Last week brought more evidence that state leaders have a bizarre fetish for massage therapists. The Associated Press reported that the Senate is considering a sex crimes bill that targets internet predators and masseuses who "have sexual contact with clients against their will."
Paging Chris Hanson: You're looking at Dateline NBC's next franchise.
"We couldn't figure it out either, frankly," says ACLU Minnesota Executive Director Charles Samuelson. "Non-consensual sex is already criminal."
The new bill was proposed by Mary Olson (DFL-Bemidji), a freshman who apparently never got the memo that rape is already illegal. We called to ask what she was thinking, but she didn't return our phone calls. Perhaps she was too busy busting randy Reiki practitioners.
Olson apparently learned her school-marm ways from the Minnesota Department of Health, which recently had to drop charges it levied against Lundeen Fjellman, a massage therapist who had sex with a former client—her husband.
The Bonnie and Clyde affair began when Lundeen started dating Kirk Fjellman, a client who'd recently divorced his wife. The ex-wife complained to the health department, which in its infinite wisdom decided to wade into the marital morasse by threatening Lundeen with hefty fines or a revocation of her ability to practice massage.
She fought the law, and won—albeit not before racking up more than $10,000 in legal bills. Now she and her lawyer are looking to recoup the money from state coffers.
"It's been very hard for her emotionally," says attorney Mark Johnson. "It's been very hard to be staring down the barrel of disciplinary action that might affect her ability to make a living."
Sounds like she could use a nice, relaxing massage. —Kevin Hoffman
The citizens of our capital city can sleep easier tonight knowing that they are safe from the scourge of fake guns.
Last Wednesday, the St. Paul City Council voted to ban real-looking fake guns, instantly reducing the number of real-looking fake shootings to zero.
Fisher-Price could not be reached for comment, but mayor Chris Coleman declared the ban a "testament to our shared commitment to public safety."
While estimates on the number of non-lethal firearms in the Twin Cities were unavailable at press time, the state Department of Public Safety reports that 19,147 metro-area citizens are still licensed to carry real-looking real guns. —Corey Anderson
Last week, state legislators began efforts to protect our Right to Take a Crap.
The Senate's commerce committee passed a measure last week requiring retailers to grant access to onsite restrooms to sufferers of Irritable Bowel Syndrome and Crohn's disease. Stores that refuse to comply would face fines of up to $100.
While some applauded the, ahem, movement, others openly mocked the measure. One such critic was Republican blogger Michael Brodkorb, who rechristened the measure the "Freedom to Poop Act" on his website, www.minnesotademocratsexposed.com.
This might be the first salvo in a bold new Bill of Bathroom Rights that could eventually provide cards granting unlimited access to toilets everywhere. Imagine the future conversation:
"Excuse me, could I use your bathroom?"
"Here's my card. Where's your bathroom?"
"Down the hall, but..."
"Thanks, I'll take it from here." —Jessica Armbruster and Peter S. Scholtes
Breakfast of Champions
According to a recent Minneapolis licensing report, Champions is the place to go for Bolivian nose powder.
The report states that this year, Minneapolis police recorded no fewer than nine cocaine-related incidents at the sports bar on Blaisdell Avenue and Lake Street in south Minneapolis. On April 11, 2006, for instance, "Officers observed hand to hand drug deal in the parking lot," and "8.3 grams of crack [were] recovered." On six other occasions, the cops used a "CRI"—confidential reliable informant—to make crack buys. Another time, on July 22, "Customers told officers to check out the men's bathroom—officers found a male snorting cocaine. 4.97 grams of cocaine powder recovered."
As part of a February 12 settlement with city leaders and cops, Rick Nelson, the bar's owner, agreed to close down for 29 days, with 15 stayed if he agreed to pony up $5,000 and "implement security and business strategies to hinder the sale of narcotics and other illegal activity."
Nelson says he's doing all he can.
"Look, we have a list of 112 names that we've 86'ed in the last year alone," he says. "We've already spent $70,000 on security, and we have a cop at the door three nights a week. So we're upset with the city, but you can't fight City Hall. We're going to lick our wounds and move on." —G.R. Anderson Jr.
Taxi Cab Confession
The ridiculous debate over whether Muslim cab drivers can deny rides to customers carrying booze took an even more absurd turn last week with a proposal to recuse Metropolitan Airports Commission chief Jack Lanners.
For those who haven't been paying attention, the airport's plentiful Somali cab-driving fleet is asking for the right to refuse customers who want to bring alcohol along for the ride. The Muslims, most of whom are Somali, say it violates their religion, which explicitly forbids Jameson, Jack Daniels, and other tasty liquor products.
Last week, Omar Jamal, the executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center, asked Metropolitan Airports Commission chief Jack Lanners to recuse himself from the debate. The reason: Lanners is both the owner of MGM Liquor Warehouse and a member of the board of the Minnesota Licensed Beverage Association.
"We felt that him being the owner and in the position he's in in his private life would influence him," says Jamal.
Now if only the Muslim cab drivers would recuse themselves from bitching about our booze. —Beth Hawkins
The corner of Washington and Broadway may be the sketchiest in Minneapolis. The Northside locale combines the cheer of a homeless pub crawl with the ambience of a freeway on-ramp.
An anchor attraction was Irv's Bar, a saloon storied for its three-for-one drink specials and generously iced urine trough. But the last closing time came to Irv's this New Year's Eve, ending some 50 years of operation.
"Oh man, this is sad," said one Irv's patron. "I had the honor of enjoying Irv's three-fer-ones one Friday morning two years ago. Doors opened at 8:00, and the place was packed by 8:30. Later, a dude at the bar tried to sell me crack. When I politely declined, he asked if I'd seen his socks."
Alas, now those socks may never be recovered.
With Irv's gone, drinkers on their way to I-94 will have nowhere to boost their blood-alcohol content. Except for BJ's, where the women are topless and the liquor is bottomless. Or Johnny A's 200 Club, where one bouncer recently went down on a murder rap, and where famous one-legged gangster Johnny "Hopalong" Edwards has been known to hang out. Or Stand Up Franks, which does not, contrary to legend, exchange sobriety tokens for a free drink. Or the Jug liquor store, where—well, you get the idea. —Michael Tortorello