vol 01/issue 02/09’09


Pg 3 . . . . . . . . . . . . .Writer’s Block Pg 3 . . . . . . . . . . . PARK(ing) Day Pg 4 . . . . . . . . . Innovation Village Pg 4 . . . . . . Bootleg(s) of the Week Pg 5 . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Un Viajecito Pg 6 . . . . . . . Dances and Costner Pg 8 . . . . . . . . . . . . . Patrick Hicks Pg 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Local Food Pg 10 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Local Suds Pg 11 . . . . . . . . . . . . Oktoberfest

I was a lover / before this war.


The Peg Leg Update is published under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license. Basically, feel free to reprint anything you see here, but attribute it please. <>

elcome to Issue 2. I’m glad you made it back. A lot of scribbling squirrels have been busy the past few weeks to bring you this edition of The Peg Leg Update. Fitting their output into this issue proved to be quite a task, but we made it. Please forgive our cramped style towards the end. We’ll try and do better next time. The authors’ words that fill the proceeding nine pages struck me as very, very opinionated when I first read them. But even after the editing process - strained eyes, loud music, cups upon cups of MJB glossed each of the stories over, I found each of them remaining unscathed. Each scribe in this issue has something to say, regardless of his or her background. And speaking of “her,” The PLU would like to introduce Kate Wegehaupt, our first female voice of these hallowed pages. She managed to overcome what seemed to be a major case of writer’s block to pen an article on, well...just look at the next page. Stu Ensz visited a nice little party going on in the Union parking lot this past week. A shot and thoughts on that situation rests on page 3 as well. Then the opinions start to flow. ps>flux toured the new innovation apartments on the northeast side of Brookings, and he shares his vision of the future on page 4. Sitting comfortably below that column is the next installment of Bootleg(s) of the Week, with Mike Roe once again gushing over Umphrey’s McGee. Big surprise. I guess that’s what Jake’s fingers can do to you. Kaleb Kroger traveled down to warmer climates this past summer. The guest writer was nice enough to send along his thoughts of sunny expeditions south of the border, and he encourages more people to leave the Midwest for a bit. I know it hurts, but sometimes you gotta do it. If you come to South Dakota, they will write about you. Or so it is with the main subject of Jay Albertson’s article, Kevin Costner. Jay drove up to Aberdeen and attended the South Dakota Film Festival recently, and you can find his synopsis starting on page 6. The next two pages are dedicated mostly to a transcript of a conversation I had with the good Patrick Hicks. We talked at Monks in Sioux Falls, and I think I managed to weave my way through the entire chat without making a fool of myself. I stuttered, sweat a bunch and forgot half the shit I was going to ask him, but I think I escaped with quality stuff. An unsolicited article critiquing our food supply arrived in my inbox about a week ago. Wyatt Urlacher’s writing is terrific, and I immediately knew we should publish his thoughts. They appear on page 10. The subject is especially pertinent in our community - with Chicoine being on Monsanto’s board, attempts at a food co-op taking off and the area’s history of farming traditions, among other considerations - and I plan on writing a supplementary article on this subject in the future. If anyone else out there in reader land would like to voice their opinion on this very touchy topic, feel free. Issue 2 ends with beer, as it should be. ps>flux had a dinner date in the Lucky Dog over in Volga, and his raves sit at the bottom of pages 10 and 11. The literary caboose this time around is once again Ross Bell with his reviews of four different liquid attempts at sharing the joy of Oktoberfest. Thanks for the free beer Roose. I owe you one. About that header here on this introduction: More than 100,000 Iraqi, at least 10,000 Afghan civilians and over 5,000 American soldiers have quit breathing over the past few years. Less importantly, we’ve spent nearly $1 trillion [borrowed] dollars sending our friends, family members and neighbors across the world. If anyone can justifiably explain these things, please let me know. You can have half the third issue to yourself. Bullets constantly fly in those regions we so often forget. Please keep that in mind when you lie safely in your bed tonight. Oh, and enjoy The Peg Leg Update. Mitch LeClair Editor


PLU 09’09

Writer’s Block
by Kate Wegehaupt


am not an author. Good. We got that out there. Now we can both go on our way: me, not worrying about who is reading my venture into the written word, and you not judging too much. I am simply dabbling, a doodler, if you will. Think of the side margins of your biology notes (or Composition 101, for those of you who actually liked science classes), and recall those squiggles, hearts, or whatever you drew when the combination of sleep deprivation and boring classes caused your mind to stray. That’s what I’m doing, but my squiggles have taken on a life of their own, forming words. Like the aforementioned habit, writing is something that, for me, feels natural. However, since the opportunity presented itself to publish my rambles, I’m finding myself facing the dreaded “Writer’s Block.” There’s nothing worse than sitting in front of my laptop, tapping on my keyboard, waiting for something to pop up on the screen. What happened to all of the ideas scratched onto my Bio notes? Why do they suddenly seem ridiculous, intimidating, or scrambled up inside my head? The actual notes make more sense. But my conclusion, at least, is clear: the writer’s block is caused by either too great of expectations, lack of something to write about or simple intimidation. Well, I’m a first time writer for a fledgling magazine, in a town that people think is in

West Dakota (no really, my friend Jen once convinced some Californians that she was from West, not South, Dakota. They didn’t even second-guess her), so it isn’t like I’m expected to write the next Great American Novel. It’s a 600-word feature. And I’m definitely not lacking something to write about. If John Steinbeck, author of The Grapes of Wrath, can write an entire chapter on a turtle crossing a highway, I can do this. Therefore, I conclude that I’m simply going through a period of self-doubt. Will anyone read this article? Will you just skip right over it, onto the beer reviews? Well, if you’ve made it this far, there’s still hope for me. So it’s a simple matter of building up my self-esteem and just finding a topic. I was sitting in Cottonwood the other day, trying to come up with some interesting article ideas. My creative writing teacher says you can write about anything, so my idea list, naturally, was extensive, covering all sorts of worldimpacting issues. A few highlights include: • What is the appeal of arriving late? Why can’t we just make a fashionably early entrance? Am I really that nerdy if I show up on time? • Why do people enter their pets into those pet-race/obstacle course contests? Do they think their pets have a complex? Are they bored?

• Why are corner booths so much less intimidating? • What’s the fascination with asking for people’s telephone numbers? I mean, really? Okay, maybe not material that everybody is interested in. If they crop up in future editions of the Peg Leg, though, you’ll know I’m still stuck in writing limbo. So all I need to be is courageous. The first big step is just going for it. It, meaning, putting something down on a page and sending it off, like a little kid marching off to her first day of kindergarten. It’s rough. But, instead of crying and wanting to go home, I can be like the kindergartener everyone wants to be, the one who eats paint without fear, unashamedly swings on the monkey-bars in a dress and brings her pet lizard in for show-and-tell. Writing, anyway, is just another form of telling, leading to communication. We share our own thoughts, formed from personal experiences, events, ideas and curiosities. We read the thoughts of others, learning how they view the world. Sylvia Plath said, “everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” So here’s to being brave and trying new things. I’m writing. Outside of my biology notes. What are you doing?

PARK(ing) Day
by Stu Ensz


s part of a worldwide effort to raise awareness of lost green space in metropolitan areas, the South Dakota State University Landscape Architecture Club transformed three parking spaces in a main SDSU campus parking lot last Friday, Sept. 18, into a public access park for the day. photo by Stu Ensz Well, at least part of it. The club assembled the park early Friday morning with plants donated by Lowe’s and mulch and sod purchased by the club. Throughout the day, students read the newspaper on a park bench, waited for rides, played bean bag toss and soaked up the wonderful September sun. Two classes were also held in the park. At 2 p.m., university officials asked the club to disassemble the park. PARK(ing) Day began in 2005 throughout San Francisco in an effort to examine how urban space is being used and to make public parks out of metered parking spaces. The PARK(ing) spot was the effort of a club made of 15 students. The club’s president Shannon Fischer was happy with their park and the favorable reactions from students who used the park. Visit for history of the event, more information on the cause and concerns of urban development, and to see pictures of parking spaces from around the world that were transformed into parks, cafes and lounges for a day. 1234567890

Innovation Village: Hit and Miss, Progressively Speaking
by ps>flux


any Brookings residents, especially members of the young or developing professional class, are by now familiar with the new Innovation Village apartment complex, located north of the blues and east of McCrory Gardens. The complex is adjacent to currently undeveloped property owned by the University, which is slated for development into SDSU’s new Innovation Campus. As a young progressive, any project with the title “Innovation” catches my attention, but I was curious: how innovative are these developments on the northeast side of town? At best, one would like to imagine an effort toward building a more sustainable, intellectual community, but from initial examinations, Innovation Village appears to be just one more, albeit classily outfitted, people-box to keep up with Brookings’s ever-expanding housing necessities. The apartment complex features a wide variety of rooms; rent varies in price from $ 740 - $925 a month. There are 13 different styles of one bedroom apartments for prospective renters to choose from, as well as a variety of two bedroom units. The units feel very spacious, and the impression stays consistent through the entirety of the complex. Wide halls and tall doorways work in an overall architectural scheme to make the apartment feel as large inside as possible. The carpet is plush and the decks and siding are smooth

composite, artificial wood that will never decay or splinter. Overall, these units are very luxurious, compared to the standard Brookings apartment. Innovation Village has many amenities for its residents, including a pool and spa, community room for large events, a large patio with grills and a bar, and fitness room. All this design encourages residents to mingle in a community setting not usually available to apartment residents. This element encourages an open, friendly ethos in the 126-room complex. However, as I toured Innovation Village, I felt a little let down. I wanted to be struck with something grandly, impressively innovative. Specifically, one hopes to see green building techniques and environmental sustainability highlighted in a project like this, but little emphasis is readily obvious in the building. Each unit is equipped with individual central air conditioning, and instead of an innovative, environmentally friendly, on-demand water heater, each unit still has its own huge, outdated storage tank. The sprinklers still run daily, even in late September, and with the water and sewage included in the rent, one does not expect residents to be particularly conscience of conserving the resource. The building does, however, have a freshly community-enabling dynamic. The atmosphere, and pricing, is geared for young professionals, specifically ones linked to the

academic community. The layout of the building encourages interaction and socialization between residents, and pets are even allowed one more measure taken to make the place feel as alive and friendly as possible. The proximity to campus should help reduce congestion due to transportation, enabling a cleaner, more open neighborhood. One of the few environmental considerations that has been taken is equipping the building with recycling services – an option not present in many apartments, mobile home courts, or other mass-housing complexes, but for some ill-planned reason, the trash facilities are close enough to the first floor to keep a stretch of the hall subtly trashy-smelling. This situation feels emblematic of the dynamic in these apartments: quality attempts have been made to positively develop the community in an innovative, progressive direction, but there are still major unresolved issues. The area has the potential to be highly congested, verging on over-populated, in three years. A progressive individual automatically responds enthusiastically when institutions and businesses attempt to innovate in reaction to the social, economic, and environmental considerations faced today. Innovation Village is a development hinting at many efforts in the right direction. Hopefully, as this region of Brookings continues to develop, the tendency towards innovation evolves alongside.

Bootleg(s) of the Week
by Mike Roe

2008-04-03 - The Orange Peel - Asheville, NC

Umphrey’s McGee


W ARNING : Put thisallpaperon Theand walkPeel stage onnow if3rd of April, 2008. I’m not sure how This Bootlegsoulsthe Week is sure down away right you don’t want your face melted off. of to please. Umphrey’s McGee left it out Orange that many lucky made their

way to Asheville, N.C., that night, but each and every one of them certainly got their money’s worth and more. Opening with nothing short of an epic “Triple Wide,” the band follows with a somewhat short (5:13) “13 Days,” and a “Tribute to Spinal Shaft” that will certainly blow your brains to smithereens. A solid “Water” and a technically phenomenal “Mulche’s Odyssey” round out the first set. The second set opens with a rocking rendition of Genesis’ “Abacab.” After that, a 33 minute “Der Bluten Kat” that will keep you entertained half the way to Sioux Falls. After a flawless “2nd Self,” the band closes out the night with an immense(21:28) “Hurt Bird Bath” and an extremely heavy “Phil’s Farm” with the coolest Bluegrass-Prog Metal you’re ever going to hear in the middle of it. This show is most definitely a treasure chest, and amidst all the precious stones, gold coins, and various other treasures, the version of “Der Bluten Kat” that Umphrey’s put forth for this show is the kind of treasure that the Goonies left for One-Eyed Willie at the end of the movie. With a couple of clicks and a little bit of down time, you will understand what I’m getting at, so hop on to the inter-web you kids are using and get this show! Tasty listening.


PLU 09’09

Toma Un Viajecito
by Kaleb Kroger


o say that the past three months of my life have been exciting, or great, or whatever other adjective you want to use would be an understatement. It’s a touch difficult for me to convert priceless and unique memories and experiences into tangible words on a piece of paper, but nonetheless I’ll try. I’ll try because I feel it’s important for you to know about the remarkable time I spent in Guatemala and Colombia this past summer. Six weeks in Guatemala is a stretch for some people. Throw in another six weeks in Colombia, and it’s just simply too much. There were times when I felt like leaving both countries weeks before my scheduled departure, but I’m thankful I remained. I would always get homesick midway through the third week in either country, after the novelty wore off. Thank God I was dependent on getting college credits in Guatemala and too poor to ever try and change my ticket back home from Colombia. I’m glad I stayed though, because after some insightful introspection I learned that I was physically and mentally capable of living abroad for significant periods of time. As someone who desires to work abroad as part of a career with the US State Department, it was good to realize that I have this capacity sooner rather than later. My previous international trip to Ireland a few years ago was only for twenty days, and I was surrounded by family and friends the entire time. In contrast, I went to Guatemala only really knowing one other person on the trip, and I went to Colombia by myself to work with a Roman Catholic missionary order called the Messengers of Peace. In Guatemala I spent roughly one hundred

hours in a classroom, one on one with a local Guatemalan teacher. On the weekends our group from SDSU would usually take little trips to go climb volcanoes or visit markets. I didn’t do much sight-seeing in Colombia, however; I spent my time there working and living with a priest and a religious community, serving the poor, working with children, and translating for mission groups that came from the USA. I did make plenty of friends while in both countries, but those friendships were only fortified after a few lonely weeks had passed. Those friendships, both with locals and with my fellow compatriots, are what enabled me to cope with being a few thousand miles from home. I’ve noticed with these trips abroad that anytime a group of people endure something together, something out of the ordinary, strong bonds are begotten. You may be thinking about how exotic and exciting my summer must have been, and I can definitively say that it was both, but undoubtedly my time in Guatemala and Colombia are not defined by having done extraordinary or exotic things. Yes, I climbed a few mountains and volcanoes, relaxed in natural thermal springs and spas and toured ancient Mayan ruins. I won’t fail to mention the awe-inspiring landscapes either, like watching the sunset on Lake Atitlán, one of the biggest and most beautiful lakes in the world. Colombia too, situated in the middle of the northern Andes, is home to some of the most magnificent scenery I’ve ever experienced. What made these excursions worthwhile and memorable though, were not the breath-taking views of Lake Atitlán from the burrito shop in San Pedro or the nine-million-person city of

Bogotá from Montserrate, nor any of the other “big” things I did. What made this summer unforgettable were little things like grabbing a drink with the crew in Guatemala or sitting in the plaza in Villa de Leyva, Colombia, and just chilling. Unforgettable were the meals I shared with my host family in Quetzaltenango and the religious brothers in Colombia. Unforgettable were the American, Guatemalan and Colombian friends I made this summer. Travel has helped to transform my pie-in-the-sky concept of global citizenry into something concrete, and after all, you can’t be cosmopolitan if you’ve never left the country. The wisdom-filled lectures of Dr. Nels Granholm are even more inspiring when you can take the abstract ideas from his class and put them into action when you travel. I realized this summer that our actions, as individuals or as a nation, have concrete ramifications throughout the world. It could be anything, from the Guatemalan coffee you buy at the store (and whether or not your purchase keeps people in poverty or lifts them out of it) to the decision of our country to install new military bases in Colombia (and the national and regional tension it evokes in South America). If you’re looking for a good time and perhaps a little self-indulgence, go to Cancun for spring break. If you want to really develop an appreciation for another culture, learn how your actions here in South Dakota matter outside of our country, and make some lifelong friends in the process, head somewhere else. It doesn’t have to be any specific spot; you just have to be willing to jump in. Once you do, I promise you won’t regret it.

photo by Kaleb Kroger 1234567890

Costner and Dances: Twenty Years Later
by Jay Albertson


h, South Dakota. No matter where this world takes me, my heart will always be in good ol’ So. Dak. South Dakota has downfalls for sure: sparse population, a disgusting amount of Republicans, plains as far as the eye can see, the Corn Palace. Occasionally, the clouds lift on the land of Great Places, Great Faces, and we are treated to the Arts. The South Dakota Film Festival recently came to Aberdeen, and along with it came a man who would seemingly be almost a God amongst our population. He is the white buffalo, a myth to be revered and fawned over. A man whose presence is shockingly normal and average, in spite of his status. Of course, I am talking about none other than Kevin Costner. The screen flickers on in front of a loaded crowd in the Johnson Fine Arts Center, located on the Northern State University campus. Ooo’s, awe’s and applause ebb and peak over the small vignette showing highlights of Kevin Costner’s career. Of course, it ends with the almost sacrificial scene from Dances with Wolves where John Dunbar basically tries to commit suicide by riding his horse, arms open, through a rebel battle field. The screen goes dark, and then from the back of the room, there he is. The crowd happily leaps to their feet and gives Costner a standing ovation. Dressed in a blue sports jacket, jeans and cowboy boots, he walks through the crowd like a guest who just happens to be acquainted with and loved by everyone. He stops and shakes hands and exchanges comments with enthusiastic fans. By the time he reaches the stage, he holds his hand over his heart and gives a few pats to his chest. “My heart feels big,” he smiles and is met with even more applause. Although the crowd may a project a “bigger than life itself ” image about him, he is very humble and down to earth. When the interviewer, Paul Guggenheimer, gives him a slight ribbing over the mullet he sported in the late ‘80s / early ‘90s, Kevin Costner laughs fondly at his poor fashion decision making. But he’s not in South Dakota to take shit over his mullet from Guggenheimer. He is the guest of honor and is there to discuss Dances with Wolves, as it is the 20 year anniversary.

photo by Jay Albertson 1234567890 PLU 09’09

Dances with Wolves won 7 Oscars in 1990, including Best Picture and Best Director. Kevin tells a story about writer and personal friend Michael Blake. Costner says the script spent almost six years as a doorstop in his home before Blake finally convinced him to read it. Costner described himself as an independent filmmaker, as he put up his own money to fund the movie and wouldn’t make changes to appease the distributors. A focus group suggested that he drop the opening scene of the Civil War and the death of the wolf, Two Socks. Costner refused to make the changes, saying it would totally ruin the film and defeat the purpose. Costner goes on to say the meaning of the film is, “Men of goodwill come into conflict, because they don’t have the language to communicate.” The next morning I sit on stage with a small group of people at the Capitol Theater in Aberdeen, waiting to have small Q&A session with Mr. Costner. For whatever reason, the small vignette is played again before Costner comes and takes the stage. He gives advice and tells aspiring filmmakers, “You have to go where the breaks are.” The reason behind filming Dances in South Dakota was that is was extremely cheap. At one point a young lady asks how he responds to criticisms in general. Costner specifically states a situation about McDonald’s. In the mid ‘90s, McDonald’s distributed a select few VHS tapes, among them Dances with Wolves. Costner expresses his outrage, but he could never have prevented it from happening.

Although he was facing accusations that he was clearly trying to profit by using Native Americans, the best he could do was make sure that all the residuals went to the Native American actors from the film. He goes on to say that he is a doer, not an activist. He tried to help give them a voice, but also explains that he is not a spokesperson. His response to criticisms is no response, under the mentality that vehemently says, “That’s not what I’m doing.” It’s only ammo for his critics, and defending himself would only further incriminate him. With this notion, I agree; it’s hard to control how people view a piece of work, and it’s even harder to change how they view that work. He encourages the same mentality amongst the aspiring filmmakers, the idea of ignore your naysayers and continue to work hard. Kevin Costner wasn’t the only highlight of the film festival. Films from all over the world appeared on the big screen at Capitol Theater. Although the main focus was on Great Plains directors, there were films from New Zealand, Spain, Sweden, The United Kingdom and Mozambique. The film festival took part in the Manhattan Short Film Festival, which had ten submissions from such exotic locations. My personal favorite was a movie directed by Sam Donovan, Hammerhead, in which a small boy deals with his parents separating and his mom’s realization of her sexuality, as she is now in a relationship with a woman. Although the movie takes on a serious social and personal situation, it also is

portrayed in a humorous manner, with the impish, mischievous nature of a small child. But not all films were as serious as Hammerhead. The short film GOLD, which was directed by Michael Stromenger, takes jabs at conventions of surprise endings, such as “it was all a dream” or “the protagonist and the antagonist are actually the same person.” Although I found it hilarious, one the films shown shortly after GOLD actually employed such tactics. One can imagine Stromenger’s humor was lost on the mocked creators. South Dakota State University had a few filmmakers representing the area. Kellin Johnson’s The Hill was shown, as so was Brent Clouser’s The Haunt. One of the best feature length films shown was the documentary Anvil! The Story of Anvil. A movie about the 1980’s metal group “Anvil,” the movie dives into the group’s history, influence in the music industry and its failure to achieve the success of its contemporaries. This movie follows the band members as they try to get to rock star status. The film has interviews with Lars Ulrich, Slash and other rockers. One movie that I have to suggest was made by the production company Blue Tongue Films. Last year they brought Spider, and this year Miracle Fish, in which a young boy spends his 8th birthday being teased by his peers. After sneaking off to a sick bay he wishes everyone would go away. He falls asleep and wakes up to find out that he may have gotten his wish. These movies and other works can be seen on

photo by Jay Albertson 1234567890

Patrick Hicks: The Peg Leg Interview
by Mitch LeClair


n September 19, I had the opportunity to take a mid-afternoon drive down I-29 and spend almost an hour talking to a writer-in-residence from Augustana College. After a swing through the old Ernie November, where I bought Steely Dan’s Aja for $5, I met Patrick Hicks at Monks House of Ale Repute in downtown Sioux Falls. I found Patrick to be a complex guy. He’s lived in many different countries, yet his soul still seems to be firmly rooted in eastern Minnesota. Maybe it was the Surly Furious ale resting in my stomach, but by the time I said goodbye to Patrick a few minutes past 7 p.m., I felt like I had made a friend - though this could just have been a sly marketing attempt on his part. However, his smiles didn’t seem mischevious, and he told me he’s a fan of Rush, so I think I can trust him. PLU: Christine [Stewart-Nuñez, professor of English at SDSU] borrowed me a copy of your new book [Finding the Gossamer]. How long ago did this come out? HICKS: ’08, ’08. In the summer. I think June. PLU: And right now you’re working on a prose book, correct? HICKS: That is correct. My second book collection is done, and it will be coming out in 2011. So that’s nice, I’ve been able to sort of put that manuscript to bed, so that will be out in about a year and a half time. But yeah, now I’m working on a novel. Matter of fact, that’s what I was working on just before I came here. PLU: I was on the Bush Foundation website [ed: the Foundation recently granted Hicks a $4,100 grant to study in Europe for his novel], and they said it was Newgrange. Is that the name of it? HICKS: That was when I applied. The name has changed, and it’s now Juniper Falls. PLU: Did you already travel to Europe to do research for it? HICKS: I haven’t. I’m going in January. That’s when I’ll be taking off, and I’ll be going to Poland, specifically to Kraków, first two weeks of January. PLU: In “Winter Count” [a poem from Hicks’ Finding the Gossamer] you say, “but when these

winter coats are read backwards, the buffalo multiply / prairie schooners are driven away” and in “Not Springing Forward [In Barcelona]” you say, “M-16s suck bullets from the resurrected.” I really enjoyed that, that device, that reversal of time. HICKS: Thank you. PLU: Is that something you came up with on your own, or did you recognize it in other poets and apply it? HICKS: No, that was something I came up with on my own, I guess. But you have to wonder where ideas come from anyway. But with “Not Springing Forward in Barcelona,” I got the idea, what would time look like if it sort of went backwards. I had a lot of fun writing that poem. It went through a lot of drafts. I would guess about 50 drafts before I was happy with it. But, I had an awful lot of fun writing that, and I discovered, I mean history is very beautiful if we look at it in reverse. You could have people marching out of the gas chambers and going back home. I mean that’s very beautiful. PLU: Do you use Facebook, Skype, anything like that? HICKS: Here’s the interesting thing, Mitch. I did a reading earlier this week, and for the first time in my life I had people coming up, and they said some very nice things about my writing, which is always very humbling. And then, what they said next, which kind of surprised me, they wanted to become my friends on Facebook. I do have a Facebook account. I check it once a month, intentionally only once a month, because I see it as a necessary evil. But that’s never happened to me before, where people want to be my Facebook friends, just because they saw me read. That’s very strange to me. PLU: [After a mention of his work appearing in National Catholic Reporter] What religion do you practice? HICKS: I don’t. I was raised Catholic. I like to call myself part of the Catholic alumni. PLU: It seems like you still have a really large respect for the traditions of the church. HICKS: I do, I do. It’s not that I’m trying to be obtuse here. I’m trying to figure out what my full theological beliefs are. The short

version is, I’m more inclined to believe in something bigger than myself, but I’m not convinced that deity speaks the language of this religion, or this religion. So I respect the traditions of Catholicism, because it’s my past. [Pause] Let me start over. PLU: [Laughs] HICKS: I was born speaking American English. I love American English, but I also appreciate British English. All the other languages work to communicate. American English is always going to be my mother tongue, but I’m aware that there are these other languages that work just fine out there as well. PLU: A couple poems in your book deal with your wife, especially “Waiting for my Wife on a December Evening.” It reminded me of my girlfriend I’ve had for a few years. It’s a really warm poem. It’s really tense, but really warm then at the ending. When I mention your wife, what things come to your mind? HICKS: [Smiling] Wow. There’s a whole topography of emotions there. She’s my best friend, she’s obviously my wife, and we get along. Some people would say we have a storybook sort of love. But like any other married couple, we bicker and fight and get disappointed with each other, and we pick each other up. I recognize that she’s a recurring character in this particular collection. Someone pointed out to me once in an interview just how frequently my wife comes up, and also my father. That wasn’t intentional, I guess it’s just…[Pause] I’m not sure why they’re in there. I love them very much, so I guess they just appear. They’re part of the landscape of my life, and I want to write about the most important parts of that landscape. PLU: Well, we’re sitting in Monks. It’s developed a little bit of a reputation in the area. If you want good beer, you come here. We do some beer review type in our issues [giving Hicks Issue 1 of The Peg Leg Update]. I was just wondering what kind of a beer drinker you are. HICKS: Do you brew your own beer then, or? PLU: No, I don’t. One of my former roommates did once, and we ended up using it to cook bratwursts in, because that’s about how good it tasted. Do you homebrew at all?


PLU 09’09

HICKS: No, I don’t, but I’m fortunate enough that I’ve got a number of my friends at Augustana that do. Whenever there’s a party, they always bring a keg of whatever it is they made. I have sort of a saying that I go by. Life is too short to drink cheap beer. And I like to try new beers, but I tend to favor English and Irish beers, obviously. I like German beers. As far as I’m concerned, if God is a beer drinker, he drinks only Belgian beers. Those people really know how to make quality beer. PLU: [Pointing at Hicks’ drink] What did you order there? HICKS: This was a Surly something or other, it’s a Minnesota brewery. I like to support the local breweries whenever I possibly can, because that’s a hard road they’re trying to hoe. HICKS: If you are going to write about the kind of beer that I like, I might as well say this. It’s like a total advertisement, but I’m really attached to this. It’s called Liftbridge. It’s a brewing company, and it’s out of my hometown of Stillwater, Minnesota, and they guy that started it went to Saint John’s. I’ve never met him, but the fact that we share the same hometown and the same university, how could I not like what they’re doing? And they’re good brewers, so Liftbridge Brewery in Stillwater. Whenever I go up to the cities, I always try to bring back at least six or 12 of those. PLU: In the poem “At the Telephone Museum in Prarietown, Minnesota”… First of all, is Prarietown, Minnesota, a real town? HICKS: No, I totally made that up. This is the telephone museum in Mountain Lake, Minnesota. But I just thought “mountain lake,” that was not capturing the idea that I wanted, so I just made up a town. PLU: You write of the talk that once flowed in the telephones and in the lines, the “missing at Iwo Jima.” In other poems you mention Vietnam, and I did read an interview you did with O’Brien...I can’t remember his first name. HICKS: Tim? PLU: Yeah. And the one poem in there [Finding the Gossamer] about 9/11 I really felt like I could relate to on some different levels, but from a lot of what I’ve seen, you don’t mention much the Iraq or Afghanistan wars. How do you think the chatter in the phones has changed since the ‘40s, the talk of Iwo Jima, do you think people these days talk about the wars going on right now, or how do you think the public’s perception of the wars is? Even from a literal standpoint, I mean a literary standpoint.

HICKS: It’s a painful question, because I’m forced to give this answer. I think that this country is just weary, and I think we’re tired of talking about it. Which is not fair. I mean, we’re asking our sons and daughters to go and put their hides on the line, but we don’t seem to care. I don’t quite understand this. We say, yes, go there, do this for us, but at the same time there’s this indifference towards the war. And I’m as guilty as anyone else. You can only take so much of this. I was a very outspoken opponent of the Iraq war before it started, and I only have so much bile for the Bush administration, so I just feel like, oh thank God, he’s out of power. It just seems like we’re in limbo right now, because we’re pulling back from Iraq, and I don’t think people want to talk about it right now. PLU: Well, and yeah, we’re pulling out of Iraq, and sending more troops to Afghanistan. It’s going to be 67/68,000 by the end of the year. It seems like it’s not in the news very much, and I think part of that has to do with the media’s kind of acceptance to following the orders that come down from both the Bush and now Obama administrations, that, you can’t, you can’t show that. HICKS: And more importantly, and this just blows my mind, my country does this all the time, just marches into a country and has no idea what the culture is all about, and sort of figures it out while we’re there. We just bungle this up, time after time. I find it really repulsive. You can tell that my, my blood is just flowing on this. I find it repulsive, and disgusting, that we care so little about the cultures that we are going into. I mean, no one knows anything about Iraqis’ culture. We’re perfectly happy killing these people, but I think that we, at least, should try to figure out a little bit more about their history, and the way they think. I think in the end, it would be better for everyone, all around. Because now we are as tied to Iraq as we are to Vietnam. There are guys walking around right now that, they’re in Vietnam every day. And [snapping his fingers] then something happens, and they’re back there. PLU: Kinda getting back more towards literary things, are there any modern poets that are really sticking their necks out there and talking about the war, in your eyes? HICKS: Oh, absolutely, and I’m proud to say he’s a friend of mine as well. His name is Brian Turner. His first collection is Here, Bullet. And I think, Christine told me that someone is teaching that up at SDSU. Brian served in

Iraq, and he wrote poems. He’d finish his tour, get out of the Humvee, go into the barracks and write poetry with one of those little flashlights so he wouldn’t wake up the other guys. And Brian has asked some very difficult questions of our self, as a nation, and he is a phenomenal poet. I’m really impressed at the work that he does, and it’s my good fortune that he’s also a friend. PLU: Well…I’m pretty much out of questions. HICKS: Okay. PLU: [Pause] When were you born? HICKS: When was I born? PLU: Yeah. HICKS: ’70. PLU: 1970. Okay. I was just wondering how old you were. HICKS: 39. PLU: 39. I couldn’t find it anywhere. HICKS: [Laughing] Well one of the things, there is a poem I’m going to write about at some point in time, do you know Apollo 13? You know, the rocket that took off for the moon, and did you see that movie? PLU: Yeah, the one that went around… HICKS: Right. And from a very young age, I’ve always been sort of fascinated with the Apollo program, and the reason I’m telling you this, is one of these days I want to write a poem, because when Apollo 13 lifted off, I wasn’t here. I was born while that mess was happening, and they came back, and I was here. There’s something I find very powerful about that, that idea that these three men lifted off, and I wasn’t on the earth, and they came down, and they were safe, and I was here. But I haven’t quite worked out what I’m going to do with that. I find that absolutely fascinating that my mother gave birth while these three guys, they could’ve been very close to dying. I returned to Brookings, and it took me one hour to transcribe little more than eleven minutes of our chat. After that hour, I reevaluated whatever the hell it was I was trying to accomplish and decided to pick and choose some select exchanges with the poet. I deleted insignificant utterances, but what is printed is basically a straight copy of our exhange. On October 5, Patrick will travel to the SDSU student union and read from his latest poetry collection Finding the Gossamer, published by the Irish publisher Salmon Poetry in 2008. He’s a terrific writer, and from what I could tell, a great guy. I recommend the event to all. 1234567890

2009: The Local Foods Movement Goes Mainstream
by Wyatt Urlacher


hy should I care where my food comes from?” Whenever I hear this question, I find myself at a loss for words. Not because I don’t have a good response, but because there are so many reasons—important, morally compelling reasons—that it’s difficult to know just where to begin any sort of orderly explanation. America’s industrial food system, from which many of us consume 100 percent of our total calories, is broken. This is no longer considered a fringe notion. Even in mainstream media outlets, the idea is gaining momentum— a fact reinforced by a recent cover story in Time magazine entitled “Getting Real about the High Cost of Cheap Food.” In it, author Bryan Walsh kicks off his scathing assessment of our current system with the opening, “somewhere in Iowa, a pig is being raised in a confined pen, packed in so tightly with other swine that their curly tails have been chopped off so they won’t bite one another.” He goes on to describe the use of antibiotics giving rise to scary strains of superbugs; manure lagoons that “blanket neighboring communities with air pollution and a stomach-churning stench;” and a direct indictment of top-soildepleting American corn that was “grown with the help of government subsidies and millions of tons of chemical fertilizer.” What Walsh is talking about is nothing new—just pick up a copy of Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma to get a comprehensive, tour de force critique of American food production. But what is new is the fact that this sort of language is being tossed around inside the pages of Time magazine, a publication which doesn’t have the best track record when it comes to tackling controversial subjects, especially ones with powerful multinational backers like Monsanto, Cargill and Tyson Foods. The fact that Time is willing to stick their hand into such a hornet’s nest is more a testament to the growing strength of the local foods

movement than to any newfound journalistic respectability on their part. Indeed, for people who want to see real change in American agriculture, the past year has been nothing less than a series of long strides in right direction. Take, for example, the documentary Food Inc. The film, which played in theaters all over the country last summer, highlights the interconnectedness of problems associated with America’s industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers’ rights—from the global food crisis to diet-related problems like obesity and diabetes that are crippling our economy. If the fact that theaters across the country are willing to show such a politically controversial flick signals something of a sea change, then news that Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack agreed to attend a private screening with film maker Robert Kenner equates to something more along the lines of a tidal wave. That’s because for as long as most of us can remember, Big Ag and Big Government have had a pretty cozy relationship (for proof one needs look no further than the revolving door between Monsanto’s board of directors and the FDA). But in the age of Obama, there may be cause for optimism among local food advocates. Aside from Vilsack’s willingness to attend a screening of Food Inc., there has been an explosion of headlines in the past year suggesting the administration may be ready to push for reform. Perhaps it all started with Michelle Obama’s kitchen garden. Since moving into the White House, the First Lady has apparently decided to make food her number one issue, even pushing for a farmer’s market in front of the White House (the District of Columbia recently approved the idea and the first market was held last week). Then there was the announcement in August that the Department of Justice will begin an antitrust investigation into ways that

competition is restricted in agricultural markets, from the sale of seed to the ownership and control over grocery-store shelves—something the Bush Administration wouldn’t have touched with a ten foot cattle prod. And finally, this week the USDA will unveil their “Know Your Farmer, Know Your Food” initiative—which local foods pioneer Ken Meter has described as “part of a bigger shift that America is going to need to make—to focus on food, people, and communities, rather than primarily on commodities.” What does all of this mean? Well, if I had to wager a guess, I would base it on history. And history teaches us that certain social movements—the ones that reach a crucial tipping point in American culture—tend to become bigger than even the people involved in them can imagine. It happens suddenly, as if one morning society wakes up to a new reality. Whether or not this will happen with the local foods movement remains to be seen, but recent events are encouraging. From here, it’s easy to imagine a future where the question “Why should I care where my food comes from?” will be replaced with “How can you not know where your food comes from?” Of course, the headlines only tell half the story. Aside from the White House press releases, big-screen documentaries, cover stories in national magazines, and the growing popularity of food authors like Michael Pollan and Marion Nestle, there is something else bubbling beneath the surface. There is a grassroots consumer movement taking place in America, in South Dakota, in Brookings. It comes from people’s desire to build up their local economies, to improve their environment and to provide their families with healthy, delicious food. It comes from all of us deciding to take a stand against corporate interests who put profits above our health. And it comes from a deep and sincere hope that safe, healthy, sustainable food will still be available for our children to enjoy.

Local Suds, Number 2: Volga
by ps>flux


arrison Keillor characterized the Midwestern ethos towards spending money like this: “Oh, I think you can do without that. Your words come back to me when I look at a new sportcoat. Good Scottish tweed, it costs $130, and when I try it on, it makes me feel smart and lucky and substantial, but you’re right, I can do without it, and so I will. You can get a perfectly good one at Sears for half the price. If I bought the $130 one, pride would leak in and rot my heart. Who do I think I am?” This train of thought should feel familiar to South Dakotans. I, for one, always enjoy a purchase more if I didn’t spend a lot of money on it. This way, the guilt doesn’t cloud my appreciation of whatever pleasure said product might give. It is partly this spirit that inspires me to write the “Local Suds” series. I love eating and drinking in little towns because the business has priced their items to appeal to rural, small-town folks – exactly the types that, like me, know how much their personal happiness is not worth. In this spirit, allow me to tell you of an excellent place to have a meal and catch a buzz at the kind of price that even a Lutheran farmer might suppose is alright once in a while. The Lucky Dog Casino & Pub is located in Volga, SD, a short five-mile jaunt west of Brookings. My companion and I visited the bar on a Wednesday night. We showed up with a huge appetite, and The Lucky Dog’s kitchen staff completely took care of us. A juicy cheeseburger and double-size heap of crosscut fries cost only four dollars, and the quality of LD food appears to be consistently excellent. One can judge a lot about the legitness of a place’s bar-food by the buffalo wings, and the Lucky Dog has this culinary art mastered. The wings were uniformly saucy and flavorful but not too messy.


PLU 09’09

The Oktoberfest Challenge
by Ross Bell


he leaves are changing colors, and the moon rises orange. The autumnal equinox has passed; it’s officially fall. The season leading up to winter is one of my favorite times of the year for several reasons. The main reason, however, is because of something that began during the spring season - that is the brewing of Märzen style beers! For a short few months we get to enjoy these wonderful beers until we are left to wait until next season once again. I guess I have some explaining to do. Märzenbier, or Oktoberfests, originated in Bavaria around the 15th century. The name “märzen” comes from the German word for March, which is when märzenbiers are typically brewed. The reason for this is that märzen style beers are lagers. Now, it would take a whole article to explain the difference between ales and lagers, but for the sake of history and this article, I will make only two points. Lagers ferment at lower temperatures than do ales. Lagers also typically take longer to ferment. The reason why these beers were brewed in March was so that they could be aged in caves and ice could still be taken from rivers and placed in the caves, keeping the cave cool for months. Ah, now it all makes sense. Märzen style beers are the color of the rising harvest moon. They are malty in character with little hops and a dry finish. They typically have an alcohol by volume of around 4.5% to 6%. Did I mention that they are delicious? They are delicious! Many breweries around the world brew this lager in the traditional manner around March to be enjoyed throughout September and October. Communities around the world, generally of German heritage, also have celebrations under the same name, Oktoberfest. The fall season is a wonderful time of the year in the beer world. Unfortunately for me, the Fall season brings a stuffy nose due to pesky weeds that are

native to the prairie. For this reason I invited Mitch LeClair, a fellow beer loving comrade, to help compare four different Oktoberfests with me. The four beers are as follows: Beck’s Oktoberfest, Sam Adams Octoberfest, Leinenkugel’s Oktoberfest, and August Schell Octoberfest. Beck’s is German, while the latter three are American breweries. I think it is also important to mention that August Schell brewing was founded by Germans and continues embrace German culture with great pride. All four beers had that wonderful burnt orange color that is typical of Märzen style beers. With the exception of the Leinenkugel’s, the beers had a nice malty mouth feel. They were not too thin, but nowhere near chewy. Leinenkugel’s seemed a little watered down, which was even evident by looks alone. Trying to sniff out subtleties in lagers has always been difficult for me, especially when there is pollen in the air. All four beers smelled like a lager. For the lack of a better example, think of what a Budweiser smells like. Becks, Sam Adams, and Schells all had a little more to their scent. A nice roasted malt scent mixed in with that lagery smell. Leinenkugel’s actually did smell just like a Budweiser. Onto the taste. To put it simply, they all tasted like Oktoberfests. Big surprise. Roasted and balanced malts were evident with all four beers. The weakest tasting of the four was the Leinenkugel’s. It lacked depth and could have used more malts. The Bronze medal goes to Sam Adams. With the highest ABV at 5.7%, I could taste the booze. The finish is abrupt, leaving me hanging. The number two spot goes to Schells. Our palettes detected more of a biscuity roasted malt flavor. The finish is smooth and delicate, a solid brew for sure.

By process of elimination, I’m sure you have figured out that the winner of the Oktoberfest Challenge is Beck’s. Beck’s Oktoberfest is rich and flavorful with an exceptional finish. I would be happy with this beer on any occasion. [ed: I agree with Mr. Bellington. The first sip of Beck’s brought me back a few months to my experience of enjoying a large lager with a newfound friend named Ben in Berlin. That particular beer in May tasted wonderful over a traditional South German plate of macaroni, and I think that Beck’s Oktoberfest would made a wonderful addition to any autumnal meal.] The reason I chose these four beers was because they were the only märzen style beers available in Brookings at the time. Now there are at least four more. I’m sure they are all quite good, maybe even better than the ones I talked about here. So go to an establishment that sells beer and build your own six pack. I highly doubt you will be dissatisfied.

photo by Mitch LeClair

I made it through the plate on only two napkins. The wings consist of good, real chicken meat that comes off all together, half the wing at a time, saving the eater the work of jamming his tongue between the two bones for the last pieces of meat. These were some of the larger wings I have encountered in my long history of enjoying the dish, and the cooks know how to make them really, really spicy when you ask for it – not something one can count on in the pansy-palleted Midwest. A visitor immediately feels comfortable in the Lucky Dog. You don’t have to be special to fit in here; in fact you could probably be below average and still pull it off, but the pub harnesses a small-town, come-as-you-are appeal with a cleanness and spaciousness not always present in these types of establishments. My dinner companion appreciated the fact that meals were served on real dishes instead of plastic; some patrons smoked, but the atmosphere was not choking, and the video lottery machines were refreshingly empty. As the evening went on, the establishment filled to a surprising size for a weeknight in a town this size. My companion and I felt good in enjoyable company. The only poor grade I have for the Lucky Dog goes for Bloody Mary-making skills. The beverage was not spicy or tomatoe-y enough to compensate for the heavy presence of vodka. I love burnt drinks, but want a Vitamin-C-laced vegetable pizzaz to disguise it thoroughly; all I got from the Dog’s Mary was season salt. The bartender compensated for herself, however, when I asked her to surprise me. She came back with a, to me previously unknown, drink called The Grateful Dead. I believe I saw her dump vodka, triple sec, white and gold tequila, rum and gin into the tall glass before a splash of sour mix. The drink gets its name from the final addition – a shot of raspberry sour that filters through the glowing, yellow drink in a trippy tie-die cloud. The Dog serves good, cheap drinks alongside the priced-to-move food – we had two meals, an order of Lost Dog: buffalo wings, three tall taps and two mixed drinks for 29 bucks. Beat that Cubby’s. 3 legged. Blind in one eye. A sign on the wall of the Lucky Dog quasi-philosophizes its way towards explaining the establishment’s flavor: Missing left ear. Broken tail. I hope you take the time to appreciate the Zen of the Lucky Dog. Load your stomach up with some Recently castrated. crispy bar-food and enjoy the combination of a Grateful Dead and a menthol cigarette. Answers to ‘Lucky.’ If you like, pet the big stone dogs relaxing in the corners of the rooms – my favorite is the English Bulldog, although the alert Rottweiler is a close second. Here in Volga, 1234567890 any old hound can come out and have a good night.