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Cheese & Grapes Ep. 2

Jars of homemade apple butter, grape jelly and salsa from Theresa Konwinski

Ha! Welcome to another episode of Cheese & Grapes. Don’t worry. We don’t really know what we’re doing either.

Friday kicked off a hell of a weekend. Knightheart, the founder of MVNIFVST, LLC, and Jesse Reau and Luna Day stopped in for a short podcast, some Marco’s pizza, and a four hour long kick it fest. Sunday I got to hang out with local horror film director, Nate Thompson, and local musician Zack Nevers. We talked all things horror, and new creative projects. Monday evening, my sometimes podcast cohost Mike McCoy dropped into Not a Duck in Any Row Studios, with his longtime friends Big Jon and local musician Aaron Konwinski. I haven’t laughed that much in a long while. Wednesday I hosted a livestream reading and interview for my dude J.I.B. an Ohio poet. His new book Our Tiny Little Lives is out now.

In the middle of all of those great good times, I bartered some poetry books to local writer Theresa Konwinski for some homemade apple butter, grape jelly and salsa. Friends, let me tell you, the apple butter is delicious. I haven’t had homemade apple butter in a lot of years, and Theresa’s didn’t disappoint. It’s got hints of extra cinnamon, I think it’s cinnamon, I really don’t know how apple butter is made. No matter. This apple butter is damn good. The grape jelly holds its own in toast trials. A dab of melting butter on toast, and a dollop of the homemade grape jelly is a noteworthy midnight snack. The real superstar of the trio is Theresa’s salsa. Oh, man. What a delight. It’s sweet, and bursting with flavor, and has a small kick that comes around on your third or fifth chip, depending on how fast I’m eating. It’s not a super spicy kick, but enough to sniffle your sinuses a little.

I gotta tell you, Theresa Konwinski is one of my favorite people. Not only is she a Doctor, she plays music, cans the best damn salsa this side of the Maumee River, and she writes kick ass books. You should buy a couple of them. Thank you for restoring my faith in high quality salsa, that explodes in a cyclone of flavor.

Tonight, I moseyed on over to the Switchboard on Monroe St. in downtown Toledo. My friend Ben Stalets of Everybody’s Laughing fame, was playing some music, and my friend John Freeman from Detroit was in town to jam with him. It gave me another chance to steal time with 60 Watt Funnel aka Josh Byer’s artwork. It’s on exhibit at the Switchboard until the end of the month. Stop in and see his amazing work. Plus, it was great as always to see Benny, and John, and Drew Rochotte dropped in and kicked off a set just as I was saying my good byes to Noelle, and Syd, too. Sorry Drew. The factory bells call early in the A.M.

As Toledo’s weather clocks march towards fall, there’s no reason to take the petal off the metal. It’s senior band night at my Senior Son’s high school on Friday. I’ll be hooping and hollering for my drummer son. Then Saturday I’m reading poetry in Portsmouth, OH at the Southern Ohio Museum with J.I.B. in support of that kick ass new book of his, and Sunday and Monday I’m back to hosting new podcast episodes.

There’s no rest for the wicked, and barely any for factory working writers.

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Cheese & Grapes Ep. 1

A photo of me with my poem “God Bless the Union Autoworkers.” The poem is on display at UAW Local 12.

It’s October in Toledo, and we’ve endured four gray days in a row. Drizzle and malaise have settled around us. It’s 9:30 pm on a Thursday night, nearly half-time of Thursday Night Football. I’m out of the good gouda cheese that I like to pair with grapes as a midnight snack. A couple of Babybel mini swiss wheels, stolen from the Wife’s lunch stash, served as a stable substitute, but my coffee has grown cold, and the night has grown stale.

The week started off on good footing. On Sunday, I stopped in on the WAKT 106.1 FM benefit breakfast at my union local, UAW Local 12. WAKT is our local, community not for profit radio station. The breakfast was good, and the cause was just. Finally met union sister, and local artist Tiffany Wilson in person. Friends Miriam Wagoner and Jonie McIntire were there, and Toledo activist Sean Nestor, and local candidate for city council, Dr. Michele Grim, too. The Bears beat the Lions on Sunday afternoon, and the week was kicking ass before it even started.

Then the four day gray haze settled around, and all the sunshine I had stored in my heart started to seep away. On Monday I saw the dentist, and that’ll leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. To recover from the harrowing torture of dental drills, I spent two hours on Monday taking apart and fixing the switch on my record player. I listened to Beggar’s Banquet by the Stones on Monday, and Workingman’s Dead by the Dead on Wednesday, and the vinyl sunshine was just enough to warm a sunless heart.

Yesterday, on Wednesday, I recorded an upcoming podcast episode with some members of the Unite All Workers for Democracy, about the One Member, One Vote referendum upcoming for UAW members. As always, talking with other activists both inspired hope, and made me feel like I should do more, although I already do so much that my recliner has grown desperate in its loneliness.

And now it’s late on Thursday night, and we ain’t see the sun since we can’t remember when. The sun, not wanting to wallow in the gray malaise, dipped south to Florida for an early pre-winter vacation. She’s scheduled to return on Saturday, but we all know how reliable the airlines are right now.

The last crumbs of my late night cheese and grapes are gone, and Hunter S. Tomcat, the family cat, is bitching and biting my ankles, because I don’t want to pet him. He’s immune to the gray. As long as the kitty treat jar is full, and his ears get scratched a few times a day.

Here’s to the weekend. Let’s make it mean something.

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They Sold Johnny Ramone’s Guitar

Johnny Ramone’s guitar, public share image

Bitching about the trend of rich motherfuckers buying shit that belongs in museums isn’t going to fix capitalism. But, fuck man, some dude bought Johnny Ramone’s guitar for $900k. The collector remains anonymous. But we all know that fucking guitar belongs in the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame. That guitar helped influence entire generations of music.

That reminds me. A while back I read that they found an original carbon typewriter copy of Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl,” arguably the great American poem. There are edits visible on the the manuscript copy. They estimated it would sell for $400k. It’s 11 pages long, and that belongs in a museum, too. Fuck, just show us pictures of it, so I can see how ole Ginsberg edited, will ya? Ya rich fuck.

I’ve been thinking about Johnny Ramone’s guitar all day. It was a Mosrite Vulcan, something, something, because I’m not a musician, I’m a fan of music. Is it wrong for people to auction off stuff, and to get as much money as possible for stuff? Nah. Even for a socialist like me, I can’t fault an individual for that.

A solution would be for the rich fuckers to share their expensive souvenirs with public museums, for maybe half the year? That’s a small price to pay to be able to play Johnny Ramone’s guitar 6 months out of the year, and fuck, I only know three chords, and barely that.

And one more thing, a few years back, the Detroit Institute of Arts had a Diego Rivera/Frida Kahlo exhibit. It highlighted the power-art couple’s time in Detroit, while Rivera was commissioned by the DIA to paint murals around an interior courtyard. Those murals, which Rivera believed to be his best work, are some of my favorite art. Two of the prominent panels depict the Ford assembly line at River Rouge, MI. To the point here, Madonna owns a Frida Kahlo painting amongst her $100 million art collection. The painting, “My Birth,” was one of five that Kahlo painted while in Detroit. Madonna refused to loan the painting to the museum for the exhibit. I haven’t listened to her music, since.

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a podcast and a few books

I was honored to host a couple of the partners from MVNIFVST, LLC, a multi-genre artist platform, designed to help artists take their work to the next level. CEO, Hip Hip artist Knightheart, and his partners SURREAL Ramen, and Defonix were all in studio to talk about their art, their business, and how important art is to helping artists through hard times. Our favorite producer, and great friend of the show, InSession Productions joined us, too. If this works right, I’ll post a link to spotify underneath this paragraph.

Also, I may or may not have created a “store” on my homepage. Sometimes it works for me, and sometimes it doesn’t. This whole webpage thing has been a full-time job getting launched. I’ve got seven copies of my novel, $100-A-Week Motel left, and several copies of my two chaps. Go buy some books, and support the Blue Collar Gospel.

Books for sale!
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Welcome to Blue Collar Gospel

Hey, I’m Dan Denton, a writer, poet, podcast host, and publisher. This website is going to be a one-stop destination for all of my work, my published writing, and the book and music reviews I’m attempting to learn to do. There will also be pages for my podcast episodes I host with the Blue Collar Gospel Hour, artist video interviews and performances, and the DIY books I publish with the Lunch Bucket Brigade.

Why the Blue Collar Gospel? Because I’ve worked in factories, and blue collar jobs for most of my life, and the word “gospel” means truth.

One of the new features of this website is the “Buy Me a Coffee” link on the top of the homepage. This is a way for me to accept donations for my work, so that I can keep all of the content as free as possible. I drink my coffee black and strong, and a large, costs a couple bucks. If you like the work you see, consider buying me a coffee once a month.

The funds that come in from the Buy Me a Coffee feature will be used to cover the costs of my studio, website hosting fees, podcast platform host, Zoom account, and the cost of paying artists and collaborators. After the overhead is spoken for, funds will be used to create a “free” fund so that books published through the Lunch Bucket Brigade can be donated to those that might not have the $5 or $6 to cover the cost of purchasing one. In that way, I can assure that even the books are free to those that don’t have money.

Finally, those that know me well, know that I’m a strong believer in giving back to my community. I try to keep a volunteer commitment once or twice a month, and my current favorite non-profit is the Toledo Streets Newspaper. 10% of the funds donated, right from rip, before we even care about the overhead, will be donated to them.

I’ve got a lot of big, bold ideas, and big projects planned. Please consider subscribing to this blog at the bottom of the page, so you’ll never miss any of the latest gospel. And go listen to, and subscribe to the Blue Collar Gospel Hour Podcast. It’s available everywhere podcasts are listened to, I think, and if you like it, tell your friends.

An old photo of my coffee and notebook with a half-poem scribbled on it