The Flanagan Memo - Re: What kept me awake during three months off?
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Happily, there were e-mails. One from Hannah -- no last name -- wondered about George Grim, former longtime foreign correspondent, feature writer and "I Like It Here" columnist for this newspaper. We haven't talked lately, but he is alive, well and almost as busy as ever. He lives in Florida, where he retired 35 years ago and enjoys the expansive views of sea and sand from his beachfront home in Key Biscayne.
Another from John Davies said he wondered about the future of the Kmart store that blocks Nicollet Av. S. at Lake St. "I thought it would help the neighborhood to get rid of that roadblock," he said. When I wrote about it, there were rumors that the city planned to move Kmart and reopen Nicollet. Since then, I haven't heard a word.
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And there were headlines that grabbed. For example, "Urban designers: Tear down those horrible skyways." What? Two designers from afar -- one from Denmark! -- said that "skyways suck public life out of the city." Oh, really? Well, not in good weather. And in winter, I love them.
Also, there was "Rybak seeks 3rd term, but how long." I thought he was running for governor.
And "Mauer unlikely to play Opening Day for Twins." Oh, Joe is perfect and I am hoping for the best, only I wish he would trim those sideburns a bit.
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And then there was "After a life in public service, a man of the people retires." That headline refers to Walt Dziedzic, most recently of the Minneapolis Park Board. I think the board needs the likes of a Dziedzic and I will tell you why.
The board's future is looking iffy again. Every 10 years or so, somebody, usually at City Hall, wants to abolish the independent park board and take over. My words to them are: Please, don't even think about it!
The 126-year-old park board, often loaded with good guys such as Dziedzic, has built our incredible park system and managed it over the years amazingly well. Oh, they occasionally get into some controversy and some of that is happening right now.
There is talk of opening a Sea Salt Eatery at Lake Harriet and that is fine. The Tin Fish at Lake Calhoun is a true winner, so why not try for two? The problem seems to be that the Sea Salt people want to build a new building alongside the bandshell and not use the present refectory. That I don't like. It is too much in one space. Do it on the current site or don't do it.
And, foolishly, the park board is thinking of enlarging the parking lot on the east side of Lake Calhoun and that would stop windsurfers in their tracks. The space is what they use to cast off. What a dumb idea. The park board should dump it. And vote for light rail transit.
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On the jolly side, let's dance! When I wrote that about 20 years ago, it was to launch the new Hennepin Center for the Arts, which had taken over the aging Masonic Temple. The building at 6th and Hennepin still stands and blooms and I like to think it was partly due to the dance parade that was staged on Hennepin -- from 6th to 9th Sts.
Dancer and dance teacher Beth Obermyer took charge of the project and lured about 2,000 dancers to tap dance on the avenue. It was a wow.
Now, someone at the center has suggested that VIP dancers gather onstage at the Shubert Theater on Hennepin to launch opening night. It is a fine idea, but why not go all the way and stage a second Hennepin Av. dance parade, say from 9th to 6th Sts., ending at the Shubert? I think it sings.
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May I say "hear, hear'' to Rep. Kurt Zellers, R-Maple Grove, a man I don't know, but I heartily approve his stand on paying taxes. "If you are handling taxpayers` money, it is probably a good idea to pay your taxes,'' he said. The state House of Representatives had just passed an amendment that would block the governor from appointing a revenue chief who failed to file.
The move was in response, so to speak, to the many nonpayers on the national scene, including Al Franken ($70,000, incidentally), South Dakota's Tom Daschle and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, to name a few.
All three are Democrats, but I feel certain there are Republicans who have also gone astray.
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So, you have had a cold and icy winter, right? How about a couple of good books for summertime reading?
The first will help you relive or re-endure last winter. It is "A Hard-Water World: Ice Fishing and Why We Do It," a terrific book about a couple of dedicated ice fishermen, photographer Layne Kennedy and essayist Greg Breining. I have never ice-fished and I don't really want to, but I plunged into the book and enjoyed it all. It is a Minnesota Historical Society Press publication.
The second book is "Twin Cities Youth Sports Atlas: The Essential Guide for Active Families," published by Hedberg Maps Inc. of Minneapolis. It includes maps of all of the sporting areas and ends with a surprise.
It's a map of all of the Dairy Queen stands in the metropolitan region. Anyone for a Blizzard?
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What's next? Well, no one has redone the Uptown Theater, the movie house with the greatest front row balcony seating in town -- no, in the world. It is on my list.