Photo of the Week: Mark Ritchie

Mark Ritchie, Minnesota's Secretary of State, works at a stand-up desk terminal in his office in St. Paul. This photo was taken during what is my second-to-last reporting assignment as a correspondent at Capitol Report and Politics in Minnesota, where I have been a contributor since 2008. Is that a hint that I'm looking for something new to do? Indeed it is. Photo: Kevin Featherly

Mark Ritchie, Minnesota’s Secretary of State, works at a stand-up desk terminal in his office in St. Paul. This photo was taken during what is my second-to-last reporting assignment as a correspondent at Capitol Report and Politics in Minnesota, where I have been a contributor since 2008. Is that a hint that I’m looking for something new to do? Indeed it is. Photo: Kevin Featherly

Posted in Journalism, Photography, politics, St. Paul, State Politics | Leave a comment
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Photo of the Week: A United Front

Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidates held a press conference Wednesday to demonstrate party unity in the wake of Tuesday's primary elections. Pictured, left to right are Kurt Zellers, Jeff Johnson, Marty Seifert and Scott Honour. Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, won Tuesday's primary with 30 percent of the vote. He will square off in the race for governor against incumbent DFLer Mark Dayton in the November general election. Photo: Kevin Featherly

Minnesota Republican gubernatorial candidates held a press conference Wednesday to demonstrate party unity in the wake of Tuesday’s primary elections. Pictured left to right are Kurt Zellers, Jeff Johnson, Marty Seifert and Scott Honour. Johnson, a Hennepin County commissioner, won Tuesday’s primary with 30 percent of the vote. He will square off in the race for governor against incumbent DFLer Mark Dayton in the November general election. Photo: Kevin Featherly

Posted in Minnesota Governor, Minnesota Legislature, St. Paul, State Politics | Leave a comment
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‘Michael’

I felt compelled to create a music video tribute to my dear friend Michael Olk, mainly because I wasn’t through with him yet.

I began writing the lyrics to this song literally minutes after I learned Thursday morning that Mike had finally died from the stroke he suffered one week ago today, on June 1. It was a way of coping, I guess. I only put the words to music and recorded it Saturday, then got busy compiling a video presentation.

I could have done a more full and clean arrangement of the song, I suppose, with bass, drums, more carefully enunciated lyrics and whatnot. But I wanted to capture the immediacy of what felt in the moment.

Turns out what I was feeling had a bit of a Dave Mason vibe. I think I can live with that.

We love you so much, Michael Olk.

“Michael,” words and music by Kevin Featherly, performed by Kevin Featherly. © 2014 Kevin Featherly.

Posted in Audio, Folk Music, Friends, Medicine, Video | Leave a comment
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Michael Olk: ‘Thank You’

Michael Olk died Wednesday—almost precisely 24 hours ago at this writing—from a massive stroke.

The brain infarction hit him at roughly 4:30 a.m. on June 1, 2014, while he was being treated at St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, Minn., and it shut down all activity on the affected side of his brain, leaving him unresponsive and comatose. The stroke undoubtedly was a complication from the esophogeal cancer that had already been determined to be terminal.

He lingered until last night. Mike’s death this week, in effect, prevents what would almost certainly have been long, slow slide toward death in hospice care from terminal cancer.

The clip posted above was captured at the Olk Aid benefit at Lee’s Liquor Lounge on Dec. 7, 2013, an event that, coupled with an online donations effort organized by David Wildermuth, raised nearly $5,000 for Mike’s care. In the video, Michael thanks all his friends for their money, love and support.

While he speaks in this segment directly to the people in the room with him, I think it is safe to say that his very loving sentiment would extend to all of his friends and family, whether they were part of Olk Aid or not. Michael had a wide support network, a huge circle of people who loved him.

That is just one measure of the remarkable the life that this man lived.

Posted in Friends, Medicine, Video | 6 Comments
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Michael’s Gone

O brother, sleep ye well.

Michael Olk (1960-2014)

Michael Olk (1960-2014)

Posted in Art, Audio, Folk Music, Friends, Medicine, Popular Culture | Leave a comment
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H&B: Music From a More Permissive Era

My mini-documentary on Adam Levy’s cover band par excellence, H&B, is live online. Big ups to Mike Olk’s magic camera.

The video was made on a very cold night, March 1, 2014, at the Crooked Pint in downtown Minneapolis. It goes a long way toward portraying the combination of musical competence and personal eccentricity that makes H&B a stunning musical experience. Yes, it’s a cover band, which is odd indeed, given that it contains one of the finest songwriters the Twin Cities has ever produced. But you will never see a better cover band.

Need proof? Here you go:

Posted in Audio, Friends, Rock and Roll, Video | Leave a comment
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Photo of the Week: Dreamy, Dreary Minneapolis

A dreamy, dreary, rain-soaked Minneapolis morning, photographed on April 24, 2014, along the Hiawatha bicycle trail near the site of the former Metrodome. Photo by Kevin Featherly.

A dreamy, dreary, rain-soaked Minneapolis morning, photographed on April 24, 2014, along the Hiawatha bicycle trail near the site of the former Metrodome. Photo by Kevin Featherly.

Posted in Art, Minneapolis, Photography | Leave a comment
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Photo of the Week: Honeydog at Work

Trent Norton, the extraordinary bassist of Minneapolis rock band the Honeydogs, helps sketch out some ideas for a forthcoming video mini-documentary that I am working on for one of Trent's side bands, H&B. So what does "H&B" stand for again?

Trent Norton, the extraordinary bassist of Minneapolis rock band the Honeydogs, helps sketch out some ideas for a forthcoming video mini-documentary that I am working on for one of Trent’s side bands, H&B. So what does “H&B” stand for again?

Posted in Audio, Folk Music, Jazz, Rock and Roll, Video | Leave a comment
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The View From the 19th Floor

Mark Siegel, state planning director for the Department of Human Services' health care reform implementation team, is one of Minnesota's key behind-the-scenes players in the rollout of Obamacare. He has also overcome a body that will not cooperate with his mind to become a hipster, writer and logician who runs one of the most in-demand book clubs in the Twin Cities. A remarkable man. Photo by Kevin Featherly.

Mark Siegel, state planning director for the Department of Human Services’ health care reform implementation team, is one of Minnesota’s key behind-the-scenes players in the rollout of Obamacare. He has also overcome a body that will not cooperate with his mind to become a hipster, writer and logician who runs one of the most in-demand book clubs in the Twin Cities. A remarkable man. Photo by Kevin Featherly.

Mark Siegel was given permission to reprint my profile on him for Capitol Report/Politics in Minnesota on his blog, The 19th Floor. Otherwise, it would languish beneath the newspaper’s formidable paywall.

Thought I’d share here what Mark has been permitted to share. It’s the tale of just about the most remarkable man you are ever likely to meet.

Read on: “Mark Siegel: Refusing to be Stopped.”

Posted in Healthcare, Literature, politics, Popular Culture, Science, St. Paul, State Politics, The Internet | Leave a comment
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Beatle Bear

This Beatle bear is not exactly an original creation, but part of a Lynda.com Illustrator CC exercise in using the dreaded pen tool. But I gave him a little extra personality.

This Beatle bear is not exactly an original creation, but part of a Lynda.com Illustrator CC exercise in using the dreaded pen tool. But I gave him a little extra personality.

Posted in Art, Content, Illustration, Rock and Roll | Leave a comment
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