10. World’s toughest rodeo at the Xcel Energy Center: Say your prayers, Clovis Crane (by Bobby Kahn with photos by Meredith Westin, February 6)
Meredith provided typically gorgeous photographs to accompany this hilarious review by Bobby. “We were led through a prayer for the safety of the riders and the audience. Apparently that guy who told me that the separation of church and rodeo was still in effect was lying to my face. Next up was the national anthem…well, right after we said the Pledge of Allegiance, of course.”
9. Darkness on the edge of town: Paranormal radio hosts are believers and skeptics (by Courtney Algeo, October 31)
For a Halloween story, Courtney found “the best in paranormal talk radio” broadcasting nationally every weeknight from St. Louis Park. “I get 20, 30 e-mails” about any given topic, co-host Dave Schrader says, “and people saying ‘Thank you, I thought I was alone.’ And I’m like, ‘Really? You had sex with a midget Bigfoot?’”
8. Das Racist’s Himanshu Suri: “Why shouldn’t three colored people be able to be in a band that talks about race?” (by Becky Lang, January 20)
Since Bon Iver blew me off in 2008, this represented our first Daily Planet interview with an artist who went on to make the cover of SPIN. When Becky conducted this interview with Heems, little did either Becky or I know what shenanigans we’d get up to with Das Racist when they came to Carleton College for their debut Minnesota performance.
7. A marriage made in horror: Haunted Basement Halloween hookup leads to November wedding (by Jay Gabler, December 7)
When I heard about this strange-but-true story, I knew I had to write about it—if only to publish a story with that headline.
6. Hmong Fresh Traditions fashion show going strong in fifth year (by Liz Spielman with photos by Jeff Rutherford, October 18) and Somali Entertainment Awards rock the Cedar Cultural Center (by Barb Teed with photos by Jeff Rutherford, December 20)
Lots of publications say they value the Twin Cities’ diverse communities, but at the Daily Planet, we’re proud to actually walk the walk. We were the only publication in town to report from either of these events.
5. The brave new world of online journalism and the harsh reality of concert photography (by Jay Gabler, September 21) and Concert photography, journalism, and the future (by Jay Gabler, October 5)
I wrote a response to a post by City Pages music editor Andrea Swensson decrying the strong-arm tactics some national touring acts have started employing to control photos taken of their concerts; the debate hit a raw nerve among photographers and ultimately caused the Daily Planet to declare an official policy of non-cooperation with some of these tactics.
4. Backstage at the Academy Awards: Filthy dreams and solidarity with Wisconsin (by Barb Teed with photos by Jeff Rutherford, March 3)
Since I took the job of arts editor in 2007, I’ve had a goal to increase the quantity and scope of our arts coverage—but I never dreamed the Daily Planet would have a reporter backstage at the Oscars. For the second year, Barb held court in the “crying room” where winners meet the press immediately after they’re handed their statuettes.
3. Controversy over Duluth Festival Opera’s Pocahontas overflows to tears and curses in Burnsville (by Lisa Steinmann, October 6) and Local color? Questions linger about the funding and inclusiveness of Pocahontas opera (by Lisa Steinmann, October 28)
Legacy Amendment funding supported the local presentation of a new opera that infuriated many members of the Native community with what they called its insensitivity and lack of inclusiveness. “If this is the opera’s way of honoring the Indians,” one Native activist said straight to the creators’ faces, “it’s a fucking joke.”
2. 1419 and Love Power closed by the City of Minneapolis (by Sheila Regan and Jay Gabler, March 10)
This was our biggest arts news scoop of the year, and one of our most controversial stories. Billy Mullaney, a member of the theater collective who had built an abandoned West Bank storefront into one of Minneapolis’s hottest underground arts venues, blamed the landlords for provoking the authorities’ ire with “cocaine-fueled raves.” The landlords refused to talk to us, so we had to run the article without their side of the story; they later issued a statement saying that they didn’t condone illegal acts and that they intended to reopen the venues as soon as possible. Nine months later, both remain shuttered.
1. “I knew it was bad, I didn’t know how bad”: How the Southern Theater got here, and what happens next (by Sheila Regan, April 29); The Cowles Center: A new home for dance, or just for “dance”? (by Jay Gabler, September 11); The challenge of the Cowles Center: Why is Frank Sonntag leaving his “little place in heaven”? (by Sheila Regan, November 17)
2011 was supposed to be a breakthrough year for the Twin Cities dance community, as the long-awaited Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts finally opened its doors. The reality turned out to be much more ambiguous. First, the Southern Theater—the longtime hub of the local dance scene—imploded after years of financial mismanagement. Then, the Cowles Center opened with a fancy shindig that left many in the dance community wondering whether the organization could or would support independent choreographers. Concerns about whether the Cowles was a tenable home even for the relatively big companies were magnified when the center’s executive director abruptly announced his resignation just two months after the doors opened. For supporters of the Twin Cities’ perpetually underrated dance community, the events of 2011 inspired a lot of questions but provided few answers.
Most-read movie stories of 2011
1. Thor: Heavy hangs the hand that holds the hammer (or, Blondes really don’t have more fun) (by Jay Gabler, May 6)
2. Hanna: Big girls don’t die (by Jay Gabler, April 9)
3. Bridesmaids walks a tightrope down the aisle (by Jay Gabler, May 13)
4. Soul Surfer summons unexpected waves of emotion (by Jay Gabler, April 16)
5. Top ten movies of 2010: Jim Brunzell’s picks (by Jim Brunzell III, January 4)
6. Captain America: The First Avenger could have been worse (by Tony Libera, July 26)
7. 2011 Oscar nominations: More snubs than usual (by Jim Brunzell III, February 2)
9. Want to get a first glimpse of The Dark Knight Rises? You’ll have to pay for a different sequel first (by Jim Brunzell III, December 14)
10. Sorry, Miranda July: I walked out on The Future (Jay Gabler, August 12)
Most-read music stories of 2011
1. Glee! Live! In concert! ranges from gorgeously ethereal to cringe-inducing (by Marcus Michalik, June 6)
2. Taylor Swift turns the Xcel Energy Center into a teengirl fantasy land (by Sarah Heuer with photos by Jeff Rutherford, June 17)
3. Why we shouldn’t do a damn thing about the decline of classical music (by Jay Gabler, February 6, 2010)
4. Singer-songwriter Debbie Friedman dies (by Erin Elliot Bryan, January 13)
5. The brave new world of online journalism and the harsh reality of concert photography (by Jay Gabler, September 21)
6. Interview: Atmosphere’s Sean Daley (a.k.a. Slug) (by Justin Schell, May 9, 2008)
7. Hot Tuna’s Steady as She Goes: Yes, they do still make them like that (by Dwight Hobbes, March 29)
8. A Nod to Bob 2: Red House Records dip back into Dylan’s deep well (by Dwight Hobbes, May 9)
9. Prof’s King Gampo is rap at its worst (by Dwight Hobbes, September 5)
10. Moody Blues purvey psychedelia at the Orpheum Theatre (by Dwight Hobbes, June 20)
Most-read theater stories of 2011
1. Charley’s Aunt review was unfair to the Guthrie Theater/University of Minnesota BFA Acting Program (by Quinton Skinner, December 6)
2. After the Quake: Masterful storytelling by Walking Shadow Theatre Company (by Betsy Gabler, May 16)
3. H.M.S. Pinafore at the Guthrie Theater: For better or worse, Gilbert and Sullivan go electric (by Jay Gabler, June 26)
4. At the Guthrie Theater, Charley’s Aunt is a thuddingly non-farcical farce (by Sheila Regan, December 6)
5. La Cage Aux Folles: George Hamilton and a game flock of fowl play at the State Theatre (by Jay Gabler, October 20)
6. Jesus Christ Superstar at Chanhassen Dinner Theatres: Crucifixion blues (by Jay Gabler, February 24)
7. Theatre in the Round’s Hamlet is one for the ages (by Matthew A. Everett, April 5)
8. Top ten plays of 2011 (by Jay Gabler, December 20)
9. When thin ice breaks: In which the Daily Planet is disinvited from dinner (theater) (by Jay Gabler, August 17)
10. Twin Cities holiday theater guide: From naughty to nice (by Jay Gabler and Morgan Halaska, November 25)