Our Oct-Nov issue is on the virtual news stands. Several readers have asked if it is possible to enlarge the type of The Ryder online. Yes you can! Click on the link. You’ll see a series of buttons at the bottom of your screen, just below the magazine. The two on the far-right are both different types of zoom functions. Experiment with them until you find the size that’s right for you.


Culture and the Pandemic As political divisions and economic hardships surge today, culture seems ironically to be flourishing under technologies like streaming and Zoom, but also struggling; museums, archives and theaters, all depend on public access and support. By Darlene J. Sadlier

Belarus or Bust There are just a handful of countries that will accept Americans during the pandemic. One of them is Belarus. It’s affordable, and it’s just downwind from the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. By John Linnemeier

Outward “Perhaps it’s the pandemic,” Lynne writes, ”that’s given me time to pause more than I normally do about my life and loves and losses.  It’s certainly made me think of my first love 57 years ago in California.” By Lynne Gilliatt

First Cow Kelly Reichardt’s first film since her IU visit is a fable of capitalism. Dreams of beating history are what Western settlement is made of. And such dreams are doomed to be dashed. By Tom Prasch

Social Psycho The Social Network turns 10 this year. American Psycho turns 20. What do Mark Zuckerberg and Patrick Bateman have in common? More than you might think. By Brian Stout

Covered Bridges What does it mean to be a Hoosier? Our author biked across the covered bridges of Parke County to find out. By Mason Cassady​



The Many Faces of David Ortiz y Pino

A street artist is finding a new path

By Mason Cassady

David Ortiz y Pino spends most days downtown, sitting on a bench in Oddfellows Alley on Kirkwood Avenue, between Blu Boy Chocolate and Farm Restaurant. It’s hard not to notice his hands as they scurry across flats of cardboard to create abstract drawings. At his feet, he displays his finished artwork to those walking by.

As he nears his 50th birthday, art has given him a new sense of identity and a new purpose on the streets of Bloomington. I sat down with Ortiz to talk about his drawing, and our conversation extended into the details of his life. Similar to faces he portrays with ink, Ortiz has lived a life of many faces.

Around Christmas of 2019, Ortiz was bored while sitting outside of JL Waters. A person walked by and made a remark about making something to give to people. This sparked a thought in Ortiz as he sat there, wondering what he could do with his time. “You know what… I could draw!” Ortiz told me as he recounts that wintery day, “I ran down to the dumpster to get some cardboard. I borrowed a couple markers and pens from a bartender at a restaurant on the corner and started drawing. I was on my third or fourth piece when some people walked by and wanted to buy one. I was shocked.” Ortiz continued in astonishment, “I’m still dumbfounded if I sell my art. I love the art that I create but the idea that other people like it and want to buy it is such a weird and cool feeling.” Read more

If you would like to make a donation to help purchase art supplies for David, please email

Singer-songwriter Krista Detor brings nine Nyu theatre-makers to Bloomington and turns her farm into an artist’s colony

By Kellen Sillanpaa

Krista Detor isn’t completely sure whose idea it was.

She knows that she was there, the matriarch of her 40-acre homestead in rural Bloomington, The Hundredth Hill, complete with three guesthouses, and a barn performance space, and a dirt-covered pig named Ghede. She knows that her old college roommate was there—you know, the one who used to have a purple rattail, but who was now an employer of 100 people in a suburb of San Francisco with an eye for the things Krista hates the most—namely, spreadsheets, budgets, and numbers. She knows that her goddaughter was there—fresh from her NYU graduation on YouTube, a product of the prestigious Tisch School of Drama, now quarantined, and unemployed, and broke, no chance to direct the hard-driving, brain-exploding plays the New York theatre scene will one day know her for.

Krista does know that the wine was flowing. She knows that the chocolate was out. She knows that the dogs were pacing the kitchen, and that her husband was off punching new windows through some unknown room in her house, and that the sun had gone down and the moon had come up, and that at some point—somewhere in between that first and second bottle of wine—the idea had appeared, had manifested itself, had wandered out of the forest and sat itself down at Krista’s kitchen table.

The idea was small, but powerful in its simplicity. What if Kyndall, the goddaughter, picked eight of her friends from NYU—all similarly quarantined, and unemployed, and broke—and brought them to Indiana? What if Krista took what she learned at artist residencies in Seattle and Belfast and of course Bloomington, and created a fully-fledged, real deal artist residency at The Hundredth Hill? What if all of them joined forces to create a series of plays, brand new and socially distant and just for the Bloomington community, that had a chance to shatter what we think we know about how to create theatre in the age of Covid? What if everything the three of them had done for the last five years had led them exactly to this moment?

And Jesus, what if it worked? Read more

The Ryder needs your support. Our business model for the past 40 years – publish a magazine that would always be free and supported by local advertising – does not work during a pandemic (for all of the obvious reasons). Even the electronic version of The Ryder costs money to produce. If you like this article or just want to show your support for locally produced, independent journalism, please visit our GoFundMe page. Your contribution will help us to continue producing the magazine during the pandemic.

A Brief, Unauthorized history of the nra

By Jason Vest

The NRA brands anyone who doesn’t share their views as a ‘Fudd,’ a play on Bugs Bunny’s nemesis Elmer Fudd. “They get very upset at those who don’t support the right to own every kind of weapon,” says Frank Smyth. “The fact is, I’m a paradox: I’m a Fudd, because I’m comfortable with gun control; yet I own a very non-Fudd gun, the Glock-19.”

It’s not a weapon he’s ever used outside of a gun range, but if anyone’s heard their fair share of shots fired in anger in dodgy spots the world over while investigating human rights violations, arms trafficking and extremism, it would be Frank Smyth. I first met Smyth in 1997, and after just a decade into journalism, he was already the stuff of legend. Perhaps “the youngest old Central America  hand” in the late 1980s before he left El Salvador to cover the first Gulf War,  Smyth was thought by many to have been killed at the hands of Iraqi Baathist cadre after he disappeared in northern Iraq in early 1991 on assignment for CBS News radio in the waning days of the first Gulf War, Smyth had in fact been captured and hauled to Abu Ghraib, then under the grisly management of Saddam Hussein. Released after deft, behind-the-scenes international negotiations, Smyth’s subsequent account in the Village Voice of a harrowing ordeal –  including witnessing the summary execution of a colleague, and being forced to listen to the continuous torture of fellow prisoners in the infamous Iraqi prison – was justly nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. Read more in the new issue of The Ryder magazine

IU’s Reopening and Bloomington’s public schools

By reopening for on-campus instruction this fall, colleges and universities are essentially sacrificing the quality and equity of K-12 education in their local communities

By Jessica Calarco

Across the country, public colleges and universities are preparing to bring students back to campus. That includes Indiana University, which is welcoming all students to return to Bloomington, though larger courses and gen-ed courses will be held online this fall. Meanwhile, in many of the towns that house colleges and universities, public K-12 schools have announced a shift to online-only instruction, at least for the start of the year. That includes the Monroe County Community School Corporation in Bloomington.

These K-12 and higher-ed decisions may seem unrelated, but there is reason to suspect that the reopening of public colleges and universities is contributing to the continued closure of K-12 schools. Read more in the new issue of The Ryder…

The Ryder’s Fiction issue

Our annual fiction issue is on the stands. Special thanks to Fiction Editor Justin Chandler who read through the many submissions we received and chose the six that we have published. “Fiction is often most celebrated when it is most individualistic,” Justin says, “presenting an experience that is unlike any other, equating privacy and originality with authenticity. If that’s the case, is fiction capable of presenting life as a collective exercise? How do you tell the story of a pandemic? Of a divided populace? Of indifferent or even malevolent elected officials? It’s a year like no other and I hope that each of these stories offers you something new—if nothing else, the pleasure of reading, the opportunity to briefly step away from the endless barrage of information and to think newly and differently about the world.”

We would be remiss if we did not also acknowledge the work of Ali Maidi, whose distinctive illustrations accompany and enhance each story.

Also in our August issue:

The Many Faces of David Ortiz Y Pino: A downtown street artist who is finding a new path. by Mason Cassady

A Brief, Unauthorized History of the NRA: If anyone knows about guns and the NRA it is Frank Smyth. He’s heard more than his fair share of shots fired in anger in dodgy spots the world over while investigating human rights violations. He’s written an unauthorized history of the NRA and he talks to Ryder editor-at-large Jason Vest

From Farm to Table-Reading: Singer-songwriter Krista Detor is bringing nine NYU theatre-grads to Bloomington, re-imaging her farm as an artist’s residency. By Kellen Sillanpaa

Talk Talk Talk: Mike Leigh’s Peterloo: The award-winning filmmaker has turned his sights on the 1813 Peterloo massacre, in which armed British troops attacked peaceful protesters. Sound like anything you’ve read about recently? By Tom Prasch


The Hidden Cost of IU’s Reopening: By opting for on-campus instruction this fall, colleges and universities are essentially sacrificing the quality and equity of K-12 education in their local communities. By Jessica Calarco

We are normally supported by by paid advertising but that is not the case during the pandemic. There are no paid ads in this issue. The display ads that you will see as you flip through the magazine are published at no cost to the advertiser. And while it is true that by publishing electronically we are avoiding a printing bill, we do have other monthly expenses. And so if you see an article you like, or just want to support locally produced, independent journalism please consider making a donation.

The July issue of the ryder magazine is on the virtual newstands

Crimes of a Native Tongue: “To become an accidental advocate on the world stage for a father who is a political prisoner – and, by extension, for your entire people as well – is no easy task for anyone in the best of circumstance,” writes Filiz Cicek in Crimes of a Native Tongue. “For IU student Jewher Ilham, a teenage girl suddenly ripped from family moorings half-a-world away, unversed in any cultures or languages beyond her own, it might have been nearly impossible.” (there’s more to read in the July/August issue of The Ryder)

K-pop in the Age of Culture Wars: Most people who spend time online, particularly on Twitter, end up running into fans of Korean popular music. K-pop fans share photos or short videos of their faves with quips like “anyway, stan LOONA,” writes CedarBough T. Saeji. “They may not sound like serious political activists, but recent events have made news-watchers consider them in a new light. They flooded iWatch Dallas, the app set up by Texas law enforcement to prosecute protesters using citizen footage. K-pop fans instead presented the Dallas police department with their own citizen footage: thousands of videos of their favorite stars. Eventually, iWatch Dallas was forced to go off line. Similar approaches rendered white nationalist hashtags useless for organizing. ARMY, fans of the group BTS’s ARMY, flexed and donated $1 million to Black Lives Matter causes in just 24 hours. And then there was Donald Trump’s Tulsa rally…. (there’s even more to read in the July/August issue of The Ryder)

That’s not all.

The Vietnam War may be five decades old but the past is never far behind in Spike Lee’s new movie. Tom Prasch reviews Da 5 Bloods.

Many a soldier has gone to war believing in a cause. Ambrose Bierce emerged from combat realizing that the enemy of man is not so much other men but war itself. Jason Vest looks at the life and times of Indiana’s poet of the battlefield.

Jim Krause visits Ecuador, Mason Cassady gallivants around Bulgaria and Jeff Mease encourages us all to mask up in the July/August issue of The Ryder magazine.

We are normally supported by by paid advertising but that is not the case during the pandemic. There are no paid ads in this issue. The display ads that you will see as you flip through the magazine are published at no cost to the advertiser. And while it is true that by publishing electronically we are avoiding a printing bill, we do have other monthly expenses. And so if you see an article you like, or just want to support locally produced, independent journalism please consider making a donation.

Why The Ryder need your support today


Through the years, The Ryder has been generously supported by local shops and restaurants, many of them in the downtown arts district, many of them purchasing ad space simply because they wanted to support a community magazine. Their support has benefited not just the magazine, but also, indirectly, the Film Series. If you flip through the current issue of the magazine (or any of the other issues that we’ve published since the start of pandemic) you’ll see display ads for local stores, cafes and community organizations. But given the current economic environment, we have decided that it’s our turn to step up. And so all of the ads in these issues have been published at no cost to the advertisers. And while it is true that by publishing electronically we are avoiding a printing bill, we do have other monthly expenses.

Back in March, when we made the decision to publish the magazine without ad revenue, we thought the pandemic would be under control by September. Clearly, we were wrong about that. Today, with the end nowhere in sight, we are asking for your support to publish The Ryder into the spring.  Funds will be used to cover operating expenses and continue to keep paid staff employed until advertising revenue begins to steadily increase. 

Paying it forward – with your donation of $50 or more to The Ryder, you can designate a community organization of your choice — the Community Kitchen, Middle Way House, the Animal Shelter, Bloomington Playwrights Project, the Bloomington chapter of Black Lives Matter or any other local organization — and we can reciprocate, in a small way, by offering them complimentary space in the magazine to promote their own project or fundraiser. You can make a donation through our GoFundMe page. After your donation, let us know which organization you would like to support; simply send an email to THANK YOU!

june issue of the ryder

The new issue of The Ryder magazine is on the virtual newsstands …

How can you govern a barnyard of pets in French cheese country? Wandering writer Mason Cassady felt a mix of shock, excitement and disbelief in France, Belgium and Wales.

How much do you really know about truckers, especially 21st century truckers?   They are no longer good ole boys. John Linnemeier tells us that today’s drivers hail from all over the globe and come in all colors, shapes and sizes.

It seems like we’re all living in a never-ending on deck circle, but Emily Nemens’ new novel, Cactus League, gives even non-baseball fans reason to hope during the long, long rain delay. WFHB’s Emily Jackson steps up to the plate with an insightful review.

Neal Stephenson’s stories are about outsiders, smart characters looking at their world in syncopated time and threading their way through, often making it better in the process. Rachel Duel Hertz explains that Stephenson may be our best literary companion for this pandemic’s strange gift of separation and time.

Look Who’s Talking: Danielle McClelland The outgoing Executive Director of the Buskirk-Chumley talks about the past and the future of the theater

All of this in the current issue of The Ryder magazine

Why does The Ryder need your support?

Our business model for the past 40 years has been pretty simple: the magazine would always be free and supported by advertising. That is no longer possible. Not now, and not for the foreseeable future. The local shops and restaurants that are open are in no position to lend their financial support to a local arts magazine, as much as they might like to.

Yes, as you flip through this issue of The Ryder you will see display ads for community organizations and local restaurants. But those ads are included at no charge. And while we do not have a printing bill right now, we do have other expenses.

And so if you discover one or two articles that you like and if you are in a position to make a donation, it will be gratefully appreciated. No amount is too small. You’ll be helping to support local, independent journalism.


let’s write a short story!

Now might be as good a time as any to dust off that short story you started when you were an undergrad. We are reading submissions from Bloomington writers for our annual summer fiction issue. What do we mean by “Bloomington writers”? We’re not really sure. A Bloomington address would help. But if you attended IU and no longer live here, that would be fine as well. Maybe you passed through town on your way to Evansville? Any connection will do, no matter how tangential.

Please put “Fiction Submission” in the subject line and send your story to

A few guidelines….

1 – Double-spaced in Word. Do not indent to indicate a new paragraph; a hard return will suffice.

2 – Word limit: 5,000 words. This is not negotiable. The 5001st word will not be considered, no matter how amazing it may be.

3 – Wear a mask and wash your hands for 20 seconds under hot water.

Send your story right away. He who hesitates is … how does that expression go? No matter. We look forward to reading your work!

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