Archive for December, 2007

Carl Pohlad – 2007 Suckubus of the Year

Watch out! He's gonna get you with his suckubus claw!!(Yes, I spelled ‘succubus’ with a ‘k’ on purpose, for comic effect)

First off, since this is the first TIWILM yearend award ever, we’ll retroactively give Pohlad the Suckubus of the Year title every year all the way back to 1995 when I first realized that he was going to dupe my city out of nearly 400 million dollars. Actually, back in 1995 it was only going to be 300 million, and we were going to get a retractable dome stadium for that tidy sum, but inflation and even stupider politicians have managed to get us less for more. Also, it took 10 years for Pohlad to learn how to parallel park his P.R. Spin Bus without touching the taxpayer curb and lure all the county commissioners down to his evil scientist lab where he shoved hoses up their nostrils and sucked 50 IQ points out of their brains.

Here’s the ugly truth: the new stadium will cost an estimated 522 million dollars. Since no stadium has been built at or under budget since Roman times, let’s call it 600 million by the time the last screw is turned and the final Port-O-John bill is paid. Rounding up and adjusting for going over budget, about 400 million of this sum will ultimately come from Hennepin County courtesy of a new 0.15% sales tax. That’s an awful lot of money just to make one rich old man even richer.

But wait, this stadium is going to benefit all of us right? Increased downtown revenue, higher profile sports scene, more satisfied fans… Hold on, that’s the brainwashing script that Pohlad’s stooges have been whispering into our ears as we sleep. After 10 years of that insufferable osmosis repetition, he’s succeeded in confusing and/or re-programming enough people to get his stadium built.

Let’s boil this down to simple terms, then expose the absurdity of it all and finally explore a few ways for us innocent bystanders to recoup our money…
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Rants | 28.12.2007 23:37 | 5 Comments

Hardcore tailgating

It’s the eve of Christmas Eve.

It’s 12 degrees outside.

We’re in the middle of a winter storm warning.

The Vikings game starts in a little less than three hours.

Some people’s children.


Downtown | 23.12.2007 17:39 | 1 Comment

Surdyk’s holiday sale ends today!

I can’t believe I haven’t gotten around to writing a fawning post about Surdyk’s yet. And now there’s no time!  Their holiday sale ends today!  Run, RUN!!!

I was there last night and saved mucho dinero on seven bottles of Chilean wine in my effort to extend the good vibes from my recent trip. Chilean wine is pretty cheap to start, and when you factor in the sale, well you simply can’t afford to not buy some. If you don’t drink wine, it’s the perfect budget gift to give (to me).

Even though it’s not on sale, I must pimp the Casa Silva Carménère (only $11.49). Seasoned winos will immediately note that the Carménère grape was all the rage for a squillion years until a Phylloxera plague in Europe was believed to have wiped it out in 1867. A cache of Carménère was re-discovered in Chile in 1994, having been mistaken by local growers in the interim as its first cousin, merlot.

Never mind the genuine buzz imparted by the whopping 14% alcohol volume, sipping a glass of an almost-lost-forever wine varietal is a sweet little wine-appreciator thrill, without dropping ridiculous coin.

On that note, my bottle of Carménère disappeared last night (among others) and will need replacing today, right after a helping of huevos pericos, God’s gift to hangover breakfasts, over at Maria’s. See you there.

303 East Hennepin Ave.
Minneapolis, 55414

Booze | 15.12.2007 11:03 | 2 Comments

Winter bike safety

Judging from my visitor stats, many of you probably found my blog via Metroblogging, so this probably won’t be news to most, but just in case, I wanted to highlight a recent post by Erica about winter bike safety.

Having just returned from Chile’s sun and warmth yesterday, even though I had been forewarned by numerous wretchedly jealous friends via email, I was nevertheless stunned by the cold and snow that appeared while I was away.

If memory serves, Minnesotans need a good month or so to re-learn how to drive in slippery conditions each winter and double goes for cyclists since the consequences for even minor accidents can be disastrous.

As for me, well, my bike has been retired. Not only does my work-of-art, pencil-thin, zero-friction road bike have no business tooling around in these conditions, but I’m still tiptoeing around here with no health insurance, so I’ve gotta scale back the risky business until I get myself some kind of coverage in this country.

That said, props to all the people still on two wheels out there. You’re insane, but I love you anyway.

Biking | 13.12.2007 10:03 | 2 Comments

Hello from Santiago

Folks, I’m just a few hours away from wrapping up my four and five star trip through Chile. But am I sitting back and letting these final hours wind down unproductively? Perish the thought. I’m a professional. When I’m on the road, I work like a miserable dog right down to the final buzzer. That’s what makes an outstanding travel writer people.

As such I am writing to you now with only my left hand. My right hand is holding a generous pour of Carménère, a French wine grape thought to be lost forever until it was re-discovered in Chile in 1994. The rest of me, from the tits on down, is immersed in a Ritz Carlton Hotel signature wine bath. Don’t talk to me about dedication. I am Mr. Dedication. Where’s my goddamn Nobel Peace Prize?

I caved to the wine bath idea after repeated insistence by the hotel’s public relations manager. Strangely, I thought it was just a bit over the top after the one hour relaxation massage, swanky lunch, repeated trips to the Jacuzzi and three indulgent nights in one of his Club Level Rooms. But I am nothing if not cooperative, so I relented.

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Uncategorizable | 11.12.2007 16:19 | Comments Off on Hello from Santiago

Who knew I was so blissful?

geographyofbliss.jpgI’ve just finished reading and reviewing a new travel book for Gadling by first time author Eric Weiner called “The Geography of Bliss: One Grump’s Search for the Happiest Places in the World” (see the review here).

Great read, but more importantly, it made me reflect on my own Bliss Factor which clocked in unexpectedly high. I know that sounds improbable coming from a guy who’s blog posts in the past month have focused mainly on places that he hates and how pissed off he is, but there you have it.

I’m like an enigma wrapped inside an onion, baked inside a five-tiered wedding cake. Peel away all the layers and you still have no f*cking clue what going on.

So, why am I happy? Well, for starters I have the fourth greatest job in the history of the universe (for the record, it goes: 1. rock star, 2. movie star, 3. Playboy Playmate talent scout, 4. adorable travel writer), I’ve had the best year of my freelancing career, I’ve just moved back to my beloved Minneapolis, I got my mojo workin’ and as you read this I am very likely soaking in a Jacuzzi on an adventure cruise ship, meandering up and down Chile’s Patagonia coast, having just returned from a helicopter day trip to a prime fly fishing locale, drinking a variety of Chilean wine and eating three gourmet meals a day, prepared exhibition style so I can take mental notes on cooking tips. In a couple days I’ll be checking into the Ritz Carlton in downtown Santiago (where it’s in the low 80s, in case those of you in MN were wondering) for three punishing nights of discovering the city’s food and drink offerings.

Can you blame me?

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Uncategorizable | 3.12.2007 12:00 | Comments Off on Who knew I was so blissful?