Friday, June 09, 2017

Monday, June 05, 2017

Sen. Franken, Poverty "Report"

Sen. Al Franken doesn’t suffer fools gladly.  Instead he writes about simpletons like senators Ted Cruz and Tom Corbin and former senator Jeff Sessions in his new book “Al Franken, Giant of the Senate.”  
Frankekn  was interview by Prof. Lady Jacobs Friday night at the Ted Mann Theater on the Minneapolis campus.  “Cruz is the guy who microwaves fish,” Franken said about the senator who annoys many people regardless of their political leanings. 

SAD MESS, REPORT ON POVERTY
MINNEAPOLIS — In a forum Monday night at the University of Minnesota, the School of Public Affairs asked: is a left-right bargain on poverty possible?  My answer:  NO.
The evening was saved by Federal Board Chair MayKao Hang, the Amherst H. Wilder Foundation president and CEO.  She graciously pointed out to Ron Haskins, Brookings Institution, and Robert Dour, American Enterprise Institute, that their two-year old report omitted any mention of racial discrimination.  (Ms. Hang is Asian American.)  Talk about ignoring the elephant in the living room!
Two of the whitest men on the planet, Haskins and Dour, pimped the “Opportunity, Responsibility and Security” report, to a large gathering in the Cowles Auditorium.
The usual platitudes about supporting early childhood education were voiced with the caveat that fears about our “national debt” precluded any progress.  In fact, Haskins stated the obvious, that Congress “does not want to spend money on universal pre-school.”
None of what was aired Monday night by the Brookings and AEI representatives would pass muster as credible academic research anywhere on the planet.  Also missing from this “study” is a mention of the concentration of wealth in this country and the educational needs of immigrant children.  
Sixteen, mostly white guys, gathered to prepare the poverty report but only 15 signed off on the finished document.  Other speakers were critical of the report but no one framed it as a patently offensive mess that wasn’t worthy of discussion. 

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

PERSONABLE DEAN PHILLIPS DEBUTS HIS ACT


EDINA — An overflow crowd Tuesday night at the Southdale Library Community Room heard Third District Congressional District candidate Dean Phillips in his first public presentation.  Thankfully it didn’t include a power point or the dreadful robot-like recitation that is so common with other politicians here.
Phillips, who owns a coffee shop and has managed his family’s foundation, has that “Wellstone-Franken” self-deprecating charm that served him well before a crowd that wasn’t always friendly.  It was evident in the way that he answered questions that he had done his homework.
Those that came to the meeting hoping for a lambasting of Trump and the incumbent Erik Paulsen must have left disappointed.  Phillips is not a hell raiser or spellbinder in the Humphrey mold, but he comes across as being sincere.
Global warming was a major theme in his response to questions about the environment and he advocated for the “carbon tax” so that we can leave the planet better than we found it.  You can be sure that the word “tax” was recorded by Paulsen’s team and will be used in upcoming commercials.
Phillips faces a formidable task in that a DFL candidate hasn’t won the district since 1958, but the west metro is considered a swing district where Mrs. Clinton won here by 10 points over Trump.
The question and answer period ended on an emotional note when a woman in the audience recalled the lack of response from Paulsen when she asked for his help related to her gay son.  For his response, Phillips got a standing ovation. 

Before the meeting, two young people outside the building displayed signs reading “Unqualified is spelled D-E-A-N.”  An avowed Republican sat under Phillips nose the entire evening and it didn’t rattle him in the least.  The crowd was eager to hear from a politician that didn’t spew hate or body slam a reporter.  Someone in a SUV tailgated me out of the parking lot, honking the horn.  An excited citizen, I suspect?  — Dave Zarkin

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

P. Martin, Erik Paulsen and More

CHRIS HEDGES CLASS, GREAT
The students’ participation today was memorable in Prof. Tapp’s class on Chris Hedges book, “Unspeakable.”  Several of us spoke about getting involved in local school district elections to identify possible candidates who want to revise history with their “special” books.  Tapp teaches in the U of M OLLI program. 

PAULSEN’S DELIRIUM 
Monday night on his “telephone town hall” Rep. Erik Paulsen made the outlandish statement that Republicans and Democrats agree on the major tenets in the tax reform bill.  But according to published reports the Democrats remain skeptical, oppose net tax cuts and will resist proposals that mostly benefit high-income households,
Listeners were asked to submit questions but Paulsen rattled on incessantly about the FBI Russian probe to visiting police chiefs from Minnesota in one breath.  
Paulsen spoke to a class at Chaska High School recently and one of the students summarized the talk in a letter to the Star-Tribune.  Here’s part of what Mackenzie Herring wrote:
“I am a senior at Chaska High School. On Monday, U.S. Rep. Erik Paulsen visited. His answers to students’ questions had a prevailing and troubling theme. He was asked about not hosting town hall meetings, lack of women in Congress, actions to protect against hate speech, and the recent GOP health care bill. Paulsen would acknowledge the point, but then deflect the intent of the question to find a way to criticize the Obama administration.”

PATRICK MARTIN FOR CITY COUNCIL
Bloomington was founded by Europeans and American Indians in a spirit multi cultural cooperation and that spirit should be revived, City Council candidate Patrick Martin said Tuesday night at a meeting of Bloomington’s Progressive Issues group.
A fundraiser for non-profits, Martin seeks to bring aggressive programs to east Bloomington with problems that no longer should be ignored.  Outreach programs are needed to reach e east side residents don’t speak English and seniors ill poor health.  Lack of public transportation, affordable housing are other vexing issues.

Martin has done research and approaches these challenges with a solid background in the dynamics of communities coming together to improve lives of residents.

Friday, May 19, 2017

MAGAZINE PUBLISHES TERRACE THEATRE FEATURE


Robinnsdale’s Historic Terrace Theatre is featured in Classic Images (#504) June 2017 issue, pp. 44-45, with photos and other art work.  
“Terrace Theatre, One of America’s Finest,” was written by David Zarkin, Bloomington, a former writer for United Press International, Idaho Daily Statesman and University of Minnesota.  

To order this issue of the magazine, contact Classic Images, Carol Peterson, 563-262-0539 or carol.peterson@muscatinejournal.com

AMERICA’S FINEST THEATER REMEMBERED by David Zarkin
Minnesotans for more than a year have been sharing movie-going memories and celebrating one of the nation’s outstanding mid century modern design movie theaters, the Terrace in suburban Robbinsdale.
“Few, if any, Twin Cities movie theaters ever attracted the kind of national attention that the Terrace received when it opened in 1951,” Dave Kenney wrote in his book, Twin Cities Picture Show.  The theater was demolished in early October by the property owner to make way for a Hy-Vee grocery store.
The Terrace Theatre, which was vacated 16 years ago and changed ownership several times, was a beacon to the community with a high tower topped by lighted letters that spelled out Terrace.  Looking more like a church than a movie house, the Terrace was a community gathering place where residents came together in this mid century modern building that set Robbinsdale apart from lager suburbs that were littered with dreary strip malls.
The Terrace Theatre was the vision of businessmen William and Sidney Volk, orphaned immigrant children who came to Minneapolis from Lithuania in the early 1920s.  Sidney attended the University of Minnesota and wanted to go to medical school but couldn’t afford  the tuition, said his niece Barbara Sidley.  
By the 1930s the brothers were well established Twin Cities movie exhibitors looking to make a big splash by building the Riverview Theater in 1949 near the Mississippi River in a residential neighborhood.  The Riverview was later remodeled to incorporate many of the modern design elements of the Terrace and remains a popular destination for Twin Cities moviegoers who want to enjoy the latest exhibition technology at bargain prices.
Architectural magazines raved about the Riverview, Will Hertz reported March 3, 1949 in the Minneapolis Tribune, while the brothers were building “the theater of tomorrow” in Robbinsdale.  Realizing that television was taking a toll on movie attendance in the late 1940s, the Volks recruited imaginative architects Liebenberg and Kaplan to design a modern unique space age movie house that would give Minnesotans compelling reasons to leave their comfortable living rooms. 
When the Terrace opened in 1951 showing Father’s Little Dividend,  the theater’s newspaper ad boasted that this new theater has “two spacious well furnished nursery rooms, special loge sections for ultra comfort, staggered seating for better vision, 100 percent temperature conditioner and the largest theater in the great Northwest with 1,300 seats.”
Volk brothers’ great grandnephew David Sidley said as a child going to the Terrace he was surprised to find a TV lounge on the side of the foyer which seemed out of place in a movie theater.  Boxoffice magazine on Aug. 4, 1951, reported that the TV lounge “gets a steady play from patrons who become perfect prospects for soft drinks and snacks served from the bar.”  Barbara Sidley, the Volk brothers’ niece, said the Terrace was the first theater to sell hot dogs in addition to popcorn and other refreshments.
Going to the Terrace was like coming home.  The theater featured a sunken lounge with a copper-hooded fireplace and a redwood smoking lounge was provided in the men’s room.  “Unique features included three garage stalls in the basement, a system of dumbwaiters serving the candy counter and coke bar, spacious refreshment storage rooms and two large private offices.  The theater tops a rise overlooking a surrounding portion of the countryside set with several of the sparkling lakes for which the region is famous,” Boxoffice reported.  
Years before the theater closed in 1999, it was divided into three screens, but competition from nearby suburban multiplexes sealed the fate of the space age modern building.  David Leonhardt of Robbinsdale worked at the theater where he met his future wife Alyssa and most recently headed a group that sought to preserve the building.  He and others encouraged developers  to incorporate  the theater in their plans for the site. 
“Everybody in Robbinsdale or from Robbinsdale has some kind of an emotional connection to the Terrace,” said Diane Jacobson, president of the Robbinsdale Historical Society. “It was the showplace of the town.”  
Efforts were underway before the demolition to list the theater on the National Registry of Historic Places and May 23, 2016, was declared “Historic Terrace Theatre Day” honoring the 65th anniversary of America’s finest movie house.
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Thursday, May 18, 2017

MEMOIRS, LOS ANGELES AND SPOKANE

UPI/NBC NEWS HOLLYWOOD
Side splitting hilarious is the 1971 teen fanzine “Spec” which must be short for spectator. My friend Babs gave me this rag and it brought back memories of my very short stay at the UPI Hollywood International Bureau in 1963 in the Los Angeles Mirror Building. 

UPI frankly didn’t know what to do with me so they shuffled me off to the Hollywood desk where I worked with a young woman who was a student in broadcasting at USC. One of her instructors was John Thompson who she referred me to and that bit of kindness landed me a job as a go-for editorial assistant at NBC News where Thompson was news director. (He was later fired for some improprieties; the details escape me.)
Working on the Hollywood desk got me out of firing range of Vernon Scott’s paper torpedoes. REMEMBERING UPI’s VERNON SCOTT
Paul Scorvino portrays United Press International Hollywood reporter Vernon Scott in 1964 in the Warren Beatty movie “Rules Don’t Apply.”  I worked with Scott at UPI in the Los Angeles Times Building on Spring Street in the summer of 1963after completing Coast Guard boot camp.
Scott was manic at times, throwing waded up balls of copy paper at me across the office that he would rip out of his typewriter in the course of knocking out his column.
“Rules” deals with an eccentric billionaire corporate deal maker who may be crazy and fears that his enemies may want to lock him away in an insane asylum.  Sound familiar?
More than a movie about Howard Hughes, it’s about “sexual puritanism in the late 1950s.”  Much of the story may be fictional but the character “Mamie” could be Mamie Van Doren who Hughes discovered at the Miss Palm Springs beauty contest and cast in “Jet Pilot.”  Ms. Van Doren was not acquainted with sexual puritanism, according to her autobiography.

I definitely was not up to the challenge of fabricating a piece on Ricky Nelson who was recently married to Mark Harmon’s sister and they were expecting their first born. These features were distributed by mail to newspapers worldwide. Since the Nelsons did not allow interviews, I needed to make up something benign out of thin air. I had difficulty rewriting a news release let alone make up some garbage about them shopping for strollers and diapers. As if I really cared. I did a quick count from the marriage date to when the little cherub was due and said to my coworker, “there’s our story.” She was not amused. I did not last long at Hollywood UPI.

BOWL & PITCHER

Nestled in the bends of the Spokane River amongst the huge rock formations was the heavenly Bowl and Pitcher Park where we celebrated July 4th with cap guns and a picnic.  It was a kid’s wonderland which I looked forward to every summer until we got the lake cabin which was a different kind of July 4 .

Although Gramps didn’t observe dietary laws, he avoided eating pork.  And Mom warned us kids that we weren’t to say anything about the canned pork and beans.  So at the picnic I left slip that  I wasn’t supposed to say anything about the p-o-r-k.  We had a good laugh about that one.


The park was down river from the famous Natatorium Amusement Park where summer brought rides on the Jack Rabbit and dodgem cars.  I also lived the “nut house” fun in he dark ride and the Merry Go Round with the huge clown’s head where you could throw the silver rings.  I was too nervous to grab for the brass ring which would bring you a free ride.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

YET ANOTHER BAD ONE, THE ROOM


“THE ROOM” — PERFECT DATE MOVIE
“You drive me crazy.  Don’t worry about it, I still love you,” whines Tommy Wiseau as the romantic lead in the midnight cult classic “The Room” playing once a month at the Uptown.  The DVD is more rewarding wherein an interviewer interrogates Wiseau, a middle age freaky no talent with a German accent and a Tiny Tim wig.  This contemporary Orson Welles credits his success to “meticulous planning.”

“This is getting worse and worse,” one of the actors observes and after few minutes of this soft core porn mess I couldn’t agree more.  Wiseau is not only the romantic lead but also the writer, producer and distributor of “The Room.”  In Wiseau’s film, actors open and close doors frequently, interspersed with some nudity.  

Guys in tuxedo’s toss a football around in a scene reminiscent of the charging buffaloes in Ed Wood’s “Glen or Glenda.”  Cutaway shots are frequent and out of context.  

This is a “weekend movie” where an erstwhile director rents a camera and assembles a few drunken friends to “act” in his apartment.
In this era where incompetent people aspire to high profile positions it’s no wonder Wiseau has achieved some notoriety.  In fact, the quirkish actor James Franco plans to make a biopic on Wiseau and “The Room.”

Is this worth staying up till midnight and paying $8 at the Uptown?  Probably not.