Saturday, December 30, 2017

OLD CAROUSEL GETS MERRY GO ROUND

REMEMBERING NATATORIUM
In his book, “The Boys in the Boat,” Daniel J. Brown references Spokane’s historic amusement park on the river, Natatorium, in the early 1920s.  “They could take in entertainment … as dazzling as the new Loof carousel,” Brown wrote.  I had fond memories of the Nat where our congregation held picnics and I got nauseous on the merry go round.
It was that carousel that was scheduled to be dismantled in 1964 that I wrote about in a byline United Press International feature that was distributed to newspapers camera-ready.
I interviewed the park’s owner, Lloyd Vogel, who was inebriated at the time. (He reaked of booze.)  Natatorium had lost its commercial viability and historic preservation wasn’t discussed.  So the park was for sale and the historic merry go round would be lost.  
Years later the park was converted into a mobile home community, but the dance hall remained on the site. The carousel was moved to a park adjoining the river in downtown Spokane for the world’s fair and I rode it more than 10 years ago.

I left Spokane for Coast Guard boot camp before the feature was distributed and never knew if it appeared in newspapers.  The Loof merry-go-round is comparable to the one on the Santa Monica pier.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Unions, Politics, Stan Freberg and more.

UGLY WEDGE ISSUE
Congressional candidate Adam Jennings on Saturday afternoon at the Eden Prairie Library said he favors Medicare for everyone, a $15 minimum wage and collective bargaining.
Three women opposed to unions, a deaf man without a hearing aid and four others met with Jennings but the discussion got bogged down by a wedge issue, labor unions.  “My husband dislikes unions,” said one and another said “my brother in law is against them.”  
I sprang to the unions’ defense but later realized I had strayed down a familiar road where we argue and then Erik Paulsen wins another term through our inertia.
Had I to do it over I would have said to Jennings:  “I will attend the caucus on Feb. 6 and hope to be elected a delegate to the district DFL convention where I will support you so your name appears on the primary ballot.”
Didn’t do that.  Sorry Adam.
Jennings supports progressive causes although he works for Mortenson Construction/real estate.  He serves on the city council of Tonka Bay, in upscale suburban Minneapolis.  I got a lesson in grass roots democracy that was disturbing. 
CHANUKAH WITH OR EMET
Our humanistic Jewish congregation enjoyed latkas, salads and rich deserts Saturday night at our annual Chanukah party held at the Wellstone Neighborhood House Center in St. Paul.  Small children performed.  I left early and indigestion kept me up that night.
SONGBIRDS WARBLE DARK TUNES
Forties musical comedy divas Deana Durbin and Alice Faye, shortly before they retired, appeared in crime movies that are worth viewing. 
 “Christmas Holiday” has little to do with a winter festival but finds Ms. Durbin coupled with a criminal character played by dancer Gene Kelly.  She is memorable as a torch singer in this Universal movie directed by Robert Sidomak. Seeing Kelly in this movie I concluded that he would have been the one to play Sky Masterson in “Guys and Dolls,” not Brando.
Ms. Faye doesn’t sing a note in “Fallen Angel” where she falls for a drifter (Dana Andrews) with a questonable past.  Faye was the reining queen at TCF and Andrews had a voice that could melt butter.  Directed by Otto Preminger, the movie features Linda Darnell as a bad girl and she is super.  Faye never appeared in a starring role in a movie again after “Fallen Angel.”  See these two movies together.

TWO HEADED LLAMA
“Doolittle” is quite exotic and is reminiscent of my favorite that I saw as a teen, “Around the World.”  Both in Todd AO.  The bluray is the only way to see the ’67 version.
Where do they find a two-headed llama?  Antony Newley is massively talented but his stage play “The Smell of the Crowd, the Road of Grease Paint” has more memorable tunes.
I assume that TCF hoped to capitalize on the success of another British musical, “Oliver.”  Doolittle is featured in a book on 4 big movies from the 60s and was released at the time of riots in the streets over the war.  Despite negatives reviews, the movie was a success. 
EXISTENTIAL READING
Nathanael West’s novels are just the ticket for these gray gloomy cold Minnesota days.  I just finished “Miss Lonelyhearts” which doesn’t end on a sweet note.
IN THE SHADOW OF . .. 
I didn’t know it in 1963 but when I worked at KNBC I stood in the shadow of greatness with Cecil Brown, famous World War II reporter for CBS and Mutual radio networks.
Brown did news analysis on Ch. 4 and he wasn’t accesible to a lowly clerical like myself.  The other news analyst at KNBC then was Elmer Peterson.  
Reed W. Smith has written a Brown biography published by McFarland. 

SKIP THE INTERVIEWS
Some one should bar actors from appearing on talk shows to promote their latest movie.  Timothy was hyper, Armie was reserved and I was uncomfortable as Neal Patrick Harris, Ellen and a dorky MTV asked them about “Call Me by Your Name.”  Skip the You Tube interviews and see the movie playing now at the Uptown.
JEWISH CHRISTMAS
About 20 of us from Or Emet “celebrated” Christmas Monday night at  the mega Asian buffet Super Moon in St. Louis Park.  Thanks to Dan and Naomi this was a succesful outing.
Relatively healthy was the Mongolian barbecue if you went light on the sauces which I did.  No one was interested in the NFL game on the big screen TV.  The enormity of Super Moon is incredible. I am not a fan of Asian buffets but this one is decent.

FAMILIAR DISCOURSE
“This is our country and we must fight to keep it so. If America is ever again to be great, it can only be through the triumph of the revolutionary middle class.  We must destroy the Bolshevik labor unions!   We must purge our country of all the alien elements and ideas that now infest her!  America for Americans!  Back to the principles of Andy Jackson and Abe LIncoln….” (followed by a call for “Storm Troopers.”)
This scary talk is not from a Trump speach but it’s the demogogue “Mr. Whipple” speaking in Nathanael West’s 1936 novel “A Cool Million.”
Wall Street interests were as much involved in whipping up anti-labor sentiment as a wedge issue dividing the working class in the 1930s as they are today.  
This was evident in the recent meeting congressional candidate Adam Jennings held where the effort to unseat Paulsen was displaced by anti-union talk.

FREBERG REVISITED
Long before “Mad Men,” comedy writer Stan Freberg was making fun of Madison Avenue cliches (Run it up the flagpole and see who salutes it) on his sustaining CBS radio show.  He got his start in LA on the kiddie show, “Time for Beanie.”

I was a big fan of Freberg on radio in 1958 as the networks were phasing out programing in the face of TV.  In recent years I scored highlights from his shows on an audio casette I found at a library sale.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Holiday Movies

PERFECT HOLIDAY MOVIES
“Hans Christian Anderson” (Goldwyn/RKO) and “The Red Shoes” (Rank) offer incredible escapism with ballet, surreal sets and amazing technicolor.  See them together and you’ll forget about the wild fires and the Franken debacle.  
Definitely “holiday” movies!

MUST SEE HOLIDAY FLICKS
Department stores were devine palaces and hemlines were closer to the ground in the holiday movies that I adore, including “Bundle of Joy” (1956) and “Holiday Affair” (1949).
It’s a cinderella story in BOJ where the character played by Debbie Reynolds falls for the jazz singer department store prince played by Eddie Fisher (real life husband and wife.)  The music is enjoyable and the RKO Scope and Technicolor are supreme.
“Holiday Affair” is a deeper look at the post war funk where a war widowed mom played by Janet Leigh struggles to survive as a department store “shopper/snoop.”  She has to choose between officious lawyer played by Wendell Corey or the Robert Mitchum sexy drifter/sales clerk.  Gordon Gebhert steals the movie as the toothless kid and now, in real life, teaches at Columbia University.  He later appeared as the teenage Audie Murphy in “To Hell and Back.”
BOJ got bad reviews and HA was a box office flop, but both of these RKO gems enjoy a December resurgence on Turner Classic Movies.

TIRED SCRIPT PREMISE

The lowly reporter falls for the handsome European prince who is not all he seems in the Netflix new movie “Christmas Prince.”  Hasn’t this story been told repeatedly.  Ho hum. 

Saturday, December 09, 2017

Christmas 2017; Day of the Locust, Spider Baby, Tuba concert

WEIRD CHRISTMAS CONCERT
ST PAUL — Several of us from a nearby condo high rise crowded into Central Methodist Sunday night for their annual tuba concert.  It was crowded and hot.  A dotty matron led the 151 tuba players in what was assumed to be renditions of popular Christmas carols.  This is a Minnesota tradition, like tater tot casserole.

SPIDER BABY
The campy 60s horror film “Spider Baby” has received recognition far beyond it’s worth.  It should be a dollar store item but instead is on Blu ray with a “panel discussion.”  The later is better than the movie with one of the actors, Quentin Redeker either drunk or high on drugs.  He’s got a great story about Lon Chaney Jr. or Mantan Moreland, but he just can’t remember it.  Producer, director and writer Jack Hill seemed sane, but he claims that actress Carol Omar thought the movie was Oscar worthy.  Yah, right!  https://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/spider_baby/

GENE-LINDA ANNUAL HOLIDAY PARTY
Getting there was half the fun in the dark, but the company was great in Wilder Community, St. Paul, for Gene Johnson and LInda’s annual party.  The food was great and I reconnected with Debbie Ringham and Brian and more.  Thanks so much for the gift, a 1955 magazine advert for the Chrysler Imperial in color!

MEET THE FEMMS
Eventually the library will have “The Old Dark House” but I couldn’t wait so I got the Bluray from HPB.com with my initial screening last night.  
It’s the movie that gave old houses a bad name with Karloff as the grotesque host.
Eva Moore is fantastic as the nasty hag Miss Femm and there’s a nod to religion and the class struggle.  The movie is directed by James Whale (Bride of Frankenstein) and features several British actors including Charles Laughton. 
Previously only poor video renditions from Kino and TCM have been available but heroic efforts to find the negative and lavendar print at Universal Pictures resulted in the Bluray from the Cohen Collection.  Classic Images magazine of November 2017 issue covers the release of the 4K Bluray restoration. www.cohenfilmcollection.net/films/old-dark-house
HOLOCAUST DOCUMENTARY
The journey of the Ackos family in Greece during the Holocaust is remembered in the short documentary “In the Shadow of the Acropolis” which was developed by an Ackos descendant Laura Zelle, director of Tolerance Minnesota.
She spoke Sunday morning at a meeting or Or Emet Humanist Jewish Congregation at the Jewish Community Center. www.acropolismovie.org/ 
FIGHTING INTOLERANCE
Tolerance Minnesota is partnering with the Smithsonian Institute Southern Poverty Law Center and more to educate people about bias, hate and prejudice through faith communities nationally.  Laura Zelle, Minneapolis, is the director of Tolerance Minnesota of the Jeiwsh Community Relations Council. www.toleranceminnesota.org/

DAY OF LOCUSTS, GOOD READ

Quite relevant to today’s headlines about middle class disenfranchment is the 1937 novel by Nathanael West, “The Day of the Locust,” which was made into a movie in 1975.  The movie is equally disturbing.  The story focuses on Los Angeles in the 1930s where a prostitute, movie studio artist, dwarf, dying vaudeville performer and a horrific child come together in desperation and loneliness.  It also includes a closeted gay character called “Homer Simpson” played by Donald Sutherland in the movie. 

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.

Thursday, July 06, 2017

Motown DVD, Gene Wilder, 4th July, Gilda

First Friday July 4 @ Maxine's in St. Paul
WHAT’S GOING ON?
Young African American musicians are united with their roots in Motown R&B in the wonderful documentary about the Funk Brothers backup band, “Standing in the Shadows of Love.”  In DTS, this is a real treat.
Some of the artists include Joan Osborne, Bootsy Collins, Chaka Khan and Montell Jordan with the legendary Martha Reeves providing a historical perspective.  It’s available on DVD and D-VHS from Artisan.  Like a rich desert, you can’t say no to this treat. 
GENE WILDER
My congregation asked me to do 45 minutes standup on Gene Wilder, but without an audio video presentation this would have been short and deadly.  So I bowed out.  To get Gene, you need  to see a scene with his blanket in “The Producers” or his summation on the ineptitude of adults in “Willy Wonka.”  
I lack skills to put together an audio video presentation with film clips.  I am sure there is an A&E Bio on Wilder worth a view. 
ALL ABOUT GILDA
Film noir historian Eddie Muller makes an interesting observation about the two male characters in the classic 1946 film “Gilda.”  So there may not be a femme fatale in what is commonly referred to as a film noir.  Check out the Criterion DVD interviews on “Gilda.”
4TH JULY

Bocce ball and root beer floats were the headliners Tuesday at the First Friday group picnic hosted by Maxine in suburban St. Paul.  I didn’t want to risk injuring anyone including myself by throwing bocce balls, a Minnesota tradition.  This BB@ is a tradition with Al, the hamburger chef.  Jesse and Sue were back from Arizona and Carol Berg continues to post on Facebook.

MY URBAN AFFAIRS COURSE

Race and Real Estate offered this summer for University of Minnesota OLLI scholars is the class I wish was offered in 1969 when I was a graduate student at the U of M.  I could have written about urban renewal in terms of racial discrimination and historic preservation in my star paper.
Dr. Brittany Lewis of the UM Center for Urban Affairs Thursday (July 6) drew a distinction between gentrification (bad) and revitalization (good.)  She also dispelled popular notions about “white proximity” as a model for community development.  
Shrinking availability for affordable housing for people of color is the issue I hope to pursue with the Bloomington Coalition on Affordable Housing.
Look for a Star Tribune feature this week byline Randy Furst on the U of M mapping prejudice project.
Derek Thompson has written in The Atlantic magazine that “ the non-white population of the Twin Cities has grown to 20 percent. Affordable housing developments are concentrated in only a few pockets of Minneapolis and St. Paul, creating the ghettos that mid-20th century policies avoided so well. If growing racial inequalities are not addressed, Minneapolis could find itself as one of the nation’s poorest cities when it comes to racial politics and urban decline.
Lewis recommended the book, “How to Kill a City.”
More from Thompson:  “The Minnesota state legislature passed a law requiring all of the region’s local governments—in Minneapolis and St. Paul and throughout their ring of suburbs—to contribute almost half of the growth in their commercial tax revenues to a regional pool, from which the money would be distributed to tax-poor areas. Today, business taxes are used to enrich some of the region’s poorest communities.
Soon after publication of Thompson’s article, responses began appearing, challenging his evidence and arguing that Minneapolis’s success is not shared with its residents of color. A recent study by WalletHub, a personal-finance site, found that Minnesota has the largest racial poverty gap in the nation. Black residents in the Twin Cities live below the poverty line at a rate three times greater than that of white residents. Banks in the Twin Cities have been found to be nearly four times more likely to give high-income black residents subprime loans than their poor white counterparts. Minnesota consistently earns top national rankings for its students’ reading, math, and college-entrance exam scores, but it is one of the worst states in the nation for non-white students. While the studies are of the worst states in the nation for non-white students. While the studies are fresh, the Twin Cities’ communities of color—where most of Minnesota’s non-white population resides—have known and lived with these disparities for much longer.

Today, the non-white population of the Twin Cities has grown to 20 percent. Affordable housing developments are concentrated in only a few pockets of Minneapolis and St. Paul, creating the ghettos that mid-20th century policies avoided so well. If growing racial inequalities are not addressed, Minneapolis could find itself as one of the nation’s poorest cities when it comes to racial politics and urban decline.

Monday, June 26, 2017

PRIDE EVENT, PIRATES OF PENZANCE

Frederic & Mabel, Pirates of Penzance 6/24/17
PENZANCE AT PRIDE WEEKEND
On a river island near downtown St. Paul Saturday the GLBT One Voice Mixed Chorus performed the Gilbert and Sullivan operetta “Pirates of Penzance” in a gender-bending fashion.  A rain storm preceding the play didn’t dampen our spirits.  

Given the technical limitations of performing outdoors on a stage, Penzance was a delightful event; one of the most memorable of the summer.  The temp was in the low 60s; very unusual late June Day.

A giant chorus backed up the principal singers in Saturday’s Penzance performance on the Mississippi River, St. Paul.  This is the realization of the urban river as an attractive recreational resource, an idea being pursued by Boise City when I was a reporter there in the mid to late Sixties.

Saturday, June 24, 2017

3 For the Show, Shining, Teacher's Pet

“Three for the Show” (1955) is one of the best and sexiest of the 50s musicals.  Betty Grable, Jack Lemmon and Gower Champion are super.  I love the Swan Lake ballet with Marge Champion and the tropical/congo number is quite memorable.  I had my doubts about a Columbia musical but this one was worth the 15 cents at Goodwill I spent and even more!
Meanwhile, I bought a D Theater D VHS which (like advertised) won’t play on my VCR.  This is a totally phantom system.  What a discovery!

THE SHINING
Before they moved into the haunted hotel, Jack and Shelley were inadequate parents.  In the opening scene, the kid is engulfed in smoke from Shelley’s cigarette and soon we learn that Jack, when not working on his novel, is a drunken abuser.
So when all hell breaks loose in the Colorado mountains resort hotel, we don’t have much sympathy for the hapless couple.
Director Stanley Kubrick borrowed generously from wide angle techniques Gregg Toland used in RKO’s “Citizen Cane” so that everything is in focus in the long shots down the endless hallways to hell.
Reviews are dismissive of “The Shining” in Halliwell’s book, but audiences ate it up in 1980.  “Here’s Johnny!” 

GAY PRIDE 2017
Appropriate for the Gay Pride celebration underway today, I am reading Clive Jone’s autobiography, “When We Rise” where we learn how he rose from street hustler to a resourceful leader in the 1970s Gay Rights Movement.  
For those of us who didn’t live in California in the Seventies, there’s more than we need to know about local political figures in this book.  Jones can thank Milk for pressuring him to stay in college and get a degree.  He later achieved political prominence as an aide to a Democrat legislative leader.
Jones’ book would have benefited from economical editing.  The title is the basis for the ABC documentary which aired in February.  

JOURNALISM 101
When I was a teen watching “Teacher’s Pet” at Spokane’s Fox Theater with my friend Paul, little did I know in 1958 that I would pursue a journalism career.  Professional virgin Doris Day portrays the professor who uses the same overhead projector to critique students’ news writing that my instructor used in Journalism 101.  Gig Young is a college psychology professor who can’t hold his liquor.
Writers Fay and Michael Kanin crafted an insightful exposition on the importance of a college education for aspiring journalists.  It’s the “old pro versus the egghead” story and the later prevails.  The romance between Day and Clark Gable as the city editor is curious but then maybe Gable still had some fans from his Rhett Butler days 18 years earlier.

“Teacher’s Pet” is remembered for Mamie Van Doren’s torrid bump and grind in “Girl Who Invented Rock n’ Roll.”  Ms. Van Doren later got a college teaching appointment in Allied Artists’ comedy “Sex Kittens Go to College,” where a computer selects a stripper to head the mathematics department at a small college.

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.