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.  Along with Jake Brownell, he is the co-producer of Wish We Were Here, a monthly documentary series from KRCC that features stories and investigations that complicate the city's reputation as one of America's most conservative cities. He is also the author of many chapbooks and two full-length books of poems, including La Goon, (Furniture Press Books, 2014), and Uselysses, (Ugly Duckling Presse, 2011).

Ways to Connect

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?

The 13th International Experimental Cinema Exposition comes to the Edith Kinney Gaylord Cornerstone Arts Center beginning tonight and running through the weekend. I spoke spoke with Festival Director and Colorado Springs native Chris May about the history of this prestigious event.

Click HERE for complete details.

The earliest bedroom is corner-mounted in a brand new post-World War II house built of native Kentucky limestone. Your mother has arranged a maze of chests of drawers and beds for her three little girls — so close in age they seem part of one big whole — to offer them equal amounts of relative privacy. The effect is of a nest, a tiny space barely big enough to turn around in, where you hide the things you don’t want to share. In winter, it is cozy and dark. In summer, a large and very loud electric fan fills the window frame, blowing hot air out by day and sucking cooler air in by night.

Last week, amidst the long parade of trick-or-treaters and Halloween festivities, I consciously tried to invoke my beloved departed. Some friends and I even staged a Dumb Feast, the Celtic ritual of Samhain in which guests partake of a silent meal with an empty place set at the head of the table for the spirits of the dead. That night I was able for the first time to close my eyes and summon a vision of those I love who have died — my son, my nephew, my sister, my former spouse — and picture them well beyond suffering, released.

We missed these photos of the rebuilding process in Mountain Shadows that appeared in The Atlantic Monthly this past August, but found the link while dredging through old emails. Thanks to Di for the tip!

Get your 8-bit Byrne on!

Eldonna Edwards, better known as Ellie, is a lively platinum blonde with streaks of pink dyed into her hair. Ellie radiates that other-worldly southern California vibe of feel-good health, laid-back lifestyle and liberal politics. She is a massage therapist with a functioning claw-foot bathtub in her back yard. Married and divorced several times, her kids all grown up, she has reached a point in life where she’s happy just living with herself.

Rock to the Greek

Oct 29, 2013

Ancient Greek music played with "100%" accuracy.

The Catamount Institute's Annual Colorado Sustainability Conference begins this Thursday and will cover topics ranging from fires and floods to urban farming. I spoke with Catamount board member Alicia Archibald and Marketing and Communications Director Chris Aaby about the conference.

Click HERE for complete conference details and more about Catamount Institute. 

The 26th Annual Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival begins Friday, November 1st and runs through the weekend. The Big Something’s Noel Black sat down with Executive Director Linda Broker and Board Chair Lisa Tessarowicz to talk about some changes in the festival and this year’s films.

Click HERE for tickets and complete details.