Off Beat

Foam Job

As publicity stunts go, this one has its merits: Five buff guys in their 20s standing at the intersection of Hennepin and Washington avenues in downtown Minneapolis during rush hour Thursday evening, wearing not much more than shaving cream spread over their privates and derrieres, and numbers--one through five--written in black ink on their torsos. Behind the men stands a gentleman with a bullhorn, exhorting drivers to call KDWB-FM (101.3) and vote for their favorite exhibitionist.

The man wielding the bullhorn, KDWB promotions coordinator Chet Whitmore, explains that the winner gets tickets to Eminem's "Anger Management Tour" concert at the Xcel Energy Center in August. The contestants, he says, were chosen at random from among callers to the station.

On closer inspection, the five men are found to be wearing tighty-whities underneath the shaving cream. A wise choice, as by now the foam has begun to dissolve. "The menthol feeling is a little tingly on the genitals," remarks Brad Scanlon, a 27-year-old retail manager from Minneapolis. "I'm gonna win, 'cuz I got this," boasts 20-year-old Jon Banks, a student at Anoka-Ramsey Community College. He drops his placard in front of his pelvis and performs a brief bump and grind for the benefit of a young woman rolling down the sidewalk on in-line skates.

Then 23-year-old Fred Rashaw of Burnsville lets slip that he's an intern for evening DJ Scotty Davis: a ringer! Carl Magnuson, 20, concedes that he's a classmate of Rashaw; they both study radio at Brown College in Mendota Heights. Whereupon contestant number five admits to being a struggling singer with "ties" to KDWB.

Ringers or not, the five evidently relish the attention. (It can't hurt that one of them purportedly will get to attend the Eminem show.) "Hey, we got video to the right!" shouts Banks. Sure enough, a woman riding shotgun in a white Chevy Blazer is training a camera their way. "Is there more shaving cream?" someone asks. "Yeah," Whitmore replies, shepherding his charges onto the median. "Four more cans in the car." --By G.R. Anderson Jr.

 

It's Not Academic

When last we visited Louis King, Minneapolis officials were trying to move his vocational training center, Summit Academy OIC, to make way for the Heritage Park housing redevelopment (see "Academic Misconduct," April 4, 2001). Fourteen months later, King reports, the city is still angling for access to his property along Olson Memorial Highway.

In April city officials floated a plan that called for Summit to scoot a bit to the northwest. The school would have to be rebuilt to incorporate multiple levels and a parking garage, at a cost of an estimated $13 million. King says he liked the idea, but the city was offering only $5 million in cash, plus the opportunity to take out loans to finance the rest.

A new pitch, which arrived on King's desk a few weeks ago, aims to slice off the eastern end of Summit's property to build a road that would connect the new neighborhood's streets to Olson Highway. "It's not the whole property, it's just a piece on the eastern end," explains Chuck Lutz, interim executive director of the Minneapolis Community Development Agency. "There are no building operations there."

But after four years of negotiations, King says he's had enough. The city may only want a small piece of his property, but it does include a building--one that's vital to Summit's future. "A road through my parking lot?" he adds. "Then I get penned in, with no room to accommodate our plans."

Those plans--which he says have been on hold during his talks with the city--include a kitchen and an auditorium for the building, in order to create a common gathering area for the school and the surrounding community. "It's the capstone of the place that we develop," King says. "We're a few years behind because we've been fooling around with the city."

King plans to meet with Minneapolis officials later this month, but he'd prefer that the city build around Summit and leave him alone. Lutz counters that he wants to work out an agreement but there's always the possibility of eminent domain.

That doesn't scare King. "We're a long way from that," he says. "I don't foresee that as an option." --By Leyla Kokmen

 
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