Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Lost in Fargo

The Forum had an article today about the so-called Lost Boys from Sudan who settled in Fargo after years of wandering across Africa and waiting in refugee camps. One of their number has written a book about what they've been through.
Back in 2001, the New York Times Magazine ran a long piece about them called "The Long, Long, Long Road to Fargo." While my conscience won't allow me to reproduce the whole premium access-only article, I'll allow that it has a great lead:

One evening late in January, a 21-year-old named Peter Dut led his two teenage brothers through the brightly lighted corridors of the Minneapolis airport, trying to mask his confusion. Two days before, they had encountered their first light switch and tried their first set of stairs. An aid worker in Nairobi had demonstrated the flush toilet to them -- also the seat belt, the shoelace, the fork. And now they found themselves alone in Minneapolis, three bone-thin African boys confronted by a swirling river of white faces and rolling suitcases, blinking television screens and telephones that rang, inexplicably, from the inside of people's pockets. Here they were, uncertain of even the rug beneath their feet, looking for this place called Gate C31.

Finally, a traveling businessman recognized their uncertainty. ''Where are you flying to?'' he asked kindly, and they told him. The eldest brother, his eyes deeply bloodshot, explained the situation in halting, bookish English. A few days ago, they had left a small mud hut in a blistering hot Kenyan refugee camp, where after walking for hundreds of miles across Sudan they had lived as orphans for the past nine years. They were now headed, with what Peter called ''great wishes,'' to a new home in the U.S.A. ''Where?'' the man asked when Peter Dut said the city's name. ''Fargo? North Dakota? You gotta be kidding me. It's too cold there. You'll never survive it!''

And then he laughed. Peter Dut had no idea why.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

TV Guy Comes to Mott!

Small town is validated through visit by television personality.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Sacred Cows

For the second week in a row, the New York Times food section visits the boonies, this time for the intersection between farming and religion.
We meet organic farmer nuns in New York State, an evangelical South Dakota farmer who raises kosher cattle for Hasidic Jews in Brooklyn, and buried toward the end, a Saudi Arabian businessman in New Rockford raising halal beef for Muslims.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Musical Ambitions

A young music ensemble from Florida sends its leader to Grand Forks to pay the bills. Chung Park is a UND instructor, youth conductor for the Greater Grand Forks Symphony Orchestra and leader of the Project Copernicus, a group of musicians under 30 who specialize in contemporary composers.
According to the Miami Herald, they're beginning to get noticed.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Bison Burgers

An article about the tastiness of bison, but as usual, South Dakota hogs the spotlight. Don't you just hate that? NDSU gets a mention toward the end, though.

Home Again On the Kitchen Range

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Get Out While You're Young

The blog has been on vacation. Apologies for the absence.

Not much in the news lately, so here's a review of Debra Marquart's 2006 memoir of her rebellious youth as a Napoleon farm girl with parents who sound like they were a bit of a bummer. Here's an Amazon.com link, too.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Important Scientific Breakthrough

Drinking wine from North Dakota may ruin your meal. Or more accurately, believing you are drinking wine from North Dakota can ruin your meal, according to a scientific study.

Researchers gave one group of diners wine labeled as a product of California and another group the same wine, but labeled as being from North Dakota. The result was that the group drinking the "North Dakota wine" gave their wine and meals lower marks than the other group. The explanation is that the expectation of getting an inferior experience becomes self-fulfilling.

Let's hope this is too discouraging to North Dakota vintners. But it's all in the mind, right? Or is it all the marketing?

Friday, August 03, 2007

Something Old

A 2003 New York Times article about the unusually long lives of rural North Dakotans:

North Dakota Town's Payoff For Hard Lives Is A Long Life

Three conclusions:

  1. A dull life can be a very long life.
  2. Old German farmers who lived through the Depression, drought, hunger could whip my office-job ass without raising their heart rates.
  3. Canned sausage?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

The Simpsons, a Good Show

TV: The capital of North Dakota is named after what German ruler?
Homer: Hitler!
Marge: Hitler, North Dakota?

Any fan of the Simpsons has seen the name Alf Clausen hundreds of times. He composes and directs the music on the show. And he grew up in Jamestown and graduated from NDSU.

Here's his home page. He's also been interviewed by Terry Gross.
(Also, go see the Simpsons movie. It's great.)