If you look closely at the photo above (clicking to make it bigger might help) you will see a guy dressed in dark clothing running like a little bitch toward a black car parked at the end of the alley. More on this later.
In the early 1900s, when William Randolph Hearst and Joseph Pulitzer waged war against each other in newsprint and many publications bore the names of political parties, conflict sometimes spilled out of written words and into actual action. So, as a scholar of journalism, a bizarre incident that happened day before yesterday (Monday) is fascinating and seems symbolic of the heated "Nomi Blog Wars" that have been waged the last few years.
(The term "Nomi Blog Wars" was first used by Irving Inquisition, click here)
(North By Northside also wrote a two part history of the turbulent North Minneapolis blog scene, click here for Part One and here for Part Two) A common theme of both accounts is The Adventures of Johnny Northside is and always has been at the red hot epicenter of the Nomi Blog Wars)
So, anyway, on Monday while I was away from home and having a late lunch with my attorney after giving a talk to some law students, the Evil Anti-Johnny blogger sent somebody to my house to snap a picture, and then the dude took off running down the alley like, well, there's just no other way to put it.
Like a little bitch....
Here's how the incident went down. My roommate--a mysterious man of many skills, who took good care of my house while I was in Afghanistan--was sawing some dead limbs and doing lawn care when he heard a voice.
"Hey, you," the voice said, or something like that. The voice was coming in an area beyond the back yard. My roommate didn't know if the voice was directed at him or not. He ignored it, but kept hearing somebody calling out. There was a guy in the alley, standing in a spot where my rear security camera can't see because, well, it doesn't look around the garage and way into the alley. I'll be fixing THAT in the near future, and the camera might look like anything; a rock, a thermometer, who knows.
Anyway, my roommate realized there was somebody standing near the garage. It was a white guy, not bad looking, maybe in his early 30s with dark hair and dark clothing.
"Is John Hoff here?" the guy asked. "Does John Hoff still live here?"
"Who are you?" my roommate asked.
"I'm a friend from Texas," the mysterious visitor said, in an amiable tone. But right away my roommate thought, "Oh, this would be somebody associated with that freak show Jim Watkins, the anti-johnny blogger whose felonious friend Thomas Balko is rotting in the Duluth federal pen and somehow Johnny Northside gets blamed for THAT," or words to that effect.
"Who are you?" my roommate insisted, but the guy wasn't giving any answers. So my roommate finally said, "If you know John, give him a call." (Later my roommate told me, "I don't know all your friends and I didn't want to accidentally be rude to one of your friends.")
Standing just on the edge of my property, the visitor pulled out his cell phone like he was going to make a call. But then he extended the phone to take a picture. My roommate (the man of many dark skills) instinctively put up his hand to prevent his eyes from being photographed and "thwart any facial recognition software."
"GET OFF THE PROPERTY!" my roommate shouted, still holding the very serious hand saw he'd been using on the tree limb moments before. The unwanted guest ran away and was all the way to the end of the alley before my roommate snapped a picture with his own cell phone, (see above) showing the dude running toward a black car.
Naturally, my roommate called me right away, finding me at a coffee shop. We tried to figure out who the visitor might have been. I thought maybe it was my friend Peter Teachout, not aware that I had a roommate and wondering, "Who is this dude in John's yard?" So I called my Peter Teachout, who used to live in North Minneapolis and still owns property in Nomi but is now an army officer in Texas. It turned out the visitor wasn't Teachout, but as a result of that conversation I ended up passing on some interesting information to police about the possible whereabouts of a wanted felon.
What an amazing and chaotic universe we live in. How many unintended consequences even the smallest actions can have!
Right about the time I had finished sending an email to a high ranking police official with the information from Teachout, I got a message on my phone from my roommate. He was sending me the photo of the guy running down the alley. I scrutinized the photo.
Man, that dude was BOOKING IT down that alley. You can't even make out the back of his head. He looks like a frightened ant.
A moment later I got an unsolicited text message from the evil Anti-Johnny from his cell phone, 214-734-5100, which a little digging shows to be associated with 1515 Rio Grande Dr., Plano, Texas. Some place called Brentdale Apartments.
Sad. Just sad.
I saw the text message had a photo attached. Before I opened it, I already knew what it would contain. Here it is, crazily sideways just the way my phone received it.
The taunting message attached to the photo said "Now that doesn't look like you." (Proper punctuation provided by JNS blog)
Me and my roommate had a good laugh over this incident and polished off the remainder of a bottle of ouzo together, even though my roommate says ouzo is "nasty," but he agreed it was "all we have available." While I roared with merriment, my roommate imitated the weak and knock-kneed gesture the dude made when extending his phone to take a picture, his legs already twitching with the desire to flee.
"You really need to call somebody over this," my roommate said. "Jim's behavior is becoming more erratic. The guy is OBSESSED with you. And who was this OTHER guy?"
No, I said, I would just blog about it.
Not just for the moment, I thought, but for the historical record documenting a colorful era.
Nomi Blog Wars.