On Ice

While hockey and competitive figure skating can be brutal, they are rarely fatal. Naturally, civilians don’t normally think of ice arenas as potential morgues. But the topic came up the other day, during a minor crisis at the St. Louis Park Aquatic Park and Recreation Center. Paul Omodt, City Council member and president of the […]

You Are What You Meat

The little tag on a tray of Smart Chicken brand breasts at the Byerly’s meat counter said, “One hundred percent vegetarian-fed chicken.” Does this mean the Bush administration has finally found a use for all those pesky, liberal vegetarians? Or does it mean I might somehow obtain by proxy some vegetarian virtue from the animal […]

Strange Flesh

Once you’ve paid forty bucks to sit down with a hundred complete strangers wearing party hats and paper bibs, the rest should be easy. It’s so easy, in fact, that some folks put away as much as two pounds of crayfish before the American Swedish Institute’s annual krafskiva was over. Assisted by scheduled shots of […]

Stick ’Em Up!

Phoenix Rising, a sculpture fashioned from roughly five thousand melted guns, now lies in two pieces in a storage facility. Hennepin County officials are reluctant to say exactly where, because its current condition “is not the presentation the artist had in mind.” The mawkish symbolism of the mythic bird reborn from ashes certainly makes it […]

Cruise Control

At approx. 1015 hours on 12/31/03 I saw a white male driving a white Ford Taurus. The male backed his car into a parking spot to my left. I was also backed in. The male began reading the paper in his car. He continued to make eye contact with me while reading the paper. After […]

Feeling the Knead

Is St. Paul Irish? Mostly not—there is an embarrassment of Lutherans and Germans—but that doesn’t stop the city from promoting a credible St. Paddy’s Day parade. Since the capitol city pulls off this stunt each March without a hitch, why shouldn’t it also decide, now and again, to become the seat of the defunct Austro-Hungarian […]

The Mortarboard, the Sheepskin, and the Dixie Cup

Nothing was normal on the morning of Wednesday, November 5, at Stratford High School in Goose Creek, South Carolina. For one thing, there were no drugs in the school. If there were, the fourteen police officers plus one drug-sniffing dog should have found them when they swept into the school, guns drawn, and sent students […]

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St. Paul’s Lunch Lady

I don’t know whether I was having a nightmare, but I recently woke up wondering what it takes to produce 48,000 meals a day. So I invited myself to the St. Paul Public Schools’ nutrition services headquarters to find out. The answer, supplied in the person of Director Jean Ronnei, is nerves of steel. District […]

Down Force

The now ubiquitous spoiler—that horizontal fin typically perched on the trunks of sports cars—goes way back, back before the elevated brake lights that now decorate them on every third Honda you get behind on Lake Street. In the early days of Gran Turismo racing in Europe, about forty years ago, the spoiler was the solution […]

Meet the Meat Guys

“Psst! How about a case of meat? Good stuff. Great price. C’mere and have a look.” It happened to Joe’s wife one day as she pumped gas on her lunch break. She and a friend followed the peddler to a van in the Amoco parking lot to have a look. It was tempting. The beef […]