« July 2006 | Main | September 2006 »

August 30, 2006

One Less Hurdle!

ballpark.bmp

It’s over! At last we can rest easy as the Hennepin County Board adopted the 0.0015 sales tax to pay for the Twins outdoor ballpark. As of about 24 hours after the vote, there still have been no reports of the constitution being ripped into shreds or Governor Pawlenty declaring martial law. Although given the testimony of the anti-ballpark folks, I'm sure it’s just a matter of time. So batten down the hatches, armageddon is a-comin!!

I have a feeling most people who check this blog are ballpark supporters as well, but I still want to go over a few simple facts. One the tax is merely 15/100ths of 1 percent. It doesn’t apply to clothing, it doesn’t apply to groceries, it doesn’t apply to automotive sales, it doesn’t apply to gasoline, and it doesn’t apply to most services. If you are in a family of 4 and have a household income of around $75,000 and you buy a new washer and dryer, you will probably pay at most $30 a year, all in little 3-12 cent drips and drabs (and remember, you won’t be a family of 4 over the entire 22-30 years this tax will be in place). Also approximately ¼ of the sales tax is paid by people living outside of Hennepin County.

Second, ballpark opponents have consistently said that they want to vote for the sales tax in a referendum. When confronted with the question of why pass this issue on to the voters when we don’t for any other issue, one Commissioner said that “capital? projects are brought in front of the voters. Oh really? When did we vote on constructing a new Hennepin County Jail? When did we vote on Light Rail Transit? When do we vote on the expansion of 35W? Surely these are all capital projects. The fact is that ballpark opponents want to pick and choose when they can vote for a project and when they don’t. I guess if you’re against a project, we should vote on it so that it can be demagogued to death.

Finally we are hearing a lot of talk about ballpark-supporting elected officials being booted out office. Funny, no one is running against the Minneapolis state legislators who voted for the ballpark. They’re obviously safe. Three of the Commissioners who supported the ballpark are up for election this fall and do have primary challenges. However all their challengers are poorly funded, one-issue candidates who stand very little chance of being elected. Right now there is no evidence that Commissioners Opat, Stenglein, or McLaughlin have any re-election worries.

So enjoy the rest of the summer, take in the very entertaining Twins season, and bask in the thought that in a few short years we’ll be spending glorious 75-degree August evenings outdoors watching baseball, not under a Teflon-covered dome.

August 27, 2006

Death Cab For Cutie - I Will Follow You into the Dark

When I was thinking about my brother's death and how to address it in a blog entry (8/20), I kept coming back to the Death Cab for Cutie Song I Will Follow You into the Dark off their latest album Plans. I wanted to include a discussion of the song in that post, but thought that it deserved it's own entry.

I included the lyrics below for anyone who's not familar with the song. It is quite a beautiful acoustic song, apparently done in one take, where the singer is comforting someone about an impending death, letting them know that they aren't alone. It's very familar in subject to the Johnny Cash song Will You Meet me in Heaven.

I thought a lot about what the singer was trying to say. Is it for someone who is afraid to die and the singer is letting them know that their hearts are linked and that they won't be alone, even in death? Or, one could almost read the song as a suicide pact: If you go, so will I so that you won't be alone. Given DCFC's heavy Emo fan base, this song will probably be playing at a lot of funerals of young people who have died tragically or through suicide. DCFC discussion boards and the video really didn't offer any insight on the song.

However, I took a different take on the song. To me the song is about depression. People with depression talk about the fear of being alone, of not being accepted, and that bouts of depression are many times described as entering the "dark." This song is for those people, its telling them you're not alone....I am there with you, I will follow you in the dark, I will go whereever you go to let you know that you are loved. Even if heaven and hell won't accept you, I will. A pretty powerful message to send to anyone depressed or considering suicide.

What do you think this song is about?

I Will Follow You Into The Dark
Love of mine some day you will die
But I'll be close behind
I'll follow you into the dark

No blinding light or tunnels to gates of white
Just our hands clasped so tight
Waiting for the hint of a spark
If heaven and hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark

In Catholic school as vicious as Roman rule
I got my knuckles brusied by a lady in black
And I held my toungue as she told me
"Son fear is the heart of love"
So I never went back

If heaven and hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark

You and me have seen everything to see
From Bangkok to Calgary
And the soles of your shoes are all worn down
The time for sleep is now
It's nothing to cry about
Cause we'll hold each other soon
The blackest of rooms

If heaven and hell decide
That they both are satisfied
Illuminate the no's on their vacancy signs

If there's no one beside you
When your soul embarks
Then I'll follow you into the dark
Then I'll follow you into the dark


August 25, 2006

Friday Random Top Ten

ec.bmp

In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Blue Moon Revisited - Cowboy Junkies
2. Now I'm Here - Queen
3. Needle and the Damage Done - Neil Young
4. Shaggy Doll (Demo Version) - Elvis Costello
5. You Tell Me - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
6. Teach Me the Rules - Jack Logan
7. Guess Things Happen That Way - Johnny Cash
8. Donald Lowes - Washboard Hank and the Squirrels
9. Enter Sandman - Metallica
10. Cut me Off - Gear Daddies

Looks like I could have been a program director for Cities 97 in 1992! My favorite song this week is Bad Boys Get Spanked by The Pretenders. In the fall of 1981 hearing this song single handedly turned me from a shaggy-haired stoner to a snot-nosed punk. That chugging back beat, Chissy Hynde's orgasmic squeals at the end, the way the song keeps getting faster and faster... I was never the same after hearing that song.

August 24, 2006

Twins Ballpark Hearings

mr smith.jpg

Well I've stayed away from the Hennepin County public hearings on the new ballpark sales tax. I have, however, watched them on TV.

As can be expected, the opponents have not come up with anything new. They still claim that the County is acting illegally by not having a referendum, ignoring the fact that the state law had a provision to waive the need for a referendum. Furthermore, it's a state law and the state legislature can change the law as they see fit. Don't like it? Vote them out in November.

Besides the usual sky is falling rhetoric from the ballpark opponents, there is always the one person who owns a small business and says why don't you give me some sales tax $$$, I bring jobs to the region, etc, etc. My response to that is this: Fine, when your business activity is so compelling that the Star Tribune and Pioneer Press assign two beat writers to cover what you do; and you inspire countless of other people to start up blogs to analyze and second guess every managerial move you make; when your employees are so popular and good at what they do that my kids want to buy replicas of their work uniforms to wear and beg for their autographs after their shift is over; when your retired workers are considered esteemed members of the community, constantly asked to attend community functions, and when one of them dies the whole town is in mourning; and finally sometimes, but not all the time, your business product is so good that the entire state is transfixed on every widget produced, every customer serviced and that when you are successful there is a genuine outpouring of community joy and happiness and we throw a parade in your honor. Once your business hits that level of community importance, then let's talk about how we can help you out. Until then you can wallow in your misery as the County collects another 12 cents the next time you go to Target.

August 20, 2006

Bradley James Carlson 1965-1986

Yesterday (8/20) was the 20-year anniversary of my brother Brad killing himself Download file. It was the typical concoction of depression and drug use. After 20 years the pain has subsided but the sadness will always remain. Probably the weirdest thing is that I walk by the site nearly everyday. Some days I don’t even notice, other times it weighs heavily on my mind -- although to be fair I am sure he didn’t know that I would one day be working at the University.

As a person of faith I feel quite confident that Brad is in a better place and his writings also show that he thought he was going to a better place. I have never held the belief that death means a person misses out what we experience on earth. They of course don’t experience it the same way we do, but by becoming part of the Holy Spirit, people who have died “know? that, for example, their kids graduated and had a good life, had children etc.

So I’m not sad that my brother died and he didn’t get to experience the things I have. I am sad because we can’t share those experiences together. He knows that Twins won the World Series in 1987, but we weren’t able to talk about it and share that joy. That is why we I think we grieve for the dead, we are actually grieving for ourselves.

In that vein, here is a list of things that I wish I could have shared with my brother over the last 20 years. It’s not an exhaustive list, and it obviously reflects where he was at 20 years ago, but it’s not a bad list. (also in no particular order)

Twins World Series victories in 1987 and 1991
The U2 concerts I attended in 1987 and 2002
My wedding
The adoption and birth of my children
The election and death of Paul Wellstone
Star Wars – Revenge of the Sith (last 45 minutes)
The death of Kirby Puckett
Timmy the Freak
The 3 New England Patriots Super Bowl victories in 4 years
Randy Moss “mooning? the Packer faithful
September 11, 2001
The new millennium
The Lord of the Rings Movies
Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky
Donnie Darko

Who do you miss and what events do you wish you could have shared with them?

August 18, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

psmith.jpg

In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Stick in the Mud - The Jayhawks
2. Loveless Love - The Feelies
3. Silverfuck - Smashing Pumpkins
4. Beautiful Noise - Neil Diamond
5. Wrecking Ball - Neil Young
6. You can't have me - Alex Chilton
7. Free Money - Pattie Smith
8. Me, Myself, and I - Joan Armatrading
9. Political song for Michael Jackson - The Minutemen
10. I Believe - R.E.M.

Favorite song this week - Big Boys by Elvis Costello. This song perfectly reflects teenage boy angst trying to figure out that most mythical of creatures: the teenage girl. The acoustic bonus selection on My Aim is True is especially poignant as nothing captures awkard teenage love like a lone voice and a guitar playing a single chord.

What's your top ten?

August 16, 2006

New York City

100_0069.jpg

Well we packed up our cell phones, ipods, shampoo, and drinking water and boarded an airplane for a 9-day visit of NYC earlier this month. I had been to New York a couple of times in the mid- to late-80’s and at that time I would have never imagined that I would want to visit again on a family trip. But things have changed in the Big Apple. The short version is: the City is cleaner, safer, friendlier, and just as fun. Despite 3 plus days of very oppressive heat, we had a wonderful time.

Of course some things are missing since my last NYC visit. An obligatory stop for any NYC visitor is Ground Zero. Having seen it, I have to admit it was hard to imagine the terror that was happening among those streets nearly 5 years ago. Right now it’s just a big hole in the ground. What really hit home was that a fire station just down the street from where we were staying had pictures of 6 firemen who lost their lives that day.

100_0096.jpg

We were lucky that we were able to stay in a small apartment in the always trendy Greenwich Village neighborhood. The little alley that we stayed in has quite the literary history, but more important to me, it was within walking distance of Washington Square and a host of sites that played key rolls in the early lives of Bob Dylan, Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsburg etc., including some of the early bars that Dylan performed in, the bar that was the setting for The Subterreaneans, and apartment where Kerouac wrote On The Road. Also we were within walking distance of the street seen on the cover of Dylan’s The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan and the Magnolia Bakery from SNL’s very funny video skit Lazy Sunday.

100_0189.jpg
("Freewheelin'" street today, trees make a big difference)

Using subways were able to see and get to everything we wanted to see including the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, Ground Zero, Battery Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, Chinatown, Little Italy, the Lower East SideTenements, the site of the Triangle Building fire, Empire State Building, Central Park, Strawberry Fields, Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Upper East Side, FAO Schwartz, Times Square, Spamalot, Yankee Stadium, Jones Beach, Rockefeller Center, and many, many subway stops. Don’t forget lots of good restaurants, none of which we could visit here in Minnesota.

100_0129.jpg

As I said above, the City is cleaner, safer, and friendlier than it was 20 years ago. We were out after dark many evenings, and never felt unsafe. Police were everywhere and not in that oppressive “I’m watching you? manner but in the comforting “we’re just cops walking the beat.? Believe me nothing gives you a safer feeling than coming out of a subway station after dark in a strange neighborhood and the first thing you see are a couple of cops just hanging out. Times Square is 180 degrees different than the seedy, peep show riven, prostitutes and drug trade place that is was 20 years ago.

100_0136.jpg
(John Lennon Memorial at Strawberry Fields, Central Park)

Finally I can’t leave without giving a shout out to my friend who let us use her apartment for our stay. Having a place to stay made all the difference in our visit. We could never thank her enough.

August 12, 2006

Odds and Ends

morneau30homers-783316.jpg
Torii Hunter reacts after being asked by Morneau if he "ever hit 30 homers for the Twins." (courtesy of aaronGleeman.com)

I'm working on a couple of big posts. In the meantime, here are a number of links that I have found interesting:

Greet Machine has a very funny discussion of worst songs. Check it out here. Hard to find much to disagree with the song choices.

Twins Ballpark 2010 has a great discussion of potential features of the new Twins ballpark.

Neal Pollack has a funny post about his two year old liking Johnny Cash.

The above picture was from Aaron Gleeman very funny.

Finally at Daily Kos there is a great post on how the media is focusing on political blogs and how many visitors they get etc., asking what it means, what is the message of political, left leaning blogs. Here is a great quote of what it really means:

Let's make it even simpler, shall we? The oh-so-mysterious message to elected officials is: People are sick unto death of war, of unresponsive representation, of incompetence, of corruption, of ever-more-intrusive government, of a spiraling deficit, of lobbyist-owned and corporation-sponsored politicians, of a power-hungry president, of six years of attempts to pass stick-up-the-ass moralizing legislation telling us when and how we can die and when and how we can reproduce. Get out of our personal lives, get the hell out of Iraq and do your freaking job - run the government competently, economically and fairly. Period.

August 11, 2006

Friday Random Top 10

Jerry.jpg

In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. All I want - The Offspring
2. Because the night - Bruce Springsteen
3. Familar Love - William Shatner
4. The Broad Majestic Shannon - The Pogues
5. Not yet three - Jonathon Richman
6. Three coins in the fountain - Frank Sinatra
7. The Tooth Fairy and the princess - Husker Du
8. Ripple - Grateful Dead
9. Wayfaring stranger - Johnny Cash
10. Weirdo - Miles Davis

Now that's what I call a diverse and random selection. Favorite song this week, well I'm a little embarrassed but it's Love Removal Machine from The Cult. I've always loved this song, basically because it's such an obvious Led Zeppelin rip off. Plus if you are a teenager or someone in their early 20's it's a great song to play during sex. Which by definition makes it a great rock and roll song.

August 4, 2006

Friday Random Top 10 (NYC Version)

cafe wha.jpg

In the tradition of American Idle and Rox Pop, every Friday I will turn the I-Pod to shuffle and see what it spits out. This Friday's Top Ten:

1. Goodbye's all we got - Steve Earl
2. Help save the youth of America - Billy Bragg
3. News of the World - The Jam
4. Lucky - Radiohead
5. The Caretaker - Johnny Cash
6. Most likely you go your way and I'll go mine - Bob Dylan
7. Flowers in the Dell - Fred Eaglesmith
8. Dice behind your shades - Paul Westerberg
9. Lost Love - Golden Smog
10. Jewel in a cobweb - Jules Shear

My favorite song this week is Wild Horses from U2's Achtung Baby. I love those fuzzy guitars, those sha la la's and that sweeping progression. I think it's U2's first love song too!

August 3, 2006

Greetings from the Death Star

100_0115.jpg

If the Yankees are the Evil Empire, then surely Yankee Stadium is the Death Star. Well it was hot enough Thursday at Yankee Stadium to destroy Algeron. But I was there to see the new pitcher Cory Liddle and RFer Bobby Abrea (The Twins couldn't use those guys could they?) dismantle the Toronto Blue Jays.

btw, it was 95 and sunny and the P.A. guys made sure to tell everyone to drink lots of water. However, it didn't stop them from selling bottled water at $4.50 a crack.

Click below to see some pics.

100_0101.jpg


100_0102.jpg

100_0105.jpg

100_0110.jpg

100_0120.jpg

August 2, 2006

It's all about me

sideburns.jpg

Greetings from hotter-than-a-brick-oven New York City. Since I'm here I thought I would share two other internet-related items that I am involved in.

First check out bat-girl.com as I am an entry in the Joe Mauer Sideburn Contest. I am entry #5 and currently doing rather poorly. So please check out the site and vote for me. (Personally I think the so far winning entry is getting so many votes is because he's kinda hunky and has nothing to do with his sideburns).

Second, the Southwest Journal printed my rant about the lack of bike parking at the new midtown global marketplace. They edited out my better stuff, but it's still pretty good. Click here.

Finally this isn't about me except that it's about NYC. Christgau, who I always thought was a little too self-involved, saw 32 shows in 30 days to comemmorate his firing at the Village Voice. Here's his amazing write-up.

Tomorrow, Yankee Stadium (with photos!!)