Florian Chmielewski’s self-published book “0 to 90” will be ready for release this weekend at the 39th annual International Polka Festival at the Grand Casino Hinckley. The book is co-authored by News Tribune reporter Brady Slater. Here’s what Slater had to say about the project.

Q: How did the book come about?

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A: Before I came to work for the News Tribune, I wrote for hire and started a company, Write About You, that was designed to tell people's stories in book form. Florian Chmielewski was the first person to call me. His “Chmielewski Fun Time” television program had been a staple in my grandparents' home, and it floored me to hear from him. He was a giant name to me growing up in the Northland. I'll never forget he called while I was in a ski chalet. I was so excited and he was earnest about starting a project. We took it from there.  

Q: What's your involvement?

A: I co-authored the book with Florian's daughter Patty Chmielewski, who was involved from the first interview. The book details this, but the Chmielewski Funtime Band is a legacy that has roots more than 100 years old. Patty is the one leading it into the future.    

Q: What's a fun fact about the project?

A: Because Florian self-published, we all had our hands in every facet of the book. We learned a lot about each other and the book-making process. Florian is endlessly positive and upbeat. Even when I try to be like that, I can't always pull it off. I'm more capricious, and it helped to have Patty's determination and Florian's positive attitude as the other legs of our stool. In the end, we made for a good team.   

Q: Do you have a favorite passage?

A: I love the first line of the first chapter, "I believe in miracles." It sets the table for everything to come. There's also a line from one of his bandmates from years ago, Duluth radio personality Pat Cadigan, who said, "Florian is a straight guy, you know? He goes to church. He goes to church dinners. He goes to funerals. He celebrates birthdays. He's straight. Very, very seldom can you distract him." That sums up a lot about Florian, who is living a life of boundless and well-directed energy.   

Q: Anything else to add?

A: Just that I'm glad to have been a part of it. Also, procrastination played a key role in getting it done. It kind of allowed every story time to settle and find its place into the whole.