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A few days before being voted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, Public Enemy frontman Chuck D flexed his fame all over Minneapolis before spending four hours on stage hosting the Hip-Hop Gods Tour at First Avenue. The day started with a press conference in First Ave's Record Room touting the value of "classic" -- don't call it "old-school" -- hip-hop with Schoolly D, X-Clan's Brother J and Monie Love. The latter rapper recounted a three-week stint at Paisley Park with Prince working on his then-girlfriend Carmen Electra's 1993 album ("What are you laughing at? It was a paycheck," Ms. Love later retorted). After sound check, Chuck headed to south Minneapolis with local protégé Brother Ali to speak at an Occupy Homes activist rally. "Never have so many been screwed by so few," he said to cheers outside a house whose foreclosure was successfully fought. Chuck did Ali another favor when he brought him and Slug of Atmosphere on stage at First Avenue during PE's set. "Give it up for your own hip-hop gods," he told the crowd.
CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDERCheck off
He was a slick con man, now he's a suave FBI agent. Frank Abagnale Jr. answered questions from the audience after Tuesday's local premiere of the musical "Catch Me If You Can," based on the Steven Spielberg movie and his own memoir. A specialist in fraud, embezzlement and secure documents who came to speak to U.S. Bank officials in Minneapolis, he mentioned he was involved in investigating Bernie Madoff, Enron and Tyco. The best line of the Q&A came from a theatergoer: "I own a check-cashing store across the street, and I'd be perfectly fine if you didn't visit." Responded the former check forger: "I don't write checks anymore."
Jon BreamProud to be an Okee
Even after they played the Austin City Limits fest and got the Band's Garth Hudson on their record, Twin Cities kids'-music makers the Okee Dokee Brothers never quite got their due respect from the local music scene. That changed last week when the flannel-wearing, bluegrassy folk duo earned a Grammy nomination for best children's music album with "Can You Canoe?" Their concert this weekend at the Cedar Cultural Center (11 a.m. Saturday) quickly sold out, so they've added a 2 p.m. show (tickets still available). Most local bands are happy to fill the Cedar once in one year. Way too polite to gloat, O.D.B. co-captain Joe Mailander simply said, "It's nice when people recognize that making kids' music can not only be cool, but it takes a lot of skill to do it well and not be too whimsical." Written during a 30-day trek down the Mississippi River -- and filmed for an accompanying DVD -- "Can You Canoe?" is part of an "adventure" album series encouraging families to enjoy the outdoors. "We're already planning our 30-day hike on the Appalachian Trail in May," Mailander excitedly reported. First, though, he and partner Justin Lansing have a trip to Los Angeles to take. Said Mailander, "We're already looking for plaid tuxes with flannel lapels."
C.R.The last air dates
Turns out Dec. 21 really is the end of days, at least for two local broadcasters. John Hanson of KSTP-TV's "Twin Cities Live" and Ian Punnett of 107.1 FM's "Ian and Margery" show have chosen next Friday to be their last on the air. Hanson, who has co-hosted the afternoon talk show since it debuted in 2008, is leaving to become program director at KCSP, a Fox-affiliated sports radio station in Kansas City. "For me it was a case of looking at what I can do for the next 30 years, and this allows me to get back on track in the radio management world," he said. Punnett is leaving because of tinnitus, a ringing in his ears that has gotten progressively worse. "It took me two years to get to a place where I could finally say, 'OK, I've got to let go of this.'" said Punnett, who had cut back his hours in August. He's considering graduate school while his co-host and wife, Margery Punnett, will continue with 107.1 FM in some capacity.
NEAL JUSTINBye bye, Bliese
After six years Nina Bliese Gallery plans to close its sleek downtown Minneapolis gallery at 225 S. 6th St. after its current show ends Dec. 21. "We've had great shows and good successes but it's really hard to make a gallery work at this time" of tough economic choices, said assistant gallery director Wendy Frieze. She and gallery owner Bliese will probably divide up the approximately 15 mostly Minneapolis artists they now handle and then go their separate ways as art consultants. Trained as a designer, Frieze expects to continue representing modernist art that appeals to architects and designers, while Bliese will most likely take on the more figurative and spiritual work that attracts private clients. "There's no bad blood and we're very supportive of each other, but the details just aren't settled yet," Frieze said.
MARY ABBEMale call
Casting agents for "America's Next Top Model" are coming to the Twin Cities -- and this time, the boys are invited. For the first time in the show's history, the show will include male contestants. Auditions will be held from 1-3 p.m. Monday at Crave, 825 Hennepin Av. S., in downtown Minneapolis. Entry requirements are online at TheCWtc.com, but one caught our eye: You must be a U.S. citizen and provide multiple forms of ID, including passport or birth certificate. Geez, who's running this operation? Donald Trump?