Back in action at the Black Dog

Get in off the 294 express bus from Minneapolis and am way early for the gig at Black Dog Wine and Coffee Bar in Lowertown.  So, I take a little stroll around and am almost homesick: this part of St. Paul reminds me so much of Greenwich Village back in NYC.  Laid back, bohemian – a damn nice place to take a quiet walk.  Looking for a burger joint, happen upon the St. Paul Saints’ ballpark.  It’s beautiful.  Mainly because it’s a professional baseball field with all that electrifying atmosphere and you can actually get close up on the diamond.  I drop in at Mike Kelly’s Depot Bar & Grill.  The food and service are damned good blue-collar fare. A well-done bacon-cheeseburger, onion rings and a Coke later, I head over to the Black Dog.  It has been a hell of a long time since I had a real gig.  Not since Hell’s Kitchen about 5 years ago.  I’d done a year and a half or so at Corner Coffee in Minneapolis’ Warehouse District, but this was for pay, not tips.  Get over and Brian Charles Tischleder is roaming around, trying to do something about parking.  Haven’t seen the cat in ages.  That was another time opening for him.  Well, opening for James Curry, his duo with guitarist Casey Fearing.  Reviewed Brian’s Dreams & Fear CD for the Planet – damned good music.  We, of course, immediately start chewing the rag,  Before he has to get with his wife Ka Vang – poet/spoken word artist with whom he pulled strings to get me on the bill – he promises to see can he dig an old recording of James Curry as a four-piece band.  Would love to hear that.  Spot a poster for the show on the wall with pictures of names: am in pretty sweet company Rush Merchant headlining, Ka Vang, Lauren Koshere and Brian Charles Tischleder.  Nope, not too shabby at all.  And Saint Paul Almanac is filming.  Make a mental note to swipe that poster before the end of the night. Am doing my set, happen to catch sight in the back of the room of my man Bill Borea (a/k/a pro rassler Billy Blaze a/k/a William Borea,playwright, screen writer, director, actor).  The guy came clear over South Minneapolis. Continue Reading

No Easy Answers

You go to a community gathering; you believe that the speaker, a white male, will listen and take you, a white woman, and your friends in: black and white men, black and white women. And he does, for a moment, but he seems to be crouching there, waiting to spring with his response. To give him credit, he lets us talk and even nods his head and affirms us. Yet he dominates the room. I wanted a circle, I wanted him to end the cyclic way his words came back and back and back to integration as the only solution to educational reform. Continue Reading

The Gospel at Colonus

Once upon a time, in 1983, there was The Gospel at Colonus (New Video NYC) a groundbreaking, Obie Award winning triumph that inarguably stands the proverbial test of time. It is an ingenious hallmark, at once culturally specific and completely universal, showcasing the pure power of soul in a classic, mainstream accessible aesthetic. Nothing quite like it had been done before, not since, say, Porgy and Bess. Colonus also happens to strongly represent Twin Cities talent. Adapted and directed by Lee Bruer with music by Bob Telson, it starred Morgan Freeman and Clarence Fountain and the Five Blind Boys of Alabama. Continue Reading

Angela Brown case: Patient advocate to bring petition for dismissal to LQP Co attorney

The case of Madison mom Angela Brown, who gave medical cannabis to her brain-injured son in advance to the implementation of Minnesota’s law legalizing its use under tightly regulated circumstances, has received statewide and national attention. This article is reposted from TCDP media partner Bluestem Prairie. Check out the links below for other recent Bluestem Prairie stories:

Full-page CPL anti-trans ad also published in Duluth, Mankato, St.Cloud & Winona dailies
Jeff Backer’s campaign posts Big Stone Co GOP chair resignation news release without comment

West Central Tribune staff writer Tom Cherveny reported Thursday in Defense attorney to seek dismissal of criminal charges against mother who gave son medical cannabis:
A Lac qui Parle County case that has attracted national attention in the debate over medical cannabis returns to court next week. Angela Brown, 38, of Madison, will appear Wednesday morning in District Court in Madison for a hearing on two gross misdemeanor charges: endangering a child − permitting to be present when possessing a controlled substance and contribute to the need for child protection or services. She is accused of giving her 15-year-old son Trey medical cannabis to treat his pain from a traumatic brain injury. Continue Reading

Housing costs stretch budgets across the state

More than 600,000 households in Minnesota face very high housing costs when they pay their mortgages or sign their rent checks. In 63 out of 87 counties, at least one in every four households spends at least 30 percent of their income on their home. This reality is mapped out in our project with Catholic Charities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis, Mapping Minnesota’s Future to Shared Opportunities.The federal definition of a “cost-burdened” household is one that pays more than 30 percent of their income on their housing. Census data demonstrate that Minnesotans are familiar with this experience, from the Arrowhead to the farmlands of our southwest. In 83 counties, at least one out of every five households struggles with high housing costs.In every county, renter households are more likely to confront budget-straining housing costs. Continue Reading

Lucia Day: Of cats and saints

For the first time since this little blog began I skipped St. Lucia Day. No scent of citrus and saffron wafted from our oven throughout the house. No sweet buns shaped like S’s found their way to our breakfast table. Not a single home-made, IKEA-bagged, or bakery-baked Lussebulle or Lussekatt eaten on this most awesome of holidays. Continue Reading

The curious case of luxury student housing

The American gentrification story will sound familiar to many: A historic neighborhood, home to traditionally transit-oriented apartments and modest single family homes, slowly becomes destitute and outdated as the automobile era drives population away from city centers. The neighborhood becomes derelict and neglected, but eventually, the bohemian counterculture — the artists, performers, musicians, and designers of a creative class — occupies and slowly kindles mainstream interest back into the area. Aside from retired, amenity-seeking empty nesters moving back into urban areas, most of these newcomers are young adults. There is a trend in these urban population shifts that is not often discussed — the study of college-aged students and their corresponding living patterns. Unlike other burgeoning urban neighborhoods, students occupy and dwell in a unique, confined location in close proximity to their college campus. Continue Reading

Ending racism in policing begins with the Red Tent

I was talking to Jose at work the other day about the recent deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner and the lack of indictments on the police officers who killed them. We both are appalled how it went down. While I’ve experience abuse of power at the hands of the police just a few times, Jose has had many negative, unprovoked, experiences in which the prejudice of the officer was the cause for the encounter and the tone of the exchange. As we talked I tried to make the point that while the officers are responsible for their actions the blame also is also on our culture and the police system that trained them. In part, they only did what they were raised to believe and trained to do. Continue Reading