Off Beat

Making the Grade

PRESENTING THE UNINTENDED witticisms of Minnesota boobs is becoming a regular practice for Harper's. In its June issue, the monthly magazine published the transcript of Star Tribune outdoors reporter Dennis Anderson's you-haven't-hunted-until-you've-hunted-man interview with Gov. Jesse Ventura. This month the wit and wisdom of state Rep. Arlon Lindner is highlighted. Lindner, you'll recall, is the Corcoran Republican and pious Christian who bravely decried the state's invitation to the Dalai Lama to address the Legislature and derided Buddhism as a cult. May we suggest that next month Harper's reprint the sage advice dispensed by David Hunt of the governor's citizen-outreach office? Hunt is the public servant who responded to a woman's request for information about child support last month with this helpful tip: "I hope your daughter didn't learn her boyfriend picking skills from you....Please tell me that she hooked up with this bum while rejecting all of the solid values about marriage and family you taught her." At least they can't make fun of us for being nice.

Opportunism Knocks

OFF BEAT OFTEN whiles away the hours staring out the window from the top floor of our chic Warehouse District digs. Last Thursday it actually paid off. We spied Mark Stenglein, Hennepin County commissioner and Minneapolis mayoral hopeful, gallivanting around a parking lot with a broom and a street sweeper, in broad daylight. Hurrying outside, we hopped over two chainlink fences and asked Stenglein what he was up to. He told us the pictures were for his Web site, Said he: "It's time to clean up city hall!" Did the commish intend to drive the street sweeper around town? "No, it's a prop," he confessed sheepishly, as his campaign manager Brian McClung strategically placed a couple of blue-and-yellow "Stenglein for Mayor" signs on the rusted, gray Power Boss sweeper, along with a pair of white signs that said "Operation Clean Sweep" in black stenciled letters. The ponytailed cameraman (who identified himself only as Mike, an "old hippie photographer") checked the lighting and instructed the candidate to hop on the Power Boss. "Lean into it like you're working hard, man," he urged Stenglein, who seemed a tad reluctant to ham it up. "I know it feels corny, but it makes the picture." The shoot having been concluded, Stenglein, dressed in black slacks, a white button-down Oxford, and a brown tie, gripped his push broom with evident satisfaction. "It's a beauty," he whispered, and proceeded to push a little dirt around on the blacktop. Stenglein acknowledged that he has hit upon the cleaning metaphor before (see the July 18 installment of this column, about his controversial plan to actually sweep the city's streets twice a month. "But see, the whole thing ties together now!" he insisted. "After all the corruption that went down [involving now-ex-Minneapolis City Council member Brian Herron], it's time to clean city hall."


OFF BEAT'S MEDIA rumor radar beeped last week with news that the Southwest Journal had purchased the downtown weekly Skyway News from owner Gary L'Herault. "News travels fast in this cow town," quips Southwest Journal publisher Janis Hall. As of August 31, Hall confirms (though she wouldn't disclose a sum), her biweekly south Minneapolis paper will indeed take over Skyway. Hall, who founded the Southwest Journal 11 years ago with her husband Terry Gahan, says they aim to transform Skyway into a community newspaper focusing on issues important to people who live and work downtown. There will likely be some overlap in stories between the two papers, but for the most part, she says, the revamped Skyway will churn out its own articles. This might come as welcome news for literate citizens of Minneapolis, but Off Beat's gonna miss the downtown booster rag. (Our favorite recent article: a Q&A with Walter Cronkite mysteriously headlined "Cronkite in Minneapolis?" The reason for the question mark becomes apparent as we read on, discovering that the news icon had planned to visit the Twin Cities for some kind of hearing-loss convention but had bowed out.) "I think downtown is turning into a neighborhood," Hall sums up. "There's a huge population that really does want to know what's going on, and the Skyway News certainly isn't doing that now."

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