Launch Party for my New Book, Closing Time, is Thursday November 7

I'm beyond thrilled because I just got my new book in the mail! 

My good friend, Andy Sturdevant, and I have spent the last year and change working on a book about the history of bars and saloons in the Twin Cities. It was a lot of research and writing, but I finally have the results in my hands and it looks great! The Minnesota Historical Society Press did a wonderful job putting everything together, and, if I do say so myself, the stories and photos are gems.

I want to thank my co-author Andy for putting up with me and being a wise and enthusiastic collaborator. 

I also want to thank and acknowledge the following people for their assistance and insights: 
James Eli Shiffer, Peter Majerle, Phil Platt, Shadey Chavez, Gilbert de la O, Frank Schweitz, Eric Dawson, Mark Stutrud, Dick Westby, Dave Thune, Tim Gallivan, Art Eddleston, Annette Fleming, James Hathaway, Tom Schroeder, Peter Rachleff, the organizers of the Stupor Bowl, and the countless people who help Twin Cities Facebook history groups thrive.  

Finally, I want to thank my wife, Emily Parks, for editing help, love, and support.

Thanks to all of you!

Andy and I are having a kick-off party at one of our favorite places, The Black Forest Inn on Nicollet Avenue. It'll be next Thursday in the back room at the classic Whittier establishment. 

I hope you can make it! (Details below.)

Meanwhile look for Closing Time in stores, or order it from MNHS Press today.

If you want a sneak preview, we've been leaking excerpts to local publications. Check out:

Stay tuned for more readings and events to be announced shortly!


Signs of the Times #159

 Please Pick
up after dogs

[Pole. Boulevard. West Side, Saint Paul.]

 Butterfly garden
Please pick up 

[Boulevard. Seward, Minneapolis.]


[Wall. Northeast, Minneapolis.]


[Somewhere in Minneapolis?]

No Parking
See Sign [arrow]

[Tree. Probably Seward, Minneapolis.]

 Don't USE

[Window. Location forgotten.]


[Pole. Uptown, Minneapolis.]

Dr. Appt

[Door. Hastings.]


Twin City Doorways #54

 [Balitmore, MD.]

  [Balitmore, MD.]

 [West End, Saint Paul.]

 [Hamline-Midway, Saint Paul.]

 [Central Avenue, Minneapolis.]

 [Snelling Avenue, Saint Paul.]

 [University Avenue, Saint Paul.]

[Seward, Minneapolis.]


Reading the Highland Villager #244

[A pile of Villagers on a porch.]
[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. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free. See also: Three Reasons Why I Re-Blog the Highland Villager.]

Headline: Two sides in trash collection debate make their pitch; Possible property tax hike complicated the question
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There is a question on the ballot about whether to invalidate the ordinance that has organized trash collection in the city for the past year. Article explains the language. The Mayor has stated that if the NO vote passes, the trash collection will continue and be paid for with property taxes. Currently, most people are billed directly. [Other than commercial or larger apartment properties.] Article details some of the pro- and anti- groups, and mentions the "force majeure" clause [which pertains to acts of god, and seems to me like some serious grasping at straws]. Each side is accusing the other of "scare tactics." CM Tolbert is quoted saying that people should not speculate on what a "no" vote would mean without a supreme court decisions. [See below.]

Headline: Area homeowners could see $600 property tax increase; Ramsey County releases tax estimates with and without $27.1M for trash
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Taxes could go up by a lot. See above. Anti-trash people suggest a NO vote would invalidate the city's garbage contract, but this is not really the case. [This is especially clear after the court decision that came out today.] 

Headline: St. Paul City Council Oks maximum levy increase of 22.3%; Council adds $27.1M to levy to cover additional cost of trash collection
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: See above. CM Prince voted against, arguing that she will not presume that "the bad trash contract needs to be assessed." [Well, actually.] 

Headline: Study addresses West 7th parking needs
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: Neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking, so a consultant did a study of parking policy, supply, and demand in the West 7th area closer to downtown. It has a lot of data about car storage patterns and ideas about how to fix some perceived problems. The main problem: the area has become more popular so more people are storing their cars there. [Classic Yogi Berra situation.] But some parking lots are not really full much of the time, and the study found that Xcel events were not the big cause of on-street parking pressure. The study recommends adding parking bays by doing traffic calming efforts at dangerous intersections [kind of like this], putting in parking meters [yes!], changing some of the permit zones, and making them simpler to enforce. [Study is avilable here.] 

Headline: City quickens response to homeless camps
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: More people are experiencing homelessness. The city tries to make people leave spots where they are living, like under bridges, in parks and caves, and by railroad tracks. Article describes some of the city's homeless shelters and how they work.

Headline: St. Paul joins push to raise tobacco age to 21
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: You might have to be older to buy smokes in the future. Smoking is bad for you.

Headline: Allianz, city prepare for crowd during Tommie-Johnnie game
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: There will be a football game at a stadium and neighbors are concerned about traffic and parking. [The only thing worse than regular traffic and parking concerns, are Tommie-related traffic and parking concerns.]

Headline: UPDC has reservations over 6-story building on Lexington
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A vacant lot might become housing and a retail super market. Neighbors are concerned about apartments being too expensive. [Fun fact: These are the first proposed market-rate apartments for miles built in the past 50 years.] 

Headline: Dental office, apartments are planned for West End building
Author: Jane McClure

Short short version: A apartment and office building had a fire but is going to be fixed up.


Sidewalk Poetry #64: Hands on the Wheel

I thought the booklet said hands a ten and two on the wheel. But maybe that's because I like to drive with my hands at ten and two. But the booklet actually says: hands at nine and three. Well, my husband usually drives with his hands at eleven and one, which makes me nervous. And sometimes -- even worse -- at seven and five. Or, when he's really relaxed, just at five.

[Autumnal road, upstate New York.]


Noteworthy Parking Lots of Minneapolis Bike Tour Postponed Until Further Notice

Alas. It looks like it's going to rain tomorrow, and also be below 40ยบ. That's about my least favorite weather for bicycling, right up there with single-degree or triple-digit temperatures.

So yeah. I am postponing the Noteworthy Parking Lots of Minneapolis bike ride until another date TBD. Maybe this fall may yet present an opportunity. Maybe it won't. Stay tuned to this blog, or Twitter, or Facebook for more info.


14th Bloggaversary Post!

I started this blog on October 10th, 2005, which is 14 years ago today. So congrats to me for being really old at this point, especially for the internet!

This site started as a local urbanism news aggregator and commentary, but evolved through the years the online media landscape has changed.  Twitter, in particular, has filled a lot of the news aggregation role, but that still leaves this blog as a great platform for sharing other things like photos, commentary, and Highland Villager recaps. 

And, there's always occasional actual reporting-type-stuff. Why just the other day I was going past the University Avenue Target store in Saint Paul and recalling that, "oh yeah", that was one of my first stories where I actually attended a community meeting and "reported" on it. As the story went: in exchange for their new larger store set far back from the street, Target promised to build retail buildings along University Avenue in their giant parking lot. The quote from the piece was:
The new SuperTarget will be set back along I-94, and they're going to build actual streetfront, human-scale buildings along University Avenue. Like, with windows and everything. 

Ha! That was almost 14 years ago and has not happened.  But it is a good example of the passage of time, alas. I have learned much about the pace of change since those early days, and very little of that knowledge is encouraging.

This is all to say that this blog is still going, 14 years later. Soon it will be old enough to get a learners' permit, borrow its parents' car, and start speeding past elementary schools and buzzing bicyclists.

Once a year, on my bloggaversary, I pass the hat around. If you appreciate this largely thankless marginal website, please support my marginal existence and throw some dollars my way.

Become a Patreon supporter
Paypal to blindeke@gmail.com
Venmo to @bill-lindeke
Buy something in my online store

Even $5 or $10 would be a lovely gesture. Thanks in advance, and thanks for reading this blog!


Notable Quotes #21: Ken Boulding on Car Culture, c. 1974

[Scene from the 1973 OPEC oil embargo.]
The most obvious and dramatic change has been the sharp rise in the price and the decreased availability of gasoline for private automobiles. This situation seems likely to persist for quite a while, perhaps indefinitely, and in the United States will probably survive the lifting of the Arab oil embargo. This is already producing a marked effect on the tourist industry and the automobile industry. The long-run effects, however, are much more difficult to predict because they depend on the response of technology to stress, which has a strong element of uncertainty in it. There will undoubtedly be pressure for energy-conserving forms of transportation. There is a fair amount of short-run flexibility in this regarding terms of car pools and minor improvements to public transportation. The long-run effects, however, depend both on changes in the technology of supply and to some extent on what might be called the "technology of demand," the adaptation of preferences and life-styles to changing price and income structures.

I must confess that I think in this regard a good deal more effort will be put into the supply problems than into the demand adjustments. The automobile, especially, is remarkably addictive. I have described it as a suit of armor with 200 horses inside, big enough to make love in. It is not surprising that it is popular. It turns its driver into a knight with the mobility of the aristocrat and perhaps some of his other vices. The pedestrian and the person who rides public transportation are, by comparison, peasants looking up with almost inevitable envy at the knights riding by in their mechanical steeds. Once having tasted the delights of a society in which almost everyone can be a knight, it is hard to go back to being peasants. I suspect, therefore, that there will be very strong technological pressures to preserve the automobile in some form, even if we have to go to nuclear fusion for the ultimate source of power and to liquid hydrogen for the gasoline substitute. The alternative would seem to be a society of contented peasants, each cultivating his own little garden and riding to work on the bus, or even on an electric streetcar. Somehow this outcome seems less plausible than a desperate attempt to find new sources of energy to sustain our knightly mobility.

[From Kenneth Boulding's "The Social System and the Energy Crisis," Science, April 1974.]


Notable Quotes #20: Bob Dylan on Skyways, c. 1964

[Bob Dylan looks down on a parking lot in downtown Minneapolis.]

Minnesota native and Minneapolis musician, Bob Dylan, mentions skyways in his classic song  "Ballad in Plain D" from 1964's Another Side of Bob Dylan.
Ah, my friends from the prison, they ask unto me, 
"How good, how good does it feel to be free?" 
And I answer them most mysteriously, 
"Are birds free from the chains of the skyway?"
I think he captures their essence perfectly.


Open Letter to a Saint Paul Business Owner on the Trash Situation

[A garbage truck in Saint Paul.]
Dear NAME:

I saw the "Say NO to Organized Trash" sign in your yard. I wanted to drop you a quick note about it.

First, I love your business and think you are a great INSERT PROFESSION. I really appreciate your work in Saint Paul. Most of the time, I keep politics and business separate, and nothing about this debate changes my desire to patronize your shop. I hope the feeling is mutual. 

That said, there's a lot of misinformation floating around about the city's organized trash debate. Regardless about how anyone feels about whether the new trash system is a good idea, if the current referendum passes, I think it will hurt small businesses. The problem is that, because business and larger apartment buildings are not in the organized trash system, a "no" vote means that city-wide trash collection will go onto the property tax rolls.

As you know, currently every commercial and industrial property in Saint Paul is not paying for the trash city-wide system. But if the NO vote wins, I am confident the Mayor and the Council will move city-wide trash expenses onto the general property tax. This is to avoid a costly legal battle around voiding the existing five-year contract with the private companies, many of whom have expensive lawyers that would likely prevail in court.

If the referendum passes, small businesses would foot the bill for garbage service to every Saint Paul home, but none of you would get trash service for your money. You'd still have to pay for your own hauler, on top of the tax hike. That's a huge cost for business owners who can't afford it, without getting anything in return. 

Sure, there are problems with the current system. It's still new, and it's inevitable that a new system will has some wrinkles. I think we'll fix most of those issues with a new contract in a few years. But in the meantime, we need to avoid the worst case scenario that would raise taxes on the Saint Paul's business owners like yourself.

Anyway, that's my two cents on the trash issue. Either way you decide, I love your shop. I recommend it to all my friends, and hope you thrive in Saint Paul for years to come. 

Yours sincerely,
Bill Lindeke


Minneapolis Parking Lot Tour Rain Delay to October 12th

Due to persistent rain in the forecast, I am postponing the Noteworthy Parking Lots of Minneapolis Bike Tour by one week. It will be on Saturday, October 12th, at 2pm. Meet at the Lake Street K Mart.

I hope to see you then! 


Twin City Doorways #53

 [Baltimore, MD.]
 [Washington, DC.]

  [Baltimore, MD.]

 [Baltimore, MD.]

  [Baltimore, MD.]

  [Baltimore, MD.]

  [Baltimore, MD.]

 [Baltimore, MD.]