Off Beat

Down in the Alley...But Not Out

THE VENERABLE COMMUNITY newspaper The Alley has been serving south Minneapolis's Phillips neighborhood for more than two decades, coming out monthly since August 1976. But the December issue hit the streets with a front-page plea for money and volunteers to keep the paper afloat. According to filings with the Minnesota Attorney General's Office, while the nonprofit's recent annual revenues have typically ranged from $60,000 to $72,000, this year's pace has been well behind that. With no funding source other than advertising--i.e., no grants or private donors--the paper has had no money with which to pay a staff, as it had done in the past. Alley board member Dave Dix, who took a month off work to get the December issue published, says the paper's board has committed to a January issue, but beyond that the picture is unclear. "Basically, we're rebuilding the paper from the ground up and we need help," says Dix. "We can't do a community newspaper without support from the community. It's still touch-and-go. We need a jump-start."

Third Down, Four Beers to Go

OFF BEAT SETTLED into a seat at the December 22 meeting of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission, figuring on hearing some salient talk about the future of the Metrodome, a stadium its two main tenants--the Twins and the Vikings--would love to abandon. Off Beat sighed when that topic was pulled from the agenda and postponed until the January meeting. The morning wasn't a total loss, however, as we were treated to a discussion of the recent Vikings-Packers game, at which beer sales were cut off at halftime instead of at the end of the third quarter, in an attempt to curb the incorrigible profanity-riddled drunken hooliganism that has tarnished Minnesota's image as a state devoid of incorrigible drunken hooligans. Commissioner Richard Jefferson, a former state representative, asked if the early cutoff had an impact on sales. The answer: hardly. Why? Executive director Bill Lester told Jefferson and the other commissioners that it was due to "Last Call Syndrome": Aware that sales would be cut off early, fans simply timed their beer runs accordingly.

For the Off Beat Reader Who Has Everything

WE'VE ALWAYS BEEN moderately intrigued by the marketers at the Star Tribune--specifically, by their creativity when it comes to peddling things other than the newspaper. There's that Strib Stuff: You know, the T-shirts, the tote bags, the piggy banks that look like little newsracks. And then a few months ago came the "BUY 2 FOR Y2K. ONE TO READ & ONE TO SAVE!" promotion. The idea was that, hip to the event's historical importance--"It's big. It's exciting. And it's definitely a once-in-a-lifetime event"--savvy Strib subscribers would want to buy an extra copy of the January 1, 2000 issue. Talk about easy money: Readers delirious with millennium fever shell out an extra 50 cents, too giddy to realize that they could simply read the one copy and then save it! Star Tribune flack Frank Parisi says folks are indeed biting--er, buying--and adds that the paper's other big Y2K promotion--the special classifieds section where people can address profound messages to their loved ones for posterity (at least for those of us who purchase, you know, ONE TO READ & ONE TO SAVE!)--is a brisk mover as well. "I heard that they're doing quite well. I know [the classifieds promo] is especially popular with our employees," Parisi said, and promised to call back with details. Well, we haven't heard from him, but that's okay. We're too busy envisioning our own line of Official Off Beat Stuff. We'll carry distinctive accessories for the discriminating reader. Can we interest you in an Off Beat monocle? A cravat hand-embroidered with the Off Beat motto? How about an Off Beat smokeless ashtray?


At Off Beat our motto is "Staying informed so you don't have to." Call (612) 372-3788 or send e-mail to [email protected] with any poop that's fit to print.

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