Fake? Maybe. Fattening, Yes.

As a decade of Barataria approaches, the stories from 10 years ago have a strange relevance.  This piece is dated for two reasons – there are still local newspapers of interest and there is yet to be a staggering facebook phenom.  But the principle is the same.  It’s not that the news is fake as much as it is largely irrelevant.  It might as well be fake.  The devolution over the last decade is staggering – yet it could have been predicted.  I didn’t.  But the point still stands.

How many times have we read the really big story on the front of the newspaper with great interest? How often have we talked about it with our friends and colleagues the next day?

Continue reading

JS Bach, Spiritual Guide

The violinist was hired to play Christmas music in the atrium of Capella Tower in Minneapolis over lunch, but he clearly felt he could add a personal touch. He placed it up above the crowd where it echoed off the glass and marble, the light hand on a single violin piercing consciousness with the Prelude from Partita #3 by JS Bach.

I walked over slowly, bowed my head, closed my eyes, and allowed myself to be transformed. For a moment I wasn’t there or any place with earthly cares – there was this tremendous sound, the man whose craft propelled it into the air, and myself. When he was done I quietly, almost apologetically said what I could. “Thank you.” It wasn’t enough, but it was all I had. His response, equally respectful of the moment, said more. “My pleasure.”

This was a meeting not between any two people but between the two of us who, I am sure, share a religion. It is a sense of spirituality that comes from the gut strings of a fiddle and echoes not just through marble halls but through our hearts and minds every moment we can allow it.

Tuesday, March 21, is the 332nd anniversary of his birth in Eisenach, Germany.  That Bach can reach through the centuries is a measure of how profound his presence as a spiritual guide can be for those of us fortunate enough to have him in our hearts.

Continue reading

Yes, Not Again

In celebration of a decade of Barataria, I have to present another repeat.  This is from March 2008.  It’s an interesting time in that it was six months after the stock market peaked and six months before the financial collapse became obvious.  One of the great themes of Barataria since this time has been how we’ve seen it all before and we’re about to see it again.  The real story here isn’t that I called it at this time – it’s that so few people saw what was obvious as it happened around us.

Imagine that a new technology comes along that spawns a whole new industry. Not only is this industry a revolution in how people lead their lives, it’s immensely popular and generates a big pile of cash. The field starts out wide-open with many small entrepreneurs, but gradually they become rich as they are bought out by a few big players. Soon, the industry has consolidated and re-investment slows dramatically. Those who made big money start to put it into real estate, specifically in Midtown Manhattan, Florida, and Los Angeles.

Continue reading

St Patrick’s Day

I like to re-use this post every St Patrick’s Day as one of my personal favorites.  It has a new meaning this year, sadly.

Good people go to Heaven, but the Celts went everywhere. There isn’t a corner of the globe where you can’t find us if you look hard enough. Nations as far flung as Canada and Australia are largely Celtic in origin, and the majority of those Celts came from Ireland.

Our people have wandered the earth like almost no other, and for one day we all return home with the help of a hyphen. Many of us become Irish-Americans or Irish-Canadians on Saint Patrick’s day when any other day American or Canadian would be enough. We drink up well in pubs, cheer on the bagpipers, and think back to what our ancestors must have gone through to get us where we are.

Continue reading

4 Leaves

In celebration of a decade of Barataria, Mondays are being given over to re-runs from the earliest daze of this blog.  It may surprise you that I was ever this brief, but here is a piece that leads into St Patrick’s Day very well – even if it isn’t quite Spring in Minnesota.

Luck is sometimes where you find it. Or how you look for it.

With the damp arrival of spring over, our park has the first clover of the year peeking out of the ground. They are small and round and tender, not much to work with yet. But it’s good to get a head start on clover season.

Continue reading

Good Season(al Adjustment)

By the time you read this, the big news is likely to be jobs. It hasn’t been a hot topic since the election, and most of what was said during that strange period wasn’t exactly true. The big job gains for February, along with a large round-up for January, make it impossible to ignore.

The economy has definitely turned around.

It’s all over but the shouting, of which there will be a lot. There is little doubt that Republicans will claim credit for a big turnaround in 2017, which will be utter crap. This has been a long time in the making and things have not been actually bad for a long time. Nevermind. Positive news will feed on itself and everyone will be happier.

But there is one final twist to the very good news – it’s really in the adjustment.

Continue reading

Yes, Anything is Possible

As we revisit Barataria’s history approaching the Tenth Anniversary next month, this piece from nine years ago stands out.  You can see that nothing happening now really surprises me, but it certainly does disappoint.  

When I was young, I lived in a time and place where just about anything was possible. It’s amazing just how terrifying that prospect was.

Continue reading