Minnesota Helicopters

Young men have often found inspiration in the things they have seen in the sky. John James Audubon was thrilled by the birds flying over his head during his childhood in Haiti, and went on to become the United States’ preeminent ornithologist. Homer Hickam’s revelation at Sputnik soaring above his home in 1957 would lead him to work as an engineer for NASA. In that tradition, when a five year old Chris Webb looked up from playing in his backyard one day to see a helicopter, he knew that helicopters and only helicopters must be the thing.

Gondola Romantica

Maybe you’ll fall in love with me domani

Maybe tomorrow night the sun will shine

I’ll change my name from Johnny to Giovanni

If you will say domani, you’ll be mine

-Domani, Julius La Rosa

When John Kerschbaum is asked how he came to operate gondola tours out of Stillwater, the tone of his answer betrays just how often he has provided it: “Well, I took a wrong turn in Venice, and here I am!” If pressed for it, however, he’ll offer up the real story.

Dairyland Donkey Ball

The donkey is both the worst and the best animal to combine with sport. When it comes to motivation, cooperativeness, and athleticism, the donkey is distinctly lacking. A. A. Milne didn’t get the inspiration to write a character like Eeyore because he’d sensed a certain burning passion within the donkeys he knew. However, the beast’s characteristic obstinance creates quite a spectacle when he’s asked to compete. The dour expression the donkey always wears, like someone just did something unspeakable to his Cheerios, contrasts beautifully with that of his rider who is trying eagerly to persuade him to go along with a game of baseball or basketball. The donkey is open to such a suggestion, but ultimately has the final say over the matter.

Back to the 50’s Weekend

“Modern cars. They all look like electric shavers.”

-Frank Miller, Sin City

I’ve got nothing against modern cars personally, especially the ones offered for sale by this magazine’s generous advertisers. New cars’ cutting edge technology that warms your seat for you, tells you where to go without getting testy whenever you miss a turn, and shows you what’s coming up behind as you reverse so you can watch as you back over your neighbor’s mailbox in 1080p definition can be a lot of fun. Still, there’s just something about the classics that’ll never be topped. I want to see cars like the ‘59 DeSoto Firedome, which has tail fins that stick up like the ears of a startled Doberman, or the ‘58 Austin-Healey Bugeye Sprite which wears an expression like it’s surprised to see how goofy it looks. That’s why I’m glad Back to the 50’s Weekend exists.

Dakota Rodeo

“I’ve always been in the horse and livestock business,” said Joe Simon of Dakota Rodeo. “Back in about 1980 I took a couple of my bucking horses to this one fella’s rodeo to sell. These were good horses — one of them bucked a rider right off. I thought that my price was already low, but the fella wanted to give me even less than I was asking. He told me that if I wanted that much money, then I ought to just do rodeo myself. I was young, so I did.

DockDogs Northern Stars

Did you know that your dog has been honed over the course of millions of years of natural selection and millenia of selective breeding to do more than sniff out stale Cheez-Its that have fallen under your sofa? That explains a lot about their behavior. When they treat you to a hearty session of impassioned scream barking at three in the morning, it’s not to amuse you — it’s to alert you to the very likely presence of saber-toothed tigers in your backyard. When they go insane with joy every time you come back home, even if you only left to refill your bird feeder, it’s only because they’re so relieved that you haven’t eaten by said tigers. Don’t you owe it to your dog to let them do the dog things they are meant to do? You do, which is why DockDogs Northern Stars is so neat.