Garrison Keillor, the host of American Public Media's A Prairie Home Companion, has bloggers fuming over a recent edition of his syndicated column "The Old Scout."
The March 14 article, titled "Stating the Obvious," begins with Keillor's patented folksy, self-deprecating prairie populism on how neat it was to come from a family raised by a plain old mom and dad who put up with each other's shit until they were both in the dirt. Keillor bemoans today's "serial monogamy," where the Thanksgiving table expands to make room for mom's third husband and Grandpa's girlfriend.
Then it takes a sharp right turn. Keillor, possibly on a sugar high from too many Powdermilk Biscuits, worries that the queers will want to go out and get kids. He ponders how those "sardonic fellows with fussy hair who live in over-decorated apartments with a striped sofa and a small weird dog," would be able to let their children be the stars of the family. "If they want to be accepted as couples and daddies, however, the flamboyance may have to be brought under control," Keillor harrumphs.
Keillor's exasperated vision of a Freddie Mercury/Dame Edna-run household raised the ire of gay political blogger John Aravosis of AmericaBlog, who called the NPR star a "bigoted, homophobic pig." Sex columnist and gay parent Dan Savage cited Keillor's Wikipedia entry that divulges his three marriages.
Keillor says the column was meant to be tongue-in-cheek. "I did not refer to homosexuals as 'sardonic fellows with fussy hair,' etc. I was referring to a stereotype," he tells City Pages. Just don't ask him what he thinks of John Edwards. —Corey Anderson
Click here to read an expanded version of this piece and Mr. Keillor's note on the controversy
Grand Theft Golf Cart
Emerald Green Golf Course was used to the occasional cart going missing, but 14?
On December 5, the Dakota County Sheriff's Office received a complaint from the manager of the 36-hole Hastings course. He reported the heist as well as the likely perpetrator: Randy Charles Fehler.
Two weeks later, officers executed a search warrant on Fehler's Rosemount residence. According to a criminal complaint filed last week in Dakota County District Court, they initially recovered one EZ-Go Golf Cart from Fehler's front yard. However, while the search warrant was being executed, the suspect arrived home, at which time Fehler allegedly admitted to stealing five additional golf carts. He informed the officers that he'd driven the vehicles home. (Fehler could not be reached for comment.)
According to Sgt. Jim Rogers, of the Dakota County Sheriff's Office, six of the missing vehicles have so far been recovered. "We typically have a golf cart stolen here and there," he says, "but nothing on this scale. —Paul Demko
Quick, Hide the Constitution!
In December 2005, GOP operative and blogger Michael Brodkorb posted an item to his website, Minnesota Democrats Exposed, alleging that DFL pundit Blois Olson had been bad-mouthing a congressional candidate who refused to hire a consultant who worked for his PR firm, New School Communications.
Olson responded that his firm didn't do political work. If the employee, Hubert H. "Buck" Humphrey IV, had approached the candidate, he had done so on his own.
But Brodkorb refused to back down, so Olson sued for defamation.
Last week, a Dakota County judge threw out Olson's suit, but without addressing the accuracy of Brodkorb's accusations. In essence, the judge ruled that Brodkorb did not defame Olson because Olson has a high public profile.
The decision was viewed as a victory for bloggers, who have been trying to win the same legal protections afforded to reporters at mainstream media outlets.
But Judge Timothy Blakely also took the unusual step of sealing parts of the court file, which means that Minnesotans will never get to see the evidence.
So much for freedom of the press. —Beth Hawkins
Head of the Class
Last week, a grisly variation of the famous horse-head-in-the-bed scene from The Godfather played out in St. Paul.
Unless you've been curled up in a fetal posture, you've probably already heard about the 17-year-old girl who opened a package left for her at her grandma's home only to discover the dismembered head of her therapy dog, Chevy.
Among the few people not shocked by the gruesome event was Keith Streff, the veteran director of investigations with the Animal Humane Society in Golden Valley.
"Everybody's running around, saying how horrific this is. But I have to tell you, this sort of thing is not that uncommon," Streff says. "I've seen at least three similar cases in the last two years."
In general, Streff says, incidents of animal mutilation fall into two categories: cases in which the perpetrator acts out of purely sadistic pleasure and cases in which the perpetrator is trying to get to another person through the animal.
"Usually, there is a domestic undertone, and the anger is vented through the animal," he says, before ticking off a list of the gruesome pet killings he's encountered over the years: the goldfish flushed down a toilet, the crushed hamster, the fried canary, and—in northeast Minneapolis, at the beginning of his career—the cat that was placed in a microwave.
Still, Streff acknowledges, the decapitation of the St. Paul dog does exhibit a disturbing level of resolve by the offender.
"When you start chopping and cutting, you're up close and personal. You have to find a tool. You have to handle the dog. You have to get rid of the other body parts. Then you've got a blood trail and other evidence to deal with," Streff says. "It's a big project." —Mike Mosedale
Starting this month, IKEA will be charging a nickel for every plastic bag customers use to transport their rugs, lamps, and plastic trash bins to their SUVs.
Will your nickel really make a difference? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Americans toss about 100 billion polyethylene plastic bags a year, and less than 1 percent are recycled.
"We realize that our 'Bag the Plastic Bag Program' is a small step," says Pernille Spiers-Lopez, president of IKEA North America. "But we know our customers want to help and support the sustainability of our planet—for today, and for the future of our children."
Of course, it's also a chance for customers to try IKEA's highly pimped-out reusable blue bag—a steal at just 59 cents. It's what all the environmentally conscious fashionistas are wearing this year. —Jessica Armbruster