The Flanagan memo: Spring brings lots of good news

  • Article by: BARBARA FLANAGAN
  • Updated: April 2, 2010 - 3:55 PM

Minneapolis is looking good and I’m glad.

The Flanagan Memo -- Re: Minneapolis is looking good and I'm glad.

Good grief! Garrison Keillor actually approves of our new Minnesota Twins stadium. The Shubert Theater is 100 years old and so is the Split Rock Lighthouse on Lake Superior. What's more, there are free shuttle buses on the Nicollet Mall, the Minnesota Orchestra and its conductor, Osmo Vänskä, were acclaimed by major critics when they played New York's Carnegie Hall. To top that, Gov. Tim Pawlenty included about $16 million in the state bonding bill for the orchestra. Hooray!

So what about a new stadium, a rebuilt Metrodome or the U's new football field for the Minnesota Vikings? We will see.

•••

We will also see about a Mayor R.T. Rybak idea -- more fountains for Minneapolis.

Now I love fountains and unlike Rome or Paris or Vienna, we do not have enough of them.

There is a fountain on Hennepin Avenue S., between the Towers Apartments and the Reliastar insurance company. And there is the Berger Fountain in Loring Park; several fountains in the Lake Harriet Rose Garden, one that was moved from the downtown Gateway to a supposedly temporary site some 25 years ago, and the Peavey Plaza fountain, now broken and in need of repair. There may be more.

If business firms and private givers could be persuaded to endow fountains, we could move ahead. Shall we?

•••

Two books worth a look and a read are "The Gospel According to Coco Chanel: Life Lessons From the World's Most Elegant Woman" by Karen Karbo and "Willie Mays: The Life, the Legend" by James Hirsch. The photo of Mays on the book cover looks almost the way he did in 1951 when I was sent to Nicollet Park, home of the mighty Minneapolis Millers, to interview Willie.

He was 20 that year and playing with the Millers, the farm club of the New York Giants. We met, he smiled, and I think he may have answered a few of my questions.

I do remember that Willie was a nice, quiet and pleasant guy who played absolutely the best baseball ever.

After just 35 games with the Millers, Willie was called to the Giants and the rest is history.

Willie is 79 and now living in San Francisco. This book is the first biography he has authorized. May I tell you that it is fascinating and most entertaining -- even if you don't know baseball.

•••

The late Gabrielle Chanel, known to the world as Coco, was also an assignment, but she did not speak one word to me. She saved it for my photographer, who was taking pictures of an Aquatennial Queen of the Lakes posing in a famous Chanel-designed suit.

Coco sat on the famous curved staircase in her Paris boutique and hollered at him in French. She also eyed me grimly with a kind of a glare. The book is a delight. It includes many Chanel quotations including this:

"The grand problem is to rejuvenate women. To make women look young. Then their outlook on life changes. They feel more joyous.'' If you say so, Coco.

•••

Several people of note died recently. One was the amazing Mayor Charlie Stenvig.

Charlie once disliked -- no, make that hated -- sidewalk cafes. And he always told me so.

Well, I'll admit that I nagged in favor of them often, but why not?

Then Charlie took a trip to Norway, where he sat in lots of sidewalk cafes.

So I was walking down S. 5th Street to the paper and heard someone calling me. It was Charlie. He came up, breathless, and said, "I am just back from Norway and I sat in lots of sidewalk cafes -- and I loved them.'' Most of us still do, Charlie, and thank you.

•••

Finally, a salute to our own baseball giant -- Joe Mauer. No, he is not Willie Mays, but watch him. Joe may lead us to another World Series. Let's hope.

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