The Hunted Man Awards
[Editor's note: A correction ran concerning this story; see end of article.]
"IT'S GOOD TO BE THE KING."
So proclaimed Citizen Ventura to Playboy in 1999. And for a long time we were content to be bunnies in his Minne-monarchy. We laughed off the reincarnation as a 38DD, the ringside dalliance with Mr. Ass, and even the fallen-empire burlesque of the XFL. Every time the fusspots surfaced to remind us that The Body was staining the shroud of Minnesota Nice, we felt like locking 'em all in a sleeper hold and sending 'em to Canada.
But somehow it all went rotten this year. The expiration date suddenly came to pass on our perishable governor, and like a three-week-old unfeathered boa on a roadside on an August afternoon, the stink became overwhelming. His Highness sulked while state workers went on strike and the bureaucracy around him ground to a halt. Then he avoided dealing with Major League Baseball's contraction grandstanding, citing a bad back, only to jet off to Hollywood to play dress-up in a movie. Finally, he advised his subjects to swear off newspapers and get their news from talk radio, all the while browbeating those who dared to call in and question his juvenilia.
When we spotted Greta Van Susteren on CNN interviewing our jackal-hunting commander in cheese in mid-November about how he would track down Osama bin Laden, we started mixing our Jim Beam with Pepto-Bismol and cruising the Web for real estate in Iowa. From their safe haven in Washington, D.C., Wolf and Cokie may still find this dog-and-SEAL show amusing, but we've started having nocturnal emissions at the mere thought of State Auditor Judi Dutcher describing her 2003 budget. (Or hell, even of Republican candidate Brian Sullivan.)
This is all a rather roundabout way of saying: It is no longer possible to lampoon Jesse Ventura.
But that's okay. While Jesse is most certainly King Rube, there's room for all of us--this is, after all, The Land of 10,000 Rubes. In fact, this year was particularly, er, rube-a-riffic, what with the possible demise of a sometime professional baseball team, the election of a mayor-to-be who once wore pajamas to a political rally, a federally investigated extortion scandal in the bowels of a city hall, and the on-again-off-again-on-again-off-again terrorism trial of a local homemaker/wannabe thespian/onetime radical.
Really, it's an embarrassment of riches, a treasure trove of fool's gold. And make no mistake--we are fools. That's why we feel it's time to resurrect an idea from a bygone City Pages era. You may remember it from the halcyon days of 1997 as the "Tongue-On-The-Flagpole Awards," a review of the buffoonery, chutzpah, and outright stupidity that, quite honestly, makes our pathetic lives worth living.
To stay fresh in these irony-sensitive times, however, we've decided to re-christen the annual competition. Therefore, in the spirit of what is perhaps King Rube's greatest gaffe, we are proud to present what we hope will be an annual tradition: The Hunted Man Awards. Just remember, if you don't read it, then the terrorists will have won.
But did they mention anything about the glue factory?
After finishing well behind R.T. Rybak in the September 11 primary, Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton reassures her supporters by dubiously proclaiming, "They said the mayor would not place or show in this race, and they were wrong!" Less than two months later, the two-term incumbent loses to Rybak by more than 30 percent.
Don't worry. Churchill wore diapers.
In a backhanded display of leadership, Rybak points out that for years he has purposely mismatched his socks, finally proving that it's the clothing, stupid.
And we'll need a bottle of Jägermeister a day to get through the next four years.
Rybak sheepishly confesses during a televised campaign debate that his favorite food is wheat grass.
Have you considered "Generation Diluted Gene Pool"?
Buck Humphrey, grandson of Minnesota political icon and true leader Hubert H. Humphrey, announces in December that he'll campaign to be Minnesota's secretary of state. Humphrey, 32, son of failed gubernatorial candidate Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey III, says he hopes to attract the votes of what he terms "Generation Excellent."
I'm gay, goddammit! Really, really, really gay!
Robert Lilligren, running for the Eighth Ward Minneapolis City Council seat, is repeatedly left out of news articles highlighting the unprecedented number of gay candidates seeking elected office in the city. He is elected despite the lack of public awareness regarding his sexual orientation.
That's queer, we thought gay men were very clean.
Hennepin County commissioner Mark Stenglein buys a broom, rents a street sweeper, and runs for mayor of Minneapolis on a "clean up the city" platform. He then refuses to march in the Twin Cities Gay Lesbian Bisexual Transgender Pride Festival.
Minnesota's stupidest evildoers, part I:
It's a shame; he probably would've missed the World Trade Center.
Alleged would-be terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui is detained after an instructor at the Pan Am International Flight Academy in Eagan becomes suspicious when the student shows little interest in learning how to take off or land.
Loot from airplane in 'A Simple Plan' still up for grabs.
A tourist from Tokyo is found dead in Detroit Lakes six days after informing police in Bismarck, North Dakota, that she was searching for money buried by kidnappers in the movie Fargo.
Warning: May lead to violent sexual assault.
Minnetonka pharmaceutical company Orphan Medical tested its gamma hydroxybutyrate (GHB), the notorious "date-rape drug," on people suffering from narcolepsy.
However, his accomplice, Professor Pederast, is still at large.
In February University of Minnesota professor Richard Pervo is arrested on charges of possessing child pornography.
And to think, if he had just gone to East Lake Street and Fourth Avenue South, Manson could have gotten a blowjob for $25.
Kevin Diaz of Anoka County files suit against tired shock-rocker Marilyn Manson in December, some 14 months after a concert at the Historic Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis. In the federal lawsuit, Diaz, who was working as a security guard during the show, claims the gender-bending Manson grabbed Diaz's head and "proceeded to gyrate his hips." Diaz seeks $75,000 for battery, emotional distress, and having to endure "ridicule and shame."
And then there's the bed-wetting and dementia years.
Former Golden Girl Bea Arthur tumbles off the stage at the Guthrie Theater during the world premiere of her one-woman show And Then There's Bea.
Scads of theatergoers demand a refund when she manages to stay upright on her own two feet.
Speaking of elderly sitcom stars, Jean Stapleton, forever known as Edith Bunker on All in the Family, stars in The Carpetbagger's Children at the Guthrie Lab in August.
So, wait, we're confused: Does this mean the terrorists have already won?
Investigation-happy Attorney General Mike Hatch promises to launch a probe into collusion and price gouging among service-station owners. The investigation runs out of gas, since the industry is unregulated in Minnesota and Hatch has no legal authority to...uh...do...uh...anything. Still, in anticipation of higher gas prices following the September 11 terrorist attacks, the AG tries to rile legislators by equating station owners who raised prices "to $4 or $5 or $6 a gallon" on September 11 with people "selling oxygen masks in Manhattan that day." Prices around the metro subsequently drop as much as 35 cents a gallon; by mid-December gas goes for under a buck.
Scientists unable to determine whether substance was culled from highly potent Welch's strain.
At height of Anthrax paranoia, the Science Museum of Minnesota is shuttered for two days after moon-suited firefighters remove a mysterious "jelly-like substance" from a briefcase abandoned in the building. It is later learned that the museum's catering staff prepared breakfast that morning. Among the delicacies served? Jelly.
Never mind, we think we just learned the meaning of 'Fatwa.'
Author Salman Rushdie is scheduled to speak at the Fitzgerald Theater on the same day terrorists attack the Pentagon and World Trade Center. The event is canceled.
World Trade Center, Pentagon, Stillwater Lift Bridge?
Shortly after the September 11 terrorist attacks, Stillwater Police Chief Larry Dauffenbach warns that terrorist threats have been made against the bridge linking Wisconsin and Minnesota.
And while we're at it, let's round up all the Muslims and throw 'em in jail. Oh yeah, we already did that.
State Rep. Arlon Lindner, a Corcoran Republican, denounces Minnesota's invitation to the Dalai Lama to address the legislature and derides Buddhism as a cult.
St. Paul Nazis feel overlooked.
St. Cloud State University is declared hotbed of anti-Semitism in newspapers the world over.
But if they were called the Screaming Yids, no one would have batted an eye.
St. Cloud State University asks the University of North Dakota to remove its "Fighting Sioux" logo from uniforms before coming to Minnesota for a hockey match.
Don't forget about the anti-Semitism!
Pioneer Press columnist Tom Powers, the day after the Vikings' backup quarterback led the team to victory over the Tennessee Titans by throwing four touchdown passes in his first professional start: "St. Cloud State is known as one of the nation's premier party schools. To be sure, there are plenty of serious scholars. There also are plenty of serious keggers. The public image is parties, hockey, all-night cram sessions and now this...Todd Bouman, star NFL quarterback."
Funny, we thought Macalester was only tops at dope smoking.
Macalester College earns top ranking from the Princeton Review on its list of schools where "students ignore God on a regular basis."
So-called God saves Macalester football program.
Owner of the second-longest losing streak in college football history, Macalester College announces that, after a thorough review, it will not eliminate the sport.
Bob Long swears to so-called God that it wasn't his fault.
St. Paul mayoral hopeful and Macalester alum Bob Long is accused of causing a fender bender at the intersection of Fairview and St. Clair avenues. The driver tells police that she was distracted by Long, who was standing on the corner waving and holding up a placard.
On the bright side, he's not from St. Cloud or Macalester.
The Vikings' $75 million man and famous loafer Randy Moss tells Sid Hartman in the middle of the season that he plays whenever he feels like playing, "case closed." Two weeks later, he reopens the case with reporters from the Nashville Tennessean, responding to questions about whether his remarks were taken out of context. "Hell, no, that [expletive] is what I said," the newspaper's Web site quotes Moss as confirming. "When I want to play, I'll play. There is nobody on the face of this earth that can make me go out there and play football, you know what I'm saying?"
Hey, Randy! How about giving us the pleasure of shutting your [expletive] piehole?
Moss continues to rant, according to the Tennessean, surmising, "I think the people around here in Minneapolis are just jealous because I don't give them the time of day or the pleasure to interview me, you know what I'm saying? Because I think they are full of [expletive]."
Hey, Randi! We'll answer you:
You're shameless and pathetic!
WCCO-TV reporter Randi Kaye spends the first half of February alone in an empty apartment, trying to construct a life via the Internet. In a February posting to Channel4000.com, the station's Web site, Kaye demonstrates that she has clearly lost her marbles and intimates that she has "sent e-mails to David Letterman, Bill Gates, Brad Pitt, and Jesse!" "It'll be interesting to see who answers me," she surmises, "if anyone."
Hey, Randi! Do you even know who Edward R. Murrow is?
The Washington Post reports in late February that WCCO-TV ranks fifth among local news stations in attracting "adults" to their web sites. Around the same time, the Radio-Television News Directors Association announces its prestigious Edward R. Murrow awards, named after the legendary and long-dead television reporter. Of the 11 regional awards given to local Twin Cities stations for setting "a standard for the broadcast profession," only one goes to WCCO for--you guessed it--its Web site.
Hey, Randi! We get it! Flash us, and we'll give you the ol' Edward R. Murrow treatment!
One week into her February "e-partment" experiment, after buying a cat and ordering a lobster dinner via the Internet (delayed a day because of a FedEx mix-up), Kaye swaps e-mails with venerable Strib gossip C.J. Among the topics discussed are "conjugal visits" from her "significant other" and e-mails from slightly panting viewers asking Kaye to "flash" for the Webcam. While Kaye notes that she refused, she adds that the "experiment is really about educating myself and our viewers about the Web."
And in the KARE-11 news "Extra," why isn't Diana Pierce flashing us from her "e-partment"?
Because Pat Miles is still blind.
What we really want to know is which golden throat has bigger tits.
Still lathered up from the Britney Spears show a day earlier, aging Strib pop-music critic Jon Bream hoodwinks the powers that be to pay for a gaggle of Britney fans to review the Luciano Pavarotti show. Thus, a great irony is conceived: The Strib sends nubile teens to review Pavarotti, and a geriatric boomer to review Britney.
Charley Walters is uncertain whether he'll opt for a full-blown toupee, popular in the 1970s.
Pioneer Press sports gossip Charley Walters informs readers that Timberwolves forward Joe Smith is undecided on whether to grow his hair out to a "full-blown Afro, popular in the 1970s."
Walters reports that the men's Gophers basketball team "might sign a shooting guard or a combination guard during the spring signing period."
You know we love ya, Jim, but give us a break.
"I have seen the past, present and future of rock 'n' roll," Pioneer Press music prognosticator Jim Walsh writes in June about a mediocre talent from Libertyville, Illinois, "and his name is Ike Reilly."
No, really, Jim: We're serious.
"Turns out I may have undersold him," Walsh, admittedly a close, personal friend of Reilly's, writes about the mediocre talent a month later.
Minnesota's stupidest evildoers, part II: Apparently the 401(k) plan didn't meet his expectations.
Stanley Dwayne Riley is charged with robbing a McDonald's, a Burger King, and a SuperValu in Twin Cities suburbs, but only after inquiring about employment opportunities. Riley is apprehended after police lift a fingerprint from the job application he requested at McDonald's.
Well, at least they'll have their 401(k).
In April Pioneer Press parent company Knight-Ridder decrees that none of its 32 newspaper staffs would be spared the cuts of the downsizing guillotine, including the Pi Press. "In the light of the restructuring announcement," St. Paul newsroom staffers wrote in a letter to their corporate minders, "we are concerned that the Pioneer Press may face losing many of our minority journalists, setting the paper back years in its effort to create a diverse newsroom."
We share your perversion. So what about that 401(k)?
By October Pioneer Press editor Walker Lundy pens his own missive letting staffers know that someone got the address wrong for a link on the paper's Web site. Instead of a page called "Prayer for America," www.pioneerplanet.com faithful cyber-landed at a porn site. "Stop smiling," Lundy cautions. "Lots of readers do not share our sense of perverted irony."
Pawlenty snuffed out by big swingin' Dick.
Minnesota House Majority Leader Tim Pawlenty (R-Eagan) bows out of U.S. Senate race after receiving phone calls from Vice President Dick Cheney and White House advisor Karl Rove urging him not to run.
Speaking of big swingin' dicks...
Twins Kyle and Lane Carlson of Stillwater are featured in the New Yorker after appearing in the buff in an Abercrombie & Fitch clothing catalog.
Talk about downtown development!
Laurie Coleman, wife of St. Paul mayor and U.S. Senate candidate Norm Coleman, starred in a local version of The Vagina Monologues.
Norm can't get it up for 'Vagina Monologues.'
Coleman on the Vagina Monologues production starring his wife: "It's cutting. It's raw," he opines to the Strib's C.J. "I don't agree with the message. If you're a heterosexual male, it's not lifting you up."
Norm delivers a different kind of vagina monologue.
A caller on Minnesota Public Radio's Midday program reports seeing Coleman hit on a "very young, attractive woman" at a restaurant. The mayor speculates that perhaps it was a cousin.
Bush the Elder was right: "Who is this chickenshit?"
Despite repeated promises to the contrary, Sen. Paul Wellstone announces that he will seek a third term. Wellstone's justification for the flip-flop is that with Republicans in control of the White House and the House of Representatives, his presence is needed more than ever to stand up for such issues as abortion rights, environmental regulation, and education funding.
Yeah, but who's going to defend us from Wellstone?
Minnesota's senior senator joins all but one of his colleagues in voting for the dubiously named "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism Act." This assault on the Bill of Rights gives unprecedented power to the executive branch while eliminating judicial review. Wellstone justifies his vote by noting that, under a "sunset provision," Congress will review the bill in four years.
All in the Family, Take One
After years of denying rumors of a romance, erstwhile local news anchor and U.S. Sen. Rod Grams and longtime aide and Republican paramour Christine Gunhus tie the knot the weekend after Grams loses his reelection bid to spoiled little rich kid Mark Dayton, a DFLer.
All in the Family, Take Two
Half a year later, the renamed Christine Grams pleads no contest to a misdemeanor complaint that she circulated disparaging e-mails about another of Rod's former DFL challengers, Mike Ciresi.
All in the Family, Take Three
Former U.S. Senator and troubled father Rod Grams starts a PAC fund called the Minnesota Victory Club. On his Web site, Grams claims the group will be "a powerful weapon to combat the liberal special-interest groups that are ruining the state" to help the campaigns of "strong conservative candidates at all levels." Further, the Victory Club's agenda will convey a "message of strong families."
Speaking of strong families, what about cashing in on the name?
Shortly after trumping Grams with the help of $11 million of his own money, Mark Dayton reneges on his campaign promise to take an annual Senate salary of just $1.
Well, you can always donate it to the Minnesota Victory Club.
A day later, Dayton succumbs to bad spin and agrees to uphold his campaign pledge.
Traffic woes snuffed out by big swingin' Dick.
Republican Dick Day, hick senator from Owatonna, makes a hot-button political issue out of interstate on-ramp stoplights in the city. Then he hassles Minnesota's Department of Transportation to put up signs encouraging slower traffic to keep to the right. Finally he decries the existence of "sane lanes" on Interstate 394.
Metro Transit passenger actually big swingin' Dick; next, he'll try taking the elevator in one of those really tall buildings downtown.
The Senate minority leader then tries riding a bus to the state capitol from Eagan. Day, who calls the reality-based experiences of commuting via Metro Transit "eye-opening," tells the Star Tribune he took his trip incognito.
Hey, we thought "Midwestern values" were found at the Mall of America.
A Colombian national who works in Cottage Grove offers to give a ride home to a boy leaving a local elementary school. The boy declines the offer--twice. Cottage Grove police track down the man. Police Chief John Mickelson concludes there was no real threat to the boy, and that the Colombian was simply concerned for the child's well-being in the cold weather. Even so, before police release the man, they give him a stern lecture on "Midwestern values."
Soul on Ice
The Twins honor new Hall of Famer and definite black guy Dave Winfield with his own bobblehead doll. One mock-up of the doll, a Twins official admits to Strib gossip C.J., looks "Caucasian."
At least it wasn't miniature-bat day.
On dollar-hot-dog night at the Metrodome, fans assault New York Yankees right fielder (and former Twin) Chuck Knoblauch with wieners.
And at the company Christmas party we're going to shoot apples off our co-workers' heads.
About a dozen Burger King employees are hospitalized with first- and second-degree burns following a "team-building exercise" in which they walked barefoot across eight-foot strips of white-hot coals. Among the firewalkers is Chris Clouser, a former exec with both Northwest Airlines and the Minnesota Twins, now BK's director of marketing.
A real bargain at $325,000 per win
Gophers $1.3 million football coach Glen Mason interviews twice for the top job at Ohio State University, but ultimately is passed over. In previous years he flirted with departing for Michigan State and Louisiana State. Relieved Gopher fans are rewarded with 4-7 season.
That little-known Russian delicacy: Aged head cheese
Russian immigrant Pyotr Shmelev turns himself in to Minneapolis police and confesses to murdering and dismembering his wife 19 days earlier. Shmelev deposited the body in Missouri, but kept the head in the trunk of his car.
Let's dig him up and make a belt out of his nipples.
In March former KSTP-TV news director Harold (Bud) Meier dies at age 77. Meier's career was distinguished in part because he was the only reporter to interview Wisconsin serial killer Ed Gein in jail.
Watergate, Contragate, Travelgate, Comogate?
Residents of Como Avenue in St. Paul dub a new bus line slated to begin operating on their street "Comogate." Lord knows what scourge the neighborhood will be afflicted with next--perhaps a bike lane?
And if we had our druthers we'd spend the rest of our days drinking mai tais on the coast of Aruba.
Timberwolves point guard Terrell Brandon, midway through a six-year, $58.3 million contract, announces that he would like to scale back his court time in order to get more enjoyment from the game.
Minnesota's stupidest evildoers, part III:
Judge contemplates blowing up her car.
Sara Jane Olson.
Oh yeah?! Well, our governor can beat up your governor!
The torch for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Utah will not pass through Minnesota, but it will travel to 46 other states. This greatly upsets King Rube, inspiring in him a passion rarely seen without the presence of a personal watercraft. "I'm outraged that the state of Minnesota is not getting the Olympic torch," King Rube says. "There should be an outcry from the public. Minnesota is known for its winters." The 13,500-mile route is determined by time and logistics and is "not about what state has the most snow," retorts relay spokeswoman Lyndsay Rowles.
Correction published January 9:
Owing to a reporting error, we misstated the nationality of author Salman Rushdie. Rushdie was born in Bombay and is a naturalized British citizen. The above version of the story reflects the corrected text. City Pages regrets the error.
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