Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Women of the Mighty Midway

"During a campaign stop in July at the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, presidential hopeful John McCain talked about issues and spoke off the cuff about his wife, Cindy McCain. One of the rally's 'high points' is its Miss Buffalo Chip Beauty Pageant, which boasts female contestants who are topless or dressed in bikinis, engaging in simulated sex acts. McCain told the cheering bikers, "I encouraged Cindy to compete. I told her with a little luck she could be the only woman ever to serve as First Lady and Miss Buffalo Chip." From The MN Women's Press and

The above photo - taken by me at that great Minnesota get-together, the State Fair midway, is perfect, don'tcha think? Love the revolver. Come visit the mighty Midway, Mr. McCain, maybe it will get you in touch with working adults and roaming kids of the midwest. Concessions were a bit slow, money is a bit tight this year. So now, besides being out of touch with any middle class reality at all (how many homes do you and your wife own, now, really?) your beer heiress wife might just strap you down after that remark. I'm all for sexual power in women, but not in your degrading fashion.

I've been watching the DNC - my few times with the tube. Michelle and Hillary, the Democratic party (despite our differences) inspire hope - giving back to the people. Republicans promote fear, selfishness and tax-cutting plans that backfire on the economy.

This week is the 88th anniversary of women's right to vote. August 26 was Women's Equality Day. No one seems to notice much anymore that the Equal Rights Amendment never passed. Walking through the MN State Fair midway, I know it's fake, but I let myself be taken away by the illusions anyway. The music, the flash - this is more real than the 'real' world, that American Dream that seems so out of reach for most Americans. Try your luck at winning a prize, a giant stuffed toy or a job. Work hard and be rich! No one gets rich on a day job, it isn't going to happen, people. Forget about the tax cuts that are above your income level. Obama is proposing a cut to the payroll tax. That will affect you more than any Republican tax cut ever will unless you're earning over a million a year or so....It's like that chance to win the lottery. Your chances are unbearably slim, and even if you win, statistics show that most people are back to where they started income wise within a decade or so. So why not accept where you are and live in the real world.
I prefer this mighty warrior image - she is self-sufficient and powerful. She is definitely putting some cracks in the glass ceiling.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Observe the new Foshay

The Foshay is now new and modern. But on Friday, August 30, 1929, the skies of downtown Minneapolis lit up with skyrockets. Earlier, John Phillip Sousa and his 75 piece band gave the first of several concerts for the cities citizens. The next day, James Good, Herbert Hoover's Secretary of War, would deliver an address dedicating the object of all this civic fuss. The Minneapolis Journal was 'downright poetic' about Foshay's monument:

Like veritable temples in business, these modern towers rise high in the air and house the thousands. Safe and luxurious elevators lift one from floor to floor more dexterously than Jacob's ladder, with angels ascending and descending upon it. Modern towers unite people rather than divide them. From their heights mightly searchlights guide lone pilots on their way to ports and havens safe. (Mpls Journal, Aug 30, 1929)

I wasn't thinking of this statement when the doorman escorted my friend and I up the elevator to the 27th floor bar, Prohibition, part of the new Foshay's makeover into a W hotel. Ralph Burnet, you're making quite an impression on this little city that could. (I used to sell real estate for Burnet Realty in another life).

The photo on the right is the entrance how I remembered it. Clouds on the ceiling, the lit chamber boxes with historical tidbits. I walked through the building on my lunch break or after the bus ride. So last week, Thursday to be exact, I held my breath in anticipation of what I would find as I walked through the doors. Bright pink neon, dark walls, luxurious leather couches along the wall, the modern bar of Manny's steakhouse and restaurant. Foshay, are you all grown up now? Do you like your new makeover? Your lobby is now the hotel front desk and public space. As we wandered through the bar and the lobby, I wondered what will the future be for my favorite building in Minneapolis? The bartender poured my gin and tonic so strong that that must be a good sign wanting me to come back! Earlier I had met some co-workers at Keys, our usual hangout, on the sidewalk. We talked of the upcoming Republican convention, how strangers will take over the twin cities and we will be cringing, waiting for it all to be over. But we can have some fun, too. Give directions to tourists to the bad parts of town. Even our elected officials don't realize that St. Paul is the headquarters, not Minneapolis. They forget we are the TWIN cities. I read about our cities in the New York Times on Sunday. The travel writer didn't even mention west 7th street restaurants, right next to the Excel Energy Center where it all will be happening. Maybe they're not hip enough, or rich enough for them. Remember, this is the midwest.

I thought of Wilbur Foshay going broke. His empire crumbled two months after its greatest monument was dedicated. Mr. Foshay was tried in federal court with mail and securites fraud. Foshay was convicted and sentenced to 15 years at Leavenworth. President Roosevelt pardoned him after three years. One of the jurors for this trial, Mrs. Genevieve Clark, was prosecuted for perjury and convicted. She had perjured herself in defense of her former boss. The day before she was to have begun her prison term, she, her husband and her two children were found dead in the family car out at Pryor Lake. They hacked a hole through the side of the car and had run in a rubber hose from the exhaust pipe.

The observation deck is still open to the public, on the 30th floor, now dwarfed by skyscrapers, but I can imagine what it was like when the Foshay was the highest building on the horizon. Look down into history - there are many stories to be told poking around in the life of Wilbur Foshay, the history of the legal system, farmers driven off their land, the Gateway district, the Great Depression, and the Floyd B. Olson movement of the '30's. Olson was a progressive echoing the same sentiments we are dealing with now. Look up the 1934 workers strikes; there was bloodshed and the calling of the National Guard. Olson received the 1934 Senate endorsement, but died a few months later. A hero mourned by 200,000 Minnesotans.

Remember the history, those of you building empires. The Foshay may be around longer than you will.

(photos by Jules)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

snowplow the photo

Thanks Gina, for the snowplow photo....from the MN weather site. Also brings good memories of Dad plowing out the Taystee Bakery where he used to work, those late nights and early mornings.....of course I was just hoping for a snow day at school.

Tuesday, August 5, 2008


When I saw the new X-Files movie, "I Want to Believe" it sent me into a flashback, personally and with the show. I hadn't watched anything since the TV series and it was a joy to be back in Scully and Mulder's world again. I saw the 1998 movie also. When the X-Files went off the air in the '90's that was when I stopped watching television. At least any type of tv series that involved weekly commitment. I was disenchanted after that. Now, here I was in the theater with my boyfriend, thinking about where I was the last time I saw an X-Files episode live tv broadcast, or the movie. Back then, I was alone. I was married, but living in my own world mostly and my ex-husband never got into the X-Files like I did. Now, my boyfriend and I had a connection, we could pick up instantly on everything that was going on, even though we didn't know each other when the originals were out. This was the moment.

And the snow. 90 degrees outside and I'm content watching the blizzard. The snowplow did it. My ex-husband (gearhead that he is) had an old beater Bronco that had a plow on it. It was red. I had to drive it to work once when my car wasn't running and that was quite a trip taking it on I-94 when I used to live in the 'burbs of St. Paul. No one tailgated me then, they stayed out of my way.

I haven't seen the new Batman movie yet, but I will stay with my X-Files. I don't need the big chases and explosions. The subtle remembering works for me. Things in the world are different than they were those many years ago that seem like yesterday in a way. The film has humor in references to the 'real' world - the theme song playing with a photo of W - Mulder's cell phone pulling up names of the movie directors - but through it all I really do 'want to believe.' I want to get back what is missing from the world. The world is now that future that I thought would never happen in my lifetime. Sigh. Now if I could only find a picture of a snowplow to post.


Time with trees is best. This pine is in "The Lost Forty," an area of the Chippewa National Forest in northern Minnesota and is over 200 feet high and 300-400 years old.

In 1882 Josiah A. King and his survey crew traveled 40 miles from Grand Rapids, a settlement town at that time, and mis-surveyed a six square mile area. His mistake is our benefit.
The Lost Forty is 144 acres that have never been logged.
When I spend time with trees I am in the present moment. The forest has much to teach me. The unconsciousness takes over, and I notice things I never did before, like mushrooms, moss, pine cones (male and female). I learn things from curiosity, and let the forest teach me all I need to know.

The tree on the below was in a fire. You can tell which way the fire was heading by the v-shaped groove; the flames curled around this way towards the dark opening, so the fire was heading from the opposite direction.

The tree to the right is in the woods by the Forest History Center. My boyfriend and I spent the day there reliving 1900 and the logging camps. We had some great thoughts between us and I did the viewing, he did the writing. He wrote it all down perfectly in poems. Those words are only there once and he captured them. My brain didn't have words anymore, it just had the moment.

Later, going to town (Bemidji) words looked like this ......

Stranger in my own country

Remember Rick's Market? I found these pics I took back, when, around 2004, 2005? The friendly neighborhood grocery store when I used to live in Northeast. Lots of memories in that place, including the time I broke my ankle and my friend Amy helped me grocery shop. It wasn't trendy but it was friendly. I knew I had to take photos before it was torn down for the Lunds and Cobalt Blue condos. That brick building used to be a school. It was hard to imagine at that time what the new space would look like. The bar next door to Rick's moved across the street and the bar across the street changed names, used to be the Union. I wrote a poem at that bar - I'll include it below. Thanks also to 5 am, where this poem appeared summer 2005.
At the Union
At the Union Grill & Bar,
the beers are flowing at 11 am.
CNN replays trails of white plumage
across the Texas sky.
Seven astronauts perished this same week
17 years ago.
What was I doing then?
Same as the country,
not paying attention.
Then the explosions came,
nameless faces
all too real after a short encounter
and my gut rumbled
every time I saw their image.
As a little girl, I thought someday I'd get to outer space.
Figured out how old I'd be in
the year 2000.
Back at the Union it's almost noon.
Gravity keeps me hostage
to another beer,
another blind date
with a stranger in my own country.