Archive for the 'Making the world a better place' Category

This is why I love the Neverthriving Juggling Club

No one remembers exactly when Matthews Park started opening their multipurpose room to a small, ragtag group of geeks and students every Monday night, so they could have a free, massive, indoor, high-ceiling place to practice throwing and catching more objects than they had hands with which to do so. What I know for sure is that I started attending these casual sessions circa late summer 1982, which everyone agrees was probably only a few months after its inception.

Nearly 30 years later, it’s still happening – and it’s still free.

The Neverthriving Juggling Club is a place where new jugglers practice, old jugglers socialize and ill-prepared non-jugglers get props thrust into their hands and a lesson, no matter how strongly they protest.

It doesn’t get much more wholesome than this. Free juggling lessons, free practice space, without having in bring your own equipment (at least not initially), open to all ages. Moreover, when you decide you need to take a break from dropping things and picking them up off the ground, the free entertainment of watching some of the best jugglers in the country practice and goof off is the juggling equivalent of watching the sound check at Lollapalooza.

As we careen into yet another rumored-to-be long and brutal winter, this weekly indoor escape and excuse to wear a tank top is pretty hard to beat. And did you know that juggling actually makes you smarter? I kid you not.

The Neverthriving folks are also largely responsible for putting together the annual MONDO Jugglefest, one of the largest, annual gatherings of jugglers, unicyclists and yo-yo enthusiasts in the country, coming up on February 17-19, 2012.

Further to the previous promise of free entertainment at Neverthriving, here’s a video of me and MPLSSteve doing, well, the uniquely ungraceful yet lively thing that we do best, passing six clubs.

The Minnesota Neverthriving Juggling Club
Monday nights from approximately 7:00 pm till 9:00 pm
Matthews Recreation Center
2318 29th Ave So

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Juggling, Making the world a better place | 21.11.2011 16:45 | Comments Off on This is why I love the Neverthriving Juggling Club

Get out the vote!

Last Thursday I joined about 4,000 people at the Minneapolis Convention Center to see the “Five Days to Change Rally” with Bill Clinton, featuring Al Franken and Amy Klobuchar.

Now I’m passionate about this election. So passionate that it’s been keeping me up at night, cursing loud enough for my neighbors to hear, while listening to an all-star cast of professional weasels and failed lobotomy patients exalting the likes of John “McRage” McCain, Sarah Palin, Norm Coleman and Michelle Bachman. Under normal circumstances, if it would guarantee an election sweep for Elwyn Tinklenberg, Keith Ellison, Al Franken and Barack Obama, I’d give my life savings. I’d cut off a minor appendage. I’d stop drinking Strongbow. That’s how much I care about this election. But, quite frankly, by the end of the rally on Thursday, I’d have given the same things just for a chair, 800 milligrams of Ibuprofen, and my mommy.

What a marathon, ill-conceived, demoralizing clusterf*ck that rally was. Counting standing in line, most people had been there for well over four hours by the time we limped out of there.

What took so long? Well, it turned out to be a little more than three exciting speakers. Most of that time was taken up by listening to the exact same speech paraphrased eight times, imploring, badgering and brainwashing us to spend the final five days before the election door knocking and calling people to get them to vote. It was, to put it kindly, f*cking absurd.

First we were talked at four times, starting with two teenagers, then a parade of officials including Mayor R.T Rybak and Congressman Keith Ellison. Then there was a 15 minute break. People in the crowd were already getting antsy. Looking at their watches, shifting their weight to relive the discomfort of standing on concrete. Some sat on the floor.

Then it was time for the main event. Whoops not yet. Actually, we heard the same volunteer sermon four more times, including from former VP Walter Mondale and, finally, Amy Klobuchar.

When Amy left the stage, there was a hopeful hush. Was it time for the Al and Bill Show? No, it was not. Instead, they played a babbling, 20-some minute video-taped speech by Al Gore, given almost a month ago when he swung through town.

Then there was a 20 minute break. Who the hell were all these breaks for? The audience was suffering from fatigue, boredom and in my case debilitating lower back pain. We didn’t need breaks, we needed dinner. Indeed, people were throwing in the towel and leaving. Many others were sitting or full-on sprawled out on the floor. This picture, taken during the second break, fails to capture the sea of people that had collapsed to the floor, because when I took it, I was too weak to stand myself. When volunteers and organizers mingled through the crowd trying to get people fired up chanting and clapping, most of us only had the strength to look up and scowl. They were losing the crowd, a crowd of rabid supporters, very fast.

Finally, Al and Bill came out together and, between the two of them, managed to breathe a little life back into the audience. They gave great speeches, but the momentum was hopelessly gone. The two were still on the stage waving their goodbyes as people lamely hobbled for the exits, elbowing past and avoiding eye contact with organizers with clipboards wanting to sign up volunteers.

My back was sore for two days. I might have volunteered if I hadn’t already felt that I’d done all I could physically do for the campaign by simply standing there until the bitter end.

So, since I did not door knock or call anyone, I’m posting this reminder for everyone to get out and vote tomorrow. We can’t get this ass-stomping done without everyone’s vote.

Also, I’m posting this to remind future rally organizers that their audience is not a bunch of indestructible robots. Next time, cut the goddamn running time in half, if you want anyone to leave the joint with anything on their minds other than food and convalescence.

Events, Making the world a better place, Rants | 3.11.2008 15:21 | 3 Comments

New initiatives (for people smarter than me to spearhead)

As many of you know, I’m out of the country, heroically making the guidebook world a better place. But I’m still very distracted by the events going on at home, particularly after watching the Politician Pride Parade a couple Sundays ago – which somehow got planned and executed at the exact same time and place as what I was told would be a Gay Pride Parade, but I digress

Watching that spectacle of hopeful candidates, and now with Uncle Jesse in the fray, each of them being at a singular, desperate point in their lives where they’ve never been more susceptible to suggestion, has gotten me thinking about my city, state and country and some random, yet profound ways to improve them all.

Now I’d love to drop my profuse obligations to research and write about Romania, guns and poop and personally champion these initiatives, but unfortunately I effing hate politics. With my ultra-low bullshit tolerance threshold and increasingly delicate temper, I’m the last person that should be allowed to speak directly to a genuine politician. I have incredibly strong instincts in so far as identifying crazy people, liars and duplicitous weasels. I can spot these people from 20 yards away, before they even open their mouths. It’s like a Spidey Sense for insanity and assholes. But rather than flip 30 feet in the air and land on the offender’s head, accompanied by a witty remark, I’m overcome with a bug-eyed, speechless, semi-paralysis type loathing until I’m led away by my handlers.

Equally I reverently admire the people genuinely trying to make a difference that have the patience and diplomacy to immerse themselves in that endlessly infuriating milieu. So to those brave, thick-skinned people, here’s my wish-list of initiatives to put into motion as we enter the weak-willed, I’ll-do-anything-for-your-vote phase of pre-election campaigning:

Ban Metro Transit from raising fares for five years, forcing them to use more than four and a half brain cells during budget meetings.

While we’re talking transport, find a way to give commuters cash for not using their cars. Something like $1 a day for people on public transport and $2 for people on bike/foot. That’s about $20 and $40 at the end of every month respectively. No idea how to check or enforce this. Sounds like a job for my best friend of all time: Somebody Elseski.

Drop the fine for non-use of turn signals to $50, but enforce it more rigorously. I know a guy that got stopped for not using his turn signal on a deserted street by a cop that supposedly witnessed his infraction from three blocks away. It was something like a $200 fine! That’s bullshit, quota-starved, power-drunk, over-fed swine behavior right there. Since we’ll never be able to outlaw that kind of BS, make the fine more digestible for hapless victims of cranky cops. Equally, I almost got killed two weeks ago because some mouth-breathing asshat with a cell phone to one ear not only ignored my conspicuous presence, but didn’t signal the left turn he took three feet in front of my speeding bike. We gotta remind those people that driving is a dedicated, one-trick-pony task, not an inconvenient distraction from personal endeavors.

Pedestrianize Nicollet Mall on weekends. I’m talking no buses, no taxis, nothing. Let people stroll/bike/blade down the middle of the street. Allow kiosks selling snacks and street performers. Give all neighborhoods the green light to make similar arrangements. Hundreds of cities in Europe do this. It builds a priceless sense of community, which downtown in particular desperately needs. We gotta pull our heads out of our Ameri-centric asses and recognize that Europe’s got it goin’ on.

On that note, legalize topless sunbathing. It’s 2008. Time to deconstruct this country’s sexual uptightness. Think this is trivial (or that I just wanna see more boobies)? More boobies and my airtight theory on how they can could effect world peace notwithstanding, I’m more concerned/embarrassed/enraged by how we’re screwing ourselves and the world with shit like Iraq, global warming and our healthcare system, while headline news is dominated by stuff like John Ashcroft covering the exposed breast of the Spirit of Justice statue, Janet Jackson’s wardrobe malfunction and Miley Cyrus’ bare back (bare back!?!) in Vanity Fair. I can’t even look my European friends in the face when stuff like that leads the news three nights straight and the triple suicide bomb story gets third billing. So, set those boobies free, if only so there’ll be one less thing to piss me off. Sure, there’ll be a Pervert Interval which admittedly may take an entire generation to eradicate, but you gotta start somewhere – but imagine the long-term relaxed attitudes and decreased sexual objectification (“Girls Gone Wild” will be bankrupt in no time). Look up the sexual assault numbers for places like Holland/Norway/Italy/Romania. The prosecution rests. If we can pull this off, we’ll tackle the Metric System next.

And I already know what you amateur voyeur photographers are thinking, so while we’re at it, we’ll make unwanted video/photography of sunbathers (even with cell phone cameras) a crime punishable by a $20,000 fine, plus civil damages and organized public embarrassment.

Oh and another thing about the news: establish an oversight committee to harshly prosecute media outlets employing ‘Scare News’ tactics, like the recent AP story about the alleged ‘danger’ of airplane go-arounds, deconstructed by my level-headed buddy Brett over at Cranky Flier. That same committee can monitor TV news shows for more equally distributed air-time. The current allotments for 30 seconds of international news followed by eight minutes of sports is totally effed.

Decriminalize vendetta murders.

Actually, that last one is just a distraction to soften them up for when we suggest the decriminalization of possessing soft drugs in quantities deemed acceptable for personal use. Why did Jesse, of all people, wuss out on this one? Time to toss this one back at him. You know Franken will be game. Do a seven-year trial run. License sellers. Do routine product/quality inspections. Tax it. Whatever. It’s overdue. That’ll free up ridiculously wasted prison space so we can go medieval on anyone possessing/buying/selling hard drugs.

Fire all those pinhead Homeland Security assholes who have seemingly started deporting people out of sheer boredom and/or wanting to satisfying performance reviews – and only rehire people with the following prerequisites:
o Four year college degree
o Traveled abroad independently (i.e. not military, package trips or groups) to at least six different nations for a minimum of three months cumulatively
o Speak at least one foreign language
o Pass rudimentary geography, history, cultural awareness and current events exams
o Demonstrate common sense, compassion and basic decency
o (You know what would be funny? If they couldn’t find enough available candidates with the above prerequisites to fill all the positions and they ended up having to hire foreigners.)

Start a three year plan to phase out all unsolicited paper-mail catalogues and advertisements, with a long-term goal of an opt-in, email distribution solution.

That’s all for now. Certainly not comprehensive to creating peace on Earth, but it’s a strong start. Good luck!

Making the world a better place | 15.07.2008 6:00 | 8 Comments