Posts Tagged ‘Janesville’


Late Monday I stumbled upon the jock, geek, criminal and the rest of the gang arriving at school for detention. There’s no law that you have to watch The Breakfast Club when it pops up on cable TV — it’s not Shawshank Redemption or anything — but it’s hard to look away, at least until the gang starts smoking pot and we’re exposed to Emilio Estevez, who had apparently been secretly injected with cocaine before filming.

The movie came out eight years before I graduated but it’s still obviously a classic for people in my generation, though my sister’s Class of ’87 probably loved it even more. Everyone could identify with the characters, right? Whether you were a star athlete or the prom queen or an outcast, there was something for everyone. And I suppose that’s true.

But like so many other classic movie and TV moments involving high schools there was an aspect of The Breakfast Club that had no connection to our reality in the burgs of Janesville, Waldorf and Pemberton. Namely: A Saturday, nine-hour detention?

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Sunday morning I woke up in Minnesota for the first time in seven months. With my wife half a world away in 80-degree Cape Town I’m back home at my parents’ house, just in time for a week of weather that will feel 120 degrees colder. But it’s plenty warm in the old home I grew up in, though not as warm as it might be if a less-stingy man was in charge of the heat.

A lot has changed in the Fury home since the last time I was here. There’s new carpet, new paint jobs in the bathroom, living room and dining room and a new table and chairs that hosts our dinners each night. But one thing remains the same: No house in this town — in this county, state or country — is doing more to keep the newspaper business alive. And while they’re at it, they’re doing their patriotic best to prop up the book business and magazines.

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Superfans

Posted: November 28, 2012 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , ,

On Tuesday afternoon my parents made the two-hour drive from Janesville to Fulda to watch my 7th-grade niece’s basketball game. After that they made the short drive to Worthington to watch my uncle coach his women’s college basketball team. They saw my niece lose, my uncle win and then made the two-hour drive back home.

The thing is, they would have made that same drive even if they’d only gone to watch my niece play. Four hours of driving for 30 minutes of basketball, more turnovers than points.

There are people in Minnesota with more kids and grandkids who have seen more high school and college sports than my mom and dad and those people have also driven more miles. But when it comes to the percentage of games they’ve seen for family members, Pat and Cees Fury might be tops in the state.

It’s something of an illness.

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The doll that watches over Janesville.

A Janesville legend died a few weeks ago. Ward Wendt was 84 years old. He was born in Janesville and died at a nursing home in nearby Waterville. Ward was a farmer, a florist and a railroad worker. He was an enthusiastic collector. His wife died in 1997, and his obituary revealed he was survived by nieces, great nieces and nephews and great-great nieces and nephews.

But Ward left a legend behind, or at least one of the urban variety. I grew up across the street and two houses up from Ward’s house, which sits along the old Highway 14, the road that for decades went right through the town in southern Minnesota.

Ward’s house was — still is — home to the famous Janesville doll in the window, and if you think I’m exaggerating by calling it famous spend a few moments on Google and get ready to read about ghosts, and little girls who killed themselves and small boys neglected by their parents and demon possessions and eyes that hypnotize drivers as they roll through a town they’d forget six seconds after they leave it, if not for the doll that watches over everything. Today — even though four-lane Highway 14 now bypasses the town so there’s not as much traffic — you’ll still see drivers slow down as they approach the house, craning their necks to stare at the mysterious object.

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It’s August in New York — and, I suppose, everywhere else in the world. It’s humid. I’m helping my wife pack for a trip to New Orleans. It’s 1:30 a.m., a car is picking her up at 4 a.m. I’m still exhausted from a Sunday morning basketball game at a local playground. There’s a phrase that describes these August days, something involving a canine.

All of this adds up to one thing: Instead of offering deep commentary and 1,500 words about Kobe Bryant’s jump shot or the 1982 Lakers or Law & Order or life in Inwood, we’re diving into YouTube and offering up a bunch of clips in an attempt to save some brainpower for when I’ll really need it.

So here now a collection of hopefully entertaining, occasionally bizarre, usually amusing videos of everything from orangutans on Little House on the Prairie to girls basketball in 1983.

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For about 10 years I believed I was destined to be an Olympic table tennis player. I envisioned my gold medal showdown against a Chinese competitor and dreamed of standing on the podium while The Star-Spangled Banner played on the loudspeakers. Would I mouth the words while the cameras zoomed in? Yes. Would I cry? No. Perhaps my family would; maybe I would if my agent thought it’d help land endorsements. Janesville would throw a parade for me, or at least make me a grandmaster for the Hay Daze festivities. I’d tour as some type of ping-pong prodigy, taking on all comers in a barnstorming tour across Minnesota — no, across America.

“And now I’ll take on the Iowa state champion…with my left hand!”

This dream started when I was 8 and only ended when I was about 18. What fueled it? My savant-like skills as a young ping-pong player, when I ruled in our basement and also captured a pair of highly prestigious Waseca County titles, each time defeating adult competitors who believed their victories over Grandpa Joe in the garage meant they could beat this 9-year-old phenom. And when I dominated during our table tennis unit in our high school phy ed class — and managed to defeat our previously invincible teacher — then I knew for sure gold was in my future.

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Terry came up with the idea. Terry dreamed up the name. Terry designed a logo. Terry secured the address. Terry solicited the first guest pieces. Terry created the Facebook and Twitter pages. Terry came up with early ideas. Terry wrote the first post. Terry remains the driving force.

So I guess it’s time I drop my lawsuit to get the name changed to FuryTV.

TVFury was born a year ago today, when Terry wrote a short, somewhat cryptic message that included a picture of a headless torso wearing a shirt emblazoned with his name. Since then we’ve published something every weekday, haven’t missed a one. We’ve written a lot about the St. John’s football team and even more about the Lakers (well, I’ve written about those things). We’ve written about technology and the future and school reading programs. We’ve written about life in New York City and life at a modern newspaper. We’ve welcomed numerous guest writers and attempted to make them feel at home, even while reminding them to use coasters and take their shoes off before entering. We’ve conducted podcasts with each other that ones of people have listened to and done pods with business owners that hundreds have listened to. We’ve conducted interviews with some of the best writers in the country.

It’s been a fun year.

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You can never see everything in the Smithsonian on one visit to Washington D.C. Or on two. There’s just too much. Too many exhibits, too much history. You pick and choose.

Same thing applies to my parents’ basement.

On each trip back to Minnesota, I head down to the basement and to the side room that’s called — depending on the speaker — either the junk room or the treasure room. It holds old golf clubs, older love letters, magazines, books, report cards, bills, boxes and items that could just be called “miscellaneous.” I’ll dig around for a bit and find something I want to take back to NYC. Other times I just explore for the fun of it.

This time I found a stack of old sports books, which must have been collected by my dad and his brothers and now live in Janesville, MN, waiting for the day when they’re sold, given away, burned or crumble into nothing.

Let’s take a look.

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Fore!

Posted: June 19, 2012 by shawnfury in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

I’m a bad golfer. Pretty sure that’s the correct description. If I par a hole it feels like a birdie. I’d take a bogey on every hole. When I struggle on a hole a great debate ensues about whether the worst shot on it was the drive, the approach, the chip or the putt. I only play on trips back home to Janesville or during the every-two-year-trek to Cape Town and I’ve found that schedule is not the best way to find consistency in your game. My swing is all right, it seems fairly fluid, and I don’t embarrass myself on the course but I don’t exactly distinguish myself either.

That same old story played out Monday afternoon in Janesville, at Prairie Ridge Golf Course. So why do I always enjoy myself?

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Mike Wallace died this past weekend at 93 and I only started this sentence with his name because I wasn’t sure if it was more accurate to put iconic or legendary in front of it. The 60 Minutes correspondent worked into his late 80s, but he eventually finally did leave the show and now the program has lost yet one more link to its unparalleled past, as Wallace joins names like Bradley, Reasoner, Hewitt and Rooney.

60 Minutes itself obviously remains – and endures. It still produces occasional groundbreaking pieces. It can still produce unique interviews with athletes and musicians, with actors and artists.

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