Saturday, August 20, 2016


I learned about writing this past week by reading the incredible collection of memoirs in “A Good Time For The Truth: Race in Minnesota,” edited by Sun Yung Shin.
In “People Like Us,” David Lawrence Grant writes about Minnesota Nice (p.197) that makes so much sense I wonder why we’ve never had this conversation before.  
Sherry Quan Lee, in “Discomfort Zone,” ends her memoir on a hopeful note.  These 16 essays made me glad that Garrison Keillor’s reign at “Prairie Home Companion” has come to an end.  His Lake Woebegone was never anyone’s Minnesota; not even his.  (He was the son of a postal worker in the undistinguished suburb of Anoka.)  People in Seattle may think the PHC is Minnesota but it isn’t.
I lived in Idaho four years and never heard an anti-semitic remark, but my first week as a graduate research assistant on the University of Minnesota Farm Campus I was shocked by a comment from a coworker that was the standard assumption about “Jews.”  I suffered in silence.
Now I live in an apartment community with immigrants from many developing countries who speak several languages while I am lucky to manage one.
Scandinavian culture is giving way to more exotic ways of life here and not too soon.  You still can’t swing a dead cat without hitting a Lutheran church here.

This collection of short stories was referenced in an article in the “Korean Times” that I picked up at the library in my neighborhood.  All the contributors to the book are accomplished writers with different styles including poetry.
A St. Paul demolition company that moved the Academy Theater in 1999 to it’s present downtown Minneapolis location could get the bid to demolish the Terrace Theatre it was learned today.
A representative of the firm Thursday afternoon was quite vague and hesitated to answer when asked when a bid might be let but he thought that Inland Development (not Hy-Vee) would contract for the work.  He also hedged on whether his company is or will be the successful bidder.
His involvement in the project seems fairly significant; in fact he inspected the inside of the theater a few months ago and said it’s “bad and I don’t see what there is to save.” He also has been inside the building several other times and noted mold and a leaking roof.
So has he inspected the theater on behalf of Inland or the city or both and has an agreement been reached formally or informally for demolition? 
He added that he never understood why the Academy Theater was moved and said it too was bad.  He was unaware of the transformation of the Academy to the successful Cowles Center which opened in 2011.  The Academy/Cowles stood vacant for about 30 years, 
He said he couldn’t understand why anyone is interested in saving the Terrace.
His company has been involved in demolition related work to the Ordway Theater expansion and the long vacant flour mill in downtown Minneapolis that is now the Mill City Museum.  
Donald Trump is in town to raise money and I am clipping my toenails or I would be at the Minneapolis Convention Center now.
The big news in Minnesota is not Donald or Hillary but how corporations are screwing over homeowners and other residents with the blessings or city councils and mayors.  If we don’t stand up for our communities, who will?  
In Robbinsdale, we jumped from the frying pan into the fire today when the Iowa grocery store chain dropped plans to build a mega strip mall on property that houses our historic mid century modern theater.  A few minutes later we recoiled in horror when the New York real estate trust that owns the property filed a request with the city to demolish the theater now because it’s a “blight.”  (A demolition expert told the owners that it’s “bad, nasty.”)  A hearing will be held Tuesday and we will have an appropriate response. Stay tuned.
In the spirit of mock democracy, the mayor has given residents a Hobson’s choice of pitting the theater against a grocery store in an online “survey.”  It’s either the theater or the grocery store because that’s what the corporate suits want.  But we had both the theater and the grocery store on that site for many years before both went out of business.  
So is this property a white elephant and blowing up the historic theater will solve nothing?  All of Minnesota needs to be involved in the conversation; not just the local yokels.  Who’s going to build another mid century modern design theater for us now?  No one.  Let’s worship at that historic cinema temple and find our way out of the wilderness.

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