Wednesday, April 23, 2014


MINNEAPOLIS — A panel of experts today at the University of Minnesota agreed that the ruling related to First Amendment press freedom, New York Times v. Sullivan, should stand although a petition has been filed with the court to over rule it.
They spoke at an event at the Humphrey School honoring the legacy of the late Donald M. Gillmor, Silha professor emeritus of journalism law.  (He was my advisor in Graduate School where my emphasis was Mass Media as a Social Institution with emphasis on urban affairs.  My star papers were on urban renewal in St. Paul.)
The panel heard a timely query from a law school student:  “Everyone is a journalist with social media on the internet.  They share without thinking.  What can be done about it?" The moderator said it can’t be controlled.
Among those attending the event was Gary Gilson, who taught a UofM OLLI class on television and was a producer at public TV stations in Los Angeles and Minneapolis.
Lunch was in the Humphrey Forum which engulfs you in a huge all things Hubert H. Humphrey collage.  I got a chance to chat briefly with Carol Lacey, whose byline I recognized from years gone by at the Pioneer Press.  In the ‘70s and ’80s when reporters had interesting timely beats, Lacey was the emerging women’s movement reporter.  She covered the 1976 Year of the Women events and now is an associate professor in individualized studies at Metro State University, St. Paul.  Read more about Lacey at:  

Thursday, April 17, 2014


MINNEAPOLIS — About 350 people braved the cold and sleet to attend the annual Passover Sedar and feast at St. Joan of Arc Church in south Minneapolis last night.  The event combines many familiar elements of a traditional seder with some Christian ritual at the end.  Peace, brotherhood and let’s celebrate spring if it ever happens were the themes.  It’s definitely “sedar light” and somewhat raucous when held in this cavernous gymnasium.
I was introduced to the Rev. Fr. Jim Debracy as at the “Jewish” guy and after the event he wanted my evaluation which of course was positive.  Debracy impressed me with his 1980s stay in Jerusalem where he studied scripture and was recruited off the street to join a Saturday morning service at a local synagogue.  He was happy to do it.  Last night Debracy sported the embroidered yamicah that he bought in the Holy Land.
Joan of Arc is as progressive as the Catholics get in the Northland and those I met were a friendly lot.  Also attending was Lisa, who is Jewish and a student with me in the UofM OLLI classes.
Much traditional Jewish music added to the merriment which included the ritual folk dance that we all know accompanied by the accordion player from the Gashaus restaurant.   “Let My People Go,” which will be reprised Saturday for the Or Emet Jewish Humanist Sedar, was part of the group sing- along.  To recognize the inclusion of gays and lesbians at Joan of Arc, orange slices were on the tables and this will be part of Or Emet’s Sedar as well at First Unitarian Society in Minneapolis.
I would like to think that the Broadway musical “Fiddler on the Roof” has sparked Christian awareness of Jewish traditions, particularly with anthems like “Tradition” and “To Life.”  So it was no coincidence that last week a conservative Christian congregation in suburban Seattle had a successful run with “Fiddler” and it was a hit here at the Chanhassen Dinner Theater and Edina High School in recent months.  It brings a message that we like to hear repeatedly.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Bert Stern May Have Been Mad But He's Not Don Draper

If you remember the ads for the movie “Lolita” with Sue Lyons in heart shaped sunglasses then you need to see the documentary “Bert Stern, the Original Mad Man,” directed by Shannah  Laumeister.   Stern was the creative photographer genius behind other notable efforts including “Jazz on a Summer’s Day,” the loving tribute to Anita O’Day and the ’59 Newport Jazz Festival.  With an eye for framing the shot and with Hollywood good looks, Stern was riding high in the swinging ‘60s.  Laumeister is brave for attempting a film about such an opinionated, critical genius, but Stern wasn’t an advertising agency executive and not the model for Don Draper.

Friday, April 11, 2014

"House of Wax" -- B Movie With 3-D Novelty Gimmicks

Smoldering timbers were falling on me last night at the Walker Art Center’s showing of the 1953 3-D classic “House of Wax” which is a remake of of ‘30s two color film, “Mystery of the Wax Museum.” I had seen “House” in 1963 at a revival in 2-D at a movie palace in downtown Los Angeles.  The beginning and climatic end of the movie are griping but it slows down whenever Frank Lovejoy, who plays the cop, is on the screen.  Phyllis Kirk is the obligatory damsel in distress.
There’s a bit where a vaudeville performer uses a paddle with a small ball attached by a rubber string to annoy the audience.

It was the first major studio 3-D movie.  Now we need to see “The French Line.”

Sunday, April 06, 2014

"Mission to Moscow" is Memorable WW2 Propoganda

It was easy to hate the enemy but difficult to love all our allies when we were teamed with the Soviet Union in World War II.  So in 1943 brave major studio Warner Bros. released “Mission to Moscow,” based on Amb. Joseph Davies book of the same name.  It’s fascinating war propaganda showing a train station in Germany where prisoners await transfer to the labor camps contrasted with Moscow where there’s plenty of caviar, fun and military hardware.  An actor portrays Stalin as a genteel soul.  The actual diplomat Davies makes a disclaimer at the start that he is pro capitalism but we can’t let Russia’s assets fall into Nazi hands.  At this time there was considerable anti-communist, anti-Stalin sentiment amongst the news media and politicians in the U.S.  Walter Huston portrays Davies and Michael Curtiz is the director.  A lobby poster from the film was part of the Rominov display at the Museum of Russian Art in Minneapolis.