David Beard is associate professor of rhetoric and director of the Master of Liberal Studies program at the University of Minnesota Duluth.
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- 3 years 8 months
“Get a game before bedtime,” she said, while I cleared the table. It was snowing outside, dark by dinnertime. Her five-year-old son slid from his seat, his bare feet slapping the floor, exclaiming, “Family game night!” He stopped, mid-step, as he headed to the shelf filled with games about penguins and sneaky, snacky squirrels. “Is it still family game night if David is here?”
I saw “I Am Not your Negro” at the Zinema with students and faculty in the Writing Studies major at the University of Minnesota Duluth. The movie blends archival footage of author James Baldwin with language from one of his unfinished manuscripts. The movie threads in contemporary images of racial injustice in the United States to remind us that we still have a long way to go to earn racial equality.
I took a week of vacation in December. I have family in three cities (Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Tampa). But I have friends everywhere, so I rented a car to see as many as possible. This trip created an appreciation for the networks of phone towers and concrete that connect me with friends and family. This trip made me rethink the things I need to work harder to say.
Every holiday, until Parkinson's stole his balance, my great-grandfather spent hours assembling a trainset and Christmas village under the tree. It was recognizable as the family village, but the track curved differently each year. The church might be at the center of town or on a polystyrene hillside. As I grew older and more bookish than the rest of the family, a bookstore was placed in the shopping district, making my passion part of the family village. I don't think I'd ever been happier.
In the presidential debates, even casual observers noted that Donald Trump interrupted Hillary Clinton comfortably and frequently. Trump's habit is not unique. His disrespect was rooted in practices we think of as harmless, the everyday ways we treat women and girls who aren't running for president. At fivethirtyeight.com, statistician Nate Silver and staff counted the interruptions in the first debate. Clinton interrupted people 11 times. She was nearly twice as likely to interrupt the moderator, Lester Holt, as she was to interrupt Trump.
Every year, at the "Great Minnesota Get-Together," I visit the Fine Arts exhibit. For more than 100 years, the State Fair has showcased the finest in painting, textiles, ceramics, prints, photographs and more. This year, I was excited to see a photograph I recognized from a Tweed Museum exhibit, "Iron Country" by Vance Gellert. The photograph, "Housing Development on Rouchleau Mine, Virginia, 2012," depicts new home construction on the edge of a disused area of a mine.
I spent Monday driving to International Falls with Duluth cellist and multimedia artist Kathy McTavish. Our pilgrimage to the Icebox of the Nation, the city that appears in every Weather Channel spotlight as the coldest city in the U.S., was to visit Jeff and Diane Adams. Jeff is the creative director of the Icebox Radio Theater (IBRT), a nonprofit community theater. IBRT occasionally performs live and broadcasts on the radio, but is primarily a podcast.
"Isn't it childish to own stuffed animals?" a friend asked me, in my spare bedroom, where more than 50 furry bears and frogs and elephants reside in bins. "No," I thought. I own them for the same reason that I have toys in my office at the University of Minnesota Duluth — students connect with them. They feel safe. But thinking about stuffed animals, and about communicating safely about difficult things, teaches me something about relationships and politics.
Father’s Day usually creates a cold feeling in me. (My father hasn’t been in my life since I was four.) This year I am filled with frustration, if not rage...
The bus driver tried to explain to a group of senior citizens at a stop that the transfer they were trying to make would be easiest at the new Duluth Transportation Center. But they were resistant. "When will the connecting bus stop here?" they wanted to know. Reluctantly they boarded the bus, but complained for the entire five blocks to the Transportation Center. "The Duluth bus system is impossible to use," they said. They were trying to make all their connections on Superior Street because "I hate waiting for the bus in the Bowery."