MUSIC REVIEW | Adventurous, improvised music from Adam Linz and Paul Metzger

Sometimes when your summer days are much busier than you’d like, it’s nice to be transported, if only for an hour or two, to a calmer place with no deadlines, no rush hour and no answers, right or wrong. That’s what I most enjoyed about the inaugural gig at the new Thursday “adventurous improvised” music nights at the Khyber Pass Café in St. Paul. The summer-long series started June 12 with the Adam Linz / Paul Metzger Duo. Metzger plays a modified banjo; Linz plays an upright bass, often in a modified way.Their improvised set was created based on a set of African field recordings from the 1950s. Continue Reading

Grand Old Day 2014: Rain keeps it quiet

Rain or shine, St Paul has been enjoying Grand Old Day on the first Sunday in June for 41 years. While the big storm held off, 2014 certainly qualifies as a rainy year. The crowd seemed thinner this year, but cooler weather and lighter crowds made it easier to move around and see what was happening.The big day starts with a parade that heads west from Dale at 9:30 am and the fun continues until 6:00 pm. Five main stages feature a lineup of popular local acts such as Chastity Brown, Charlie Parr, White Iron Band, Black Diet and Central High School graduates Heiruspecs. The only bummer for music loving families is that you can’t get near the bands without a bracelet for 21+. Continue Reading

Twin Cities street art: Statues of Summit Avenue

Street art can take lots of forms. Mostly I’m interested in murals and graffiti but for years I’ve walked up and down Summit Avenue in St. Paul thinking someone should take a picture of all of these statues. The art of Summit Avenue is there to stay, which makes is a different breed from the more fragile street art forms. Sometimes it represents an investment in art that was made generations ago; sometimes it’s a more current investment that I’m sure will be around for generations to come. It’s personal expression for the well-heeled. The tone and topic are for the most part different. 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 | Fifty Shades of Gender begins to go into production

Fifty Shades of Gender is a project that I have been personally coordinating since around April of 2013. It’s been started as a documentary project focused on telling the stories and experiences of the transgender struggle from the perspectives of transgender individuals directed by a transgender identified person. The goals of this project include “looking at the fine points of the gender binary and questioning if these gender definitions are too rigid for us to all be living in. We aim to identify other gender identities, the struggles that we go through trying to fit into these binaries or beyond them, and what we can do to break down the boxes of simply male and female” “I really just want people to be educated about gender and trans* issues and learn how to treat us with respect and human dignity.  Raising awareness is the first step to changing things.” Says gender-queer identified participant, Ollie Schminkey.There will be discussions throughout the project on how our society currently defines gender from the day that we are born, the role of patriarchy, and the intersection of various other identities that are affected in relation to our assigned gender and personal gender identities. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | East Side of St. Paul is ‘out of sight, out of mind’ until a serious incident happens

In recent weeks, a devastating incident occurred on the Eastside of St. Paul where several teens allegedly beat a passerby until he was unconscious. This is a circumstance that no person should have to endure. One of the notable pieces of information that has surfaced is the fact that the passerby was white and the teens were African American. Although some within the broader community argue that the attack was based on race, the reality is that in light of the circumstances under which the attack occurred, the victim could arguably have been any individual who was within the vicinity of the young people in question. Actually, a similar severe beating of an innocent Black man, Edwin Daniel, by five young Somali men occurred on the Eastside just a few years prior to this most recent incident.The factors that contribute to these types of horrific episodes, including shootings by young people against other young people, may revolve around underlying issues at the intersection of race and poverty that are pervasive on the East Side of St. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | Brother Ali visits student protesters at Macalester College

Minnesota-based hip hop artist, Brother Ali, made an impromptu visit to a group of student activists protesting the administration’s relationship with Wells Fargo bank on Wednesday. Brother Ali, who continues to be active in the Occupy Homes MN movement, spoke to the students on the steps of Weyerhaeuser, Macalester College’s administrative building.The contingent of student protesters is associated with Occupy Homes MN and opposes the college’s partnership with Wells Fargo due to the bank’s foreclosure practices. The students launched a sit-in earlier this week, occupying the administrative building since 10 a.m., Tuesday.“What we’re really supposed to be doing is educating leaders for the future,” said Ali of higher education, “so what you’re doing is exactly what you’re supposed to be doing.”He added, “Students were the bulk of energy in the civil rights movement; students ended the war in Vietnam effectively; students have done a whole lot throughout time, and so this is a part of a legacy that you’re adding onto.”The student group brought their grievances to the attention of the administration months ago, beginning a yearlong dialogue about potential divestment from Wells Fargo and a reallocation of funds to a community bank. Dissatisfied with the pace of reform, the students issued a deadline to the administration for a final decision to be announced on Thursday, April 18.In response to the demands Macalester CFO, David Wheaton and Assistant Vice President for Finance, Kate Walker released a memo on behalf of the administration describing in detail their reasons for maintaining their business with Wells Fargo. While accurate data is difficult to access, they acknowledged that Wells Fargo may be the biggest forecloser in the state of Minnesota, but added that this may be a factor of Wells Fargo’s large market share, as opposed to a matter of aggressive policies particular to the bank.The memo noted that 70% of Wells Fargo’s mortgages are owned by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, and that those institutions are responsible for setting policy regarding foreclosure. Continue Reading