Power play (Five by 8 – 10/19/10)


They brought Ryane Clark home to Willmar last week…

Then they started making cookies.


The holiday shopping season is now officially underway with the release of the first study of our shopping psyche. Two Northwestern professors studied how a sense of power influences consumer behavior. They found the more powerful you feel, the less likely you are to spend money on others.

Or, as the NPR Two Way blog puts it:

There’s no telling if the new data will change the way retailers use advertising — or how stores train their customer-service folks. Perhaps they could begin asking upfront: “Are you buying this mug for yourself, madam? Or are you getting it for someone else, you scum?”

It took two high-power university professors to find out what any taxi driver or waiter could tell them. Rich people — powerful people — don’t tip. And I found the same thing back in the ’70s when I drove a cab in Boston. Naively, I hung out at the cab stand at the Ritz Carlton. Lots of attitude. No tips. But a rainout at Fenway Park — back when working stiffs used to be able to go there — yielded not only a great tip from the blue-collar world, but a stop along the way for a dozen passenger-bought Dunkin’ Doughnuts for the cabbie.

Anyway, here’s the entire study.

More studies: People who negotiate their starting salaries make $600,00 more over a career on average than people who don’t.


I try not to put the same topic on 5×8 two days in a row. I’ll make an exception in the case of Twin Cities musician Michael Larsen (Eyedea), who died over the weekend. I call your attention to the excellent piece of work by MPR’s Chris Roberts, including this award-winning assessment: “Many of his songs were more like open questions about identity and existence. ”

We got an e-mail last night from Kyle Keller, a friend of Larsen’s. It’s worth sharing:

I was standing on the second floor balcony of a friends house early this morning when I got a phone call from my brother. He told my that Mike was dead. He was crying. I was shocked. I’m still working to even comprehend that this could have happened. I can’t believe that our friend is dead.

Mike was wonderful human being who made deeply beautiful music. His impact on the world continues to widen its gyre, especially at this time when so many friends and fans replay his songs in an accidentally concerted tribute to his life.

Most people knew Micheal as Eyedea. That’s the stage name he’d been using since he was a teenager, a time when Micheal gained recognition for his excellence in hip-hop music and proved himself as one of the most talented, and youngest improvisational rappers in the world. Eyedea grew into a Renaissance man, performing lead vocals in a rock group, publishing his own poetry books co-written by his grandmother and playing shows as a member of various hip-hop, improvisational and acoustic bands formed in the Twin Cities. Eyedea sometimes used the moniker Oliver Hart. His mom called him Mikey. He made a lot of good music.

Micheal believed in the power of empathy and felt a deeply visceral sense of duty to contemplate the meaning of humanity, both in its suffering and in its capacity to love. He thought about the truth in awareness and wrote songs that made us aware. He applied mythology to the mystery of existence and talked about science with a spiritual tone. Mike was thoughtful, tough and innovative. He embraced uncertainty and broke the boundaries in every genre. He shattered every label. His music was smart, witty, provocative and sad. His music was beautiful. It was almost always eye opening and rarely was it anything but deep. Mike could make you think, cry, smile and laugh, and he always made you feel.

Mike’s heart was big and his mind was complex. He never settled in a comfort of complacence and never abandoned a moral obligation to ponder what life was all about. Mike was dedicated friend, family member and student of the world. He told the world his personal trials, and vulnerabilities, and offered us hope in understanding our own stories as well. Mike told us a lot of jokes when we were down and lent an ear when we needed counsel.

I remember Mike showing up at my wedding, a big smile from ear to ear, wearing a shirt that said “Band T-shirt” written in permanent marker. He gave me and Alissa a warm hug and apologized for having to leave so early. He was in between shows that night. I was happy to see him and his mom, Kathy at the wedding. They were always a joy to interact with, it was never a boring conversation.

Micheal Larsen will be missed by many, many people and our sorrows will pave a difficult path. But, fortunately we have his life to celebrate. We have his stories to cherish and his music to inspire us. Micheal’s music, in any form, was so immensely authentic that he left within it, an imprint of his soul. He continues to live as long as we continue to appreciate his work.


A new TED video: On the web, a new “Friend” may be just a click away, but true connection is harder to find and express. Ze Frank presents a medley of zany Internet toys that require deep participation — and reward it with something more nourishing. You’re invited, if you promise you’ll share.


Sometimes, you can make a big difference — or at least a little one — playing canasta for 15 years.


The University of Minnesota is looking for a new football coach after a disappointing start to the 2010 season and a long record of lackluster performances. How important is it for the state’s flagship university to have winning sports teams?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Rebroadcast of an interview with Nancy Pearl, author, retired librarian, and regular commentator on NPR’s Morning Edition. Her newest book is “Book Lust to Go.”

Second hour: World travel can be both exhilarating and intimidating. Travelers tend to stay away from areas where there’s tension or conflict, or bad press. Travel experts discuss the benefits of stepping out of one’s comfort zone and exploring unconventional destinations.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: The candidates for secretary of state in Minnesota — incumbent and DFL candidate Mark Ritchie and Republican Dan Severson.

Second hour: Former U. S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice speaks at the National Press Club about her new book, an account of her childhood in racially segregated Birmingham, Alabama.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The prison library becomes a workshop, philosophy seminar and an internal escape, as a young Harvard graduate found, working the books in the Suffolk County House of Corrections.

Second hour: The president of the American Federation of Teachers.

  • Mombalabamba

    Thanks for your continued reporting on Eyedea. Very interesting.