Friday, October 30, 2009

Haunting & Memory

Staying in this weekend? We recommend the following choice titles on haunting and memory. Have a safe and happy Halloween, everyone.

The Strange Case of William Mumler, Spirit Photographer by Louis Kaplan. The story of the birth of spirit photography and the controversy surrounding its discovery. Includes a handful of ghostly images, including a well-known photo of the recently assassinated Abraham Lincoln comforting Mary Todd.

The Devil Notebooks by Laurence A. Rickels. Milton’s Paradise Lost. Goethe’s Faust. Aaron Spelling’s Satan’s School for Girls? Laurence A. Rickels scours the canon and pop culture in this all-encompassing study on the Devil.

The Vampire Lectures by Laurence A. Rickels. Rickels sifts through the rich mythology of vampirism, from medieval folklore to Marilyn Manson, to explore the profound and unconscious appeal of the undead in this wild and wide-ranging "psycho-history" of the vampire. See also: The Ascent of the Vampire, Rickels' recent blog post on the vampire in pop culture.

Haunting the Korean Diaspora: Shame, Secrecy, and the Forgotten War by Grace M. Cho. Explores the repressed history of emotional and physical violence between the United States and Korea and the unexamined reverberations of sexual relationships between Korean women and American soldiers.

Ghostly Matters: Haunting and the Sociological Imagination by Avery F. Gordon. In 1856, an escaped slave named Margaret Garner killed her daughter rather than see her taken back into slavery. One hundred and thirty years later, when Toni Morrison wrote Beloved, she used this event as the framework of a ghost story. In this unique and compelling book, Avery F. Gordon considers the cultural experience of haunting.

The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States by Carla Yanni. A fresh and original look at the American medical establishment’s century-long preoccupation with therapeutic architecture as a way to cure social ills.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Rio de Janeiro: 'The most dangerous place in the world'

The New Yorker's recent short piece on Rio de Janeiro, host of the 2010 Olympics, points out a recent "dramatic upsurge in the city’s gangland violence." Reporter Jon Lee Anderson recounts a night he spent tagging along on a police raid into the Mangueira favela (one of Rio’s oldest slums) -- one with violence and encounters similar to others he's witnessed in Baghdad, and one in which a policeman tells him that Rio is the most dangerous place in the world, "more dangerous than Afghanistan or Iraq." (the article links to both a longer piece the author published earlier this month on drug gangs in Rio and an eye-opening audio slide show with photographs by João Pina.)

John Hagedorn, associate professor of criminal justice at the University of Illinois, Chicago, has studied gang formation in three major world cities with gangs that have been in operation for decades: Chicago, Rio de Janeiro, and Capetown. Through research published in A World of Gangs: Armed Young Men and Gangsta Culture, he discovers that some gangs have institutionalized as a strategy to confront a hopeless cycle of poverty, racism, and oppression. His book discusses how such gangs have persisted around the world and proposes ways gangs might be encouraged to overcome their violent tendencies. Hagedorn discussed some of his research on Book TV earlier this year.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Ascent of the Vampire

Today's post is by Laurence A. Rickels, professor of German and comparative literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include The Devil Notebooks, The Vampire Lectures and the forthcoming I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick (Minnesota 2010). He talks with us about the ascent of the vampire in popular culture; the popularity of Twilight; and "psycho violence" in horror cinema.

Q: I enjoyed your Artforum article on HBO's True Blood series. Why do you think so many films, TV series and mass-market books about vampires (True Blood, Twilight, Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant, and Vampire Diaries, to name a few) have been popping up lately? Perhaps in uncertain times like these, there's likely to be a heightened interest in the posthuman human and/or the undead?

A: There are (at least) two developments supporting the return of the vampire. The first is that the vampire’s return displaces (from the screen) the dominance of zombie films we watched throughout the Bush years. The recent Zombieland is the diminishing return as farce of the tragedy that “Eight Years Later” we now must recognize: we thrilled to our survival through killing ambulatory corpses. It’s possible to argue that there was a generalized PTSD afflicting Americans during those years, with the actual cases back from Afghanistan and Iraq at the front of this line. The turn to vampires demonstrates a renewed capacity for affirmation of life as undeath rather than as zombie murder. It also means that identification with the dead or undead has again become possible (that one doesn’t identify with your average zombie is the point). This relationship to mourning or unmourning in vampirism was the main theme of my 1999 book The Vampire Lectures.

What remains in the background of the ascent of the vampire is the psycho killer, who returned to the screen during the zombie years. The psycho is the problem that current identifications with vampirism can't get around. The vampire isn't about killing but about extending life or unlife. Psycho killers are most closely related to the Devil's clients; both might dismiss the investment in vampirism as immortality neurosis. What we have now, in a show like True Blood, is a portrait of human society deregulated by total integration, to which the vampire as minority gains admission. The included vampire is a positive portrait of humanity in which the bond between self and other is affirmed. Lurking in the shadows, however, are still the psychos who delight in killing the living, the undead, and the dead. The psycho killer like the client of the Devil does not mourn (or unmourn).

That a franchise like Saw applies an infernal frame to the killing as a kind of deranged preaching suggests that a renewed relationship to the Devil has accompanied the return of the psycho killer to movie culture. The Devil and his select clients, in contrast to vampirism, which blends boundaries, pursue an ideology of certainty that coincides with the current crime culture of DNA (which emerged out of paternity testing). A recent review of (my book) The Devil Notebooks in an Austrian journal of criminology astutely points to the current value of understanding the appeal of what I called in that book “Dad certainty” for students of crime and criminals. This summer I finished my horror trilogy with a volume on slasher and splatter cinema titled The Psycho Files. As you can see a series of contrasts and identifications interlaces my three subjects: the undead, the infernal, and the “psycho.”

Another major development supporting the current vampire boom concerns the raising to consciousness of the early teen “romance” market. The Twilight series managed to double the whammy by designing books that mothers and their pubescent daughters could share. Teens must protect their personal space. They can do that by engaging in cursory sex with group members to establish relations in which each party remains intact and separate. Or a romantic culture of “abstinence,” which in Twilight derives its support from the traditional absence of genital sex in vampirism, can guarantee the teen girl’s singular approach to ultimate couplification, which in the culture of vampirism need not be compromised by the ambivalent stamp of group approval.

The family value of couplification becomes a fantastic rather than out-of-touch option. That the canon is now being remixed with occult horror in remakes like Pride and Prejudice and Zombies shows that the teen, now that she can be caught where she reads (for the first time on her own, not as assigned, and thus as true consumer), is what’s new in the bestseller business. As good girl the protagonist of Twilight enjoys a relationship to canon works, even in the school setting, but as mediated by her favorite film adaptations. The discovery of the teen consumer of “mediated” books is a local counterpart to the global discovery of the Chinese consumer for all markets.

Isn’t the vampire a more affirmative model of consumerism than the zombie? Yes. However it is the “psycho” in our midst, who returned at the same time as the zombie to the screens of mass culture (largely through contact or contract with the Devil), who poses a problem that exceeds the inoculations that entertainment can administer. Indeed the “psycho” can be considered a failure of interpretation and understanding. In his or her case we remain cureless. And yet the psycho killer is so far away, really unthinkable, but also really close, too close. In the language of object-relations psychoanalysis one might say: "there but for the grace of the good object go I." It is our relationship to psycho violence that will remain for the time to come the most serious issue passing before our eyes in horror cinema.


Laurence A. Rickels is professor of German and comparative literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. His books include The Devil Notebooks, The Vampire Lectures and I Think I Am: Philip K. Dick.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Poetry reading with friends of Bill Holm

One week from today, friends of late Minnesota poet, essayist and musician Bill Holm will gather to celebrate and read Holm's latest poetry collection, The Chain Letter of the Soul: New and Collected Poems, published by Milkweed Editions. Admission is free, and a freewill offering will be taken at the door. Click here for more information.

In March 2010, the University of Minnesota Press will publish the 25th anniversary edition of The Music of Failure, Holm's influential first book of essays.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Roberto Tejada and Chon Noriega on Celia Alvarez Muñoz

Art historian, curator and associate professor at the University of Texas-Austin Roberto Tejada, author of Celia Alvarez Muñoz and National Camera: Photography and Mexico's Image Environment, discusses Muñoz and her work as a conceptual and multimedia artist in this Hammer lecture video. Chon Noriega, editor of University of Minnesota Press's A Ver Series and author of Shot in America: Television, the State, and the Rise of Chicano Cinema (among other books), is also on hand for the discussion. Noriega is professor and director of the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Minnesota Archive Editions--a publishing experiment

Today's post is by Kristian Tvedten, editorial assistant at University of Minnesota Press and a coordinator of the Minnesota Archive Editions program (announced in November 2008).

The University of Minnesota Press has now observed several months of activity and interest in the Minnesota Archive Editions program, a print-on-demand publishing initiative that has made more than 1,000 of our long out-of-print titles available once again. Today, we thought we would share details about the program's most popular titles:

Friedrich Schlegel's Lucinde and the Fragments, translated and with an introduction by Peter Firchow.* Firchow's translations of Schlegel's work continue to find use in courses on German Romanticism and literary criticism. Lucinde and the Fragments (1971) was Firchow's first book with the Press. A professor of English at the University of Minnesota, Firchow authored a number of titles, including three others published by Minnesota: Aldous Huxley: Satirist and Novelist (1972), The Writer's Place: Interviews on the Literary Situation in Contemporary Britain (1974), and a translation of Schlegel's Philosophical Fragments (1991). Firchow's engagement of Schlegel anticipates the kinds of philosophical and theory-based works of literary criticism that Minnesota would become known for during the 1980s.

Spain and Portugal in the New World, 1492-1700 by Lyle N. McAlister.* Monumental in scope and a popular course text, Spain and Portugal in the New World, 1492-1700 is an indispensable reference and a meticulously researched introduction to colonial enterprises in the Americas. Lyle N. McAlister was a professor of history at the University of Florida for 35 years. This is the third installment in the 10-volume series "Europe and the World in the Age of Expansion" -- an ambitious exploration of global colonial endeavor that began at Minnesota in 1964. This series was the brainchild of Herbert Heaton, a distinguished economic historian and author of The British Way to Recovery (Minnesota 1934). Sponsored by the Department of History and the James Ford Bell Library of the U of M, 10 projects were approved by an advisory board of six members. Books in the series are essential for any reader interested in colonial history, imperial expansion, and global political development.

Other titles that have become popular since entering our print-on-demand program:
-A History of the Alans in the West: From Their First Appearance in the Sources of Classical Antiquity through the Early Middle Ages
-Essays in Ancient Philosophy
-In Place/Out of Place: Geography, Ideology, and Transgression
-Theory as Practice: A Critical Anthology of Early German Romantic Writings

Check back soon for more information on Minnesota Archive Editions.

* Titles in the MAE program utilize a template paperback cover. Covers shown here will not appear on recently ordered books.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A U.S. identity built on state fantasies

Donald E. Pease is professor of English and Avalon Foundation Chair of the Humanities at Dartmouth College. He is author of The New American Exceptionalism.

My book is primarily concerned with the irreconcilable rifts within U.S. political culture that opened up during the lengthy period of transition from the termination of the cold war to the inauguration of Barack Obama, and with the disparate state fantasies that emerged to organize U.S. citizens' relations to these antagonisms. Such fantasies should not be construed as disposable representations of the state's procedures of governance. The fantasies through which a population takes up a different juridico-political order constitutes an essential dimension of the order's symbolic efficacy. The so-called "birthers" movement supplies a good example of a state fantasy that discloses the difference between the fantasmatic structures of the Bush and Obama administrations.

In declaring a global war on terror as the state's response to 9/11, President George W. Bush accomplished what his father had not. This apocalyptic event enabled him to bring closure to one epoch and to install a very different order of things. President George Herbert Walker Bush had attempted to inaugurate a New World Order in the form of a restricted war with Iraq. But at the conclusion to that war, U.S. citizens were still lacking the imagined presence of an internal enemy who could re-instate the dynamic structure of American exceptionalism as a collectively shared state fantasy. All that changed after 9/11. The buildings that were the targets of the attacks—the World Trade Center and the Pentagon Building—were icons that represented the people of both covenants.

The Clinton administration had correlated the international war against Islamic extremists with the Christian Fundamentalist and militia movements, which it represented as the seedbeds for domestic terrorism. But the Bush administration recruited the apocalyptic imagination of the Christian Fundamentalist to supply higher authority for the state's war against Muslim extremists. The administration then hired paramilitary forces from the Blackwater Corporation to carry out special military operations under banners like "Operation Infinite Justice" (later named "Operation Enduring Freedom") that turned foundational tenets of scriptural belief into the authorization for the use of deadly force. If Christian Fundamentalism was made to represent the superiority of U.S. political theology to Islamic fundamentalism, the members of the Blackwater militia turned that surplus righteousness into the legitimation for the extra-legal violence they directed against Islamic extremists. Having transformed Christian Fundamentalism into the theological dimension of the Reason of State and having incorporated the militia movement into a legitimate expression of state force, the Bush administration went on to represent the nation in whose name it fought as a homeland whose members were united through their collective participation in the newly declared Global War on Terror.

The homeland security state fostered a symbolic pact whereby the citizenry confirmed its primary linkage to the state through a willingness to surrender their civil rights and political values in the name of national security needs. This imagined act of collective sacrifice effectively realized the image of a totalized national community. It also effected a symbolic economy whereby the security state compensated the citizenry's willingness to substitute their democratic rights and democratic values in exchange for the illusion of collective biopolitical security.

It was the state's description of the weapons which endangered the aggregated population as "biological" that in part authorized the state's biopolitical settlement. After President Obama redescribed what the Bush administration called the global war on terror as overseas contingency operations, the state lost the fantasmatic power to project insuperable political contradictions onto a universal enemy—the Terrorist. As a consequence of the Obama administration's dismantling of this fantasy structure, the paramilitary movements and the Christian Fundamentalists that President Bush had subjected to the imperatives of the Homeland Security State have re-emerged with a collective fantasy of their own.

The so-called "birthers" and "teabaggers" who disrupt town hall meetings, propagate fantasies of death panels and demand state secession have refused to give up their psychic attachments to the global war on terror. The "birthers" propagation of the belief that Obama lacks a valid birth certificate re-imagines him as an illegal immigrant whose endangerment of the people's biopolitical welfare will be accomplished through the formation of "death panels."

This fantasy has also tacitly constructed President Obama as himself a "terrorist," an enemy of the state whose health care policy threatens the biopolitical security of the homeland.

The Obama administration cannot successfully combat this fantasy structure without supplying its biopolitical contract with a newly forged state of imagination.


Donald E. Pease is professor of English and Avalon Foundation Chair of the Humanities at Dartmouth College.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Beautiful calendar by Betsy Bowen

We've just received a 2010 calendar with illustrations by Betsy Bowen, a woodcutting artist and author from Grand Marais, MN. The calendar draws upon woodcuts that appear in the poet-artist collaboration Borealis, which features poems by Jeff Humphries. The calendar is now available via the artist's website.

Bowen has also illustrated Great Wolf and the Good Woodsman by Helen Hoover and A Wild Neighborhood by John Henricksson.

Monday, October 19, 2009

The Question of the Animal

The Chronicle of Higher Ed has put together a piece on the emerging academic field of animal studies, which "has become a force to be reckoned with in philosophy, literary and cultural studies, history, and other fields with a traditionally humanistic bent."

The article quotes University of Minnesota Press author, Rice University professor and leading animal studies theorist Cary Wolfe:
Humans are animals, too, and a lot of our existence is shaped by our evolutionary history, our biology, our circadian rhythms, the very narrow climate bandwidth in which we flourish ... What you have is a whole new set of theoretical paradigms that cut across what were previously separate and discrete ontological domains. The question is, how does the nature of thought itself have to change? How does the nature of reading have to change in the face of this new object of study?

Cary Wolfe is editor of the University of Minnesota Press's Posthumanities Series. Wolfe and UMP director Douglas Armato provide more detail about the series and its beginnings here.

Wolfe's new book, What is Posthumanism?, will be out in January 2010.

Friday, October 16, 2009

A 'transnational' America

Dartmouth College's Donald Pease says America is "the most lonely of superpowers," an "exception to the laws of (other) nations" and simultaneously "a nation of immigrants, but a nation also hospitable to persons from across the planet." He discusses Barack Obama's transnational presidency and our transnational country with Christopher Lydon on Open Source.

Pease also recently interviewed with The Korea Times about American exceptionalism, former President Bush's war on terror, and Obama's presidential campaign and the change that his subsequent election meant for America.

Pease is author of The New American Exceptionalism, forthcoming in November.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Culture & Craft

The American Craft Council conference begins in Minneapolis today (through Saturday), and this year's topic is "Creating a New Craft Culture." In an article about the conference, its context, and the conversations taking place at this event, MinnPost quotes craft historian Sandra Alfoldy:
"It's a cycle isn't it? Much of what's going on now is very similar to the shifts in the field that happened in the '60s and '70s. What I want to see is how territorial these groups are. Do fine-craft organizations and professional artisans see these DIY initiatives as a threat or as a positive development in the field? ... It's important to keep in mind that the field is seeing some genuinely new developments: The Internet is a huge factor here, and that new media increases markets for craft globally as well as locally."

University of Minnesota Press author Elissa Auther, an associate professor of contemporary art at the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, will be speaking at the event tomorrow. Her presentation, "Lifestyle and Livelihood in Craft Culture," addresses questions of identity, community and authenticity in craft culture and how they are answered through and against the marketplace. Her book String, Felt, Thread: The Hierarchy of Art and Craft in American Art will be out in December.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mister Satan's Apprentice: Adam Gussow

Adam Gussow is the author of Seems Like Murder Here, Journeyman's Road, and Mister Satan's Apprentice (new edition out this November). Associate professor of English and southern studies at the University of Mississippi, he continues to tour with Sterling "Mr. Satan" Magee. Here he talks briefly about what's behind his success (as an author and a musician) and what he plans to do in the near future.

Q: What first turned you on to blues music?
A: My father, a landscape painter, was also somebody of very wide musical tastes -- Doc Watson, Charles Ives, the Beatles, Herb Alpert -- and he'd collected jazz records in college. My brother and I used to pester him in his upstairs studio, so he'd sit us down next to his stack of old 78s -- Bessie Smith, Fletcher Henderson, guys who played boogie-woogie piano -- and encourage us to sort through them and play them. That's where it started. Then in high school (a druggy suburban NYC day school) I got interested in what the other kids were listening to: Cream, the Allman Brothers live at Fillmore East, Alvin Lee, the Rolling Stones. Lots of bluesy rock. Everybody in my class was hopped up on THE J. GEILS BAND LIVE FULL HOUSE, with Magic Dick on harmonica. The song "Whammer Jammer" was what finally convinced me to buy my first harmonica. I was a smart, socially awkward kid (the valedictorian in a class of 13 stoners, more or less) and I decided that I WOULD teach myself how to play that song. I learned it well enough to play it on graduation day, after I'd given my speech.

Q: What do you believe you would be doing now if you had never met up with Mr. Satan?
A: I'm not really sure. If things had turned out differently, if my college/grad-school girlfriend hadn't moved out after five years and thrown the blues on me in a big way that led to a powerful change-of-life-direction, it's possible that at this point I'd be part of whatever group of people thinks of themselves as New York intellectuals. I'd be a college professor and literary critic ... rather than a guy who plays music, talks about books and culture in a way grounded in an extended immersion in the blues world, and knows how to relax.

(keep reading)

Here's a documentary trailer of Satan and Adam by V. Scott Balcerek (due for release this year):

More links:
-Satan and Adam in the New York Times.
-Adam gives musical lessons at Modern Blues Harmonica.
-Adam's YouTube channel.
-More about Satan and Adam.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The digital world is now

Today, the first Tools of Change conference in Europe opens on the eve of the Frankfurt Book Fair. Sara Lloyd, digital director at Pan Macmillan, opened the TOC conference with a warning to publishers: the book industry is dangerously close to winding up in the same place as the newspaper and music industries. She stressed that the digital world is no longer in the future and ended on this note:
"The new thing is never as good as the old thing, at least right now. Soon, the new thing will be better than the old will be. But if you wait until then it’s going to be too late."
Read the entire article on or follow TOC chatter on Twitter (#TOCFrankfurt).

In related news, Time magazine has an interesting article about the evolution of the e-reader and current state of the e-reader industry (at least 17 are either in development or on the market worldwide, though Amazon's Kindle has been ahead of the game thus far), as well as a photo gallery of Kindle imitators currently on the market.

Monday, October 12, 2009

'La mia America e l'Emilia Romagna'

The first Italian review of Minnesota author Eric Dregni's Never Trust a Thin Cook and Other Lessons from Italy's Culinary Capital appears on Page 14 of today's Il Resto del Carlino, a newspaper based in Modena, Italy. The title: 'La mia America e l'Emilia Romagna': Prof statunitense ha scritto un libro che esalta Bologna e Modena negli Usa. Its English translation: " 'My America and the Emilia Romagna': U.S. prof has written a book that exalts Bologna and Modena in the U.S."

Read the entire review in Italian here or get the English translation here.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Burying Don Imus: 'That book' by 'that guy'

Jennifer Howard's latest Hot Type column in The Chronicle features black feminist critic Michael Awkward, author of Burying Don Imus: Anatomy of a Scapegoat, who explains why he is a longtime fan of Imus in the Morning:
As he relates in the new book, Mr. Awkward stumbled on Imus in the Morning in 2000, long before the Rutgers debacle. The all-white, all-male nature of the show was not lost on him, but it didn't offend him much. "To be honest, I found its male exclusivity strangely comforting," he writes in Burying Don Imus. (He also liked the serious interviews Mr. Imus did with political movers and shakers.)
Howard also addresses the fact that, while the book analyzes examples of popular and publicized "knee-jerk assumptions" in complex situations (such as the Imus debacle), Imus himself has gone out of his way to distance himself from this book. He recently ordered the dismantling of banner ads that were set to run on his website. While he has acknowledged the book's presence on his show, he prefers to refer to it as "that book that guy wrote about me."

Recently interviewed on Imus in the Morning was Debra Dickerson, who is criticized in Burying Don Imus for a reaction to Imus's 2007 on-air comments that was, Awkward writes, "the most startling example of the tendency of blacks to see white humor as a manifestation of racial hate speech from which we need desperately to be protected."

You can listen to the show here; the segment with Dickerson begins about 35 minutes in. Here's an excerpt:
(Dickerson to Imus): "I rarely read something that so conclusively makes me realize I absolutely didn't know what the hell I was talking about ... had I been a longtime listener of your show I think I would've had a completely different reaction."

-Check out a recent UMP blog post in which Awkward directly addresses prevailing questions about his book's content.
-Michael Awkward openly discusses Burying Don Imus on Book TV and takes questions from the audience.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

The Sunday 'Peach': Putting together Gopher football pages at the Minneapolis Tribune

Al Papas Jr. grew up attending Minnesota Gopher football games with his father, who played for coach Bernie Bierman. A one-time sports cartoonist and newsroom artist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, he has also created artwork for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame and for teams in the NBA, ABA, and NHL. His illustrations are featured in Gophers Illustrated: The Incredible Complete History of Minnesota Football. Here, he recalls his experiences working in a newsroom (and compiling its sports section) in the 1960s.

You could count on extensive coverage of Gopher football in what was called the "peach" section of the Minneapolis Sunday Tribune. It was literally peach in color and stood out on Sunday morning to whomever grabbed the paper first. I worked on the section in the 1960s.

My first work, though, was a weekly cartoon for Star Sports Editor Bill Hengen. Hengen's favorite sport was bowling, for which he had a full-sized ball on his desk as a paperweight. I worked in the newsroom art department across the aisle from Sports. From there I got a good view of all the writers I had loved to read. One was Dick Cullum. (As a kid, I never left for school before reading "Cullum's Column.") He would sit, head tipped back in his chair, like Peppermint Patty. His eyes were closed behind Coke-bottle glasses and his arms were folded. After several minutes he would jump to life and pound furiously on his typewriter. Then he would fall back in silent repose and ponder again.

Executive Sports Editor Charlie Johnson had his own glass-enclosed office. He was a force in getting us the Twins and Vikings. Max Nichols went on to do public relations for the Minnesota Pipers of the old American Basketball Association. Merrill Swanson did the same for the Vikings.

Jimmy Burns was palsied and spoke with slurred speech. He would type his stories with one finger while holding his wrist steady with the other hand. How he did his interviews and made his deadlines was something to admire. Sid Hartman hardly sat at his desk when in. He stood while reading his mail and then was off again.

Joe Hennessy was slot man. He sat inside a slot cut into the middle of a great round table. Writers working from the outside edge would pass him their stories as he would proofread. He put the daily pages together. Sometimes he would give a caller the racing results over the phone and make the place sound like a bookie joint.

Dave Mona was a rookie like me. He would eventually have his own radio show and do color for the Gophers. John Croft was a great sports photographer who went on to work at National Geographic. Anne Gillespie was our first female sports reporter.

I worked with a wonderful bunch of fun-loving guys in the art department. Pranks and jokes abounded. It's a wonder we weren't fired. Our handball court was a fascination to those passing by. Our main job was to retouch photos before going to the engraver. This was to help poor quality pictures be more clear; for instance, a white helmet and uniform could disappear in a picture with the sky behind it. Retouching made it possible to see the player's outline.

Gopher game day found me alone at 6:45 a.m. to handle deadlines for the evening Star. It was a light day for that edition. Between 1 and 4 p.m., the rest of the full crew would wander in and prepare for the big run of the Sunday morning Tribune. The game itself ended around 4 p.m. In preparation, all the player's names were printed out on wax-backed paper. Whenever we read a player's numeral on a photo we stuck his name over him for fast identification. We also had symbols to put on pictures that indicated touchdowns, and arrows to point at something the writer would describe. Soon the photos would start pouring in. They might go directly on our desks rather than in the work basket. The regular news picture editor directed this evening's work. The other artists said that in times past, (now-former Gophers football coach) Murray Warmath might even come in to help sort things out.

On top of sports, there were also the news pictures for the front pages. Occasionally we had to crop photos on behalf of the editor. One time I messed up on a row of pictures of a TD run. I was embarrassed, but the editor just laughed. Perhaps we were all too punchy to cast blame. It was fixed for the next run.

Sometimes sight of the football would disappear in the background crowd. We would circle it and even draw dashed lines showing its flight--or perhaps dash a ball carrier's path through the line. We added things to explain what was happening in the pictures. We would toss the last photo down a chute to engraving and would be done for the big run. Smoke came up from the chute like it would from a chimney as frantic engravers were still hot at it. With our part done as artists, we breathed a sigh of relief and headed out to a nearby restaurant for a special meal. No brown bag this day. Upon returning, we replaced some pictures with better ones that the editor had more time to look over.
By 11 p.m., things settled down and it was time to leave a deserted newsroom.

Those were long, memorable days that seemed short to me. Sunday sports were never handled that way again. The football PEACH is no more.


Al Papas Jr. grew up attending Minnesota Gopher football games with his father, who played for coach Bernie Bierman. A one-time sports cartoonist and newsroom artist for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune, he has also created artwork for teams in the ABA, the NBA, the NHL, and for the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

A growing weariness of pink ribbons

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month; in fact, it's the 25th anniversary of when we started recognizing this month as such. While it's wonderful to see such a worthy cause garner so much attention, some have grown concerned about the overwhelming amount of 'pink' marketing and are questioning where all the money is going. After all, pink ribbons and other cause-related merchandise are popping up everywhere, and in such unexpected places as the NFL and the wine industry.

An article published today on ABC News cites just such a growing weariness among breast-cancer survivors. It quotes Samantha King, author of Pink Ribbons, Inc.:
"As a whole, the marketing of breast cancer has gone too far. I saw last year a yeast infection treatment sold to promote breast cancer; there are fishing rods and riding saddles. ... I have to say, I'm a little flummoxed. Marketing 101 suggests that you need to try to distinguish your product from its competitors, and with breast cancer, it seems to turn that on its head."
Even the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization has words of caution for those purchasing products with cause-related promotions. Read more here.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Purple Pride vs. Green & Gold

45 years and one day ago today, the Minnesota Vikings defeated the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field with a last-minute, come-from-behind scramble by Fran Tarkenton that resulted in a 24-23 victory.

Today, some of us are rooting again for a Vikings victory, while others are rooting for just the opposite. To celebrate tonight's ultra-publicized Vikings vs. Packers super rivalry game, a few of us at UMP decided to show our true football-fan colors. Here at the Press, we have Vikings fans, Packers fans, and fans to whom we gracefully refer as "other."

If you like to indulge in Vikings (or *sigh* Packers) nostalgia, perhaps you will enjoy our yard-by-yard chronicle of fifty years of Vikings victories and defeats from the perspective of the sportswriters and commentators who were there as the stories unfolded. Here's an excerpt from this Oct. 6th, 1964, story that appeared in the Milwaukee Sentinel (featured in The Vikings Reader):
"Everybody in the joint knows he's going to pass, so how could he get away with it?" one of thousands of dejected Packer fans was heard muttering as he elbowed his way out of the Green Bay stadium Sunday after the hard-to-take 24-23 loss to the Vikings.
That's right. Everybody in the joint, including the Packers, knew it had to be a pass. With less than a minute to play, fourth down and 22 to go from his own 36, Fran Tarkenton had to go for it in a big way. ...
They talk of customer golf. Well, Sunday's thriller was the ultimate in customer football, that is for those who were able to look at the game objectively. It may not have been the greatest game ever played in total. But for excitement and nail-biting suspense, it must rank with the best.

Friday, October 2, 2009

'More daring than Lady Gaga'

From's Critics' Picks:
The eccentric, extravagant socialite Marchesa Luisa Casati once declared, "I want to be a living work of art," and it's a feat she pulled off during her lifetime. More significantly, though, even in a world where celebrities work overtime to assert themselves as daring originals, the Marchesa Casati continues to cast her hypnotic, heavily perfumed spell from beyond the grave.

The article features The Marchesa Casati: Portraits of a Muse, a new release by Scot D. Ryersson and Michael Orlando Yaccarino. Ryersson and Yaccarino also authored the bestselling Casati biography Infinite Variety: The Life and Legend of the Marchesa Casati, published by University of Minnesota Press.

Think you know your celebrity trivia? Test your knowledge with this Marchesa Casati quiz.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Fred Ho to receive Harvard Arts Medal

We are pleased to announce that Fred Ho, artist, activist, scholar, and author of Wicked Theory, Naked Practice, is set to receive the distinguished Harvard Arts Medal on November 13th at Harvard's New College Theater. Actor John Lithgow (Harvard '67) will be there to present the award and host a discussion on Ho's career and creative process. Past recipients of the Harvard Arts Medal include Jack Lemmon, John Updike, Yo-Yo Ma and John Ashbery. Tickets are free, and will be available beginning Oct. 27th.

On the following night, Harvard will host "The World of Fred Ho," a tribute concert with Harvard Jazz Orchestra that features the world premiere of "Take the Zen Train," commissioned by the Harvard Office of the Arts.

Congratulations, Fred!