Sunday, July 31, 2011

A Little Bit of FLOW: watson the band Performs at the BLO Music Stage and Beer Garden

More pictures and videos from the 6th annual FLOW, the northside art crawl and community celebration, will be shared across the internets by various folks in the near future. But for now here's a little slice of the BLO Music Stage and Beer Garden.

NoMi Homie Brian Mondl is on the drums and band member John is on vocals and the guitar. Together they make up half of watson the band. Word is watson will be playing next week at the St Paul Saints baseball game, check 'em out!

(Apologies for the abrupt ending. I did say a "little" slice, it was busy, and more people were approaching to converse and the talking is a terrible addition to the rock and roll)

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Saturday, July 30, 2011

FLOW and The BLO Music Stage and Beer Garden TODAY!

Photos from Facebook, blog post by Nomi Passenger

Today is FLOW, the annual Northside Art Crawl that was started through efforts by The PEACE Foundation six years ago. Each year the event continues to evolve and always ends up being a lovely day along West Broadway for northsiders to celebrate our community. Full event details can be found here.

This year, the tornado-battered business, Broadway Liquor Outlet, affectionately referred to as BLO, is sponsoring a music stage and beer garden. The BLO Music Stage and Beer Garden will be held in the parking lot of another tornado-battered business, Fire-n-Ice, on the northwest corner of Penn and West Broadway. The music stage is set to go from 3-9pm today and features several musicians and bands, some of them from right here in NoMi.

One of the featured bands, watson, has been mentioned on this blog before. The drummer, Brian Mondl, aka thongmaster, is a NoMi Homie and frequent hanger-outer of the Jordan Pond.

Here's the details from the BLO Music Stage and Beer Garden Invite:
Join us this Saturday, July 30th at the BLO Music Stage and Beer Garden as a part of the 6th Annual FLOW northside arts crawl. Our stage will be rockin' with 4 great music groups starting at 3 p.m. until 9 p.m. while our beer garden, sponsored by New Belgium Brewery will be pouring the suds throughout our live music event! This is a free music event for all to enjoy. Stop by and check out local artists displays, a live chain saw art exhibition, great music, food and drink, and a whole lot more!

What: BLO Music Stage and Beer Garden
Where: 2220 West Broadway at the corner of Penn and West Broadway Avenues

When: Saturday July 30, 2011 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.

Scheduled bands to perform include:
3-4 p.m. Dan Hylton & Krista Johnson, NOMI Alt-Acoustic Sensation

4-5 p.m. Watson, NOMI Rock & Roll

5-6 p.m. Tornado Volunteer Photo Shoot

6-7:30 p.m. The Undergroove, R & B Funk

8-9:30 p.m. Ruben, Pop/Rock band from Stillwater, MN

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Monday, July 25, 2011

Train Vs. Car - No Injuries Fortunately

A train collided with a mini-van tonight at Lyndale Ave North and Webber Parkway. Luckily, it seems no one was hurt, or at least not seriously.  The word on the street was that the mini-van tried to beat the train, but it looks like the train ended up beating the mini-van.  The crowd that had gathered said the woman driver walked away from the vehicle on her own, so that is fortunate.  It is unknown if the van was headed north on Lyndale or headed south.  The train seems to be CN engine - which stands for Canadian National Railway.

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Sunday, July 24, 2011

Even Stores In Afghanistan Look Better Than Friedman's Shoe Store On West Broadway...

Photo by John Hoff

A lot has changed in North Minneapolis since I left for military deployment around the first week of May, 2011. The first night I slept in a motel room en route to Camp Shelby, Mississippi, I turned on my laptop and learned Osama Bin Laden had been killed by Navy seals. This reminds me that I owe Megan Goodmundson a blog post comparing the coolness of the navy to the coolness of the army. It's very hard to swallow my army pride and admit certain things, so let's just say it's taken me a while to write that particular blog, about a year so far.

Later, while I was still very much gone, the North Minneapolis tornado ripped through...sparing my house, but ripping most of the roof off Megan's bungalow and destroying the lovely little crab apple tree in her back yard. I called up all the mutual friends I knew from my barracks at Camp Shelby: if your house is safe and secure, run to help Megan. Her roof is gone. I told one of our mutual friends--a navy vet--"Get to Megan's house and the first thing you do, you find that American flag wherever it is and raise it over what's left of the house."

He did just that. I will have to get around to publishing that inspiring photo in the near future.

Now living inside a fortress of sun-baked mud and straw in Afghanistan, but finally enjoying internet access, I am trying to catch up on what has changed in NoMi. I heard from the Hawthorne Hawkman blog about a new restaurant--which might have good soul food, but needs to refrain from sign spam. I heard about new gardening space in the Hawthorne Eco Village.

I'm afraid that when I come back from Afghanistan (inshallah) so much will have changed, it will be hard to get up to speed. Of course, some things HAVE NOT changed. Paul Koenig is still a lying lie-bag in legal hot water over his failed slumlord empire.

And (so I learned from a recent post by the Hawthorne Hawkman) the Friedman's Shoe Store on West Broadway still hasn't...

...fixed the ugly-as-all-get-out "butt glass" on the exterior of their store.

Pictured above is an image from Afghanistan which I am using as an artsy-fartsy stock photo to creatively illustrate my point. This is a pair of shoes...sort of. It's actually a kind of a plastic mold of a shoe, complete with fake laces. These cost about 800 Afghani in the local bazaars, which (at a rate of 46 Afghani to one American dollar) is about four bucks, right? It should be pointed out that Pakistani currency circulates here as freely as Afghan currency, and is often the preferred currency, so one is more likely to purchase these faux shoes with Pakistani rupees rather than Afghanis.

The average national income in Afghanistan is about $300 a year, though President Hamid Karzai (a truly great man saddled with a job that would tax the personality of George Washington or Abraham Lincoln) wants to bring the median national income up to $700 a year. (Al Flowers, please note correct use of the word "median" instead of "medium" when somebody reads this blog post to you)

These so-called "shoes" are made in China and sold all over Afghanistan. After only a couple weeks of wear, walking on the hard ground full of rocks and stones, holes wear in the bottom. Afghan workers who I supervise constantly ask me for shoes and I'm all, like, "I'm telling me friends in America to gather up as many shoes and boots as they can and send them to me, freight rate APO, to Afghanistan." Though, given the language difficulties, this comes out something like, "I...write...America. Tell friends. Send many shoes." I explain, apologetically, how this will take a while, which can be expressed by saying the Pashto word for "tomorrow" and the word for "day after tomorrow" over and over:

Sabaa. Balsabaa. Balsabaa. Balsabaa.

And when I find myself saying this, how fixing the shoe issue will happen tomorrow, the day after tomorrow, the day after the day after mind flashes to Friedman's Shoe Store. And how the much-talked about, some-time-in-the-sweet-bye-and-bye fixes to the exterior never seem to materialize. I dare say I will manage to put shoes and boots on the feet of fifty Afghans before Friedman's does anything about their ugly exterior. My relatives will be hanging my ornaments on the Christmas tree--ornaments which I plan to make by cutting apart decorative Christmas cookie tins left over from last year's To-Any-Soldier care packages, and nailing these metal pieces to painted pieces of wood--before Friedman's fixes their exterior. Of THAT I am confident.

Let me just say in closing that, since coming to this country, I've seen local merchants who do booming business out of a rusty, abandoned Conex container converted into a store. One young man who works in one of those "cargo container stores" told me he makes $300 a month, and he said this with a great deal of pride. I've seen about half a dozen little stores like that and, without exception, every one of these Third World stores in the middle of a war zone had nicer glass on the exterior than Friedman's Shoe Store on West Broadway in North Minneapolis.

What is Friedman's excuse?

To my way of thinking, they just don't have one.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Father/Son Moments In North Minneapolis, Before I Left For Afghanistan...

Photos by Megan Goodmundson, xoxo

In the last few months, not a lot has been posted on this blog, though Jordan Neighborhood Super Citizen Megan Goodmundson has been kind enough to keep Johnny Northside Dot Com on life support. This is something Megan has done virtually every time I've been away trucking or absent because of duties associated with my military service, such as a long stretch of time I spent in Columbia, South Carolina.

As those in my social circle know quite well, I am currently in Afghanistan... in a fortress of sun-baked mud and straw known as a "qalat" and sleeping within arm's reach of my loaded rifle.

That's not the joke font. That's not the sarcasm font.

I am in Afghanistan.

Seven times an hour my mind wanders to the possibility of mortar fire coming down on me without warning, but then it's like, oh--! Check out that pretty bird! I do believe it's an oriental magpie robin.

Getting a dependable internet connection in a fortress of sun baked mud (and straw, let's not forget the straw) is nothing less than a modern miracle, but somehow this miracle has been accomplished, FINALLY.

Therefore, to the degree it is possible, I intend to keep blogging about North Minneapolis, all the way from Afghanistan. And when I come back from Afghanistan (inshallah) this blog will once again gain velocity and crank out gobs of content. But I'm glad--very very glad--that I'm not the only revitalizer blogger in North Minneapolis. When I am not around, when I am busy, when I am preoccupied and not my usual prolific self, there are plenty of others to take up the slack.

Yes, it would be interesting to write about my experiences in Afghanistan here on Johnny Northside (and maybe sometimes I will, just like Jeff Skrenes wrote about his trip to Tanzania) but this kind of travelogue thing is only relevant in small doses.

This is, after all, a blog about North Minneapolis.

Having said that...

I thought I would celebrate my recent re-arrival on the North Minneapolis blog scene with a post about my son, Alex, who turned 14 while I was away in Dixieland gearing up for deployment. One of the last activities we enjoyed together in late April was a perennial father/son favorite: removing utility pole sign spam.

In the photo above (note my military haircut, and combat boots getting broken in nicely) Alex stands on my back so he can reach a sign to pull, yank, tug and brutally batter it down. What's odd about this sign's blank. I mean, somebody went to all the trouble of nailing the sign to a pole (rather high up, too!) and THE SIGN IS BLANK.

Well, whatever.

Now the blank sign says even LESS because we took it down.

For the record, that is NOT my butt crack in the photo. I would never publish a photo of my butt crack, unless there were a substantial amount of money involved. No, rather, that is one of my belt loops contrasting against my light beige army-issue belt. That belt is now on the other side of the planet.

I wish, I wish, I wish...

I wish as I slept, with my armored vest beneath my pillow, I wish in my dreams I could teleport myself to the streets of North Minneapolis, where it would be the middle of the day, and I could roam around taking down sign spam. I fear the sign spam is growing in my absence, that nobody is as compulsive about it as me.


It is possible to generalize about the things soldiers miss while they are deployed overseas: friends and family, home cooking, the family dog. But each soldier is an individual, and the things they miss are very SPECIFIC.

I miss taking down sign spam with my son, Alex.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nomi Tornado's Spear In Slumlord's Vacant House

 Here is a photo of some tornado damage to a house owned by a notorious northside slumlord.  Let's see how long the tornado's spear remains impaled in the side of the house. When it's gone, I'll publish the whole photo of the punctured structure.

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Sunday, July 10, 2011

Minneapolis's Youngest Slumlord** Faces Rental License Revocations

 Stock Photo of Tornado Damaged House, Photo and Post by Nomi Passenger

"'He hasn't been by here since the tornado. The grass needs to be mowed, and there's pot growing in the front yard,' Kimble said as he pointed to several cannabis plants that had reached up to 10 inches in height."

From what I remember of Alan Kwong, now 28, he is quite the prodigy. One of those brilliant kids who flies through school, completely unchallenged by even the hardest courses that high school and college has to offer.  If I remember correctly, he was one of those geniuses who graduated both high school and college at a very young age. 

So it makes sense that he would continue his over-achieving, record breaking, prodigal lifestyle and become known as Minneapolis's youngest slumlord**, who is facing license revocations for the remainder of all his rental properties.

The Star Tribune has the story here.  Kwong lost one license after failing to fix a furnace and the temporary space heater started a fire in a bedroom.  He didn't fight the revocation because the house was going to foreclose anyways.  Then came the second revocation, kind of similar to the first one.  Kwong failed to repair a home after a fire and left it boarded. License revoked and unchallenged by Kwong because the house was going to foreclose.  But he did not realize that second revocation would cause his remaining licenses to be revoked as well.  The quote at the top of this blog post is from one of his tenants.  I don't know, maybe Kwong is trying to grow some weed as an additional revenue stream? (sarcasm font)

I knew Alan Kwong from several years back, when he served a brief period of time as a director on the Jordan Area Community Council board.  He was never very involved, in fact I remember the chair having to address a problem with Kwong; he'd come to the meetings and read a book right there at the board table.  I remember he resigned in some kind of a mini-scandal about him being suspected of block-busting, an illegal real estate practice described as using fear and lies to influence home owners to sell their properties quick and at low rates to flee the neighborhood due to an undesirable influx of new buyers, such as criminal elements and minorities.  The minority thing wasn't really what Kwong was being suspected of, but more of the criminal element, telling people on his block that gangs and trouble were moving in all around and homeowners should get out now while they could. (Kwong had a real estate license and did all his own deals)

So there you have it folks, slumlords come in all shapes, sizes, ages, backgrounds and intelligence levels. But they ALL need to get the heck out of north Minneapolis, they aren't welcome any longer.

** youngest slumlord title not scientifically proven with data, just an honorary title for blog purposes

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Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fugitive Level 3 Sex Offender Is Arrested In South Minneapolis

The level 3 sex offender who shed his monitoring bracelet and hid from law enforcement officials has been arrested at a home in south Minneapolis.

Gregory Smith had been living in 55411, the zip code with the highest number of sex offenders in the state of Minnesota.  He had only been out of prison for three months when he chose to break off his gps monitoring device and go on the run.

Click here for City Pages blog article.

The Department of Corrections has chosen to ignore a law that is supposed to prevent the concentration of sex offenders and has allowed north Minneapolis to be a dumping ground, a sort of go-to place for sex offenders coming out of prison.  But then they tell us in so many words "it's okay, the likeliness that they will re-offend or cause problems is very, very small. "  I heard an official say this in a meeting at St Olaf church one night, and I said, "great, then all the other communities who have zero sex offenders living there should be relieved when they start spreading out and moving all over."

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Thursday, July 7, 2011

Level 3 Sex Offender from 55411 Zip Code Is A Wanted Fugitive

Gregory Smith, a Level 3 sex offender last known to reside in 55411 has cut off his gps bracelet and is on the loose.

He is now a wanted fugitive and was last seen at the Hennepin County Government Center.

Read his DOC offender fact sheet here.

Has it been said lately that the Department of Corrections needs to de-concentrate the level 3 sex offenders out of north Minneapolis? There, it's now been said recently.

**Update: here is a link to the story of his arrest.

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Saturday, July 2, 2011

Cook 'N Wheels - Mobile Food Truck in Nomi (Oh! And They're Legit!)

(click the image to enlarge)
 Post and Photos by Nomi Passenger

Mobile food trucks have become the new food movement in Minneapolis for two years now, and this is the first year that the food carts are licensed to serve at various locations in Nomi.  I had seen this food cart on the northwest corner of Penn and Lowry several times, and today was the perfect opportunity to check them out for a late lunch on the go.

The food cart is called Cook 'N Wheels and is run by a gal named Sarah and another guy, who was busy cooking so I didn't get to ask his name.  The menu is nothing fancy or rare, but from what I saw coming out of the food window it looked great. (Strawberry and Almond Chicken Salad?? Yes, Please!)  I had the Memphis style pulled pork sliders (2) for five bucks. Delicious, tangy, not too sweet; cold, crisp coleslaw on top. So good!

Sarah said they are sometimes at the So-Low parking lot (Lowry/Emerson) during the week, approximately 1 to 5. And they head to the corner of Penn and Lowry, directly across the street from The Goddess of Glass Gift Shoppe, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays in late afternoon through the evening.

They have a facebook page and twitter which they use to send out their location plans on a daily basis. There are a few more photos on facebook also. Here's their self-description:

"Cook-n-Wheels is a mobile food truck that serves made to order deli sandwiches and Panini's, fresh salads, pulled pork sliders, brats and hot dogs, Greek yogurt parfaits, and much more! Come find us, we have something for everyone to enjoy!""

Click here for a great write up and food truck directory for the twin cities. ( I see they don't have this one, and there's the perfect spot to insert them in the directory)

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The Tallest Out of Control Yard Yet...

Photo and blog post by Nomi Passenger

This one takes the prize in my book for the tallest, most out of control yard ever. Can anyone beat this photo?

Don't worry, I already sent the picture to 3-1-1. A call just wouldn't do the problem justice.

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