Wednesday, November 15, 2017

More Politics

DARK MONEY
Dark money (from the Hubbards and Kochs) may have been involved in last week’s Twin Cities election but we won’t know until January due to Minnesota’s lax disclosure laws on political campaigns.
That was the headline from MinnPost writer Peter Callaghan who gave an informative post mortem on the election at today’s UofM OLLI Minneapolis Government class in United Methodist Church.
At least $40,000 of that “dark money” was left on the table when the St. Paul Police Federation’s smear campaign blew up in their face and they had to abandon a sinking ship.  Melvin Carter, the victim of the smear, handily won the election and the $40,000 that could have helped his opponent Pat Harris was never spent.

PNW NATIVE PETER CALLAHGAN
It was an OMG moment today in class when I learned that Peter Callaghan knew my boss at UPI Spokane, Bobbi Ulrich, when she was covering the State Legislature for the Oregonian.

Callaghan, now reporting for MinnPost, covered the State Legislature in Olympia for the Tacoma News Tribune, a respected Puget Sound newspaper. I worked for the very patient and understanding Ms. Ulrich in the summer and fall of 1962 when UPI was in the KXLY (CBS) Building on Main Street, Spokane.  Even though I was quite green, she said I could have covered the legislature for UPI but the draft was threatening and I enlisted the Coast Guard Reserve. 

DYSFUNCTIONAL FAMILIES
Two Netflix documentaries deal with “bad daddy” families, “One of Us” and Trump (BBC).  In the former, people separating from ultra orthodox Hasidic families suffer depression and chemical dependency in Brooklyn, NY.
The later sheds light on the Trump family starting with grandpa who ran brothels and beer halls for miners in the wild west.  His son, Frederick, offered his children the winners/losers dictum and you better be a winner.  This was not a fit for Donald’s older brother Fred who succumbed to alcoholism and worked as a pilot and then maintenance man in Trump Tower.
Both documentaries are disturbing but “One of Us” is a fitting counterpart for the movie “Fill in the Void” about the emotional turmoil a young girl suffers in having to marry her brother in law who she doesn’t love. 

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Darko, Star Creatures, Dakota Jazz, Music Man

DANNY DARKO
Forget about the parallel universe interpretation and just enjoy the commentary on middle class suburban Americana with religious fanatics, racism and more.  Our Danny is now on Netflix and worth a view. www.themoviegoer.com/donnie_darko.htm

HILARIOUSLY BAD
In comparison to Bruno VeSoto, Ed Wood Jr. would be George Lucas in the bad movie world.  VeSoto’s “Invasion of the Star Creatures” is a comedy of sorts which is derivative of “Queen of Outer Space” and “Teenagers from Outer Space.”  Not a promising start with cardboard sets and creature costumes from Kmart.

Nevertheless, it noteworthy for its total badness.

DAKOTA JAZZ
Much thanks to Pat Jorgensen and the rest of the Y Silver Sneakers gang for making Monday night memorable at the Dakota’s Southdale Y fund raiser.  Pat, particularly, after we got back to the Y dropped me off at the Edina Westin Hotel where I could get a cab home since my car was in the shop.
We were almost on the stage at the Dakota where St. Paul Peteson and the outstanding Stokley Williams on drums gave jazzy interpretations to such R&R classics as “The Letter” and “Let’s Stay together.”  
Dakota’s main courses are very meager but the deserts (apple cake) are humongous and tasty.  Dakota’s relatively new address in downtown isn’t up to the spaciousness we remember when I saw Peter Cincotti at their former locale in 2004, Bandana Square.
Thanks to the Y for providing a charter bus to downtown which makes the hassle of 35 W construction and the downtown traffic nightmare irrelevant.  www.dakotacooks.com

FIRST NIGHTERS
Gary Hudson and I now have reps as knowledgeable theater goers in the eyes of music director Anita Ruth.  Certainly Gary knows musicals but I do treasure “The Music Man” which was discussed in today’s UofM OLLI class.  The children, Amerilus and Winthrop played by Kate and Josh, were most entertaining in class today.  
Who knew that the Meredith Wilson classic would be a sell-out hit for Artistry this fall?  It crosses generations with a well written skript and songs you know.  I think in these troubled cynical times we are are receptive to a con man who seeks redemption and love. We’ve seen too much of the other kind of con man. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Hollywoodland, City Council, Blood Bath

HALLOWEEN MOVIE FEST
Possibly inspired by the German expressionism pioneers, the drive-in movie “Blood Bath” is a very pretentious American International effort and worth a view.  A beach scene in this vampire thriller is styled after a Dali painting.
I almost stopped the DVD but said this is crazy enough to be entertaining.  Stars William Campbell and Sandra Knight.  It is in the Comet Channel rotation this month.

REAL ESTATE DILEMA
BLOOMINGTON — Nathan Coulter, my candidate for city council, last night at the forum admitted that he got backing from the real estate lobby to help in his campaign.  If you aren’t attending forums for city councils and school boards, start going now.
I have a long standing distaste for real estate agents and developers who hold public office because they don’t represent social justice issues.  This dates to my days as an Idaho Statesman local government reporter when I wrote an editorial saying the city should name a housewife to the Planning Commission because the architects and developers were setting the agenda.
In defense of Coulter he is campaigning for more responsive government and recognizes that “voices are not being heard.”  So let’s hope that the real estate endorsement is all “eyewash.”
Veteran council member Jack Baloga said the city should increase mailings of it’s newsletter from quarterly to monthly and I think that is a huge waste of tax payer dollars.  Information is now available on the city’s website.  
We need fresh ideas in city government and the candidate for the east side Peter Martin is exciting.  He agrees with me that plans for a new community center should be made with neighboring cities because there is a regional need for this facility.  Martin is a man to watch in Minnesota politics.
Shower down your take on local government. 

LOS ANGELES NOIR
One of the best of the new film noir is the 2006 “Hollywoodland” where Adrian Brody, Ben Afffleck and Diane Lane all give memorable performances.  Like “Sunset Boulevard,” this is a dark tale of desperate living in the Southland and no good comes from the struggle to survive.  

Did Superman TV star George Reeve commit suicide or was he murdered?  The question becomes irrelevant in this tale of deceit and disappointment.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

PALACE THEATER REBORN IN ST. PAUL


MOVIE HOUSE GHOSTS
The poster from this 1953 B horror movie must have been discovered at the Palace Theater by workers during the remodeling.  To go to the Palace is like digging up a grave — a chilling experience.  See the poster across from the bar in the lobby.

PALACE IS PITCH PERFECT
Even in nosebleed last balcony, the acoustics were perfect for Prairie Home Companion radio show live.  I don’t know how much of the younger audience for PHC appreciated that out of the ruins has come an artifact of a bygone era of vaudeville and much more.

SEE THE STAGE FROM THE LOBBY
The wall separating the auditorium from the lobby has been torn down, so beyond the huge bar you can see the stage and main floor at the Palace.  Emily King and Serena Brook were standout singers Saturday night at the Prairie Home show with MC Chris Thile who is a suitable replacement for Gary with blue grass and folk music prominently showcased.
BEAST IN MANHATTAN
Besides Trump another beast caused havoc in Manhattan in the 1953 scifi thriller “Beast from 20,000 Fathoms” with special effects by Ray Harryhausen.
About 20 minutes into this B&W epic, the beast nibbles on a lighthouse but you have to wait until the last 20 minutes of the movie where New York City residents, including a blind man, are trampled by the merciless dinosaur aroused from his/her sleep by the atomic bomb.
Rick Notch says “Them,” which is on the same disc, is a better film. 

FEELING ANTSY
Our casual acceptance of atomic bombs results in payback of biblical proportions in the 1954 thriller “Them!” where gigantic pantry ants devour people and buildings in Southern California.  
Edmund Gwen (Miracle on 34th St.) is the scientist who provides the narrative on the why and wherefore of the ant explosion while Fess Parker (Daniel Boone) plays a local gone loco over the bug epidemic.

Warner Bros. is the distributor which marks the transition from classic movies to drive in trash for the major Hollywood studios.  They don’t make ‘em like that anymore even with CGI. 


Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Ken Burns’ massive Vietnam documentary on PBS

Me with Huey helicopter at Minnesota’s Camp Ripley
VISIONS OF VIETNAM
Now is the teachable moment for Ken Burns’ massive Vietnam documentary on PBS with “lock & load” in the White House and the U.S. involvement extended again in Pakistan.
My Idaho fishing buddy and photo journalist Dave Frazier in his memoir, “Drafted! Vietnam in War and Peace,” said it succinctly:  “While there were . . . heroic acts on the part of American servicemen, it’s impossible  to claim much good came out of the war.  We didn’t stop communism, it didn’t rally the nation.  About 58,000 Americans died and millions had their lives altered because of the war.”

Like the lead character in “Full Metal Jacket,” Frazier was a public information rear echelon M.F.  He revisited Vietnam as a civilian several times.

REMEMBERING THE DRAGON LADY
Ken Burns’ documentary on the Vietnam War shows a news clip of the toxic Madame Nhu on her “goodwill tour” of the U.S.  Nhu was the wife of the South Vietnam security chief who was the brother of the corrupt S.V. president Diem.
The “dragon lady” brought her act to Los Angeles in 1963 when I was an editorial assistant at KNBC News.  Veteran reporter Bill Brown covered the volatile lady for KNBC while she was in the Southland. www.historynet.com/assassination-coup-madame-nhu.htm

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

EAST 38TH, OUR WALKING TOUR

Famous neighborhood residents are shown on this mural.  Prince attended Bryant Junior High School nearby where he was on the basketball team.

Last night several of us, some form the ‘burbs, walked through the East 38th St. area, an event sponsored by Preserve Minneapolis.  Here we saw a familiar injustice:  Government builds a freeway through a community of African American residents.  

East 38th Street has a reach cultural heritage where African Americans were entrepreneurs, clergy,  home builders and more.  The brick structures fronting this residential development are all that’s left from the stadium.

Destruction of Central High School was a political decision, replacing it with Green Elementary School.  Also the freeway went through this African American neighborhood where land values are less than elsewhere.


Thursday, August 24, 2017

DFL BOOTH AT VICTORIA ARTS FAIR

VICTORIA -- I joined Caver County DFL Chair Mary Leizinger Saturday Aug. 19 afternoon in greeting visitors to the Volksfest Craft Fair.  The monsoons subsided for a day to provide an ideal setting near a lake to meet local residents.  Mary charged me with registering new voters.  A life-long local Republican thanked Mary for giving the DFL visibility at a similar event.
This district has a promising candidate for the Legislature and may be a bit more blue now.
Victoria is west of Bloomington and near Prince's Paisley Park complex.