First Ave’s bet on the Turf Club is a winner

When the doors opened Thursday night on the “new” Turf Club, the most common reaction among patrons was probably how much it still looks like the old Turf Club. “It’s kind of embarrassing, because people are like, ‘Well, what the hell have you been doing for the past three months?’” laughed First Avenue general manager Nate Kranz, whose crew took over the St. Paul venue late last year and closed it for renovations on June 1. First Ave owner Dayna Frank, however, was eager to point out the heavy — and costly — work that actually did get done, including a $200,000 sprinkler system, a similarly priced kitchen installation, new sound and air/heating equipment and a rebuilt roof. Oh, and there’s one new wall of plywood and cozier booths in the otherwise unchanged Clown Lounge basement bar. “It’s mostly things people probably won’t notice for now,” said Frank, who believes folks will at least appreciate the undeniably major restroom improvements on both floors. The Southern-styled food service — including lunch, dinner and brunch — won’t begin until next weekend but will also mark a new era for the 1940s- established venue.

CHRIS RIEMENSCHNEIDER

Zahn again

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Earlier this year, Minnesota native Steve Zahn had a major bomb on his hands with ABC’s “Mind Games,” his first network series, which was quickly canceled. But the network hasn’t given up on him. Entertainment Weekly is reporting that Zahn will have a recurring guest-star role on “Modern Family,” playing the husband of an annoying family that moves in next door to the Dunphys. It’s unclear how many episodes will feature Zahn, who still spends a considerable amount of time in Minnesota. “Modern Family” returns Sept. 24.

Neal Justin

 

Gallery quake

St. Paul gallery owner Ann Pifer was awakened at her Lutsen cabin early Sunday morning by a text message that the Napa, Calif., branch of her Grand Hand Gallery had taken a big hit in the 6.0 earthquake that rattled the wine-country village late Saturday night. The gallery’s 120-year-old limestone building was still standing but its parapet and facade were damaged and “the contents are a gigantic shake and bake,” Pifer said. “It’s pretty ugly out there.” Kristina Young, the gallery’s California manager, reports that most paintings, photos, jewelry and textiles had survived but that the glass and ceramic art was shattered. The gallery handles work by about 100 artists, about half from Northern California and the rest from around the country, including Minnesota. Pifer carries good insurance for other perils, she said, but none for earthquakes because it’s just too expensive. “A number of artists have said you don’t owe us anything, and some customers have kicked in and offered to send a check to help out,” she said, adding, “When I first heard the news I wasn’t sure I could keep it going, but now I think we’ll be able to make a go of it.”

Mary Abbe

 

Jared Leto, linebacker?

Many fans were ecstatic simply to get a light hand-slap from actor/rocker Jared Leto as he ran up into the grandstand to sing during his band 30 Seconds to Mars’ performance with Linkin Park at the State Fair on Tuesday, but only Dustin Cochran can brag about being knocked hard to the ground by the Oscar winner. “It was a full-on, dropped-shoulder body blow,” said Cochran, 25, of Grand Rapids, who confirmed Leto has beefed up his physique greatly since his Oscar-winning “Dallas Buyers Club” role. Leto did turn around and help him back up, and then apologized onstage to “the guy I knocked on his ass.” That guy had no complaints, though. “How many times in your life do you get blown over by a rock star?” said Cochran, who humorously caught the whole thing on video. “You see him coming right at me!” Coming soon to TMZ, let’s hope.

C.R.

Detroit rocks fair

There was no official declaration, but it sure seemed like Detroit Weekend at the Minnesota State Fair grandstand last weekend. There was Aretha Franklin, the Queen of the Motor City, and Motown’s own Four Tops on Friday, with Kid Rock, Detroit’s most prominent musical ambassador, ruling on Saturday. Actually, it was an extended weekend if you count Monday, when Mitch Ryder of Detroit Wheels fame and Mark Farner of Grand Funk Railroad — two Detroit golden oldies — were part of the Happy Together Tour with the Turtles. And Oklahoman Toby Keith, who performed the night before Aretha, must have received the message because he played Motor City madman Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold.” I. W. wants to know: Where was Bob Seger when we needed him?

Jon Bream

‘Nightmare’ on Neva

Minnesota artist Andrea Stanislav’s “Nightmare” video of a white horse galloping on water was hobbled by technical problems in 2011 when she planned to show the video as part of that summer’s Northern Spark festival in the Twin Cities. However, in late July, the U of M art professor’s magical illusion was a success in St. Petersburg, Russia. There the full-scale white horse appeared on a video screen that was pulled on a barge along the Neva River, past the State Hermitage Museum, and through some 30 kilometers of the city’s canals. Russian media loved the project and covered it in more than 60 print publications, 10 television stations and three radio outlets, Stanislav said. Thousands of people stayed up as late as 2 a.m. to view the horse from river embankments throughout the city. Meanwhile Stanislav is working to present “Nightmare” in New York next year.

M.A.