True Roots #3

C2L_color_chux1The science, calculation, and design that permeates parts #1 and #2 of the True Roots series is a way of seeing the world that makes me feel comfortable.  But it is not the whole story.  Theory needs experiment, culture needs doing and observation is but one perspective. There is also this.

In 1993 I moved to Minneapolis, MN from St. James, NY.  My boss made me a deal I couldn’t refuse and because I didn’t know what else to do I followed him to the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities.  It was less than a year since my wife’s death by auto accident and I was still incessantly certain that my lab mates and I were ready to figure out how human bodies regulate food metabolism, explain it to the world, and move on to the next puzzle.


But I came to Minnesota with another agenda as well.  I wanted to get out from behind the bench; stop observing; participate.  Experiment with myself.  Not rats in all those cages or the purified molecules improbably suspended in exquisitely engineered tubes of precisely tempered glass.

I needed to meet a different sort of expert. Someone that knew details about all the stuff I had not yet imagined or even knew existed alongside numbers and fact.  I did not know what I wanted to do, but I knew I wanted to do something more sit Rodan-like and Think.


one day I saw in the City Pages a listing that read: “Poetic Justice”.  It was an “open-mic”  in a place of which I had never heard in a part of town I had never seen.  In a glance I began to imagine all those words scribbled, typed and processed by my hand might thought of as “poetry” if you squinted just so.  The next week I put on my leather, gave the dogs a few treats, and drove fast across the tracks where I met the most perfect strangers for the very first time. I mean, they didn’t know me from shit or shinola. I could be anything myself would allow.  I felt like Schrodinger’s cat contemplating the outcome few physicists will endure. You see?

Perhaps it is the Cat that decides shred their box from within or to confuse us with death. This was not about scientists predicting tomorrow or modeling the past by objective observation of statistical truths. It was about feeling and the choice to become or be gone.

A few years later the open mic moved to downtown MPLS, become “Voices from the Well”, and I was a regular because it felt like home.  At least the bar served Bass Ale and a local beer, too – Summit Extra Pale Ale – that was often better than the Bass.  Eventually, I was co-hosting with LeNor Barry, meeting a lost Lamas, and listening to Chris Shillock deliver his poems with the deft certitude of a practiced predator and the sweet grace of mindful human.  Terry Folz, Laura Winton, Jeff Jasin, Lyle, Jim, Liam, Kamp, Andrew, David, Sharon and so many other name not posted. It is among these people that I was able to regain my footing and begin to see myself walking forward; moving on to the next puzzle.

On July 19 this story comes full circle when I return to these roots and respect how they’ve grown. This is where my part of Crafted to Last comes from and it is distinct from those of the beer people in the film and their fans. My goal is to bring these together because I think that is how cultures are formed.


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