AFTER THE SKINVISIBLE thing with Randall Cunningham fell through a few weeks back, Off Beat vowed not to stray too far from our area of expertise when seeking to supplement our income. And wouldn't you know, a new possibility arose almost immediately! A friend passed along a flyer he picked up off the floor in the foyer of his apartment building, a slightly crumpled, mostly handwritten pink photocopy from the Star Tribune, soliciting weekend newspaper carriers. "This business opportunity is ideal for stay-at-home moms, seasonal workers, retirees, college students, workers who need extra cash or people who want to manage their own business," it reads. The pay: $70, plus a $150 "signing bonus" and the possibility of additional work. The proud owner of both a bicycle and a large canvas bag, Off Beat gave the matter some serious thought. Then we called Frank Parisi, the Strib's chief communications officer, to find out why a newspaper that generates hundreds of millions of dollars in annual revenue can't spring for a classier method of advertising. (Some masking tape, at the very least, to keep these things off the floor.) Parisi says the flyers are just one of the ways the paper and its circulation department recruit laborers. "We use a lot of different things to advertise the openings," the flack tells us. "I've seen billboards, in-paper ads, radio. Some of the recruitment is up to the route manager. In some areas they'll even go door to door and ring doorbells." Good carriers, it seems, are hard to find. Parisi says the paper has between 100 and 150 openings--better than last year, when there were more than 200 vacancies. We can't imagine why, what with that signing bonus and all.
OFF BEAT WAS in court in Minneapolis recently (on official business, mind you), and it being the first week of summer we decided to see what our fellow citizens have been up to, misdemeanorwise. Here's a smattering of what we culled from a week's worth of police reports:
* Thursday, June 17, 2:25 p.m.: City workers relaxing in Loring Park flagged down two officers on bike patrol to report a group of boys skateboarding on the greenway. Police cited the boys for skateboarding on a public plaza, but not before one "very argumentative" 16-year-old told them repeatedly that "skateboarding was not a crime."
* Saturday, June 19, 3:00 p.m.: Seeing a teenager pulled over in his car at an intersection, a 36-year-old man stopped his 1984 Buick Regal to offer help. After getting a jump-start, the stranded youth hit the Buick while driving off, bending the driver's side door off its hinges. Apparently in a hurry, the teen kept going. His benefactor drove around until he found the teen and flagged down passing police.
* Monday, June 21, 8:30 p.m.: A woman bought a package of fresh Giorgio mushrooms from a store at an unknown location, and two days later cooked them up in a light butter sauce. When she bit into one, she noticed a very bitter taste. She spit the food into a container and found two small, white pill-shaped pieces in the mushroom. The woman contacted Hennepin Regional Poison Center and the police. It is not known what the pills contained, nor whether pills were found in any other packages.
* Tuesday, June 22, 2:45 p.m.: A 34-year-old woman attempting to shoplift a bottle of liquor from a Phillips neighborhood store was confronted by store employees. She refused to give back the bottle, instead swinging it at the headof one employee and beaning a second employee with her purse. She then bit the second employee in the forearm. Employees were finally able to subdue the woman until police arrived.
* Wednesday, June 23, 11:40 p.m.: Police responded to reports of a water emergency at Lake Nokomis and found a dark-blue 1983 Chevy pickup in the lake. A short time later, a 23-year-old man emerged from the lake, appropriately dressed in his trunks. The "obviously intoxicated" man told police he had driven into the lake deliberately. He was booked for DWI, his waterlogged truck hauled from the lake and impounded.
* Thursday, June 24, 12:15 a.m.: Two officers on bike patrol on the Nicollet Mall heard music booming from a black Chrysler convertible stopped at a red light at Fourth Street. One officer reported yelling at the driver to turn his music down "[but he] apparently did not hear me." The officer yelled a second time, and was again ignored. He then pedaled up to the stopped car and asked the driver for ID and inquired whether he knew why he was being ticketed. According to the officer's report, when told the reason, "The driver became angry and said that he could not hear me. I then told him that the reason he could not hear me [was] because his music was too loud." Once that matter was straightened out, the man was cited for violating the downtown noise ordinance and released.
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