Forgetting the ’70s? (5×8 – 1/18/13)

What does Peavey Plaza say to you, when you can’t control information, a picture of Prince, that’s one for the gun owner, and Dear Mr. President.


The problem with history is eventually it encompasses a period of your life that seemed like yesterday. That’s, perhaps, what is at the heart of my revulsion at the idea that Minneapolis’ Peavey Plaza is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Peavey Plaza screams the ’70s, an awful time in the life of most baby boomers. There was a war, the draft, the Nixon years, and disco — perfectly forgettable elements of the ’70s. And ’70s architecture reminds of what we’d like to forget.

You might see a wonderful example of Modernist landscape architecture. I get it. People like it. I see the Ford administration and K-cars, not to mention the ’70s style of urban development which involved knocking down a beautiful old building, and putting up some ’70s modernism.

And concrete. Oh, so very much concrete!

(Photo via Flickr by Maddymonkey. Used under Creative Commons license)

But, of course, I’m not an architectural expert. The ones who are said Peavey Plaza is as glorious as Central Park in New York. And, to be sure, if you let city officials have their way in matters of preservation vs. development, ugly office buildings win every time.

Still, another urban addition to the National Register last week suggests the sort of architecture worth fighting for: art deco. Witness the City Ramp in Spokane. So beautiful, so original. So not dominated by right angles and rectangles. Oh,and so historic!

Peavey Plaza screams a time worth forgetting to me. But I recognize the different abundant and heartfelt love Minneapolitans hold for it.

What does it say to you, Minneapolis?


It was only coincidence that MPR reporter Tim Post’s story about the difficult time social media is providing educators occurred on the same day an apparent racial incident spilled out from the walls of Washburn High School in Minneapolis.

Is social media a force for good? Or a pain in the neck? Yes.

“A lot of times there’s word that gets out before we are sure what’s happening,” said Linda Madsen, superintendent of the Forest Lake school district.

On one level, Madsen said, social media is a great way for students to reach out to their parents when something is happening at school, such as a lockdown. They can let their parents know that they’re safe when something occurs.

But Madsen said the speed of social media posts can lead parents to call schools to find out what is going on before school officials have gathered all the facts themselves.

In her letter to parents of Washburn students this week, principal Carol Markham-Cousins sounded a similar theme. The incident had occurred days earlier, but hadn’t risen to public knowledge until it began spreading on social media.

Because references have been posted on social media sites and students are talking about the incident, it is imperative that our community receives this message and understands that we are aggressively responding. Parents can help their students be safe on social media by teaching them about appropriate behavior, empathy, and how to report abuse to the website administrators and trusted adults at school or elsewhere.

But it does raise an interesting question: What if it hadn’t been on social media?

In the meantime, WCCO’s Esme Murphy likely gets it right in declaring what other educators have declared in similar noose cases: Kids aren’t very smart about the meaning of the noose.

Which is why history teachers should have a lesson plan for next week, which begins with Martin Luther King day on Monday.

Here, try this as a starting point. Spread it around on social media.

Related: School fight in North St. Paul. (Pioneer Press)


Prince wouldn’t allow cameras or cellphones into his concerts this week at The Dakota, so The Current’s Andrea Swensson went all old-school court reporter on him.


I dare you to sit down,” he teased, egging on the crowd and demanding that everyone get up and dance, and then launched the band into a blazing, bopping cover of Chaka Khan’s “Ain’t Nobody” that got the entire room springing dutifully to its feet.

“You better call the baby-sitter,” he joked, leaving most of the vocal melody to his trio of back-up singers and half-scatting, half-rapping his way through the first tune. He switched to all-the-way rapping on the second song, 1994 single “Days of Wild,” and kept the jokes coming, at one point pausing to admire Cassandra O’Neal’s tempestuous piano playing and remarking, “It’s windy outside… It’s windy and Lisa outside!”

Read Andrea’s (the finest blogger in the Twin Cities, people!) post here.

Related pop culture: In A Fragmented Cultureverse, Can Pop References Still Pop? (NPR)

Even more pop: Taking pop seriously (Scientific American)


In Grand Forks, Jared Christensen, an experienced burglar, picked the wrong house to allegedly break into at 3 in the morning. The homeowner had a gun, the Grand Forks Herald reports today.

The burglar was just coming out of his roommate’s bedroom with a laptop inside his jacket, when Kaml confronted him.

“I was pointing my .45 at him and told him to stop and get on the floor and he just kept coming right at me,” Kaml said. “We danced round the living room and kitchen a little bit. I’ve got a couple of purple toes; I’m not sure if he stomped on them or dropped the laptop on them.”

“He kept telling me he was mentally ill and he just wanted to leave,” Kaml said. “I had him by the jacket and had the .45 pressed against his chest. Then he pulled a pistol out of his pocket.”

Holding his six-shot revolver by its wooden handle grips, Kaml said he hit Christensen in the head two or three times with the butt of the handle. “I was trying to knock him out.”

“I can guarantee you all my doors will be locked from now on,” the homeowner said.

Related: What’s with the thrill of shooting a gun? MPR’s Sasha Aslanian went to a ladies night at a local gun shop. It turns out she’s pretty good at it.


Related: How the job ages presidents (Washington Post)

Bonus I: From the it-seemed-like-a-good-idea-at-the-time file: Airport body scanners being removed. (Bloomberg)

Bonus II: The ultimate full-moon shot.

Moonwalk from Reel Water Productions on Vimeo.


In a recent op-ed piece, Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn., argued that the United States needs to change its policy regarding the use of drones. Ellison says strikes by the unmanned aircraft undermine U.S. standing around the world and may be killing more innocent civilians than the United States has acknowledged. Today’s Question: What rules should govern the U.S. use of drones?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: This week on the Friday Roundtable, our panelists will discuss and debate the ideas put forth by Nate Garvis in his book “Naked Civics.” Can cultural tools, as Garvis writes, really bring more positive change than political debate?

Second hour: BBC Documentary: Johnny Cash and the Forgotten Prison Blues.

Third hour: Minnesota is experiencing another year of low snow, prompting the cancellation of ski and dogsled races around the state. What impact are the mild winters having on Minnesota’s economy?

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm): Historian Ronald White, giving a Chautauqua Lecture about Abraham Lincoln’s second inaugural address, considered by many historians to be the finest inaugural speech ever given.

Science Friday (1-2 p.m.) – How the flu spreads and where it likes to live. And a lamp that’s powered entirely by gravity.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Presidential speechwriters talk to NPR about inaugural speeches.