Sunday, March 16, 2014

Jim's Campaign Kick-off, Little Sweden, and the Swedish Chef, part II

Yesterday my office-mate and friend Jim Sherow officially kicked off his race for U.S. Congress (KS-01). The campaign decided to hold the event in an historic Art Deco theater in downtown Hutchinson, the small central Kansas city where Jim was born. You can read more about Jim, the campaign, and the vulnerable, ultra-Tea Party incumbent Tim Huelskamp in an earlier NPLH entry. And here's the very favorable write-up of Saturday's launch in the Hutchinson News, e.g., “'Kansans need a viable alternative to Huelskamp’s callousness and calculation,' Sherow said at the Fox Theatre to cheers." (Love the theater's British spelling.) If you're on Facebook and have not yet, please click over to Jim's page and like it (you may already have an invitation to do so). Jim is not going to have as much money as the Koch brothers-funded incumbent, so he has to win the social media battle. And if you can afford to contribute, please go to

Sometimes I think politics just finds us ... today J was flying back to SLC, got bumped to first class, and ended up sitting across the aisle (LOL) from our esteemed Senator Orrin Hatch. During the always-awkward who-goes-first-getting-off-the-plane moment, Hatch told J, "Go ahead sweetie."

Lots of great links today -- so please remember, clicking on them brings up a new window -- you won't lose your place.

Below is Jim delivering the red meat (ok, actually, given Jim's very genuine preference for moderation, civility, and reason, the speech was quite positive  ... except when he addressed the serious and largely unaddressed long-term water problems facing western Kansas).

The Fox Theatre is a classic. Why doesn't the Wareham look like this?

Jim drew a great crowd, with lots of people driving a long way across the enormous Big First to show their support. But really, no TV media? Cue extended discussion of incumbents' built-in advantages.


If you have an obvious reaction to the photograph ... yes, there is no doubt that -- on both sides of the aisle -- we need to work harder to get more of today's quite cynical young generation to care about politics. Here's Jim working on this very matter. 

After the launch, completely unrelated to politics, my new friend Kim and I stopped in the Swede-settled (Swedish-settled?) town of Lindsborg to make it a real roadtrip. I'd been meaning to get to Lindsborg forever, and I've been in a Scandanavian mood the last couple weeks after watching the excellent 2006 Danish film "After the Wedding" (plus, a certain sport I'm not allowed to mention in this entry just wrapped up its season this weekend in Falun, Sweden). According to legend, Lindsborg is right near the hill where Spanish explorer Coranado went no further on his northern travels, having failed to find the cities of gold (and there is more evidence than just the Spanish chain mail found in the area that he was here) Needless to say, Lindsborg induced immediate nostalgia for Europe -- including the flower boxes of southern Germany. 

These flower boxes are actually inside, at the Courtyard Gallery and Bakery, so obviously it was time for a ... would it be kaka paus, cousin to the German Kuchenpause? Or just a fika, or coffee break? We started with a lingonberry bar and a kringla (plural: kringlor), an astonishingly delicious almond paste-based pastry. According to Wikipedia, many Scandinavian versions of the dessert are pretzel-shaped (as the root of the word means circle), but this kringla obviously was not. And upon second reading, seriously, "almond paste-based pastry" deserves to replace "He sells seashells by the seashore" as the language's best tongue twister. At the least, German friends, it deserves inclusion in the MPI retreat ...

Having bought what we thought was the last kringla of the day, we set out to find the other Swedish bakeries in town to secure goods to bring home. But here's where Jim Turner, a Lindsborg-based photographer (yes, he is half Swedish), and his friend informed us that, sadly, the Courtyard is the only Swedish bakery remaining in town (more on this in a moment). Luckily for us, however, Jim's Brickstreet Gallery is just two doors down, so he knew that there would be more kringlor in the refrigerator. It hadn't been frosted yet ...

And voilà.

Take that Olympians who blog Swedish pastries, and thanks for saving the roadtrip, Jim. Everyone can check out Jim's wedding and portrait business here, and see his great landscape photography here.

I already had economic and demographic change on the Great Plains on the brain given the talk I just gave in Nebraska, and so I couldn't help but ponder the matter of the dwindling bakeries. One of the closed bakeries is now a Mexican restaurant, which, reflecting not only shifting demographics in the Midwest but also shifting tastes, is something to celebrate.

But it's unfortunate that what was once a third Swedish bakery in town also recently closed. 

I should state that I know nothing about Lindsborg and how it is doing, so I hope that this spate of closings reflects retirements or at worst the insidious anti-carb obsession and not the difficulties that beset many Plains communities of its size (about 3500 people) as technologies and markets shift. And while people who know me well can attest that I am usually the last person on earth to promote ethnic tribalism (as all cultures everywhere are social constructions), it does seem worthwhile for communities such as Lindsborg to hold onto their unique identities. 

Wow, that turned serious for a moment. Sorry about that. See what happens when I don't write about a certain barley-derived beverage I'm not allowed to mention in this entry? Clearly this moment calls for ... the Swedish Chef, whom we last saw in December making flappen jacken and poutine in Montreal -- and who came to mind when Jim was working on the pastries. 

And, for additional comic relief, here's a nominee in the best-shirt-of-the-year category. It took me a few minutes to realize how funny it was (I'm assuming the shirt is fairly old ...); at first glance I thought his parents were simply farmers. BTW, an "L" was cut out of the photo. 

I'm looking forward to getting back to Lindsborg, especially as I failed to realize until after the fact that the town also has a museum housing the work of the major U.S. western artist Birger Sandzén.

I do not own this image. If anyone wants this taken down, please let me know before suing me.
All I can add is ... Virginia is a No. 1 seed! Re: the Hoos and Jim both -- GAME ON!

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