Archive for September, 2007

The Show Must Go On!

stribphoto.jpgThe Minneapolis City Council did NOT ban the Shrine Circus from coming on its annual trip to the Twin Cities, in a move applauded by private business rights advocates and outcried by (crazy?) animal rights people.

According to the Star Tribune:

Council members approved a milder proposal that would increase regulations, fees and fines for circuses. That proposal was made by members Paul Ostrow and Betsy Hodges.

But the ban, proposed by council members Ralph Remington and Cam Gordon, was not voted on because of the Ostrow-Hodges proposal which the council then voted to send back to the city’s Public Safety and Regulatory Services Committee for fine tuning.

Personally, I understand that as a private operating business involving animals, traveling circuses are already subject to comprehensive animal welfare regulations at the federal, state and local levels and are under constant inspection. That’s enough for me.

Meanwhile, Minneapolis police Sgt. Timothy Davison, former elephant trainer and caregiver, told MPR, “There’s been more people hurt by rollercoasters in the last 10 years than there has been by elephants. Nobody wants to ban rollercoasters.”

According to the Strib article, last year the Shrine Circus — which has seven performances from Oct. 5-7 this year — attracted nearly 60,000 people, making it one of the arena’s most attended events and brought in about $1.5 million to downtown and surrounding areas.

What are your thoughts on the circus? What about zoos? We’re not banning zoos in Minneapolis (although, I guess they don’t have one).

(photo stolen from that same Strib article)

The Skeptical Diner: Pop! and Yum!

Sheer coincidence has led me to dine, within a 12-hour period, at two single-syllable Minneapolis-area restaurants punctuated by an exclamation point.

Both places are reasonably priced, thoughtfully hip, and offer limited menus of well-prepared dishes. And while they’re miles apart physically (Pop! is in north Northeast, Yum! Kitchen and Bakery is in St. Louis Park), they both appeal to a class of diners who want something tasty and chic, but not particularly fussy.

Pronouncing shit in Eden Prairie is as difficult as navigating.

So there’s Staring Lake in Eden Prairie.

Looks like it should be pronounced “staring” but actually it’s pronounced “starring.” Why, I have no idea.

There’s also a street called Starrwood Circle. Presumably pronounced “starwood.” Why the extra R? Would someone mistakenly pronounce it “stare-wood”?

Is the housing crisis coming to the Twin Cities?

I don’t know what the rest of the country is seeing, but this report from the Minneapolis Area Association of REALTORS looks pretty bad to my untrained eye. Comparing September 2006 to September 2007 (projected) we see:

  • The inventory of homes for sale increased by 11.4%
  • The number of homes sold the previous year declined by 14.6%

This means that many more homes are sitting on the market, waiting for buyers. The report observes “Massive inventory growth is taking place in the lowest price ranges, possibly due to the role of subprime foreclosures.”

In other words: Yes, the housing crisis is coming to the Twin Cities.

Read on for some of my thoughts on what should and should not be done about this.

The Death of Sunnyside Market

As told by doodledee.

Last weekend our little Sunnyside Market officially went down in a blaze of buyout glory courtesy of the Russell T. Lund empire. It’d been a tumultuous couple of weeks leading up to the actual closing, as rumors and speculation blew through the neighborhood like an angry tornado, flipping over Volvos and scattering speculation and misinformation in its wake. They were closing?! The building was going to be vacant? For 2 years?! What about the workers? Kowalski’s wanted it, too? What’s Lund’s going to do with it? Empty? Warehouse? New Lund’s? Year round fresh cut fry booth?! (As hard as I tried, that one never stuck.)

Mass emails were sent, public “hearings” were scheduled, The People were mobilized… it was all very enthusiastic and honest and sincere. There was talk of boycotting and yard signs and impact analysis studies and “is this even legal?” and all sorts of stuff, though oddly no hunger strikes, a move that would have been at once ironic and [apparently] trendy, but in retrospect, maybe a little too Linden Hills for us.

He sums it up pretty well, I think. The market kind of sucked anyway, though I suspect it was probably better than most corner groceries in Minneapolis. (I’m looking at you Cup Foods.) Folks in the neighborhood were paying attention and suitably outraged. Those same folks will have no problem going to the next closest Kowalski’s, Lunds, or co-op and probably have been doing that anyway. The business transaction was pretty distasteful if perfectly legal. You hate to see the little guy bullied by the big guy.

All the elements of a good civic drama, without the dry fuck feeling a stadium leaves you with.

The Skeptical Diner: Northwoods Cafe

When discussing food, one of the most difficult tasks is understanding and exposing your own bias. If you’re a vegetarian and you think that eating meat is immoral, you should reveal this fact before giving your opinion of Manny’s Steakhouse. (“Great salads! But limited selection.”) Likewise, if your father owns a Mexican restaurant, your opinion of rival restaurants should be offered with a full disclosure attached, if at all.

In that spirit, it should be known that before eating at the Northwoods Cafe in Silver Bay, I had spent roughly two days hiking and camping on the Superior Hiking Trail. My companions and I had also skipped breakfast and hiked muddy terrain for a number of miles before arriving, spurred by an impromptu storm that had dumped a couple inches of water on our camp.

it’s bacon!


The last time I was at the Triple Rock for brunch, I noticed a sign that said:

all-you-can-eat bacon happy hour
Wednesday nights, 9pm (ish? I think?)

I couldn’t find anything on their website, but all-you-can eat bacon? for the win, T-Rock! You already have the best bloody mary and hangover breakfast in town. I didn’t think you could top it.

But bacon happy hour? Combining bacon, booze, and quite possibly some live music?


Metrobloggers Looking to Present at SXSW

You’ve probably heard of the South by Southwest Music Festival that takes place in March in Austin, TX. There is also SXSW Film and SXSW Interactive. SXSWi is so nerdy, and at the same time so cool.

SXSW Interactive appeals to uber-geeks and digital creatives who push the cutting edge of technological change. The event appeals to content developers, web designers, programmers, bloggers, wireless innovators, gamers, tech entrepreneurs, investors, and educators. Even if you are not a technical person, you will benefit from the outside-the-box thinking that thrives at SXSW.

Greg and I went this year and are both hoping to present next year.

SXSWi takes submissions for panel ideas from the general public. The public is then allowed an open comment and voting period. A committee combines that feedback with their own expertise to craft the schedule for the festival. Anyone can sign up for the Panel Picker and vote and leave comments.

Here’s Greg’s solo presentation:

Twitspacebooklife: Marketing for Monkeys

Marketing with social media is an art, not a science. Do it correctly and you’re an unstoppable force. Offend your audience and lose them forever. We present a framework for powerful, interactive social media campaigns used with Chevy, Snickers, Nintendo, Army, etc.; youth marketing tips; trend-spotting and more.

Three Takeaways: 1) Rules of thumb for planning a social media campaign not too overt but with an underlying marketing message, 2) How to engage specific audience segments authentically 3) How to sell a client on crazy ideas you know will work. Lots of Q&A with real world examples is encouraged. Free bananas for the best questions.

Here’s my panel:

Building Hyperlocal Websites for the Future

Numerous models of local, community-oriented sites have been tried. Some have failed. Some have been wildly successful. Some are still finding their place. What works? What doesn’t? Does it scale? Where’s the line between local and hyperlocal? What role does the local culture play? What’s missing? What’s next?

The discussion will draw on the expertise and experience of the founders of Metroblogging, Fresno Famous, MNspeak, and Wicked Local.

Panel Picker voting ends at 11:59 pm CDT on Friday. If anyone else from the TC is pitching a panel, drop a note in the comments so we can check it out.

(And in case it wasn’t perfectly clear, feel free to give us nice, high rankings. Because you love our ideas, of course.)

Mark Loesch Memorial Walk Tonight in Kingfield

Mark Loesch went out on his routine bike ride through his neighborhood on the evening of September 12. He did not make it back and was and found dead on the 3700 block of Elliott Ave S the next morning.

Residents of the area are sponsoring a memorial walk and bike ride tonight, starting at 6:30 at Martin Luther King Park (41st & Nicollet).

There will also be a community safety forum at 6:30 next Monday night at Park Avenue Methodist Church (34th & Park). Not sure what the format will be. I hope in addition to the public grieving and inevitable airing of grievances, some constructive information and hopefully some community action will come out of it.

Surprisingly, nothing is up on the Kingfield Neighborhood Association‘s website about this, but it’s possible something may have gone out over the mailing list (which you might want to join if you live in Kingfield). More on Mark Loesch at the Minneapolis Issues Forum as well.

Point of No Return (in Eagan)

kansaseagan-SM.JPGI’m of the mindset that summer is over when September comes. I know that ticks people off, but our recent temperature drop the past couple weeks only reinforces this feeling in my psyche.

Hey, know why wearing a jacket every day is awesome? More pockets.

And in celebration of fall, this weekend is Faithful Shepherd Catholic School’s Fourth Annual Septemberfest, a two-night music festival in Eagan — billed as the ‘biggest little block party in the ‘burbs.’

Friday’s headliner is local blues/funk/soul group Root City, with local rock group Catchpenny and local cover band favorite Uncle Chunk opening.

Saturday’s headliner is classic rock band Kansas with Minneapolis cover band Zebra Mussels and Hastings, MN coverband Heartbreaker opening.

The event is rain/shine under 128,000-square-foot concert pavilion. Ticket prices are $15 for each night, $25 for both nights. Parking is free. Attendees under age 21 must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Food catered from Jake’s City Grille and yes, there will be beer served. Advance tickets available online. Event proceeds benefit Faithful Shepherd.

And don’t forget the jacket.

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