My Minnesota: Ryan Wold, Brooklyn Park, lake song-singer

  • Updated: August 2, 2014 - 4:14 PM

“I’d tell them about meat raffles and they’d look at me like it’s the strangest thing in the world.” Ryan Wold

Two college guys make some video for their school’s channel, trying to get Taylor Swift to come on their show. She doesn’t. They make a video about Minnesota lakes and send it to a local TV station; no bites. They give the song to local radio stations: Don’t call us, we’ll call you. So they put it up on YouTube, post a link on the online community Reddit, and hello: massive publicity!

Which would be this piece right here. So Ryan Wold is living the dream! Really: That’s his website’s name, and his message for all. “It means you’re on your way to getting what you want. Even if you’re mopping floors in a high school, if you’re on your way to something more, you’re living the dream.”

If it sounds as if he’s tailor-made for inspirational speakerdom, that’s the idea. On Monday he starts a new job counseling kids to resist peer pressure, and he’s done a stint as a high school teacher in Newark, N.J. A long way from the lakes, that was.

“Constant miniature crises. Leaning to enjoy the chaos. It was great! The kids were surprised to learn Minnesota had … cities. But it made me realize how unique the culture is here. I’d tell them about meat raffles and they’d look at me like it’s the strangest thing in the world.”

Well, it’s one of them. Now: This lakes video, where you sing out praises to our aquatic culture and name-check as many bodies of water as possible. How did that start?

“I did the video with Dan Taylor, and our original idea was to go with ‘10,000 Lakes.’ Then we realized oh, that’s not going to happen. So we put them into interesting categories. Ones with funny names. Oh, there’s a whole bunch of birds. Every tree has its lake. Lakes with holy names. Two hundred Mud Lakes! A lot of Fish Lakes.” Well, they all should be Fish Lake, when you think about it.

After sorting 10,000 lakes came the hard part: shooting it.

“By the time we planned to shoot it, the flooding was bad everywhere. And then it was raining. It took three weeks.” So a hymn to the glories of the lakes was postponed by lousy lake-weather. Seems about right.

Incidentally, “Land of 10,000 Lakes” understates the case a bit. There are 11,842 lakes, defined as bodies of water over 10 acres in size. (Calhoun, for comparison, is 401 acres.)

If you really wanted to get some Internet fame, you could do a song about all of them. It would be longer than Wagner’s “Ring” cycle, though. Maybe one song per lake?

No. “I’ll be an old man before I finish that endeavor,” Ryan says. “And I’m not sure everyone wants a tribute to every Mud Lake.”

True. That would be ridiculous.

You can probably skip Lower Mud Lake.

JAMES LILEKS

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