True life story: I was a very devoted tiny fan of "The Monkees" TV show, and never missed an episode. When NBC cancelled the series in the spring of 1968, I was crushed, and decided to join in the protest letter-writing campaign suggested by 16 Magazine at the time. My problem was that while I was an excellent reader, I could not yet write much more than my own name, so I dictated my heartfelt missive to my older brother, who wrote down my pleas that the network must save the show! Sadly, NBC ignored the wishes of an almost-six-year-old girl and axed it anyway, dammit. It felt like it was over so quickly.

Another true life story: If you had told me then that in the fall of 2016, at the age of 54 that I would be seeing The Monkees in concert for the first time, singing along to all the songs I learned from the show 50 years previously, I doubt I could have even comprehended that, much less believed it. In the brief time the band was active, they made a real impact and a real difference. TAKE THAT, NBC!

The Monkees 50th Anniversary Tour indeed came to Seattle's Moore Theater last night, and I had near-perfect seats to enjoy a most entertaining evening. The mood was sweet and fun, with original members Micky Dolenz and Peter Tork in very fine voice, interacting playfully with the crowd. Mike Nesmith sat this one out, working on his autobiography, and of course Davy Jones, who died several years ago, was missed. Footage from the old TV series kept Mike and Davy integrated into the show, with Davy virtually singing a few lines at times assisted by the "Way Back Machine."

It was all a little dream-like, really -- lyrics forming on my lips, singing along to songs I didn't remember I knew but I surely did, seeing the backdrop playing scenes of The Monkees as young men goofing around as they did on the show, playing with tow-headed little California kids during a clip "Saturday's Child" that would now in 2016 look like me, middle-aged and heading senior. How really lovely it was to be there, connecting to days past.

BUT! This was not a nostalgia wallow, no, no, and no! Listen up: The Monkees this year released "Good Times!," an album you need to own, as it's one of the very best releases of 2016. It is absolutely delightful, bursting with extremely good songs, written by such diverse hepcats as Rivers Cuomo of Weezer, Harry Nilsson, Noel Gallagher and Paul Weller, Boyce & Hart, XTC's Andy Partridge, and beloved local Ben Gibbard of Death Cab For Cutie. OH, SPEAKING OF THAT LAST GUY, he turned up onstage last night, along with some sweet ladies doing a line dance! I got these things on video for you, so please to enjoy! Please also to pay special attention to the first song on the first video, "Me & Magdalena," written by Gibbard for "Good Times!" and the standout performance of the night with stellar vocals from Dolenz.


(I am honored today to be able to feature the beautiful creative work of AJ Dent, a writer/photographer who hails from the Upper Midwest, as I do, and ended up in Seattle, like I did. Please to enjoy. - Marianne)

Since June of this year, I have been living in my homeland of north central Minnesota. These past three months mark the longest I have stayed here in over six years, having fallen face-first in love with Seattle. Though I knew I’d miss the Emerald City, and enjoy reconnecting with nature here, I wasn’t ready for the gut-punch of being homesick for both places at once -- especially while trying to decide if I should move somewhere new yet again this fall. This poem is dedicated to both my raft of ducks out in Seattle right now, and to the Land of Lakes explorers who have taken me under their wing this summer. -- AJ

Double Exposure

This summer demanded to meet me
in the population: 3,000 town
where I was born. For tea. To tell me
to grind myself with dirty wheels,
dirty windshields, dirty boots and
dirty fingernails again
for four grass-stained months.
This season was my first love;
I couldn't resist the rendezvous.
But Minnesota moves as if a garter snake,
​eyes spiraling like Northern Lights.
Sill Lake hypnotizes my lens.
Whitetails are snort-wheezing
You can never leave again.
Red pines replace skyscrapers and muskies
make the newspaper. Lady’s slippers whisper
What is this supposed West Coast matter
to which you must tend? I admit it dims
as fireflies spin and meteor streaks grin.