All posts by joetlustos

About joetlustos

After spending 37+ years as a highly successful broadcast media professional, I find myself looking for the next mountain to climb. 8.5 years as Director of Radio for the 11-station South Dakota Public Broadcasting Network; 6 years as Program Director at AM 1500 KSTP in the Twin Cities; 14 years as Operations Manager/Talk Host at KROC-AM Rochester, MN. Emmy Award-winning voice talent. I've brought several original and innovative talents from concept to air. Innovative partnership builder. Successsful mentor and coach. Proven interpreter, I help creatives and business minds communicate and understand each other. Love change and innovation. Student of history. Antique picker, restore and repurpose rather than throw away.

What Comes Around, Goes…Back Home

You can’t make it up:  In December 2014 I built this table.  It was one of my first pieces made of reclaimed materials (in this case an old hog oiler and a lower shelf off of an otherwise destroyed Queen Anne table). I always liked it, and struggled whether to keep it or sell it.  I sold the table to an antique dealer at a garage sale April ’15 for $65 dollars.  Flash ahead three years: Last Saturday I had a couple of extra minutes after work, so I stopped by an antique mall on my way home.  I walked in, and there to my immediate left was…the table!  It was marked down from $175.00 to….$19.99. Apparently the general public didn’t think much of the table, but I still like it a lot and bought it back!  I’m chalking it up to good Karma.

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FWD: “The Shocking Math of the Republican Tax Plan: New Yorker

Thanks to friend Lucy Quinlivan​ for sharing this. A lot of hard-working folks took Mr. Trump (“Trust Me…”) at his word that he’d take care of the little guy, “drain the swamp”, “Make American Great Again”, etc.  A lot of hard-working folks also voted and elected Republican House and Senate members to represent them in Washington.

Forgetting for the moment Russia, sexual assault, ethics, threatened nuke launches, etc.:  If you voted for or currently support Mr. Trump, and/or the Republicans in Congress, and consider yourself “low-middle” or “middle class”…please read this carefully, put whatever “automatic retort generator” you have on hold, and tell me WHAT YOU THINK.

The Shocking Math of the Republican Tax Plan

If it gives us nothing else positive, the Republican tax plan—and, in its Senate form, the health-care repeal—at least provides clarity. There is no debate. The middle class will, in the long run, pay more in taxes than under current law, and the rich will pay less. For a brief moment last week, there did seem to be space for discussion, in the form of a disagreement between the centrist and highly regarded Tax Policy Center and the Tax Foundation, a pro-business group that is generally seen as more biased. Even if poorly matched, having two groups with similar, boring names set the stage for the appearance of a two-handed tax debate. One side says it helps the rich, hurts everyone else, and will lead to a bigger deficit; the other side says the opposite. Our media and political system has long viewed economic policy—and, especially, taxation—as the equivalent of “American Idol.” There is a group of judges, loudly disagreeing, and the home audience can pick whichever side they like, based on whatever criteria they have. In past tax-news cycles (2001, 1993, 1990, 1986 . . . ), there were enough serious, respected economists on both sides to make it seem like there was a real, substantive fight over the impact of taxes on jobs and economic growth. (While each individual economist appears to know everything with certainty, as a group, they are surprisingly unsure of the impact of taxes on a nation’s well-being. However, most surveys of economists suggest that virtually none accept the simplistic notion that raising taxes on the rich will cripple an economy.)

Surely, we will have other debates in the future with thoughtful arguments on every side. But not this time. The numbers are in and it’s clear: this tax bill helps the rich and hurts everybody else. Just ask the very people who wrote it. The U.S. Congress Joint Committee on Taxation is run by the chairs of the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee—Representative Kevin Brady and Senator Orrin Hatch, respectively. The Joint Committee’s reports of this week make startling reading, or as startling as a series of spreadsheets of tax revenue data can be. The report shows that this bill is much like a teaser rate on a new credit card: there are some goodies in the first couple of years, but those disappear fairly quickly, at least for those below the median income. In 2019, the first full year that this bill would be law, the benefits are concentrated on the bottom of the income stream, with middle-class people, on average, paying just under ten per cent less in taxes than they would if the law weren’t passed. With each passing year the benefits shift upward, toward the rich. By 2021, those making between twenty thousand and thirty thousand dollars a year are paying considerably more in taxes, those between thirty thousand and two hundred thousand see their benefit shrinking, and those making more start to see their taxes falling. By 2027, every income level below seventy-five thousand dollars a year sees a tax increase, while everybody above that level sees a continued decrease, with the greatest cut in taxes accruing to those making more than a million dollars a year.

The report shows that the rich benefit and the poor are hurt in every way that it measures. For example, the effective tax rate—meaning the percentage that people, on average, actually pay after they take all deductions—changes in a precisely regressive form. The poorer you are, the higher your effective rate will rise. By 2027, only those making a hundred thousand a year or more will see an actual cut in their effective tax rate. And, as could be expected by now, the more they make, the greater the cut in their effective rate. By 2025, there is a direct transfer of money from the poor to the rich and corporations. This is not a flaw but the whole point, Harvard’s Martin Feldstein argues. Feldstein is, arguably, the single most widely respected Republican-leaning scholar of tax policy, and one of the few academics who came out in favor of the bill, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed. His defense, though, should not give much comfort to the bill’s proponents. He argues that cutting individual tax rates won’t increase economic growth and will add to the deficit—which, he acknowledges, is a bad thing. But he’s so excited about the corporate tax-rate cut that he thinks the bill should pass nonetheless. This is an odd stance, since the corporate rate cuts are about a third the size of the individual cuts.

That is the state of debate on this current bill. Its most respected defender acknowledges that three-quarters of the benefit are a wasted, harmful gift for the rich, but a quarter of the benefit goes to corporations, and we must assume they will spend it wisely.

 

A Crate full of Grateful

I am very grateful today for 9 years, and mindful of the support, patience, understanding and forgiveness of family and friends. What a long strange trip it’s been…                                                                                                                                                                                                       IMG_2357[1]

Dennis Banks, Hoops and Me

 

Dennis Banks AIM Leader

In 35+ years in media I’ve never been what you’d call “star struck”. I’ve met a lot of celebrities and gained access to some remarkable locations, but never asked for an autograph and RARELY took a photograph. That being said, I have ended up in some pretty remarkable circumstances. This week’s passing of Dennis Banks, aged 80, Native American activist, author, educator, actor and central player in the 1973 occupation of Wounded Knee on South Dakota’s Pine Ridge Reservation, brought back perhaps the most unusual.

In February 1985 I had just turned 24 and was the morning radio host at KIOV-FM 104.7 in Sioux Falls, SD. A few months prior, Dennis Banks had ended 11 years in California and New York avoiding prosecution for his involvement in the burning of the Custer County Courthouse in Custer, SD, which preceded the world-famous occupation of Wounded Knee in 1973. Banks surrendered himself to SD authorities, and was sentenced to 18 months in the SD State Prison in Sioux Falls. After all those years on the run the world’s media wanted to talk with Banks. As I remember, he accepted two media offers. One was with French Television. The other was with KIOV News Director Jerry Dahmen, who was also stringing for NBC. After the interview Jerry casually asked Banks how he was spending his time in prison. Banks said he was leading a group of Native American prisoners dedicated to living a life of traditional diet, study, spiritual practice…and basketball. Jerry told Banks the station has a basketball team of its own, and wondered if the Banks-coached Native prison team would be interested in a game. Arrangements were made, and a game was set for February.

There was only one problem: KIOV DIDN’T HAVE A BASKETBALL TEAM. However, the offer had been accepted, so we had to come up with something, and FAST. We scraped together five volunteers who I think included GM Don Jacobs, Farm Director Tom Lyon, announcers John Jacobs and Dan Iseminger, and me. I also made an impassioned call to my long-time friend Lee Erickson in the Twin Cities with an offer he couldn’t, and didn’t, refuse.

So the Saturday in February arrived, and our rag-tag 6 met at the Pen. We changed into short pants and sneakers in an unused room at the prison, were lead through a couple of cell blocks, past the cafeteria, down a long tunnel, emerging in a cavernous, double-wide underground gym. There was one way in, and one way out. To our left was a boxing ring where two inmates were punching the bejesus out of each other. On the opposite side was the court, where 15 or so highly conditioned and disciplined Native young men were warming up. The crowd was very sparse. Program Director Reid Holsen, News Anchor Lori Scheel Martell and my brother Mike made up our cheering section/gang. A few dozen Native inmates were seated behind Banks and their bench. During the shoot-around I took a minute to stop, shake hands and introduce myself to Banks. As a 6th grader I’d followed Wounded Knee on TV and through the Weekly Reader (true). I don’t know if it was the nervousness of meeting this genuine historical icon, or the impending thrashing we were about to take on the court, but I have no memory of what I asked him or how he answered.

Thoughts quickly returned to the contest when from one end of the court emerged about a dozen Native prisoners and a drum. The BIG drum. The 12 spread out around the instrument and began playing and singing. The deafening emotional echo of the two gyms only magnified the power of the song, and our sense of dread, now in full flower.

We stayed with Banks’ team for about one quarter. Then every five minutes or so a fresh five would come off the Banks bench and RUN, RUN, SHOOT and then RUN some more. They were gentlemen throughout the game, and showed us skill and exceptional sportsmanship by only doubling us up 120-60. We considered it a moral victory that none of our “Iron 6” barfed or suffered cardiac arrest until after the final buzzer.

A camera crew from KDLT-TV shot the event. Somewhere, all that remains from that day is a short TV story including me in short gym shorts and a fuzzy white-guy semi-afro talking with possibly the world’s most influential Native American activist inside an underground prison gym in South Dakota. However, from that point forward, whenever my friend Erickson and I got up a pick-up game with some dangerous dudes on an inner-city playground, we were quick to let them ALL know the skinny white dudes they were about to tangle with had played PRISON BALL WITH DENNIS BANKS FROM THE INTERNATIONALLY FAMOUS ARMED OCCUPATION OF WOUNDED KNEE. You can’t make it up.

 

Junk, Mud and Caramel Apple Egg Rolls

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Above: Joan in Boots, 30 years after her questionable decision to say, “I Do”.  To me.

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It rained a lot in Omaha last week.  A LOT. Enough rain to turn an entire slope into a mud slide at the Omaha Zoo. It was bad enough that the zebra herd was replace with heavy earth moving machinery.  Elephants however, stuck it out.  The rain also turned parts of a lovely farm west of Omaha into a soup of mud garnished with the straw, plywood sheets and impromptu gravel which slowed, but did not stop, the faithful who came to celebrate One Man’s Junk.

 

Junkstock is billed as Three Days of Peace, Love and Junk, and like its 1970 inspiration Woodstock, it would take more than rain and mud to stop the throngs gathered to buy and sell the remnants of agraria from generations past, and the repurposed creations from artists and artisans from throughout the Midwest.  Junkstock also featured a good chunk of live hillbilly music and creative eats, although the use of psychedelics  appeared to be kept to a minimum.  After some gentle prodding, my gal (above) thought ahead and brought her boots.  While there were plenty of attendees sporting Wellingtons and other waterproof footwear, there were others whose dainty footwear will probably face a mercy killing.

 

We looked and talked a lot more than we bought, but that was the plan going in.  While there were lots of interesting creations, the best may have been the apple-filled Chinese-style egg rolls, which the server augmented with hot caramel.  My only complaint with them is that they disappeared too fast.       Peace Out.

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Positively Jackson Street.

(Note: To Facebook Friends:  To read this blog in its entirely, click the link at the bottom, and please share it if you find it worthy.  Thanks!)

Ever had one of those nights out when you make all the right choices and exceed every expectation by a mile?  Me neither.  Until possibly tonight.  Joan and I are in Omaha celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary.  We’re staying near the Old Market Neighborhood downtown,  We took a total flier on a seafood restaurant called Plank Seafood and Provisions.  Normally I don’t buy seafood when I’m about as far from the ocean as you can be in North America, but tonight we took the chance.  Ordered the Blackened Catchfish Creole with Crawdads over Dirty Rice.

It was one of the Top 10 meals of my life. Maybe even top 5.  Service was great, and it did not break the bank. But things didn’t stop there.  Walking just one block away, we found this:  IMG_2500

Yes, quite possibly the only late-night Antique Store, Record Shop, Candy Store and Movie Theater in, well, anywhere.  While Joan scoped out the candy, I thumbed throw a smallish, but high quality, collection of LP’s,..and found THIS:

The Phones were a Twin Cities band I saw exactly once in the very early 1980’s.  They were the first band I’d heard played New Wave-ish covers of bands like Squeeze, Joe Jackson, Elis Costello, etc.  We had a GREAT time that night, good enough to still remember it some 35+ years later.  I had no idea they ever released a studio outtake EP of originals, and if I had the last place I’d expected to find it was in an all-night candy and antique store in Omaha, NE.  Joan, as usual, exhibited a great deal of patience with me through all of this.  When patience grew thin, I was rescued by an ice cream shop near by.

If there is a heaven, I hope it can live up to this evening.

The Gateway to Junkstock

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I’ve been a lot of places in my life.  Even though I’ve done two tours as a resident of Sioux Falls, SD, I have NEVER made the three hour trip to Omaha, NE.  That factoid falls this evening.  Joan and I are celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary with a 3-day weekend to the Gateway To The West.

Among our stops:  Junkstock .  www.junkstock.com  Now, before you jump on me, we had decided on the trip to Omaha BEFORE I learned  that 3 Days of Peace Love and Junk is happening this weekend.  Must have been meant to be.  Joan’s free pick is the zoo, which I hear is looking good.  We’ll have lots of time for other things, and this is where you come in: I  am looking for recommendations on restaurants, used LP record/music stores, best places to find interesting old stuff, best attractions, especially those one might not find in the travel literature.

Please reply with your top picks, and forward/share to your friends who might know Omaha well.  Thanks, and we’ll report from the field.  Literally, the field.  Ta Ta!

Damn The Torpedos

Tom Petty Full Moon Magnet      Tom Petty Torpedoes MagnetTom Petty CBGB's StickerTom Petty Logo Sticker

I am in absolute shock.  Just learned the news that legendary musician Tom Petty was taken off life support about an hour ago and declared dead from cardiac arrest.  Petty was 66 years old.

Tom Petty In The Coliseum VinylTom Petty Autographs MagnetTom Petty Southern Accents In The Sunshine State Vol 1 VinylTom Petty Whisky Magnet

The first rock concert I ever attended was the Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers “Damn the Torpedos” tour in the summer of 1979 at the Met Center in Bloomington.  I later saw Petty and the Heartbreakers both open for and back Bob Dylan, while also joining the Grateful Dead at their gargantuan “Dylan and The Dead” show at the Metrodome on June 26, 1986.  The sound/acoustics at both venues was fair (Met) to extremely poor (Dome), but it really didn’t matter.  I was with good, good friends at both shows, and joy was experienced by all.

Damn Tom.  Sure wish you couldn’t have stayed longer. Right now we need more like you, not fewer.  Vegas already made this a tough day.  Paint  It Black.                                    Tom Petty Heartbreakers Sticker

Looking’ Out My Front Door #3- Muscle

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(Note: I’m far from an authority, so if you have comments, stories, corrections additions, etc. please hit “comment” below. And share this with interested friends. They and I will thank you!)

I had a couple of minutes today, and it seemed like a good time to gaze through my office front door, ford the asphalt river of Tennis Lane, and stream into the Showroom of Unbroken Dreams at Vern Eide’s Exotica College of Cool Wheels. Immediately upon entrance I knew it was going to be a “workout” of source. Today’s theme: MUSCLE. Let’s take a look.

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The minute I walked in…THE JUDGE. Actually, it’s a stock 1970 GTO cloned into a GTO Judge. I looked up the color, and found in 1969 The Judge came in Hummer Orange. It is a clone (a regular GTO with Judge paint,decals, etc.), so its possible the ’69 color could have been put on a ’70 car. Regardless it was beautiful…even with the spoiler.

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As Muscle and Color are part of our theme today, the car right next to The Judge? A beautifully restored 1972 Dodge Challenger 383 Four Barrel in lovely, shocking and scrumptious Purple Passion. Not many cars or trucks can pull off a purple exterior, but as any fan will tell you Purple Passion on a Challenger is pretty sweet. Flawless car, probably in better condition than when it rolled off the line.

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In the rear of the showroom we stick with the GM Orange theme: A 1971 Chevrolet Camaro. The color is again Hugger Orange, but again a factory color a year earlier in 1970. Whatever, the car was sharp and shiny, and just marked down to $32,000.

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Muscle strength came in many forms, and while this car is not classic American Muscle, it is a classic, and has PLENTY of muscle: A 1979 Ferrari 308 GTS. YES, other than color, this is the car made famous by actor Tom Sellack on the hit TV Series “Magnum PI”, and also driven by a scotch-swilling, DUI-eluding character played by Dean Martin and his sidekick played by Sammy Davis Jr. in the movie “Cannonball Run”. It’s not the classic Ferrari “Arrest Me Red” color, but no matter, it still looks like its going 200 kph even whenstanding still. Like I always say, if something’s good enough for Thomas Magnum and 2/5ths of the Rat Pack, that’s good enough for me.

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Finally: This is not a muscle car, unless you measure muscle by the weight of your wallet. Nothing says British Hootie-Patootie like a Rolls Royce. This unit is dated 1980. I think it is a Silver Shadow or a Silver Wraith II. If you can clarify or correct, please do by leaving a comment below. What I DO know is his one has only 33K miles and is priced below $28,000. Heck, for that money you could buy this car and hire a driver on weekends and still not spend what you’d have to do buy a new late model pickup…although I don’t recommend hauling a load of quartzite gravel in the trunk of this genteel car-about-town.

If you have additions, corrections or real-life stories of your experiences with any of these cars, please hit comment and add them. And please share this post with the beloved motor heads in your like. They’ll be glad you did.

One Person CAN Make A Difference

IMG_2426(L-R: Father Steve Miles (QC’s son), QC Miles, your author)

Last night I watched a documentary about the 50th Anniversary of the Rucker Summer Basketball League in Harlem, NYC. It was the first of the summer leagues where people from kids to NBA pros come together physically and spiritually through the game of basketball. The motto of the tournament is “Each One Teach One”, which is a great description of the mentoring process. I firmly believe there are few things more powerful in steering lives down the right path than a positive relationship with a true mentor, especially for those kids who have few if any of the family ties and creature comforts most of us enjoy.

On Labor Day I had a rare encounter with a man who has spent a lifetime as a mentor and influenced hundreds and thousands of lives in South Dakota.  Among those he influenced was my late father.  That mentor? Quentin C. Miles, age 96.

Q.C. Miles was a teacher, school superintendent and basketball coach for decades in several small school districts across South Dakota.  A decorated combat pilot in WWII, Q.C. returned to SD and became a teacher and coach.  In the early-mid 1950’s Q.C. found himself superintendent and basketball coach at tiny Gann Valley SD at a time when the nearby reservation high school at Ft. Thompson closed and sent students…and players…to Gann Valley. There was conflict, much of it racial. Some wise person once told me, in so many words, “If you want to cause trouble in a small town, mess with the school and the kids.  Parents will respond with lighted torches and cans of gas”.  The first couple of years were tough, but Q.C. soon had the team at the State “B” tournament (nothing like winning to bring people together!).   Q. C. went on to successfully coach, teach and lead at schools across East River, and became an influential legend in all matters of High School Sports.

In 1957, after four years of college sandwiched between two  years in the Army, and a year teaching in De Smet, my Dad, Mom and older brother Mike (then a toddler)  headed back to Forestburg SD to teach at the same school my parents, grandparents and many relatives had all attended.. The position paid a whopping $2,450.00 (a few hundred short of the cost of a basic ’56 Chevy).  As many did to make ends meet, my parents also raised a big bunch of chickens for eggs, a bunch of calves to finish out, and sold Dekalb Seed Corn on the side.  The superintendent who hired Dad at Forestburg? Q. C. Miles. Throughout my life I heard my Dad talk about Q. C. many, many times, and how much of a mentor and teacher Q.C. was to him while starting out in his career. A few years in, Dad was offered HIS first superintendent’s job at neighboring Artesian. Where did he go for advice? To Q. C. Miles, who said while he was sad to let such a good teacher and man go, Dad would be a fool to not take the job. That started a 30+ year career for my dad, leading small town school districts in SD and MN.  I have to believe Dad’s story was just one of hundreds influenced by Mr. Miles.

Now being on the planet for 96 years, and teaching and coaching his entire working life in SD communities, Q.C. must have come in contact with tens of thousands of students, parents and teachers.  Yet he could recount interviewing my Dad.  He asked about my Mom, and even remembered her maiden name and the names of her parents.  Q.C. told me he hoped I knew.how lucky I was to have the intelligence genes from both the Tlustos and Matthews gene pools running around in me (I told him I did).  He told me stories of my Grandpa Clarence (Dad’s dad) and his tenure on the Forestburg School Board. It was my grandpa who upon meeting Q.C. told him how unimpressed he was with him, yet after the interview told his fellow board members that “We CAN’T let this one get away”. Q. C., just like my Dad, gave a lot of the credit for his school’s successes to the quality school board members he worked with.

With decades working in all those towns with all those people, Quentin C. Miles has positively influenced countless lives and communities.  On Labor Day 2017 he touched mine, and reminded me by example that however rudderless, reckless and discouraging our times appear today, there’s living proof in Watertown, SD that one person CAN make a positive difference, if he or she is willing to put in the time and effort, and inspire individual eople to become a community.