Archive for the 'Rants' Category

This Is Why I Love the Skyway Redux and Official Skyway Etiquette Primer

I’ve already written at length about why the Skyway is one of downtown Minneapolis’ greatest assets and I wrote that before I even lived in a Skyway connected building. I have since spent half a winter in a euphoric, Skyway-enhanced Shangri La and the reverence I once had for the Skyway lifestyle has now fiftipled (a word meaning ‘an increase by a factor of 50’ that I made up just now).

Remember that stretch of shitty-ass weather we endured a few weeks ago? You wanna know how many times I went outside during that period? Zero. At one point, I went five full days without putting on a jacket. I can’t remember the last time I was so happy (in January).

In any case, I think I’ve already made my Skyway Love feelings pretty clear, so what I’d like to do now is post a short primer for people who are entering the Skyway for the first time or have just been too dimwitted to figure out the obvious after years of walking through Buddha’s gift to inclement weather avoidance. An etiquette primer, if you will. Just a bit of me giving back to the community like I have selflessly done so many times in the past. And away we go…

•    Never, ever stand in the middle of the Skyway for any reason. If downtown is a human body, then the Skyway system is its arteries. Now what happens when an artery gets blocked? Say, by some doofus standing in the middle of a junction, trying to figure out how to get to Macy’s? Well, ideally, I sweep the doofus’ legs with my Target bag and kick-roll them into a corner where they can reflect on their doofus ways. So let’s review: If you have to stop walking, move to the side. Need to answer your cell phone? Move to the side. Wanna say something really important to a passing colleague? Move to the side! Just reunited with your twin after being separated at birth 40 years ago? MOVE TO THE BLOODY SIDE!!!

•    Ladies, it’s your prerogative if you decide to leave the house in ridiculous shoes that have heels that force you to walk in tiny, six inch strides, but if you’re going to move that slow on purpose, you need to stay to the right. And walk in single file – no more of this three and four abreast BS – so people who have lives and/or are carrying 30 lbs in booze and groceries can get by your merry band of the deliberately handicapped.

•    Just because you don’t have nerve endings in your shoulder bag does not excuse you from banging it into me.

•    Crazy people, ya’ll have to stop talking to me.

•    Drunk people, the Skyway isn’t your private lounge. If you’re too wasted to keep moving, and it’s too cold outside for you, go hang out at the library like everyone else.

•    Simultaneously eating and walking through the Skyway makes you walk too slow and will potentially muss up someone else’s clothes when you lose control of the 24 ounce beverage you have cradled in your elbow. So, from this point forward, simultaneous eating and walking in the Skyway is banned. Because I said so, that’s why.

•    Just because you’re cops does not give you guys license to swagger reaaaalllly slow, shoulder to shoulder. Have you ever tried looking behind you while you do that? All those people piled up back there? They’re not there because they’re admiring the tight, sinewy, spring-loaded cop asses that got you sent to Skyway Patrol in the first place. Pick up the pace or yield to passing traffic.

•    If you’re going through a manual door and there’s someone one beat behind you, hold the door for them. If you let the door slam shut on that person, there’s an even chance that the person will catch up to you at the next door and then won’t it be awkward when they accidentally roundhouse kick you in the throat?

Thank you for reading and strictly adhering to these simple rules. Anyone else wanting to add sage words of Skyway behavioral wisdom, please leave a comment. But mostly, just stay out of my way.

Downtown, Rants | 29.01.2009 17:57 | 7 Comments

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

Am I too good or not good enough for newspaper work?

If you’re not in the mood for a bitter, vain rant, you should probably click away now.

This is turning into a banner week for head-shots to my normally death-proof ego. First, a teller at my credit union mis-took an attempted witty comment as a come-on and now visibly shrinks when our eyes meet (girl, you aren’t that cute) and now a certain local newspaper has passed me up for a part-time, 9-month gig in their Travel department, citing my lack of experience.

OK, valid point. I haven’t been doing this for long – just over five years. And people have only been paying me a living wage for three of those five years. And my resume is conspicuously lacking in certain eye-catching words like ‘editor’ and ‘columnist’ and ‘masters degree’ and ‘writing classes’.

Nevertheless, my name has appeared in five wildly popular international travel guidebooks, several glossy magazines, web sites that receive 100 times the daily pages loads as this newspaper and I’m a minor journalism celebrity on Guam. I also speak three foreign languages (Spanish, Romania & Italian) well enough to live, work and play with those folks, I’ve lived in and traveled through dozens of foreign countries, I write a hilarious, almost-award winning travel blog (never mind that I sometimes use it as a forum to curse like a 75-year old comedienne and post cheap insults about hacky foreign media), and I can escape from a straitjacket in under a minute. What the f*ck else do these bitches want?

Having seen the caliber of writer that this particular newspaper chooses to employ and the caliber of writer that this newspaper chooses to dump after decades of admirable work, I suppose it’s foolish of me to act surprised. I’m the first to admit that I’m a little nave about print publishing and I’m well aware that cold, clammy newspaper editors are still writing for people born in the 30s, 40s and 50s instead of people born in the 70s, 80s and 90s (which is why they will die an ungraceful death in the next decade), but was I passed over because of experience and talent or because of style and content choices? Pardon my borderline dangerous conceit, but I’m finding it difficult to imagine that there’s really a more engaging and entertaining writer out there with nothing better to do than to apply for a part-time, local rag temp job.

I’m aware that my style is generally too informal for crusty newspapers, but I find it endlessly frustrating that these people seemingly choose to pass over people who may offend readers with the liberal use of the word ‘doo-doo’ and unashamed, enthusiastic discussions about Micronesian islands full of topless women and instead print material that will potentially offend readers with it’s staggering narrow-mindedness and blatant prejudices. I can stop saying ‘boobies’ whenever I want. Can the same be done with your writers that apparently stopped evolving in the early 60s?

I’ve indulgently slammed newspapers for their ridiculous approach to dealing with freelancers, so I would genuinely like to see what it’s like working on the other side (thus the appeal of this particular temp job), but I suppose I should start listening to Buddha’s benevolent hints and just let that form of media go.

It wasn’t a complete blow-off. My rejection email invited me to draw upon my vast experience of travel in 43 different countries on five continents and knowledge of developing tourism trends and resources by pitching stories about day and weekend short-drive trips from the Twin Cities for $0.36 a word, with no compensation for expenses. Natch.

OK, OK, let’s just calm down and see who they hired. Maybe Tim Cahill decided to slum it for a while and I’m truly being passed over by the sheer weight of staggering talent.

Local media, Rants | 18.06.2008 11:41 | 7 Comments

2007 US airline delay results Minneapolis not factored in?

lazyairlineemployee.jpgHi. I’m back in Minneapolis now. Did I miss anything? I heard the weather was awesome.

My flight home from SFO departed exactly 90 minutes late yesterday, like clockwork. I realize that a 90 minute delay isn’t even remotely as objectionable as say a 24 hour delay at JFK with no recourse, but still this is something like the 9th consecutive Northworst flight I’ve taken now that was late for totally avoidable, trivial reasons (a seat in economy needed a mechanic’s attention before we could take off).

So, it’s Super Tuesday today and voting doesn’t start for several hours, as such news outlets are filling space by scooping out the bottom of the 2007 Year-End Stats Barrel. This Yahoo clip reports that 2007 was the second worst year for airline delays since the birth of Christ. Well, duh. Kudos to the Transportation Department’s Division of Obvious Facts. But hold on, something doesn’t seem quite right.

They claim that in 2007 airlines were late “more than 26 percent of the time”. Does this seem a little off to anyone else? I fly a lot and unless I’ve forgotten how to calculate percentages (which is entirely possible dammit Jim, I’m a travel writer not a statistician), the cumulative domestic flights I took in 2007 left late about 78% of the time. Wait, is anything under a 90 minute late departure no longer considered “delayed”?

I wonder if these numbers are off because MSP was not included in the sampling process? Maybe they left us out because they thought our numbers would skew the overall results since were largely trapped into flying Northworst and Delta out of Minneapolis, a conglomeration of degenerates and pinheads that couldn’t get a plane off the ground on time if you waved a squillion dollar bill in front of their faces.

Is it just my infernal airport luck that’s tainting my personal numbers or does everyone else think this 26% stat is about 50 points shy of MSP’s numbers?

Rants | 5.02.2008 11:31 | 8 Comments

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…
Read the rest of this entry »

Rants | 28.12.2007 23:37 | 5 Comments