Community Connections: Profile of former Times intern Brett Warcken

Mike Christopherson

What year did you work in the Crookston Times newsroom?

It was 2007, which I think would have been the second year of the program and the first I believe to feature a graduating senior as the chosen intern. 

What was your favorite part of your experience at the Times?

The opportunity to work in the field in itself indicated, to me, an aspect of the city of Crookston seemingly unappreciated, if not more today than back in the day, in that we often simultaneously enjoyed seclusion while nevertheless having access. One of the particular moments I recall was when I braved the distance and drove to watch a meeting in East Grand regarding the contemporaneously bizarre policy development announcing the upcoming requirement of passports for legal entry into Canada. Then on the way back I saw a family of ducks.

What was the biggest thing you learned about yourself and/or the biggest life lesson that you took with you when you left the Times?

The fortune of getting a glimpse whatsoever at both an operating journalistic enterprise and Norm Coleman’s teeth, the latter symbolizing a humanization (and thereby nullification) of presupposed ideological enmity. There had also been an independent incident involving the paper’s New Jerseyan sportswriter penning a diatribe chastisement of a hotdog eating contest which “went viral,” in a curious display of the effects with negative attention.

What have you been doing since? Give us an update on where you’re at, what you’re doing, who you’re with, etc.

After and before dropping out of college I’ve been employed at Pamida (until its last day of business), McDonald’s, the Care and Share, McDonald’s again, Ampride, True Value Hardware (under two ownerships), the Care and Share (under three new directors), and McDonald’s Hamburgers (2020-present). My parents are still in town, too.

I’ve told many people you were the most naturally talented writer I’ve ever had as an intern. What do you attribute your skill-set to? Have you always been a big reader?

If a writer has to emphasize one tenet of writing it should probably be humility: the work must outweigh the name, and irony. To me there’s a difference between writers who learn to read and readers who pretend to write, and most of it stems from insight and invention.

When I talked to you about participating in this Q & A and emailing the questions to you, you said you don’t use the internet. Care to expand on why you avoid it?

Yes. It was a gradual process, but a deliberate one. Everything is better without it, and I never want to go back.

It seems like you’re living an extremely simple life in Crookston. Is it simply part of the way you approach your life, at least at this juncture, or are you making some sort of conscious statement?

There has been some realization over the past few months of that very sentiment, perhaps. Working in the service industry, a person oftentimes witnesses (if not primarily) other people going about their dayjobs, and I try to merely put in my part of the whole shebang, especially if a number of my colleagues act beleaguered by the prospect.

What are you passionate about these days?

The inevitability of truth and the Buffalo Bills.

Tell us how the pandemic impacted you/continues to impact you…

Having been temporarily out-of-work during the initial outbreak in the States and then finding myself full-time by the summer, it proved impossible to address the matter of Coronavirus in any fashion without stepping on inextricably-held viewpoints, on either side of the line (or upon the line), careening forth and back as if we were in the midst of the Months-Long Storm of the Tricentury (if some were yearning for a more memorable ordeal) and our drive-thru restaurants were still open (hallelujah…). Even today, filling out a questionnaire, my instincts lean toward smiling and nodding, mostly nodding. Keeping in contact with my mother focused on her employment at one of the schools, and with my father it came down to his preexisting retirement routine holding onward.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I read books and go for jogs. It can take me a long time to finish them.

Look in your life’s crystal ball: Where do you think/hope you’ll be in 10 years, and what do you think/hope you’ll be doing?

Whenever possible I prefer various forms of augury interconnectedly utilized in direct concomitance via semblances of syncretism, and I am totally unpracticed in the real of scrying. It’s be interesting, however, to speculate backwardly, to answer this question as I was ten years ago (Mitch Hedberg RIP), and I’d guess I would have given almost this same deflective (reflective) answer. Hum. Now that I think of it, I must be the oldest ex-intern, since the one who served in the role prior to me had been a sophomore… By the time we become such thirtysomethings we’re supposed to be sick of our lives, anticipating crises (midlife, national, postnatal) with zest. Forward.