress that the young man has not yet made a commitment. It appears there's no guarantee he'll even commit to football. His track and field credentials are absolutely stellar.
John Casper of the Winona Daily News feels the U ought to court Carlson. Casper wrote his column before the new coach was named at the U. We are again digesting a pile of hype about a new coach in a high-profile sport at the U. We're always supposed to think the new coach is the greatest thing since sliced bread. The Star Tribune publishes sensational splashes. We got this for Jerry Kill too. Then reality sets in.
With Kill, the new reality is that he turns thumbs down on the U of M and is personally boycotting our stadium. He's coaching for fellow Big 10 member Rutgers now. Rutgers is creeping along from a weak position but it could be a sleeping giant - it's in the New York City market which is why the Big 10 coveted getting them. Coach Kill walked away from the U with a wheelbarrow full of largesse money, and now he's coaching against us!
Casper publicly encouraged the new coach to get on Highway 61 and go south. Casper noted that Highway 52 would actually be faster "but you can't beat those views, even in the winter." The writer advised "plug the address of Rushford-Peterson into your GPS. Find Noah Carlson. Offer him a scholarship. And don't leave until he says yes. Four or five years from now, you'll thank me. I know it."
The writer advised that Carlson would have a steadying influence at the stew of turbulence which has become the U of M football program. Tracy Claeys is the departed coach. We all know what happened with the sensational reports of personal behavior, the suspensions and that stupid threatened boycott. On the morning that the "boycott" was withdrawn - about two hours before the deadline - I read the headline and shuddered. If the players were not going to have the courage of their convictions - if they cold not buttress their actions with a firm factual background - they should have just shut up and gotten ready to play their game against Washington State.
The U of M was dealt a black eye of embarrassment and humiliation. Is it anyone's fault? Oh, listen to all those violins being played by "administrative" people. What a tangled web we weave. And now this morning (Wednesday), as I passed by the Star Tribune vending machine in front of DeToy's Restaurant, I peered through the darkness (and snow) to see a headline about the U of M wanting a ton more money. It's knee-jerk. It's the way these creatures operate. But wait, I thought that MnSCU (or whatever it's called now) has proclaimed a "financial emergency." Won't the state have to take care of them?
My personal view is that our society needs to start getting ready for the phasing-out of all bricks-and-mortar campuses of "higher education." We will be relieved of all those sexual assault episodes and controversies. I think young adults could stay at home for 3-4 years after high school, contributing to the family welfare while gaining knowledge for a career with the use of online. But until then, we have the quasi-professional phenomenon known as Division I college football. And every day we take another bite. The players get beat up.
Noah Carlson has already gotten nicked by injury. Memo to Noah: Take care of your body. Maybe you should have refused to play "both ways" (offense and defense). The coaches are paid to win, not to take care of you.
Noah for his part probably feels the "invulnerability of youth." He was full-go physically for the state semis and sprinted all over the place. He rushed for 236 yards and scored four touchdowns, and by the way, this was all in the first half!
In the state championship game, when R-P finally came up against a foe of truly superior caliber, the physical toll was too much for the young man. A two-point conversion play saw him take a hard fall, the result of which was a hairline fracture of his tibia and partial tear of his meniscus. He missed two plays and then came back. He came back to be involved in all phases of play: offense, defense and special teams.
Casper talked about Carlson's pained look as he realized a loss was about to happen. This loss will be quickly forgotten. What's important now is that Noah gets his physical problems patched up. Heck, some of the top college football stars are passing on their bowl game so as to stay healthy for the NFL draft - that's how cautious these young men become. Carlson should be no different. No pat on the back is called for, for "playing hurt."
Noah was the state AP Player of the Year. He took five gold medals at the state track and field meet. As a sophomore he was part of a state basketball championship. I just hope and pray he hasn't over-taxed his body. He has scholarship offers from South Dakota State and North Dakota State. But what about the University of Minnesota? Is that the environment he would really want to step into?
The new coach comes here buried under an avalanche of money. The figures end up having no impact on us anymore. They are just wildly high. Double them. Triple them. Would it really matter? I sense this pattern is almost getting into Sodom and Gomorrah territory. Will God punish us for our misplaced priorities?
It's hard to turn away from big-time football. You could argue it's a societal disease. But the norm continues. The legislature should impose restraint and austerity on the U of M. As for MnSCU or whatever it is, maybe it should just be allowed to die on the vine. Countless young people could be spared the temptation to engage in "binge drinking."
I hope Noah Carlson takes care of his body above all else.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Monday, January 9, 2017

Edward Morrison, RIP

The image shows Ed and Helen Jane Morrison at the gallery named for them at UMM.
 
Ed Morrison has gone to that publishing office in the sky. His life was long and rich. The end finally comes as it did for my father.
Connected as he was to publishing, I'm not sure that's the role he would wish to be enshrined with him. He was on the ground floor helping ensure that our campus on the east side of town would transition into the 1960s. Apparently there was grave concern that this might not happen.
The town leaders collectively said "eureka" when the U of M, the most august institution imaginable, declared its intention to take over the campus. It seemed like striking oil.
The campus had been phased out from its long-time role instructing farm kids. It was the West Central School of Agriculture. Kids came here for a shorter school year than their city cousins. Those were labor intensive days on family farms. The kids were needed for home duties, so their school commitments got crammed into an abbreviated school year. The WCSA existed because it filled a need, as all education institutions do. But times change. Our culture evolves. Technology makes inroads. We adjust. The kind of farm life that existed in Norman Rockwell's America was fading. Our "ag school" in Morris reached its end.
Ed Morrison was part of a leadership network that was typical in our small communities of the mid-20th Century. These people were autonomous in how they ran their businesses and families. Autonomous? Those were the days of mom and pop businesses on main street. Main street was clearly the hub of the community. People pushed coins into parking meters. Men gathered at the pool hall. Let's consider the bankers: They were like tribal leaders in the community. Whereas today the head of a bank answers to people in a distant corporate office, back then the banks were stand-alone enterprises with flag firmly planted in the community.
The various heads of the old banks engendered opinions among the citizenry - frankly, oftentimes jealousy, perhaps prompted just by the perceived wealth of those bankers. A sociologist wrote extensively about the old small town model in a book he wrote about a 1950s murder in Foley MN. He shared it in considering whether certain circumstances related to the murder may have been soft-pedaled or covered up. While that's a notorious scenario, feeding conspiracy theory thinking, let's emphasize instead the forward-looking model as we saw in Morris in around 1960.
Ed Morrison with his newspaper business was committed to seeing Morris thrive with the arrival of the University of Minnesota. Meanwhile I was in St. Paul watching "Captain Kangaroo" on TV. My father taught music at the U of M's St. Paul campus.
My life was going to merge with the Morrisons. No, I'm not the kind of person who'd be quoted in an article about Ed's passing. I was merely a "foot soldier" type of employee in the Morris newspaper organization. I was the quintessential foot soldier, getting seen all over the place virtually seven days a week. I went to my office one Christmas Eve and kept my window drapes open, so passers-by (police?) would notice me there. It's the only meaningful role I had in life. It ended in 2006, several years after the Morrisons left their ownership interest.
Ed left any newspaper-related headaches behind him while son Jim stuck around for a time. Forum Communications sucked all the joy out of working there. The paper followed the pattern of those banks I alluded to, no longer locally owned but part of branch systems. The heads of these places can always say "hey, I just work here!" It's nice in a way. On the down side, these local managers can be given local directives and policies - Wells Fargo! - that they know are not in their customers' interests. They plod ahead, knowing they must do as they're told.
Jim was assigned a boss named Dennis Winskowski of Detroit Lakes. In a vein of levity I came up with the nickname "Ol' Leadbottom" for Winskowski, plucking that moniker from my recollection of the old "McHale's Navy" TV series. Ever notice how that series isn't re-run much? The reason is its political correctness issues, their terms for referring to the Japanese.
Jim Morrison admitted to me he didn't get along great with Dennis Winskowski. I would suggest that anyone "not getting along" with their boss in the Forum Communications system is not going to be around long.
Newspapers fell into the path of retrenching in order to keep profits coming in from legacy customers. I saw it as a cynical strategy. The business world has a word for it: "harvesting." The crop is mature and it's time to haul it in. We'll worry about the future tomorrow. The Grant County Herald has resisted that temptation and is a vastly superior product to the present-day Morris Sun Tribune.
 
Nursing UMM to its feet
Ed Morrison and his network of community guardians did everything they could to facilitate UMM's arrival. The word at the time was that UMM might be viewed as experimental and that its future was not even assured. The state had the benefit of taking advantage of an already-existing campus.
Maybe there was a feeling of fits and starts as UMM got going. UMM got past those baby steps with Dean Rodney Briggs. I'm biased when I say the most vibrant aspect of the campus in those heady early days was my father's men's chorus. Remember those trademark maroon blazers? Remember how they wowed audiences at Edson Auditorium? Remember how they traveled to two World's Fairs? Those memories cannot be topped. I'm sure the Morrisons joined in the audiences.
UMM was never a good fit with me personally. I always felt intimidated by the place because I was sure my own intelligence level wouldn't cut it there. I was puzzled by the total liberal arts mantra that it subscribed to. It was taboo in this community to suggest any other, more allegedly "practical," purpose for the school. UMM interests would come at you as if a mafia, if you were reputed to make such a suggestion.
But then I learned this was a pattern in Morris MN, of certain memes or notions that were not meant to be questioned. This can be a dangerous pattern. In the late 1980s the public school was a focus for an earthquake type of clash in the community, over issues that were really rather minor and manageable in the scheme of things. It showed the power of a classic "good old boy network."
I sense that those dynamics are gone now. So too is the old framework of totally locally owned banks with their (male) leaders who were sort of like tribal chiefs in the community - patriarchs. Ed Morrison was a patriarch and a noble one carrying the best of intentions. His legacy can be seen on the east end of town, every time you pass by our campus.
UMM may not be done with transformational challenges. We hear about how liberal arts is being cut back across the nation all the time. Could a new metamorphosis arrive? I think it's quite likely. In the meantime we have gotten our beloved campus through previous chapters with diverse purposes, all starting out with a crusade to bring Native Americans into Western culture.
I was six years old when coming here. Thus I'm considered a "lifer" for all practical purposes. I believe I started kindergarten midway through the year with teacher Ms. Feigum. The other kindergarten teacher was Sylvia Yarger who sat at my table for church coffee Sunday. Sylvia is in her 90s and quite vibrant, following our Minnesota Vikings with great exuberance.
I feel as though Ed and Jim reflected the generation gap in the same way as my father and I. Jim and I would laugh at jokes the meaning of which wasn't relevant to our parents' experiences. Our parents were so straight-laced and responsible with their lives, getting to bed at the proper hour etc. Meanwhile the children bounced around in a most silly fashion. Didn't we ever stop to think we were so different from our parents? Did we ever pause to wonder why? That infernal marijuana. Why did anyone have to push that in my face? Why the ear-splitting "stereo" music? Sociologists have surely explored this.
We have lost an iconic member of the so-called "greatest generation" in Morris. Carry on, Helen Jane. Us younger people should be humbled, trying to internalize the principles our parents would wish to bequeath us. Get to bed at a decent hour.
 
You won't find this in the obituary
To conclude I'll share a trivial little nugget of remembrance. I noticed that Ed would sometimes reach to the seat of his pants and pull out a little, as if his undershorts had gotten too far into his crack. I had the same tendency because I never took to the "tight pants" fashion for males in the 1970s ("Starsky and Hutch").
I mentioned that little habit of Ed and I, one night when a bunch of us were "on the town." I began reaching back to give a little tug once in a while, and each time it was met with uproarious laughter. We were consuming alcohol back in a time when we were much less inhibited doing that. We'd go to a restaurant for the "bar rush." The waitresses at restaurants today probably need a little lesson on what that was. It was really shameful. But life always goes on. It always goes on.
Edward Morrison will continue watching the doings in Morris MN from his perch in heaven. I hope he is someday joined by his son even though his son professes to be a non-believer.
 
Click on the link below to appreciate the flavor of UMM's earliest days.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rcXFMzPGCH0
 
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Friday, January 6, 2017

Mages and his 3-pointers help sink MACA

BOLD 68, Tigers 63
The MACA boys nearly came from behind to defeat the Warriors of BOLD Thursday night, here. We were in a hole, down 37-27 at halftime. We fought to get the score tied at 61-all. We outscored BOLD 36-31 in the second half. But the surge wasn't enough, so in the end we were defeated 68-63.
Mason Mages of BOLD was a thorn in our side. Mages connected for a '3' with less than a minute remaining. In all this Warrior made four 3-pointers and scored 18 total points. But it was Thomas Meyers leading the Warriors in scoring with 21 points. And two other BOLD players scored in double figures: Logan Dahik with eleven points and Gavin Vosika with ten.
Ryan Snow put in six points and Devin Gluesing added two. Mages' four 3-pointers were complemented by Meyers who made one long-ranger. Dahik snared eight rebounds while Vosika had six. Vosika dished out four assists and also stole the ball three times.
On to the Tigers' stats: Jacob Zosel and Tim Travis were a 1-2 punch with 15 and 14 points, respectively. Camden Arndt was next on the list with ten points. The list continues with Tate Nelson (9), Connor Koebernick (7), Kyle Staebler (4) and Lukus Manska (4). Five Tigers are on the list of three-point makes, led by Zosel with his two. These Tigers each made one '3': Travis, Nelson, Arndt and Manska.
Nelson snared eight rebounds while Arndt had seven. Nelson produced five assists and stole the ball three times.
 
Girls: Tigers 65, Montevideo 61
The Tigers and Montevideo fought to a stalemate in regulation time Tuesday night at Monte. Morris Area Chokio Alberta had the upper hand at halftime with a 35-26 lead. Monte found new life in the second half to outscore MACA 29-20, setting the stage for overtime. The orange and black had what it took in the OT extension, carving out a 10-6 advantage. So the action concluded with MACA on top, 65-61.
Maddie Carrington and Riley Decker each made two 3-pointers. Ashley Solvie topped the scoring list with 20 points. Decker contributed 13 points to the winning effort. Carrington's total point output was 12. The list continues with Correy Hickman (8), Nicole Solvie (6), Jenna Howden (4) and Mallory Anderson (2).
Rebound leaders were Ashley Solvie (12), Nicole Solvie (7) and Hickman (6). Hickman was the assist whiz with ten, followed by Ashley Solvie and Carrington each with four. Hickman had six steals and Anderson had four.
Abby Olson was at the fore of Montevideo's scoring as she poured in 25 points. Molly Reeves joined her in double figures with ten. Other Thunder Hawks scoring were Ashley McKee (9), Kaylee Glomstad (8), Kamren Saue (4), Sarah Sulflow (4) and Alex Wolner (1).
The T-Hawks had no three-point makes. McKee collected nine rebounds while Olson and Sulflow each had seven. Reeves and Olson each dished out three assists. Olson had five steals while McKee had three.
 
Travail again at U of M
Gophers football: enough, already? At a certain point in the unraveling of the recent University of Minnesota sports mess, didn't you begin to think: aren't we losing some sense of proportionality? The Star Tribune became dominated by the subject. Huge headlines at the top of various sections. You could page through and find references from various angles all over the place.
The misbehavior of the young men was considerable. But why the sensational reporting, as if our lives are somehow built around this group of student athletes who carry the banner on the field for the U?
We only care about them because of their ability to dash to and fro on a football field, seeking to garner wins over other institutions. When you get down to it, who cares? The U's athletes don't really represent Minnesota. They come here as warriors, mercenaries if you will. Beyond their football abilities we wouldn't care about them at all. You wouldn't want them around your daughter.
We cheer for the logo. We cheer for the team colors. A large percentage of Minnesotans really don't care how the team does at all. It's stupid to pay so much attention to this. But, for as long as the program gets bankrolled by so many generous resources, we will all be forced to pay attention to it, even acknowledging, and being reminded of, such sordid behavior.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - bwilly73@yahoo.com

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Boomers make their bed, must sleep in it

The image shows a peace sign, such a symbol of the boomer generation.
   
People between the ages of 52 and 70 are "baby boomers." It's like a tsunami wave for America's entitlement programs: Social Security and Medicare. All this happens while the Republican Party is being given the keys to the car. Republicans have taken over Congress, the Senate and the presidency, and this is the party that does not believe much in entitlements.
If boomers voted in substantial numbers for Trump, they may have been creating adversity for themselves. Republicans may have their beliefs but they are fundamentally incapable of handling the reins of government. That's because a chief tenet of their beliefs is that they don't believe in government. It's always dangerous when they get the majority.
One can argue that Republicans are at their best when they're a minority striving to impose proper discipline in government. But the Republicans now have those proverbial "keys to the car." Personally I'd mutter "heaven help us all." Here's a party that decries entitlements and government oversight of things, taking over at a time when the U.S. population is aging and ever more people are living beyond their productive years. Seems odd.
I would suggest that many people fall prey to to the rhetoric of conservative media, rhetoric which on its surface appeals to an impulse within many of us. It's an impulse that seeks to affirm self-reliance and a mistrust of those seemingly impersonal government forces.
We in the Midwest have a sense of self-reliance inherited from our forebears. We think of those "cowboys" paving the way for westward advancement, affirming good vs. evil. We grew up watching myriad "westerns" on TV. They presented moral conclusions all over the place. Boomers saw through a lot of that.
We knew the world was full of injustice and needless tragedy. The TV westerns gave us a template that didn't want to acknowledge a lot of the uncomfortable truths. They clung to a superficial world where all the answers seemed so readily at hand. Let's not get too excited about Jim Crow laws. Let's not get drastic or excited about pronouncements that the Viet Nam war was necessary.
Can the youth of today possibly put themselves in the shoes of America's youth when military conscription was in effect? When young men were forced over to Southeast Asia where the odds of death were considerable?
Maybe we have forgotten how the Cold War cast such a depressing shroud over us. Our public schools once put tremendous academic pressures on kids so we might "keep up with the Soviet Union." Communism crumbled over there. It had nothing to do with our military efforts in Southeast Asia. People found their footing over there because they wanted a better way. The transformation was organic, the way it should be. Not the result of young men being given guns to shoot at other men who shot back.
The boomers enter their twilight years with the Cold War having faded to a distant memory. We have a president-elect who has actually developed affinity with Russia. His conservative followers don't seem distressed by that at all.
Allow me to predict that America is on the verge of very troubled times given our new political landscape. People have taken over power who reflect all those screaming voices from the conservative media. They cannot govern because they're not interested in governing. Some terrible things could now happen. Mark my word.
But what about our "self-reliance," our apparent birthmark as Americans? Rugged individualism. Well, how do you think the desert Southwest got developed? Undeterred pioneers? Cowboys with guns blazing? No, it was the government, specifically with construction of the Hoover Dam. The government!
Conservative screamers in the media simply have a racket going.
I recently wrote song lyrics focusing on the boomer generation. These are tailored to a quite pleasing melody, IMHO. I don't know if I'll have the song recorded. I write lots of poetry and lyrics. My song is called "Baby Boomer." Here are the lyrics:
 
"Baby Boomer"
by Brian Williams
 
World war was over
Ashes in its wake
Greatest generation
Showing what it takes
They were our dear parents
Getting on their feet
We fulfilled their mission
finding life so sweet
 
We adored the Beatles
And their Mersey sound
They gave us a message
That we rendered loud
We believed in cultures
Meshing as if one
As we heard John put it:
"All you need is love"
 
CHORUS:
I was born a baby boomer
Getting old is just a rumor
Through the storms we always endured
I was born a baby boomer
 
 
We unleashed our voices
Toward a better world
Breaking down each barrier
Going 'round each curve
Though it would take patience
We would not desist
We were like an army
No one could resist
 
Through it all our elders
Never really changed
They just knew their values
That their lives ordained
So much pain behind them
They were feeling fine
Thankful for their bills paid
And for every dime
 
(repeat chorus)
 
We respected NASA
And the men who flew
Racing through the heavens
In a small capsule
Finally we could see them
On the moon so real
JFK would smile
As we sealed the deal
 
Some of us were hippies
That was a tough sell
Some of us had placards
Saying war is hell
Civil rights was pressing
Women sought their place
We were building bridges
For the human race
 
(repeat chorus)
 
We got Richard Nixon
He just didn't work
He was left imploring
"I am not a crook"
We moved on to disco
Interest rates so high
It was like a world
Far beyond the sky
 
Movies gave us Star Wars
So we could escape
We loved Carrie Fisher
Fantasy first-rate
We were so resilient
Always glass half-full
Moving to the future
Like a raging bull
 
(repeat chorus)
 
We bemoaned our elders
Getting up in years
Had they not been faithful
We would not be here
They gave us the wellspring
For our every task
They turned back the Axis
What more could we ask?
 
Yes we will discover
Our mortality
Though we won't acknowledge
Even one frailty
We exuded chutzpah
As we did our good
We will live forever
Please just knock on wood
 
(repeat chorus)
 
(repeat chorus again, then repeat the last line)
 
© 2016 Brian R. Williams