So just when will the city reopen Nicollet at Lake Street?

  • Article by: BARBARA FLANAGAN
  • Updated: November 2, 2008 - 11:08 PM

All about books and restaurants and random thoughts and pumpkin pie for today, Thanksgiving and always.

The Flanagan Memo - Re: All about books and restaurants and random thoughts and pumpkin pie for today, Thanksgiving and always .

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So, I have been wondering about:

• The reopening of Nicollet Avenue at Lake Street. Remember when the City Council closed it and sold the space to Kmart, the store that now blocks it. And, remember when another City Council voted to take the street back for all of us. That wasn't too long ago, so what has happened?

We continue to wait.

The tower bells. Yes, it is almost time to begin our holiday noon-hour serenades from the bells in the City Hall tower. It's a Minneapolis tradition and it is absolutely free. Well, almost. Tony L. Hill, chairman of the Tower Bell Foundation, notes that contributions of $25 or more are tax-deductible and happily accepted. What's more, the 112-year-old bells will be heard 57 times this year, thanks to your donations.

And here is the big news! Volunteer chimes players are welcome and being sought. Anyone who can read music and play melodies on a piano-type keyboard can be trained to play the bells. Just contact Hill at the Foundation by calling 612-673-5311. And thank you.

• The first BIG snowfall. If it doesn't fall outdoors before Friday, don't despair. More than 2,500 pounds of "snow" will fall on audiences during the 18-city run of the Radio City Music Hall's holiday show featuring those marvelous high-kicking Rockettes. The dancers will appear at Target Center Friday through Sunday.

For the record, the Rockettes will perform more than 300 eye-high kicks in each show. How about that!

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Restaurants may go out of style soon, what with the sinking economy, and, if so, I am sorry. During the past summer and autumn, we have eaten superbly at a number of good spots including Barbette, Heidi's, Jax, Lucia's, Lurcat, Zumbro, Christos, Figlio, Tejas, Alma's and the Green Mill. However, one of the more memorable sups was at 112 Eatery on N. 3rd Street, downtown. I had read about it so I ordered the pasta with meatballs -- meatballs flavored with foie gras. Yes, it sounds odd, but it tastes heavenly, but rich. A half-order, more than enough, cost about $11. So, fattening, perhaps, but delish.

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When I reported on the 80th year of the 5-8 Club Tavern & Grill, 5800 Cedar Av. S., last month -- home of the Juicy Lucy burger -- I failed to mention the fabulous onion straws. That's because I hadn't tasted them. A half order will serve about four people, believe me. And I am told the onions are hand-sliced before cooking. Try some -- and stop eating them if you can.

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Finally, on food, the Elk River German Band played, Brother Michael Collins, president of DeLaSalle High sang, and the annual school Oktoberfest raised $200,000 for its students. The biggest deal, however, was that the famous Black Forest restaurant at 26th Street and Nicollet Avenue supplied homemade bratwurst, chicken "Tyrolian'' sausage and weisswurst, plus, sauerkraut. They also did the homemade mustard.

Ein Prosit!! (Cheers!)

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I love books. Publisher (and old friend) Norton Stillman knows that so he always calls me up about now and we go to lunch at Peter's Grill, where they also serve wonderful pumpkin pie as well as apple and rhubarb models. Stillman arrives with a big box of books. I pick what I like and here is this year's bounty for you.

Jim Gilbert's "Minnesota Nature Notes.'' The local naturalist and teacher explores the changes in our back yards, fields, lakes and woods on a week by week basis. Autumn, he points out, often is still going strong at the beginning of November, but the month usually ends in a wintry fashion with sleet and freezing rain. The November chapter also shares secrets about everything from snowshoe hares to beautiful fogs to ginkgo trees. It's a great book to keep close at hand.

Gilbert will have several local autographing sessions. On Nov. 25, he will be at the downtown Barnes & Noble bookstore at noon.

• Retired banker Peter Heegaard has written "Heroes Among Us,'' a book about social entrepreneurs. Included are conversations with a dozen or so people with the vision to pursue what they believe will benefit their communities.

• "Women's History Tours of the Twin Cities'' by Gretchen Kreuter will take you touring from the earliest days to right now. Among the sites to visit is the suffrage garden on the Capitol grounds in St. Paul. The names of 25 women who worked for suffrage are listed there, including Clara Hampson Ueland, the last president of the women's suffrage group in Minnesota. (Her famous daughter, the late Brenda Ueland, newspaper columnist and writer, wrote a book about her that was reprinted in 2004 by Stillman. Its title is "O Clouds, Unfold! Clara Ueland and her Family.'')

Other books available for the holiday season include four by some of our neighbors.

Eric Hanson, a Minneapolis illustrator, has scored with his first book, "A Book of Ages: An Eccentric Miscellany of Great & Offbeat Moments in the Lives of the Famous and the Infamous, Ages 1 to 100,'' His agent, Marly Rusoff, who founded The Loft, sold it to a New York publisher and the book has been raved about in several magazines including Vanity Fair. And yes, he really does write about people ages 1 to 100 including some famous Minnesotans.

Polly Grose has written "A London Scrapbook,'' a memoir about how love took her from Minnesota to London and her happy life there.

And Kathy Goodale, well-known as a dancer and teacher of young dancers, has completed a fascinating book with Elise Kartheiser, a pianist and piano teacher. Its title is ''Da Capo al Fine'' and it features new music by Tom Linker. The book is designed for children with a story about animals combined with musical terms. And you can color it, if you want. On Nov. 15 at 2 p.m., Goodale and company will be at the Isles Market & Deli, 2115 W. 21st. St., to introduce it. Kids will love it and musicians will be enthralled.

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When Roberta Mann Benson, a daughter of the late theater mogul, Ted Mann, achieved her doctorate in education and leadership at St. Mary's University, her husband, Don Benson, hosted a lunch. And what did Dr. Mann Benson wear, you may ask. Her cap and gown, of course, and it was perfect.

Barbara Flanagan, longtime columnist for the Star Tribune, writes on the first Monday of each month. Her interests are the metro 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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