North Dakota’s short-lived legend (5×8 – 1/13/12)

We’re from Minnesota. We’re here for your women. Plus: the skyway effect, the agony of defeat at Crashed Ice, a deadly ‘whoops’ in Chicago, and a toilet-paper-folding record.


North Dakota tourism officials have given up on the ad (posted on NewsCut yesterday) designed to get people to drop what they’re doing and head west. The print ad shows two men in a bar eyeing three flirtatious women on the street and neither group appears interested in a game of Scrabble, and nobody seems to be very good at math.

“The reason that we took it down is that it was going pretty negative,” Sara Otte Coleman, director of the Department of Commerce’s tourism division, tells the Fargo Forum.

Scores of complaints came after the ad hit Facebook. Ms Coleman was apologetic, but took a shot at some of the people complaining:

“Clearly people have way more time on their hands and watch a lot more reality TV and ‘Jersey Shore’ than I do, because I certainly didn’t read any of that,” Otte Coleman said of the racy online interpretations of the advertisement.

Or maybe they just have daughters.

And, by the way, if someone had more”time on their hands,” isn’t that why someone would visit North Dakota?


The other night, my son and I were on our way to the Timberwolves game, parking where we usually park (Target headquarters underground) and walking the skyways we usually walk out of habit. Then we realized, it was 50 degrees outside, so we decided to experience an enchanted land — the sidewalks. It was magical, indeed, and a reminder that our reliance on skyways, even in good weather, comes at the expense of the ground floor.

Do skyways kill street-level retail? The website,, has been focusing on skyways this week in a series of posts and debates, some of which advocate removing skyways.

Today, Bill Lindeke writes that we need to calculate what effect skyways have on first-floor retail.

One of the key problems, as both David and Sam point out, is that the skyway system is only legible and understandable to people who are “used” to it, office workers who park in a ramp and work in a particular building, and “know their route” through the maze. For anyone else, its impossibly confusing.

This alone means that it becomes an exclusive space, a system in which the majority of the Minneapolis citizenry would feel excluded and unwelcome.

Why not simply re-focus efforts in downtown Minneapolis on the very legible, understandable, and public spaces we already have: the public sidewalks. While they’re not original or modern, public sidewalks are a time-tested way of pedestrians using public space in cities. As the sidewalks of Pompeii attest, they’ve been around a while. They work. People understand how to use them, how to navigate them. They’re not privately owned (most of the time). I highly recommend sidewalks!

Minnesotans can be forgiven for taking the skyways when the weather is brutal, but when we have to get where we’re going in a hurry, why don’t we take the sidewalk, which is faster, more direct, and nicer?


Oh, look! A new Red Bull Crashed ice video!

Yesterday, the event held “qualifying” rounds for the finals, which is rather a joke because the finalists are going to be the guys who travel the world doing this stuff. But it was entertaining watching the locals, anyway…

One tip: When you go airborne, don’t wave your legs like you’re jumping into the pond.

Want more? You’ll love these photos from MPR’s Jennifer Simonson.


Pilots of airliners tend to get annoyed when air traffic controllers tell them to cross a runway where another airliner is taking off. It happened at Midway Airport in Chicago this month.

A Southwest plane that had just landed at Midway Airport was preparing to cross a runway when the co-pilot yelled at the pilot to stop to avoid a smaller jet that was taking off, the Associated Press reports.

Federal officials say air-traffic controllers didn’t cancel the smaller jet’s takeoff clearance or tell the Southwest plane to stop.

The planes came within less than 300 feet of each other during the Dec. 1 incident.

Here’s the audio of the conversation between the controller and the pilot.

Meanwhile, the pilot of a Cirrus airplane is alive, thanks to the South St. Paul-made parachutes for the Duluth-made plane. The Duluth News says two people ditched in the ocean when their engine stopped.

Related flying: What’s it like to be a flight attendant?


We have a new record for toilet-paper folding!

Bonus: Jimmy Fallon provides today’s Tim Tebow mock-fest, singing David Bowie’s Space Odyssey as “Tim Tebow to Jesus Christ.” That’s got some people upset who note that Fallon would not do a mocking skit with references to Muhammad.


Some in Iran are blaming Israel and the United States for the assassination Wednesday of an Iranian nuclear scientist. The United States has denied any involvement, but some Western observers believe Americans are involved in a covert campaign to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear weapon. Today’s Question: What sorts of action to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons would be justifiable?


Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: W hat is the state of the low-skilled American worker?

Second hour: Fifty degree temps in January, with no snow on the ground? Meteorologist Paul Douglas joins Midmorning to discuss our strange winter weather

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Sen. Amy Klobuchar.

Second hour: Garrison Keillor.

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The origins of the universe.

Second hour: “Confessions of a Surgeon,” an eye-opening look inside the operating room. Plus, tattoos of the science obsessed. And, Arianna Huffington explains why The Huffington Post added Science to its sections.

  • John O.

    As a regular visitor to MDW, I tip my hat to the men and women in the cockpit. Not a lot of real estate to work with.

  • Bob Collins

    I skidded on ice, 6″ past the “hold-short” line at Flying Cloud a couple of years ago ( story here) and got the dreaded “call the tower” radio call. It serves the fellas in the tower right to have the tables reversed. That was really bad.

  • Greg W

    Man, those pictures of Crashed Ice are incredible. I never knew I should come to MPR for the photos. What a great crew.

  • JB

    why don’t we take the sidewalk, which is faster, more direct, and nicer?

    While this is true in some cases, when I used to work dt Mpls I would frequently take the skyways from my office near Target Center to my bus stop because it was faster and more direct. I didn’t have to wait for traffic, I could cut through a building instead of going around, and (depending on weather) the crowds were clogging up the sidewalks. Of course, I was that office worker that was “used” to it.

  • I always find the argument that skyways hurt street level retail interesting. Of course it does, but the skyway system also creates opportunities for businesses that couldn’t exist in the same fashion at street level as well. I actually love exploring the skyway system in the middle of winter or when it’s 95 degree outside in the middle of summer.

    If Minneapolis wants to improve the environment for sidewalk retailers they need attract retailers that give people a compelling reason to get outside the skyway system. The food trucks this year were a perfect example of this. Even when it was 100 degree outside, there were lines for the food trucks.

  • LCulbert

    Why do I prefer the skyway to the sidewalks? Too many smokers outside.

  • Tim

    I agree with Conner. I think we have just as much retail and restaurants as cities that don’t have a skyway system; we just have it a level higher. And I also can attest that, depending on where you are going, skyways can get you there faster. I can’t see anyone who spends a lot of time downtown (either working or living) thinking getting rid of the skyways would be a good idea.

  • jon

    I’m sorry, but the argument that skyway is killing street level business is ridiculous, there are signs on the outside of buildings indicating what is in them on the skyway level or on the ground level, and I’m pretty sure people can still use stairs/escalators to move from one level to another and get access to any business.

    Just because an area is an “exclusive space” doesn’t mean we should call for it’s removal. If it did how many St. Paul road ways would need to be pulled up? As navigating them is only really possible for those who “used” to it.

    The skyways are a tourist attraction. I’ve heard it from tourists while traveling that MSP is “great fun cause you don’t have to go out side” or that “Minneapolis is like one big shopping mall, only with more dinning, and drinking opportunities!”

    I know our skyways aren’t the only ones in the world, but it is something lots of people don’t have experience with, which can make it fun, or scary depending on your perspective.

    Perhaps changing peoples perspective is more important then changing the brick, mortar, steel and glass of the city.