Off Beat

You Wanted It Done When?

Political insiders are chuckling about a foul-up in the campaign of Edwina Garcia, the DFL nominee for secretary of state: The committee is applying for a bank loan because it failed to file the paperwork required to get public financing. Isn't that a bad omen for someone who wants to be the state's chief record keeper? Yep, admits Garcia: "I would have said that, too. But when it happens to you, it's kind of a different story. It's my first time running a statewide campaign, and this is a minor setback." Failing to submit the Affidavit of Contributions cost Garcia $51,000; she'll still get the money, along with a second installment of public matching funds, in December, if she makes the next deadline. But Off Beat can't help wondering whether there might be political opportunity here: What if a candidate were to tap the potentially massive procrastinators' vote? Indeed, Garcia offers coyly: "Sometimes [voters] just have to say, there but for the grace of God go I."

We Want to Believe

Art Bell, the syndicated radio talk-show host who regularly fills the 1 a.m. to 5 a.m. slot at KSTP-AM, has neither been abducted by the Men in Black, nor has he left his show to start his own branch of the Heaven's Gate cult--though both theories have been advanced by listeners who called station management in the days after the host abruptly announced the end of the Nevada-based Art Bell Show October 13. "The phones just rang and rang," says KSTP station manager Steve Konrad. "We've had hundreds of calls." Bell, who won a cult following with discussions of such conspiracy-and-doomsday faves as UFOs and the coming Y2K apocalypse, ended his program at 4:55 a.m. with the announcement that he was quitting due to "a threatening, terrible event that occurred to my family." The program's distributor, Premiere Radio Network, has asked stations to air Bell reruns while execs try to convince the host it's safe to return to the air. (On Monday night, the station aired a taped statement by Bell announcing that he might return to the air at some later date.) Konrad says he thinks Bell's decision had to do with threats from a "goofy, possessed fan." But, he adds ruefully, "I like the rumors better."

Gates Does Garth

Word processing is a source of continuing amazement for us here at Off Beat. Take Microsoft Word's AutoSummarize feature, a program that at the click of a mouse creates an "Executive Summary" for any document by picking the sentences that most prominently feature the words that most often appear in the document... or something like that. We were reminded of this option in trying to parse the flood of verbiage the Star Trib unleashed during Garth Brooks's stint in town. The following rigorous scientific methodology was used: From the Strib Web site, we downloaded 54 (count 'em) Garth Brooks stories that appeared during the month of October. We threw out all syndicated articles, and those whose main subject was not the G-man; we also removed tables, graphics, and bulleted lists because they confuse AutoSummarize. We fed the remaining 6,039 words into the copy-grinder (options set to "20 sentences"), and out popped the following: "It's that kind of feedback that keeps Garth Brooks going night after night. Brooks: $135,000 (plus $60,000 for souvenirs). It's fly-over country. Brooks became a must-see event even for noncountry fans. Twin Cities jazz singer Connie Evingson caught the Brooks bug late. Garth indeed has fans in low places. Who'd be bigger, Jordan or Brooks? On Sunday night, Brooks somehow ended up in the first row at Target Center for the first time. Garth Brooks is the biggest creature in the history of country music. Like Hollywood (formerly Hulk) Hogan, Brooks has his shtick. Garth Brooks doesn't bite the hands that feed him. Brooks is "just sweet," said Dawn Kugel. It's that personal touch that sets Brooks apart from other stars. Country star Trisha Yearwood has known Brooks for 10 years. Garth's T-shirts are $18, the tickets $19.50. Dale Mussen, a longtime Buffalo country DJ, has experienced Brooks up close and personal. Does Brooks sound too good to be true? I asked Brooks to sign two cassettes for baby sitters. What makes a Garth Brooks song a hit? Brooks can show his funny bone, too."

Off Beat is open for business and accepting tips. Call 372-3788 or e-mail offbeat@citypages.com with any poop (political or otherwise) that's fit to print.

 
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