Lou takes a bow (5×8 – 2/4/11)

Nye’s loses its star, the airline monopoly in the Twin Cities, racism and the false police report, the obligatory Super Bowl ad post, and hunting via the Internet


nyes_piano.jpg Cut our hearts out, why don’t you? The word is out today: Sweet Lou Snider, the long-time pianist at Nye’s in Minneapolis, plays her last song tomorrow night on February 26th. Thousands have sung along over the years.

She’s one of the reasons Esquire named Nye’s “the best bar in America.”

Sweet Lou Snider was thirty-one years old when she first sat behind the piano in the Polonaise Room; she’s seventy-one today. Every Friday and Saturday night, as regular as rain, pint-size Lou boosts herself up onto her bench, a smoke-stained oil portrait of Chopin staring over her shoulder, and begins banging out songs precisely at the stroke of nine. Lou will take requests. She will also sing for you, but if you would like to sing, that would be just fine, too. It doesn’t take long for a chorus to surround her–including warbling, bickering twin brothers Dan and Dean Oberpriller, one singing high, one singing low–passing around the microphone and rounds of drinks, belting out “When I Fall in Love.” Although she is too modest to announce the truth herself, Lou is believed to have thousands of songs ready to dance from her fingers, and she smiles warmly at just about every request, as though she hasn’t already played “Unforgettable” eight million times, and wouldn’t that be nice? (You might want to reconsider asking for “These Boots Are Made for Walkin’,” however. It’s kind of a long story.)

What would be the appropriate last song? Please, not this one.


Back when Northwest Airlines pilots went on strike in the ’90s, many local travelers were so worked up, they vowed never to fly Northwest again. At the time they vowed to start flying Sun Country, which then was running a regular flight schedule to compete with Northwest. The strike ended, people went back to Northwest, and Sun Country fell on some tough financial times.

Delta bought Northwest, Southwest came into the market but travelers have no more choice in airlines than they had before, an no real indication whether it would make much difference if they did. Other, smaller airlines have come into the market, but the big carrier crushed them by matching lower fares. Given the choice, people flew the airline they knew.

The memories are stirring because Gov. Mark Dayton spoke to the Metropolitan Airports Commission yesterday and said he wants to foster more competition among the carriers.

A Delta spokeswoman told the Star Tribune that the airline welcomes the competition, then gently reminded us that Delta still employs 12,000 people around here. Urp!

That brings up the Friday open discussion: What airline do you fly? What airline would you like to fly? What keeps you flying one airline over the other? Would you risk the Twin Cities by defecting to an airline that doesn’t employe 12,000 people. And most important: You’re the Metropolitan Airports Commission. What do you do to get another airline in here?


Do people who make up stories about being victims of crime appeal to our racist side for believability?

Here’s the story from the Duluth News Tribune: A man apparently shot himself, according to police, and then reported that he was actually assaulted and shot by another man. But not just another man, a black man.

“We wouldn’t begin to speculate on why he said there was a black male,” Duluth police spokesman Jim Hansen told the newspaper. “We just have to follow up on what he told us. There were many things in his story that didn’t match. I wouldn’t speculate on why he would say they were in a blue Chevrolet or some other color. We have no reason to believe that this is a racist incident.”

In Texas last month, a teenage girl stabbed herself, then reported a black man did it.

To its credit, the Duluth newspaper takes a strong stand in a city where a famous lynching occurred:

Law professor Katheryn Russell-Brown, in her book “The Color of Crime,” documented 67 racial hoaxes between 1987 and 1996, every one of them a descendant of the drummed-up charges made in Duluth in 1920, the accusations that fueled a mob and left three innocent young men dead.

Every June, members of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Board host a day of remembrance to honor those slain circus workers. And every June, some in Duluth grumble, asking why it’s necessary to dredge up and relive such an ugly piece of the past.

A past allowed to be forgotten is destined to be repeated, of course. But we in Duluth also gather as a community at the memorial at First Street and Second Avenue East in Duluth because a willingness remains in our nation to tell the old lie — because our community, like other communities, is still far too willing to believe it, to accept, without questioning, that The Black Man Did It.


I’ve gotten this far without discussing Super Bowl commercials. It seems a shame to start now, but then I saw the one Groupon is planning to run on Sunday:

Alrighty, then. It gets better when you read the company’s philosophy here, according to Ad Freak. They’re doing it for us:

While watching the 2009 Super Bowl after we’d just launched Groupon, a few of us noticed how dumb most the ads were–seemingly all of them had some sort of slapstick violence … one after another, they began to appear increasingly absurd, especially because none of the people affected by the slapstick violence were hit with the actual painful consequences of real violence. … In response, we commissioned a super low budget commercial with the same premise of senseless violence, but this time with its shockingly realistic aftermath that violence tends to have. It is a lesson in anti-violence, and a fossil of Groupon in the earliest phase of its horrifying evolution.”

Remember that the next time you throw the phrase mind blowing around willy nilly.


Is this what we’ve come to? Hunting from the comfort of your easy chair. In North Dakota, the Fargo Forum reports, a bill has been filed to bar hunting on the Internet.


Senate Bill 2352 would ban hunting wildlife in real time using Internet services to remotely control firearms and discharge live ammunition, thus allowing someone not physically present to kill wildlife.

The sponsor of the bill says, “it’s enough to make a billy goat puke.”

The state fisheries and wildlife agency in North Dakota says it’s unaware of Internet hunting.

It’s mostly a myth, CBS reported in 2007.

Bonus: Judges in Malawi are debating whether new legislation criminalizes flatulence

Recommended reading: Ira Glass, the nation’s storyteller (Boston Globe).


Several cash-strapped states, including Minnesota, are once again considering proposals to end their bans on store-based alcohol sales on Sundays as a way to generate revenue. Is it time to allow Minnesotans to buy liquor on Sundays?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Cairo remains tense and anti-Mubarak protesters continue to demand the president step down immediately. Will President Mubarak make it through the week, let alone September, when he said he will step aside?

Second hour: Whether it’s school loans or credit card bills, debt is a reality facing many Americans. Midmorning’s financial consultant has some tips on how to make your debt more manageable.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: “Day of Departure” in Egypt. Guest is David Ottaway, former Washington Post Cairo Bureau Chief and senior scholar at the Wilson Center for Scholars.

Second hour: TBA

Science Friday (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: How walking can boost brain size and improve memory in adults. Plus, a recipe for turning skin cells directly into

heart cells and tank tips from a master aquarist.

Second hour: Why are Republicans less likely than Democrats to believe man made climate change is real?

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – At Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, some families are walking out the door with more than just prescriptions and follow-up appointments. They’re leaving with bags of food. Around one in three families visiting the pediatric clinic at HCMC struggles with hunger. Concerned about how hunger is affecting the health of her patients, one pediatrician has launched a research program, and a food shelf right in the hospital. MPR’s Julie Siple will have the story.