[Editor's note: A correction ran concerning this story; see end of article.]
If We Can Make It There, We'll Make It Anywhere
IT SEEMS THE national media's obsession with all things Jesse is finally paying off: Off Beat was struck by the following passage from a September 6 Talk of the Town piece in the New Yorker: "If refereeing a professional wrestling match was unusual behavior for a man in Ventura's position (that position being the governorship of a major state), he has been doing something even more unusual in recent days: he has been campaigning...[for a] one-house legislature." Major state? Us? What, Off Beat wondered, confers "major" status upon a state? In terms of population, for instance, Minnesota is 21st in the nation, behind the likes of Tennessee, Indiana and, yes, Wisconsin. Hardly what you'd consider major. And what consigns a state to the "minor" ranks? Take Nebraska, for instance, the only state to have adopted a unicameral legislature: major or minor? School having just begun, Steven Schier, chair of the political science department at Carleton College, was willing to devote some thought to the matter. "Given that Minnesotans are famous for their inferiority complex, I guess it's a good thing that we now know what it takes," Schier muses. "It's a pretty simple formula: Elect a wrestler." Armed with that bit of theoretical edification, we queried the author of the article, New Yorker senior editor Hendrik Hertzberg. "There's the Mary Tyler Moore factor," Hertzberg offers. "There's the fact that it's the state of Hubert H. Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy. It's one of the 3Ms. And then there's the fact that sometimes here on the East Coast we confuse it with Michigan, which is indeed a major state. Seriously," the writer adds, "politically Minnesota is a major state not just because of those people but because it's sort of the capital of political enlightenment in the country, along with Massachusetts. If it were in Europe, it would be a social democracy."
Butt Out, Butt In
CALL HIM A multilevel marketing junkie. When Kevin Kintzi last made an appearance in these pages ("Chain Smoking," January 27), he was extolling the virtues of Stone Tobacco, an online cigarette-buying club he'd just joined. Kintzi, known as "Cheap Smokes" to his Internet cronies, was puffing on "all-natural" cigarettes manufactured by a Native American tribe in Nebraska. Free of state tobacco and sales taxes, the butts went for a mere $11.95 per carton. Kintzi planned to subsidize his pack-a-day habit--and maybe even get rich--with bonuses the club was to pay members who persuaded friends to join. But in May Kintzi's dreams went up in smoke, when the Phoenix company that ran the club abruptly closed its doors. Kintzi and others involved in the endeavor charge that New Marketing Concepts owner Larry Rose kept cashing checks after the tribal manufacturer stopped shipping cigarettes to members. Rose insists he's as much a victim as anyone else: He blames his contact at the tribe for failing to fill his orders, and says he can't pay club members what he owes them because an employee withdrew "hundreds of thousands of dollars" from his bank account. Though he refuses to name the bank or his attorney, Rose says he intends to set things right. "This was going to be good for everyone, including the Indians," he laments. "Even healthwise, because they were additive-free cigarettes." Rose vows never to get involved with another multilevel marketing concern--a lesson Kevin Kintzi has yet to learn. From a computer in his Mankato-area home, the unflinching e-entrepreneur is attempting to ignite a similar online smokers' club, Consumer Direct Buyers Network.
Go Gophers! Go Gophers! Go Gophers!
CLOGGING OFF BEAT'S mailbox the other day was a black plastic briefcaselike object bearing this inscription: University of Minnesota, Rodentology Society of North America, Field Studies Kit. Inside were a series of National Geographic-style layouts celebrating the supposed ferocity of "the angry gopher and its genetic cousin, the Golden Gopher." The campaign was produced for the U of M's beleaguered football team by those most sophisticated purveyors of goofball irony, the Minneapolis advertising agency Fallon McElligott. "People think gophers are nice, but in actuality, when you go out and study them, they're very deadly," deadpans Fallon creative director Scott Vincent, who appears in shaky-cam TV spots as a field researcher who shoots and tags various Golden Gophers as they run, buffalolike, across the prairie. So far, Vincent reports, response has been good. U of M flack Pat Forciea notes that the Gophers' spate of losing seasons begs for a special PR effort: "The Michigans, the Penn States, and the Nebraskas of the world have marketing campaigns that consist of buying several thousand stamps and mailing out their invoices for tickets. That's it. Stadium's full," Forciea says. He adds that Fallon has provided its services essentially for free, though the school will shell out about $20,000 to cover production costs, and another $130,000 to buy advertising.
Correction published 9/22/99:
Owing to a reporting error, the online tobacco marketing club mentioned above was incorrectly identified. Kevin "Cheap Smokes" Kintzi is a member of the Consumer Direct Buyers Network. The above version of the story reflects the corrected text. City Pages regrets the error.
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