Wednesday, March 29, 2017


AG features classic cars.
A low budget movie featuring a quaint early 1960s California mating ritual, cruising Main Street, with no name actors and a freshman director/film editor was an unlikely candidate for box office records.  The 1972 musical “American Graffiti” at a cost of $750,000 defied all odds and reaped $55 million for Universal Pictures and Lucas Films.   
The premise for the movie seemed weak:  Teens cruising downtown in classic cars while in real life young people were demonstrating against the Vietnam War.  Also, the featured musical act, “Flash Cadillac and the Continental Kids,” was mediocre at best.  Was it escapism for a war weary public or Universal’s promotions that connected people to “American Graffiti”?  Maybe it was excellent entertainment.
My Los Angeles roommate John Miller in 1963 enthusiastically recalled kids cruising downtown Ontario, Calif., and that was 10 years before AG was released.
On my recently purchased new VHS tape, the interviews at the end of the film with George Lucas, Ron Howard and others is worth the 60 cents I paid for the tape.  
Lucas broke ground with a documentary rather than a tiresome teen comedy with a weak plot.  Cinema photographer Wexler deserves much credit as well.

Compare it to the 1956 “Rock Rock Rock” with Tuesday Weld and Alan Freed with has an annoying sitcom type plot. See this one for the scene in the night club with the starburst chandelier similar to the light fixtures rescued from the Terrace Theatre before it was demolished.

Friday, March 24, 2017


Now that Edina held its last “open house” Thursday night (March 23), it’s up to the Hennepin County Board of Commissioners to receive proposals for redevelopment of the Southdale Regional Library on York Avenue in Edina.

I was the “ambassador” Thursday night for one of the groups providing input to the Edina city and library officials and here’s what we recommended:

Don’t rush into redevelopment now.  The retail property picture is changing rapidly and the Southdale Mall could be available to the county for a library and other uses at bargain basement prices.

Avoid providing Tax Increment Financing for redevelopment.  We don’t need to give Fortune 500 companies tax breaks.
Buildings bordering Richfield’s residential area should be low so they don’t cast a shadow over the neighboring homes.
Don’t allow “big box retailers” as tenants in this development and provide adequate and accessible parking so that library patrons don’t have to compete with restaurant customers for parking spaces.  Also, underground parking spaces should not be narrow and difficult to navigate.  Edina has a sorry record in planning for parking in its commercial areas; Grandview Library/senior center case in point.

The “plan” presented by Edina refers to limited “discreet” above ground parking and that needs to be defined.
Remodeling the existing library building was an option presented at previous meetings but apparently has been ignored.  Edina Economic Development Manager Bill Neuendorf said the remodeling option is being “tracked.”  Another official said although their are no cost estimates for remodeling, he thought it was not economically feasible to remodel the existing building.

It was previously  reported in the Sun Current: “The space could be used for an indoor concert facility, suggested Doris Rubenstein, a member of the Richfield Housing and Redevelopment Authority. While Richfield has two outdoor stages under development, it lacks a venue for indoor performances, Rubenstein said.”

County Commissioners need to hear from taxpayers and remain flexible.  I hope hearing dates will be announced in the media.

Thursday, March 09, 2017


Fifty from Minnesota toured the Arizona before boarding the NCL cruise ship on Saturday.

Hawaii 2017

Royal Hawaiian Hotel, built in 1927, the Pink
Hawaii Island cruise aboard ship
After four short classes aboard ship I was certified in Hula and performing with visitors from Japan and the U.S. on the stage on the sun deck of the NCL Pride of America.  Kaulana Bucasas and China Hill were are onboard instructors and enriched the wonderful Aloha spirit and Hawaiian experience.
You couldn’t swing a dead cat on deck of the Pride of America cruise ship this past week without hitting an angry Trump supporter.  One from South Carolina groused about “post election protest syndrome” and another from Orlando referred to the “United States of Objectors.”  
I replied that I would insist that our Republican Congressman resist all attempts to increase the national debt limit by an additional $54 billion for the war industry.  It could be a boondoggle; like $200 saws for the Army, said the Trump guy.  We agree on something.

This park is near where Jay stays in Honolulu and is away from the tourist district near the beach.  Honolulu is way overbuilt but Oahu has design standards so McDonalds can't build yellow structures with red arches.