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The Long Way Home

Sitting down to write this column I contemplated several topics.

Some reflections from my days consulting for and coaching small business owners might be helpful to some.

Overpopulation, with a nod to over-tourism. When I was in high school overpopulation was a scary topic, an existential threat we were told. The world population in 1969 was 3.6 billion. Last year it was 8 billion. Yet we rarely hear about an overpopulation problem today. A worthy topic, but not for now.

Resource depletion would be fun. Years ago I was told to buy lakeshore property since “They ain’t making it anymore.”.

None of these topics jump-started my willingness to leave smudged fingerprints on my wireless QWERTY keyboard.

Then, like a miracle, a topic presented itself, on Facebook of all things.

Sunday I was presented with a post asking the question, “What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?” I never answer these types of “question” posts from anonymous sources, but a FB friend did and it showed up for me to consider. I haven’t been to a movie theater in more than a decade and renting movies isn’t for me. I not only can’t remember the worst movie I’ve seen, but I also can’t remember the best. Maybe it was “The Longest Day” which I saw in the early 60s at The Bloomington Drive-In on 12th Avenue.

After that little brain teaser, I realized that Social Media, which is often accused of making us dumber and misinformed, does a greater service of making me more self-aware. Not less dumb, or misinformed I admit, as many people on the site (and former readers of this column) are not afraid to point out. But more self-aware.

For some reason, the movies never really

turned me on. Becky and I attended a screening of “Ghost Busters” at the Mann theater at Southtown Center when the movie was a big hit. Less than halfway through, I fell sound asleep. It could have been the comfortable seating, but I choose to remember that the movie just bored me.

Two of my regular golfing buddies in Las Vegas, let’s call them Mike and Paul, were avid moviegoers. They misspent much of a round of golf thrashing out the merits of the latest movies and actors they’d seen. They were superfans of film, but Paul went a step further and helped found Cine Vegas, the predecessor to today’s Las Vegas Film Festival.

I on the other hand always felt like the character in a bit that comedian Lewis Black did about the failing memory of those of us over 50.

Occasionally I’d gone to see one of the movies I’d heard my two cronies crowing about.

When next I was on a cart with one of them I’d say, “I saw that movie you guys were talking about last week.”

“Which movie?” was the reply.

“You know, the movie with that one actor in it,” I’d say.

“Which actor?”

“The one that was in the other movie you compared it to.”

The interrogation went on like this for a while. Finally, I’d have to describe the plot of the damn thing and he’d figure out which one I was talking about. Then he’d ask stupid questions about the co-stars or sound effects of some other meaningless drivel about the movie that I’d mostly forgotten.

So I still believe that Facebook makes me dumber and misinformed. But it did make me self-aware enough to finally accept that I really don’t care much about movies or film festivals or awards shows.

That’s not all bad.

Steve Fernlund
Steve Fernlund
Typically these “about me” pages include a list of academic achievements (I have none) and positions held (I have had many, but who really cares about those?) So, in the words of the late Admiral James Stockwell, “Who am I? Why am I here?” I’m well into my seventh decade on this blue planet we call home. I’m a pretty successful husband, father, and grandfather, at least in my humble opinion. My progeny may disagree. We have four children and five grandchildren. I spent most of my professional life in the freight business. At the tender age of 40, early retirement beckoned and we moved to Grand Marais. A year after we got here, we bought and operated the Cook County News Herald, a weekly newspaper in Grand Marais. A sharp learning curve for a dumb freight broker to become a newspaper editor and publisher. By 1999 the News Herald was an acquisition target for a rapidly consolidating media market. We sold our businesses and “retired” again, buying a winter retreat in Nevada. In the fall of 2016, we returned to Grand Marais and bought a house from old friends of ours on the ridge overlooking Lake Superior. They were able to move closer to family and their Mexico winter home. And we came home to what we say is our last house. I’m a strong believer in the value of local newspapers--both online and those you can wrap a fish in. I write a weekly column and a couple of feature stories for the Northshore Journal. I’m most interested in writing about the everyday lives of local people and reporting on issues of importance to them.
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