Friday, April 17, 2020

Coloring Books For A Cause!

It never occurred to me to pick up an Adult Coloring Book before, but a global pandemic quarantine will have you doing a lot of things you've never done before. When my Mom was in a nursing home, her neighbor lady colored in a coloring book all day, every day, and I thought it was really sad. But then all of this happened, pretty much everything is sad, and I heard that Har Mar Superstar (Sean Tillman) and his fiancée, Laura Hauser, had created Coloring Books For A Cause, and suddenly I'm a crazed colorer.

Brainstorming ways that they could help local Minneapolis musicians out of gigs, Tillman and Hauser (a teacher and illustrator) thought about how First Avenue was celebrating its 50th Anniversary, all local musicians have played or hope to play on that storied stage, we're all home going nuts ... how about The Big Coloring Book of First Avenue and the bands who love it, to support them while they're out of work?! A plan was hatched, page were drawn, and the first Coloring Book For A Cause was off to the printers! All in like two weeks. The Twin Cities Music Community Trust is stoked!

So many great Minneapolis bands are in there ... I had a blast coloring Babes In Toyland, especially Lori Barbero's dreads.

Prince is in there, of course, as First Avenue is widely known as the house that Prince built for Purple Rain ... but the truth is he didn't play there all that often, and a zillion other bands have really made it what it is, but the association is there for life. And we're all forever proud of it.

The Replacements ... Hüsker Du .,.. Soul Asylum ... the classic First Ave bands are very well represented.

Newer (to the rest of the world) acts like Lizzo and Nur-D are there too ...

... as well as pages of the club itself for you to go freestyle and fill in however you like. It's weird, but it IS kind of addicting. Like, I get my mom's old roommate now. There's something soothing about it, and there is a satisfaction when you complete a page, as well as a kind of numbing to what's going on around you. I'm a coloring book convert!

And that's a good thing, because they're already on their THIRD Coloring Book For A Cause! There is now The Big Coloring Book of Grumpy's and Palmer's - to benefit the service industry workers currently out of their jobs at those classic Minneapolis bars. There is also now the brand new Dance Party Coloring Book - to benefit Violence Free Minnesota, because there is sadly a lot of domestic violence going on during this pandemic. Color for a cause!

It's catching on too. City Pages put a coloring page on their inside cover, with a totally appropriate phrase for the times:

... And the Star Tribune is releasing weekly coloring pages now, to be in with the cool kids. It's heartwarming to see how quickly these books are being churned out and snatched up, as they really are helping people while they're at it. This virus has done a lot of harm, but we're seeing an awful lot of good come out of it too. People are thinking of creative ways to help each other left and right, and I'm hoping that that will be the lasting legacy of this absolutely insane time in all of our lives around the world. I gotta go finish coloring in Atmosphere to look like Smurfs (Slug asked for it), but order yours and post your pictures, and help out some excellent organizations while you're at it. Thanks!

Order your super cool coloring books HERE.

*PS - I think this is a great idea for clubs and bands and bars all around the world to do! All the local people would get into it. Give it a shot!

Friday, April 10, 2020

Good Friday Hope

I usually say "Great Friday" every year on Good Friday, but I don't feel like that this year. I wrote a story about finding comfort and solace in Wood Lake a week or so ago, and now I think I need a Wood Lake walk more than ever. My older brother, Rich, had a mild stroke on Monday night, and we can't be with him due to the global pandemic, so he has to deal with it all by himself in the hospital surrounded by scared workers and patients. I really am trying so hard to be gnarly and strong and have my chin all the way up, because I know how much more many, many people are suffering, but MAN ... there are moments where I don't even feel like trying anymore. So I look for hope. Like the little tiny blue flowers (Snowdrops!) poking out of the soil after a long winter! I haven't been in Spring in Minnesota for like 25 years, so these are true thrills for me, as well as HOPE that warm, sunny days are fast approaching.

I'm taking an online Yale class about happiness, and it's probably the best time ever to be taking it, because it actually has forced me to focus on what there is to be grateful about, and how I can extend more kindness to people around me.

None of this awful virus stuff was happening, obviously, when the class lectures were filmed, and I'm sure the Professor had no idea how hard her students would soon be struggling to find - and share - that happiness. Yet even amid all this madness ... you can still find it. Trust me. Like, there is a litter of baby kittens in a tree in my neighbor's backyard! Snowdrops and roses and whiskers on kittens ... !

There is an awful lot for me to deal with, much of which I don't speak about publicly, but believe me, it's a lot. But no more than so many people dealing with so much right now, and I keep telling myself that. I keep telling myself that this too shall pass. That there are so many silver linings. That I am SO fortunate, in the whole grand scheme of things. That the grass has turned green, seemingly overnight, and that this shows us all that there is an end to the darkness - another symbol of HOPE.

My family home is across the street from a church called HOPE Presbyterian, so there is a constant reminder of that hope right there. My family's church (Nokomis Heights Lutheran) left a surprise on our doorstep yesterday, which was a luminaria with an electric tealight, asking us to put it out each evening to symbolize HOPE for everyone. We will. And I will keep the hope alive in my own heart, as hard as I can. Please call me on it if you hear of me losing it. And keep on spreading the love, not germs (Window sign made by my precious Mom)!

Happy Easter Weekend to you all. The very weekend meant to symbolize HOPE. Love you.