For over a decade John Lamb has been a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead where he covers art and entertainment and some things his bosses make him do. He has flown with the Blue Angels, covered presidential campaigns and most likely attended more WE Fests than you.
If you think he is on the Fargo School Board, you’re thinking off John Strand, who he used to work with at the High Plains Reader. You’re not the only one who makes that mistake.
John Lamb (the one in the picture) lives downtown, where he’s often seen walking. If you say, “Hi John Strand,” he won’t correct you.
What book, music, movie, artwork, etc., really gets you going (through the holidays)? Why?
I am a sucker for the holidays, but there is so much crap out there, I tend to cling to what I know and love. I don’t need another John Schneider or Tiffani-Amber Thiessen made-for-Lifetime Christmas movie. I still watch “It’s a Wonderful Life” before going to midnight mass every year. I love that outpouring of friendship at the end. Still, my favorite is “Christmas Eve on Sesame Street.” This 1978 special was kind of forgotten, but you can watch the whole thing on YouTube. It’s surprisingly dark. The main story is Big Bird losing faith that Santa will get down the chimney and the interviews Kermit the Frog and Grover have with kids are pretty adorable. But what really gets me is the twist Ernie and Bert put on “The Gift of the Magi.” It’s silly and sweet and when they sing, “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” (around minute 39) I’m tearing up.
What artist, musician, etc., inspires you the most (during the holidays)? Why?
Charles Beck always surprises me with fresh views of the landscape around his Fergus Falls, Minn., home. He doesn’t need the drama and grandeur of mountains or oceans, just the simple beauty of rolling land, a turned field or the colors of the season. His style is simple and straight-forward, but there’s a lot going on. I did an interview with him earlier this year and we sat, drank coffee and watched the snow fall on trees from his dining room table. It was a great memory. A few months after that I bought his print, “Winter Poplars” because it reminded me of that scene.
What’s something you saw or heard recently that you would recommend to others (for the holidays)?
I like that David Sedaris’ “Santaland Diaries” has become a Christmas staple. I’m reading “The Dreaded Feast: Writers on Enduring the Holidays,” which is a lot of different takes on the season, like Calvin Trillin, James Thurber and even John Waters. If you never thought of “John Waters” and “Christmas” together, check out the CD, “A John Waters Christmas.” He compiles a truly twisted holiday mix, from the creepy “Happy Birthday Jesus” to the joyous “I Wish You a Merry Christmas.” If you want a really fun, rocking Christmas album, Marah’s (not Mariah) “Christmas Kind of Town” is a nod to classic tunes and wassailing all in the form of a raucous pageant. A Christmas concept album. Who woulda thought?
What local artist, musician, writer, etc., do you admire, and why (particularly in regard to the holidays)?
Theatre B earns my applause for a holiday show every year, and especially that they open on Thanksgiving night. It’s a great change of pace and a way to unwind. Maybe even give you something to think about for a while. “The Seafarer” a few years ago really resonated, a brilliant mix of humor, drama and reflection on life. I’ve seen the last few and am looking forward to seeing “Scrooge Macbeth.”
Any (holiday) guilty pleasures you’d like to share?
C’mon. Guilty pleasures and the holidays go hand in hand. You have to suspend a lot of rational thinking to really revel in this time of year, and I really revel.
Image: it’s a wonderful life on the 1st Avenue North sidewalk outside of the Forum of Fargo-Moorhead. Photo by the author.