"Suburban World" is about compelling stories, not cul-de-sacs

Of the 417 students in my graduating class at Austin High School, Brad Zellar wasn’t one I knew very well. He was a caste above me socially, the student council president. I don’t know if we said a word to each other in four years. Gregarious and handsome, he appears six times in our senior yearbook, not counting the front and back covers. In one photo, he is crowning the homecoming queen. I had no idea he was smart.

Then one day I heard Brad’s voice on Minnesota Public Radio, and I called in to say hi. He was the owner of a bookstore at the time, and he was recommending gift books for the holidays. I don’t recall their titles, but I do remember thinking, “He likes the dark stuff.”


Brad Zellar with high school teachers
Kermeth Northwick and Richard Nicolai

After that, I started noticing Brad’s byline here and there, in City Pages, or the Twin Cities Reader, perhaps, and The Rake. He wrote book reviews, articles about baseball, and social commentaries, all with a bit of an edge.

So when I got the notice from the Minnesota History Center about Suburban World: The Norling Photos, an exhibit based on my high school classmate’s new book, I called up friends from Austin, along with my parents and said, “Zellar is writing about suburbia? Weird. Let’s show up for this.” I’m glad we did.  read more »

How long will you live? And how well? Local author Dan Buettner can tell you.


Explorer and National Geographic
writer Dan Buettner

Whenever Karla Ekdahl sends me an invitation, and the date on my calendar is free, I accept before opening the email or the envelope—especially when the venue is the Pohlad Lounge at Minneapolis Central Library. A couple of months ago it was a sneak preview of the PBS documentary The Lobotomist, based on Jack El-Hai’s book of the same title. Tonight it was a lecture by Dan Buettner for the launch of his book The Blue Zone: Lessons for Living Longer from the People Who’ve Lived the Longest.

Magical how, when I finally strolled to the book table after indulging in a fabulous buffet of noshies from the world’s healthiest places, there was one book left. The display copy. I bought it, had Dan sign it, and can’t wait to read it.

First of all, Dan-who’s-bicycled-around-the-world, Dan-with-the-fantastic-tan, Dan-who-dates-supermodel-Cheryl-Tiegs, Dan-the-guy-in-jeans is a hottie. I don’t care what he lectures on, just so he stands there in front of me—er, us.  read more »

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