Tuesday, March 6, 2018

In Dubious Battle

Driving home from work, I came over the Blatnik Bridge to find that Hammond Avenue had been closed for renovations. Taking the detour onto Tower Avenue, I rolled down the window and let my arm hang out. The day was turning into evening, and the sky was lit up with the vibrant colors of a northern Wisconsin sunset. It was such a beautiful evening, and when a corny rock song came on the radio and I remember smiling to myself and feeling pretty good about life.

The Rest Stop Incident

I was driving east on Highway 10, leaving New York Mills. The sun was setting in my rear view mirror as I pulled into a small rest stop to answer nature’s call. The simple structure and parking area were nothing special. However, as a shy person, I was relieved to see that I was the only one there.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Memorial Day Weekend in the Northland

After a cold winter, Lake Superior still has 3% ice coverage at the end of May.  Most of it is gathered in bays and nooks along the shore.  This silly photo of me was taken at a beach at the end of Jack Pine Road in Cloverland, in the northeast corner of Douglas County, Wisconsin.

Lake Superior

Abandoned House in Maple

Saturday, September 29, 2012

My Unsuccessful War With Geese

It was one of those beautiful summer days that poets write about.  The sun was shining and there was a light, cool breeze coming off of the lake.  It felt like the world was at my fingertips!  Determined to seize the day, I jumped on my bicycle and took off for a lovely trail that runs along the harbor.

Collapsing Barn in Waino

A Biker's Crush

The soft sun was already starting to head towards the not so distant horizon.  “Another two, three hours and it’ll be dusk,” Jimmy thought to himself.  He looked out at the trail before him.  By starting in the late afternoon Jimmy figured he had a good incentive to push hard, so that he could get home at a decent hour.  It generally took him about six hours or so to bike from Ashland to Superior, so starting this late meant that Jimmy would have to do about half of his trek in the dark.  That didn’t bother him though, not one bit. In fact he was rather excited about it.  Something about biking in the dark seemed very dramatic and cool to him.  “Biking in the moonlight, it has a nice sound to it,” he thought to himself.

The Wirtanen Farm

The Mysterious Oulu Railway Car

The other year, while exploring an abandoned Finnish homestead on Hoover Line Road I came across an amazing find - an ancient railroad boxcar!  Not having been aware of Oulu having ever had a railroad, I had no idea how it got there.  I posted photos of it on my facebook page in an album titled "The Magic of Oulu".  The mysterious boxcar garnered a lot of interest, so I've been researching since to try and figure out what its story was.

A Lonely Barn in Oulu

A Tale of Two Workers

a silly sock puppet presentation on immigrant & native born worker solidarity

Scene 1
-Narrator: Paula was an American auto worker.  Born and breed in the great state of Wisconsin, right out of high school she had gotten a job at the AMC auto factory in Kenosha.  She worked hard, earning every dollar of his paycheck.  And as time went on, she was able to build a decent life for herself.  She had a loving family, and a decent house with two cars in the drive way.  But then the American Motors Corp. went under, and the plant got shut down.  Suddenly it seemed life everyone Paula knew was unemployed.  Her husband was still working, but didn't he make enough to support the whole family.  So, with the tenacity of a bulldog, Paula hit the pavement, and after several months of collecting unemployment and applying at literally dozens of jobs, she finally got hired on at the Abbott Laboratories as a janitor.  The pay was only a 1/3 of what she had gotten at American Motors, but it was job, and she was glad to have it.

Cemetery in Oulu

War Pigs: An Antiwar Skit

WAR PIGS - an anti-war skit performed at the Oct. 11, 2010 anti-war protest in Duluth, MN.

Characters: Uncle Sam, War Pig #1, War Pig #2, Iraqi, Afghani, American Soldier, American Taxpayer, Library, City Street, Evicted Homeowner, City Worker #1, City Worker #2 

SCENE 1 - War Makes Wall Street Happy: Complaining about their bottom lines, some Wall Street types dressed up with pig masks ("War Pigs") go to Uncle Sam and suggest that he launch some wars.  Uncle Sam then invades Afghanistan and Iraq, and the War Pigs get rich off of the defense spending, reconstruction contracts, ripping off Iraqi and Afghan resources.  This will be dramatized by Uncle Sam and the War Pigs beating up actors posing as Iraq, Afghanistan, the American soldier and the American tax payer.

The Old Aho Barn in Oulu

Strelka & Belka: A Skit About Soviet Space Dogs

Below is the skit performed at the 10th Annual Marxmas Party, Dec. 28, 2012 in Superior WI.  Belka and Strelka were represented by hand puppets.

Strelka: My name is Strelka.

Belka: And my name is Belka.

Strelka and Belka: And we're the Soviet Space dogs!

A Barn in Tripp in the Wintertime

A Douglas County Halloween Story

The wind was whipping playfully through the rusty colored leaves, as well as Jimmy’s hair. It made him look like an over-dramatic 1980s rock star. Tossing his head back for full affect, Jimmy smiled as he meandered up the trail, his hands lazily thrust in his pockets. Our friend was hiking along the shores of the Brule River, one of northern Wisconsin’s most breath taking treats – especially at this time of year.

Old Norwegian Barn in Cloverland

Jimmy the Janitor Wises Up

Life had not been particularly easy for Jimmy.  Born on the Iron Range; Jimmy grew up on a struggling family farm in western Wisconsin which was famous for having more rocks than crops in its fields.  But don’t get me wrong; it could have been worse.  It could always be worse!  It’s not like the guy was afflicted with leprosy, or had been abducted by cigarette addicted Canadians as a child or anything like that.  Still, life hadn't exactly been a bed of roses for Jimmy.  For the most part it had been a string of dead end jobs, cheap crappy food, cars that didn’t last and women who kept moving on. 

The Johnson School in Riverside

2012 New Year's Resolutions

-finally get some chickens for my chicken coop

-keep at least 5 friends from voting Democrat or Republican

-visit all of Superior's museums

-write at least one short story each season of the year

Abandoned Car on an Abandoned Farm

Uncle Sam Goes to Baghdad

Below is a brief, silly skit that I wrote and directed for an anti-war protest in Duluth in March, 2009.  It was designed to be done without any dialogue so that it could be given to a large, outdoor audience without needing a whole bunch of microphones, etc.

-Uncle Sam
-Housemate #1 (“The Insurgent”)
-Housemate #2 (“Iraqi Woman”)
-Housemate #3 (“Prime Minister Al-Malaki”)
-Smokey the Peace Bear

First Kiss

"Here, this is for you," she said sheepishly as she clumsily thrust the folded piece of paper towards me.  The novelty of the moment caused me to hesitate as I tried to figure out what was happening.  A second, "Here take it!" broke the logjam though, and my equally sheepish hand reached out to take the note.

A Sobering Story From My Youth

Back when people were still buying Vanilla Ice albums, and young girls were wearing plastic shoes called "jellies", I was a student at Buffalo Lutheran School.  Don't be surprised if you've never heard of it.  Buffalo Lutheran was a tiny, two-roomed school, in the tiny town of Cochrane, Wisconsin.  Not exactly the center of the universe, though it seemed like it was at the time. 


[What follows is a really cheesy and over-dramatic story that I wrote back during my religious teenage years.  I was obsessed with explaining how the Bible didn't seem to mention sex until after the fall of man.]

The sky overhead was gray and murky.  Different layers of sickly looking clouds were racing to the east, each layer at a different speed.  It was such an odd and ominous sight.

“Walk a ways with me friend.”  I spun around and saw him standing behind me.  I hadn't even heard him coming.  But then again, I never hear him coming. 

The Struggle Against Fascism

Fascism is a term that is often thrown about rather casually, generally with very little understanding of its actual meaning.  While many liberals, and even some radicals, tend to use the term as simply a pejorative against people who are politically to the right of them, we as Marxists have a much more precise definition, and understanding, of what fascism truly is.   In our view fascism is a uniquely sinister and violent form of capitalist rule.  It is something that comes about when the ruling class of a nation is in an extreme crisis, when it feels that it can no longer afford the luxury of democratic appearances, when the threat from its own working class is so dire that it feels it must resort to the most brutal form of government in order to survive.