Buffalo Munch in North Dakota

“Crunch, munch, cIMG_6737runch, munch….”

At the end of a 10 foot length of PVC pipe, a bull buffalo gobbled and licked the lion’s share of the tasty alfalfa pellets we poured down to the paddock he shared with his mate and child.

Here is a link to nearly three minutes of the buffalo family, feasting.

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The Charming and Delightful Larry Lujack

IMG_8900My college era encounter with Larry Lujack was everything I could have hoped for.

Short. Caustic. Mocking.


It came in the visitor’s lobby of the studios of Chicago radio station WCFL.

Two of us from Northwestern’s radio station were there to present Uncle Lar’ a tie in to the WNUR Music Lover’s Guide (a road map to appreciating music in Chicago at live venues and on the air).

Publication editor Rich Nelson arranged a meeting time.

I joined him as the associate editor/writer who had penned the thumbnail sketch about WCFL. In truth, that had really been my opportunity to compliment Larry Lujack. Continue reading

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Day 3 of 4 of JFK Coverage

IMG_8540The “Four Days” surrounding the Kennedy assassination marked the first time that the first draft of history was written as it happened, via live television, with everyone looking on.

In the five decades since, there have been endless attempts to arrive at that final rewrite, one that would wrap the events into some understandable narrative. To answer the question: Why?

The publications started immediately from the wire services (AP and UPI) as well as from such established names as Life magazine – all of which generated the 1963-64 equivalent of “instant books.”

Since then, products of every sort (books, articles, films) have used the opportunity provided by the passage of time to review the events with further reflection, emphasizing different aspects.

Two elements have been particularly striking when reexamined through contemporary eyes. First, tempering the highly praised blanket news coverage that took place across the television spectrum in 1963. Second, considering which murder during those four days held greater implications for the future of the news media.

Back in 2003, I considered those questions in an op-ed piece (which follows) that appeared originally in the Christian Science Monitor under the title “The birth – and maturity – of saturation news coverage.”

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An MST3K Reunion and Celebration @ the MBC

MST3K MBC EventOn Saturday November 16, at Noon, the Museum of Broadcast Communications marked the 25th anniversary of Mystery Science Theater 3000 with a cast reunion and live program celebrating all things MST3K. (Ticket information here.)

The shorthand “MST3K” either brings an instant smile of recognition, or a genuinely puzzled look. For those in the latter group, here’s a quick primer on a 1980s television series that became a true pop culture classic.

Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) offered an irresistible hook: talking back to the screen.

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Nibbles Before the Binge: Sampling Mark Lewisohn’s “Tune In”

Book Spine 946377_588841387844668_861315064_n - CopyEntertainment Weekly (October 18, 2013 issue) included Mark Lewisohn’s The Beatles All These Years: Tune In as part of a “long, longer, longest” photo feature displaying this season’s thick biography book spines side-by-side-by-side. Tackling these is the print equivalent to binge video viewing, demanding extended time and attention.

At 944 pages, Tune In came in at #3, behind bios of Barbara Stanwyck (1056 pages) and Norman Mailer (960 pages). Just wait for Lewisohn’s upcoming “expanded author’s cut” version, which will double lap those first two.

Even at “only” about 1000 pages (give or take a few, in “Paperback Writer” parlance), the standard version of Tune In might appear a bit daunting for some, a strikingly long journey through what might seem a comparatively familiar story.

A further puzzlement would be the realization that this work ends in 1962, long before The Beatles even set foot in the U.S. in February 1964. But that is also the hint that there is more afoot in this “familiar” story.

In advance of publication, there were excerpts from the book published in Great Britain by the Telegraph.  These are highly recommended because they effectively provide a preview of what discoveries await, and offer answers to “Why revisit the story one more time?” and “Could there possibly be that much more to read about?” Continue reading

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At last! After all these years, the Mark Lewisohn Beatles biography (part one)

IMG_7420“The Beatles’ Boswell.”

That’s how the late Ray Coleman, long time editor of the British music weekly Melody Maker, once described Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn.

The comparison to 18th Century writer James Boswell, whose biographical work on Samuel Johnson defined the genre, concisely captured Lewisohn’s dedication to deep, thorough research on one subject: The Beatles.

It was appropriate. Most recently Mark Lewisohn spent the better part of a decade researching and writing what will arguably be the definitive Beatles biography (The Beatles – All These Years, three volumes during the next decade, or so).

Yet in its glibness, such a quick thumbnail almost glosses over details of Lewisohn’s entire body of work. That is especially relevant in understanding why a man who was not there in the inner circle of the 1960s, or watching first hand in Liverpool even earlier, has turned out to be the best-suited chronicler of the Fab Four.

The Beatles – All These Years: Volume One: Tune In, his first biographical volume, is immediately striking by its sheer size (400,000 to 700,000 words, depending on the edition). Appropriate to his research style, Lewisohn explained the length in a clear, measured tone. His key point: opportunities for deeper levels of detail.

In that spirit, even as Mark Lewisohn begins to roll out excerpts of volume one, here are deeper levels of detail on Mark Lewisohn himself, and his own research journey. Tune In is not “merely” the result of years of concentrated research.

The book reflects a Boswell-like lifetime of observations.

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Robert Feder and the Modern Media Madhouse

IMG_8314 - For MediawallyRobert Feder and the Internet have been a perfect match.

Feder has always prided himself on “getting the scoop” and the instant nature of the electronic medium has meant eliminating the delays inherent in newsprint.

Since departing the Chicago Sun-Times Robert Feder has crafted and polished his online presence, from vocalo.org to TimeOut Chicago through Facebook and Twitter.

As RobertFeder.com, his new licensing association with the Chicago Tribune Media Group couples his brand with one of the oldest established media institutions in Chicago.

It would be wise, though, NOT to read this as an easy-to-duplicate template for the journey from Old Media to New. Rather, it is an exceptional arc that might be best explained invoking two names from the past: Roger Ebert and Arthur Brisbane.

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