Off Beat

Ol' Dirty Off Beat

IT'S NICE TO know some people share our predilection for whiling away the workday on the Internet. A state employee turned us on to WuName (www.recordstore.com/cgi-bin/wuname/wuname.pl), a site that invites visitors to "step up to the mic and get your own Wu-Tang Clan identity jammed into your eyes as if by magic." Unable to resist the temptation to make Minnesota part of the Wu-Tang nation, we entered "Prince." Nothing happened--the WuName form requires a first and last name--so we tried "The Artist," which morphed into "Excitable Misunderstood Genius." "Prince Rogers Nelson," with two names entered in the first-name box, became "Ungrateful Ninja"; with two names in the last-name box, it came back "Inscrutable Drama Queen." (No wonder the identity crisis.) Minneapolis mayor Sharon Sayles Belton became "Tha Lonely Donkey Kong," while her counterpart in St. Paul, Norm Coleman, was "Greasy Choirboy." Our governor came up "Lazy-Assed Destroyer"--except when we entered him as Jim Janos, at which point he exited as "Big Gay Mule." (Visiting billionaire Donald Trump, meanwhile, turned up "Childish Gambino.") On the sports tip, Vikings owner Red McCombs was proclaimed "Ultra-Chronic Monstah," while coach Dennis Green emerged as "Tha Prickly Comedian." The daily newspapers also got their props: The Pioneer Press was anointed Auxiliary Priest, and who wouldn't agree that Sweaty Butcher is far more expressive than Star Tribune? Our curiosity piqued, we addressed an inquiring e-mail to Nick Dimmock, the U.K.-based site's creator, who explains, "WuName was born of dalliance and utility, which is a powerful combination." Dimmock was happy to reveal precisely how WuName ticks (something about converting letters to numbers and then selecting from pools of names based on the result), but it was all too technical for Off Beat--which shall henceforth be known as "Officer Stinkah."

Sold!

LAST FALL BURL Gilyard called attention to the precarious fate of the Harmony Box soundstage in northeast Minneapolis ("The Once and Future River," October 13, 1999). Over the past year or so, owner Jeff Schoen's efforts to sell his business had been thwarted repeatedly by city officials, who were threatening, among other things, to rezone the site as part of an incipient master plan to spruce up Minneapolis's upper riverfront with housing. But in November the city council voted to maintain the land's light-industrial zoning designation, and last month Schoen was finally able to close a deal, selling out for $1.9 million to local businessman Jim Nygard, who plans to continue operating the property as a soundstage. Why the change of heart on the city's part? Third Ward city council member Joe Biernat says no one showed any interest in putting homes there: "We had housing developers look at the site in the fall, and unfortunately the consensus was that there wasn't the interest for a residential development." Biernat was also heavily lobbied by Schoen's neighbors and the local film biz. "He really listened to our arguments," says Randy Adamsick, executive director of the Minnesota Film Board, who himself paid a visit to the council member. "It's an important facility--it's the best stage anywhere for shooting commercial spots." Biernat, who is now touting the sale as a "win-win" for the neighborhood, will be on hand at Harmony this Thursday, February 10, for a Film Board-hosted open house.

Let Us Count the Ways

LAST WEEK OFF Beat took a break from watching the snow melt to actually peruse our press releases before throwing them away. And by golly, we were struck by the lengths some go to in order to gear an event to a holiday--in this case Valentine's Day. Like for instance, the Walker Art Center, where librarian Rosemary Furtak offers "Le Tour D'Amour"--the history of artistic, shall we say, cross-pollination (Martha Graham and Isamu Noguchi, for example; and Jasper Johns and Robert Rauschenberg). For those more interested in how other species get laid, there's the Bell Museum of Natural History, which invites couples to "discover through sight, sound, smell, and touch what it takes to 'get a date' in the wild." And then there was this uncategorizable entry in the holiday-synergy sweepstakes: Down in History Tours' St. Paul Gangster Tour, in which you can "bring your sweetie [to] commemorate the St. Valentine's Day Massacre" with an excursion to local gangster haunts of yore. If you're interested, scan our City Lights listings for details. As for Off Beat, you're likely to find us at our neighborhood White Castle, where from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m., employees will greet patrons at the door and wait on tables complete with linens and candlelight. Not surprisingly, reservations are recommended; call (651) 646-1811 for details.

 
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