Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Harper Lee - Truman Capote and Bigfoot

Welcome to Volume #2's first installment of the Last American Baker.

Sometimes I think its a good idea to split projects into volumes because it gives the author an opportunity to take a deep breath and reexamine which direction they are taking their posse in.

In TV, often times when a season concludes, the writers will spend the off season musing as to what new characters, or twists will be needed to build stronger plot points for the upcoming episodes.

While KleckoNation has been busy going about their day to day, the Last American Baker has been locked away, in his prayer closet......and you know what?

A vision for Volume #2 has been given unto thee.

Sit back, relax, and lets get thing thing going.

Harper Lee and Truman Capote were best friends from the time both of them were children.

Harper Lee came from a stable family where the family's income was provided from her father who had a law practice in Alabama, while Truman was reared in a more dysfunctional setting on the outskirts of town.

During the summer months while most of the other kids played sports and went to the movies, Harper Lee and Truman simply went to court and enjoyed one another's company while watching trials.

As many of you know, both of these children would eventually grow up and make mammoth contributions to the literary world.

Harper Lee would go on to write the epic "To Kill a Mocking Bird", while her best friend would pen "In Cold Blood."

Both of these friends would have unique ways in contributing to each others success. Harper accompanied Truman to Kansas to gather research and data for his crime novel, while Capote served as the inspiration for a character in Lee's book named Dill Harris.

It is said that whenever Capote had a few drinks (which was pretty often), that he loved to brag about his involvement......

"I'm certain you've read To Kill a Mocking Bird, but were you aware that the author is my best friend and she based the most interesting character in the book on me?"

I think everybody in the world wants to have a friend with that "special" bond. A friend who not only has a wish list that eerily lines up with yours, but they also have to have a special-special love for you because throughout your friendships journey, this person is going to see the gaping flaws in your character that often times serve as reason enough to push your own spouse/partner away.

My best friend, my Harper Lee (cause of course Klecko wants to be Capote) is Kim Ode.

First off, the pronunciation of her last name is (Oh-Dee) and she is a columnist for the largest newspaper in the state on Minnesota.

About a decade ago when I started the Saint Paul Bread Club, she came into the bakery and the 2 of us had a natural fit. I was a baker who wanted to write, while she was a writer who wanted to bake.

We never signed contracts or tried to cut deals with each other though.....we simply became friends.

The one thing that Ode has acquired swagger for amongst bakers in the Twin Cities is that she built a 3000# brick oven in her back yard to bake bread.

If you look at a picture of this oven, it will stir your soul in the same way that a picture of the Empire State Building, or Wrigley Field might.

I mean this structure is not only like a cathedral, but she uses it to create not only life, but something almost as tangible....bread.

The first time I observed a picture, I was overwhelmed. I asked how long it took her and her husband to build this masterpiece, and that's when it happened.

She shot me the bit**iest glare that I had received in a long time.

The question was taken as sexist because this award winning writer wanted it to be clear that not only had no man helped her on this....haj, but no other human, period.

The oven was her baby.

Speaking of children, the other thing that connected us immediately was our love and appreciation of sourdough.

Klecko is the self proclaimed "Lord of the Sourdoughs", but nobody in our state has won more sourdough competitions than Kim.

She has a passionate love affair with liquid starter technologies, while I being a Pollock find anything other than a potato brick as savage.

I'm not sure which day it happened, or even if there was a specific event that warranted the necessity, but the 2 of us became welded together and from that day on she has earned the title of Klecko's Best Friend....Klecko's only Friend?

And with this dubious honor, Sue McGleno has alerted me on more than one occasion..."Being your friend is not always what you perceive it to be, for me...more often than not it's a cross to bare!"

That's another thing that is interesting about Kim, she too is straight forward, she too has no problem telling to to "Shut Up" or "Slow Down....you have gone too far this time."

I like that in a woman, in a friend.

It's funny when the 2 of us get together to do baking or poetry events because for all practical purposes people view Klecko as the rabid circus monkey who is interesting and clever, where Kim usually gives people the impression that she is quiet, reserved and highly intelligent.

LOL....this isn't always the case.

One day when I was on the road doing sales calls, I dialed Ode on my cell to check in and find out if there was any buzz around town worthy of our gossip.

But when somebody has become your best friend, and maybe even the definition of being a best friend, is being able to read between the lines.

I could tell that Kim was distracted and not paying the attention to me that I needed, so I asked...

"What, did I get you at a bad time?"

Then she apologized and told me that she was intrigued with a story that had just come across the wire. 2 guys, young professors I think, were holding a press conference in Cali and were letting the world know that not only did they have empirical evidence that Big Foot existed, but they had film footage of an entire colony.

I started to laugh, but even to my surprise, my mocking tone was shut down immediately.

"Klecko, you just can't be like that. You haven't even seen the film footage. They just showed a brief clip were one of the Big Foot creatures was wounded, and the rest of them were dragging it to safety."

I think I might of ran a red light when she said that.

But that's the thing I love most about Ode, she is far-far-far from innocent,

but....she wants to believe,maybe more than anyone I've ever met.

She wants to believe.

How beautiful is that.

so now that I realize I am treading on sacred ground, I asked when the press conference with the proof was taking place, and why they just didn't release it currently.

Kim wasn't sure, but she manufactured a defense that would support her hope, but then she ended by telling me that the final press conference was around 48 hours away.

So throughout the next couple of days I sent e-mails, voice mails, all indicating that it was only 27 hours until the Big Foot parade, or in 7 hours and 26 minutes....the Minnesota Vikings would be using their first round draft pick on Sasquatch.

All of these correspondences were met with F-Bombs.

And that's another thing about being a Klecko friend, if swearing is a standard go to in your vernacular, he'll get bored with you quick. But, if you are strategic and precise with the deployment of your cursing.....you'll probably make Klecko laugh.

So a couple days go by, I'm driving back from a meeting with a chef at the Westin Hotel. As I'm barreling down HWY 94 it occurs to me that the time has elapsed and the verdict should be out.

I have called Kim Ode over 100 000 times during our friendship, and I think...like only 4 times has she not picked up the phone on the first ring, this was one of those times.

After ring number 3 I hear "This is Kim."

So I storm audibly into her earpiece with questions of inquisition.....

"Is it over?"

"Did it happen?"

"Was Bigfoot on the platform?"

But then I didn't hear the laughter I thought would be attached to my verbal pounding.

Instead i got silence, more silence, a heavy sigh.....and then a confession.

"God, I feel so embarrassed.The A-Holes came out and announced that what they did was some kind of hoax to bring awareness to what they believe really exists. God...I can't believe I actually set myself up for that. I am so embarrassed!"

When your best friend is in distress, I think you'll all agree that your top priority becomes finding a way of alleviating their circumstance.

I was prepared to do this, but truth be told.....I was still laughing my a** off (which is another thing you get to do when you are best friends.)

So tick-tock goes the clock, and I'm hurrying my mind trying to muster up something that will put closure on this incident.......

"You know Ode" I said to her "In the future, why don't you stick to writing for the TASTE section, and I'll be in charge of all things paranormal?"

She dropped another "F" Bomb.

Everything was back to normal.


  1. Kim Ode at hearthside


  2. This is a loving portrait. I could always tell Kim was special, and not just from her writing, which is reliably human and alive. But this lays it out.