ON SEPTEMBER 24, 1999, Star Tribune editor Tim McGuire introduced the paper's readers to FreeTime, touting the Friday section as a "hefty, easy-to-use entertainment tabloid to reflect all that goes on here in music, nightlife, movies, fine arts, and family attractions." (Some thought the new section was an attempt to mimic a certain local weekly, but that's another story entirely, isn't it?) Now Off Beat is picking up Strib scuttlebutt that FreeTime, less than two years old, may not be long for this world. McGuire deflected Off Beat's inquiries about FreeTime's financial health. "We think it's time to take a hard look at it," he says, adding that the most likely scenario will be to roll the stories that now run in FreeTime back into the main paper. "We are exploring the best way to present our entertainment information on the weekends. One possibility is to put the current FreeTime information into a broadsheet weekend Variety section," the editor says. "I'm hoping we can make any decisions by the end of the summer and implement in the fall." Fair enough. What the hey, Off Beat figured, now that we've got him on the phone... How exactly does McGuire think FreeTime has compared with, to pick a purely random example, City Pages? "I think they've got very different missions. I wouldn't really compare and contrast," McGuire responds. "I don't think they've got much in common. I think those comparisons came out of City Pages' paranoia."
Something in the Air
WHEN YOU'VE SERVED on the Minneapolis City Council for 22 years, you get a little used to sounding off on public issues. Former 12th Ward council member Dennis Schulstad, the last Republican to serve on that august body, hasn't been at city hall since 1997, but he recently came out of political retirement for some sparring with his former colleague, Tenth Ward council member Lisa McDonald. It seems Schulstad was flipping through the Southwest Journal one day and became rankled by an ad from McDonald, who's running for mayor. In the ad, McDonald professed her opposition to airport expansion and her support of the idea of "land banking" for another potential airport. Schulstad recalls that when discussions arose five years ago about building a new runway at the airport, he had lobbied McDonald to support the land-banking concept in a council vote--to no avail. The ex-council member fired off letters to both the Journal and the Longfellow Nokomis Messenger expressing his ire. "What I'm objecting to is not so much her vote. I don't mind people disagreeing with me," Schulstad tells Off Beat. "Lisa McDonald bought a half-page ad in the local paper saying that she's this big friend of airplane noise opponents. This is downright deceitful." McDonald counters that Schulstad is oversimplifying the facts. She says that the nonbinding resolution that she supported endorsed both the runway construction and future land-banking. Still, McDonald concedes that today she wishes she hadn't supported airport expansion. "Have I changed my position? Yes, I have. And I've indicated that in all my literature," she says. "Any official would reserve the right to do that, given new information. It's just so much sour grapes."
Fax of the Week
"DOES HAVING TO use a gas station toilet make you quiver? You're not alone. Nearly 30 percent of Americans avoid public restrooms for fear of germs, according to the Quilted Northern 'Bathroom Confidential' Survey. The survey, conducted by Impulse Research Corporation and commissioned by the makers of Quilted Northern Fresh & Moist Wipes, revealed that of the people willing to brave public restrooms, more than 40 percent flush with their feet rather than touch anything potentially 'germy.' Twenty percent grab for a paper towel as protection. But for more than half (60 percent) of respondents, it's a balancing act--they never sit down and don't touch a thing.
"It's not just public restrooms that send shudders across the nation; more than four out of five respondents are concerned about germs in all bathrooms. It seems when Americans feel nature's call, cleanliness is key. Now, help is on the way. New Quilted Northern Fresh & Moist Wipes are personal moist wipes with a mild anti-bacterial ingredient. Used as a supplement to dry toilet tissue, the new flushable wipes offer extra reassurance and an ultimate clean for families that desire a high level of freshness."