Off Beat

Gouger's Paradise

WE AT OFF BEAT pride ourselves on a measure of urban savvy. Among other things, this means we wouldn't be caught dead shelling out for parking at a Vikings game. After all, anyone who knows the city can find little islands of free, legal on-street parking within reasonable walking distance from the Dome. (A favorite spot: just north of I-94, off 11th Avenue South.) The rest of you suckers, however, are paying big-time for your ignorance. As reported elsewhere--first by KSTP-TV (Channel 5), then somewhat abashedly by the Star Tribune--the highest-priced parking lots now charge 30 bucks a pop, 50 percent higher than last year's top rate (and twice what the city charges for its Dome-convenient lots). We say abashedly because while they were on the subject, the paper had to disclose that the Newspaper of the Twin Cities owns some 1,100 parking spaces in tidy proximity to the Dome. And that rival lot owners jacked up their rates in response to the Strib's move, announced in letters to season-ticket holders who had reserved parking arrangements. What the paper didn't supply was the math: With ten sold-out home games (including exhibitions), the Strib may well rake in more than a quarter of a million dollars from Vikings fans on wheels. Wonder if they'll use any of that to knock down the $40 a month they charge staffers to park.

All the News That's Fit to Bemuse

"DURING YESTERDAY'S PROTRACTED moment of communal adversity, New Yorkers seemed to borrow some strategies from around the world. Taking a page from commuters in Cairo, hundreds of Upper West Siders jammed into buses, faces mashed against the doors, daring drivers to tell them they could not ride on the steps. Others cheerfully shared taxis, Minneapolis style, or tried to hitch rides...." Head cocked quizzically, Off Beat put down the August 27 New York Times and picked up the phone. The author, Metro desk writer Jennifer Steinhauer, gamely explained that she lived in Minneapolis during the winter of 1991, which she recalls as "the year of that horrific snowstorm that started on Halloween and never stopped." Carless, she usually availed herself of the bus system. "Looking back at it, I don't remember whether I ever shared a cab or not," she conceded. "I just remembered that people were going out as an activity and digging people out. That was more of what I was thinking of: friendliness and cooperation in bad weather. Because that day New Yorkers--who don't share cabs--were glad to." Steinhauer was telling us how she'd already received an e-mail message from a puzzled editor at the Star Tribune when she got another call. "You're never going to believe this," she said when she came back on the line. "It's the Pioneer Press."

Gube Won't Cut Ties With City Pages

AS EVERYONE WHO wasn't asleep last week is well aware, Gov. Jesse Ventura announced on his radio show that he intended to stop reading the St. Paul Pioneer Press and cease talking to its reporters. Peeved at Pi Press opinion writers who questioned the propriety of his appearance at SummerSlam, Ventura savaged the paper as hypocritical for running sex ads in its sports section while criticizing him for pimping sex and violence. Casting a wary eye toward the ads in the back of this newspaper, Off Beat wondered whether City Pages might be next on the guv's hit list. "The last time I checked, City Pages hadn't practiced hypocrisy as the Pioneer Press has, at least in the governor's mind," says Ventura communications director John Wodele. But two weeks ago in this very space we dubbed Ventura's guest-ref gig a real yawner. Didn't that get a rise out of the First Media Critic? "That was a fairly popular observation," Wodele notes with some resignation. "I don't recall, at least in my presence, the governor reacting to that kind of review."

Wonder If the Governor Subscribes

THE CURRENT ISSUE of the pop-culture glossy contains a short take on the glut of bizarrely conceived action figures, from Ozzy Osbourne and Insane Clown Posse to Rudy Giuliani and, yes, Jesse Ventura: "There's no telling what kind of conversation the next wave of pathetically low-level-celebrity dolls will unleash."


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

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