Off Beat

Check It Out!

NEWS THAT THURSDAY'S fog had forced First Lady wannabe Tipper Gore to cancel her Twin Cities stop sent a disheartened Off Beat scurrying for the St. John's wort. But while standing in line at the mood-elevator vending machine (ah, the perks of corporate ownership!), we happened upon a press release announcing that in the wake of a recent mini-uprising among Minneapolis librarians, U.S. Senate wannabe David Lillehaug was convening a press conference to talk about how to protect children and librarians from Internet pornography. Be still, our quivering moral compass! So it was that last Friday noon we were among the few who gathered in the Minneapolis Public Library's misty courtyard as the former U.S. Attorney teetered a tightrope between the First Amendment and what he termed "the proper function of a public library." Flanked by a motley half-dozen supporters wielding dog-eared campaign placards and handwritten signs ("PORN HURTS KIDS"; "KEEP PORN FROM OUR CHILDREN"), the candidate told those assembled (most of them either journalists or library employees) that he favors so-called filtering software and other means of ensuring that we "don't turn the public library into a triple-X bookstore" but opposes federal legislation introduced by "the far-right wing" that would cut off federal funding to libraries that don't restrict patrons' Web access. The library administration has forbidden staffers to comment to the press without authorization while they're on the clock, so there weren't any disgruntled librarians to talk to afterward, but we did strike up a chat with several management types, who say they've actually logged "very few reports" about Internet porn use, and that hardware upgrades should allow the library to better enforce its 30-minute limit on computer use and also make it harder for a surfer's fellow patrons, regardless of their age, to engage in over-the-shoulder voyeurism. Before we left, Off Beat did a little trolling for porn scrollers. For the record, while we did see one fella engaged in what Lillehaug would call "illegitimate" use of his browser, it really took some effort, what with the partitions between terminals and the glare guards that prevent many of the monitors from being viewed at an angle. And frankly, we felt kinda self-conscious being so nosy.

Shut Up and Listen

A FEW WEEKS back, Off Beat marveled at the smoothness with which Minneapolis officials solicitously request, then squelch, public input. That occasion was a meeting about how to proceed with the second ten-year phase of the Neighborhood Revitalization Program. This past Friday, just to make sure they weren't getting rusty, city honchos honed those same skills at a public meeting of the Near Northside Implementation Committee, whose task it is to oversee replacement of the housing that was torn down as part of the Hollman federal lawsuit settlement. Housing advocates, displaced residents, and other interested parties crowded into the small room to hear the latest update from St. Louis-based developer Richard Baron, but Minneapolis City Council President Jackie Cherryhomes, who chairs the committee, informed them that public comment would be limited to 30 minutes, after the committee and the developers were through. (And no interruptions!) Audience members asked the predictable questions. Why had the city lowered the allotment of low-income units? Could the city prove that the "affordable" units would indeed be affordable? An obviously peeved Cherryhomes said answers would be given at the end of the meeting, "during the discussion period." Only there was no discussion period. Meeting adjourned.

What Will They Think of Next?

LAST MONTH PAMELA Hill Nettleton, the new editor of Minnesota Monthly, warned the St. Paul Pioneer Press that the magazine's readers aren't likely to see photos of "unknowns" on the cover of her magazine from now on. "[Nettleton] wants 'power pieces' that get talked about and place Minnesota Monthly as a destination magazine on the local media map," wrote Pi Press staff writer Ellen Tomson. "Are there enough famous Minnesotans? She jokes she's going 'right down the list.'" Sure enough, the January issue featured the gleaming pate of Gov. Jesse Ventura. In February comedian Louie Anderson came to the fore. Intrigued, Off Beat was about to organize an office pool to predict what March would bring when word came that the first cover girl of 2000 is...Jennifer Lopez! Though we envisioned an exclusive exposé that proved the pop singer/movie starlet/Puff Daddy sweetheart is actually the love child of a Lutheran pastor from Blaine, the photo is merely a plug for a feature about 33-year-old photographer-to-the-stars Tony Duran, who was born and reared in Winona and now splits his time between New York and L.A. He grew up here and his family is still in the region, reasons senior editor Jacquelyn Fletcher. But the cover? "He's an artist from Minnesota. We wanted to show his work. Jennifer Lopez just happens to be one of his subjects," says Fletcher. "It's a cover. We want to intrigue readers."

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