Noel Black

The Big Something, Producer

Noel Black is a Colorado Springs native. He has worked as a print journalist, blogger and radio producer everywhere from San Francisco and New York City, but has always considered the Pikes Peak region home.  Noel oversees a fleet of Colorado College interns overseeing the production of KRCC's The Big Something. He is also the author of many chapbooks and two full-length books of poems, including La Goon, (The New Heave-Ho Press, 2013), which you can read online for free HERE and Uselysses, (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2011), which you can read online for free HERE.

Ways to Connect

Colorado Springs-based artist, educator and activist Senga Nengudi hasn’t had much in the way of local recognition despite the fact she’s been collected by The Museum of Modern Art in New York and The Brooklyn Museum. Denver has just given Nengudi her due with two openings at both the Museum of Contemporary Art and The Redline Gallery. We spoke with her about her career and the success she’s now enjoying.

Watch RSVP:

This Saturday at The Greenwood Cemetery in Canon City at 11 a.m., a memorial service will be held for Joe Arridy , a developmentally disabled man who was executed for murder in 1936, and posthumously pardoned in 2011. We spoke with Craig Severa, Advocacy Specialist from the ARC of the Pikes Peak Region, about Arridy’s legacy.

For complete information about the Joe Arridy memorial service this Saturday, click HERE.

My heroes haven’t always been cowboys, but after moving to Colorado and getting to know a choice few, that changed. I was lucky as a journalist to spend time with Duke Phillips of Chico Basin Ranch, south of Colorado Springs, and witness his dedication to responsible land management and conservation. And I was privileged as a reporter back in the 1990s to hear Kirk Hanna explain to a room full of environmentalists how ranchers like him could help them achieve their goals if they’d just put aside their stereotypes and prejudices.

She wakes up swimming. The ambient noise machine next to the bed is set on Rushing Stream. She surfaces to the sound of its loud electronic burble and, for a minute, can’t remember where she is.

It’s that kind of morning. The coffee maker sputters and spumes, the waiting pot barely askew on its fitted stand but just enough for a steady stream of brown liquid to miss its mouth and inch across the kitchen counter. She wipes the dark water and spilled grounds with a stained dishcloth that needs to be retired to the trash.

Photo by Kathryn Eastburn

Every Monday night I drive home from Denver after an evening of teaching. Strangely, it is a highlight of the week. Once I’ve gotten far enough south of the blue lights of Ikea, I can finally see the sky about half way to Castle Rock. The road opens up in gentle curves with just a few cars cruising at the leisurely pace of 9 p.m. The radio drones on, a TED talk that makes me weary about all I don’t know and the irritating sputter of the jittery host, so I switch it off. By now I’ve reached the other side of Castle Rock and a window of near darkness above Larkspur.

Playground Dinosaurs

May 15, 2014
Courtesy of Goodwin Fine Art

Manitou Springs-based photographer Brenda Biondo has just released a new book of photographs of antique and vintage playground equipment. We spoke with Biondo about the project and her book, Once Upon a Playground.  You can catch her exhibition of photographs from the book through Saturday at the Manitou Art Center.

Click HERE for more info on the exhibition.

Click HERE to buy the book.

Here’s what I remember: My sisters and I are still small enough to fit on our grandfather’s lap as a threesome, one on each of his outstretched thighs, the smallest tucked in the middle between his legs, her back pressed against his broad belly. My grandfather’s body is soft and he wears loose pants worn shiny and thin, as smooth as bed sheets. Those of us propped on a leg lean back against his broad shoulders and together we focus eight eyes on a small cardboard book nestled in his rough hands.

Good news from the FAC and for our locality:

Tunson’s Son of Pop Traveling

To Albuquerque and Billings

Gazette Reporter and Colorado Springs native Dave Philipps won the Pulitzer Prize yesterday for his investigative report “Other Than Honorable,” published last May. KRCC’s Noel Black spoke with Philipps about the award, the story and how it affected him.

Click HERE to read "Other Than Honorable".

The Middle Distance 4.11.14: Soldier's Heart

Apr 10, 2014

“The front-line soldier I knew lived for months like an animal, and was a veteran in the cruel, fierce world of death. …”

This is the first installment of  A Sense of Place, an 8-week collaboration between The Big Something and The State of the Rockies at Colorado College. The series will explore environmental histories and issues in southern Colorado and Northern New Mexico. In this first piece, producer Sarah Stockdale talks to Gary Rapp about the Shooks Run Agro-Forestry Project in Colorado Springs.

Tune in two weeks from now on April 16 at 4:50 p.m. at the same time to hear the next installment.

In the early 1970s, in high school, my boyfriend was in a rock band and I was a groupie. My best friend, Hunter, and I planned our afternoons around band practice in the garage at the red-headed drummer’s house in suburban Memphis. When the band played a gig — at a bar mitzvah, a birthday party, a dance in the Moose Club hall — we came along and carried long spooled cords, microphone stands and portable lighting from the car to the stage.

This time of year I begin wishing for the sight of daffodils in bloom. Where I grew up, they usually began to show their yellow faces in late February or early March, depending on whether they enjoyed full sun or grew in dappled shade beneath a tree. I remember the appealing instructions for naturalizing a lawn with daffodils: Pick up of fistful of the bulbs that look like small onions, and toss them as you’d toss chicken feed or grass seed. Plant them where they land. Plant hundreds of them.

Recently I came across some old notes that might as well have been written in Sanskrit. Aphorisms, clever sayings that seemed to turn on themselves.

“If you experience it, it’s the truth. The same thing believed is a lie.”

“In life, understanding is the booby prize.”

This was my handwriting but the ideas might as well have been written in code.

Local artist Bill Cummins was a character, a caricature, and a cartoon all rolled together in a Republican tofu sandwich. He passed away last month at the age of 84. Artist Sean O'Meallie and I remember his cognitive contortions, his art, and his trademark wintergreen odor.

We highly encourage you to come see the closing of his exhibition this Saturday from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Manitou Arts Center. There will be an informal rememberance of his life during the closing.

Michael Hannigan, Executive Director of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation Announced his retirement in this press release on March 3:

Michael Hannigan, Executive Director of the Pikes Peak Community Foundation (PPCF), has announced his retirement from the organization effective December 31, 2014.

Last week I traveled to Seattle for a convention of writers — more than 10,000 of them — in a massive convention center. The event was bustling and hectic and hyper-scheduled from early morning to late at night. Harried conventioneers with plastic nametags lugged heavy totebags, studied maps and diagrams, and rushed up escalators and down long corridors from panels to readings, to absorb wisdom and inspiration for their art.

With many apologies for the delay, here are (at last) the official guidelines for submission to the 36 Views of Pikes Peak Project along with dates for exhibition. The biggest change, for those of you who have already submitted, is that we are asksing for phsyical submissions of postcard-size images. So here goes:

36 Views of Pikes Peak Juried Postcard Exhibit at PPLD

A collaboration between KRCC, UCCS Galleries of Contemporary Art, PPLD, Colorado College, and the Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum:

Opera theater of the Rockies opens its production of Lakme this Thursday at Armstrong Hall on the Colorado College campus. We sat down with three of the cast members to talk about its incredibly difficult aria and the fact tha the flower song is better known than the opera itself.

For complete information and tickets, click HERE.

 I will be 60 years old in just a little over a month. I have lied about my age for decades, pretending always to be a year older than I really am, to soften the blow of aging, to get used to the idea. But this year I am claiming 60 because it feels important, an urgent starting line.

On your mark: You have limited time left to get your life’s work done.

Get set: Be clear about what that work is. Don’t kid yourself and don’t let anyone talk you out of it.


Of Pen and Paper

Feb 20, 2014

Big Something intern Patrick Lofgren wanted to know if and why people still physically inscribed their thoughts in that old-time technology known as notebooks, so he we sent him to find out.

Larry Davidson was a country boy. He wore pressed jeans and a big belt buckle, scuffed cowboy boots, and plaid flannel shirts. We were twelve and in sixth grade at a brand new school on the edge of Nashville, Tennessee, set between half-built subdivisions of split-level houses and rolling farm meadows dotted with grazing horses and cows.

I have spent a month with my mother this winter, her 86th and my 60th, the coldest January she’s seen in years. Every morning at the breakfast table we flip through the flimsy pages of her small town’s local newspaper, sharing a lurid headline here, a recipe there, agreeing that if the paper gets any worse they might as well stop printing it.

This January morning, the Gulf of Mexico is dark blue beneath a blanket of fog peeling off to sea. The day begins with a rose sky and balmy air, a reprieve from last week’s wet and windy cold front and the one the weatherman predicts will arrive again by end of week. This morning the people of Galveston celebrate the weather by heading to the seawall.

When I arrive in Galveston on the next-to-last day of 2013, my mother has made a soup from the bones of the Christmas turkey. Just a few rags of meat on the bones, but the broth is rich and brown and fragrant. She has tossed in the last scraps of vegetables from her refrigerator and a handful of wild rice.

The snow has finally stopped falling after four days of constant icy drizzle, but sidewalks are still packed with a three-inch sheet of frozen, thawed and refrozen precipitation. Pedestrians tread carefully, especially along sidewalks that have gone un-shoveled or in shady corridors where the sun rarely reaches the ground. It’s Christmas time in the city.

Poet Tony Hoagland, author of “Unincorporated Persons in the Late Honda Dynasty," will read tonight at 7 p.m. in the Gates Common Room in Palmer Hall on the Colorado College campus as part of the  Visiting Writers Series. The Big Something’s Noel Black sat down with Hoagland to talk about the disconnect between poetry, entertainment and comedy.

Click HERE for complete event information.

Tonight at 6 p.m. in the Richard F. Celeste Theatre at the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center here on the Colorado College campus, former Days of Our Lives executive co-producer and director Noel Maxam will discuss disruptive innovation in media from Network Television to Netflix. The Big Something’s Noel Black spoke with Maxam about soap operas ant the future of local media.

(This column originally ran on December 3, 2010. Kathryn Eastburn will return next week.)

‘Tis the season of contradiction. Bare black tree limbs, frozen earth, and neighborhood houses lighted up like Vegas. Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and a constant string of economic forecasts based on how much we might or might not spend on stuff we don’t need in this holiday season.

Meanwhile, 28 million jobless Americans lose their federally funded unemployment benefits, barely raising a peep.

This year, for the second time in my life I won’t be having Thanksgiving dinner at home. Many years I considered going out and letting some wonderful chef at a restaurant feed my crew, but that just never seemed right. What if they served oyster stuffing? What if there were no mashed potatoes? What if there was no pecan pie? Thanksgiving, after all, might be about the Pilgrims and a bountiful harvest and giving thanks for being alive and all that good stuff, but isn’t it really about doing it the way you’ve always done it? About being a kitchen Nazi?