What a Day

6 10 2010

Hello “all.” Today is the long-overdue return of Books ’n Ammo. Health issues, extenuating circumstances, blah blah blah, right? Let’s skip over that part. By the way, today is also the unveiling of the Sid Hartman statue near Target Field, where the Twins will, tonight, begin their future-storied march to a World Championship. And probably not coincidentally, it is also the day Randy Moss returns to the Vikings as the final puzzle-piece for the Vikings’ march to a World Championship. Whew!

My intention here, as always, is to pass on book recommendations (along with the occasional “thumbs down,” though I’m not a critic) as a front for babbling about what’s going on in the world and with me! Me me me! Like most blogs.

Think of it as that old Dry Cleaners…the one that’s been there forever down in “that part of town.” The place everyone knows runs a high stakes poker game in the back room. Where “Stiv” the bookie can be found, when necessary, yet the little old ladies swear is the only place that really knows how to starch a collar, as they march thru the place daily, cluelessly (or not?).

Of course, I also need a “place” (you are >>here<<) to showcase my composition skills in order to continually get work as a freelance writer. Obviously, this particular post is not the one potential employers are meant to be reading. **NOTE: YOU MAY HAVE REACHED THIS POST BY MISTAKE, THOSE WRITTEN BY DALE VAN EVERY BEGIN AFTER THIS ONE!!** Other potential/likely uses for this blog:

–to link you to my online articles so that I may make 3 cents upon your viewing.

–to vent my dislike for Congresswoman Michelle Bachman.

–to say “Go Twins!!”

–to post the occasional short fiction for your inspection/approval.

I have a love/hate relationship with weBlogs, one that is, in part, responsible for the fits and starts and stops throughout the years here. While I truly feel that a great number of them are mindless (as this one may well be) I find myself in the awkward position of needing to write one, as a writer, to have my own “portfolio” or “forum” as it were. And to learn, over time, to stop overusing “quotation marks” and outdated comments like as it were. That said, I hereby recommit to publishing Books ‘n Ammo a minimum of three days a week, hopefully more. Perhaps some good will come of it. Indeed, if I interest one of you in one book, some good did come of it. Few things in life will serve you as well as an avid reading habit.

Peace, dve MplsMN

Here’s a pic I took of Francisco Liriano pitching vs. Cleveland 7/21/10. May he throw smoke tonight vs. the Yankees!

go Twins!!


My 1st Mobile Post & Eagles!

9 12 2009

Hello everyone faithful enough to believe I’ll keep this thing going. That’s the plan, but you’ve likely noticed it’s been more-than-spotty. Hell! Just keep checking back and “one fine morning…”

So you won’t believe what I came across this early afternoon coming around snowy Lake Harriet in the Jeep…two American Bald Eagles perched atop a tree on the west shore not far from “upper lake” (44th/45th sts.) stunning!

Apparently there have been several recent sightings around Harriet & Calhoun. And to think they were endangered not all that long ago. Marvelous! I’ll never forget it, especially as it becomes my first blog post from a phone. Man o man, Eagles in the city and telling the world from handheld device…(I’m easily astounded).

Sorry about the marginal iPhone pic…shouldvd learned long ago to take my camera everywhere.

See you back here soon…yes YOU!


Well, I See You’ve Got Your Brand New Leopard-Skin Bob Dylan Christmas Album

1 09 2009

No kidding! October 13th will see the release of Bob Dylan’s holiday album Christmas In The Heart. PR NEWSWIREThis one’s ripe for jokes, of course…I’ve already seen “Snowin’ in the Wind” and “Sleigh, Lady, Sleigh” and I’ll leave it at that. Because I love Bob, and because he’s donating every cent of his royalties (including future royalties “in perpetuity”) to the organization Feeding America. It will help feed more than 1.4 million people this holiday season. Further, international royalties will go toward feeding others worldwide.

(From BobDylan.com): Bob Dylan commented, “It’s a tragedy that more than 35 million people in this country alone — 12 million of those children – often go to bed hungry and wake up each morning unsure of where their next meal is coming from. I join the good people of Feeding America in the hope that our efforts can bring some food security to people in need during this holiday season.”

Cool. And as I sit here pondering how a 2009 Dylan-voiced “Winter Wonderland” will sound on Christmas Eve as we gather ’round the hearth, a light snow falling softly on the peaceful and twinkly neighborhood, I’m also thinking what a great decade the 00’s has been for Dylan and fans: Love and Theft, Chronicles Volume 1, Modern Times, Together Through Life, 3 Bootleg Series releases…I don’t know what Bob has left to do (besides write Chronicles Vols 2 and 3 and a few more albums to round it up to 50), but I hope he keeps doing it.

The Uptown Bar Slated for Demolition

29 08 2009

Where’s the sense of history? of cultural significance? It was reported earlier this week that the Uptown Bar—Twin Cities musical haven, early stomping grounds of several of the greatest bands to come out of MPLS—will be demolished later this year. What’s next, cancelling Friday nights? Minneapolis sans ‘the Uptown” is like St. Paul without MPR, Duluth without the lift-bridge, the Stones without Keith.  









(photo courtesy: uptownmpls.blogspot.com  /great photos…visit!)

I know many of you have great memories of the Uptown. Why not share (in the comments section of this blog). In the meantime, here are a couple of mine. 

  • One afternoon in ’88 when I lived across the alley from the uptown, I was enjoying a beverage within when I thought to myself “I need me one of those funky Uptown t-shirts like the waitress is wearing.” This was before they started selling them, but I thought I’d ask if there was a way of getting one anyway. I asked the waitress, who asked the bartender, who said hang on, made a call, then brought me downstairs to the boss “Dale” ‘s office. If you know who he is, you know he’s a big, intimidating guy. He kinda grumbled “well, I guess you need a shirt then, huh?” and threw two across his desk at me. Wow, that was easy. As I was heading back up the stairs he yelled after me “You start tomorrow night…you ever barbacked before?”  I didn’t go into the Uptown for a couple months after that…those were really cool shirts.
  • Like many of you, I’ve seen some great bands at the Uptown: Soul Asylum when they were Loud Fast Rules, Jeff Waryan & Figures, The Jayhawks, Tetes Noire, the (infamous) X-Boys, the Ernies (!), and of course, The Replacements. On a Monday night in January ’86 my friend Kim, whose husband Casey worked with “the ‘mats” (and sang for the X-Boys) had me meet her at the Uptown several hours before a show by the Placemat’s (if you went early enough and had dinner or just hung, you could avoid cover). I was a little stunned as Paul, Chris and Tommy joined us in the booth for a beer before going on, talking about having to leave for New York in the morning. Five nights later I watched them blow away the audience on Saturday Night Live, drunk, wild and,as it has been said, “sadly beautiful.” Ah, The Replacements.'mats
  • The other Uptown memories are either too blurry or, like the above, lack an appropriate plot-wrapup. I’m just glad I was able to be there when it mattered. Get in there and have one last bloody mary and monster breakfast (best hungover) while you have a chance. 

Peace, dve

My Kind of Town…

24 08 2009


…Chicago is. Moreover: bet’cher bottom dollar you’ll lose the blues in Chicago. That just may be the truth, Judy.



Travel seems often to have a rejuvenating effect, and I’m thinking that’s the case for me after a long, down summer. My wife Josephine and I spent last week in Chicago, the greatest city in America, celebrating our 5th Anniversary.  I recommend a free summer’s eve concert at Millennium Park, a snapshot at “the bean,” and the lattkes at Russian Tea Time.

As to rejuvenation: for the record, this is the 4th (fourth) restart of this blog. Perhaps best not to make any promises about 3 posts a week and so on. I’ve also not been on Facebook in 4 months, barely met my writing comittments, nor returned any of your calls or emails. Depression is evil… It won a round (but will ultimately lose the fight… dammit!).

 So if you’ll just play along, check in occasionally…

Moving on, there is also something about this time of year (and I mean this exact time of year: the last two weeks of August/first two of September) that lifts the spirits. Oh yah, sure, it’s partly the State Fair ya know, but it’s also something else. As one of those nerdy kids who actually wanted to return to school each Fall (having endured summer ymca camp and endless days of nothingness), when those late August crickets start humming in the evening, my mind tunes to the “starting anew” channel…always…even at age 51.


BOOKS: The three-volume set Bob Dylan: Performing Artist by Paul Williams (founder of Crawdaddy…remember?) is a fantastic 1000-page analysis of Bob’s music, but if you don’t have 2 weeks for that, try this: put on 1976’s Desire and let it’s unique sound take over as you think about the fact that this was basically a 2-day jam session. Lot’s more books to tell you about coming up (check back).


AMMO: “Don’t tell me sin is rampant and rife/ think of that man who danced with his wife/ in Chicago.”











Peace/Dale (rejuvenated)



Is There Still A Blog Here?

3 05 2009

A few of you, vast readership, may be old enough to remember a time when this quoteunquote “blog” (in its various forms over 3 years) was posted to regularly, not every two-monthly, as has recently been the case. Maybe you’re even thinking  –in that there are already three-quarters of a billion blogs with little to say out there–  that the owner of this one should either put up or shut up. 

He agrees. 

I’ll forego all excuses here, won’t even tell you I’ve been writing my left hand off, busier every day (a good thing!), and just say: this is it folks…one last attempt at reviving this little alcove off the back hallway (toward the bathroom) of the internet. If, by the end of summer ’09, I’ve not been able to maintain a minimum 3x a week post, then I’ll humbly call it quits, a supposed writer who can’t even maintain a rambling little weblog. Are you familiar with the notion that the worst time to go to restaurant is after the rush, when it is not at all busy? You’ll be served 2 to 3.5 times faster when it’s busy. Well’ that’s my thinking here. I’m now writing for 3 separate web entities (for pay! did you know they did that?) and, while I’m certainly enjoying doing what I was born to do, and being “the boss of me,” as it were, I’ve yet to establish a routine/regime that allows me to meet my goals. Hell, maybe it won’t happen…but I’m giving it what I’ve got. So that’s what will be happening with “Books ‘n Ammo” as well. cityscape_15_by_snagletooth 

And yes, even though this is ostensibly a “lit blog” (obviously a ploy) it will continue to be “about” a little bit of everything. My challenge will be to create a literary tie-in, I guess. 

Like this: read any good books lately? One of the better reads for me of late was The Midwife by Jennifer Worth. Not a title I would have pulled from the shelf, it was sent to me by a publicist (perhaps the best benefit of writing book reviews), and is indeed a tale of midwivery…birthin’ babies. The author was a midwife in London’s poverty-stricken East End in the 1950’s, and she paints a brutal yet beautiful portrait of the cockney folks that were her clients. Read my review (an Editor’s Choice Award winner) and read the book! 

So, what’s with the painting over there Dale?>>>>>>>>>>>>

If you’re looking for photos or art for your endeavors or pursuits, there’s a website called deviant art where folks post there “stuff.” Not all of it is usuable (copyright-wise), but quite a bit is. Not all of it is good, either, but some of it is. I grabbed this one by “snagglepus” because it spoke to me. No, I’m not being facetious…I like it. Thanks snagglepus! Deviantart does charge a nominal one-time membership, and I’m just not sure yet, but I’ve gotten quite a bit of good photography from the site.

Finally, for today, many of you know that I tend to over-apologize, something I’m working on correcting (in fact, screw you all! I couldn’t care less! ….sorry). But in this case, I find it necessary to apologize ( in advance even!) for the fact that I’m going to be bugging many of you with links to this blog and to my articles and so on. Yes I AM! If it really bothers you, either start reading, or email me to stop. otherwise…

While this may seem a nuisance for now, when the novel is published you’ll be able to shrug and nonchalantly tell the guy next to you on the bus (who’s reading the books section) that, yeah, you knew when all he did was write a crappy blog.




The Autobiography of Mark Twain

28 02 2009

Have you ever re-read a book and wondered just where your head was the first time around?  That’s the case with me an ol’ Samuel Clemens here this past week. It wasn’t all that long ago that I read The Autobiography of Mark Twain (or most of it) for an American Lit class at Augsburg College…18 years or so, I guess (I returned to college “late”). But I certainly don’t recall this wonderful book having the effect on me that it has recently. I suppose a combination of factors play into this, including the fact that it was “assigned” and I was likely reading four other books simultaneously…all assigned. 

new_york_world_-_twain  So, since biographies and memoirs and the like are one of my current “beats”, I grabbed the medium-thick Twain autobiography off the shelf, thinking I’d skim parts and perhaps look at my college notes before writing a review for Suite 101. This time, however, I could barely put it down. I’ve always admired Mark Twain for the “great American author” he was, of course, but I wouldn’t call him one of my favorite authors by any means. Now…dang it, more re-reads are on the pile, including Tom Sawyer and Life on the Mississippi. What a guy was Clemens/Twain!  

  This “renaissance man” aspect intrigued me this time around. Besides being a marvelous writer, he was a river-boatman, reporter, lecturer, gold miner, world traveler, friend to presidents, and publisher. But even more so, it was the well-preserved, snapshot-of-America feel to the book, post-civil war, pre-20th century that kept me up late reading. When a writer with the descriptive and story-telling skills of Twain tells of a time, one feels privileged to be hearing it from him. Like sitting with your grandfather, listening to him reminisce. Perhaps I was just ready to listen this time. 

“My autobiography will not be finished until I die.”  –Mark Twain


Cheers, DVE, MplsMN