*** Sidewalk Weekend! *** #46

Sidewalk Rating: Why the hell not? Trick or treat!

The map of the show is not a blueprint of the museum, but the footsteps of how you went through the museum. Draw a diagram of your footsteps going through the show and send it to your friend in another town. Ask him to follow your footsteps in whatever town he is in, to recreate and experience the show.


Ask a friend to send you a diagram of his footsteps for a day, follow his footsteps and recreate his day.


Send the diagram of your footsteps for the day to your friend.


Sometimes, though, turning the corner of a street has the same effect as making a turn in your thinking.

[Yoko Ono. Selections from Rooms and Footsteps.]

[The catulpa leaves fell off of the two catalpa trees in my front yard this morning. They always all fall off on the exact same day, and this year it was in the morning sunlight.]

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Reading the Highland Villager #25 (October 27 - November 9 Edition)

[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager so that you don't have to. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]

Total # of articles about sidewalks: 3

Total # of articles about sidewalks written by Jane McClure*: 2

Headline: St. Paul drafts plan for a more cost-effective parks system
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: An overview of some new plan for how to run the city parks. The plan involves "saving an estimated $20M over the next 20 years" and probably means cutting funding for a few buildings, including demolishing the Duluth-Case and Hayden Heights rec centers on the East Side, and privatizing the Conway and McDonough Rec Centers on the East Side and North End, respectively. The article also mentions the idea of adding parks along the Central Corridor line, and a new ice rink at Phalen Park. [The article doesn't mention the State LGA cuts that undoubtedly prompted this cutback. -Ed.]

Headline: Burgers and bowling: Nook reopens renovated RanHam
Reporter: Frank Jossi

Short short version: Piece about the re-opening of the [awesome] Ran-Ham lanes, in the basement of the complex at Randolph and Hamline (under the Nook and Kopplin's). Has some detail about how there will be better beer now, and that they hope people come bowl there. Also the hours will be more consistent. [It would be very difficult to be less consistent. The article doesn't interview the old owners. It would have been nice to do so. -Ed.]

Headline: Volley of objections launched over UST tennis court project
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: [Pun alert!] Piece about how neighbors really don't like the UST plan to cut down trees and replace them with tennis courts. [This is a follow up to last issue's article on the same subject, but w/out much new detail. -Ed.]

* The hardest working woman in local Saint Paul journalism.


Sidewalk Poem #4

Exterior street, New York City - Night

Someone like The Past walks in,
sits down beside me. The moon blazes
slowly, a burning ship
in its last hour. I try to talk
to the woman inside me
who will not let me sleep.

There is a drink in my hand.
My reflection in the window pane
is small. My face is the face I have seen
in movies, in the middle
of the night, asking, Where Have I Been?

-Jason Shinder, from Every Room We Ever Slept In, 1993.

[Photo by Weegee. Img Tom Sutpen.]

TC Sidewalks Live! at Give & Take Tomorrow

Hey everyone. I will be giving a little spiel at the Give & Take event tomorrow evening.

I'm going to be showing a lot of my sidewalk photos, and revealing (for the first time) my Top 5 Rules for Good Sidewalks.

(Plus there will be a talk on the Spectacle Art of England, and "what you learn about the Midwest from growing a mullet.")

If you're looking for something to do, you could do a lot worse than stopping by Intermedia Arts at 6:30.

[Info follows.]

The next event is on Wednesday, October 27th at Intermedia Arts in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

This months presenters include:

Soozin Hirschmugl on Puppets, Pyro, and Parades. An examination of the Spectacle Art of England

Bill Lindeke on what he's learned from exploring Twin Cities Sidewalks

Jake Nyberg on what he learned about himself by growing a mullet

Please join us for a pre-program drink at 6:30PM, the program runs from 7:00 to 9:00.

Your support means the world to us! Admission is $5 to $10, sliding scale.

Give & Take is a public program developed by Works Progress in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Each event uncovers the interesting connections between all of our answers to the two questions above through a mix of eclectic presentations, games, and socializing.

The idea behind Give & Take is that when you get an interesting group of people together, just playing around with what they know and want to know makes for a very entertaining night (and it's true!). The presentations at Give & Take are drawn from the public (consider this your invitation!), and the topics are based largely on what people submit on this site.


Twin City Street Musicians #5

[Three drummers and a guitar. University campus, Minneapolis.]

[Two guitarists. Dinkytown, Minneapolis.]

[Two guitarists. West Bank, Minneapolis.]

[Flautist. Target Field, Minneapolis.]

[Fiddler. Stadium Village, Minneapolis.]

[Guitarist. Nicollet Mall, Minneapolis.]

[Two guitarists. Dinkytown, Minneapolis.]

[Saxophonist. Eastern Market, Washington DC.]

[Trumpeter. West Bank, Minneapolis.]


Obama on campus and the emptiness of the body politic

[Obama speaking on the University of Minnesota campus, October 2010.]

President Obama is coming to the University of Minnesota campus today, in a last ditch pre-election attempt to get college students to go out and vote. It's safe to say it will be a milquetoast affair. Obama will essentially be saying, “hey kids, actually care about our political democratic process! Look at my record of non-confrontation and barely-discernible improvements in a few select areas of government, and get out there and vote.” Meanwhile, “young Republicans” will be staging some sort of Karl Rove-inspired bowtie-loafer 'counter-protest', with the galvanizing slogan: “Hey! Remember 2 years ago? We don't either!”

Campus politics just ain't what it used to be. There was a time when college campuses all across the state, and all across the country, were petri dishes of radical politics. They were places that politicians feared to tread. Students were strong, and seemed to make a big impact on the national political scene. And there was a time when the University of Minnesota was a hotbed of political protest second only to Mankato.

[The police and students mix it up during the May 1972 anti-war protests on the University of Minnesota Campus. Img MNHS.]

Unless you hang around the Mayday Bookstore, you probably don't know the whole history of the 1972 anti-war protests. The old coots that hang out in that place love to talk about it. But outside of those too-cozy confines, you'll never hear any mention of the role that student groups had in pushing state institutions to resist Nixon's escalation in Vietnam. Back then, there were all sorts of groups that were actively involved in thinking politically on the University of Minnesota campus: just to name a few, you had the Students for Democratic Society (SDS), “The Trots” (Trotskyists), Young Socialist Alliance (YSA) and their upstart faction called the New American Movement (NAM), the Committee of Concerned Asian Scholars (CCAS), the Minnesota Peace Action Coalition (MPAC) / Student Mobilization Committee (SMC). In retrospect, especially given today's more apathetic political landscape, what the U of MN students did back then was pretty unbelievable. They practically shut down the entire school, and took over the streets (and even, for a little while, I-35W!) around the U campus.

[An anti-war rally on the University of Minnesota campus, May 1972. Img MNHS.]
Wednesday, May 10 [1972], was the day the people finally determined to take the streets.

The noon rally on the steps of Northrop drew over 2,000. There was very little need for talk. The first clear objective, the Air Force Recruiting Station in Dinkytown, was almost immediately agreed upon. We marched to shut it down for good. … There were over 1,000 of us gathered in the streets in front or the Air Force Recruiting Station. Some went upstairs to check it out. The Air Force had moved out. They had taken just about everything. We burned the few remaining cardboard life-size smiling posters.

We were blocking the streets, and this meant that inevitable Tac Squad [the city cops] would soon be upon us. … The next step was, obviously, to retreat of the ROTC Armory. … As soon as the Tac Squad became visible, people started moving to the Armory. It was about a half mile away and presented an interesting jurisdictional problem for the Minneapolis police. … When we got to the Armory, there were over 3,000 of us. They locked the doors. We could not get in. Some people smashed windows and kicked at the doors. Some of those who broke the windows were later identified as plainclothes policemen. There were at least half a dozen plainclothes policemen standing around surveying the scene.

We were uncertain about hot to deal with the Armory. Some wanted to burn it down. Others simply wanted to shut it down. …

At that point the logical thing for us to do seemed to be to set up barricades on University Avenue to talk to the police. Elsewhere in Minnesota, students had been stopping traffic to bring home the point that war had to be stopped. The wrought iron fence in front of the Armory was torn down. Sections of the fence were used to form a crude barricade. The concrete pillars attached to the fence, weighing several hundred pounds, were torn out and laid in the street.

[A barricade on Northrup Mall, May 1972. Img MNHS.]

By 1:30 pm the Tac Squad made its appearance. They marched up University Avenue. When they got to the barricade they drew their mace and started to spray the demonstrators that had stayed up near the barricades to talk to them.

[… the crowd moves to Washington Avenue...]
Ad advance group went up to Washington and Oak Street, about three blocks away. These 500 detoured traffic at this major intersection. This was a 2:30 pm. They sat in the street. Traffic stopped and the motorists were politely told, 'We're trying to stop anything and everything, until we can stop the war'.

[Students and police face off on Washington Avenue in May 1972. Img MNHS.]

At 3:00 pm the Tac Squad came again with mace and riot clubs. They pushed the Oak and Washington contingent out of the streets. By now they were tired and angry, so they were especially brutal.

The crowd retreated onto the Mall. … The police fired tear gas canisters into the Mall, and the people on the Mall threw them back at police... We backed up to Dinkytown, and a small group sat down in the street blocking the major intersection at 4th Street and 14th Avenue.

By now the Tac Squad was too pooped to play.

They packed up and went home. But, as a parting shot, a police helicopter sprayed tear gas into the crowd.

By 4:30 pm people had again moved onto Washington Avenue. One of the first things we did was to tear down the chain link fence dividing the lanes. This fence blocked our options of going either way to escape a Tac Squad advance.

We built a barricade across Washington Avenue at least ten feet high and ten feet wide out of anything we could find: the chain link fence, saw horses, trash cans, cement blocks, scrap lumber, snow fences and telephone poles. We built a smaller barricade a block down from the first to prevent the police from too easily slipping in behind us.

According to the rest of the story, detailed in Ed Felein's short and well-illustrated book Take The Streets (available for $8.50 at Mayday Bookstore), the University Students held this position, shutting down Washington Avenue, for two days. And during this time, a host of politicians and University officials came to discuss and negotiate with them, including Senator Eugene McCarthy, college president Malcolm Moos, Minneapolis Mayor Stenvig, and others. Eventually, after two days, the protesters left Washington Avenue and joined a larger anti-war march to the State Capital in Saint Paul.

My point isn't to talk about the politics of the Vietnam war, or about whether or not this kind of activism is ultimately useful or harmful. But I'm simply amazed at how far removed this event was when compared to student politics today, when compared to something like today's Obama rally.

Sure, today, you can still find plenty of activists pushing civil disobedience and direct action. In fact, it's not necessarily a big difference in terms of numbers. There were only a few thousand students who were actively involved in this Washington Avenue take-over, a small fraction of U's total population. And this is not to suggest that 'everybody' was unified about tactics and approaches during the 1972 action. Felien goes into great detail about the debates and disagreements between different student groups, and also quotes a contemporary newspaper poll which suggested that a (slight) majority of folks in the Twin Cities disapproved of the student's actions.

But does anybody think that this kind of action, where students actually take over the spaces and streets of the University, could happen today? Nowadays, when students riot its because the hockey team won a championship. Or, its simply because of boredom.

What has changed about student politics? Are University students really so different today than they were in the 70s?

I've a few ideas, but this is really an open question.

First, the draft made a huge difference. The fact that anyone could be drafted, and that young males could be forced into service and sent over to fight and die in Vietnam against their will, surely made US wars far more personal for young people. It attached US empire directly to the body in a way that probably kept a lot of people from sleeping, and compelled folks to care about larger issues. This is really important, and the lack of a draft is a big reason for apathy about US conflicts abroad. Now, the people who join the army are, for the most part, 'volunteers' from a select population of people, those who have very few choices in life. At the same time, the University has, over time, become more and more a place for only those who can afford the ever-increasing tuition. People who fight in US wars and people who go to the U are more and more different groups of people.

Second, the media landscape has changed. Felien's book is filled with photos of newspaper coverage of the protests, which was splashed all over the front pages of the Minneapolis Star and the Minneapolis Tribune. [Two separate papers, at the time.] Today, its very difficult to find reporting about civil disobedience. Local newspapers are a shadow of their former selves.

Third, police power has changed, to become more effective at projecting 'non-lethal force'. The liberal use of Tasers (see the recent Taser fatality at a Minneapolis YMCA) and other forms of violence make it far harder to effectively combat the state in ways like this.

Anyway, on this the occasion of Obama's visit to the University, I thought it was interesting to raise the question of campus politics in general. The history of student protest at the University of Minnesota is a story rarely told. I'd bet most students have never heard of it. Are things so different today than they were in 1972?

[A bunch of dirty pinko hippies on the University of Minnesota campus, May 1972. Img MNHS.]


Sidewalk Poem #3

Small Woman on Swallow Street

Four feet up, under the bruise-blue
Fingered hat-felt, the eyes begin. The sly brim
Slips over the sky, street after street, and nobody
Knows, to stop it. It will cover
The whole world, if there is time. Fifty years'
Start in gray the eyes have; you will never
Catch up to where they are, too clever
And always walking, the legs not long but
The boots big with wide smiles of darkness
Going round and round at their tops, climbing.
They are almost to the knees already, where
There should have been ankles to stop them.
So must keep walking all the time, hurry, for
The black sea is down where the toes are
And swallows and swallows all. A big coat
Can help save you. But eyes push you down; never
Meet eyes. There are hands in hands, and love
Follows its furs into shut doors; who
Shall be killed first? Do not look up there:
The wind is blowing the building-tops, and a hand
Is sneaking the whole sky another way, but
It will not escape. Do not look up. God is
On High. He can see you. You will die.

-W.S.Merwin, 1957.

[Seventh and Broadway, 1957. Img. Tom Sutpen.]


Signs of the Times #25

Yard Sale

[Back of sign is a map.]

[Pole. Cathedral Hill, Saint Paul.]

We don't have
public restrooms
only for the
patrons of the

[Window. Northeast, Minneapolis.]


In the last 48 hours:

This building has been broken into.
The entire lake has been covered in in graffiti.

Please do us all and our beautiful park a favor and
report any suspicious activity to 911

Thank You!!

[Window. Lake Calhoun, Minneapolis.]

Entrance Closed
For Construction
Please Enter At
Back of Building

[Concrete abutment. Cedar-Riverside, Minneapolis.]

9:00 PM

[Parking lot alley. Midway, Saint Paul.]

This Bike
Will Be Re-
Moved By Sat.
10-9-10. It Has
Not Been Moved
Since August

No Overnight
Bike Parking

[Bike. West Bank, Minneapolis.]

Ladies Beware!!!

There is a
In The Neighborhood


CALL 911!!!

[Lightpole. Selby-Dale, Saint Paul.]


[Sidewalk. Grand Avenue, Saint Paul.]


LUNCH 11-2

"By The Slice"

[Sandwich board. Snelby, Saint Paul.]

Please make
sure that door

[Location Forgotten.]


Reading the Highland Villager #24 (October 12 - 26 Edition)

[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. That's why I'm reading the Highland Villager so that you don't have to. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free.]

Total # of articles about sidewalks: 4
Total # of articles about sidewalks written by Jane McClure*: 4

Headline: Passive park is pitched for 19 acres of Ford plant riverfront; Buried on site of old landfill is waste paint, construction debris
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: [In order not to have to clean up the site for redevelopment] the St Paul Planning Commission is thinking about having a 19 acre park on the river side of the River Blvd near the old Ford Plant site (the whole site extends for 125 acres). This would likely involve demolishing the steam plant along the river [though this seems really wasteful, as that's clean and local hydro energy? -Ed.]. Article includes interesting history of the area, including details of how the 19 riverfront acres were used as a landfill through the 50s and 60s [before people pulled their heads out of their asses viz. environment and the Earth etc. -Ed.] Actually cleaning up the mess would cost $30M.

Headline: Airport zoning regs finally touch down; Overlay district puts height restrictions around Holman Field
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: MN DOT received the new zoning regulations for the property surrounding the Saint Paul's Downtown airport [which is used almost exclusively by rich CEOs and Brett Farve. -Ed.]. It's called an "overlay district", and involves height restrictions and whether or not, and where, development can take place. There is a tension between users of the airport and owners of land around the airport who want to build things there, including all the way over across the river in Lowertown, and up on top of the river bluffs. For example, current regulations may affect the viability of a Saints stadium in Lowertown.

Headline: New bike boulevard off to bumpy start
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: Coverage of the Pat Harris-induced bike fiasco [roundly and justifiably mocked]. Includes quote that "some residents have opposed [the bike boulevard] because of its expense and its potential for attracting more bicyclists". [This is also exactly the point of the bike boulevard... not being expensive, but attracting bicyclists. Plus, it's being paid for mostly by a Federal grant, not by local tax dollars. -Ed.] Article includes Jane McClure's [futile] attempt to explain what a bike boulevard actually is.

Headline: City plans new eastern entrance to Crosby Park
Reporter: Jane McClure

Short short version: The city will spend $350K of Legacy Amendment money to build a new entrance to the Crosby Park, along the river south of Highland sometime in 2011.

* The hardest working woman in Saint Paul journalism.


Bike Parking #3

[West Bank, Minneapolis.]

[West Bank Campus, Minneapolis.]

[Seward, Minneapolis.]

[West Bank, Minneapolis.]

[Stadium Village, Minneapolis.]

[Nicollet Mall, Downtown Minneapolis.]

Fish of the Week: Atlantic Mackerel

[This content recycled from my now mothballed website, excitablemedia.com.]

Its ironic that of all the fish in the sea the mackerel was chosen to express surprise or wonder. Simply put, there is nothing particularly surprising or wonderful about the mackerel.

Mackerels are classified in the phylum Chordata, subphylum Vertebrata, class Osteichthyes, order Perciformes, family Scombridae.

[The Atlantic Mackerel looks like this.]

They are characterized by deeply forked tails that narrow greatly where they join the body; small finlets behind both the dorsal and the anal fins; and sleek, streamlined, sexy bodies with smooth, almost scaleless skins having an iridescent sheen. All members of the mackerel family are superb, swift swimmers. The firm, oily texture of their powerful muscles and their generally large size make them of great commercial importance as food fish.

Helpful Hint: ho'ly mack'erel
Slang. Used as an exclamation to express surprise or wonder.

Mackerel spawn in open water during late spring and early summer. The eggs are laid primarily at night and float on the surface.

On average, Atlantic Mackerel weigh less than one pound, but up to two pounds is not unusual. The largest Atlantic Mackerel ever caught on rod and line was in 1995, from deep water off the western Swedish coast. It weighed 6 lb 13 oz.

Young mackerel feed on microscopic copepods. As they grow, they feed on progressively larger prey. Adults will eat any fish smaller than themselves, feeding heavily upon small herring, sand lance and (cannibalistically) young mackerel.

The Atlantic Mackerel is typically an open ocean fish with voracious feeding habits. All individuals within a specific school tend to be the same size. Since cruising speed increases significantly with age and size, scientists believe that peer-pressure-induced conformity of body size within a specific school is necessary to allow all fish to maintain identical swimming speeds.

Atlantic Mackerel are long-lived fish, that is, if they are not caught. Fish of over 25 years old have been caught in the North Sea. Despite its size, the annual catch is 50 million lb, which is marketed fresh, salted, and canned. When freshly caught, the mackerel makes excellent eating, but the fishy flesh deteriorates rapidly.