Monday, January 31, 1994

Lazy Landfill Day

I didn't think I'd live to see the day when we have a shortage of green tags to price. VOUS SAVOIR DIFFERENCE` AUSSI. Like you're a major metropolitan newspaper who develops a philosophy that tries to shape the news rather than just report it. So the Tribune has decided on a policy where they will not use Indian sports names. Rather than call them the Chiefs or the Braves, they will now be known as the Kansas City football team, or Ted Turner's baseball team. Since when is this a newspaper's job? Where does it stop, do we refer to the KKK, a name with ugly connotations, as hostile men in white sheets? I, myself being of a different ethnic heritage would not be offended by a name like the St. Paul Samurai, but it might be different with a name like the Minneapolis Yellowskins. Beauty is in the eye. . . NOM DES INDIANS.

Shouldn't be a surprise though, if you look at all the pub the proposed Target Center buyout has gotten compared to the coverage of Fingerhut's decision to look for a different location. The Timberwolves, the main occupant of the sports arena, employ about the same number of employees as our company. Fingerhut on the other hand, has thousands of people working for them. The media sets the agenda. Speaking of hype, yes, "Schindler's List" is a must see. It is one of the few movies that earns its ending. I think my medication is wearing off however; I find myself weeping at the end of every movie I see including last week's viewing of "Cool Runnings.

Sacks and Violins. And Mark, part of your excellent story last week jarred a long forgotten Cheapo memory. I was working with Johnny "Jack" Baynes at the old Cheapo East store. We were ringing up customers. Jack was finishing up with an elderly gentleman, and politely if not succinctly asked, "Sack?" The man looked at him as though he was speaking Russian (which after all was Jack's major at Macalester). "Sack?" Jack repeated. "Sack?" he said holding up the item. "Sack?" I finally interrupted, "Would you like a bag?" "Oh yes," the man said. EVITER ARGOTIQUE! It was the darndest thing.

Well it's been a rather slow afternoon at Landfill. I've seen seven of our regulars though, making our being here worth it for those poor lost souls. Shopping experience: I was looking to ship my old word processor to our correspondent out east. My father told me of these packaging places that pack the item and ship it off UPS. Knowing my abilities in wrapping holiday gifts, I decided this was exactly the route I should take. I dug out the box the typewriter came in. It was squished beyond use. I did still have the Styrofoam inserts so I packed the typewriter in those and headed off to the Packaging Store. Once there I put my clunky merchandise on the counter. The man behind the counter looked at me without saying a word. After an awkward moment of silence I finally said, "I'd like to send this UPS." The man shook his head and said, "You can't send it that way." And I nearly blew up. He wasn't exactly dealing with a chimp. Snotty, naughty me said, "You're the professional perhaps you can come up with a solution, like maybe sticking it in a box first?"

Well it's nearly closing time. One of my last customers called me "Homey" as in you can ring me up now "Homey." It was the first time I've been called that. I'm touched.

Monday, January 24, 1994

Figure of Eight

"You've got me running in a figure of eight, don't know if I'm coming or going, I'm early or late. Round and round that ring I go, I want to know, I want to know."

Disbelief, for some is an all too familiar state of affairs. One of the best quotes I've heard over the past few years came from George Harrison who was asked if he would consider participating in a "Beatles' reunion." "I will if John will," George said. So news this week of the three surviving fab four getting back together was a bit of a shocker.

But not the big one. What a wacky week of news! What a series of events! The end result? I've given my heart away to that very special lil' figure skatin' lady. I've dispatched our correspondent to Portland to relay the message: "Get rid of that goofy Gilhooey and together we'll form the next Tai and Randy, or at the very least Whitney and Kevin. Marry me Tonya; dorky as I may be, I'm not as daffy as what you now face. This is too damn peculiar. I don't care what others say about you. I only care about us." What a pleasure to lift my own personal burden! To open up, to come forward with my feelings allows me to feel them.

Where did it begin? When did my feelings take root? It's hard to say, difficult to pinpoint. Shirley I was influenced by the low cut little homemade outfits. Misfits. Maybe it was the triple axle (write word wrong combination). The cigarettes? The all too familiar label of "rough around the edges"?

What was the clincher? The timing was right, call it fate. Seeing my wife to be, kneeling on an engine, diagnosing a mechanical problem in her car just as I was having troubles with my own clutch. This woman has it all and is too good to believe. When she calls out for the cliché, "light at the end of this tunnel" I can forgive her and be there for her. At the very best she is guilty of hanging around the wrong crowd, and at the very worst I'll be there when she gets out of jail.

Cynics would say I'm only after the money of this woman with a now even more tainted reputation. But I would reply that besides the "Club" what other endorsements are in Tonya's future? No it's more than that. A gold medal is only worth so much, but true love overcomes all obstacles and dilemmas.

True, I have always had a thing for figure skaters. Don't get me started about Katrina Witt (I swear it wasn't me on the tapes). But I would be the first to say Nancy Kerrigan is a ditz and that she benefits from this (OK she endured a horrible experience and a wounded knee) doesn't seem right. Grow up in the wrong part of the wrong town and you're labeled for life. Tonya will have to come to that realization sooner or later.

Sports scandals have been around longer than socks (not the kitty). Back in 1919 Joe Jackson and other members of the Chicago White Sox allegedly threw away the World Series. This led to the famous scene where a youngster approached "Shoeless Joe" in stunned disbelief and cried, "Say it ain't so Joe, say it ain't so." Now little girls with figure of eights in their eyes, and cranky, old state employees, might echo the phrase or maybe amend it to something like: "How's about a sauna Tonya?"

Slip Slidin Away

Editor's Note: The following is one version of a story that appears in a different form later on in this issue. We thought since we have the space, we would share a work in progress. Sit back and take notes, notice what works and who doesn't. We'd like to hear what version you think better. Be sure to use concrete examples. This will not be graded only judged.

Listen up kiddies and let your Pappy tell you a story of intrigue and romance, of a familiar attraction to a femme fatale. Far from lurid and sordid this is a story of love and global warming.

It all began on one of those famous chilly Minnesota nights. Pappy was a-sittin with his pal, Max the cat, watching Dan and Connie, or as Pappy used to call them, America's favorite news couple, on the evening news. Max was a-droolin and a-spittin food, and Pappy was sippin on a Snapple and puffing on his pipe.

Well, America's favorite news couple told a story about how a skater named Nancy K. was whacked across her knee by a big, burly bully. Nancy was trying out for the Olympic team and this incident seemed to throw a wrench, or some kind of large metallic object into her dreams. "Why me?" she cried over and over. "Shuddup," Pappy selfishly screamed at his TV.

At the time, people took it as another crazy, random act of senseless violence. We were given analysis after analysis about the larger meaning of the attack, the continuing crumbling of society with lunatics at large. But as it all unfolded, it turned out that minions in Ms. K's competitor's camp had plotted the attack led by the (former?) husband and bodyguard of the spunky, young blonde from the wrong side of the tracks. There was a large conspiracy at work to arrange for this young blonde skater to eliminate Ms. K and clear a path towards the gold medal and endorsement money that athletics were all about.

Shocked and enthralled, the story gripped America tighter than a fifty below wind-chill, more shocking than yet another California earthquake. The events seemed beyond belief, beyond a Hollywood melodrama. It even had a bittersweet ending. Ms. K's competition's entourage was brought to justice, the competition run out of town, clearing the way for Nancy to win a bronze metal, and become an American generation's spokesperson for soup.

"What happened to the blonde, Pappy?" one of the children queries. "Well son," Pappy says. "You now know her as mom." (The children let out an audible gasp.)

"See when Pappy saw a wronged soul, he knew what he had to do, he had to meet this young woman and make her his wife. He didn't care about the accusations saying she was involved in the whacking. He saw a tough individual who even seemed to be thriving on the extra attention. But Pappy also saw beneath the tough exterior, a heart of a child. That her lower class upbringing became a motive for the attack seemed to him, unfair. Your Pappy himself was reminded of another time, of pool playin, whiskey drinkin, cigarette smokin, days when he would go and ponder the significance of it all by driving to Arizona and looking at a big hole in the ground. The journey we took is one I'd never leave behind." The children looked satisfied as well as confused and also a bit sleepy.

"So go unlace your skates, kiddies, and I'll go help your momma fix the car. . ."

Monday, January 17, 1994

Ms. Saigon

"Paradise, sacrifice, mortality, reality. But the magician is quicker and his game is much thicker than blood and blacker than ink. And it's too cold to think."

Pardon moi, squeeze me, but let me see if I have this straight. A group of individuals representing me among many others, is upset with the arrival of the production of "Miss Saigon" in the Twin Cities. The group is protesting the stereotypical portrayal of Asian Americans and women in the play.

So, a musical has one dimensional characters who are more like caricatures than accurate and fleshed out individuals, perpetuating and playing on beliefs already sadly embedded in American culture? On top of that the story stretches believability beyond its breaking point? Hmmmm. Boy, I'd say that's pretty damn unusual for a musical.

"China doll, alcohol, duality, mortality. Mercury rules you and destiny fools you like the plague, with a dangerous wink. And it's too cold to think."

I haven't seen "Miss Saigon", thus have no intellectual, emotional, or philosophical thought on the matter (as if I ever would). I had no interest until, like in many of these situations, all the controversy came to light. Now for the sake of all the brouhaha, I'd like to be able to see what the fuss is about.

"Equality, liberty, humility, simplicity. You glance through the mirror and there's eyes staring clear at the back of your head as you drink. And it's too cold to think."

I'm all for protest and pointing out instances where people just accept what is presented without a second thought (let alone in many cases, a first one). The first rule of journalism is to ask why the person in front of you is lying. Never hurts to question. I even admire the passion this group showed in picketing the opening night of the show in some of the coldest weather of recent memory (and I'd say that even if my sister wasn't one of the protesters). But this is trying to be "art" and on top of that it's a musical. Since when do musicals even pretend to represent reality in any type of believable way?

Musical plays by their nature and history present characters and stories in broad and often times dumb ways. Because of their high brow background ("let's go to the theatre tonight Mervyn") they have become a part of the elite culture. But they don't mean anything that is remotely real to "real" people.

An artist has the freedom to create statements in their own voice whether it be politically correct or not. Dissect most stage plays and you'll come up with characters who lack a lot of development. If they are interpreted as symbols, they will fall flat, like biting into one of those creme filled chocolate Easter eggs- hard on the outside but gooey in the middle. Energy should be conserved during these Arctic times. Skip the play, go to a movie, watch TV, thow dust protest too much. It's probably more effective just to whack your foes across the knee with a crowbar.

"Mercury, gravity, nobility, humility. You know you can't keep her and the water gets deeper that is leading you onto the brink. But it's too cold to think."

Monday, January 3, 1994

1993 Newsletter Woman of the Year

We learned in '93, let's do more in '94! Hi! my name is Dave and you may know me as your newsletter editor, but I'm much more than that. I'm your friend. I hope each and every one of you had a safe but festive holiday season. Was Santa good to those of you who believe in such things? Did we all eat a little too much? Tee hee, oh well. I myself did what I do every New Year's Eve: I got together with my volunteer firemen friends, got really drunk and tried to flush a canned ham down the toilet.

It's time now, to unveil (as it were) our second annual "Woman of the Year" award. The list of qualified candidates was once again long and impressive. It took our best ferret like qualities to skim down to our finalists. It was a difficult final decision, but the committee is satisfied with its choice. Here now is one more list:

-Anyone who saw Hillary Rodham (Abdul Jabbar) Clinton's testimony before Congress last summer on the Administration's health care plan, had to be amazed. For the first time in recent memory, the most powerful person in the western hemisphere seems to be a knowledgeable, alert, bright person who actually can articulate a thought eloquently.

-There's also Cindy Crawford who is the epitome of what a leggy supermodel can be. Exercise videos, fashion shows, that birthmark, and on top of it all, a marriage to that super hunk, Richard Gere. This midwestern woman from Illinois clearly has demonstrated how far good looks can take you.

-The lady that got the most media attention this past year was our friend NAFTA. Despite its political and social implications, and the impressive publicity, it probably won't have the impact of its sister, GATT. And no Pedro, don't you believe the rumors that the newsletter is on the verge of relocating in Mexico. (Although a French edition has been considered for our Mountie friends up north.)

-Also considered were those wacky cartoon kids, Beavis and Buthead- such a ruckus over the mockery and celebration of teenagers. No, the boys never actually blew up a cat, just thought about it. I think I've figured out Beavis, but I'm not so sure I know Butthed. All I know is MTV came up with a winner when it created Beavis and Budhead and we hope they don't lose their backbone facing the pressure of those who would blame the boys for everything from the Kennedy assassination to the rise in teenage gingivitis.

-The last runner up to make the cut was radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh. It was another busy year what with a best selling book, a hip, number one rated radio show, and a not so well received television show. Rush has gone from a nickel and dime pompous windbag to the most powerful (and vocal) opponent of the President. It's all an act of course, but the frightening part is listening to all those dittoheads out there who actually take it seriously and believe it.

-And the 1993 Woman of the Year is: St. Francis of Assisi. One of the most popular movies of the year was that epic, "Free Willy" who made the issue of animal rights even more PC. St. Francis may go in and out of style, but he goes beyond trends, has been durable and dependable and always will be. That makes him the ultimate Woman of the Year. Congratulations to our favorite patron saint of the animals.