By Jake Rossen
By Jesse Marx
By Michelle LeBow
By Alleen Brown
By Maggie LaMaack
By CP Staff
By Jesse Marx
After a victor had been declared in the spaz-dancing competition and the Geek King and Queen had been crowned, it was time for one of the unofficial traditions of the Geek Prom: the Geek Streak. And so on May 12, at the Science Museum in St. Paul, a group of friends dutifully disrobed in the bathroom and prepared to give the crowd a lesson in velocity and human anatomy.
As U of M-Duluth geology graduate student Irvin Mossberger explains, "We ran out naked, ran up onto the stage, out of the main room, through an exhibit. When we ran back into the room, a policeman was at the doorway."
Mossberger remembers seeing something like a can of Off in the officer's hand, and feeling a sensation of wetness hit him as he flew past the cop. "I didn't know what he did—a few of us thought at first it was some sort of tracking dye."
But when the streakers got back into the men's room, the situation became clear. "Dude, I think he pepper-sprayed us," Mossberger remembers hearing a cohort exclaim. Arms and stomachs began to smart. Then St. Paul officers Tracie McHarg and Genaro Valentin, who had been acting as security for the alt-dork dance, ticketed the men for indecent exposure, a misdemeanor punishable by up to 90 days in jail.
Neither officer responded to City Pages' requests for comment.
While the aftereffects of the chemical agent were minimal—"I didn't breathe it or get it in my eyes, although I'm glad he didn't aim lower," notes Mossberger—the incident is unsettling to those who see the nerd fest as a place for geeks to be free. More serious are the secondary consequences of an indecent exposure charge. "I could be ineligible for social service jobs, or adopting a child," Mossberger says.
Prom founder Paul Lundgren says, "I'm giving him [the cop] the benefit of the doubt and hoping he committed a Barney Fife-like blunder, because I'd hate to think he calmly decided to pepper-spray a half-dozen defenseless, naked nerds." —Sarah Askari
The question took on more significance a few hours later when Minneapolis firefighters responded to a call from Lemon's house on the 4300 block of 29th Avenue South. Upon arrival they discovered the garage in flames. Odder still? Kristina Lemon was—and is—a Minneapolis firefighter.
Investigators determined that the fire had been intentionally set, and according to a search warrant filed in Hennepin County last month, they quickly zeroed in on Lemon as the prime suspect. Lemon appeared to be intoxicated at the scene, the warrant alleged. And Lemon's then-partner, Miller, relayed her memory of that unusual conversation.
If Lemon's name sounds familiar, that's because she is one of four firefighters who sued former fire chief Bonnie Bleskachek last year. Lemon's lawsuit alleged that Bleskachek engaged in a pattern of sexual harassment and discrimination toward her. (See "A Hunk of Burning Love," 5/31/06.) The city settled the case in March, with Bleskachek and Minneapolis agreeing to pay Lemon $35,000.
Lemon has not been charged in the arson investigation. She referred questions about the garage fire to her attorney, Dan Rasmus, who denies that his client was responsible for the 2002 blaze. Rasmus counters, "The timing of making public, through the search warrant, what was previously confidential investigative information is very questionable given the fact that we just settled with the city."
It's unclear why the investigation is heating up now. Sgt. Erika Christensen, the primary investigator on the case, did not return calls seeking comment.
Investigator Sean McKenna, who previously worked on the case, says that the fire was clearly arson. "The fire was set," he says. "By whom is the question. I think Kris Lemon is a problem employee, and I wouldn't trust her as far as I could throw her, but that doesn't make her a fire starter."
The statute of limitations on arson investigations is five years. Meanwhile, Lemon continues to work as a Minneapolis firefighter. "There's no grounds at this point to take action against her," says Matt Laible, a spokesman for the city. "She's on duty and she's performing her regular job." —Paul Demko
This just in: The Hockey Night split up. Two months ago.
News of the local indie-rock quintet's demise would have broken the hearts of fans, especially since the band was rumored to be on the brink of signing a major contract with DFA Records, an imprint partly run by LCD Soundsystem's James Murphy. Except that news never got out. Even the band members were sketchy on the details after it happened.
"We did a really bad job of communicating with each other," says drummer Alex Achen. "It was dudes talking. You know how dudes talk to each other. They're terrible at it."