Southwest Light Rail agreement draws criticism

The Metropolitan Council and the city of Minneapolis have announced a tentative agreement regarding the configuration of the Southwest Light Rail Project. The project’s path through the city of Minneapolis has been controversial, and the mediated agreement requires approval from a number of cities and government agencies before construction can begin. After the deal was announced yesterday, opponents weighed in as South West Light Rail Train advocates moved quickly to meet deadlines for getting federal money. Rico Morales filed this report. [Audio below]Find the original post here. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | You really don’t want to meet the Dicks at Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America

I’m not one to cry. Truth is, I rarely cry, but during a visit to Dick’s Resort in the Mall of America I was literally reduced to tears! The bartender was abusive, abrasive, and mean as HELL. I wasn’t sure why he was in a bad mood, but later found out that it is their “niche” to be mean as spitfire. Were they really trained to treat people like this, to the point of harassment? Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | The Big E sizes up MN GOP candidates

The Big E, confessing to Minnesita Progressive Project (MPP) readers and contributers, recently wrote that his heart no longer pines to hose down right wing sparkle ponies like Michele Bachmann or even review books by the likes of a Keith Ellison.  The Big E (known to his Minneapolis neighbors as Eric Pusey), is the founding scold of the MPP lefty sentry post and appears on the current edition of Democratic Visions as he retires from political blogging. After a moment of posing as a weary blogosphere elder  (as if blogging was old enough to earn elders), the smart, liberal confederate, prompted by an actual DFL elder,  Tim O’Brien, shines with bemused and bewildered takes on the current state of the Minnesota Republican Party and its clownish, hopeful State and Congressional candidates.   Mr. Pusey, who has splashed gleefully in the rushing stream of blogs, Tweets, Facebook twerking and probably Skype, does quite well in the “legacy” medium of television where I operate.  Fox Nine News knew that and for a while put him on from time-to-time.  But the Fox 9 News producers didn’t have the cojones to make him a regular pundit.   Too bad.  Mr. Pusey has good chemistry. This ten-minute Eric and Tim segment is yours to consider.  Its “tagged” (the TV producer’s sense of the word) with an homage to the late, great, populist troubadour Pete Seeger and Twin Cities activism thanks to the air guitar wonders -The Junk Yard Democrats, a peoples’ anthem, and creative editing.  Enjoy!  Enjoy!  Democratic Visions February Segments Ex-blogger Eric Pusey and Tim O’Brien on senate and gubernatorial hopefuls.Jon Spayde as a clinically depressed motivational speaker with advice for Republican hopefuls.I report on the DFL 48 Precinct Caucuses and present an award winning short film making change. Democratic Visions is handcrafted by Eden Prairie, Edina and Minnetonka volunteer Democrats at the Bloomington Community Access Television studio by arrangement with the Southwest Suburban Cable Commission. Democratic Visions Cable ScheduleMinneapolis – MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m.; Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield and Eden Prairie – Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m. Bloomington – BCAT Cable Channel 16 – Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m. The entire Feburary program and 183 archived Dem Vis segments can be seen on the Democratic Visions Channel on YouTube. Democratic Visions has become the  liveliest political issues show in Minnesota.   I know.  I produce the darned thing.   Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Carry permit holder fends off crowbar wielding intruder

Construction worker Craig Paulson was thinking about where to go for lunch as he worked on renovations inside a bank-owned residence in a quiet, tree-lined and well-manicured neighborhood in Uptown on one of the last days in November.His appetite and lunchtime thoughts quickly faded, however, when Paulson, working alone in a back room inside the residence on the 3300 block of Girard Avenue, turned around and found himself faced with a “large” man wielding Paulson’s own three foot crowbar just steps from where he was working.The lifelong construction worker and father of three kids of whom he has sole custody, said that the weather was pleasant that Tuesday morning and that’s why he’d left the door of the residence open and unlocked as he worked. “It’s a nice part of town,” Paulson followed, describing the startling and unexpected encounter with the intruder.Paulson said his crowbar alongside other construction tools had been lying on the floor just inside the front door of the residence where he had been working that morning, and he said that he suspects that the intruder picked up the crowbar when he entered the residence “and carried it throughout the house” until he found Paulson in the back room.Faced with the crowbar wielding intruder who then took a step toward Paulson, a large man himself at over 6 feet tall and 240 pounds, he said he could only imagine what the intentions may be of the intruder whose height “towered over” him, and whom Paulson described as having dilated pupils and acting “like he didn’t know what he was doing.”Instinctively, Paulson – who has a permit-to-carry a firearm and describes himself as a “lifestyle” carrier who has a gun on him “every moment” that he’s awake – reached for and drew his concealed firearm and pointed it at the crowbar wielding intruder.According to Paulson, the suspect then turned and fled dropping the crowbar on the way out of the house. Paulson watched the suspect flee to a parked passenger car about a half a block away where he got into the driver’s side of the vehicle, but Paulson said couldn’t tell if he got into the driver’s seat or the back seat of the vehicle as it sped away.Paulson dialed 911 and reported the incident to police who arrived a short time later and filled out a report calling the incident a “burglary of dwelling,” according to the police report. Paulson said the police told him that it’s “not uncommon” for suspects to enter homes through open doors in the spring and fall looking for items that they can quickly steal while the occupants may be in another part of the house or in the back yard.Despite the fact that police recorded the incident as a burglary, Paulson said he feels like he avoided a “potentially bad situation” that day that could have turned into something much worse. Paulson claims that the responding officer even said they “love the CCW guys.”The Minneapolis Police Department was contacted for this story and was asked whether there has been a pattern of similar incidents in that area or elsewhere in Minneapolis, and they were also asked for information about the frequency of reported incidents of defensive use of firearms by carry permit holders in Minneapolis. Continue Reading

Block party burnout: Barbette’s Bastille Day is less French than fries

Before I start with my opinion of Minneapolis’s Bastille Day 2013 I should let you know that, as usual, my expectations were unusually high. Perhaps I shouldn’t have read the Bastille Day Wikipedia page before attending; it’s blatantly clear that Minneapolis is nothing close to France in regard to aesthetic or tradition.It’s also fair to say that I’ve been getting a little fed up with the events in this city. It isn’t that I don’t appreciate them—there are plenty of cities and towns that have very little if anything going on, and I’m fortunate to live in a city that has so much going on, but I’m vexed with attending art shows that feature DJs playing music so loud that you can’t hear yourself talking about the art, or block parties where the only thing anyone shows up for is the beer.Bastille Day was a disappointment when, in the wake of the Zimmerman verdict, I really needed something to perk me up (though it’s an unfair request to ask of any event to make me feel better about something like that). I’m well aware that this isn’t going to be a popular opinion, and you’re more than welcome to respectfully disagree.I went to Bastille Day on a very specific mission: to find French pastries for my mother, who insisted they would be there. The only food Barbette was serving were burgers, fries, hotdogs, and beer which is basically the typical American menu for the summer—and every summer before. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | “Country Roads” with Dennis Curley: At the Bryant-Lake Bowl, John Denver’s music is as sweet as ever

Dennis Curley brings the music of John Denver to the Bryant-Lake Bowl in Country Roads: Dennis Curley Sings the Music of John Denver. If you are not familiar with the theater at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, let me tell you that on May 4 I felt like I was sitting in Curley’s living room surrounded by friends and family. This is the magic of John Denver’s music: it connects people to a simpler time and to shared memories. Not to mention that the audience did consist of friends and family of Curley and the four musicians who shared the stage with him—along with people like me, who love the music of John Denver.I saw a much different show at the State Theatre when members of John Denver’s band reunited for a tour that included video of Denver performing as a backdrop to their live performance. That show got me thinking about John Denver the man: how forward-thinking he was in the causes he championed but what a troubled personal life he had. However, I did not feel nearly as connected to Denver the musician as I did when I listened to Dennis Curley sing.I appreciated the fact that Curley covered many of Denver’s best-known hits but also introduced me to several songs that I was not familiar with. Continue Reading

“The Sapphires” director Wayne Blair: “You can walk out of the theater feeling a little more human”

The new musical dramedy The Sapphires has been a huge hit in its native Australia for close to a year now. It surprised audiences at the 2012 Cannes (where it was picked up by the Weinstein Company, and after its first screening had a standing ovation) and Toronto International Film Festivals, and even made a brief appearance in Minnesota, last October at the Twin Cities Film Festival. The Sapphires opens Friday, April 5, at the Lagoon Cinema, and its director, Wayne Blair, was in the Twin Cities last month to discuss this true story of four Aboriginal women who traveled from Australia to Vietnam and in other countries to perform for American soldiers.Blair, 41, acted in the original Sapphires stage show written by Tony Briggs, whose mother and three aunts were the real-life Sapphires; the group was Australia’s answer to the Supremes and other Motown artists. The Sapphires originally sang country-western tunes, until an Irish talent scout and manager named Dave (played by Bridesmaids’s Chris O’Dowd) convinces Gail (Deborah Mailman), Julie (Jessica Mauboy), Kay (Shari Sebbens), and Cynthia (Miranda Tapsell) to turn their music styles into R&B and the Motown sound. The film is not only about the love for great Motown tunes, but delivers a little unseen history lesson in the way that Aboriginal population were treated by their fellow Australians until 1967, when Aboriginals were finally given full citizenship.Blair and I started off the conversation by talking about Prince and Blair’s love of sports, and how he has slowly been getting into American sports like NFL football and NBA basketball. When he was younger, he played cricket and rugby; he describes cricket as “similar to hockey, but less contact,” and is surprised to know that Maya Rudolph’s Prince tribune band Princess was playing at First Avenue the next evening. Continue Reading

“On the Road” director Walter Salles talks about filming an “unfilmable” novel

Since its release in 1957, Jack Kerouac’s “Beat Generation” semi-autobiographical novel On the Road has become an American literary classic. It is also one of those rare novels that seemed untouchable for years to turn into a feature film, documentary, mini-series, television series, or any medium where it could be viewed on either a big theater screen or a big-screen television.The legend of people wanting to turn the novel into film is one that started shortly after the novel was published: Kerouac sent a letter to convince Marlon Brando to play Dean Moriarty; Kerouac could play Sal Paradise. Brando never answered the letter. Skip to 1979 where writer/director, Francis Ford Coppola bought the rights to the novel. Over the years, he wanted various screenwriters, directors and actors to bring the novel to life on screen. Continue Reading

Jeffrey Skemp presents a cacophony of poetry at the Bryant-Lake Bowl

Despite a great number of near-meets, sightings, and acknowledgements of friends-of-friends, I still haven’t met poet Jeffrey Skemp. Prior to October 18, I had watched him read once, at the Hazel and Wren Words at WAM open mic last February, and in June, noticed him watching (and enjoying) Sierra DeMulder, Haley Lasche, Cary Waterman, and Richard Robbins reading at a Maeve’s Session, while I sat hoping that he would get up and read as part of the open mic. No dice.

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“The Perks of Being a Wallflower” is poignant perfection

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a unique and bold take on the traditional coming-of-age storyline. Yes, a high school freshman has trouble fitting in. Yes, there are members of cliques clustered together in the cafeteria. And yes, there is an “untouchable” girl the protagonist pines for. But this film rips deeper than many in its genre by taking a long, focused look at uncomfortable topics like death in the family, suicide, LSD, depression, homophobia, and physical and mental abuse. And oh yeah, there’s also enough comedy to make you laugh till your jaw is sore. Continue Reading