Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Playing with Fire

RITUAL FIRE DANCE
Who can forget Fifties Saturday night Limbo parties under the fiery limbo pole?  Many a party goer wound up in ER but was a good sport abut it.  From AMC album “Limbo Party” — Jamaican music by Ivy Pete and his Limbo Maniacs — who apparently patented the firey limbo pole.  Purchased 8/17/18 at Goodwill, Bloomington.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Garland Theater, Downtown Spokane 2018

21st & Bernard, fence for Manito Park.  Took 44 bus up Bernard past Cliff Park.  Got off and then took bus downtown .
Downtown Plaza
Murals, Interior State Theater
Washington Water Power. Spokane River
This delightful young man runs one of the rides at Spokane’s river front park where you can see a tatoo parlor in the background.  Thankfully the carousel building lends some elegance to this area.  Lots of sad, desperate looking people wait for buses at the terminal up the street.

“We love Seattle,” a local shouted out at the Seattle GLBT choruses concert July 7 at the restored Crosby (State) Theater in Spokane.  We all laughed.  I had a front row seat for this chorus preceded by dinner at the Davenport Hotel.  The director of the Seattle choruses said they were glad to get out of their “Seattle bubble.”
Spokane’s mid century modern auditorium style movie theater, the Garland, reigns in regal splendor on the funky north side.  I was lost in the huge auditorium with the massive screen.  The audience loved Amy Schumer in “I Feel Pretty” but I was there to see the theater which houses a bar and hair salon.  As a kid I saw several second run movies here.  What a treat that it has been restored.


Aug. 2 WHAT REMAINS IN SPOKANE
Last month I did the hometown right. Familiar on the highway going to Deer Park: Hupin Camera Electronics and White Elephant military salvage. Northtown looks uninviting. Garland, Fox and State theaters are dreamy and not to be missed. August Paulsen Medical Bldg., Spokesman Review and Realty Building all recognizable. River greenway an improvement. Most stores downtown are not attractive but Nordstrom located there even though many downtowners are homeless folks. Very sad. Historic preservation hit and miss and mostly missed.







Sunday, July 15, 2018

Walla Walla, Spokane and Road Scholar class

WALLA WALLA
I didn’t see the synagogue on Alder and Roosevelt or the Mill Creek Flood channel that runs through downtown, but I did get Sharon from Best Western to take me to the Barer Building and we drove past the Capitol Theater marquee which is now part of Macy’s.  Stan and I saw “Holiday Affair” with Robert Mitchum and Janet Leigh (RKO) at the Capitol in 1950.
AMERICA’S GREAT MOVIE HOUSES
Juana gave five former Spokane residents a wonderful tour July 13 of the beautiful art deco FoxTheater where we saw movies in youthful splendor that we will never forget.  Here’s one good reason to visit Spokane, where thoughtful urban design has given away to shoddy ugly commercial developments.

Ed Tatt, the father of my good friend, Bill, owned a dry cleaners store that faced the street in the Fox Building. That space is now incorporated into the lobby. The theater boasted air conditioning starting in 1929.  I saw “Psycho,” “Macabre” and Abbott and Costello Saturday matinees here growing up.





The Road Scholar Ice Age Floods Eastern Washington tour --Rod Scholar tour/class.  Beauty & wonder of Eastern Washington "scablands" rivals S. Dakota Badlands and then some.




Friday, July 06, 2018

Artsy Horror Flick Carnival of Souls

“CARNIVAL” BACK STORY
Ultra creepy 60s horror movie “Carnival of Souls” was lost and then resurrected in Europe before a late 80s revival here.  The haunting image of the deserted dance pavillion at the Salt Lake Saltair inspired former University of Kansas (Lawrence) professor Herk Harvey to commission a script built around the pavillion.  (This was before a fire destroyed the building.)  Filming the closing scene in a freezing river water in Lawrence was an incredible ordeal, remembered by actress Candace Hilligoss in her memoir, “The Odyssey and the Idiocy.”  
She was fired by her agent after he saw a preview in the 60s but found her fame when “Carnival” was revived in the 80s.  Sidney Berger, a KU student, played the creepy lecher John Linden.
This project seemed doomed from the get-go, but thanks to Sweden and Germany it gained traction in the U.S.  I saw it at the Campus Theater on Oaks St. near the U of M in the late 80s and loved it.  

I bought the DVD on a trip to see Mike and Kim in Salt Lake City.  The British Film Society lists “Carnival of Souls” as one of the 100  best movies of all time and Criterion has a restored DVD for $20.82.  (Less expensive DVDs are available.)  The film influenced a lot of horror movie directors. 

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Irrelevant Erik Paulsen Mumbles





PAULSEN’S SNOOZE FEST
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

ARCHITECTS SEEK INPUT
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

HELLO OFFICER
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

DISASTER ARTIST AMUSES, Southdale Shrinks

DISASTER ARTIST
“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. 

SOUTHDALE SHRINKS
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

HISTORIC NORTH GARDEN THEATER FEATURES OPERA

OPERA AT NORTH GARDEN THEATER
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. 


SAVING A HISTORIC THEATER
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.  
INTERIOR OF N. GARDEN THEATER
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

REAL MINNESOTA
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!  www.saintalbertthegreat.org/

PREJUDICE DISCUSSION
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. https://www.mappingprejudice.org

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.  www.thesocialnetwork-movie.com/

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Gringo, Stop the World and more

Movie Soundtrack
FOUND AT THRIFT STORE
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.

SOUTH OF THE BORDER
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. 

ANDREW EVANS, GIFTED REPORTER
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.

BEHIND THE SCENES
“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. 

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Black Lives Matter, Black History Month

Dunbar at Civic Center Feb. 13.
MUST READ
“When They Call You a Terrorist a black lives matter memoir” by Patrisse Khan-Cullors and asha bandele is a heartfelt memoir that gives me a perspective as we prepare for political caucuses on Tuesday in Minnesota.  https://blacklivesmatter.com/when-they-call-you-a-terrorist-by-patrisse-khan-cullors-and-asha-bandele/

DEFYING RACIST PRESIDENT
An African American woman in the 19th Century is remembered as a heroine in the birth of a nation who escapes from servitude in the family of President Washington as Bloomington celebrated Black History Month Tuesday night at the Civic Center.
The keynote speaker was African American historian and professor Erica Armstrong Dunbar of Philadelphia.  Her book is, “Never Caught, the Washingtons Relentless Pursuit of the Runaway Sslave of Ona Judge.”
This was the perfect moment to publish a book on a Black woman challenging a racist president.  Judge never wanted to be forgotten, Dunbar said, which was an prompted her to write the book.

BLACK HISTORY MONTH

Music from the civil rights movement was performed Tuesday night in Bloomington for Black History Month by the Potter’s House of Jesus Christ Mass Choir. It was standing room only on the main floor of  the Civic Center for this event.  The Hennepin County Library provided a bibliography on slavery.

Monday, January 15, 2018

Key West, Cayman Island Celebrity Cruise

 Excellent Key West free trolley tour with Mona G. (left), formerly employee of State Attorney Office.  Gentrification has taken a toll on this formerly gay enclave and outpost of normalcy.  Excellent conch chowder at Red and Blue Fish near Mallory Square.

MIKE CANPANALD was aboard the Celebrity Silhouette ship and enjoyed the tour of the galley.  Mike was the singer and bass player in Capitol Records rock group What Four.  He keeps in touch with some of the players.  He also was thermal engineer in Burbank and is an audiophile.

EXECUTIVE SOUS CHEF Jeff gave us a tour of the Silhouette Galley on Saturday, the last full day of the Caribbean cruise.


Pier 66 Hotel in Fort Lauderdale is where I spent the night before the cruise.  Service in the lobby restaurant not good and mechanics had to replace a faulty door lock in my room which was cold.  This resort includes a marina.
Marina, Pier 66, pool below


Key West beach

Mona G., tour bus driver, left

Conch chowder @ Red Fish Blue Fish, Key West.