My First Bard

Me and Bill Hoover

I had a rare treat today. 20 years ago, I had my first work published ever. Pretty impressive, right? Let me explain.


I live in Omaha, NE. 20 years ago, a fledgling arts scene was sprouting up in town and I was near the heart of it. I can’t say “at the heart of it” because that would imply that I had something to do with it. Which I most certainly did not. But I was near it. A lot of the guys who I knew in high school were just starting to record music together. It was so cool to be near the first buds of what would become Saddle Creek Records. If you don’t know, Saddle Creek Records is an independent record label here in town that actually started as Lumberjack Records. Lumberjack’s first recording was Water by a then 12 year-old kid named Conor Oberst. If that name means nothing to you, go to Google and type it in. Seriously. Open a new window and do this. I’ll wait.

See? Pretty impressive stuff. Me and one of my best friends (Greg, my AA sponsor) used to go over to Connor’s house and listened to him and all his friends play music in his basement. What we were listening to would prove to be some of the most killer music I have ever heard played by guys that would populate various bands over the years in Omaha and whose most recent manifestations are the bands Cursive, Bright Eyes, the Good Life, Mayday, the list goes on.


I forget how it happened, but me and Greg found out that some college kids were starting an alternative newsweekly called Sound News and Arts. We weren’t as cosmopolitan as we are now and so didn’t know that the concept of the alternative newsweekly had been progressing in bigger cities for quite some time. But Sound was Omaha’s first newsweekly (and would eventually become The Reader where I worked for 3 years as a staff writer) and me and Greg went over to the house of John Heaston and would just sit and soak up the vibe of these college kids who were trying something totally new. Me and Greg even had a poem we wrote published in one of the first issues, A Light Supper in Nietzsche’s Kitchen. And it was downright laughable. I mean come on. What could two little white boys from Omaha possibly know about Friedrich Nietzsche, let alone comprehend, let alone put into a poem, let alone allow that poem to get published. But we thought we were so cool after that. Then I suggested doing an article about the big brother of a friend of my brother who had recently started playing music at place I think called Kilgore’s (I know, very strange that I would end up naming my first dog that) and had recently gotten back to town after a sort of Jack Kerouac-esque trip across the country. Heaston was all for it. So I did the interview and wrote the article and it was published in Sound News and Arts. My first bona fide published interview with a “public figure.”

So what does all of this have to do with quantum physics? Well, Bill Hoover the “public figure” has become Bill Hoover the public figure and he’s been creating his own art and music for the last 20 years. Today, I went to a TEDx event at a high school here in town and Bill was one of the speakers. The theme of all the speakers was Boldness in Creativity and Bill spoke about his experience of being an artist and along with Bill there was a woman who started Girls Rock, a sort of day camp to get girls interested in playing music, along with a guy who has garnered international acclaim as well as sponsorship of companies for his work in getting Omaha its first skateboard park and designing skateboards and winning competitions among other things. After the show,  I approached Bill and, God love him, he remembered me and the interview we did together (he said he thought that he even saw something about the interview online but I had don’t have the Hotspot dollars to invest in finding it). One of my favorite authors recently did a speech for a TED event and I saw a couple other TED speakers do presentations that just blew me away (as well as getting me into some hot water with said author). And it got me thinking that this is something I should think about doing. I mean a TED speech. So I figured since I talked to a good friend of mine months ago that’s involved in TED, maybe telling my story and how it led to starting this blog was something I could do.

So anyway, that’s me and my first bard. Life is a wheel.

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