morris mn - We're a community on the grand, seemingly endless prairie of the Upper Midwest. Empty, you might say? It's the epitome of richness, both in the overall environment and the hardy souls who populate. Morris is home to the University of Minnesota-Morris, a small public liberal arts college of distinction.
History-making music group for UMM - morris mn
The UMM men's chorus opened the Minnesota Day program at the 1962 Seattle World's Fair (Century 21 Exposition).
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
"Wonderland" concert at church prompts memories
Assumption Catholic Church, Morris MN
We attended the "Winter Wonderland" concert of the UMM Concert Choir
Saturday night (12/7). I hadn't been in Assumption Church since I left the Morris
newspaper. I used to visit there quite often to cover various things (St. Mary's
Back in the 1980s I took a photo at the church that ended up on the front
of the Diocese newspaper. Father Botz was retiring and was presented with a golf
cart as a gift. He and Father Dressen got in and sped down the main aisle of the
sanctuary. Both grinned widely. What a perfect and appealing feature photo.
These days the Catholic Church seems on the front page of the Star Tribune
nearly every day, for reasons hardly joyful. Even the Morris Catholic Church has
been scarred by the kind of misbehavior that is getting the dubious headlines. I
wasn't blogging at that time. Nor was I blogging at the time the proposed
Stevens County jail, which would have been an addition to our courthouse, was a
focus of community controversy. The courthouse improvement project - a new
courthouse? - did go forward, minus the jail, but at way too much cost and
trouble, IMHO. Technology is steadily reducing the need for bricks and mortar
assets in government. Why did we miss the boat on this?
Why does the Catholic Church keep getting as much support as it does, given
the terrible things that have happened in its name? It's sad because the new
Pope (Francis) is so inspiring and enlightening. He is a breath of fresh air. Now the
Catholic Church needs to get rid of celibacy for priests. I remember discussing
this with a former co-worker, initials H.M., and we concluded that celibacy was
ridiculous on the face of it.
It's hard adjusting from tradition. I have told people that if the harm
done by the Catholic Church is so bad, Catholics could easily just hop on over
to a Lutheran church. Come on, is there really that much difference? Don't you
think you could still get to heaven? Don't you think the sermons would be just
as uplifting? You don't have to like the pastor or even know him on personal
terms. Just go to church. Consider it a weekly "home base" for your life, like a
weekly pep talk, so you can get through all the travails of the coming week.
Re. my travails. . .
In my case, I couldn't take the travails any more. If I had tried to stay
at the Morris Sun Tribune newspaper, I would have aged an additional ten years
by now. But most likely, I wouldn't have even made it. The day would have
arrived when I'd have to just throw up my arms and say "I just can't write five
new feature articles this week. . .I can't find a new article idea for the pork
page. . .I can't achieve perfection in sports coverage because I can't get all
the cooperation I need, or I just run out of time, and even if I do my very
best, there would be voices out in the community calling me every name in the
book, including our family dentist (which actually happened)."
How many of you can relate to the following? Your family dentist, with whom
you thought you were on good terms, writes a letter to the editor of the county
newspaper excoriating you, stating that the sports department is a "miserable
failure," which of course means I'm a miserable failure. Do you possibly know
what that feels like? The Sun Trib had just put out an issue in which I devoted
a half-page of space to cross country - his area of interest - and there were
four or five photos accompanying the article. My critic might say I'm a
horses--t writer, and such language apparently crossed his lips easily - but I
really just did the best I could. I hope Christmas can pierce his
People never understood that I might want to budget a little time for my
personal life once in a while. Our family had to change dentists and at this
point, I became nervous because there were no other dentists to whom we could
flee. We were going to have to establish ourselves as patients there, the
alternative being to go out of town, which considering my aging parents, was not
going to be advisable.
Up until now we have done fine seeing Dr. Jeffrey Hauger and his associate.
The new guy there doesn't see me as a journalist, he sees me as just an
unemployed non-entity. That's advantageous. There are advantages to being
unemployed if you can maintain some sort of safety net.
Ambivilance at Christmastime
I don't know what the long-term future is for me. I can't see myself
working again because I have been too jaded, stunned and discouraged by the
experience. But I'm only 58 years old. So I just don't know. I have never even
dated a woman. On those few occasions when I have tried to break the ice in this
regard, the women react like they are offended. Offended that I would even have
such thoughts. I don't wish to offend anyone.
So I'm left somewhat alone at this stage of my life, trying to
appreciate the Christmas of 2013, with two of our family gone: my father and
dog. Merry Christmas to all. The "Winter Wonderland" concert at Assumption
Church was wonderful. Kudos to the University of Minnesota-Morris concert choir
and director, Dr. Christina Armandarez.
Here's a suggestion: The UMM choir could do one of those "flash mob" things
at Willie's Super Valu sometime when the store is busy. The choir members could
filter in, looking like regular customers. They'd slowly congregate in one part
of the store. There they'd break into joyous song. It could be videotaped and
Last weekend was a busy one for UMM music. On Sunday night we attended the
winter concert of UMM Symphonic Winds (what I used to call "band") and the UMM
Chamber Orchestra. My late father Ralph directed the first UMM orchestra back in
the school's formative days. My parents could have gotten me a babysitter but
they had me hang around rehearsal.
Symphonic Winds is directed by Simon Tillier, with whom our family has
developed special rapport. Perhaps we'll develop a British accent. Simon and my
father were able to shake hands after the last concert my father attended at UMM: the
2012 Homecoming concert.
The Chamber Orchestra is directed by Joel Salvo.
Hey everyone: The University Choir has a concert set Friday, Dec.
13, 7:30 p.m., and it's free. Melissa Hanson directs that group. It's the non-auditioned vocal group (but still very good).
I find it ironic that our public school has an asset like the concert hall
and UMM has nothing comparable. The HFA Recital Hall at UMM seems a little
confining. Unless you have an aisle seat, you must say "excuse me" and have
people stand up to let you in or out.
I wish the concert hall had been built as a shared facility between the
public school and UMM. The two institutions were able to pull this off with the
football stadium. Big Cat Stadium has a scoreboard named for a couple guys
who were sentenced to four years in Federal prison.
The momentum building against the sport of football, for reasons I
shouldn't have to cite here, is steady. The best thing that happens all year at
Big Cat Stadium is the Irondale marching band rehearsing and putting on an
A shared humanities facility between UMM and the public school could be
used year-round. UMM doesn't have a true "concert hall." It has a "recital
hall." Anyway, the music programs at UMM are quite strong. The Concert Choir
used the cavernous space of the Assumption Church sanctuary for the carol
concert. Don't let Bill O'Reilly know we don't use the word "Christmas." He
might send his ambush interviewer, Jesse Watters, out here. "How come you're
ashamed of Christmas?"
Actually, UMM is in position now to get some negative media attention, and
it's because of difficulties with campus media publications. Things get
curiouser with that. On Sunday night when I was at the HFA, I poked around
looking for the new issue of the University Register. I could not find one, nor
could I find one at the Student Center. Mind you, the University Register is not
the problem. The libertarian "Northstar" is the problem. But I see no trace of
either one at UMM now.
I checked again on Monday. Nothing. I have a theory: The UMM administration
has suspended all student publications until a new set of policies can be drawn
up to make sure they behave. If the University Register had come out on Friday,
its main story would probably have been about "Northstar."
Since "Northstar" has become problematic for UMM, the administration just
wants everyone to "zip it," which is the stance the U of M always takes when
controversy brews. I think this policy accelerated after that Gangelhoff/Haskins
thing years ago. The U knows that the media have an instinct to look for
unflattering stuff. As Chuck Todd of MSNBC has said, the media don't go out to
the airport to cover all the successful landings and takeoffs.
Here's what fascinates me: UMM may come out of this mess with the
conclusion that "paper" newspapers on campus are unworkable and unnecessary in
our new age. These troublemakers with "Northstar" can just go online, keep doing
this thing, and get out of our face. We can ignore it. If they commit libel,
which I think they already have, they can be sued. But online, this foolishness
is much easier for all of us to dismiss.
I asked three or four students Sunday night at the HFA if they knew why the
new University Register wasn't out. Not only did they not know a thing about it,
they seemed to indicate they didn't care, like they couldn't care less about any
campus newspaper. I think that spoke volumes.
The UMM chancellor, Jacqueline Johnson, felt the need to submit a letter to
the editor to the town paper dealing with "Northstar." In a crazy twist, two
issues of "Northstar" had been included as inserts (presumably paid) with the
town paper, the Sun Tribune. The newspaper manager devoted a column to the
unpleasantness, and one came away with the impression there's conflict between
the two institutions: the newspaper and the U of M.
With whom should we side? The Fargo-owned Morris newspaper* or our U of
M-Morris and its chancellor, Jacqueline Johnson? Hmmm.
The newspaper manager says "Northstar" is inserted with the Sun Tribune and
that no one at the Sun Tribune has prior knowledge of its content. Chancellor
Johnson says the Northstar is "student speech" and isn't the voice of UMM.
Back when I drove the van for the Sun Tribune and picked up ad circulars, I
was always expected to give a "sample" to Evelyn Baas of the paper staff, and
I'd be reprimanded if I forgot. So, it was common practice for the Sun Tribune
staff to be familiar with contents of inserts/circulars prior to publication.
The Sun Tribune might not want to know what's in Northstar because then
they might have to veto including it, and that would mean a loss of revenue. I
still don't know who's paying for this (to have it inserted). There are
well-heeled right wing interests out and about who pay for this sort of thing,
but they don't like revealing themselves.
I attended the Christmas party of the UMM Retirees Association and
overheard Judy Riley, a UMM retiree, take sides with Sue Dieter, manager of the
newspaper, vs. Chancellor Johnson. I didn't care to hear that.
I would like to encourage all Morrissites to just stop buying the Morris
paper. It could be a free-circulation paper like "Senior Perspective." Why not?
The Morris paper is stuffed with so many ads, why don't the big advertisers
like Menards pay to get the paper in people's hands? Maybe we're being played
Don't buy the paper, and you won't have to worry about "Northstar" getting
into your home, being seen by children etc.
* Forum Communications, owner of the Morris newspaper, recently made a $1
million gift, not to UMM but to Minnesota State University-Moorhead. The money
will create a "center for innovative journalism." A company spokesman said
"Forum Communications Company has enjoyed a strong relationship with Minnesota
State University-Moorhead for many years." So, Morris businesspeople, keep in
mind where your money goes when you buy in to those "sucker ads" in the Morris
paper, you know, when your business gets listed under some nice-sounding
message. Spend your $ more wisely please.