Helping You Be Contemporary in a Traditional Way

Decades ago I liked Linda Ronstadt – for her voice, her music, her passion and creativity on and off stage (OK, I also had a crush on her). Now I like and admire Linda Ronstadt for her grace and dignity in the face of her battle with Parkinson’s Disease – something you can read of […]

These pages occupy too many words recalling folks who mattered after they have passed away. Very rarely do I get the opportunity to communicate my admiration on thanks when these heroes are still living. It is doubtful that my hero will see these words or hear about them, but that fact does not stop me […]

Labor Day weekend has many food-focused events. But here’s one that is only indirectly related to food – it’s more in the category of “post-consumption activity”. The event is the Wisconsin State Cow-Chip Throw, and it’s taking place this weekend in Prairie du Sac. There are 5 and 10k runs, an arts and crafts fair, […]

So many places. So many events, especially during a busy Labor Day weekend like this one. How does a community distinguish itself ? One Illinois community has done so by designating itself as “Hog Capital of the World”. The place is Kewanne, Illinois. Although Kewanee” is the Winnebago word for prairie chicken, they proclaim pride […]

The area in and around Brady, Texas is known for its sheep and goat industry. In a state best known for beef, it is goat that is celebrated in food form this weekend at the World Championship Barbecue Goat Cook-Off. Taking place in what is self-described as “The Heart of Texas”, the Goat Cook-off routinely […]

There are many chili cookoffs to be found. Chili is a passion. In Hatch, New Mexico they celebrate the chile. The Hatch Chile Festival is an annual event that occurs each Labor Day, attracting folks (up to 30,000 for the event) world wide to a place known as the “chile capital of the world”. This […]

To a kid, any merry-go-round is special. I clearly can recall my first love these mant decades ago. Can you ? However, given that all carousels are special, there is one many would consider even more special among specials. On the National Mall in Washington, DC, nestled among a grove of trees, there is a […]

Memorial Day has the Indy 500. So it seems fitting that Labor Day should have a racing tradition of its own. Perhaps you have not heard of it, but this weekend marks the annual staging of the National Championship Chuckwagon Races in Clinton, Arkansas. This year marks the 28th annual edition, and its a big […]

We read this morning that tons of chicken wings have arrived by truck into downtown Buffalo in preparation for the city’s annual chicken wing festival. National Buffalo Chicken Wing Festival founder and organizer Drew Cerza told the Associated Press than 40 tons of wings have been delivered Tuesday to Coca-Cola Field, the minor league baseball […]

Lots of barbecue events are lined up for this weekend – “the last unofficial weekend of summer”. One place where the food is different is a community in Texas where the featured cuisine is oatmeal (Though it being Texas, barbecue is to be found there too). The location is Bertram, Texas – actually it is […]

One doesn’t think of Montreal as a surfing destination but, as this Montreal Gazette video reports, a growing community surfs the rapids in the St. Lawrence River by Montreal’s shore. This article was first published on

In addition to crab racing in Maryland (See Hard Crab Derby below), there is “unique” racing to be found elsewhere over the Labor Day weekend. For example, folks in Alaska have two racing venues available, both in Nome. The first is in Nome where they race bathtubs.The event is called the “Great Bathtub Race”, and […]

Today’s 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream Speech” got me to reflecting on other important speeches. As mentioned in an earlier post the Gettysburg Address, FDR’s Depression Era Fireside Chats and Declaration of World War II speech before Congress come to mind. So does J.F.K.’s 1961 Inaugural Address. I was wondering […]

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Back years ago when I was a kid, many beer makers would market their brews by extolling the crisp, clean water that when into their beer. Fast forward to 2013, and some generalities about clear water will not suffice. Today, to many, there must be more. Indeed, it’s a very different ann exciting time in […]

Summer homes at the beach are starting to be cleaned and shuttered before a return home. The days are getting shorter. School buses trying out new routes. Some leaves are starting to change their colors and fall to the ground. Time for a news season. Another sign of the times is that they are playing […]

Sometimes images are not what they seem. This past weekend, our family took a road trip to the South Jersey Shore – a farewell to Summer. There was beach, a teenage concert, and those unanticipated and unscripted surprises one encounters along the way. As driver, I was told to stop the car. There was this […]

We wanted to note this item that we saw thanks to Stu Cowan at the Montreal Gazette. It seems that members of the Toronto Transit Commission are upset about proposed new uniforms for them because they believe they will look like the Montreal Canadiens – specifically red, white and blue striped caps and golf shirts. […]

Tens of thousands of people assembled this weekend on the National Mall to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the 1963 March on Washington. That day, highlighted by the famous speech by Dr. Martin Luther King, now ranks with the likes of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, FDR’s Fireside Chats and World War II Declaration of War Address […]

Though it has warmed up for a couple of days, Summer is clearly approaching its last acts. School is soon to start, and the leaves are starting to fall. So, we try to squeeze just a bit more from Summer before leaving those “lazy, hazy, crazy” days behind. Here is one more Song of Summer, […]

It’s a one-of-a-kind place, here or abroad. Commonly advertised as The World’s Only Corn Palace, it’s a tourist attraction visited by more than 500,000 people each year. It’s the Corn Palace, a multi-purpose arena/facility located in Mitchell, South Dakota. But this word description does not do it justice. Just one look and you will understand. […]

For a very short time, it was an 1860’s version of state of the art package transport. Now it’s a quaint reminder – a window into another era. The Pony Express was a mail service delivering messages and mail from St. Joseph, Missouri across the Great Plains, over the Rocky Mountains and the Sierra Nevada […]

We just missed with the timing but wanted to share it with you anyway. On August 18, 1893 Frank J. Wisner, owner of Cripple Creek Brewing, served the first root beer float in Cripple Creek, CO. Inspired by the moonlit view of snowcapped Cow Mountain, he added a scoop of ice cream to his Myers […]

As we were putting the finishing touches on our last entry (“Staying Connected with Farm Lands Later in Life”- see above), we came across this item which is dear to us. It speaks of how we make community and why. It also speaks of generational and regional variations on how we look at community and […]

Farmers are getting older. They’re working longer, staying on the land later and continuing to do what they’ve done for decades: heading out day after day after day to work their land. In 1978, the average age of the American farmer was just over 50. In 2007, it’s creeping toward 60, at just over 57-years-old. […]

This item came to our attention as an “Editors’ Choice” at The line marking the national boundary between the U.S. and Canada appears on the map as a straightline. But it is more like 900 different, zig-zagging lines as earlier generations tried their best to carve out a “no-touching zone” between Canada and the […]

Adler, who according to The New York Times died of a stroke on August 13 in Bethpage, New York at age 76, founded the Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame. The Brooklyn Dodgers Hall of Fame never had a permanent home — it was essentially a personal journey down his baseball memory lane —but it enabled […]

“If we want to preserve the cultural integrity, the pride we have, the only shot we have is to do it ourselves….My grandmother here covered everything in plastic because there wasn’t extra money to go buy another couch if one of us messed it up. That’s something we should celebrate now. I want to be […]

Bill Geist is always entertaining. A recent CBS News feature visited the Grilled Cheese Invitational in Los Angeles was no exception. It was part of a feature describing how “Grilled Cheese Mania” was sweeping the nation. L.A. chef and restauranteur Eric Greenspan, who is opening a place dedicated to grilled cheese restaurant, reasons that grilled […]

Talk about a “Smart Community Narrative” (That is our term for stories that help a community leverage its unique narrative into dollars and snese of place) ! The New York Times reports from Hamburg, New York (Just south of Buffalo) where folks took matters unto themselves when the State D.O.T. proposed widening U.S. 62, which […]

“Summertime” was composed by George Gershwin for the 1935 opera Porgy and Bess (Lyrics by DuBose Heyward, the author of the novel Porgy on which the opera was based, although the song is also co-credited to Ira Gershwin by ASCAP). The song soon became a popular and much recorded jazz standard. It is now recognized […]

Today is August 16. We are looking forward to a day at the Jersey Shore – our family’s small part in supporting communities hurt by SuperStorm Sandy. But before that we take a moment to look back, as we note that today is the death anniversary of two American giants. It was 65 years ago […]

Our last entry about Montreal (and New York) bagels got us to thinking about “Canadian foods”. Montreal bagels are Montreal, so is Montreal Smoked Meat. But what do you think of when someone asks about “Canadian foods” ? Huntington Post Canada recently did an article on the topic and came up with a slide show […]

Certain food topics can be touchy. Barbecue, for example. I like to stay away from those arguments – they are so subjective. Same is true of Chili. And now, you can add bagels to the debate. Folks around New York are pretty opinionated about the subject (as if New Yorkers are not opinionated. But it […]

Toronto’s Union Station is a National Historic Site, playing a significant role in the country’s formation, and also the busiest passenger transportation hub in Canada, serving around 250,000 people a day. It is now being renovated. The Globe and Mail reports that while the current renovations are mainly about increasing the station’s capacity, designers are […]

Reports Minnesota Public Radio, Every Wednesday during the summer, a downtown Nisswa, Minn. parking lot transforms into a race track and the streets fill with families. For 50 years, turtle racing has been a highlight for the Crow Wing County community and today third-generation racers compete for the title of grand champion. This article was […]

Margaret Pellegrini, one of the last three surviving Munchkins from the 1939 film “The Wizard of Oz,” died on Aug. 7 in Phoenix. She was 89. According to an obituary in The New York Times, her death was confirmed by Barbara Evans, co-director of Oz-Stravaganza!, a “Wizard of Oz” festival in Chittenango, N.Y., birthplace of […]

They are described as “a small band of warriors who created an unbreakable code from the ancient language of their people and changed the course of modern history”. Clearly they were heroes whose stories for many years were overlooked. Now, finally they are being honored and celebrated. The “they” are today known as Navajo Code […]

One person’s weird is another one’s normal. Nonetheless, without passing judgment, in Ocean City, NJ they are this week staging what they describe as “Weird Contest Week”. Actually, event organizers have become a bit more diplomatic by describing the 19th annual event as “Wacky But Not Tacky” events for the entire family. The Contests include […]

You remember records, don’t you ? These days many are found as props on walls on retro eateries. But some of us vinyl records still do matter (Ask my wife). Gray Freiberg of Los Osos, CA is the spearhead and spokesperson on behalf of Vinyl Record Day. The day itself was first observed in 2002 […]

Eydie Gorme, a popular nightclub and television singer as a solo act and as a team with her husband, Steve Lawrence, died on August 11 in Las Vegas. She was 84. In addition to her “Steve and Eydie” act, Gorme also had a huge solo hit in 1963 with “Blame it on the Bossa Nova. […]

Folks are gathering again in Newton, North Carolina this week in what is described as “the oldest patriotic event of its kind in the U.S”. Starting on August 11 is the 124th annual Soldiers’ Reunion Celebration. American Legion Post 16 and the Newton Merchants Association sponsor and organize the week-long celebration, which is believed to […]

The King Sisters formed in 1931 and rose to fame in the Swing Era, performing with the bands of Horace Heidt, Artie Shaw and Alvino Rey, the husband of one of the sisters, Luise. Their popularity declined in the 1950s, although their 1958 album, “Imagination,” was nominated for a Grammy Award. But they experienced a […]

It’s 65 years today since Candid Camera came to television. The date was August 10, 1948. The show created by Alan Funt was originally an Armed Forces Radio program based on Funt’s wartime morale building technique of recording and broadcasting soldier complaints. It was then called Candid Microphone. The name changed when the program migrated […]

It’s the weekend – time for some music. This week’s selection, “Summer Wind”, is a 1965 song, with music by Heinz Meier and lyrics by Johnny Mercer. The song is a nostalgic tale of a fleeting romance, first recorded by Wayne Newton who had the first national chart hit with the song in 1965, peaking […]

It’s not hockey weather (hazy, hot and humid) where I live. So, it’s hard for me to get my arms around hockey. But today is an important day in hockey history. It marks the 25th anniversary of the biggest trade in hockey history, when Wayne Gretzky was dealt from the Edmonton Oilers to the Los […]

Until the mid-1900’s, The Moana Hotel on Waikiki Beach in Honolulu, Trader Joe’s and other classic hotels of Hawaii regularly served fish often not found on today’s menus. An NPR feature profiles an ecologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who says he’s tied classic hotels menus to science in a quest to understand […]

Kool Aid was a popular drink when I was a kid. Then came 1978. That is the year that the expression “Drinking the Kool-Aid” became part of our popular culture after the Jonestown Massacre, and it took on a whole new connotation. The phrase came to suggest that one has mindlessly adopted the dogma of […]

No better sign that we are hitting the home stretch of this summer because our calendar of events is filled with state fairs. Starting this week in Missouri and Illinois, an American institution takes up shop in this annual rite of the land. State fairs began in the nineteenth century for the purpose of promoting […]

Say “hoho”, and most folks picture a scene of homelessness or riding the rails, and normally folks think of the Great Depression. However, the story of the hobo goes further back. In fact, a convention by and for hoboes dates back to the turn of the 20th century. The National Hobo Convention has been held […]

Where did the Summer go ? Our mail and store sale ads are telling us that it’s already “Back to School” time. If you are like me, you are afew years removed from “School Days”. But there is a school where you might not only be welcomed, but be quite comfortable as well. We’re speaking […]

To many, our modern world has become a monolithic place, dominated by mass media, fast foods, big box stores and seemingly endless sprawl. Eric Model has been out to show that there is more; that even in the face of a trend towards increasing uniformity, there remains a wonderful variety of people, places, and stories […]

It’s now over two decades since Bill Clinton first put his hometown of Hope, Arkansas on the map. It was at the 1992 Democratic National Convention in New York that then Presidential nominee Clinton ended his acceptance speech by saying, “I still believe in a place called Hope.” The line, of course, was aspirational. But […]

Now it’s Alex Rodriguez in the news about what they describe as “Performance Enhancing Drugs”. Names big and small continue to be mentioned. Form this perspective, it appears that “enforcers” are only scratching the surface. I, like many, have my own opinions about this whole thing. But I will not use this venue to share […]

There are Eastern Oysters, Pacific Oysters, Olympia Oysters, and Pearl Oysters. Then there are Rocky Mountain Oysters. Of course, to those who know a Rocky Mountain Oyster is not an oyster at all. Nor is it, unlike those other oysters named above, even a fish. In fact, Rocky Mountain oysters are a euphemism for bull […]

This story may not be one of “offbeat, off the beaten path, overlooked or forgotten” variety, but it surely is an important one in the realm of American popular culture. The Washington Post is being sold. The sale is significant on many levels. Four especially come to mind for me. There is the passing from […]

One of the biggest changes in our culinary landscape has been the increased availability of what had been considered regional ethnic foods. It amuses many younger folks when they learn that once upon a time there was no Pizza Hut or Taco Bell. Nor were bagels available at Dunkin Donuts. Back then bagels were thought […]

Say tug of war, and usually a school Field Day, backyard birthday party or “corporate comraderie activity” come to mind. However, Folks in a couple Midwest communities have taken the Tug of War to an entirely different level. Along the banks of the Mississippi River, citizens of Port Byron, Illinois and Le Claire, Iowa engage […]

We note the passings of two gentlemen from the media world. Longtime NBC News correspondent John Palmer died on August 3 after a brief illness. Palmer spent seven years with Gumbel and Pauley as a TODAY news anchor. He also reported on five White House administrations as correspondent. But his closest colleagues, like Jane Pauley […]

James Fallows’ insightful writing and commentary has entertained and educated for a long time. Having spent a number of years being our eyes and ears for the Atlantic about life in China beyond the major cities, as a National Correspondent for the publication he is now setting to work to do about the changing American […]

On visits to Disney I have marveled at how well this elaborate palace to entertainment was constructed and operated, and it left me wondering why our own communities could not be planned and maintained in a similar fashion. On a recent weekend to Maryland I was able to experience such a “real world” location – […]

A great feature from CBS News on Sunday Morning. Steve Hartman met an 87-year-old retired insurance salesman who turned his basement into a movie palace after rescuing a giant Wurlitzer organ from Detroit’s Michigan Theater. This article was first published on

It’s my favorite song and favorite part of “Cars”, the movie. James Taylor singing “Our Town”. It’s a poignant song and story. It’s message goes far beyond the screen. We have a special passion for that, taking from Mr. Rodgers, every place is special in its own way. Places – large and small, urban, rural […]

It’s not really a song of Summer as much as it is a remembrance of an artist who reminds of us summers past. Al Hirt (November 7, 1922 – April 27, 1999) was a renowned trumpeter and bandleader. He is best remembered for his million-selling recordings of “Java” and the accompanying album Honey in the […]

It’s always a good time to have some pie in Braham, Minnesota, but probably no better time than the first Friday in August. This year that first Friday is August 2. It is a time when they celebrate Pie Day in what in a place described as “The Homemade Pie Capital of the World“. Braham’s […]

Andrea Kahn, a friend, is the one who gave us a heads-up about this program on PBS: Long before the days of giant theme parks, the United States had many amusement parks where families gathered for a cool escape on a hot summer day. Celebrate these pre-Disney parks with visits to Playland in Rye, New […]

There’s more to Canada than Mounties, hockey and beer. Here we’re out to show folks just that. Mention Canada to most Americans and comforting thoughts generally come to mind: a friendly nation of people like beer, the outdoors and hockey – some of whom speak French, most of whom speak English, and a few who […]