[From an idea suggested by Instapundit, and with apologies to all]
St. Paul Council Mulls Supplemental Sewer Levy
Star Tribune Metro News
“Sewers are icky.”
“Why’s that?” I whispered, looking up from my PowerBook.
“Because they’re filled with poo.”
Gnat squirmed uncomfortably on the hard maple bench in front of me and offered a stinkface. I couldn’t tell whether the face was from the thought of icky poo, or a residual miffiness that I had cancelled our regular weekly trip to Chuck E. Cheese for an evening of sparkling sewer debate at the St. Paul City Hall. Can’t say as I blame her; I’ve never made a secret of my loathing for that particular rodent-themed dining establishment, but I have to admit that even the aging ‘90s-era animatronicons at Chuck’s floor show are marginally more lifelike than St. Paul’s Public Works Committee.
I shushed Gnat gently, and she returned to her Dora the Explorer coloring book we bought on the Thursday trip to Target. The child wields a deft Crayola, I have to say, even though the latest 64-color palette leaves a lot to be desired. Whatever happened to burnt umber? I thought about the bold yet muted earthtones of Binney & Smith’s 1966 edition, and how they were dumped unceremoniously for the psychedelic Pop Art hues of Peter Max following the crayon industry’s Summer of Love. Such is progress.
“Why do sewers cost money?”
“Because someone has to build and maintain them,” I explained.
I also wanted to explain to her how the sewers of St. Paul were once grand structures, the subterranean toast of the upper Midwest, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright’s lesser known brother Dave. Like his prickly brother the “Maestro,” Dave Lloyd Wright could be a prima donna but there is no denying the man knew how to craft a sewer. Sturdy, big-shouldered conduits that spoke more to the fecal rhythms of the prairie than to the catacombs of Rome. All that changed with Corbusier and the Bauhaus’ hegemony over sewer aesthetics, and St. Paul was not immune. By the ‘40s the sewage infrastructure of the Twin Cities had fallen under the thrall of Corbu’s International Style; soulless machines for conveying the cities’ burgeoning waste loads to the Streamline Deco water treatment plants of the era. In the suburban boom optimism of the postwar 50s sewer planners spruced them up with atomic boomerang-and-starburst Googie designs; few are left, having been replaced now by the craptacular concrete Brutalism and Post-Modern sewer fads of the 70s and 80s.
But I didn’t. Gnat seemed content with her coloring and I didn’t want to spoil the moment with a critique of Gehry and Calatrava’s non-linear approach to building poo tubes. Besides, it was getting late and we needed to get back to Jasperwood. Gnat, for a tuck-in and story; me to re-index my database of vintage Crayolas and record a new podcast episode of “The American Standard.”
Did the Council approve the levy? Hard to say. We left before the vote and with all the distractions it was difficult to tell which side was holding sway in the debate. You’ll probably find out like me, when your water bill arrives next month.
Man Charged in Northside Convenience Store Robbery
Star Tribune Police Blotter
It was about two o’clock in the afternoon and I had just placed my size 11 EE brogues on my desk in the City Room. I uncorked a fifth of Old Crow I keep in the Steelcase’s third door left, hoping to cure a bad case of sobriety that had been nagging me since breakfast.
That’s when she walked in. Five feet two inches of trouble in sensible shoes with a master’s from Missouri J-School. Nancy Barnes, my editor.
“Got a light?” she purred, thumbing through her copy of Editor & Publisher.
“Sure, dollface,” I answered, handing her the hot end of my Lucky. “Your butt or mine?”
“Douse it, sleuth,” she sneered. “The Strib maintains a smoke-free environment. And call me ‘dollface’ again I’ll have the Harassment training boys downtown work you over.”
“So do you have something for me or is this visit strictly for pleasure?”
“Robbery bust, third precinct. Thought maybe you’d go sniff around and have a look-see for tomorrow’s edition.”
I stabbed out the Lucky and grabbed my notepad.
“And one more thing, Marlowe,” she cooed.
“No unnecessary ethnic descriptions. New style policy.”
When I got to the precinct the flatfeet had already booked the perp. A slack shouldered little Norwegian weasel with a mop of greasy blond hair and a pair of jittery eyes. His name was Olafson. The hairs on the back of my neck told me something was wrong.
“What’ve we got here, O’Hanlon?”
“Northside gas mart snatch ‘n’ grab. Caught the little hophead bastard eating the evidence in a parking lot in Bloomington. It’s over on that table.”
I looked around and saw the pile of half-eaten Chips Ahoy and Little Debbies already taped with evidence tags.
“Not so fast, shamus,” I barked. “What makes you so sure Olafson pulled this heist?”
“Got ‘em dead to rights on the Chevron security cameras. And an eyewitness.”
He pointed to a mysterious tall Oriental man in a turban. He had a pair of hypnotic dark eyes and a blue Chevron clerk vest with a nametag that read “Hello! SINGH” and a button advertising SpeedPass.
I took down the information. Yep, for the MPD this pinch came conveniently gift wrapped. Tied up in a tidy little bow. Nice, neat, and easy.
Maybe too easy.
Wayzata Cougars Host Mudcats in Wednesday T-Ball Action
Hunter S. Thompson
Star Tribune Community Sports
We were on the 494 en route to Wayzata when my Samoan photographer handed me a plastic bag with the psilocybin. I gulped a mouthful of the acrid fungus and washed it down with chaser of Wild Turkey to take the bitter edge off. God knows we would need it. We were on a brutal odyssey into the maniacal heart of suburban pee wee baseball.
When we finally got to Wayzata we made our way to the baseball complex, built in ’76 by the crewcut fascists of the local American Legion to dull the pain of the Vietnam horror. The parking lot was crammed with every manner of minivan – Caravans, Voyagers, Windstars, Siennas, the bloated metal three-row-seating carcasses of a filthy cul-de-sac world driven half insane by rot, hate, and juice box schedules.
That’s when the mushrooms kicked in. The photographer and I made our way to the top third row of the bleachers as not to attract attention from the domestic monsters that surrounded us; demented suburban swine in sweatpants that screamed in ecstasy with every boink of the aluminum bat, urging their horrific “Brandons” and “Emilys” on to ever greater violence.
“Maintain…” I screamed to myself silently. The photographer was chewing on a stray catcher’s mitt. I took a balloon hit of nitrous oxide.
In the top half of the sixth a scrawny little ratfaced bastard named Sam Nielsen came to the plate. He had already distinguished himself earlier by taking a relay ball to the nose, necessitating a 10 minute delay while he bawled in existential agony. Now he began swinging away like a demented 3’6” hellchild at the ball atop the tee. Caught up in the drugs and the gruesome scene the Samoan and I began chanting ritualistically, “swing batta batta batta batta SWING.”
By my count he took 17 whiffs, but that’s probably a rough estimate because of the mushrooms and Wild Turkey and laughing gas. Still, no strike out, not for these heinous offspring of white suburban paranoia. When he finally made contact the ball dribbled six inches off the plate and Nielsen stumbled to first while the helmet bounced spastically on his tiny 5-year old skull. The relay was late and a run scored.
In the end the two sides lined up for post-game high fives and mumbled congratulations of “good game.” They ripped into a case of Hi C boxes and ran to the playground, a new generation of Nixons and Haldemans and Erlichmanns plotting their empire at the curlicue slide.
But still, the answer was elusive – who won? Stifling the hallucinations, I asked the umpire.
“Score?” he laughed. “This is T-ball. We don’t keep score.”
That’s when I realized it: T-ball is fixed. Wayzata is fixed. America is fixed.
We grabbed a bag of Cheddar Blast Goldfish and ran.
Weekend Front Brings Chance of Showers
Star Tribune AccuWeather Meteorologist
There is a low pressure system
A grey wall, purple specked, black
In Canada skies descending, incandescent
Approaching, radiant, spasmodic
Expected Sunday early morning
Bearing in its celestial womb
1”-2” of life water, death water
Slickening weekend freeways
to Mall of America
There is a 60% chance it will open
Like the limbs of a pliant virgin
Bringing highs of 72 and lows near 50
Mow that shaggy yard now
Or wait until Tuesday
Larson and Hovland
Star Tribune Wedding Announcements
ACT I: The Olive Garden
Two Households, both alike in dignity
In Edina where we lay our scene,
At the Olive Garden where rehearsal supper wends
Over plates of Pasta Florentine.
Hey nonny nonny and a ho ho ho! Join we now the matrimonial party of Amber of the House of Bob and Debbie Larson of Edina; and her betrothed swain, Ryan of clan Hovland in Maple Grove. But beneath this merry stage impassion’d troubles lurk.
I bid you a good evening, dear guests! Empty thy goblets and make thee to bed, for prithee on the morrow our daughter fair Amber dons her final maiden-gown and taketh for her groom fine young Ryan at the Chapel of St. Marks, Lutheran.
As surely as she has doff’d it many times, good brother. Doest thou in thy foolery yet insist thy daughter is of her maidenhead still possess’d? The dormitory walls of Bemiji State still resound with tales of her purity forsaken and wanton trysts engaged. Fetch unto me another tankard, wench!
OLIVE GARDEN SERVING WENCH
Would’st thou I leave it on thy tab?
AMBER LARSON (aside)
Accursed uncle most foul! His tankard hath disclosed the truth of my base immodesties.
Hold thy tongue, blackguard! ‘Tis my betrothed’s honour that thou hath impugn’d with thy drunken lies.
What know thee of “honour,” libertine? ‘Twas it not over canoli that my own ears I espied your cackling groomsmen ajest in the unspeakable ribaldries of thine own bachelor party? Forfend I shall share the tale of thy many lap dances, whoremonger. Another tankard, say I!
Well that’s differnt.
And thus of ill-boding mutinies was this star-crossed bond conceived, and consecrated at the altar of Saint Mark in Edina; Rev. Ed Carlson presiding. Of bridesmaids Amber had a host of five, array’d in Nordstrom gowns of Dacron finery; and likewise Ryan an equal host of dashing groomsmen in tuxedos from Mens Wearhouse.
ACT II: The Steps of St. Mark’s Lutheran
Huzzah! We beg your forbearance as we pelt thee with rice, fair Amber and Ryan. What God hath join’d together let no man put asunder!
Pray come join us at the Holiday Inn gentle guests, to make merry at the cash bar and celebrate our sacred nuptial bond. To the Camaro!
O monstrous! O strange! What be this traitorous omen? My Z-28 hath suffered the privations of shaving creams most foul!
ACT III. Holiday Inn Banquet Room.
Thither wends our tale to the Holiday Inn where Amber consorts with her maids and Ryan with his men, and the bartender hath been estopped from serving Uncle Dave. ‘Midst the din of the Macarena the tragedy unfolds.
Perhaps it is the Leinenkugel speaking, but… I love thee, man!
Thou is a lucky dude indeed, bro; for thy shall have now unto thyself alone that one thing that Amber dost so well.
Surely thou must knowest of what I speak, good dude. You know, that thing both tender and bold that she… um, that… well, she is sort of known for it.
Yeah verily, dude! I knowest that I shall miss it, and her ravenous… um, anyone need a beer?
Bringeth the groom to the stage for the tossing of the bride’s garter!
That is okay, dude! Of Amber’s underthings we have plenty enough.
Unhappily they left for a honey-moon,
An all-inclusive in Cancun.
And thus our tragic story ends;
With a lesson for all, O gentle friends:
Before thou raise thy wedding cup,
Get thyself a good pre-nup.