Monthly Archives: October 2016

“Take a Peek Inside My Brain…”

“Take a peek inside my brain where fishin’ tales are spun.
My psychedelic fish parade has only just begun.”


A lot has happened in the 9 years since I moved back to South Dakota. Some of it has been personally difficult, some grossly unfair and some just plain terrifying. But much more of it has been very special, made that way primarily by some special and inspirational people. Among those people is a tall, gentle, terminally cheerful fellow with extraordinary talent and imagination. His name is Steve Bormes. Steve and wife Tova own a very cool retail establishment called Rug and Relic in the 8th and Railroad building in Sioux Falls ( It’s a gallery full of genuine Turkish rugs, antiquities and folk art that shares space for Steve’s artistic creations, which mix a crazy array of found items, lights and an imagination unlike any I’ve ever experienced.

A year and a half ago Steve was notified he had been chosen for a major exhibition of his art at the big gallery at the Washington Pavilion. He immediately went to work creating the most wonderful and whimsical creatures which would inhabit his “Imaginarium”. Last Friday my wife Joan, my Mom and I went to see the show and reception for Steve. The show was even more enchanting than I had expected, and I’d expected a LOT. It was like walking into a backlit giant aquarium with these fish/creatures suspended on wires or mounted to pedestals, all glowing from within with lights of all colors. The Little Johnson fish (pictured) are crafted from vintage Johnson outboard boat motor cowlings, grandma’s wire wisks for fins and airhorns off of a Peterbuilt for tails. There was chrome from 50’s cars, tail lights from a Caddy ambulance and on and on. It was especially neat to see the gaggle of kids who accompanied parents to this show. I can’t begin to guess what was going on in their little brains, but I bet it was neat

Full disclosure: On occasion I’ll hook Steve up with some interesting items I find in my travels. It was surprising and delightful to find a few of those pieces artfully repurposed within the Imaginarum. It reminded me of the day when I found the words to describe the difference in what I do with old junk for repurposing and what Steve does as an artist. I can look at a late 50’s Electrolux canister vacuum cleaner, or a giant steel sieve sleeve from a long-ago combine or some whirly roof ventilators off of an old barn and say, “These things have style and personality. Someone could do something neat with them”. Steve however, can look at the same pieces and say, “These things have style, and I’m going to do THIS with them.” This creative invention is born in Steve’s brain in a millisecond.

Enjoy the photos, but If you’re in the Sioux Falls area stop in and see the show in person, which runs until the first week in January 2017. Bring along some cabbage if you have it and take something cool home with you. And in the process I hope you get to meet Steve, because there’s only one and he’s it. JT


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Bust A Move



This month I was fortunate to receive the second freelance writing assignment of my long media career. Its for Dakotafire Magazine, a spirited and driven bi-monthly magazine dedicated to the revitalization of rural living in The Dakotas. I’m writing a story in the November-December edition, which explores how and why we live outdoors in the winter months, and how rural South Dakota communities might parlay winter outdoor resources into economic gain. My first freelance writing gig, by the way, was when I was 17, working for the Plainview News, writing game stories for the 1978 Plainview (MN) High School Gophers football squad as it battled week to week in the long-defunct but lovingly-remembered Hiawatha Valley League. The team lost more than it won, but the coverage was riveting. Or so I was told.


Spending time writing about winter outdoor activities got me thinking about the real-world adventures my indestructible running buddies and I attempted/found ourselves in the middle of/were stupid enough to try back in the day. Some of these events have never been described or recounted outside our tight little group, but I’m pretty sure the statute of limitations has run out on all of them. Or at least most of them. I think.

The sport was simply named, “Drift-Busting”. Participants in town needed to be 16 and a licensed driver, although many farm kids started building their skills much younger. All you needed was a big US-built four door family sedan from the late 60’s through late 70’s. The early 70’s Chevy Impala and Ford LTD were ideal, although exotica like the “roomy” Plymouth Fury III, Buick LeSabre, Ford Country Sedan station wagon or Ford Ranchero or Chevy El Camino with extra weight over the rear axle added variety.


The ideal crew for Drift Busting included: 1) The Driver; 2) The Navigator, front seat passenger window who was the lookout for other cars and plows, snow-covered obstacles and law enforcement, and 3) An attractive and animated young lady front-seat middle to supply appropriate shrieks, support and laughter such as you might hear on a roller coaster or in a Steve McQueen movie. You went with just Driver/Navigator if circumstances dictated, but the “three wide” configuration was definitely preferred.

bronco-under-tree             car-big-drift

There were three disciplines in Sedan-class Drift Busting. The first was “Classic Drift Busting”, where during or after a big snow ( 6-7inches and up, but more snow and wind is better). you busted unplowed drifts right where God dropped ‘em. “Classic” tested your behind-the-wheel skill to keep from getting stuck or high-centered, and your ability to negotiate a mid-storm corner. The second was “Post-Plow Busting” where you could pick up speed on plowed streets before busting through man-made piles. The heart beat a little faster with this one. The third discipline was “Free-style”, with the car on an unplowed parking lot or playground that was paved and flat, had lots of snow, and fewer things to hit. Free-style tested your artistry with rear-wheel drive V-8 skids, drifting and a set of various consecutive circle-spins and overheated engines referred to collectively as “shitties”.

There were many good Drift-Busters, too many to mention, but as a Navigator my favorite pilot, hands-down, was Thomas P. Harlan. Today Tom is a high-powered lawyer in the Twin Cities, but back then he was a wild-eyed pilot of a classic Dark Olive 1970-ish Chevrolet Impala v-8 equipped four-door sedan. The car was sparsely optioned, but did have a solid AM radio allowing for a long-distance “Boogie Check” with John “Records” Landecker on 89-WLS Chicago. The secret weapon of that car is that it came pre-dented, so when Tom took it home with some fresh dimples no one was the wiser. If you measured pilots solely on driving skill, Tom was well above average but not a savant. His gifts were a total lack of fear, the willingness to thread even the smallest needle, and a happy-go-lucky cackle even in the face of certain disaster.  Call it the “Luck of the Irish” if you like.

The demise of the rear-wheeled sedan, improved plowing techniques, fewer monster snow storms and a general distaste for such reckless activities make today’s Drift-Busting the winter equivalent of cock fighting, run by seedy gamblers swilling cheap peppermint schnapps and betting on strung-out adrenaline junkies piloting rusted-out Plymouth K-Cars. But I’ll remember when young princes like Tommy slung around that Detroit iron with a comely lass like Lou Ann Erickson or Susan Arnoldy in the middle, all of us singing “Sultans of Swing” at the top of our lungs, just for the fun of it all.