The Good Life Men's Magazine - May/June 2019


Featuring Fargo Invaders semi-pro football. Local Hero - Wounded Warrior Project, Having a Beer with West Fargo Mayor - Bernie Dardis, Rides with Jay Thomas and more in Fargo Moorhead's only men's magazine.




A Hundred Ways to Say No


Walking into the house on an early

Saturday afternoon from a routinely

wonderful trip to Fleet Farm, I was

greeted by the cheerful sounds of a

humming KitchenAid stand mixer

and a giddy three-year-old sous chef.

The sun had finally broken through

that weekend — the weekend after

the snowpocalypse that wasn’t — and

everyone was happy to feel the first

real signs of spring.

We had spent the majority of the day

cleaning the house, and now Macklin

and Mama were busy making use of

the mostly spotless counter tops to

make homemade pasta for dinner…

because there’s no better time to

prepare an elaborate meal than when

the kitchen is fresh and decluttered.

As I was about to dump the fresh bag

of dog food into Lucy’s bin, I spotted


potential disaster out the corner of

my eye.

“No, no, no, no, no! STOP!” I shouted

at Mack, as I saw his perfect little

fingers get dangerously close to the

grinding, metal jaws of the pasta

maker. “You can’t put your fingers in

there, buddy, or you’ll lose them. You’re

not in trouble,” I assured him, “I just

don’t want you to get hurt.”

I had said the same line countless

times before. You’re not in trouble,

but… I don’t want you to get hurt; I

don’t want the toilet to flood; I don’t

want you to burn yourself; I don’t want

you to die an early death! Fill in the

blank with whatever your imagination

can think of, chances are I’ve said it.

I returned to replenishing the dog

food, but I lingered on the prior scene.

While I reassured myself that I was

just being a good parent in providing

an explanation to my strongly spoken,

finger-saving intervention, it struck me

that all I was doing was saying no…

albeit with context. The more I thought

about it, the more I realized that I had

developed yet another new skill thanks

to the challenges of parenting.

I can say no, teach a quick lesson

and avoid tears with the deftness

of a tightrope walker navigating

the one and only straight-line path

to self-preservation. Any misstep

is an irreversible mistake. For me,

one poorly chosen word, a decibel

louder or an octave higher and all

is lost. If I stray too far to the gentle

side, the learning moment may get

marginalized. If I’m too forceful, no

amount of logic or reason can break

through a flood tears.

I’ve gotten so good at this, the word no often doesn’t

even enter the conversation. I may use some classic

redirection when Mack starts to test boundaries a bit too

much. “What if we took the baseball game outside where

there’s more room to hit the ball… isn’t that a good idea?”

I’ll ask before he winds up to pitch a fastball destined for

a hanging picture frame.

If it’s something he knows he probably shouldn’t be doing

— or, more likely, has been busted doing before — it might

only take a look. A look and a slow “don’t even think about

it” shake of my head. He always knows the answer in this

scenario, but he loves the reaction and his sneaky grin

assures me his sense of humor is developing quite well.

Sometimes, I’ll say no hours or even days ahead of time.

How? Well here’s another secret: all parents can predict

the future. For example, if I buy myself half a pecan pie

with no intention of sharing it, I avoid having to say no to

Macklin by hiding it in the downstairs fridge, which he

knows is only stocked with “grown-up drinks.” Problem

not just solved, but averted.

I’ve come up with a hundred different ways of saying

no to Macklin. Usually on the spot, too. It’s a real feat of

creativity. Nobody likes being told they can’t do something,

especially when it’s pure, innocent curiosity that’s driving

the undesirable action.

Why am I being told I can’t touch the fire? Fire is awesome!

Yes, fire is super duper awesome. But now that I’m done

shout-saving your life, allow me to explain just how not

awesome third-degree burns feel. •








































Urban Toad Media LLP


Darren Losee


Dawn Siewert


Meghan Feir

Alexandra Floersch

Brittney Goodman

Ben Hanson

Krissy Ness


Darren Losee





The Good Life Men’s Magazine is distributed six times

a year by Urban Toad Media LLP. Material may not be

reproduced without permission. The Good Life Men’s

Magazine accepts no liability for reader dissatisfaction

arising from content in this publication. The opinions

expressed, or advice given, are the views of individual

writers or advertisers and do not necessarily represent

the views or policies of The Good Life Men’s Magazine. / THE GOOD LIFE / 5




It’s a Generational Thing


It’s not always obvious what influences a band to make

the music they do. They could be interested in music from

many different genres and create something totally unique.

Go Murphy is so much more than that.

The sound they create is what they categorize as Indie

Rock, but their influences aren’t always in that genre. From

Primus to the Foo Fighters they pull from everywhere,

especially ‘90s rock, where their roots are.

Go Murphy, like most bands, got their name from a totally

random and somewhat humorous place.

“I woke up after a night of partying to my friend's fiancé

yelling, ‘No Murphy’ at their dog because he ate her brand

new shoes. I thought it had a cool ring to it and changed it

to Go Murphy and the guys liked it so we went with it,” said

Marcus. / THE GOOD LIFE / 9


“Dave Grohl said it best – The Foo Fighters is the dumbest

name and I’m in it and I picked it. It’s just what it is,” added


Go Murphy is made up of four guys in the Fargo-Moorhead

area. Two of the original members Ryan Dahl (bass/vocals)

and Marcus Rondestvedt (guitar/vocals) have 3 full albums

and an EP under their belt while Tom Hill (drums) and

Jason Forthun (guitar) have been playing with Go Murphy

for roughly four years. All four of them are featured on the

albums Buildings and Dakota.

I always make it a point to listen to whatever band I am

writing about while I write my articles because I hope it

helps shape how I write about each band. With this being

said, it is very obvious which generation these guys grew

up in and where they are pulling from. There is a very

mellow yet exciting tone in their music.

“We all grew up in the ‘90s and the older I get I kind of look

back to that noise rock and stuff and some of that kind of

starts to come through,” said Ryan. “ I think we all kind of

share a little of that soft spot for the good old days.”

The ‘90s weren’t always about grunge rock and boy bands,

there is this sound that is unique to ‘90s rock that can’t

really be explained, it’s more of a feeling. You know the

one where your arm hairs stand on end and your tummy

flutters and it’s exciting and leaves you wanting more; that

feeling shines through in their music.

“I think for everybody the formative teen years is where

you hear what you used to listen to and get that feeling all

over again,” said Ryan.

Today's music isn’t what you would call rock forward, but

more electronic and some pop. So how does a band whose

influences are mainly rock-n-roll get inspiration from

current music? Manchester Orchestra, Silversun Pickups,

Alt-J are just some of the band that intrigue Go Murphy.

“Music has become so accessible that you can just drown

in it – you really can,” exclaimed Ryan. “I mean that’s the

beauty of it because there is so much content there, but a

lot of the trouble is…” “It just kinds of stems back to when

MySpace was getting huge, and all of a sudden every band

had a voice, which isn’t a bad thing, but when you are trying

to put your name in a melting pot of 8,000 other indie rock

bands – how do you stand out?” interjected Marcus.

Standing out in today’s world where social media, and

music apps run the world isn’t easy and the internet age

has really changed the way music is bought and listened



“I remember record store day and I would go to Discontent

and new albums would come out at like midnight – and

I remember like honestly lining up for White Pony from

Deftones and there was a line around the block for a CD,”

said Tom. “And everybody was listening to it in the parking

lot because nobody had heard it before, and that kind of

magic is gone.”

“I hold down my thumb print to download the album, it’s

not the same feeling,” added Marcus.

The guys of Go Murphy enjoy music on a passionate level

and they do it for themselves.

“I think we all get the best satisfaction from the writing,”

stated Marcus.

“We do this kind of for ourselves,” stated Ryan. “As soon

as we get done we are like ok, what’s next?”

The most recent albums Buildings and Dakota, as I

mentioned before, included Tom Hill and Tom has worked

with some pretty talented people on his musical journey.

“I have been a part of like seven different bands in my

adult life and, if you don’t put his name in this article I’m

going to be [expletive], but Sean Murray has recorded

every one of them,” Tom said, half kidding. “The guy is

amazing, super down to earth and talented, and when he’s

recording and producing our albums he involves us in

every step of the way.”

It is not always about the band when it comes to making

music, it is people like Murray that can add some pretty

incredible “tweaking” to an album to perfect it.

If you haven’t had a chance to check out Go Murphy you

are sorely missing out. Head over to their Facebook page

and click the link in their “About” section to find their

music on Bandcamp.

For Go Murphy the good life is being able to include those

you love in pursuing your passions in life together and

sharing the experience with everyone. •





Life can be hard for a man trying to woo

a woman. I understand that as well as

a straight, female-born female can.

I’ve had many male friends come off as

creepy right at the dire moment they

were trying to be alluring. I’ve also had

more than my fair share of unsettling

male encounters — experiences that

could scare a ghost.

People are complicated. What’s

disturbing to one woman may be

enticing to the next, but as with most

things, it’s often best to steer clear of

anything deemed inappropriate by the

masses early on in your friendship.

According to one study done by Knox

University called, “On the Nature of

Creepiness,” creepiness is “anxiety

aroused by the ambiguity of whether

there is something to fear or not and/

or by the ambiguity of the precise

nature of the threat (e.g., sexual,

physical violence, contamination, etc.)

that might be present.”

Here are some general guidelines to

follow, especially until you know the

person and the situation well enough.

The following 10 scenarios are taken

directly from real-life experiences, so

before you roll your eyes, realize there

really are men doing these kinds of

things — all while being oblivious as to

how their actions are being received.

1. Don’t write her romantic poetry until you know she’s interested

2. Don’t write her romantic poetry when she’s already turned you down

3. Don’t try to put the moves on her in your grandmother’s basement, especially when she keeps moving farther away on

the couch

4. Don’t make her a mixed tape/CD/vinyl/playlist of your favorite weird songs right after you meet, unless she’s shown

some actual interest

5. Don’t text her every day asking if she’s listened to said “mixed tape”

6. Don’t proceed to get angry and call her derogatory names if she hasn’t listened to it yet

7. Don’t pressure her into a walk after you get coffee and lead her into alleys and poorly lit areas

8. Don’t call a woman you barely know when you’re drunk, lonely or both, especially between the hours of 11 p.m. to

9 a.m.

9. Don’t bike quietly behind her as she walks, just so you can check her out, be near her, and touch her head to feel the

texture of her hair

10. Don’t monitor her whereabouts. That’s called stalking.

Since most of you probably aren’t weird enough to think

any of the above scenarios are normal, here are some

less oddly specific suggestions for you to improve your


1. Don’t stand close enough to where you could easily

detect what sort of supper or digestive issues you each

have. Unless you’re in an extremely loud setting, you don’t

need to crane your neck toward her when you’re chatting.

2. If you’re interested in someone, don’t have two

completely different versions of yourself when you’re

online vs. in person. People are much more likely to bare

their heart and soul when they’re behind a protective

screen. If you can’t stop dishing out details about yourself

online, but you barely have a Midwestern weather

comment to make in her presence, it’s time to reevaluate

your approach and confidence.

3. If you don’t have an established friendship, lay off

the hugs, shoulder touches and such for awhile. This is

especially true when you’re in a working environment.

When guys go around hugging female coworkers, it’s

often just plain ol’ creepy, especially when the hugs linger.

4. If you’re interested in someone, don’t just stare.

Gather up some confidence, put it in your pocket, think

of your introduction and some possible conversation

starters, take a deep breath and approach them. This will

undoubtedly throw women off guard because we’re used

to passivity or arrogance in this day and age, but as long

as you’re genuinely acting nice and not just standing there

staring, I can pretty much guarantee she’ll appreciate the


5. When you’re thinking of things to say to a woman,

don’t be overtly sexual. Telling a lady she has a nice rack

isn’t going to win you any points.

6. If you have a strange hobby (e.g., doll collecting), I’d

save mentioning that information for the 12th date.

7. Just because you bought a lady a tequila sunrise,

doesn’t mean she’s obligated to hang around you until the

tequila sun rises in the east. Make your gifts be a gift and

take the nos as a no.

8. Don’t make comments comparing her to your ex.

9. Don’t go to her Instagram and like all her beach

photos in one burst.

10. And lastly, since this is an article, not a book: Ask

yourself whether you’d like your sister to be treated the

same way you’re about to treat a woman... • / THE GOOD LIFE / 13




Before West Fargo Mayor Bernie Dardis won the election in

April 2018, he was a successful businessman. After being

vice president (20 years) and president (3 years) of Cook

Sign Company and CEO of Indigo Signworks (15 years),

he’s still a consultant, along with his mayoral duties.


Dardis grew up in the hills of Killdeer, N.D., where

his father was the county sheriff. Campaigning for his

dad was his first introduction to politics, and he’s been

active ever since. After graduating from NDSU, Dardis

even had a stint in law enforcement before coming

back to West Fargo. Now, 42 years later, Dardis is still

living in and loving his life in “the biggest small town in

North Dakota.”

Dardis and I met up over a pint of root beer in the halls of

Drekker’s Brewhalla. We talked a lot about West Fargo

and his long history with the city, reveled in our love for

Minnesota lakes, and talked about his wife’s awesome,

red hair. However, I saved the real humdingers for you

below, so read on, friend.

Good Life: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Bernie Dardis: This is going to tell a lot about me.

French vanilla. I do like cherry every once in awhile.

I have two daughters-in-law that live and die for Cass

Clay Rocky Road. I have two cartons at our lake home

and our house for them.

GL: When you’re feeling down, who or what is your

biggest go-to?

BD: My wife — my Louise. She is the world’s best,

biggest optimist. She has been my ballast for 43 years

this fall.

GL: That’s awesome. Are you a pretty optimistic guy,

too, or do you kind of balance each other out?

BD: I’m a worrier. Louise isn’t. If my wife reads that I’m

worrying, she will walk up and say, “We’re FaceTiming

our grandchildren.” She’s a heck of a nurse. Seven

years ago, I had open-heart surgery. I didn’t have any

grandchildren at that time. I’ll never forget what one of

my sons said as he held my hand before I went in for

surgery. My boy said, “Dad, you have grandchildren you

haven’t met yet.” Jennifer, his wife, was pregnant with

the first one. He said, “Fight through this. You have to

meet your grandchildren.” And I did. It changed my

lifestyle and I’m healthier than I’ve been in many years.

Family did that.

“I love AC/DC, and bass fishing

is my absolute passion. I don’t

care if I never catch another

species, but boy, do I love

bass.” – Bernie Dardis / THE GOOD LIFE / 15


GL: What’s one thing people would never know just

by looking at you? Any strange hobbies or bands

that you like?

BD: I love AC/DC, and bass fishing is my absolute

passion. I don’t care if I never catch another species,

but boy, do I love bass. I either listen to AC/DC or

classical music when I’m fishing.

GL: When did you start getting into politics?

BD: I’ve been active in politics my whole life. I

started for my dad as sheriff when I was 12. When

I was the state FFA president at 18, I got to meet

Richard Nixon. He took me into the Oval Office and

had me sit in the president’s chair at the desk. As I

continued being involved in politics, I had dinner at

a table of 12 in the White House with Ronald and

Nancy Reagan and then another time with George

H. and Barbara Bush. Barbara once invited me to

sit in the president’s box at the National Convention

with their family. What a matriarch she was. I will

value those experiences my entire life.

GL: What’s one thing about your personality you


BD: I think I’m a good listener.

GL: What’s your best friend like?

BD: I have a couple, but one in particular is Pat. I

grew up with him. I’m a day older than he is and he’ll

never let me forget it. Pat is the one person in the

world who knows me better than I know myself. He’s

never missed any major event in our lives, whether it

was my kids playing in state championship football

games, graduating from high school or college, or

getting married.

GL: What was your first job?

BD: I was a gravedigger. I was 12 years old the first

time I ever got paid cash to do a job, and it was for

our friend Jim. He would dig graves, but he was too

big a man to clean up the graves, once he started

digging them. We had a 6-foot ladder and I’d crawl

down and shovel.

“I was a gravedigger. I was 12

years old the first time I ever

got paid cash to do a job, and

it was for our friend Jim.”

– Bernie Dardis


GL: What’s your favorite


BD: I’m going to give you a

real sappy answer: Photo

albums of my family. That’s

my favorite book.

GL: What’s your favorite

quote, line of poetry or

sentence that sticks out?

BD: Shortly after Reagan

had been shot, he was

speaking at an event

and someone dropped

something. It was very

loud, so he turned right at

it and said, “Missed me.”

That was so like him.

GL: What’s your biggest

pet peeve?

BD: Mean people that say

or do things just to hurt

other people. I don’t have

time for that in my life.

GL: Have you ever had

a laugh attack while in a

serious meeting?

BD: Absolutely. There are

things that just tickle the

heck out of me, and other

people don’t get it.

GL: What does living the

good life mean to you?

BD: Family. It’s as simple

as that. If I can be around

my grandkids, my sons,

their wives, my wife, and

my dear friends — that’s

what life is about. Each

day I can spend with the

people I love is a gift. • / THE GOOD LIFE / 17




‘Invaders’ Let Players Keep Playing,

Fans Keep Cheering


Some of the best stories start out in the oddest of

places. Like a rented 15-passenger van, for example,

on a sleepy stretch of highway heading to Minot,

N.D. That’s where Matt Petznick and his thenteammate

Shane Stephenson first started dreaming of

establishing their own semi-pro football team here in


Back in 2013 when this road trip took place, the two

were members of the FM Lumberjacks football squad,

an offshoot of a semi-pro team based out of Brainerd,

Minn., where Petznick got his start.

Within his first season, it became apparent that the

business side of the team wasn’t being operated with

the kind of efficiency several felt

it needed. So, as Petznick and

Stephenson were driving their

teammates and equipment

northward for an away game

in Minot, the two started

seriously considering

their options and

taking control for the

betterment of the

team and their fellow


“My first memory [of

what would become the


Fargo Invaders] was that trip to Minot,” Petznick

recalled.“Shane and I were in one of the vans talking

about what our colors should be. At that time, it was all

conceptual. We knew we needed to be in a league, so

we decided that was the first step. Based on if we could

get into the league we wanted, that would determine if

we could make this a go. We really made the decision

to take the shot during that van ride.”

Semi-Pro Success in Fargo

In January 2013, an article ran in a local Fargo

publication, announcing tryouts for a new semipro

football team forming in Fargo. Petznick was

immediately intrigued and decided to look into the

opportunity to play the game he loved. He learned the

Fargo team would start playing in the fall, founded by

someone who already owned a team in Brainerd (which

played during the summer months). Not wanting to

miss out, Petznick joined the Brainerd team to play

that summer.

“We had a core group of about 40 players on that team,”

Petznick said. “Pretty early on we were interested in

starting our own team in Fargo. We figured if this guy

could do it for several years and make it on his own,

there’s no reason why we – as a team and a board –

couldn’t do the same thing. We took it and ran with it.”

As Petznick explained, there are two basic types of

organizations in semi-pro football – teams set up like a

business and operate like an NFL team, and the more

rec league organization. Petznick and his teammates

were determined not only to be competitive on the

field, but run the organization with high standards and

a commitment to the community. / THE GOOD LIFE / 19


“Our team and the league are business-focused and trying

to make a viable product,” Petznick said proudly. “When

we started this up, we wanted to set it up as a nonprofit

business so if someone leaves, the team can continue.

Since Shane left, I’ve been the president of the

team, and I’m confident that based on the model

we have set up, the team could continue if I left.”

With the gears in motion, all that was left was to

find a league. In October of 2013, Petznick and

Stephenson – the two original co-founders of the

Fargo Invaders – submitted their application to

join the Midwest Premier Football League (later

renamed the Northern States Football League).

The very next month, the league welcomed the

Invaders, who make up a six-team league

that would compete against each

other starting May 2014.

“We held our first tryouts

in December, won our

first game that May

(49-0) and went on to

a 6-2 record in league

play. We also won the

league championship

our very first year,”

Petznick said.

After a blistering hot

start their first year

in action, the Fargo

Invaders returned

to reality just a bit

during their second

season. The team

ended 2015 with

a 5-6 record, losing

the north division

championship game to

the Mid-America Fighting

Orioles. As a team founded

on sheer determination, the Invaders

bounced back in 2016, completing a

perfect 12-0 season and earning their

second championship in three years.

In 2017, The Invaders decided the time was

right to move up a class to find stronger

competition and continue making a name

for themselves in semi-pro football. The

team joined the Northern Elite Football

League, and went about their winning

ways by beating the seven-time defending


champions, The St. Paul Pioneers, and tying for the

conference championship.

Community-Focused Competition

In recent years, with all the attention focused on the

damage that years of playing football can inflict on the

human body, some naturally question the need for a

semi-pro team in the frozen Midwest where no salaries

are paid and players actually

pay a fee to compete. It’s an

objection Petznick welcomes,

as it gives him the opportunity

to tell the full story of the

Fargo Invaders.

“No one on our team gets

paid, coaches, players, board

members… players actually have to pay their own $150

player fee and provide pads and helmets,” Petznick

explained. “But we’re not here to get paid. I’d say half or

more of our players do it for the love of the game. And

one of the biggest reasons we wanted to be a nonprofit

is to be more community based – almost like the Green

Bay Packers, where everyone has a tie-in or a sense of


"We’re not your standard

nonprofit, but we still want

to offer opportunities to our

players and area youth, along

with other organizations.”

– Matt Petznick

This is where the real passion in Petznick’s eyes started

to shine through. The moment he started to talk about

his team’s community-driven mission, it was easy to see

the game was perhaps just a means to give back and

open up opportunities for his players as well as the fans.

Lately, the Invaders have been partnering with another

local nonprofit called Down Home that serves families

in Cass and Clay counties who are transitioning from

homelessness into permanent

housing. For a team of big,

strong athletes, helping these

families during move-in days

was a natural and rewarding

fit. The Invaders are also

involved with Big Brothers

Big Sisters, Kamp KACE,

Special Olympics and Giving

Hearts Day. Last year, the organization hosted its first

youth camp and plan to make it an annual event.

“We’re not your standard nonprofit, but we still want to

offer opportunities to our players and area youth, along

with other organizations,” Petznick explained. “We’re

also not shy about giving away tickets to our games,

especially to benefits and silent auctions.”

Name: Fargo Invaders

Established: 2013, 2014 first season

Championships: 2014 Midwest Premier Football League

(MPFL), 2016 Northern States Football League (NSFL)

[2016: Undefeated 12-0, Outscored Opponents 418-24]

Current League: Northern Elite Football League (NEFL)

Colors: Orange / Scarlet

Home Field: Shanley High School, Fargo South

(2 games in 2019)

2018 Record: 10-3

Lifetime Record: 41-15

42 former college players on 53-man roster / THE GOOD LIFE / 21



As a nonprofit, raising money to keep the operation

running is a constant challenge. The team's biggest

revenue source is its yearly raffle. They're currently

selling $10 tickets for a chance at more than $12,000

in total prizes at the drawing in May.

Netting about $10,000, the raffle helps cover the $2,000

game costs the team incurs every time it takes to the

field. The Invaders also accept team sponsorships and

are always on the lookout

for potential donors

looking to share

in the team’s

success and

get a little


along the


“We have an endowment fund set up as well,” Petznick

explained. “Not much is in there yet, but if people

are looking for ways to help or get involved, they can

donate or talk to their business to sponsor or donate

through the endowment. We’ve set these things up with

the bigger picture in mind. We want to be here and stay


Recruiting For a Chance… Maybe a Second Chance

Football is a grueling, difficult sport, so you may think

to recruit for a semi-pro team (where you have to pay

to play) would be next to impossible. But Petznick and

the Fargo Invaders promise a chance to keep playing,

whatever the reason may be. Players in the team's

history have had NFL and CFL ties, including former

Bison and arena football players.

“Our recruits may have been on a college team and

didn’t get as many reps as they wanted, or they could

have been starters” Petznick said. “Some are looking

to take it to the next level –maybe they’re done playing

college football and want more film to show recruiters.

The next step may be an indoor league or the CFL in



"For others, it could be a stepping stone to college…

maybe their life didn't align perfectly, so this gives them

the chance to get more film to send to college recruits,"

Petznick added. "We don't get a lot of players right out

of college, but a couple of years after that burning desire

gets them back in the game."

That desire is what makes for a quality product on the

field, as well. Petznick said all the games on this year’s

calendar promise to be good match-ups against teams

both in and out of the league.

“Previous years we had some obvious mismatched

games where we’re up so much by halftime we start to

lose some fans,” he said. “One thing with our league is

we have four powerhouse teams, including us, so we’ll

have six very good games, along with three non-league

games scheduled so far.”

That desire is also what the good life means to this

organization, a nonprofit set up to give players a chance

to play, coaches a chance to coach and fans a chance to

cheer and be a part of a game so many love.

The way things are set up,” Petznick said, “The Invaders

aren’t going anywhere. Ten years from now, we’re going

to be here. That’s the good life we’ve strived to create on

and off the field.” •





First dates. They can be incredible life-changing events

or they can be an epic failure – resulting in a life of

everlasting bachelorhood.

The results, in part, are up to you gentlemen.

We asked 30 random women what

things you shouldn't ask, say or

do on a first date. If all else

fails, let her do most of the

talking. Yes, you may be

able to throw a football

over a mile, but your

date doesn't care.


Will you marry me?




1. Will you marry me?

2. Do you want kids?

3. Can I kiss you? Be confident.

Just do it. If you have to ask,

you probably shouldn’t.

4. Don’t ask me anything sexual.

5. Never ask who will be

paying the bill.

6. Do you want to meet

my parents?

7. Don't ask if you can touch my

hair…to see if it is real or fake.

8. Never ask for a second date

before the first date is over.



9. I’m going through a divorce.

10. I still live at home.

11. Never talk about ex’s or

how many you’ve had.

12. Don't talk about your

“extensive” collection of katanas.

13. Don’t talk about going to the

gym or how much you

can bench.

14. Don't talk about how much

money you make.

15. Don't talk about the last girl

you were with.

16. Don’t run down the list of

things you don’t like about

yourself, or the list of changes

you wish you could make.

17. I think I love you.

18. I don’t want to hear

about your high school

football career

or that you were a

state wresting champ.



19. Don't get drunk.

20. If you want there to be any

hope at all… DO NOT fart,

belch or pick your nose

in front of your date.

21. Don't keep your phone

on the table.

22. Don’t bring me to the jail

to register your ankle bracelet

before we go out to eat.

23. Don’t be rude / intolerant

to people around us.

24. Don’t bring your kids

on a first date.

25. Don't show up late.

I thought he stood me up.

Although we got married, so

maybe it wasn’t a deal breaker.

26. Don’t invite me to your

house that has black garbage

bags over the windows

for curtains.

27. Don’t show up in a

baseball cap, unshaven and

in a t-shirt. C’mon man…

make an effort.

28. Don’t text or answer calls.

29. Don’t be overly affectionate.

I’m still getting to know you.

30. Don’t demonstrate poor

listening skills.


She doesn't want

to see 89 photos

of your new truck. / THE GOOD LIFE / 25





Jay Thomas, host of the Jay Thomas Show on

WDAY 970 AM and 93.1 FM, is a well-known

figure in the area. To many, he is known as Mr.

West Fargo. He is also a major automobile

fan, spending time with Toppers Car Club and

the West Fargo Cruise Nights. Having a love

of anything with a motor since an early age,

hosting “Rides with Jay Thomas”, an online

video series – soon to become a television show

ABC TV – is a natural fit for this enthusiastic

talk radio personality.

"Rides with Jay Thomas" was Thomas' idea: "I

came up with the idea three years ago. Forum

Communications was looking to expand its

platform. And I have always been a big car guy

– participating in Toppers Car Club and West

Fargo Cruise Nights. I started thinking about

all of these local hunting and fishing shows, but

there was nothing local when it comes to cars.”


Thomas presented the idea over lunch to Bill

Marcil, Jr., and he said, "I love this!" Some other

priorities came up for a couple of years, but one

day “Bill Marcil, Jr., reached out to me and said,

‘Let’s do it.’”

Thomas explained, “We started filming the video

series with the help of Click Content Studios, a

part of Forum Communications.” Sean Kelly from

Click Content, who has done work with ESPN, is

Thomas’ executive producer for the show: “They

do a fantastic job with producing it.” Thomas

mentioned the hard work of Cody Rogness at Click

Content: “He sits down after every shoot and is the

guy who puts all of the episodes together. He does

an amazing job.”

Thomas explained: "The cool thing about ‘Rides

with Jay Thomas' is that from the beginning, I

did not want it to only be about cars. We feature

trucks, motorcycles, etc. If it has a motor and can

move, it can be on the show. Plus, the vehicle has

to be more than cool, there needs to be a good

story behind it.”

When asked about how he finds the interesting

vehicles and stories to feature, Thomas said,

“People call or email me or private message on

Facebook, but the preferred method is to email

your idea to ."

They are moving the series to television, hoping to

premiere the series on WDAY ABC TV sometime

in June, with a ten-episode initial run. Segments of

the show will still be viewable after the television

show begins at

"The cool thing about

‘Rides with Jay Thomas' is that

from the beginning, I did not

want it to only be about cars. We

feature trucks, motorcycles, etc.

If it has a motor and can move, it

can be on the show."

– Jay Thomas / THE GOOD LIFE / 27

The videos and new television series feature stories from the region. Seeing

the collections people have in the area has been eye-opening for Thomas:

“I cannot believe the collections people have – tractors, snowmobiles –

collections that nobody knows about. I’m a big car person and have been for

a long time. How do I not know about these things? You just shake your head

when you walk into some of these collections and say, ‘My God… how did I

not know about this?’"

One of Thomas’ favorite episodes was about Bison tailgating rigs: "it went

absolutely viral, especially with the Bison fire truck." Another episode

featured a Hudson Hornet collection and Thomas said: "People went crazy

for that."

One episode featured the collection of

Steve Volla, near Mayville, with a Dodge

Challenger done in the 1970s: “This thing

was sick. This guy’s collection of Mopars

is unbelievable – every one of them is

stunning and rare. The buildings he

has his collection in, are amazing – jawdropping.

We went in to film and were

all like ‘Are you freaking kidding me?'"

Volla’s collection will soon be featured

on the television series with a big Chevy

Avalanche done as a tribute to Cheap

Trick’s “The Dream Police.”

Another episode featured “The Mutt

Truck," a truck with 2,000 horsepower.

This truck has also been featured on

national television on Street Outlaws on

the Discovery Channel.

"I cannot believe the

collections people have

– tractors, snowmobiles –

collections that

nobody knows about."

– Jay Thomas


Thomas thanked Toppers Car Club for their help on the

video series and upcoming television series: "They helped

out so much with this – with their collection and with

making connections to people."

Thomas grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota. A gear-head

from early on, Thomas said, "In the Iron Range, it is just

the culture to like cars. As a boy, all my friends were into

it. We all had friends whose dads owned a body shop or

were mechanics, so we had access to tools. We would go

cruising on Friday and Saturday nights and it was like a car

show – we could see who had done what to their vehicle

over the week."

In Thomas’ personal collection he has a 1968 Camaro

SS of which he is particularly proud. He also mentioned a

1974 Barracuda and a Dodge Challenger. Also, "Rides with

Jay Thomas" has a sponsored "Rides Truck".

When he is not hosting the Jay Thomas Show, something

he has done for nearly eleven years, Thomas spends time

at car shows and also has been a promoter, supporter and

competitor in the annual Derby for the Vets Adult Pinewood

Derby at the Fargo VFW for the past six years.

Thomas has been in the Fargo-Moorhead-West Fargo area

for 24 years. He started working in radio while still in high

school in 1982. He did his time being a radio disc jockey all

over the country, but is happy to be doing talk radio: “Doing

talk radio is a blast.”

When asked what “The Good Life” means to him, Thomas

said, “To me, doing what I’m doing right now, having the

family that I have, that is the good life.” • / THE GOOD LIFE / 29



Wounded Warrior Project Promises Veterans a Path and Purpose


Each veteran carries with him his own book of harrowing

stories, but the pain points often overlap. Some face

physical disabilities that prevent them from doing everyday

tasks like tying their shoes – efforts the rest of us often take

for granted. For others, the memories are hidden deep in

their mental reserves and often surface without warning.

Looking back on May 2015, Benjamin Watkins was

unaware that his marriage was on the rocks. “I didn't

realize there was a lot of mess happening in my life, and I

was really distancing from my wife and my kids," he says,


But thanks to Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), Watkins

and his family spent four days bonding at Hiawatha Beach

Resort in Walker, Minn. – an activity that would prove to be

his saving grace.

"I got to connect with my wife and really engage with my

son and daughter. It literally changed my life," he says.

"Coming home, my wife and I were in tears in that we

were having conversations we hadn't had in years. It was

so beautiful."

Inspired by Experience

Like so many others, 9/11 was the spark that started the

fire in Watkins’ innate servant heart. Just 22 years old –

and in his last year of college – he watched in terror as the

second Twin Tower erupted in fire on television. That very

afternoon, Watkins called his friend, an Army recruiter,

and asked where he would fit in.

“His suggestion did not disappoint,” Watkins says.

Joining the Army Reserves, Watkins became a training

non-commissioned officer (NCO) under the 13th

psychological operations (PSYOP) battalion – the only

enemy prisoner of war battalion in the entire military.

Though now dissolved, the battalion was deployed in the

initial push in 2003 and stationed at the infamous Camp

Bucca prisoner camp in southern Iraq.

"When I came home, I trained soldiers to do what I

did – basically copying myself and downloading my

consciousness into other soldiers," says the now 40-yearold.


"I signed up, because I needed help."

– Benjamin Watkins

In 2014, a friend introduced Watkins to WWP, a charitable

organization that helps veterans and active duty service

members. When he watched the organization’s series

called “Wounded: The Battle Back Home” and could relate

to the post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) stories, he

knew it was time to reach out.

"I signed up, because I needed help,” he says. Watkins

became so involved, in fact, that he was appointed a peer

leader for two years where he was able to help other

warriors as they faced the challenges of everyday life as


"Your rank is left at the door. You're able to dig in and

say, ‘This is what's going on in my life,’ ‘This is what

happened’ or "I'm having trouble transitioning into this,"

he says. "It's an open format where you're not going to

be judged."

When a full-time position opened up at WWP, Watkins

knew he had to apply. Hired in July 2018, he now holds

the title of Outreach Specialist (covering North Dakota,

South Dakota, Minnesota and Iowa) for an organization

that changed his life.




"I get paid to make sure my brothers and sisters are

being taken care of,” he says. “I interact with people

who – this is the last day they want to live – and I get

to hear, 'This conversation changed my life... literally.'

That's what I love about this job."

Programs That Save

Today, Watkins’ mission is to make sure Fargo-Moorhead

area veterans know they’re not alone in their struggles.

"I know there are veterans here, but we have less than

200 people in the whole state of North Dakota signed

up for Wounded Warrior Project benefits," he says.

There's so much Wounded Warrior Project has to offer

them and it's completely free for soldiers and their


Soldier Ride

Soldier Ride is arguably one of WWP’s most powerful

events. Whether on a standard, upright bike, recumbent

bike or hand-pedal bike, veterans join in a three-day, 20-

mile ride where they pedal only as fast as the slowest

person on their team.

It’s not surprising that the experience is an emotional



"We're honoring that veteran and empowering them to get out and

experience life again." – Benjamin Watkins

"You can see the tears running down their faces,” Watkins

says. “They’re so engaged because they have wind flapping

in their hair, and they can feel it. They have the camaraderie

they missed, and they're part of an event where they're

taken care of.”

Wounded Warrior Project Talk

Simply put, WWP Talk is a free mental health support line.

In reality, it’s so much more than that.

"If a family support member calls to say, 'I don't know how

to handle my veteran in this, that or the other thing,' we can

advise them and give them some tools to move forward in

the healing process for the veteran," Watkins explains.

Independence Program

Independence Program was designed to help warriors

suffering from moderate-to-severe brain or spinal cord

injuries or neurological conditions. Staff help warriors and

their families set goals and build individualized plans.

"It's giving them empowerment,” Watkins says. “We're

honoring that veteran and empowering them to get out

and experience life again." / THE GOOD LIFE / 33


Warrior Care Network

Warrior Care Network is a partnership with four top

academic medical centers and Veterans Affairs (VA)

to help service members and veterans deal with posttraumatic

stress. Through the program, veterans receive

world-class mental health treatment.

“Families are part of the healing process,” Watkins

explains. “They are vital in a warrior’s recovery.”

Community Partners & Resource Center

Furthermore, WWP actively partners with other

organizations to fulfill needs they cannot. For example,

Team Rubicon continues the mission to serve by taking

veterans to help where disasters have happened.

Through a partnership with CompTIA, veterans interested

in information technology (IT) careers receive free

training. Team Red, White & Blue encourages veterans

to get active through running, rock climbing and other


But that’s just a start. From international support, finding

jobs and preparing resumes to receiving the benefits each

veteran has earned, WWP covers it all.

Restructuring for Good

In 2016, media reports accused WWP of wasting

donations on salaries and events. The organization has

worked hard since then to rebuild public trust, including

naming a new CEO, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Mike Linnington.

“When Linnington was in the service, he was a soldier

general. He was on the field talking to soldiers," Watkins

explains. “When I was going through my onboarding

during the first week of work, he was in the room the

whole time and taking questions. Seeing that first-hand

now – being behind the curtain – makes me love this

organization even more."


Day after day, hearing veterans stories

is testimony of the lives being changed

by WWP’s efforts.

"People always say, 'I want to leave a

legacy’ or ‘If I could just change one

person's life..." and they question if

they're even doing that," Watkins says.

"For me, in this job, I know that I am. I

have the fulfillment in that I know I've

changed a life, or two lives or three."

Watkins admits that the work he does

for his full-time job undoubtedly fills

his bucket. "Because of what this

organization has done for my life,

I want other people to experience

that," he says. "It's a cathartic release

knowing, ‘I don't have to live in

yesterday. I can be something different.

I am something different.'"

When asked what the good life

means to him, Watkins took a breath,

looked back on his life and career

and said, “The good life is being able

to abundantly bless people at any

moment – without delay, without


And he smiled, knowing he was doing

just that. • / THE GOOD LIFE / 35

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