Author, blogger, journalist, artist, Ed Newman has interviewed some of our favorite celebrities, including Kurt Vonnegut, Jonathan Winters, Buddy Holly, mass protests in the ’70s, and more! These are stories you have never heard before. And they are straight from a person who was there! Sit for a moment and listen in as OWC host, Cirina Catania talks with Ed about some of his most interesting experiences.
In This Episode
- 00:08 – Cirina introduces Ed Newman, an author, blogger, journalist, and artist.
- 06:30 – Cirina and Ed talk about how Kurt Vonnegut was a fascinating and intuitive man.
- 13:15 – Ed shares the turning point in life when he felt he wanted to be a writer back in his younger years.
- 19:32 – Ed and Cirina talk about how they met Riki McManus, director of the Upper MN Film Office.
- 25:06 – Ed tells the story of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, J.P “Big Bopper” Richardson’s tragic plane crash.
- 32:28 – Ed shares how he hitchhiked to the 1971 Mayday Anti War Protest
- 38:05 – Ed describes how the protest started and how the organizers planned for it to be a nonviolent protest.
- 43:46 – Ed talks about the chaos and how the police ended up arresting 14,000 people over the two days of the protest.
- 50:22 – Ed shares a book he read, Cold War’s Killing Fields, about the horrible things that have happened to civilians.
- 55:11 – Visit Ed Newman’s blog, Ennyman’s Territory at pioneerproductions.blogspot.com, to learn more about him.
This is Cirina Catania with OWC Radio. And I am talking with Ed Newman, who is an author, a blogger, an artist, and one of the most entertaining and informed people I’ve spoken within a long time. I met him through my connections in Duluth when I was recently working on the two-day master workshop on filmmaking that we were doing. And Ed and I started talking on the phone the other day, and he was telling me, Ed, I gotta say you have some interesting stories.
I have had a lot of interesting experiences, and you haven’t heard a piece of it. Thank you for having me on your show. This is great.
It’s fun. I think you blew me away when you said you had interviewed Kurt Vonnegut. Did you interview him?
Yeah, It was by telephone. It was set up, I guess. When you interview lots of people over a period of time, you learn a few things. One of them is always to be punctual. But it was a lot of fun. I started by pitching a story to screen printing magazine, about Jonathan Winters as an artist. Most people know him as a comedian. And so they weren’t that interested. But then I pitched a story on Joe Pietro, the Kentucky screen printer who actually did Jonathan Winters’ part. And he had done Kurt Vonnegut and Ralph Steadman. And so I got in the inside, basically, to access to all these people and it was really fun. When I called Kurt Vonnegut, he was sitting at home watching Sunday afternoon football, New York Giants. Like any guy, who’s into football. So anyway, it was really rewarding.Intuitiveness is such a great gift. Not many have it and it's so special once you’ve been bestowed with it. Keep harnessing that blessing. Click To Tweet
So talk to me about him as an artist.
Well, he had gone to give a lecture in Lexington, Kentucky. And Joe Pietro was the one who was doing posters for this, which is how they got to publicize speakers. And so he basically interacted with Mr. Vonnegut, and one thing led to another, and the next thing they were friends, and he was illustrating a lot of Kurt Vonnegut’s art. Just like some of his stories, as you know, there’s a humorous side underneath. And some of the artwork was that way, too.
I just really admire his work. I wish we had visuals, and we could show people, maybe we’ll do a print version of this, so we could put some of this up. What was your takeaway when you talked with him?
My take away from him? Oh, gosh, he was very perceptive. I kind of tried to build a bridge with him and said that I had read all his books when I was in college and all of his books and Hermann Hesse‘s books. And his response to me was, “You must have been lonely.” And I had a list of questions I wanted to ask, but while I was talking to him, my head was going like, “Was I lonely? Am I lonely?” What he said was, “You must be lonely,” as the present tense, that I will be so into Hesse. But anyway, it was fun. We went in different directions, but the interview with Jonathan Winters is the one that really was amazing to me. And he, as you know, he has all these different personalities, and he would become all those personalities while talking to me. So he would tell stories, and then they become these different people. And there was nobody over his shoulder saying, “You can’t put that line there. You can’t use that color here.”
Can you actually pick something that you remember that he painted? So if Jonathan Winters was this artist, what kind of stuff was he painting? Can you describe it?
So I have a book here, it’s called Hang-Ups: Paintings by Jonathan Winters. You can go online on Amazon. I’m sure it’s still there. But like one of them shows a little colorful little village with four colors and the trees and all these bombs falling in a red sun, but a lot of his stuff was influenced by Native American art. And they have funny names. This one’s called a Pathetic Black Moon with Awful Vase with Dead Flowers In It.
Oh, that’s positive. Now, why do you think he was inspired by Native Americans? Did he say anything about that to you when you talk to him?
That was 16 years ago. I can go on my blog and find out how to dig it up. But I think we’d run out of time. There’s one called The Umbrella Dancers. Some of them are very amusing. Hang-Ups, it’s a bunch of coat hangers.
Oh my god, I love it. I just found the cover, and it’s very simple. It’s kind of reminiscent to me of some of Grandma Moses’ stuff. I haven’t seen the rest of them. I just see the cover here.
Yeah, primitivist or something. It’s the humor of the titles, Costco Looking for the Loch Ness Monster. And it’s a kind of an undersea thing made of I can’t even tell exactly what it is sort of like an underwater submarine, but different. And for what it’s worth, it’s worth looking at.
So do you remember what Kurt Vonnegut’s art looks like?
Looks like big doodles. Interesting shapes and people, you could probably find that online too.
I’m searching while I’m talking to you. Oh, here it is, that’s interesting. You never knew this, and I love his work. I told you when I first met you, one of the big regrets in my life is I never got to meet Kurt Vonnegut. I really, really wanted to interview him before he passed.
He is our generation. He was speaking our generation about things like cat’s cradle and Slaughterhouse-five. And in his first novel, I believe player piano had to do with AI. I mean, there was a time back in the late 40s or early 50s.
He certainly had an intuitive knowledge of the psychology of the human-machine, right? I mean, when he asked you if you were lonely, he had apparently been observing you. And he noticed something that triggered a thought in his mind. And he said that.
I was into Herman Hesse. That was good enough. He didn’t have to see my face or anything.
That’s right because it was a phone interview. People like that are fascinating. I just find them fascinating that they’re so intuitive about other human beings. It’s really a gift. And I think that shows up in his writing. I think I told you. I named one of my fish after one of the characters in his short story.
What was the name?
It was from Harrison Bergeron. I named it Harrison. Harrison was the ballet dancer. And I can’t remember the name right now, the short story this was many years ago. And he was a ballet dancer and lived in an age when no one was allowed to excel, and the story starts out with two elderly people, a man, and a woman, husband, and wife, and they’re watching television, and the ballet dancer comes in. And they’re just mortified because he might get arrested for being beautiful and talented. Writers like him are timeless because they tap into the basic human psyche, and they deal with those emotions that everyone has that are ageless. And I just love that.
Right. I was visiting my daughter, and when they were living in Maryland two years ago and went to a book group with her. They were reading a Vonnegut book that month, and now she’s not even 30, well, she’s 30 this year, but anyway, she and her friends were into Vonnegut. So let’s say it all translates across time.
Time and cultural borders, too, because there are certain aspects of humanity that are the same as every human being. You asked me a question about how I felt about stars, actors, and performers. And I think my response was something like as much as we think they have changed, I don’t think people really do change that much. I think the way we describe what they’re doing might, and of course, the culture has shifted a little bit. I wonder what Vonnegut would say if he were alive today.Something artists and writers always try to do is keep working on their stuff until they pull it off. Click To Tweet
Yeah. So let’s go back to the beginning with you. I’m just curious. When did you first decide that you liked to write? How old were you, and what were you doing?
I’m a creative person. And so very early on, I was enrolled in the Cleveland Institute of Art before kindergarten. I took summer classes at the Art Institute because, supposedly, I never scribbled when I was a kid. That’s what I was told, and I don’t believe it. What I believe is I used to love to trace animals and praise pictures through the paper. Maybe nobody remembers that I might have scribbled earlier. But anyway, when you’re getting lots of strokes for doing something well, being able to draw in perspective and shading and give three-dimensional looks to things when you’re in second grade, you get a lot of strokes, and you do more of it. And then, in high school, I got strokes for my writing. I had an English teacher who was very supportive, and I’d written a short story, first-person, like a stick of gum and a package of gum, and the girl I was in love with was lying next to me, but I was too shy to talk. Anyway, we both end up in the same mouth, and suffering ended up becoming one. So he entered that story in a National High School fiction competition when she did. And it made me feel something that even it didn’t win anything. But it gave a positive that my creative self wasn’t so wacko. It’s all on how you tell the story and not how goofy the idea is. We all know that there are some movies; the premise seems like it’s too goofy to work, like being John Malkovich. But it totally works when they pull it off. And that’s what artists and writers try to do. They will develop their skills so that they can pull it off. And that’s why we remember Kurt Vonnegut, for example, He pulls off Slaughterhouse-Five, transported to other dimensions in time and, back and forth. But he’s saying the story of the bombing addressed, and it’s like a very powerful, creative way to retell and is more interesting than reading in an Encyclopedia Britannica.
You mean, with this current chaos in our public discourse. The incivility and the public discourse, probably the topic somewhere. It’s unfortunate.
Absolutely. Do you remember what you called the story about the gum when you were in high school? Do you remember the name of it?
No. I don’t really remember it. But what I remember is the two that have been mushed together being stuck on the bottom of a table. And then nine months later, somebody finds a pack of gum.
I used to love reading E. E. Cummings. And he had a story, I think it was called She Being Brand-new. And it was basically the story of a man driving his car for the first time, but it wasn’t about that at all. And it was about the tension that he was feeling as a male and testosterone was getting out of control, I guess. But I don’t know why I flashed on that when you’re talking about sticks of gum. That tells you how weird creative minds are, right? We’re gonna go off into another universe here in a minute. So you got out of high school, and then what?
Oh, I went to college in Ohio. I started with philosophy. And I then went to art. And so, I did some writing and fiction and literature and communications, but I was primarily focused on being a fine artist. After college, personal issues in my life, my life bottomed out, I abandoned my art. And then I wanted to be a missionary and had a religious conversion type of thing like Bob Dylan in 79 to 81. And then, suddenly, a famous singer, songwriter, we all know who doesn’t talk on the stage was giving sermons. And then I was similarly, very committed to that and wanted to be a missionary. And when I got married, we went to Mexico, worked at an orphanage. And then when we came back, kind of bottomed out wondering how I’m going to provide, I’m this 30 years old and didn’t know what I was going to do with the rest of my life. And then I redefine myself. I was in Minneapolis, and I had skills, but I didn’t have any of my art supplies. I didn’t have anything really with me, but I had this creative bent, and I was told, redefine yourself as a creative person. And there’s a lot of options. I began writing it and went to some writers conferences, joined a writers group. And what really happened was, I was reading Ernest Hemingway’s In Our Time. And I read it a second time, right in a row. And I read it halfway through the third time. And I was so moved by the power of the prose. He didn’t use any fancy language, and it was like being punched in the face and having your glasses knock across the room. And I say that as a metaphor because I don’t wear glasses. It was just the power; there were the one page and the doctor in the doctor’s wife. I read it ten times in a row, trying to figure out how he made me feel such tension when he never used the word anger. There are all these cheap shortcut ways to show tension by just saying, and he was so mad, he was pounding his fist into his arm. He didn’t do any of that. And, that subtle power, and we see it in great acting. The devastation that is communicated, just with a look. That their whole life was just flashed before their eyes or something, and then I wanted to write like that, basically. That was a turning point. And I, I really felt in a sense that when you’re a writer, the whole world, you’re basically taught that you can talk to the whole world. And if you want to talk to the whole world, then you’ve got to work really hard to be worth listening to, and work really hard to have something to say and work really, really hard to hone the craft. So that doesn’t get in the way of what you’re trying to say.
Well, you certainly have had a very prolific career. The link you sent me to your written work is I don’t know how many pages long it is there. You’ve written thousands and thousands of wonderful stories and blogs, and you’ve interviewed a lot of really interesting people. You’ve won awards for your work. The Breaking Point, tell me about that. That won the Arrowhead Regional Arts Fiction Contest, right?
Most of us, when we go in any direction, you need something at some point that tells you that you’re not enough to want to do that. And when I was writing short stories, primarily because I was working full time. So when you’re working full time, it’s really hard to be a novelist, I have to say. So I was writing short stories, and that one is a story about a woman who gets a bill in the mail from Montgomery Ward or whatever it says that all there is for this TV set. And her birthday is coming up in a few days. So she thinks it’s her surprise birthday present coming up and it’s about the tension between her and her husband regarding this TV set that isn’t coming on her birthday. And the breaking point is how it ends. But anyway, it was fun to write. Actually, it is all kind of based on a story I overheard in work, and it’s embellished, I guess. But I tried to put myself in her shoes. But the best part of that story is roughly at that same time, and I was looking for an agent I met online and came on was expanding, and I found an agent online named PR Queen. I don’t know if she’s what she’s known as today, but I sent her my stories. And she said of all the writers she’d read that out of all 200 writers, and I was the best. She said,” I got bad news. We are publishable publisher stories. You’re an unknown, and you’re not being published in literary journals. So you got to write a novel, that was my impetus. And think about what my story should be and my novel, but then I got sidetracked because the movie Iron Will was filmed here in Duluth in 1993. Kevin Spacey and some other names.
Didn’t you tell me that’s how you met Riki McManus?
Yes, that’s how I went to the screen test and talked to the camera for a minute and said some things whatever. And then I was an extra in that film for a couple of scenes and got a taste for Hollywood. And the Disney producer for that was Robert Schwartz. And he happened to be from Minnesota and had been a friend of mine. He was kind of my mentor, actually as a writer. There are so many great talented people that don’t make it as they’re not discovered or whatever. But John Brennan was the guy that really helped me move to a higher level.
I just want to say for those listening, and I mentioned Riki McManus. She is the director at the Upper Minnesota Film Office. Is that the correct way to say her title? But I’ve gotten to know her through the Catalyst Content Festival, and she’s an amazing woman. It’s interesting when you go into a small town like Duluth, and there are six degrees of separation to so many people. Anyway, so for those of you listening, that’s the connection between Riki and Ed Newman, who we’re talking to now.
Suppose you want to talk about degrees of separation. I’m a Dylan fan.
I actually got to meet Bob Dylan on the, and I don’t even know what he was doing. He was on the MGM/UA lot, and I think it was when we were doing something with, was it Duran Duran, I can’t remember anyway, this was years ago. And I got to meet him. But I didn’t know until I went to Duluth that he’s actually from Duluth. So I know you’ve got some Dylan stories. I want to hear them.
There was a radio program called Highway 61 Revisited. And it’s kind of interesting I would listen to that every Saturday night, in my garage, which is an art studio during the summer. We’re in Minnesota, so in the wintertime, I don’t keep it heated. So my paint is not out there. But from spring to fall, I would listen to the show every Saturday night. And eventually, I learned that they have like this Dylan festival. And so then I went, I guess, and then the next thing I was going to the meetings. So I’ve been a blogger since 2007. So I blog every day, and looking for content, Bob Dylan is always good content. And so I started meeting people like they would come from overseas to come to Dylan Fest. And they would come to Hibbing, and somebody’s cousin would come into town and say, “Can you take me to Bob Dylan’s houses?” Well, over time, I eventually got to know the guy who owned Bob Dylan’s house here in Central Hillside at the Lutherville . And he’s an archivist and a collector of Dylan memorabilia. And he also owned a house next door to the house. And Hibbing, where Dylan grew up from age six up until he left for college. So now, slowly, it was no longer six degrees of separation, it’s three degrees and two degrees, but in the army need people who traveled the Rolling Thunder review with Dylan and people who knew Bob when I went to school with them, and I’m meeting, it’s just been a really, for Dylan fan. It’s just fun. There are writers who come here doing research on Dylan’s history in his hometown and his background. There’s a lot of very interesting people in the world. Dylan seems to have been the glue that pulled a lot of people together, and much more can be said on all those things.
I want to know more. Tell me.
Well, what do you want to know?
I want to know all the secrets.
Duluth Armory is where Bob Dylan saw Buddy Holly, a couple of days before the famous and tragic crash with Big Bopper and Ritchie Valens. They had a winter dance party kind of commemorating that event when he was here at the army. But it’s also to raise awareness for the Duluth army, which they’re trying to renovate and they’re trying to raise funds. It’s a historic building. And so each time I write about it every year; at this time, I learned more things. So one year, I learned the reason they were on that plane was because it was 20 below here in Duluth at night, and it actually was 40 below windchill. And they were taking the bus from Duluth to Milwaukee. And the bus broke down, and these guys are all from Texas and California. They didn’t have parkas, and they didn’t have snowmobile boots; they almost died. Literally, they were in the middle of nowhere, and they were burning everything they could on the bus, but the drummer did get frostbite on his feet and couldn’t play anymore in Milwaukee around the tour. And so a couple of days later, Buddy Holly said, “Let’s not get on that bus. Let’s get up there fast. We got to do laundry,” and five minutes after takeoff, they crashed in the cornfield in Iowa clearly. Well, that was the first year I learned that a second or third time I was writing about it. The next time I was writing about it the following year, I learned that how Bobby Vee has started his music. It was in Fargo, they had a radio competition because Buddy Holly died, but the show had to go on. And when the bus pulled into town, they needed somebody who could be Buddy Holly. And they had a competition who knew the most Buddy Holly songs could play them and sing him. Bobby Vee, this 15-year-old kid, was the one. And so that was his beginning and show business. And then the next year, I learned that Buddy Holly carried a gun. He was a Texas musician in a rock band, and sometimes when they didn’t get paid, they needed to be prepared. And what’s more, is the gun had been fired from inside the plane. And some speculation is that possible when he threw his duffel bag in the back after takeoff, that it went off and possibly shot the pilot. Now, this is total speculation. But I have a friend who’s a forensic scientist who wants to open up the case. There are probably lots of people. The guy who owned the plane, he recently passed, was planning to write a book, but he didn’t want everything to come out because he wanted to make sure insurance got paid to all the families of those who lost their lives. And so not all facts came out. But you can go and actually find it. I’ve written about it on my blog. So the forensic and the information about the crash. Well, then the nice thing I always was wondering was who did Bob Dylan go to see the Winter Dance Party? He came down from Hibbing; he probably did not come by himself. It must have been with somebody, was it his buddies up there, the gold chords that he played with? Well, it turns out, I just found out his friend from summer camp, years of summer camp, one of them was Louie Kemp, living here in Duluth. And he really just came out with a book called Dylan & Me. So it’s his stories, and he doesn’t even call Bob Dylan “Bob Dylan” in his book, it’s Bobby. He was always Bobby Zimmerman to him. He says Bob Dylan was just a persona. So Louis is the one who went to the dance party with Bob, and so he came for his book was launched just last month, a couple of weeks ago, actually. And he came up here to Duluth, and we went to the Armory, and he showed us where he stood. Bob stood closely as he could to the stage. And it’s been fun. Now that’s called one degree of separation, I think might be two.
Absolutely. And then you also have another blog post that you put up recently you called it 50 Years Ago Today: A Beautiful Night on the Isle of Wight with Dylan.
Yeah. First of all, Dylan was up in Woodstock after his motorcycle accident, which ended his tour with the band. And that’s a controversial thing, but he was there with his family, he was there for a few years and wasn’t performing, and the band was up there with him. But yes, some speculation, according to a couple of sources, that Woodstock was a hoax that Bob Dylan would come out and be part of it. And Bob Dylan really didn’t like all the hippies crawling through the woods into his yard and people on that roof. And, it was basically a very intrusive thing that he just wanted his privacy and a family and making music with friends. And so he did a gig at the Isle of Wight. He was the headliner at the Isle of Wight, and while Woodstock was going on, he was packing his bags basically. There’s much, much more to be said about that. There must be something that to be somebody that, like, in the audience, three of the four Beatles were there with their wives, and Eric Clapton and all these other people, like in the VIP section, right up close. It must be interesting. I remember this was something I read, Jimi Hendrix, when he went to England, he did a concert. His first concert was three days after Sgt. Pepper’s came out. And the Beatles were in the audience, and I think the Stones and some other people like that, maybe. And he played the opening of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band in his way. That must have been interesting.
I bet. You said in your blog post that you got a bootleg CD of the concert that night.
Yeah. John Belushi, who had this radio program, like I said, Highway 61. The late John Belushi, people have sent him CDs, tapes from all over, he had hundreds and hundreds, and they’re all across the floor. And he’s reading them because some are good and some are not, people were chattering. He’s looking for the good stuff.
Do you know what’s really interesting is you think you can get great history from the actual people that were living it, but I find when I talk to other journalists or writers or documentarians that they have the most amazing stories to tell, and I think that’s a true view, because you’ve lived so far, and you’re not done yet a very rich life, makeover 5000 blog posts in there. And I admire that because I think a true artist works every day. And because they love it, and you obviously just love it. Are there a couple of wonderful memories that you want to talk about that I don’t know about yet? If you just clear your mind for a second and think back,
One that comes to mind is hitchhiking to Washington, DC, for Mayday 1971 anti-war protest. That’s a long story, the biggest riot in US history, the most arrests in US history for a single day, and learned a lot, but the many lessons are, for me, about the manipulation of the masses.
You went to the Mayday protests in DC, how long were you there?
I was in the spring semester. I had arranged all my classes to be on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday. So my weekend would start suppertime Thursday and then Tuesday. I had to be back so long weekends. And I decided I was going to hitchhike. So I left town and a little sleeping bag, and not much else. And I didn’t even have any money. It was Athens, Ohio, in Southeast Ohio, and I was a hippie in a redneck country, so I didn’t get any rides. At once, I got out of town.
Did you have long hair?
Yeah. Just down the shoulders. One time, it was on my waist, but it usually wasn’t that long. And then I woke up the next morning, and I slept at a ditch on the side of the road. Anyway, it is a long story.
Oh, I want to hear more, though. You arrived in DC, and then what happened?
Well, I had a friend who was very political, and I was not as political, but he was always telling me, “Eddie, the artist is the vanguard of the revolution,” and he always wants me to become more political. And so I psyched out there, and he was out there, and I spent the night before on a Friday night at some hippies. I had a pad with like, about 15 mattresses on the floor, and there was somebody freaking out from acid still from three days before he had gone to the circus and had a bad trip. And anyway, I crashed. The next morning they drove me to my aunt’s house in Falls Church, and then she drove me down and gave me $10 in case I get arrested because that’ll get me out of jail. I didn’t have any money. And on the way, it was interesting, by the time I got back to Athens on Tuesday morning, it’s just generosity and maybe the hippie spirit or everybody who has food shares it with others. Whatever. Anyway, that $10 when the riots broke out, and then there was–oh, how much detail do you want here?
No, I’m curious. They would say there were like 50,000 people there.
It was 200,000. Wikipedia says 30 to 50, but New York Times at 200, I thought it was 300,000. It was all the way from the Lincoln Memorial to the Washington Monument. And I think all the way on the other side to the Capitol. I never saw all that in that way. So anyway, there’s all these people there and the first day, a Saturday, was music and speeches. The Beach Boys were playing when I arrived, and there are 200,000 people in front of me. And I look across, and my friend, Rob, with red hair, standing up waving his arms. It’s like, I had only been there two minutes, we found each other. Certainly, we were together that day. And then that night, there was police that surrounded the place. So just to contain it, I guess. And there was a perimeter. And there was like this funny little tank type thing. It was an armored vehicle that the kids were throwing rocks at. And I don’t know what it was doing, but it was kind of comical. But none of the hippies, none of the protesters, I should say, there were non-hippies, protesting, was aware that the government had a bent Penny Brigade, which was 200 people who infiltrated and tried to look like they were protesters. And if they got arrested, the bent penny in their pocket was their ID that they were on the side of the government. That was that interesting story. I wrote about that on Medium. And next morning at four in the morning, the bullhorns, the police that were surrounding the place, said, “Your permits are expired, you have to leave.” So then, most of us didn’t know where to go, and lots of people went home because that was the party. But the people who organized it said, “We didn’t come here for a party, we came here to shut down the government. And we’re going to have a non-violent protest here in Washington and come get instructions at the university.” So the universities were like a safety zone. And I went to Georgetown, and American University, and there was a third one. And so then I spent the day teaching non-violent tactics, they broke us up into groups of 100. And then there are all these people talk to your group. And it was in my group, somebody who said, “Well, what happens if the police start hitting us?” “They won’t start hitting you.” And others said, “Well, yeah, but what if they do start hitting us” And the person with the bullhorn says, “They won’t start hitting you.” Well, I saw more police hit more people.
This is fascinating. This is a piece of history that you lived in.
I keep jumping ahead of myself. I loved it. And it took years to process eventually.
Am I asking you something you don’t want to talk about?
No, I enjoy talking about it. There are more details that I feel like I don’t want to talk about on the air. But that day was training and hanging out, and then the next morning, everybody was assigned to block up various routes incoming to the city. I was in Ohio, so it was by state wherever you were from. So I was on the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge, where all the Ohio people were supposed to. Well, I hadn’t had enough sleep in the previous three days. And so when I woke up at six in the morning, everybody was gone. I was sleeping in the basement of one of the dorm rooms. They let us sleep in one of the class buildings. Then I was walking, trying to figure out how to get to the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge. Every single intersection has police on all four corners. And I’m like this straggling hippie walking along, and can you tell me how to get to the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge? And they smiled, and they point that way, and I kept on doing that until I finally got to the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge. And I was about, I don’t know, half a block away, or 40 yards away, and all of the people at the bridge are towards the Capitol, and the traffic is stopped. And then in the distance, there are these sirens. And there were police cars coming 60 miles an hour, right toward the wrong side of the road, because all the traffic going in the stock on the wrong side of the road was going 60 miles an hour. And they didn’t slow down, and the crowd dispersed; the non-violent protests, I don’t know what would have happened had they not. And then they went up around the block, came back and again, did the same thing really fast through the people that tried to sit down. And then the third time they came up, and then they stopped, and we’re just hitting everybody. And then the crowds were going in different directions, and there were helicopters firing tear gas from the sky. And there was all this just basically chaos. And there were citizens who had hoses out from the houses with the water running, and it would go on out to the sidewalk. And so if you get tear gas, you can wash your eyes. It was like they’ve been through this before, evidently. And so now I’m like, everywhere I look, there’s police hitting anybody that doesn’t look like police, and throwing them into buses. They had buses with cars in front of each bus, and they were stopping cars that had what looked like hippies in it. And the hippie kids would put their hands on their head, and they start beating them and then throwing them into the buses and then push their car off the road. So I’m like, now how do I get back to Georgetown University? I don’t even know how I got here. So I saw some news people like a Peter Jennings type with the cameras, and they’re all dressed in suits and the line guys walking backwards talking to the camera. And there’s chaos going on. I figure I’m with them. I’ll just stay close to them. They must be going somewhere important. And I got to the university that way. But I also saw this place, the protesters jumping on police backs and tearing their gas masks off. And it was chaos. And so they had arrested like 14,000 people over the two days, I guess it depends on what numbers you’ve listened to. I entered 14,000. They had to take them to RFK Stadium because the jail was obviously not adequate.We can all learn so much from history and it’s so important that people are aware of it so that the bad things never happen again. Click To Tweet
Yeah, I’ve seen pictures of them lying on the ground in the stadium wrapped in blankets. I mean, they look like lemmings in there. It had to be horrible. So tell me what happened after that.
So this is Monday. Now Monday, I got back to the university, and then it was just like a comedy to me. Because the place would be lined up off the campus at the front gate, and the students would be a hundred feet away. And they’d be taunting the police, and it was illegal for the police to go on the campus. And then the students get closer, and every once in a while that students would get too close. And then the police would jump run across the line and go grab students and beat them and carry them off. it was just comical. I mean, in a sense. Hey guys, stay away. Don’t get as close as you can even though it’s illegal for them to go on campus. You’ve seen what’s going on. Somebody put a filled gas mask on a statue type of thing that you always see pictures of when there are these kinds of things. And until about four o’clock in the afternoon, they announced in the radios that they were saying that it was all clear and it was safe to go out on the streets. Well, I didn’t see any of my friends. My friends were in a U-Haul; they had gone out there and rented a U-Haul truck and went out. And on that Monday morning, we’re getting ready to go to the Teddy Roosevelt Bridge, once they were on the road, the police stopped them and threw a tear gas canister in the back of the U-Haul and closed the back door, drove them to the stadium. I was glad I was not part of that group. Anyway, at four o’clock, I went to try to find my friends. I didn’t learn that until later, I went to American University. And at six o’clock, there was an incident occurring, and somebody decided we’re going to take the American flags down and burn them. And I didn’t want to be around. So I got out on the road and started hitchhiking home, and I got it a couple rides out of town. This is such a big thing that everybody, when I was hitchhiking out there, people would say, “What’s going on?” “What’s it like?” I felt like everybody wanted to hear about it. And when I was going back, the first few rides they wanted to hear about what happened and what I saw. And then I’m in the middle of nowhere in Maryland somewhere, and it’s freezing cold. And so I was trying to decide if I should go break into a barn, some pets across this big field, or sleep in a culvert, but I have my sleeping bag. And then I got picked up by these three guys, two of them were students from Antioch, and the third one was an older guy. And his story was that he started smoking rabbit grass at seven. And when he was nine, he was drinking and taking acid, and so he is like, he was 27. And then there were two students. Our whole reason for going was to get pigs; we want to see how many pigs we can hurt. So you’ve got this whole thing where people say it’s a non-violent protest. And then you find out and ever since then when you see violence, and you see broken windows, you see things, world government stuff. It’s not all peaches and cream; it’s not all nice people that are involved with these things. There’s a lot of sincere people; we were all very much against the war. I was, to this day, I’m ashamed of the things that our country’s done in that regard. I’m not ashamed of being American, in the respect that we are very blessed. But this is a very complicated world we live in. And so these guys were out to get to violence. And then finally, we got to Pittsburgh, and they were going to a different part of Ohio than I was. And that $10 that my Aunt Shirley gave me, that was the exact price for a ticket from Pittsburgh to Athens. I took the bus all night long. I could tell a long story about the three people who were on that bus. There was this guy who was going around the country. He works at Coney Island and looks for animals with eight legs that were born with two heads. He had a whole stack of pictures, and he was all around the country. Because yeah, that’s for a freak show, Coney guy. And the second was a young black woman who sat by herself and didn’t want to be bothered. The third was a woman named, I don’t remember her name, but she said to me when she found my name was Eddie. She said, “Every boyfriend I’ve ever had was named Eddie, would you come home with me to Parkersburg?” “No, I have a philosophy class at 10 am. So I gotta get home and take a shower.” No, I didn’t quite say it like that. But my intention was to get back to school.
I’m curious about what you thought of the people that were at Mayday. Were they against the war and also against the people that we’re fighting a war because they were in the war, as the American troops? My father fought in Vietnam. He was in the army, and he fought in Vietnam. And when he came back from Vietnam, he was still an amazing person, and he never drank really, he didn’t smoke. He was a healthy person, but he was never the same. It was a terrible, terrible war. And for a lot of these men and women, the reception that they got when they came home scarred them for life. I mean, it was very, very difficult. I’m just wondering if you have thought about that over the years?
Yeah. Well, that’s the big wrestling thing with everybody of our generation, come to terms with how to respond when people think we were doing the right thing. And I’m persuaded, for example, the Cold War’s Killing Fields is a book I read last year, that’s a new one. The horrible things that have happened to civilians, as a result of wars and conflicts and we didn’t have a nuclear war, but there were civilians who have been suffering and all over the world, because of all these kinds of things. Like my life wasn’t just a one-time event, that was the whole problem. And then napalm and bombings. It all sounds nice when you say collateral damage, but you’re talking about people.
I think every generation has its Mayday in one form or another. I’m thinking about what’s going on in Hong Kong right now, as I’m speaking with you. And I think about what groups like Antifa are doing here in our country. But I have to tell you, I still–and call me Pollyanna–but in traveling around this country, I have met the most amazing people in all these small corners. And that brings me full circle around to all the wonderful people I’ve met in your area of the country in Duluth.
There’s good people everywhere and big hearts. I remember, in the 80s, one time, the Atlantic Magazine had an article about how the Americans were doing 100 million dollars of cocaine, snorting 100 million dollars cocaine a year. And that’s probably a small number. But I actually wrote a letter to the editor about how it’s an example of our selfishness, we’re thinking of ourselves. Well, the next day, I heard that Americans had done $200 million worth of volunteerism and generosity and stuff like that. And I think you can look at one side of the thing. There’s a lot of people there for themselves, and then there’s a lot of people that are unbelievably generous, and you never even see it, you never hear about it, but it’s happening every day.
It’s one of my missions in life, actually. And it’s one of the reasons why I’m doing this show is to showcase good people that I meet everywhere I go in life and give them a voice. I think you’ve done some amazing things with your writing and with the people that you’ve highlighted, and the things you’re still doing now. This is actually a good chance for me to say thank you to OWC for sponsoring this show because it allows me to do what I love and to meet amazing people. And so I have to send a shout out to them and thank them for doing that. I couldn’t do it without them. And they’re an example of good people from Larry O’Connor and Jen Soulé on down to the people that run that company. They’ve all got really big hearts, they’re sitting there in Woodstock or in Austin or in Belgium, and I believe in the corporate culture comes from the top down. And so I think that what you’re doing is also wonderful because you’re highlighting the good in people in these interesting stories that you tell. And I know, I wish I could talk to you all night, but we’re gonna have to eventually wrap this up. We’re just gonna have to do this again, Ed.
We have to make this a more regular event because there’s a lot more to talk about.
Well, we could talk about the art scene; we haven’t even hardly touched what the creative spirit in this country and in Duluth got a vibrant art scene. And I kind of that’s one of the focus themes that recur in my blog is encouraging people to go out and telling people where the artists are showing and what’s happening and I’ve been interviewing artists for over ten years looking.
I’m looking at your blog right now, and you do have some wonderful stories in here. You’re lucky because you’re working in print at the moment. So you can actually show some of this art. I’m looking at Heidi Pollard here. And then I mean just scrolling through some of this. So tell people where they can go to see some of your stories and see some of the artists that are showing in Duluth?
The blog is pioneerproductions.blogspot.com. It’s called Ennyman’s Territory. You’ll see what I’ve had to say about it. The reason why it’s called Pioneer Productions, if you want to call another direction, we shouldn’t go there. I’m a descendant of Daniel Boone, who was a pioneer.
I love that. Are you really?
Yes. And I’m the one in the family that researched genealogy stuff and verified. And it was like, you know how every family has its family lore, but I felt like I don’t want to believe something that maybe it’s just the family lore, and we want to believe it. So I verified, we’re descended by two different daughters of Daniel Boone, actually. So there were cousins to the second generation that married each other, maybe neither here nor there. But the Pioneer Productions is where that comes from.
Well, you are a very interesting man; I’m so glad I got to meet you. And I’m glad you’re willing to tell some tall tales and actually some very interesting things about some of the histories that you’ve witnessed. And I have a feeling that’s not going to be the end of it. With what you do and writing every day and meeting new people every day, I’m going to look forward to following you. So I encourage everybody to listen in to go to pioneerproductions.blogspot.com. And that has been Ed Newman from Duluth, Minnesota, who is an author. I mean, I don’t know how to describe you, you are in Ennyman. You’ve been involved in a lot over the years and have over 5000 blog posts. So everybody goes to visit Ed Newman site. And thank you for taking the time to talk to us today, Ed. It’s really been very, very interesting and a lot of fun things.
Thank you very much.
- Ed Newman
- Ennyman’s Territory
- 50 Years Ago Today: A Beautiful Night on the Isle of Wight with Dylan – Blog
- Arrowhead Regional Arts Fiction Contest
- Atlantic Magazine
- The Beatles
- The Big Bopper
- Bob Dylan
- Bobby Vee
- Buddy Holly
- Catalyst Content Festival
- Cleveland Institute of Art
- Cold War’s Killing Fields
- Daniel Boone
- Duluth Armory
- Duran Duran
- Dylan & Me
- Dylan Fest
- E. E. Cummings
- Encyclopedia Britannica
- Eric Clapton
- Ernest Hemingway’s
- Grandma Moses
- Hang-Ups: Paintings by Jonathan Winters
- Harrison Bergeron
- Heidi Pollard
- Hermann Hesse
- Highway 61 Revisited
- In Our Time
- Isle of Wight
- Jen Soulé
- Jimi Hendrix
- John Belushi
- John Malkovich
- Jonathan Winters
- Kevin Spacey
- Kurt Vonnegut
- Larry O’Connor
- Louie Kemp
- Mayday 1971 anti-war protest
- Montgomery Ward
- New York Giants
- New York Times
- Peter Jennings
- Ralph Steadman
- Riki McManus
- Ritchie Valens
- Robert Schwartz
- Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band
- She Being Brand-new
- The Beach Boys
- The Breaking Point
- Upper Minnesota Film Office
- Winter Dance Party
- Take interest in the things that are happening around you. Find a way to document specific moments as they may be significant to you or others one day.
- Develop an observant and intuitive mind. Let your curiosity and investigative traits land you the next best story.
- Harness your creativity. Take inspiration even from mundane things. It can be a simple memory or another person’s story that has caught your attention.
- Keep practicing and improving your writing skills. Just write whatever you feel like at the moment or write something about another person, place, or thing.
- Read books. Aside from gaining knowledge, reading improves your vocabulary and writing style. Famous authors and writers have been inspired by other authors and writers as well.
- Find an agent that can help boost your exposure. Work with someone who is honest enough with your work and can keep you in check with deadlines and responsibilities.
- Keep searching for content. There is so much to discover out there and the world never runs out of stories to tell.
- Meet new people and hear their stories. Don’t hesitate to approach them and make them feel heard whenever it’s time for them to share.
- Share the stories you’ve acquired and written with the utmost respect for your subjects. Treat them with honor and dignity.
- Check out Ed Newman’s blog to read more about his riveting stories.