The National Park Service produced a terrific 20-minute film about the St. Croix River two years ago titled “The St. Croix: A Northwoods Journey.” It’s available for viewing at the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway headquarters in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin, and as a loaner DVD from several libraries in the region.
But it has not been available on the Internet … until now! As a citizen who loves the river, I thought I could help and I have taken the liberty of posting it here.
It seems like in this day and age, government agencies ought to make such materials available online, though I understand the bureaucracy and such can be overwhelming. But it is a great flick with beautiful footage of this wonderful river, and unique characters expressing what it is about the St. Croix that is so special. In any case, I think it deserves a wider audience that it is destined to receive with limited physical availability.
(The video is a large file and make take some time to load. Please be patient.)
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I bought my copy of Jack Kerouac’s novel “Big Sur” at City Lights Bookstore when I visited San Francisco in 2006. I then proceeded to read it during a camping trip down to the namesake region of the California coast with my friends Zack and Steve.
It’s a dark book about Kerouac’s struggles with fame and alcohol. In it, he is plagued by hangers-on and wannabes; the “King of the Beatniks” can find no relief in the wake of the publication of “On the Road.” It can be argued that Kerouac never really recovered from the publication of that book and the demons he confronts in “Big Sur” led to his alcoholism-related death in 1969.
My own trip down to Big Sur was more about camping in the redwoods and hiking at a state park than suffering through delirium tremens, but it was poignant to read the book near where it was written. And I heard the song of the crashing waves that Jack famously meditates on in the book.
The film looks like the typical talking head thing, but with some pretty good heads: Tom Waits, Sam Shepard, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti, to name a few. Also, through digging around the film’s website a bit, I learned that the guy who played restaurateur Artie Bucco on The Sopranos is also a Kerouac “interpreter” (he provided voice-over work on the documentary).
Heard some music tonight that took me back a few years, and I started thinking of a short list of songs that stand out from the past decade. Nothing too obscure here, these are just the hits that seem to represent parts of the last 10 years, in quasi-chronological order:
St. Germaine – Rose Rouge
The Strokes – Last Nite
Outkast – Heya
Neko Case – Deep Red Bells
MGMT – Time to Pretend
M.I.A. – Paper Planes
Bon Iver – Skinny Love
Cloud Cult – Everybody Here Is a Cloud
Interestingly, the artist/album that I would say is the biggest stand-out for me from the zeroes is Arcade Fire/Funeral, but that album truly worked best as a single entity and there’s isn’t one single off it that I would pick out for the above list.
I can only wonder now how these songs will endure, and what new sounds the upcoming decade holds. Do you think music reflects the mood of the time in which it is created or more so contributes to that mood? Cause or effect?