Aquatennial's party off the block
Somewhere between 75,000 to 100,000 people jammed into downtown Minneapolis for the Aquatennial Block Party in 1998, when a height-of-fame Smashing Pumpkins played what would go down as the biggest concert in Twin Cities history. Flash forward 14 years, and nobody will attend the party this year. Like the Pumpkins themselves, the Aquatennial's annual free kick-off bash slid in stature in recent years, with the Gin Blossoms and Night Ranger among its headliners. Hardly anybody seemed to notice that organizers pulled the plug on the party this year (it would have been Friday). Aquatennial director Leah Wong said the decision was based on changed priorities, not on attendance. "The block party was started as a way to bring live music into downtown Minneapolis, and now there's no shortage of that," she said. Time invested in block party planning is being spent on new events, such as the Stand-Up Paddle Day at Lake Calhoun and the Global Smoothie Smackdown at Midtown Global Market. But where are Twin Cities fans going to see their favorite has-been rock acts outdoors this summer now that Taste of Minnesota is also gone? Oh, wait. Thank you, Bayfront Smackdown (Aug. 4 in Duluth with Sugar Ray, Everclear and, lo and behold, the Gin Blossoms).
CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDERWhat goes around...
This is a sign that a theater has staying power. Julie Nelson (not the TV anchor) was in a production during SteppingStone Theatre's first season -- more than 20 years ago. Now her son, Malachi, is performing in the St. Paul theater's staging of "Pinocchio." (The show runs through July 29 in SteppingStone's comfortable home near Victoria Street and Summit Avenue.) Julie Nelson was cast in "Alice, a Rock-n-Roll Musical Fantasy." "It was before my time," artistic director Richard Hitchler told I.W. As for Malachi, "whether he continues to be involved in theater throughout this life or not, I know these experiences build his confidence," said his mother.
GRAYDON ROYCEParty like a rock star
Rock stars' kids say the darndest things. When Kid Rock and Sheryl Crow toured together last summer, Rock's guitarist Shannon Curfman, of Andover, occasionally brought her young daughter on the road. Lucy Curfman got to know Crow and her two young sons. In fact, Lucy became pretty attached to Crow. So in February when Lucy, now 4, heard on the car radio that it was Crow's 50th birthday, she started bawling. Mom: "What's the matter?" Lucy, through tears: "I didn't get an invitation to Sheryl's birthday party."
JON BREAMFrom Mpls. to St. Paul
Usually the migration is in the other direction, but this time Minneapolis folks are going to have to cross the river and head east. Rain Taxi's Twin Cities Book Fair -- that wonderful one-day gathering of writers, readers, publishers, lurkers and groupies (OK, maybe not all that many groupies) -- is moving from its long-time home at Minneapolis Community and Technical College to the State Fairgrounds. Best news: tons of free parking. The book fair will take over the Historic Progress Center Building on Oct. 13, with readings, workshops, games for kids, displays and discussions. No word yet on which writers they're bringing in, but there are always some huge names in the mix. Keep up to date at www.raintaxi.com/bookfest. One possible drawback: The Historic Progress Center Building has no heat. If it's a chilly, rainy October day, you might want to bring warm clothes. (Or buy Peg Meier's book of the same name.)
LAURIE HERTZELBust a habit
Kudos to Jeff Dubay for chatting candidly about his drug addiction Wednesday on WCCO Radio's "The Chad Hartman Show." It was the first time the former KFAN personality has talked about his crack-cocaine induced freefall that led to a 2008 arrest for possession and the loss of his job at the sports radio station. Dubay said he started experimenting with crack during a difficult divorce, when he was at the lowest, saddest period of his life. "It romances you initially and then it terrifies you," he told Hartman. "The only way to get out is to take another hit. It's a God-awful cycle you can't get out of." Dubay was critical of practices at some treatment centers (he went to three) and said he finally kicked his habit by locking himself in his bedroom. He also gave a shout out to his new friend, former Viking George "Buster" Rhymes, the inspiration now to both Dubay's recovery and a certain rapper's stage name. Dubay said he's interested in returning to radio, but said right now his commitment is to telling his story and trying to scare others out of going down the same road he did.
NEAL JUSTIN30 million views later
Yes, cute cat, you can has cheezburger and a film festival, too. Buried in Walker Art Center's summer events calendar is Aug. 30's Internet Cat Film Festival. But after a flurry of online buzz Tuesday, the fest is looking like the next Sundance (for cat lovers, at least). That's right: just like a cute kitty video, news of the festival has gone viral. The L.A. Times and Mashable are excited. Across the Atlantic, the BBC and Daily Mail have posted stories. The Walker is asking people to nominate their favorite cat videos, presumably culled from personal collections or YouTube. The chosen few, curated by Katie Czarniecki Hill (the Walker's self-described "cat-lady-in-residence") will play on an outdoor screen as part of the art center's Open Field program. Most great film festivals will fly in the filmmakers. But I.W. is hoping for some celebrity cats. On our wish list: 1) "Treadmill Kittens" 2) "Noisy Drinking Cat" and 3) "The OMG WTF Cat."