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Now open for business: Hüsker Dü's first official website

At first glance, it may not look like much: just a shopping website with six different T-shirt designs for sale at $25 a pop. On a symbolic level, though, the new official Hüsker Dü merchandise site marks the first thaw in a glacial ice pack that formed in early 1988, when the influential Minneapolis punk trio broke up.

“Just 30 years in the making,” bassist Greg Norton quipped of the Official Hüsker Dü Merchandise page, which debuted over the weekend. It’s the first real bit of new Hüsker Dü business the three band members have agreed to since Warner Bros. issued the 1994 post-breakup album "The Living End." And it sounds like it won’t be the last.

Per Norton, the three long-feuding band members finally came together and agreed to recruit Dennis Pelowski, Minneapolis-based manager of the Meat Puppets, to “help us figure out how to get a foothold back in the business.” Pelowski and the Puppets already have experience dealing with SST Records, the label run by Black Flag guitarist and one of punk’s most maligned businessmen Greg Ginn, which issued five of Hüsker Dü’s earliest albums.

Among the new developments so far, the band sorted out licensing issues with SST, which helped lead to the 1984 classic “Pink Turns to Blue” being featured in a recent episode of the AMC TV series “Halt and Catch Fire.” Next up, an official Facebook page is likely to go online soon, replacing several fan-run pages out there.

Norton said there also could be some posters and other artwork on the merchandise page soon, much of which features designs done by singer/drummer Grant Hart. T-shirts and posters have been available here and there over the years, but a lot of that product was unauthorized. The official shirt designs available now include artwork from the band's "Everything Falls Apart" and "Land Speed Record" albums and their 1981 debut single "Amusement."

Hüsker Dü in their last active year, 1987, from left: Greg Norton, Grant Hart and Bob Mould. / Photo by Daniel Corrigan

Hüsker Dü in their last active year, 1987, from left: Greg Norton, Grant Hart and Bob Mould. / Photo by Daniel Corrigan

Of course, the one thing fans really want to know is whether or not this new business front might lead to the old recordings being freshly cultivated. Hüsker Dü might have the most poorly mined catalog in all of rock, with no anthology or outtakes collection, just one album reissue (the originally self-released "Everything Falls Apart"), no remastered or expanded editions of their other, and just the one live album – an unusual dead zone that stems from legal conflicts with SST, plus the fact that the catalog is also split between a second, bigger label, Warner Bros. Singer/guitarist Bob Mould has also resisted new Hüskers business for a long time to retain focus on his ever-active solo career.

“There are more moving parts than we’d like to deal with, but we’ll see what happens,” Norton said, pointing to possible vaulted live recordings and film footage that could be issued anew. But it sounds like that's all still loose talk.

“The main thing is, there’s ongoing communication between the three of us now,” Norton recapped -- another development that's only been decades in the making.

AC2 (Anderson Cooper, Andy Cohen) turn up heat, humor at State Theatre

A few thoughts after seeing Anderson Cooper (right) and Andy Cohen (left), TV stars from different fields but best of friends, in a free-wheeling conversation Saturday night at the State Theatre in Minneapolis:

  1. Surprise! Tequila-sipping Cohen, 47, is the same in person as he is on TV, whether it’s his nightly “Watch What Happens Live” or his “Real Housewives” reunions. Cooper, 48, is looser and funnier in person. Of course, he maintains his official newsman persona on CNN and “60 Minutes” but paired with his longtime pal (they vacation together and text regularly), he let his hair down – except when it came to answering political questions. Cooper was good for prodding his pal about info and gossip such as how Teresa Giudice of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" recently put Cohen on her email list from prison.
  2. The format was essentially a filmed intro giving the background of each of them, a few minutes of back and forth repartee and then about 40 minutes of Cohen interviewing Cooper, 40 minutes of Cooper interrogating Cohen and finally Q&A with inquisitive, gushing fans. Each AC showed TV clips of highlights of the other: Cohen zingers on his show and Cooper swimming with crocodiles on “60 Minutes.” Parts of the program were scripted, and some of the stories told appear in Cohen's 2014 book, "The Andy Cohen Diaries." Both ACs wore jeans and sport coats – but Cooper sported a tie, Cohen did not.
  3. There wasn’t too much Minnesota talk. Oh, they ate dinner at Ike’s and didn’t know where they were drinking after the show. Cohen mentioned how much he loved Minneapolis where he’d visited on promotional tours for his two books. He also said he appeared in the all-star celebrity baseball game two years ago (it was actually last year). “I went 2 for 2,” he boasted. Cooper interjected: “I thought it meant you slept with two people.” Cooper did not discuss broadcasting from Minneapolis after the 35W bridge collapsed.
  4. Early on, the ACs bantered back and forth about having been on vacation in Croatia when Cooper got the call to head to Louisiana to cover Hurricane Katrina. The newsman told a wild story about trying to swim back to a ship so he could catch an early morning flight out of Croatia. But Cohen said Cooper should have ignored the assignment: “CNN is using you. You are their bitch.”
  5. Both ACs had Madonna stories. Cooper explained that he was summoned onstage recently by Madonna at Madison Square Garden to dance with her during – of course – “Unapologetic Bitch.” Cohen was on a flight with Madonna three years ago and when he discovered that, he asked a cabin attendant if he could take a photo of the flight manifest listing “Madonna Louise Ciccone.” Actually, the AC2 event was a lot like Madonna's concert last week in St. Paul -- minus the music, dancers, outfits and production. In other words, some catty and bitchy yakking.
  6. Cohen’s want list for guests for his talk show include Madonna, Beyonce and Michelle Obama. Cooper says Cohen will get the First Lady.
  7. Judging by the questions from the audience – more than 50 people stood in line during the nearly 35-minute Q&A -- Cohen was the big attraction. Besides requests for birthday or anniversary shout-outs, most of the questions were related to “Real Housewives” individuals (he doesn't know if Brooks Ayers has cancer) or his talk show (worst guest: Scott Baio). Some people asked serious questions such as who the presidential nominees will be (Cooper said it’s too early to predict) and what the ACs would wish for the world (Cohen: “Peace. No discrimination. Weed legal. No racism. Fair but sensible disbursement of firearms and no war” to which a man shouted: “Cohen in 2016.”  Cohen retorted: “Teresa Giudice is going to be my running mate.”
  8. The nearly two-hour evening – there was no posing for photos, no merchandise (not even books) for sale and no autographs – was funnier and more entertaining than a night at a comedy club. And more expensive, with tickets costing from $79 to $129 ($354 for VIP) – and we’re not exactly talking about big production expenses.
  9. There was a priceless bit that was a filmed surprise for Cohen's 40th birthday a few years ago. Various celebs including Kelly Ripa, Jerry Seinfeld and Susan Lucci read the letters Andy wrote from camp in Wisconsin (he attended for six summers from third to ninth grade) to his mother in St. Louis -- and then his mother read her letters in response. As Cooper pointed out, Andy was the same then as he is now.
  10. The funniest moments may have come at the show’s end, courtesy of some of the writers for Cohen’s talk show. As a takeoff on a popular bit from “Real Housewives,” the writers came up with potential taglines for Cooper.  After asking fans not to tweet or video the tags, Cooper read them: “I’ve been rich and I’ve been famous and now I’m both, bitches”… “I might be the silver fox but that doesn’t make me any less of a cougar”… “I don’t keep up with the Vanderbilts; I am the Vanderbilts”… “Climate change may be real but there’s no way to turn down the AC.”

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