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

and

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

WHY THE RYDER NEEDS 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 peter@theryder.com 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.

MAKE A DONATION

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 editor@theryder.com

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!

Ryder magazine: april 2020

The Ryder <peter@theryder.com>AttachmentsThu, Apr 9, 12:31 AM (1 day ago)

The new issue of The Ryder is on the stands–well, not literally. This is our first issue to be published electronically. We considered publishing a print edition, but where would we distribute it?  Our April issue contains a number of entertaining and informative stories, but before we tell you about them, we have to talk about something else, something that makes us cringe when we think about it.
The Ryder has always been distributed free, with our expenses covered (hopefully) by advertising. There is no paid advertising in this issue.  Yes, when you flip through the magazine you will see ads, for not-for-profits hosting virtual fundraisers and local restaurants offering curbside service. Those ads are published at no cost to the advertiser, for all of the obvious reasons. Our biggest expense each month is our printing bill. But while there is no printing bill this month, 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. If you are not so inclined, you might instead consider purchasing a Ryder Film Series gift card. With either, you’ll be helping to support local, independent journalism.

MAKE A DONATION PURCHASE A GIFT CARD

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s talk about the good stuff….In the 1990s, Linda Poteat was a waitress at the Irish Lion. Today, she is a policy director at the United Nations, battling pandemics around the world. Contributing editor Jason Vest conducts an enlightening interview. “If you’re a right-wing person in a state like South Carolina,” Linda explains, “seeing an elite Hollywood liberal telling people to stay at home and wash their hands isn’t going to work.”

For three years in the early 90s, Bart Everson was one half of J&B on the Rocks, a weekly television show broadcast on BCAT that was years ahead of its time. Bart explains, “We began production with no expectation of success, with hardly a thought for the future. We slapped a camera on a tripod and sat under a bare bulb in a rough-hewn basement, our rambling dialog punctuated by liberal doses of liquor. Each week we recorded a new installment; each week our faces and voices appeared in living rooms around the city, through the miracle (or curse) of cable television. We quickly found the limits of legality, and soon after that we found an audience. The camera came off the tripod, and we escaped from the basement, as the scope of our production and our circle of friends expanded. The streets of Bloomington became our set, and the people of the city became our cast. There was no script, and no budget either.”  Twenty-five years ago, on April 18th, 1995, Rox became the first television show anywhere, to be broadcast on the internet. Time magazine was all set to do a cover story and then…well, you’ll have to read the article.

The first Earth Day took place 50 years ago, on April 22nd, 1970 and Ryder contributing editor Pennfield Jensen was there. Not only was he there, but he helped to organize it. “Earth Day has become an icon for earth awareness,” Penn writes. “But Earth Day 2020 shows only too well how miserably we, as environmentalists, have failed.”
There’s more in this issue. Mason Cassady writes about Beekeeping in Poland, Charlotte Zietlow discusses the challenges of County Government, WFIU introduces a podcast about Ernie Pyle and West Coast Bureau Chief Jason Vest writes about quarantine-life in a coastal town in northern California. “I am not one to romanticize small-town life,” Jason writes. He does not. 

Earth day

Some Notes on its Origin with a View to the Future

By Pennfield Jensen

[editor’s note: Pennfield Jensen is a recovering environmentalist and until now he has been a frequent contributor to The Ryder.]

Earth Day 2020. Fifty years gone by, and the next fifty trending badly. I hate to say it, but I feel today exactly as I felt when John McConnell launched Earth Day at my conference back in 1969. Let me explain.

The venue was the first UNESCO “Man and The Environment” conference, a three-day affair, November 23-25, held at the St. Francis Hotel in San Francisco. It was set as a  precursor to the Main Event of the same name to be held three years later in Stockholm. I call it “my” conference but that’s a stretch. The organizer was Huey Johnson, at that time the director of the Western Region of The Nature Conservancy.  I was his de facto assistant. As gofer-in-chief, my task was managing the Sargasso of minutiae any conference of that magnitude entails. For example, John McConnell.

John was not on the roster of conference speakers. He wanted to be, desperately, and badgered me whenever he could find me, which was often, begging to find him a time slot somewhere, anywhere, but the schedule had been set in stone and I had no control over it. That said, no one had any serious objection to him being there. And “there” he was, bounding around pestering anyone who would listen to his idea of an Earth Day. He found supporters, and why not? Eventually he found the ear of Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, an avowed environmentalist. The very next year, 1970, Earth Day happened. San Francisco Mayor Joe Alioto sanctioned it; New York Mayor John Lindsay sanctioned it. Millions of people took to the streets around the country and around the world. A movement had gathered force. Yes!

Then something else happened. In early 1972 John came by my office. By virtue of a side trip co-founding Earth Times magazine under the tutelage of Jann Wenner and the editors at Rolling Stone, I had founded Clear Creek, “The Environmental Viewpoint.” In 1972 we were going strong, having played a significant role in getting unleaded gasoline legislation passed, and were now gearing up for the ’72 Stockholm conference.

The Creek offices were on the top floor of the old Reynolds Tobacco Building at One South Park, a seedy corner of San Francisco. These days it is one of the hippest neighborhoods in San Francisco. In those days we shared our environs with crack addicts, gang conflicts, and marginal businesses. The corner office window was graced by a bullet hole the size of a golf ball. The building had bronze Indian heads under the eaves of the roof and a large LSMFT logo in the lobby (“Lucky Strike Means Fine Tobacco.”) We got to step on it every day. We were a team of researchers, writers and artists. An amazing watershed of bright, wonderful people.

John McConnell was ever and always the kind of person whose strength of personality and honest enthusiasm was contagious and fun. But on this day he was distraught, and he was seeking our help. Specifically, he wanted editorial backing in his dispute over the “illegal” appropriation of Earth Day by senator Nelson and his aide Denis Hayes as “their” idea. We listened sympathetically. But we had no dog in John’s fight.

As journalist-environmentalists, our goal was to raise consciousness for environmental awareness as an ethic, not just a once-a-year event, then ho-hum back to business as usual. Earth Day seemed to trivialize that larger vision and to diminish the urgency of a much-needed environmental ethos. Second, there was Denis Hayes. Harvard educated and charismatic, Denis had been hand-picked by Senator Nelson to head up Earth Day as an international operation. All apologies to John McConnell, but case closed. John had been inspired in the Sixties by a ‘great idea,’ but frankly, I did not think, nor do I today that Earth Day was any one person’s idea. Earth Day is one of those inevitable ideas, like Stonehenge and the autumn equinox; its time had come and it belonged to everybody.

Or perhaps nobody.

In Indianapolis the fiftieth anniversary of Earth Day is scheduled to be held on Saturday April 25th at Military Park. An array of 122 exhibitors, a beer garden and photo ops with various corporate mascots such as Roundup-Redi Kilowatt are planned. Should be fun.  Bloomington hopes to cheer on our lonely blue marble beginning at 1 PM at Switchyard Park on Saturday April 18th.  So we’ll have at least two weekends’ worth of sudsy gaiety and ominous warnings to look forward to. I had personally hoped to print up bumper stickers that read “I [Heart] Earth Day,” and organize volunteers to stick them on the windshields of every SUV they could find (which is every other vehicle I see) until Steve Cotter, a Bloomington Earth Day organizer, put the kybosh on it by saying “great idea, Penn—until someone gets shot.” Right.

Earth Day has become an icon for ‘earth awareness.’ That’s a good thing. My problem with Earth Day 2020 is that it shows only too well how miserably we, as environmentalists, have failed. The unchecked global rapaciousness that has pushed global warming past the tipping point of no return has created an irreversible fate for “Man and His Environment.” The 2015 Paris Accord to curtail global warming by controlling greenhouse gas emissions, was signed by every UN participant save Turkey and Iran. An end-game of sorts for the initial UNESCO conference in 1972, the Accord offered hope. It still does, even though Trump pulled the U.S. out of it and China never acknowledged it. That leaves the others to set the bar while the two largest polluters on the planet party hearty in open and arrogant defiance of irrefutable truth.

The science is good. What it tells us is not. We have failed to curb greenhouse gas emissions. We have failed to curb population growth. We have set in motion the demise of ecologies world-wide. Ultimately, we face a perfect storm of impending catastrophes that will be both as unavoidable as they will be horrific. Take pollinators as a random example. Thinking bees? And the global devastation they are undergoing? Their fate pales in comparison to the vast numbers of non-industrial insects, birds, and mammals that pollinate the grasses, flowers, and fruit trees on which we depend. Think ocean ecosystems coping with increased heat, acidity, and micro plastics, the “blanching” of the great coral reefs worldwide and the myriad creatures lost thereby. And of course melting glaciers, hellish droughts, damning floods. The consequences reach far beyond a few litigious millionaires whose oceanfront villas get swept away by rising tides. Sorry, but good riddance to what shouldn’t have been there in the first place.

The contingent sad truth is that there are no viable technological solutions to global warming, overpopulation, or the loss of ecosystems. A lot of attention is paid to solar power, wind power, tide power and sustainable growth. Those alternatives may slow the march to oblivion, here and there, but they won’t stop it. I think of the rage of Australian bush fires, and of the Wuhan coronavirus that as I write is wiping away trillions of dollars of global wealth and shuttering borders around the world. I don’t see these as once-in-a-hundred-years anomalies; they are the advance guards, nasty harbingers of what’s to come.

When tens of millions of people face bitter famine, convulsive war, and imminent death, their desperation will crush all hope. I hate writing this, but it is what terrifies me the most: losing the basic humanism that, up until now, has guided mankind through all of its darkest days. What happens when we turn against each other to save ourselves?

On the nominal Earth Day 2020, April 22nd, approximately 1,000 children will be born in the United States. Around 360,000 children will be born world-wide during those 24 hours.

Looking fifty years on down the road to Earth Day, 2070, I can’t imagine what those grown-up children will think of us.

And that’s tragic because never has any species achieved such a profound understanding of this incredible world which we inhabit, and of the universe in which we play such a small and insignificant part, yet only we it seems have the ability to comprehend. The wondrous truths that have been brought to light stagger the imagination. We cannot in a lifetime begin to appreciate it all. But we should try. We should work to “see” the world as it truly is. And we should teach others to do the same, otherwise we turn the lights out on life.

–Pennfield Jensen

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