The Flanagan memo: Praise for Prince, the planetarium and holiday plans

  • Article by: BARBARA FLANAGAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 2, 2007 - 8:02 PM

Prince and the Revolution album "Purple Rain."

The Flanagan memo - Re: Lots of things to remember, plus Merry Christmas and Happy Hanukkah!

'Purple' pride

Now then, how about the greatest rock movie soundtrack of all time? Would you believe it is by our hometown wonder, Prince? The Movies Rock magazine lists his "Purple Rain" album as the winner and Elvis Presley's "Viva Las Vegas" as No. 50. The text highlights "Purple Rain" as "perhaps the best badly acted film ever." Ouch! As for Elvis, look at the magazine cover to see comedian Bill Murray done up as the King.

Perfect holiday reading

Loads of new books, including some good ones about Minnesotans:

Bob Latz, a Minneapolis lawyer I have known a long time, has written a fascinating book about prominent Minnesota Jewish politicians: "Jews in Minnesota Politics: The Inside Stories."

Latz has served as a state representative, a lobbyist and a University of Minnesota regent. His impressions of Geri Joseph, Jay Phillips and Arthur Naftalin are memorable. So are his recollections of non-Jewish politicians such as Hubert H. Humphrey and Rudy Perpich.

It's a fascinating look at state politics and a book in which members of the Jewish community can take pride.

• Another new book, Jim Klobuchar's "Pieces of My Heart," covers many of his adventures, including a 1,500-mile bike ride in 1981 with his daughter, Amy, who is now a U.S. senator representing Minnesota. A good book!

Sky-high support

Everybody I know, or almost everybody, favors the proposed new Minneapolis -- or should it be Minnesota -- planetarium atop the Minneapolis Central Library. All was going along nicely until the city library agreed to merge with the Hennepin County Public Library system. Now it is up to the county to decide if it even wants a planetarium.

Well, stay calm, because support continues to swell. But the planetarium will need money to build and to operate.

Mary and Gary Holmes were hosts at a pleasant gathering at the downtown public library last month to introduce some of us to the new Minnesota Planetarium and Space Discovery Center. Gary Holmes is the gent who reclaimed and redid the Milwaukee Road Depot and built two hotels and an ice rink in that facility.

Frank Parisi, interim director of the planetarium, explained that the planetarium will need some subsidy -- most museums do -- and that when the county takes over, the planetarium will be waiting in line for help.

Currently, it has $22 million in bonding authority granted by the Minnesota Legislature and it is trying to raise $20 million.

The planetarium group is displaying a portable dome that enables students to have virtual space experiences in schools and auditoriums around the state. Kids and adults have loved the dome, Parisi said, and he hopes the tour will lure more people and money to the cause.

So the Minnesota Planetarium Society is alive and star-gazing, and they would love to have you join them.

Counting our worries

Ok, so what must we worry about now? I mean besides our forgotten pipe organ in the Minneapolis Convention Center and getting a retractable roof on the new Minnesota Twins stadium?

Well, there is a proposal by the Minneapolis Downtown Council to allow cars back on the Nicollet Mall. Are you for it?

Originally, the mall was intended to attract shoppers. Retailers believed customers would want to find a bus waiting right outside the stores. So cars were banned and buses were approved. It seems to me it has worked, although I dislike the fact that many of our greatest stores catering to women --Jackson Graves, Young Quinlan, Harold and Bjorkman's, for instance -- have disappeared.

My preference is for clean, electric buses and several more attractive stores.

Another worry: Dennis Douda, of WCCO-TV, after Don Shelby the best male anchor in the Twin Cities, was moved from his 5 p.m. newscast to the weekend job. That left out another good one, John Reger. Yes, I know Reger does the morning shows and Douda does special reporting, but really, in my opinion, Douda could and possibly should share the mike with Shelby. Meanwhile, Shelby was elected to the Pavek Museum of Broadcasting's Hall of Fame. That's good.

Finally, why can't one buy a turkey dinner in a restaurant all year around, the way it used to be? Now, except for the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays, it is difficult. Remember when Richards Treat, the home-grown cafeteria once located on 6th Street, offered a turkey dinner for 50 cents? And in April yet? It was just another 20 cents for the Wellesley Fudge cake.

Some holiday fun

So let's pull ourselves together and have a great holiday. For the record, you can:

• Hear Charlie Boone, Roger Erickson, Don Stolz and Reuben Ristrom (on the music) at the Old Log Theater on Wednesday reading "A Christmas Carol." The show is at 8 p.m., and tickets are $22 and are available from the Old Log box office at 952-474-5951.

• Or attend the American Swedish Institute's Lucia celebration at 2:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at Augustana Lutheran Church, 7th Street and 11th Avenue. S. Call 612-871-4907 for tickets.

• Or whoop it up on New Year's Eve at the Dakota Jazz Club and Restaurant on Nicollet Mall with Moore by Four and the Steeles, JD and Fred, plus champagne. Wheeeeeeeee!

Sitting pretty

Loring Park started putting names on park benches or sidewalk pavers, and now People for Parks is offering the same deal at Lake Harriet for donations ranging from $150 to $2,500. Find out more by calling 612-285-6557 or going to www.peopleforparks.net.

So, buy a bench, sit down, unwrap your spectacular rhubarb pie from Peter's Grill, eat, and have a happy new year.

Barbara Flanagan, longtime columnist for the Star Tribune, writes on the first Monday of each month. Her interests are the metropolitan area -- what's good and what's bad -- and the fascinating people who live here. She can be contacted at barb-flanagan@comcast.net.

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