The Sweet Pie and Pie
Amid all the flying meringue of recent days, the tiny Whittier Globe got a scoop. A Globe story published early last week named one Joe Wiedemeier as the "chief suspect" in the March 25 pieing incident that left Gov. Jesse Ventura with banana cream on his blazer. Sure enough, late last week Wiedemeier was arrested on one count of disorderly conduct and two counts of fifth-degree assault, all misdemeanors. The Globe was unable to reach the alleged perpetrator for comment (as were the Star Tribune and the Pioneer Press, which wrote about the charges over the weekend), but we managed to track him down before the bust. The 45-year-old warehouse worker, who spoke to Off Beat on Thursday from the window of his third-story apartment a half-block from where the pieing took place, confirmed he'd been questioned by the Minneapolis Park Police. Though he has no firm alibi--he was, he said, taking a hot bath on the evening of the attack in an attempt to sweat out a cold--he insisted he's innocent. "They wanted me to make a confession, but I can't confess to something I didn't do," said Wiedemeier, adding that he voted for Ventura. "I've never thrown anything at anybody. To me that's violence. You could poke somebody's eye out. I was raised right." Park Police investigating officer Steve Paasch reports that the weapon used in the assault--which weighed a whopping 43 ounces and "really stunned" the trooper who caught the brunt of the blow--came from Baker's Square. Although there were no fingerprints on the pie tin recovered at the scene, Paasch says, Wiedemeier confessed the crime to a friend "over drinks," failed a polygraph test, and was picked out of a photo lineup by three witnesses.
The Hits Just Keep on Coming
Minnesota has arrived kinda late to the pieing party--but that hasn't stopped us from overdoing it. Which seems to be just fine with the folks at the San Francisco chapter of the Biotic Baking Brigade, who faxed Off Beat a press release expressing solidarity for alleged legislative pastry lobber Bob Greenberg. After congratulating the Highway 55 protester for creaming state Sen. Carol Flynn (DFL-Minneapolis) last week, the faxers note that their group has claimed responsibility for "17 of the 30 confirmed pie operations" that have taken place since the pie-throwing "renaissance" began last fall.
Critics Pin Keillor to Mat
Back in February, when word of Garrison Keillor's genial satire of Gov. Jesse Ventura first made the rounds, Off Beat's fave gube huffed about people cashing in on his public image. Now it seems Ventura is having the last laugh. A survey of the reviews of Me--by Jimmy (Big Boy) Valente as Told to Garrison Keillor reveals that many literary pundits are finding Keillor's 152-page effort to be a featherweight. In his recent New York Times review, Peter Applebome did concede that the work "has its moments," but dubbed it an "odd little hiccup," a "mildly amusing, mildly irritating quickie book" that "feels more like a smart marketing concept than inspired satire." Similarly, Wall Street Journal scribe Dave Kansas acknowledges that Me offers "delightful jabs throughout" but also cites its "smugness," noting, "Too often, one finds oneself hoping the governor will get this guy in a headlock and teach him a lesson about the ugliness of literary elitism." Onward to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Bob Hoover, who condemns Keillor's tome as "a mediocre book that never should have been published in the first place...and contains the usual Keillor fare of flatulence, excrement, Lutherans, meatloaf, and 'hot babes.'" Fort Worth Star-Telegram reviewer Jeff Guinn opines that "writers do this kind of thing when they really have nothing to say but want to get enough words into print to fill up a book." Want more? USA Today critic Kurt Jensen seemed to like the book but notes that it "contains Keillor's first, and let's hope last, racist caricature in The Rodent, who speaks in a stereotyped Asian dialect not seen much since the end of World War II." (Shades of KQ Zoo-meister Tom Barnard?) And Neil Schmitz of the Buffalo News weighs in: "Me, all burlesque and lampoon, wears quickly. Keillor exaggerates the already inflated and often suffers in the comparison." The notices weren't unremittingly harsh. "Hilarious," proclaims the Indianapolis Star. "Laugh-out-loud funny," blares the Columbus Dispatch. Perhaps the highest praise of all erupted right here at home, in the person of the Star Tribune's Chris Waddington, who gushes that Keillor has uncorked "a comic classic likely to endure long after this winter's headlines have yellowed." Roll over, Sinclair Lewis.
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