Rooting Against the Home Team

Seven Minnesota authors pen poison Valentines to the place we call home

"Holy shit, Ivor," I snap, "You got it wrong. This is R.D. Zimmerman, the writer."

"The...the what? The who?"

"The author! You know, the guy who writes the books!"

"Ohhhhh...oh, my. The writer? What writer? Nej, I've never heard of this person, never," Ivor replies, his beautiful Scando lilt suddenly going horribly flat. "You mean...you mean, this isn't Robert Dylan Zimmerman, the singer?"

"I can sing almost as poorly as he, but, no, this is Robert Dingwall Zimmerman, the writer, got it?! You know, don't you, that the other guy, well, he just made up his name?"

"Oh, my..." And then just to shove the knife deeper, he asks, "What kind of strange name is that--Dingwall?" He starts giggling. "It's kinda funny sounding, you know, this...this Dingwall!"

I slam down the phone and find myself lying there in the dark, steaming and unable to sleep. Hmpf. So much for my global aspirations. Which reminds me of the incident at Borders in Uptown just two days earlier. When I'd handed the clerk my credit card, he looked at the name and smiled. Ah, sweet fame, I thought, wondering just how many hundreds of my books he'd sold, for I've lived in the neighborhood for 25 years and surely I all but own this bookstore.

Then, however, the clerk laughed aloud, saying, "With a name like that you must get teased all the time. Why, I went to high school with a girl named Joni Mitchell, and she always was getting crank calls."

I growled and left.

So that's why I did it. That's why I started using the pen name of Robert Alexander. And that's what I hate about living in Minnesota--the endless calls...for the dreaded him...The Other.

At least, I'm sure, I can type faster.

 

R.D. Zimmerman is the author of the Todd Mills mysteries Hostage and Innuendo. Under the name Robert Alexander, he has written the novels The Kitchen Boy and Rasputin's Daughter, which comes out in January.

Fairness Is Not the Media's Respon- sibility; Truth Told Well Is Its Responsibility.

BY FAITH SULLIVAN

In a recent interview in the Star Tribune, the writer Vince Flynn said, "I think Muslim fundamentalists are the biggest threat around, not just to our safety but to concepts like feminism." All right. I buy the idea that Muslim fundamentalists are a threat to our safety and, as a paranoid feminist, I also buy the idea that they're a threat to feminism.

But, Vince, Christian fundamentalists are a threat to our safety too. Ask the people who staff abortion clinics or even Planned Parenthood offices. If Roe v. Wade isn't overturned by the current administration, how far will their zeal carry them? Fundamentalists of any stripe are a threat to the general welfare because for them it is "My way or the highway," not "There are many paths to heaven."

But mine isn't an argument with Flynn, who writes well-received thrillers about dangers to U.S. security. My problem is with the so-called mainstream media, which is increasingly not that mainstream. The Christian Right has bullied and harassed the media for at least 25 years, and the media has caved--this despite the fact that the Christian Right is a numerical minority in this country and in Minnesota.

There is a misconception out there that newspapers have no right to lean left or right. Every week the Star Tribune prints letters whining about its liberal bias. Hey, folks, that's the paper's right. And it's your right to cancel your subscription. You folks on the Christian Right have your papers, magazines, television channels, and radio stations. You're telling me that no one else has a right? The founding fathers are spinning in their graves.

The virulence of fundamentalists is such that the media not only have trimmed their political sails but have hired the likes of Katherine Kersten in an attempt to be "fair." Fairness is not the media's responsibility; truth told well is its responsibility.

In my travels around the state I have heard horror stories of threats to small-town newspapers from the fundamentalist Right. In signed letters to the editors? No. In anonymous letters and phone calls. Fascism at its finest.

 

Faith Sullivan is the author of The Cape Ann, The Empress of One and the recently released Gardenias.

You Trust the World

BY QUINTON SKINNER

I am driving through the blessed familiarity of the leaf-strewn streets of my neighborhood, tucked under the warm blanket of routine, when you throw open the door of your parked car and vault into the road in front of me with utter obliviousness to my presence. I run through my options: I could run you down, maybe; or initiate a head-on collision with the SUV coming the other way. I opt for coming to a complete stop while you fiddle with your laundry basket and your cell phone. If I hadn't stopped, I would have run you down. If my brakes had failed, you might be dead.

Some would identify your behavior as selfish, but I know better. I'm not here to cast aspersions on you. The people of Minnesota are no more selfish than the rest of their species; if pressed, I would assert that they are less so.

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