Saturday, February 28, 2009

Delicious, Nutty, Buttery Silk Worm Pupae At Bangkok Market In The Hawthorne Eco Village!

A few days ago, I was browsing some of the frozen foods at Bangkok Market in the Hawthorne Eco Village, and I saw an item I had never seen before: frozen silk worm pupae. Of course, it was packaged under a delightful euphemism: "ground cucumber."

Silk worm pupae have been a popular food item in the Orient for thousands of years. When the cocoon of the silk moth caterpillar is harvested for textile production, the pupae are a byproduct. But this byproduct can be deep fried or stir fried. Based on the appearance of what was in the package, I immediately realized...

the "ground cucumber" was silk worm pupae.

I asked the owner of the store about preparation and whether you eat the whole thing, or just parts of it. He told me to deep fry the pupae, and to eat the whole thing: just dip 'em in sauce and pop 'em in your mouth, like popcorn. I told him I didn't have a deep fryer and, besides, I wasn't confident of my ability to prepare the pupae properly. Could I pay him to cook these up for me at the deli? He agreed and only charged me two dollars. My special-order pupae came in a little container, with a side of hot sauce.

First of all, silkworm pupae don't have a lot of taste. Maybe a subtle nutty, buttery flavor that's pleasant, even delicious in an understated way but mostly they're just crunchy, with a soft yellow center the consistency and color of herb butter. (That's the undeveloped insect inside the crunchy pupae shell) The dish is not repulsive--that's all in your head--but it's more like a snack food than an entree. A whole plate full of pupae hardly fills you up. I had some sticky rice wrapped in a banana leaf to round out the meal.

Some other things in the store I'd like to try include apple snails and whole frogs. Some cultures just eat the frog legs, but I'm told there is a lot of useful meat on the rest of the frog.

My thanks to the Bangkok Market for giving me the opportunity to sample a dish that is, from my point of view, quite exotic.

Progress At Hawthorn Crossings, Kind Of

Today I was at Hawthorn (Sic) Crossings, the open air drug market with a sideline as a strip mall. But...

...on this particular morning, no drug sales of any kind were taking place. A squad car was sitting in plain sight, which chilled all the hanging around, let along the free lance pharmaceutical wheeling and dealing.

It's too bad the squad car can't be there all the time, but would that be an efficient use of police resources? No, probably not. Clearly, the management company that owns the strip mall should be hiring private security and cracking down.

And know this: Hawthorn Crossings is now my special blog bitch. I will write about this place unceasingly, I will publish pictures, I will write firsthand accounts, I will publish commentary until something goes POP!!!! and the management company does something decisive and permanent about the blatant drug dealing and drug loitering in the parking lot.

I do not lay responsibility at the feet of the overworked 4th Precinct, though I've said before they should all switch to unmarked cars to catch more criminals. No, this strip mall is a money-making venture and those drug dealers are buying plenty of chicken McNuggets. This is the fault of the strip mall management company, and the fault of the individual businesses for (so it would appear) not complaining loudly enough about what is allowed to take place in the parking lot.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Hawthorn Crossings--Your One Stop Open Air Drug Market

Now that MPD raided 3020 6th St. N., I don't really have as much to gripe about when it comes to open air drug markets.

Ha!!!!!!!!!!! Kidding. PSYCH!!!!!!!!!

It's time to start griping about Hawthorn Crossings, a strip mall on West Broadway Avenue. The...

...mall has US Bank as an "anchor tenant," and a McDonalds, a coin laundry, some kind of "dollar store" place. There is pretty much constant drug dealing in the parking lot...sometimes low-key, sometimes more blatant, but it's fairly constant. Sometimes groups of as many as a dozen n'er-do-wells just congregate and loiter, scratching their 'nads.

In researching this place, I see a lot of plans being thrown around in association with the revitalization of West Broadway. Well, yippy skippy. While we wait for utopia to arrive, for how long are we supposed to just passively tolerate this open air drug market? I've talked to a few other folks who say the same thing: they avoid this place because of the constant dealing.

If anybody has some nice close ups of the transactions taking place here...stuff taken with a telephoto lens...I'll be happy to publish those images. Really, that goes for all the drug dealing in North Minneapolis. If people send me pictures, I'll slap that stuff up on this blog.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Did You Hear The One About Al Flowers?

Did you hear the joke about Al Flowers? Yes, it seems Al is running for Mayor. That's the bad news.

The good news: Mayor Rybak has hired extra security guards, and they're confident if Flowers runs for the Mayor, they will intercept Flowers and wrestle him to the ground before he gets within 20 feet.

(Well, Evil Pink Pony thought it was funny)

(Do not click "Read More")

Is North Minneapolis Becoming "Non Profits Ville?"

First of all, I did not coin the term "Non Profits Ville," though I wish I had. A friend of mine coined the term...OH HOW I WISH SHE WERE MORE THAN A FRIEND, but we won't go there.

"Non Profits Ville" is the idea that...

...many of the affordable houses and lots in North Minneapolis are being snapped up by do-gooder organizations like Habitat for Humanity, PPL, Urban name it, they're snapping up houses. And this is a good thing, right?

I think it is, but my friend says "North Minneapolis is becoming Non Profits Ville." Rather than an influx of homeowners, we are getting an influx of 501(c)(3) organizations. If North Minneapolis becomes "Non Profits Ville," what will that future look like?

I argue the alternative: it is far better than the alternative: Slumlordia. Since eco-yuppies have yet to come in droves (despite my best efforts, though I'm hardly alone) one alternative to slumlords is non-profit organizations. ANYTHING has to be better than slumlords, right? RIGHT?!!!!

I'm not hearing shouts of agreement. I think discussion might be heavy in the air, like a humid summer day that needs experience heat lightning.

The photo above shows a house on Bryant Avenue North. The area of Bryant close to Broadway (and the new planned YWCA) is seeing activity, lately, with this house one example. I swear, gremlins are repairing it. I never see it happening, but when I go by, there is progress. All this siding was stripped off in just the last few days. About a week ago there was a sign advertising how this was a youth project aimed at building skills, keeping youth in school.

When I see a sign like that, I have mixed feelings. On the one hand: excellent program, glad it's happening, and surely somebody wants to promote it. On the other hand, it reminds me of a sign I saw once in a barrio in Hermosillo, Mexico. A big billboard advertised how this neighborhood had CLEAN, HEALTHY DRINKING WATER and it was all thanks to some wonderful program put on by the oh-so-benevolent and far-sighted government , through the PRI, if I recall correctly. (Party of Revolutionary Institutions)

How does that make you feel if you live in that neighborhood? Your neighborhood is in such a state somebody has to advertise "clean drinking water?" If I lived in that barrio, would I feel proud, or would I feel like that sign actually stigmatizes my neighborhood? My son--who lives in the southern suburbs, who does 11th grade math though he is only in 6th grade and will soon test for some kind of special program through the U of M--would never see a sign like that emerge in his neighborhood, just like he would never see roving gangs of youth who do not realize on the 8th Day God made sidewalks so people won't have to walk in the middle of the street.

So, yeah...Non Profits Ville. Good or bad or Johnny Northside is the devil? Discuss.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Al Flowers Disrupts UROC Conference (Plus More Details Of The UROC Conference Than You Can Possibly Stand)

For part of yesterday and nearly all of today, Saturday, the University of Minnesota did what it does best when it comes to North Minneapolis. Talked. Made promises. Talked more. Tried to talk, wasn't allowed to talk, but then finally managed to talk. Yes, it was the "UROC" conference at the offices of PICA at 700 N. Humbolt Ave.

And guess who was there? AL FLOWERS, one of the stars of "As The Neighborhood Turns," the ongoing Jordan soap opera. (Seriously, wouldn't a daytime drama that revolves around pressing neighborhood issues be, like, a great idea? I'd watch it! Well, I'd probably write it...)

In any case...

...UROC was having its little meeting...well, not so little, it dragged on for TWO DAYS, including a primo Friday evening and most of Saturday. I heard about it from some sources, and I get tired and worn out just thinking about two days of, oh my word, CONFERENCING. But right at the beginning of the event, professional gadfly and winner of a multi-dollar legal judgment Al "I Am The Community" Flowers showed up, and went off on conference organizers about how it was such a terrible thing to shut down Snow Foods--site of the future "North Minneapolis campus outreach" thingie associated with UROC--and then he started doing the Al Flowers thing.

How does the Al Flowers thing go? Well, first he starts making loud accusations--I GOT FOUR RESIDENTS SAYS YOU WAS ILLEGAL, KIP--that kind of thing. In this case, he was ranting and raving about the tragic loss of Snow Foods and (though he apparently didn't mention it) all the crack dealing that took place in the parking lot, practically within site of the 4th Precinct Headquarters. Next, Al Flowers gets around to asking a QUESTION--after all, it's a question and answer format, so even Flowers can only rant so long--so he asked a question, finally, and I heard something about how it was "laced with profanity." But, like a contestant on Jeopardy, he got the words out in the form of a question, awkward and un-question-like though it may be.

So one of the organizers tried to answer. But, once again, Al Flowers does the Al Flowers thing. He interrupts, he shouts accusations, he fires off MORE questions. I hear there was at least one video camera present, and some of this was captured on video, but word has it this may be a UROC organizer with the film, so just try getting it out of the University of Minnesota.

(Open records request, cough cough)

Al Flowers finally just up and left. Well, at least he didn't shove anybody, this time, or get escorted out by the police. Too bad. If Flowers wins this current lawsuit and manages to latch on to another one, Flowers could potentially be up as much as NINE DOLLARS in damages.

Now is the point where I suddenly change course and say: I could find some common ground with Al Flowers, here. I hate to admit it, but Snow Foods was, at least, a grocery store with a produce section. That building has been sitting vacant for almost a year while the University has--good grief--A TWO DAY CONFERENCE. Was there FOOD at this conference? I forgot to ask my sources. Well, I'm willing to bet there was, and I bet it involved some nice fresh produce.

Talk is cheap. Fresh produce is something I can put on my plate. I know the University wants to talk to residents of the neighborhood and make sure it has a consensus and all of THAT but you know what? This talk could have happened SEVERAL MONTHS AGO. The "U" is dragging its feet on this project, once again substituting blah blah blah for action. To the "U" I say:

Get your (expletive) in gear and get the boards off the windows of that building.

In other UROC events, (if you want to call people talking about things an "event") former JACC Executive Director Jerry Moore was in attendance and introduced himself as--surprise, surprise--the former JACC Executive Director! During the (tedious and inevitable) small group sessions, Jerry Moore talked about the need to do financial audits about where money goes in North Minneapolis. He also talked about the need to "build community from within" instead of relying on "outside institutions" and (he actually used this word) "carpet baggers."

To this I respond: residents of North Minneapolis are not rabbits. We can't reproduce THAT fast. There are so many vacant houses that, to occupy those homes, SOMEBODY will have to move to North Minneapolis. It is only a question of who that will be, and how to control, shape and influence that influx, and how to make sure that influx becomes active and productive in their new community.

Oh, another tidbit of info: word is Jerry Moore is no longer the chair of the Northside Marketing Task Force, but remains a member of that board.

This blog remains open to comments and to hearing all sides of issues.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Eating Like A King On An Artist's Budget Thanks This North Minneapolis Store!

I first heard about the So Low store from "Patty Cake," who would offer me bottles of Diet Cola when I dropped by to talk about various North Minneapolis issues, and she informed me the bottles cost a mere TWENTY-FIVE CENTS. She'd tell me I needed to check out this store and its amazing prices...she couldn't even recall what it was called, because she always referred to it as the "used food store."

The store is...

...called "So Low" and it is, I swear, the hidden jewel of North Minneapolis. Brie cheese, 99 cents. Lunchables snacks, my 11-year-old son's favorite, 99 cents. Stinson cheese with apricot or lemon guessed it, 99 cents. You can eat like a king at this place and get change off a 20. And why shouldn't you? Why shouldn't you own a house with an assessed value of $100k, which you can buy for $17,500 and have $4k in plumbing work done, then move inside, to live on Brie cheese and do whatever it is you want to do? Go to grad school, raise children, blow glass? This is the "Hawthorne Lifestyle," baby. It's creative, it's affordable, it's sustainable...and it moves ever upward, toward what the Founding Fathers called "Progress," toward Urban Eco Utopia.

A stock boy at So Low told me the food is "salvaged." I'm not sure how it works, exactly, but I think it goes something like this: somewhere an 18-wheeler is hauling a load of ice cream cones, when a dumb ass talking on a cell phone and driving at the same time cuts the trucker off while changing lanes without signaling, because his left hand is BUSY holding the phone.

The driver of the 18-wheeler takes evasive action too hard, and jack knifes on the 394. Lots of ice cream cones tragically die (the trucker walks away without a scratch, the dumb ass on his cell phone never even NOTICES the spectacular accident behind him) and now some insurance company steps into the picture.

At some point, three fourths of a cargo of perfectly good ice cream cones falls into the hands of wholesalers who routinely deal in such salvaged cargo. And that cargo makes its way to North Minneapolis to be sold for pennies on the dollar at So LOW!!!!! Your bargain price leader! It's located near the intersection of Emerson Ave. N. and Lowry Ave. N., in the Jordan Neighborhood. But BARELY!!! Just BARELY!!!! If you buy a snack at the checkout line and start walking with it, you could be in Hawthorne before getting your snack unwrapped.

If I had known about this place all my life, I may have never taken up the practice of dumpster diving used bananas with hot women like Connie Nompelis on Valentine's Day.

Side note: if I was on a Dell computer right now, instead of a piece of (expletive) Apple, I would create some live links to a few good trucking songs on YouTube. But since I'm on a SUCKY APPLE COMPUTER, you will just have to hum "Convoy" without any background music.

"It was the dark of the moon, on the 6th of June..."

Some Surprisingly Positive Side Effects Of The Foreclosure Crisis

Facing criticism for some comments he made about--gasp!--some POSITIVE SIDE EFFECTS of the foreclosure crisis, Hawthorne's Housing Director, Jeff Skrenes, has penned a thoughtful and articulate article.

Apparently defending himself PERSONALLY, and not OFFICIALLY, Jeff Skrenes posted the piece to, good grief, his FACEBOOK PAGE.

I'm not sure if this link will work for everybody. (It's not live, because Apples are sucky computers, so you'll have to cut and paste while muttering "Apples suck. Apples suck.")

If the URL doesn't work, folks should let me know and I'll post the article on this blog. GEE, HOW EASY WOULD THIS BE IF I HAD A (EXPLETIVE) DELL!?!?!! Highlight, copy, control shift A...JEEEEEEZ!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(Do not click "Read More")

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

The End Of "The Jug"--Fare Thee Well, Jug Liquors

The small, crummy, depressing establishment known as "Jug Liquors" is gone, albeit the building itself still stands for the time being. The property was reportedly bought up by some kind of developer. I don't have those exact details, yet, but along with the announcement of the World's Largest YWCA, Hawthorne is hopping and happening along the West Broadway corridor.

Jug's was...

...near the intersection of Washington Ave. and West Broadway, just a rock's throw from "B.J.'s Strip Club," a depressing little den of iniquity so weary and worn it makes being bad look like not very much fun at all, so why bother? Go home to your family. There is church first thing in the morning. You will have more luck at pot luck.

The bottom picture is an interesting snow formation I observed, as a dirty snowbank melted then refroze beneath the Jug Liquors sign, now dark and dead. One resident of Hawthorne told me she entered Jug's just once and it felt like taking your life in your hands. The place was so small that booze-seeking customers were rubbing shoulders with each other. Some degree of contact was inevitable, and one can anticipate that, sometimes, tempers flared.

Fare thee well, Jug Liquors but, won't be missed. This is an establishment that served--how shall I put it?--the dregs of society.

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Infamous "Pill House" 3020 6th St. N. Raided By Fourth Precinct Directed Patrol Unit

It happened last night at about 6:30 PM and it was quite a sight.

I was at the residence of HNC Chair Peter Teachout, who is forced to live across the street with his wife and three young children (one more on the way) within plain sight of the constant drug activity pouring forth from 3020 6th St. N. as though a portal to Hades is wide open in the basement. Peter had...

...kindly given me a ride home from work--AGAIN--because of car troubles, and though I had paid him for gas I was, like, yo Peter, I've been leaning on you heavy, here, so let me come to your house and do some work. Peter took me up on it, and I was out in the front yard--it was just beginning to snow big, fluffy flakes--throwing debri in a big construction dumpster. "Pete" (my name for Peter, Jr.) was helping, as much as a 6-year-old can, putting small and moderate sized boards in the dumpster, learning the Protestant work ethic, heavy on the Protestant. Right about then one of Peter's handymen, Mark, pulled up in the street near the dumpster.

I saw movement up 6th St. N, and looked that way...I saw a police cruiser approaching with its lights off, like they do. I said something to Peter, to check that out. Then I saw another cruiser behind the first. And another. And another. And--!

I realized right away what was up. This was the long-anticipated raid on 3020 6th St. N. and, the truth be told, I had caught wind of it over a week ago. Somebody who told somebody had heard the word, and along with the word came the usual instruction, "Don't tell John Hoff, or it will end up on his blog."

Yeah, right. Like I would do that.

The handyman was standing next to his vehicle with the door open. My first concern was there could be gunfire as the police made their way inside, en masse. Me and Peter yelled at the handyman to GET OUT OF THERE!!! I told Pete to go inside the porch. The police parked in unison and ran, silently, toward the front door, hardly glancing in our direction. I saw flashlight beams doing a crazy electric dance from the portals of doors and windows, and a male officer shouting, "GET DOWN, GET DOWN!!!!"

We watched for a while. Work ceased. The police were inside for a long time. After a while, those of us in the peanut gallery grew bored because nobody was perp-walked out the front door, no shots were fired. One begins to wonder if there's anything good on the "Jordan Soap Opera Channel," since this raid appeared to be going nowhere. Peter Teachout began to speculate: the house was dark. Nobody seemed to be home. Nobody was coming out, so perhaps the occupants had been tipped off to the raid beforehand.

We returned to throwing debri in the dumpster while police milled around, and a few of the police left. But after a while, a high-ranking police officer came over and filled us in with numerous details, much to our delight.

First of all, the house had NOT been empty. The "old man" had been inside, as well as the young guy with dreadlocks.

"We call him The Sentry," I told the officer. "Because he's the one who always stands in the door, watching."

"Well," said the officer, "He wasn't doing his job tonight."

There had been many pills in the house, exactly what you'd expect of a "pill house," he said. There had been a small quantity of crack found in "the common area" of the house. Numerous glass pipes were found, as you might expect. The officer said it was an "old-fashioned, 1990s smokehouse" right down to the Brillo pads. Prostitution had apparently taken place there, at least at one time. In the basement was a room with a couple beds and a television, little more, and a collection of DVDs next to the television. In front of Peter's young son, the officer avoided saying more about the DVD collection. I bit my tongue and avoided asking, "Was there a pair of pink pants, walking around by themselves?"

Go ahead, anonymous commenters. Unleash the verbal heat at this point. You can kiss my (expletive)

The officer said nobody would be arrested, however. They would be cited. They might have to go to drug court. We know what that means, and at this point I will speak up instead of the officer, who would probably refrain from criticizing the Hennepin County Court system, even casually and anonymously. Drug court sentences in Hennepin County have included some of the following: sit all day in the jury box and watch sentences. Go to the library, read a book, and write a book report. Take your mother out to dinner and bring His Honor back the receipt.

The officer also mentioned how they had seen the handyman, Mark, pull up and had momentarily considered stopping him for questioning...but they'd quickly figured out he was associated with Peter Teachout, not the house at 3020 6th St. N. Poor Mark the handyman! He shook his head in disbelief. He'd just come over to do some manual labor, and very nearly ended up detained as a suspected druggie.

Despite this lack of a satisfying, manacled perp walk, this raid was the second incident in a year which had resulted in criminal citations. The house at 3020 6th St. N. would be rapidly moving toward nuisance status, and the landlord would be getting a letter.

"I think you call him 'The Devil' on your blog," the officer said, smiling.

Guilty. I did that. And worse. When Jake and Gabe were recording audio for their movie, The Adventures of Johnny Northside: A Subprime Mess, I actually did verbal imitations of The Devil.

Peter Teachout talked about how the house at 3020 6th St. N. was already in foreclosure, and was moving rapidly beyond redemption. The officer said how it's a sad statement, really, that bank foreclosures can do so much to clean up a neighborhood when it's not even their INTENTION, it's just a side effect. Around that time Jeff Skrenes arrived--our Hawthorne Housing Director who has taken so much heat in the last several days, for saying much the same thing:

As bad as the mortgage crisis is--and it is bad, it is devastating--there are some unexpected, positive side effects. Some individuals who constantly deal in drugs and prostitution, and the scummy landlords who shelter them, have been forced to leave the neighborhood, even as new home owners with new hope, new energy are obtaining houses.

After the police left, talk turned to auto insurance. Peter remembered how, after the raid at the end of June, 2008, his truck was torched on the 4th of July. Maybe something similar would happen again. Since he was fond of the new truck, but could use a better van, maybe it was time to park the van out front?

This was, of course, nothing more than kidding around. The van was already parked out front. There was no place else to park it. The more valuable vehicle--the Ford F150 truck--lived in the small garage. If the van is going to get torched, well, there it sits.

All the while--despite the efforts of adults to soft-pedal the severity of what was happening--Pete, the 6-year-old, was taking this all in.

We kept laboring to clean the Teachout basement until about 9:30 pm, hauling buckets of rocks. There was a lot of dark humor. I speculated about the "street value" of the rocks. JoyAnne teachout talked about how, right after they bought their house, low lifes used to knock on the door, looking for drugs, because their house had been a drug house for many years. I did my crackhead imitation: "Well, if you don't have any, you mind telling me where I can get some?"

At one point, I saw the distinctive shadow of "Pops" in the window of the drug house across the street. The high-ranking officer had told us ol' Pops had more different prescription pills than just about any human being the officer had ever met. It is sad. I tried to imagine the stress, the fear, the anger in that house. We dwell next to each other in North Minneapolis, our houses shoulder-to-shoulder, and yet we live in different worlds.

ADDENDUM: I was forwarded a request from the "high ranking police official" to give credit for the raid to the 4th Precinct Directed Patrol Unit. My source says he was "only along for the ride."

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Policy Discussion Watering Hole Of The Hawthorne Neighborhood

Photo By John Hoff

Broadway Pizza has many claims to fame, including an amazing amount of old-timey train photos, an actual model train that circles around near ceiling level, a real live caboose parked on the grounds, but probably the most important feature of Broadway Pizza is that, for some reason, this is where neighborhood movers and shakers tend to congregate to have...

...informal policy discussions, usually right after official meetings end. People involved in neighborhood meetings just tend to make their way to Broadway Pizza to continue the discussion over pizza, beer and ESPN.

And guess what? It's got wireless. I guess I never really tried to pick up a wireless signal here until tonight. Maybe it's had wireless for a long time, I don't know.

But if there was ever a more perfect meeting spot in Hawthorne, I have yet to hear of it.

Some folks don't even think of the area between I-94 and the Mississippi River as Hawthorne. For one thing, its composition is very different than commonly-held perceptions of Hawthorne as a working class neighborhood with old houses, engaged recently in a kind of transformation. This part of Hawthorne--which somebody once dubbed the "Hawthorne Annex"--actually has LUXURY CONDOS.

Yes!!!!!!!!! Upscale, luxury condos in the Hawthorne Neighborhood.

Many a happy night I've spent at Broadway Pizza with Jeff Skrenes, Brian Thao Worra, Peter Teachout, and, of course, the lovely Connie Nompelis.

What could make this place better? Blogging with one hand while stealing fries from Jeff with the other.

EXCLUSIVE: State Rep. Jim Abler Shoots Off His Mouth To Northside Youth (Accidentally Hits His Own Foot...What Will He Use To Plug The Bullet Hole?)

Cell Phone Photo, Jeff Skrenes

Today, at the State Capitol Building, the Northside Policy Action Coalition (NPAC) gathered to lobby legislators over North Minneapolis issues. One of the issues was different ways to approach youth violence. And that's when it happened...

A group of residents--both youth and adults--were discussing different approaches to the problem of youth violence in North Minneapolis. One suggested approach--not really tied to any particular legislative initiative, much to its detriment, but that's beside the point--was whether youth violence could be dealt with by reclassifying the problem as a public health issue instead of a criminal justice issues.

Yeah, I know what you're thinking...why? The logic behind this idea is apparently that a 13-year-old who commits a crime should not be thrown headfirst into the criminal justice system, just yet. And I would respond: they're not. "Juvie" is nothing like the adult criminal justice system. But regardless of the merits of either side of this issue, it was clear NPAC and a state rep named Jim Abeler did not agree.

Abeler, (R-48B) represents the cities of Anoka and Ramsey. During this discussion about different approaches to youth violence, Abeler took out some of his campaign kitsch--some wooden nickels, as picture above--and gave some to several of the youth and adults. Now here's where it got kind of bizarre.

Keep in mind, this is third hand info, so this may not be a verbatim quote, but somebody who was there actually did write down what was reported by somebody who heard it directly. This is what Abeler said, or words very close to this:

"If you get shot, use this to plug the bullet hole."

THIS apparently refers to the wooden nickels.

This offhand remark did not go over very well. In fact, one person (Cheryl Morgan-Spencer of the Urban League) brought one of the wooden nickels back to return to Abler, because she didn't want to have it after hearing that, to (in her words) show him how much it was worth to her, which was nothing. Abeler then tried to defend his utterance by saying that he "only said it to the boys," as if the girls just magically didn't hear it because it was only intended for "the boys."

Thus, it appears Abeler actually managed to get off two rounds, both hitting the same target--his political foot.

One person prominent in North Minneapolis affairs says that this is simply unacceptable, that it furthers a stereotype about North Minneapolis and, more importantly, it devalues the civic contribution that the youth were making that day by talking to elected officials. Members of NPAC are demanding a public apology from Abler--according to my source--and, furthermore, they encourage anybody who agrees to contact Abler and here is the contact info:

Jim Abeler (R-48B)
100 Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd
State Office Building #203
St Paul MN
651-296-1729 office
763-421-3722 business

This info is from the Minnesota State Reps handbook, which is public info. Also, please note, if you do contact Representative Abeler, do not cuss, or threaten, or be disrespectful, as that will only reinforce his stereotypes.

And, allow me to add this: wooden nickels? If there was a time in America when wooden nickels were actually funny, that time is not within the historical memory of the vast majority of American society.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

More News Out of "New JACC City"

For those who crave all JACC soap opera info, all the time, there is a new post on the Jordan Livability blog that tells the "back story" of hiring Executive Director Jerry Moore. Here is the URL, which is not live. You'll have to copy and paste.

Have I mentioned that I really dislike Apple computers?

Yeah, I think I have. Lots of times.

Also, this blog is open to publishing all sides of this conflict.

(Do not click "Read More")

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Details On The "Jordan Advantage" Homebuyer Incentive, Other Housing Progress

The Jordan Neighborhood's new board got right down to business in its first "normal" meeting for a few months, with no power struggles, no ejections of disruptive individuals, no fist fights, etc. It wasn't a very exciting meeting, and I said so during public comment. A member of the board replied something like...

...they were glad to have disappointed me.

So here are the details on that homebuyer incentive program. First of all, it should be noted this program has been in the works for a while. Chair Kip Browne said something to the effect he'd advocated for a program like this, previously, but the program could never get approval from the previous executive board. Under the new board--with all members of the "Old Majority" absent in an apparent de facto boycott of the meeting--the "Jordan Advantage" program sailed through on a unanimous vote. It was a watershed moment in the history of Jordan.

So here's what's in the program: It will provide FIVE THOUSAND DOLLARS in down payment, entry and closing costs for individuals who purchase vacant, boarded or foreclosed properties in the Jordan neighborhood FOR USE AS A HOME. Fifty thousand dollars has been set aside for this purpose. The program will be administered through Neighborhood Housing Services of Minneapolis. The program will follow the same guidelines as the Minneapolis Advantage Program, except for the income guidelines. There will be no restriction on income to access these funds. The funds can be used with or without accessing the Minneapolis Advantage Program.

In other motions, the "exterior improvements program" was expanded to include all three of Jordan's redevelopment "cluster projects," that being Cottage Park, (right near the JACC office) the 27th and Penn cluster and the James and 25th cluster. Again, this will be administered through NHS.

Also, the Housing Committee has now been renamed. It will now be the "Housing and Development Committee" to be more reflective of the work this committee is doing and will continue to do.

The committee also approved a letter of support for business owner Daryl Weivoda, who is trying to get a variance or other waiver of Sewer Access Charges.

In a minor, tangential note, this business owner's name is pronounced like Why-voe-dah. Back in the late 1980s, when I went to college in Moorhead, Minnesota, there were constant television and radio commercials featuring the "Weivoda Carpet Girl" with a distinctive, high-pitched, energetic voice. My roommate, A.J. Anderson The Third, was romantically obsessed with the "Weivoda Carpet Girl" and received a lot of razzing from me and my other roommate, Norm.

How can you forget a name like that? And whatever happened to the "Weivoda Carpet Girl?" Anyway...

The Jordan Neighborhood is moving ahead, and the new "Jordan Advantage" program is big news. It may take a few weeks or months for the program to be up and running, based on what I've observed with "Hawthorne Advantage," but this step represents major progress by the "New Majority."

Friday, February 13, 2009

JNS BLOG EXCLUSIVE: Jordan Neighborhood Launches "Jordan Advantage" $5K Home Buyer Incentive

Under the leadership of Kip Browne's "New Majority," JACC has launched a $5,000 home buyer incentive program loosely modeled on the Minneapolis Advantage program, and somewhat similar to the new Hawthorne Advantage program. The new Jordan Neighborhood incentive program will be known as "Jordan Advantage." Details to follow soon on this blog.

(Do not click "Read More")

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

What If JACC Had A Meeting And Nobody Came? (To Disrupt)

Photos By John Hoff

The "New Majority" was firmly in command of the Jordan Neighborhood tonight, pulling off a board meeting that passed major livability initiatives without encountering any protests, disruptions, or new frivolous lawsuits. Though the meeting went forward smoothly, tension hung in the air every time...

...the office door opened. Who could it be, now? Would the door admit Al Flowers shouting at the top of his lungs, or a legal process server, or some other unsavory surprise? Yet nothing like that happened. I've seen more exciting meetings in--(I hate to say it)--the Hawthorne Neighborhood. Two video cameras were there, however, just in case things got exciting.

Here are things I saw as the highlights of the meeting. Your milage may vary.

First, when the agenda was approved somebody made a note of saying it was the "proposed" agenda. One could hear echos of recent board battles in that phrase, "proposed agenda." 

Second, in what was probably the most emotional points of the meeting, Secretary Anne McCandless talked about a longtime Jordan resident who died of breast cancer--a woman who was a long time Jordan resident and an aide to Diane Hofestede. In her last few weeks on this earth, the woman had heard about the elections in Jordan, and the need for "new JACC" to deal with missing money. The woman asked that memorials in her name go to JACC, and so far a check for $120 had been received.

Though no mention of this was made at the meeting, individuals and entities wishing to help the Jordan neighborhood succeed and pull itself up under its new board can apparently send donations to the Jordan Area Community Council, 2009 James Ave. N., Minneapolis, MN 55411. 

Moving on to the treasurer's report, this report was certainly a practice in the art of understatement, both expressively and financially. There are no "general ledgers" so trying to put a statement together "has been a struggle" according to Treasurer R. Hodson. At one point, with copies of the statement being passed to the spectators, Secretary Anne McCandless had to ask for copies back so the board would have enough, saying, "One of the things were are missing is our copy machine." 

McCandless also added that it took "seven trips, but who is counting" until Franklin Bank coughed up financial statements needed by JACC to figure out its financial situation. In the last month, the board has canceled a mobile phone contract, cable television at the JACC office (this elicited disbelieving, bitter laughter) and the fax machine phone line, since the fax machine is missing, anyway.

Hodson said some bills had not been paid in months, and he was hoping to get a better picture as more information came available, but added, "Even a better picture is not going to be good."There was, he said, "Not enough to make it through this year" and suggested JACC must "aggressively seek funding."

One board member asked about whether there would be "litigation against unauthorized withdrawals" and was told by the chair such questions would be more appropriate in a future closed session, if that had to happen. It was noted that, in the past, only one signature was required on a check. Now two will be required "so this doesn't happen in the future." 

Around this time, an older man in the audience asked why there were two video cameras going. 

"Evidence," somebody replied, casually.

A call was put out for individuals to be on the Finance Committee, with the treasurer saying there needs to be involvement by board members, not finances "hidden behind a shroud" as had been the situation in the past. 

An update on court action took place: the Temporary Restraining Order was not granted, but now comes a hearing on whether to grant an actual restraining order. Anne McCandless said, "We're now on attorney number 7. Soon the attorneys will outnumber the residents."

Luckily, JACC has something called "D&O" insurance, which stands for "Directors and Organizations." This is a policy through NRP which covers all of the neighborhoods of Minneapolis in case their neighborhood boards get, well, sued over something. However, there is the minor matter of a $5k deductible. It's still an open question who will pay the deductible. JACC? NRP? Will Al Flowers be asked to chip in a buck, which would be one third of his recent judgment? (OK, I threw that last part in there for fun)

On the bright side, outside agencies and "anonymous foundations" are offering to help, and asking for JACC to state its priorities so forms of assistance can be shaped to meet the neighborhood's needs. One of these entities has offered to provide an independent auditor to perform a forensic audit. 

There was a motion made and seconded to accept this offer. The "ayes" were, I thought, like sailors shouting "aye, aye," with feeling.  

McCandless suggested getting the "Jordan Livability Forum Planning Committee" going again, and spoke of the good old days when the basement of the Jordan New Life Church would be filled with individuals wanting to talk about the struggle to change Jordan for the better. She mentioned, with obvious bitterness, how former Executive Director Jerry Moore had messed up that momentum by, for example, constantly changing the meeting location for the Livability Forums. One night, McCandless said, she and others drove to three or four locations...only to find out Jerry Moore had cancelled the event. 

In any case...McCandless saw the Livability Forum as a necessary precursor to finding involved residents who would ultimately serve on the Crime and Safety Committee.  

Much happened at this meeting in the form of motions from the Housing Committee, including the approval of programs to improve the exteriors of homes and attract new residents with incentives. This will be discussed in a subsequent blog post, hopefully tomorrow. 

("Jordan Advantage." You read it here, first) 

In the meantime, in summary: there is no need for me to keep saying "Give Jordan a chance." Jordan is taking its own destiny by the reigns, and Jordan is going somewhere good under Kip Browne and the "New Majority." 

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

"Old Majority" Cancels Its Meeting, Gets Ready To "Circle"

I am in possession of an email from Jerry Moore which announces the following:

"Greetings Community,

"I am forwarding this email per Chair E.B. Brown. The February 11, 2008 JACC Board meeting scheduled at Jordan New Life has been cancelled. The executive committee is digently (sic) working on a community healing 'Circle' project."

Moore then provides an email for E.B. Browne for supporters of the announced "healing Circle" project. 

Why do I get the feeling the "healing Circle" will be sort of like a corral, and members of the New Majority will end up in the middle while they try to have their board meeting on Wednesday? We shall see. 

Meanwhile, a member of the "New Majority" fired off an email reiterating that the JACC Board (New Majority faction) will meet at 6:30 p.m., Wednesday, February 11, at 2009 James Ave. N., as previously announced and said folks should "ignore" emails that say anything else. 

(Do not click "Read More")  

Latest News From The Jordan Neighborhood

The "New Majority" JACC board in Jordan is planning to have a meeting on Wednesday, 6:30 p.m. at 2009 James Ave. N., and I have a copy of the proposed agenda. Some items include an update on "court action" and "offers of help from outside agencies." There will also be an "open comment, questions" at the end of the meeting. That part should be fun. Or not. Depending on your definition of "fun." 

Word on the street is the pastor of the Jordan New Life Community Church asked members of the Old Majority to leave and not have their headquarters there anymore, feeling he was "deceived." This is, however, unconfirmed and comes from a supporter of the "New Majority." This blog continues to be open to receiving info from all sides of this controversy.

There is also word the "Old Majority" is planning to have their own board meeting at about the same time. If I had to guess, one of the first items might be dealing with that whole "lack of a quorum issue," since at least 8 board members are needed for a quorum and the Old Majority has, by my count, four. 

My prediction: they'll appoint Al Flowers and some other supporter on some kind of emergency basis. 

ADDENDUM: This blog post updated for accuracy. Eight, not five board members are apparently needed for a quorum. 

(Do not click "Read More")

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Apartment Complex Of Anarchy: This Is The End

Photo By John Hoff

Now nothing remains of 3101 6th St. N. ("the Apartment Complex of Anarchy") except a big rectangular area of fresh gravel. There is talk, behind the scenes, of having a "progressive dinner" celebration when summer comes...but not until 3020 6th St. N. is evacuated, something we suspect will happen as the foreclosure redemption period continues to run down "like sand through the hourglass."

(Do not click "Read More")

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Makeshift Movie Sound Studios In North Minneapolis

Photos By John Hoff

Jake and Gabe of 612 Authentic continue to press forward with their documentary, "The Adventures of Johnny Northside: A Subprime Mess." Recently, they had me... some excerpts from this blog, which will become audio portions of the documentary. Some of my favorites included "Evil Pink Pony" and my conversation with "The Devil." These are the times when I discover how many different characters live inside me, and have their own individual voices.

Last time when we needed a "sound studio," we used Peter Teachout's attic. (Photo above) The insulation is thick and creates studio-quality sound. This worked out well when I was house sitting Peter's residence for a week while he and the family went to Disneyland.

(Yeah, I wasn't going to blog about the fact they were away until they got BACK. Duh)

This time, (second photo) we used a different location in North Minneapolis, hanging thick quilts on a bathroom sink and over a shower curtain, creating an instant sound studio. As long as I kept my mouth really close to the quilt, it seemed to work. Maybe after the movie is made, Jake and Gabe will have ANOTHER hit on their hands: the MAKING of "The Adventures of Johnny Northside: A Subprime Mess."

New Docs In The "Tale Of Two JACCs" Jordan Neighborhood Soap Opera

I just put up some newly-received documents about the old conflict between Jerry Moore and JACC board member Dan Rother; Moore's (failed) attempt to get a restraining order, Rother's point-by-point response to the grievance filed by Moore.

To get these documents, go to the Johnny Northside "PDF support site," click here.

Thanks, as always, to those persons who just keep kicking stuff my way. It's not like any brilliant digging is required on my part. Thanks. You know who you are.

(Do not click "Read Moore.")

(Oops, I meant "

An Interesting Twist With An Old Book Of Matches

Photo By Jeanie Hoholik

Word reaches me that a relative of the person who once owned "Worwa's Restaurant" has made contact with "Jennifer the Flipper," hoping to lay hands on the old book of matches Jennifer found in a house she purchased, click here.

I think it's pretty cool how the blogosphere creates person-to-person connections in the real world and, therefore, basically mints the currency of "social capital." That's why I try to blog like a maniac, and I encourage others to blog about our cool, colorful struggle to make North Minneapolis something better.

I'm convinced the blogosphere can "virtually" pull us upward!

(Do not click "Read More")

"Following The Money" In The Jordan Neighborhood

"Scammer cash image"

The "Jordan Livability Blog" continues to pump out information about the fascinating JACC controversy. Here's a link to a new post about yet more financial revelations, click here.

Of course, that's a Word Press blog, so you have to be logged in to comment...unlike this Blogspot blog, where anonymous comments are possible by anybody with internet access.

Yeah, I have my little internet preferences:

Dells, not Apples.

Blogspot, not Word Press.

Meat from gray squirrels, not red.

Oh, wait...that last one isn't really an INTERNET preference.

ADDENDUM: The Jordan Livability blog has now had its preferences changed, and it is "open comment." Heaven help us!

(Do not click "Read More")

Another Hawthorne Community Garden? Photo

Michael Klick, a very active and involved member of the Hawthorne Community, has run some plans up the flagpole, and he is trying to see who salutes. Specifically, Klick is considering a community garden...

Hawthorne does already have one community garden but, hey, why not a few more? Personally, I think every vacant lot should be a community garden or, in the alternative, returned to native prairie or planted, thickly, with trees...especially trees preferred by squirrels.

(It's a darn shame so few folks in Hawthorne--Peter Teachout being one key exception--know how delicious squirrel can be, cooked up in a stew with plenty of carrots and potatoes, served up beside baking powder bisquits. When I say "squirrel" I mean, of course, gray squirrel. Red squirrels have a foul gland near their kidney which ruins the taste for most people. It's not like red squirrel is POISON, but I'd only eat one in a survival situation, personally...they're just not as savory as gray squirrel)

But I digress. And how.

Here's Mike's email blast to the community, now amplified here:

HAWTHORNE COMMUNITY MEMBERS: I am in the beginning phases of creating a community garden in Hawthorne--somewhere west of the freeway, north of Broadway, east of Lyndale and South of 26th Ave.

I am trying to gauge how much community support there would be for such a venture. I have already been in contact with someone from Garden Works; an organization that helps people set up community gardens. I believe there is a great need for a community building garden in Hawthorne, especially in our quadrant of the neighborhood.

(Johnny Northside interjects: Yeah, so we can do something productive and stop SUING each other. Oh, wait...that's not the HAWTHORNE Neighborhood. Never mind.)

(...) If you are interested please contact me, Michael Klick, at If I have enough interest, I want to have an initial meeting.

I really want this to be a community garden: welcoming to everyone, all ages, races and affiliations, a place where people can get to know each other and garden. Of particular interest is reaching members of the African American, Hispanic and Asian communities.

Last, I need some LAND. This seems like an easy prospect given the amount of vacant lots in the neighborhood. Whether we use city-owned land or land owned by a private party, doesn't matter at this point. I just need an idea of what is out there.

I believe with the right people and dogged determination, this can be something really great. Right now, just need to find out if I can get help!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Soon, Nothing But Memories For The Poor Widdle Sex Offender's Home

Photo By John Hoff

Word comes from Kevin Gulden of PPL (though Kevin certainly didn't PHRASE it this way) the former home of Poor Widdle Sex Offender Junaid Maalik will be coming down soon. Already, signs are blocking off the parking on the street so demolition equipment and dumpsters can get into the area by 3024 6th St. N, which is rather close to 3020 6th St. N--where everybody and their brother knows and/or believes crack is being constantly dealt, with the police apparently unable to stop it. 

How tragic it would be if, oh, some kind of MISTAKE were made because of a one-digit typo and, oh my, the wrong house were to get DEMOLISHED?!!!! (Sarcasm font broken, manually notifying the reader)

In the past few months, the unsecured screen door has been constantly banging in the wind, like a restless poltergeist. This photo captures that. I hope to soon have a photo of a big, bare patch of ground, Backhoe of Doom, etc. But I'm working a day job, now, so I hope readers will help step up, keep forwarding material to share here with our changing, re-vital-ize-'n community. 

(Do not click "

Loose, Speculative Theories On The Jordan Phone Bill Mystery Photo

Somebody who is smart enough to keep his/her name out of the Jordan neighborhood controversy sent me an email with theories about why the Sprint phone bills--which recently fell into the hands of the "New Majority" board members--look the way they do and are, good heavens, really HIGH.

Here are his/her exact words, unedited.

I looked at...

...the spending patterns for the cell phone bills and there is a hell of a lot that doesn't look right to me. But what really jumped out at me is that if one was going to do this, why the varying amounts? The reason the amounts seemed off was because most plans have an unlimited, everything and anything plan. And Sprint/Nextel has arguably the best one out there.

Most anything/everything plans are about $140/mo, and Sprint's is $100. That gives you unlimited minutes, web browsing, picture mail, texting, and any other basic service I'm missing. And the initial answer to why they didn't use a flat-rate cost that covers everything is that they were being wasteful with other people's money. But they weren't stupid...okay, that's an operative word. Let's say they were intentional about maximizing other people's money for their benefit. So the question still remains, why the varying amounts?

I think the answer is one of three things, and perhaps all of them at different times:

One, they were paying multiple people's cell phone bills with the debit card.

Two, they were buying a lot of cell phones and/or accessories, or

Three,they were overpaying what was owed and then having the cell phone company cut them a refund check instead of returning the amount to the debit card.

Anyway, that's my two cents on why the cell phone bills look the way they do.

TJ Waconia Sentencing Date Photo

Word comes from the "TJ Waconia Victims Blog" as follows: confessed fraudsters Jon Helgason and Thomas Balko will be sentenced March 10, 9:30 a.m., at the U.S. Courthouse, 300 South Fourth Street, Minneapolis.

No, I do not have the particular room. But hopefully they picked a big one, as there has been media and public interest in this case...or at least there was several months ago.

I plan to be working and will not be able to attend, so I'm putting out the call for pictures and firsthand accounts to be submitted to this blog. (My email is

I have often stated my position of "let the punishment fit the crime" with Helgason and Balko; basically a "house arrest" situation where they would live and work to benefit the neighborhood in North Minneapolis instead of going to a federal prison where their time will be spent doing little of social value.

However, for the past few months I have been reading "I Was Wrong" by Jim Baker about his time in the federal prison in Rochester, Minnesota. If and when Balko and Helgason are sentenced to prison, I am planning a very SPECIAL blog post based on some excerpted material from that book. If they are (miraculously) sentenced to some kind of creative "house arrest" situation, well, I will talk to some folks about putting together a little gift basket. I'm not even being sarcastic. I see little value in incarceration, but I view it as superior to letting criminals run loose. Yet I do advocate for more creative and humane incarceration which gives back value to society and, in particular, the victims of the crime.

(Do not click "Read More")

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

The 411 On JACC Phone Bills Photo

The "Jordan Livability" blog has another interesting, detailed blog post about JACC finances...this one involves astronomical phone bills. Here's the URL, but you'll have to copy and paste because it's not live.

Why is it not live? Because Apple computers are CRAP. But I'm trying to get the word out with whatever gear the cold, hard universe has seen fit to issue me, so there you go.

ADDENDUM: Link is now live. Because Dell computers are, most assuredly, NOT crap.

(Do not click "Read More")

Monday, February 2, 2009

The Fall Of The Apartment Complex Of Anarchy (And What Is Revealed) Photo

First of all, don't get me wrong. I'm glad to see 3101 6th St. N. reduced to a hole in the ground. A few days ago, the demo crew was pulling up pieces of the foundation like you would rip out roots to keep a weed from growing back. And I was glad.

But there's something very wrong here, and it's what's wrong with our whole American culture, our whole economy...

WASTE!!!! There was so much waste evident in that demolition. All that steel hitting those two big dumpsters...will it be pulled out, made into new steel objects? Or is it not worth the effort, at $60 a ton? Lumber reduced to toothpicks...plenty of those 2 x 4s could have been useful. Is it only the lowest bid that matters? The guy with the right licenses? Is there no opportunity for green fanatics to go in there with a chainsaw, to recycle and reuse?

Oh...insulation. Yeah, plenty of THAT got wasted.

And, man, that stuff is EXPENSIVE.

A friend of mine named Roland (well, really more of an acquaintance because, well, it's better to call him that because of his, um, lifestyle choices) used to pick up every little scrap of insulation he saw at construction sites, or blowing around on the roadsides from who-knows-what; dump trucks, tornadoes leveling small towns, the pretty pink Fiberglass fairy, here to grant your energy-saving dreams.

Roland would save all those odd pieces in a big utility closet I dubbed "the insulation room," and one day we had enough to insulate the whole basement where I lived, rent free, year after year while attending law school. We insulated with a mixture of fiberglass--yellow and pink--and Styrofoam. It was all recycled.

This Is What's Wrong With Our Whole Economy

We talk about being in a recession, and yet most American homes have enough food in the cupboards to last for weeks, vegetables in the so-called refrigerator "crisper" that will be allowed to gently, peacefully wilt, then be discarded, we have drawers and closets full of unworn clothing, our children have boxes, piles, MOUNTAINS of toys.

Our economic habits are UNSUSTAINABLE. President Obama talks about revitalizing the economy, but who will revitalize the EARTH? We cut down more trees but don't bother to recycle paper, half the students at the University of Minnesota can't cause the flight plan of their plastic beverage bottle to deviate SIX (EXPLETIVE) INCHES to put it in a recycle bin, instead of a trash can.

How is it we are building an "Eco Village" in North Minneapolis, but in demolishing buildings we don't bother to pull out the useful components?

Well, some insulation from that building made its way to my hands. And I plan to use it in a future project. But it was like picking the cherry from a sundae and saying, well, the sundae did not go to waste, for I ate part of it!

So much insulation...wasted.

My frien--er, my ACQUAINTANCE Roland would slowly shake his head. But he'd say very little. Economy of words, that's how he is about such things. He saves his words for the seduction of desperate women from Third World Countries. In any case...

The idea of "spending yourself to prosperity" works, yes, in a wide-open economic system where abundant natural resources create constant inputs of new wealth. It's like the economy of a college student, living on student loans and credit cards. Want to be prosperous? SPEND! Buy a nice suit of clothing to get a job, a computer to make homework easier, a car to get to school and save your time, endless beer to make life grand. SPEND!!!!

So tell me what is the economy of a SPACESHIP, a closed system with finite resources? Is that a place where you eat everything at once, throw out what's left over, because this will create "prosperity" as more is manufactured?

We need to transition to a green and sustainable economy. And using the old economic theory of "spend yourself to prosperity" is not the way to do it. We need to develop new economic theories based on the FINITE AND LIMITED nature of all our resources.

Crack, Crack, Who's Got Some Crack?

These are the things I thought about as I watched 3101 6th St. N. demolished.

And then I saw crackheads going to make buys at 3101 6th St. N., and I thought how the end of the mortgage redemption period couldn't come fast enough on THAT place.

Yeah, sometimes the "spend like there is no tomorrow" mindset isn't all bad, and there is a silver lining in the dark cloud of the mortgage crisis, as we remake our neighborhood. Better to waste a little insulation than to allow that hellhole apartment complex to come back, and become a center of drug dealing, AGAIN.

But the world could be better, more perfect, more utopian...and I think there is a way to take down a building and salvage useful components, right down to scraps of insulation.

Not Worth The Paper It Was Printed On Photo

So that Star Tribune story that I caught wind of, click here, actually did appear in the paper, talking about proposed legislation aimed at curbing (hee hee) unwanted phone books. But the lame article was, er, nothing to write home about...

First of all, the proposed legislation is nothing but a requirement the phone book companies would have to distribute "opt out" information along with the mounds of dead trees they deliver uselessly to our doors, including the doors of obviously vacant houses. I'd link to the article but, you see, it has always been my policy to refuse to link to Star Tribune stories because the links are scheduled to go dead.

Some may go dead sooner than planned. Every time I see an issue of the Star Tribune, I wonder if it will be the last. I used to love that paper...and I still do, kind of...but their current owner, Avista Capital Partners, is the devil and there's no way I will pay money or create links to support the devil.

In any case...the legislation is an inadequate half-measure. Under this proposed legislation, we would not only continue to get unwanted phone books, but--additionally-- yet another useless piece of paper about how to opt out; which the phone book companies will simply ignore. Worse yet, the article contained a link about how to opt out of phone books, but guess what?

The link didn't work. The link merely directed you to a website where you could, if you liked, get lost all (expletive) day looking for the specific part of the website to opt out of phone books.

Star Tribune...that was LAME. Ed Kohler called the article a PR piece, and he's right.

The article did mention Ed Kohler's consistent advocacy for "opt in" systems instead of "opt out," but I don't see what the point was of interviewing Ed...everything the article said about Ed could have been said without interviewing him, and what little they did say was just a backhanded critique of Ed's noble and revolutionary act of returning a Verizon phone book to the company's headquarters, right on their (expletive) putting green, baby.

(Should have linked to Ed's video, Star Tribune, then your article wouldn't be so LAME. But, hey, print is dead and guess what? That also means the Star Tribune, not just the phone book)

On the bright side, Ed's idea about "returning" phone books seems to be spreading, click here.

Gabby Hayes And Former St. Paul Mayor Latimer: SEPARATED AT BIRTH!?!?!!?

Contributed Photos

An astute reader provided me with this critically important information after reading my previous post, illustrated with a picture of the sign at "Gabby's," a Northeast nightclub with a troubled history of late...

It seems there is an undeniable resemblance between old-time movie star "Gabby Hayes" and former St. Paul Mayor George Latimer. Compare the two photos, above.

Truly, it is one of those "separated at birth?!!?" moments.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

Blogosphere Gets "Gabby" About Financial Info In Jordan Controversy Photo

The "Jordan Livability Blog" continues to assert itself as the de facto "voice of the New Majority" in the ongoing Jordan neighborhood controversy--or soap opera, depending on how you view it. Some new information went up in the last few days as the "New Majority" starts to get its hands on financial statements...

First, check out this blog post about the election of new board officers, and why it is important, click here. I can't help but note the labels created here on the Johnny Northside blog--"New Majority" and "Old Majority"--have stuck, and are now being used by participants in this struggle, as evidenced by this blog post.

A much more exciting blog post--and I think this post is the first of more which will follow in this pattern--gets into the nitty gritty of questionable expenditures by the "Old Majority." (Questionable in the minds of the New Majority, I should say, I am trying to maintain some objectivity, here) Click here for that blog post questioning where the money went.

Keep this in mind: this blog post represents only the tip of the iceberg. The "New Majority" doesn't have its hands on very many financial statements, yet. Yet with only a relatively small amount of information in their possession, they're now asking stuff like: Why $886.26 worth of expenditures at restaurants and bars? How on earth did $785.68 get spent at CVS Pharmacy? What WAS all that stuff? And what was the point of a hotel room ($95.70) in Brooklyn Park?

I've periodically stayed in hotels in Brooklyn Park during weekend visitation with my son. Even on the weekends, hotel rooms can be had for around $60. So almost a hundred bucks for a hotel room is either more "upscale" lodging, or somebody is getting breakfast in bed.

One thing I should point out: there is an expenditure for a Northeast bar called "Gabby's." Well, actually there are TWO expenditures, but these are both for the same date. This bar has been a notorious trouble spot for the past couple years, click here for more info. The Gabby's has found its way to a lawsuit, alleging city officials are trying to shut down the bar on the basis of the race of its clientele. Complaints from neighbors are consistent, however, and there has been at least one shooting in the bar.

In any case...even before the dramatic board elections and the current controversy, the Jordan Livability Blog was already focused on the issue of expenditures by Jerry Moore, and whether these were needful expenditures. Click here for an earlier blog post about that.

Clearly, this pattern of airing the expenditure information will continue as the "New Majority" gets its hands on more records. The internet adds a new twist: anybody who may have information about, for example, the reason for a hotel room expense has an opportunity to post information, anonymously, and add to the public discussion.

P.S. The image on the "Gabby's" sign is apparently old time movie star "Gabby Hayes." One has to wonder how, exactly, Hayes' name and visage came to be used by a bar in Northeast Minneapolis. I'm sure there's a cool story in there somewhere.