The city of Winona Minnesota is a gem in the heartland with a free, empathetic, and dynamic spirit, much like The River itself. I shall attempt to convey enough detail that you our backer, fan, friend, family and casual reader will be able to use my recollections to discern whatever truth you wish to from my experience.
Aside from aiding the project’s director to achieve their vision by directly focusing on the moment to moment minutiae that needs to be addressed in order to capture the ever evasive history that hides beneath the surface, I had assumed a somewhat aggressive responsibility to understand and maybe even help plot a course forward for our project.
At Ed’s No Name Bar at Third and Franklin, I sat near a fire outback while the Scottish punk blues guitarist blared his music inside. I was teasing personal details from the lives of the handful of locals that had gathered around me and who were introduced to me by my guide, friend of the project, and local hero Alex.
I joked, listening to all their stories about where they had come from, and what tales The River had hidden under her current, “If Winona were a trap, it would be the singular most effective. I never want to leave.” I raised my glass, intending to honor and thank all of my new friends for their tales, and before I could take a swig of my cider Brianna, in her soft accent that only a die hard Californian such as myself might notice, was recapitulated the experiences of a friend that had indeed fallen for Winona.
Echoes of that theme came from the dozen folks gathered now, and I knew then that while I had been investing heavily in the social capital necessary to gather more local connections who may be willing to be recorded, it was necessary to halt and liquefy my stake in order for the project to move down river.
Production Assistants don’t coordinate the projects they’re assisting with, they dedicate themselves to the vision, best they can. This is not “A Secret History of Winona’s River People” after all.
However, there was one more lead I couldn’t possibly ignore, and I accompanied Alex across the way to Broken World Records (an all analog music bar!). Though he did not care to be interviewed and recorded, he did offer us another valuable treasure. After some extolling of our project’s vision, stating in no uncertain way how much our contact’s insight would be, he gave us the VHS recording of some events in the 80’s that shook Winona’s houseboats like the wake of a barge sinking.
I can’t say for certain that anything I said made a dent in his armor, but damn I am excited to see that tape converted to a modern medium, and shared with you dear reader.
For this night I was complete in knowing that while I could possibly gather more interviewees, the project was better served in other ways. We had miles to go before we could call our trip a success, and I would tuck away my notes from that evening.
Alex and I bid each other adieu for the evening, while I took in a bit more of the local color (for the record, it is a mottled, corn on the cob color).
Goodnight Dear Reader!
Until next time,