Mixed Media: Proud Parents’ debut LP

Jerry Apps' new book draws on life as a professor
Mixed Media: Proud Parents’ debut LP
Photo courtesy of Proud Parents

Proud Parents’ Debut LP

The bouncy, jangly, self-titled debut record by Proud Parents makes us, well, proud. Whenever a Madison band puts new music out into the world – especially when a garage pop-punk band like this one makes music you can dance to – we’re eager to hear more. Proud Parents is a foursome composed of local punk band stalwarts Claire Nelson-Lifson and Tyler Fassnacht (of Fire Heads) on vocals and guitars, Heather Sawyer (of The Hussy) on vocals and drums and Maggie Denman on bass. The 12-track LP is the first by a Madison band to be released by Dirtnap Records. As the chorus of the title track says, “I am so proud of you, and you should be proud of me, too.” proudparentsband.bandcamp.com

Jerry Apps on Protests, Real and Imagined

Most of the 35 books Jerry Apps has written focus on rural Wisconsin life. Still ripe for exploration are the 38 years he spent as a professor of agriculture at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and as an administrator for UW Extension. “Once a Professor: A Memoir of Teaching in Turbulent Times,” published this year by the Wisconsin History Society Press, draw on Apps’ diaries from those years.

On May 6, 1970, Apps got a whiff of tear gas when he inadvertently walked into a confrontation on campus between students protesting the Vietnam War and police. He also recounts how he and other faculty members (and parishioners at his church) struggled to respond to the social and racial strife roiling UW-Madison then.

In the other book Apps put out this year – the novel “Cold as Thunder,” published by University of Wisconsin Press – the radical youth grew up but stayed engaged. The author imagines a small band of Wisconsin “Oldsters” rising up in the face of unchecked environmental degradation and a corporate takeover of the federal government.

These two books demonstrate one thing about our resident chronicler of all things Wisconsin: Once a professor, always a professor.

Teaching Native History

In 1989, the Wisconsin Legislature mandated that public school students be taught about Native American history, culture and tribal sovereignty. The need for this landmark law, known as Act 31, became evident in the 1980s when violent protests in northern Wisconsin targeted Ojibwe tribal members attempting to spearfish within land the tribe had ceded to the federal government – a treaty right upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court. It was determined that only education about Native culture could prevent future clashes.

Like the classroom curriculum that resulted, author JP Leary connects the past to the present in his new book “The Story of Act 31: How Native History Came to Wisconsin Classrooms” published by the Wisconsin Historical Society Press. Leary, an associate professor of history and First Nations studies at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay, served as a consultant to the state education department for 15 years – making him an authority on how schools have largely failed to provide lessons in Native American life and history. Leary’s book is a thorough reminder of how far we’ve come and still need to go to best understand one another.

*Editor’s Note: Mixed Media is a monthly series featuring a variety of arts and culture happenings in the Madison area.