"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 »

Remembering Gus Gustafson and women Vietnam veterans

Because I’m going to DIVA NOIR after the show, I am putting a few of today’s topics online now in case you want to find them right away. (More later in FIND IT.) Today I’ll be talking with artists Scott Seekins and Aldo Moroni about the life and legacy of photographer and “Warehouse District Mayor” Gus Gustafson, who died in 2003. In the second hour of the program, I’ll talk with Maggie Bearman Pistner, director of the play A Piece of My Heart about women’s experience in Vietnam. See the play now through March 18 at the Playwrights’ Center (presented by Theatre Unbound).

Vote for my pix on CelebSafari...and post your own!

Hey, kids! I just discovered a website called CelebSafari.com where you can post photos of yourself with celebrities. It’s fun!

Having been “PR person to the stars” on behalf of Target Corporation for several years, I don’t get as starstruck as some folks when I encounter a celebrity, but I still like having my picture taken with ‘em! To wit: right now on CelebSafari.com, you can view pix of me with Mo Rocca, star of The Daily Show and Court TV (and of course author of All the Presidents’ Pets) and mischievous Gary Baseman, the world-famous artist whose illustrations you know from the board game Cranium. The more times a photo is viewed, the higher it is in the rankings, and because I have competition in my genes, I want to end up on top! So please view me and vote for me!

Next I’ll have to delve into my past and dig up those pre-digital* celebrity photos of me with recording artists Amy Grant and Clint Black (mmm, mmm, MMM, short but CUTE!), entertainer Shari Lewis, TV/movie star Brooke Shields, actor/singer Davey Jones of The Monkees fame, former U.S. Senators Bob Dole, Dave Durenberger and Rudy Boschwitz, and assorted other Senators and Congressmen from my intern days on Capitol Hill, actor/producer/director Rob Reiner, and former First Lady Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton from the White House Conference on Child Care that I helped to coordinate in 1997.

I could drop more names, I suppose, but I would rather you go to the website and vote for me! The Oscars are coming up and I want to win Best Picture!

*Whoever remembers black-and-white 126 cartridges and flashcubes, raise your hand!

Wherefore ART?

Everywhere I go around the world, I seek out art and never fail to find some that I love. But like Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, I always seem to find that “there’s no place like home.” In other words, the Twin Cities is an awesome place for art.

Last night I visited three galleries and it has left my mind awhirl in a kaleidoscope of colors, shapes, materials and meaningful messages. First stop: Rogue Buddha Gallery on 13th Street just off of University, where I picked up the Craig Bell painting I purchased when the show opened a month ago. Now a new show is up (artist Jon Langford) and I like it—in particular, the digital image of Hank Williams, gussied up through techiques that make his smile fairly jump off the plywood to which it is applied and I can almost hear the “Howdy, Ma’am” that would tumble from the country singer’s lips. Better put a sticker on that one. He’s mine.

Next, a short walk down the block to Gallery 13, and I’m sorry, did we just enter Wonderland? My friend Jill and I agreed that “Tin Man” sculptor Lester Hoikka has created a fabulous pop-up book for grown-ups that you can actually walk around in. Inspired by tin toys of the ’40s and ’50s, and influenced by themes you’d see during Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) in Mexico and Carnival (Mardi Gras) in New Orleans and points south of the equator, Lester’s sheet metal imagery makes you feel as if you’ve been dropped onto a stage on which a colorful play about life and death is in progress. The motion, the drama, the humor, the fun—it’s all there! I hope you see it, but hurry. Lester’s work is in demand, and so the show runs one week only.  read more »

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