Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Irrelevant Erik Paulsen Mumbles

You might want Rep. Erik Paulsen to prepare your income  taxes, but you certainly would fire him as your representative in Congress in a perilous time when the country is being run by a corrupt tyrant and his cronies.
After winning two lotteries — one to get a ticket to a “town hall” meeting and another to ask a question — I got my first face to face with Paulsen Wednesday night at a well attended event he arranged at the Brooklyn Park Community Center.  
He answered meekly, “no comment” when I pondered aloud:  “You have been getting a paycheck from taxpayers for 14 years and serving in the House without distinction so wouldn’t now be a good time to road test trickle down economics?  Have you contacted Target about getting your old job back.” 
The disagreable scold who was the meeting’s monitor commented that I was “rude.”  (Ms. Manners continually admonished the enthusiastic audience to be “civil.”)  If ever there was a time to be candid, it’s now I concluded after about 45 minutes of his inane mumblings.  
Anyone who avoided sleep during the event could see that Paulsen lacks conviction and passion for the job in a Congress that desperately needs people of conviction about liberty and equality.
Another resident asked the somnulent congressman while he has waited almost 8 years to hold a “town hall” event.  For him it was a brave decision to meet constituents although he dislikes uncivil discourse and acknowledges that “you can’t please everyone.”
A senior man with died blonde hair and sporting a “Trump” lapel pin seemed to be a functionary for the congressman’s team but didn’t ask questions.  
We had to write our names and cities on an index card and throw them in a bowl for a drawing to determine who could ask questions.  Impromptu outbursts were not allowed in this tightly controlled event.

Planned Parenthood had a huge presence outside the Brooklyn Park Community Center Wednesday night for the Paulsen event along with freelance protestors.  The protestors lacked “tickets” to the meeting so were not allowed inside the building.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Southdale Library Plans

EDINA — The new Southdale Library should include a theater for the performing arts, a Bloomington resident suggested Monday night at a community meeting hosted by MSR architects at the exsiting library.
Library patrons crowded into the community room to brainstorm in small groups on their hopes for a new library.  A meeting room that could accomodate up to 100 people and larger elevators for the handicap and baby strollers were among the proposals for the new building.
Four to five acres of the existing seven acre site would be devoted to the new library, the architects said.  In meetings last year input was sought by MSR for non library development of the remaining two acres which would include “affordable housing.”  (Has the Suburban Hennepin Housing Coalition provided input on what is “affordable”?)
Hennepin County Commissioners will decide on final plans for this new multi-use development on York Avenue.  The next community meeting will be held at the Southdale Library at 7 pm July 23.
Thomas Meyer, FAIA, Jeffrey Scherer, FAIA, and Garth Rockcastle, FAIA, established MSR in 1981. Their office is located within the ruined walls of the National Historic Landmark Washburn A Mill above the Mill City Museum. The MSR-designed complex has won numerous awards, including a national AIA Honor Award and National Trust for Historic Preservation Honor Award.

(I had asked in the small group if taxpayers were paying for the architects’ work of if it was pro bono, which brought an angry response from a library patron for my apparent “stupidity”.)  The architects are funded by tax dollars.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Understanding Local Police

One of the unknowns in trying to understand “police use of lethal force” was the background, education, etc. of local police officers.  So I spent an hour Thursday visiting with officers at “Coffee with a Cop” at Ikea’s restaurant.  This was a followup to the class I recently completed at U of M OLLI with Connie Osterbaan, a retired research criminologist and adjunct professor in criminal justice at the U.
Osterbaan showed videos that put into question the value of body cameras on police officers because the view from the cameras doesn’t give an accurate record of the event.  The officers at Thursday’s discussion disagreed and gave enthusiastic endorsements of body cameras as a “fantastic tool providing data that makes police work harder not to use force.”
Some officers graduate from community college law enforcement programs, but one detective said that officers are “poorly trained” and Bloomington city government doesn’t provide enough funds for police training.  It will take another 25 years to catch up on police training with emphasis on human traits data, the detective added.
One of the complaints made by Black Lives Matter activists is that police don’t live in the communities where they are employed and therefore may not be involved in community building with people of color.  That certainly is true in Bloomington where only a small percentage of the 120 officers on the force are Bloomington residents.  Officer McCullough said for him it “is a benefit not living in the city.”
I had an interest in pursuing the police culture topic having served for about a year covering the cop shop for the Idaho Statesman in 1965-66.  Unlike my coworker Dave Frazier I was not that interested in law enforcement although I went on a high speed hot pursuit chase with Sheriff Paul Bright in the back seat of his Chrysler Newport squad car.  Also I covered a jail break in the Ada County courthouse where officers had their guns drawn.  I wrote the initial story on the Billie Butler coed murder in 1965 in Boise.
Bloomington offers a Citizens Police Academy Thursday nights from 6 - 9 p.m. for ten weeks during September 6 - November 8, 2018., but the hour long Coffee with a Cop on Thursday satisfied my curiousity.  Their work involves more than giving tickets to speeders on 98th Street.  More police attended the Ikea coffee conversation than residents and all were caucasian with a few women officers.

The detective immediately identified me as not a typical resident based on the questions I asked.  He observed that a must be a reporter.  I told him that I had local government reporting experience with the Idaho Statesman.

Thursday, April 12, 2018


“It’s better to be in a bad movie than no movie at all,” says an actor in James Franco’s “Disaster Artist,” a behind the scenes look at the notoriously bad midnight movie “The Room.”
Franco does a good imitation of Tommy Wiseau, the mysterious soul who made up for what he lacked in talent with a big back account.
David Franco plays Tommy’s sidekick Gregg and it’s implied that Wiseau may have had romantic notions about Gregg that were not reciprocated.
“Disaster Artist” is best viewed with Tim Burton’s “Ed Wood,” another Hollywood incompetent who lives on via VHS and DVD.  

Minnesotans pay $9 at the Uptown Theater once a month to see “The Room” while I got the DVD from the library free. 

America’s fist indoor shopping mall is shrinking with the demolition of the Pennys store to make way for a fitness center that won’t be connected to the mall.  Meanwhile, the parking lot is being filled in with retail and a waste treatment plant.  Soon the mall will be the size of a SuperAmerica gas station.

Sunday, March 25, 2018


The opera “As One” follows the life of a tarnsgender woman who find her true self in Norway.  It was performed by Luke Williams of Kansas City and Bergen Baker at the North Garden Theater, St. Paul, and included a discussion after the opera.  The brick columns on the wall are original. 

Ryan and Tina North are the owners and artistic directors of the historic North Garden Theater in St. Paul which opened in 1915 and closed in the early 1960s.  It was remodeled in 1939.  
The interior of the theater is bare bones minimalist.  The brick columns on the walls are original from the theater which had a balcony and projection booth.  The owners invested in lighting and a sound system.  Acoustics at the N. Garden are acceptable.
Archival photos from  the University of Minnesota were helpful in restoring the exterior which includes a few marquee, but only blue prints were available for the interior design.  The couple bought the theater days before it was to be demolished.  The previous owner used it for storage.

Sunday, March 18, 2018

Social Network, Communal Dining, Andrew Evans and More

It only lasts 40 days (of Lent) so you need to get to St. Albert’s soon for the Friday night fish fry.  Parkling is on the street and scarce in Minneapolis.  I went for the first and last time.  It was a real slice of life with enthusiastic volunteers.  This event draws a huge Friday night crowd.  The spaghetti was salty but the deserts were all home made by volunteers and worth the trip.  The pastor looks and talks like Percy Kilbride as the urges (over the mike) for attendees to buy raffle tickets.  Not to be missed!

Some came to the Mapping Prejudice program at Or Emet Humanist Jewish Congregation expecting that the focus would be on anti-semitism in Minneapolis but it wasn’t.  In fact, redlining and discriminatory racial covenants in deeds were directed against African Americans until federal legislation in 1968.  The damage that those business decisions caused haunt us today in the Twin Cities.
Kevin Erdman Sjoberg is a sure bet for an engrossing evening and his Mapping Prejudice presentation more than lived up to expectations.  In fact, when I left the Jewish Community Center in St. Louis Park he was still cornered in the sanctuary.  Hopefully he escaped the building.

MOVIE MAKING with Facebook
Disc 2 with the “Social Network” DVD is almost as good as the movie.  How did They Make a Movie of Facebook?  It weren’t easy.  The talented young actors had little opportunity for bonding but Jesse and Andrew did share a light moment at the vending machine.
Some loneliness was apparent for Jesse in Los Angeles when the rest of the cast spent time with their girl friends.  Jesse preferred the filiming in Boston’s winter with snow.
The VanWinkelman Twins played by Armie and Josh (who you don’t see) involving CGI is another intriguing piece of this movie.  Also, the rigors of crew rowing in Boston are revealed by Armie.

There’s a reference in trying to be objective about Zuckerberg.  “You try to be a jerk but you aren’t,” says one of the characters in the movie.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Gringo, Stop the World and more

Movie Soundtrack
This amazing sound track is from an Anthony Newley - Leslie Biscuse 60s musical that I saw as a play at Boise State College in about 1967.  Now I need to find the movie.

Amazon has moved from carefree tossing merchandise in the hallway here to making movies.  Their latest effort, “Gringo,” was shown at a free sneak preview at the West End Cinema Wednesday night. 
 A representative from a marketing firm was at the exit taking comments.  David Oyelowo is a reason to see this movie when it premieres at theaters here Friday.  He plays a hapless cog in the corporate wheel where evil, bumbling sex-addicted Big Pharma executives market marijuana and get involved with stereotypical Mexican bandits.  
The writers were no doubt influenced by the classic film noir “Out of the Past” and “A Touch of Evil” which are superior, but “Gringo” is worth a look when it’s on Amazon Prime. 

National Geographic writer Andrew Evans’ memoir “The Black Penguin” is an amazing read from a gifted writer.  He traces his spiritual journey from growing up in Ohio as a gay kid who was bullied by his peers to realizing his dream of being a NG reporter. 
His story is wrapped around his sense of adventure wherein he goes to the Antartica by bus from the east coast of the U.S.  Like Kerouac, he meets interesting people and gets to know the real America.

“Please tell me how to be an actor,” George Chakiris asked actor Melissa Hart years ago when they appeared together in a Florida production of “Stop the World I want to Get Off,” an Antony Newley musical.
That recollection was prompted Friday morning in our OLLI theater class when I suggested to the Atristry staff that they consider a production of the Newley musical.  Gary Briggle and Hart burst into laughter at this suggestion, remembering their experience with the play years ago.  Briggle admitted that the music is great but the characters are unlikeable.

Briggle and Hart appeared in Artistry’s recent “Candide” production which was a knockout and then shared their love of that project with our OLLI class.  You should have been there.