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Beijing Bound

Beijing Bound
Photo by Brienne Boortz

An 18-year-old grappler goes to the Games this month

Jake Deitchler stunned even himself when he qualified for the U.S. Greco-Roman wrestling team in June, earning a trip to China. “With six minutes left in the final match, I realized I was going to the Olympics,” the still-wet-behind-the-ears grappler says. An Anoka High School graduate who plans to attend the University of Minnesota this fall, he grew up immersed in the sport (his father competed in a college match the day Jake was born). In 2007, he was named the Junior Greco-Roman “Wrestler of the Year,” but he might never have made the Olympic team if not for his loss at the 2007 Junior World Championships. “I was on the mat for four minutes and I was done,” Deitchler remembers. “I never want that to happen again.” On August 13, he’ll face off against the world’s best Greco-Roman wrestlers in Beijing. The only thing they have on Deitchler is age: He’ll be the youngest wrestler on his team.
—Kara Douglass Thom


Green Giant

Why rock stars turn to a Minnesota firm for eco advice

When Sting wanted to shrink the environmental footprint of the recent Police tour, his people called a company in St. Louis Park. When Jack Johnson, the surfer turned rock star, wanted music venues to install low-flow shower heads and make other eco-friendly adjustments before he’d perform there, he did the same.


The company is MusicMatters, founded by Michael Martin, who quit a Wall Street investment-bank job in 1990 to organize such mega-shows as the first Concert for the Environment. When he decided to switch to consulting, his music connections paid off: On his first day in business, Kenny Loggins called.


Martin is no tie-dyed-in-the-wool hippie, even if most of his business is marketing organic-food distributors and his 20 staffers sometimes eschew shoes. His latest project is Allatonce.org, in which Jack Johnson fans learn about environmental issues and volunteer for nonprofits—while winning unreleased song downloads and chances to join the eco-stud onstage. Martin calls himself a “capitalist activist,” and for those who want to rock while feeling good about it, he’s there to help.
—Tim Gihring


Photo by Robert Meyer

Exit Stage Left

The week the Twin Cities arts scene died

By Tim Gihring

Yuri Arajs was the first to go. The beloved curator of local and outsider art left for Canada after a farewell exhibition in late June. Before the week was over, the arts community would sustain three more major blows: the closing of the landmark Theatre de la Jeune Lune in Minneapolis, the news that Walker Art Center curator Philippe Vergne would soon leave for New York, and the resignation of innovative Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra president Bruce Coppock for health reasons. It may qualify as the single worst week in local arts.


The greatest ripple effect may come from the Jeune Lune’s shuttering. Numerous local troupes, such as Live Action Set, had developed performances for a new series at the theater this fall while other groups, including the popular Black Label Movement dance troupe, were working on collaborations with Jeune Lune. Also scrubbed are Jeune Lune’s ambitious plans to become a national training center for physical-theater creators. “It would have been the best place in America for a theater artist if you could get in that program,” says local freelance director Jon Ferguson.


The opportunity to learn from and work with Jeune Lune drew many like-minded performers here over the years, say theater insiders. And Jeune Lune’s prominent presence enabled those performers’ success. “Jeune Lune has given audiences here a vocabulary for this type of work,” says Live Action Set’s Megan Odell. Some artists worry that the disappearance of such a bar-raising company will deprive performers of inspiration. And though Odell believes other artists (perhaps former Jeune Lune principals) may rush in to fill the gap, theater consultant Alan Berks wonders if the Jeune Lune’s closure indicates something darker—that the Twin Cities can no longer sustain adventurous theater at such a level. In either case, Ferguson expects performers will look back years from now and marvel, “We lived in Minneapolis when Jeune Lune was here.”


Wheel Deals

The other dispute in the LeMond-Trek legal war

This past spring, cycling legend and Medina resident Greg LeMond sued Trek, claiming that the bicycle maker had breached a deal to market and promote bikes bearing his trademark. The Wisconsin company responded with its own suit, claiming the three-time Tour de France winner had damaged his own brand by making critical comments about doping and Lance Armstrong in recent years.


But less talked-about have been Trek’s allegations that LeMond undercut sales of his namesake brand of bikes by using “employee pricing” discounts to purchase cycles from Trek and then reselling or distributing them at cheaper-than-retail prices. According to the company’s suit, one customer told a dealer he was “saving over 50 percent” by buying directly from LeMond. Since 1999, Trek alleges, LeMond has bought “numerous” bikes at discount prices, a fleet worth an estimated $2.5 million at retail pricing.


LeMond’s lawyers say their client has purchased bikes at discount prices for charity events and is contractually entitled to a certain number of free bikes each year. They dismiss stories about back-channel sales, suggesting that they’re probably just the result of misunderstandings by dealers.


The suits have been consolidated in federal court in Minneapolis.


A pretrial hearing in the matter is scheduled for later this month.
—JOEL HOEKSTRA


Q&A: Patricia Mitchell

The Ordway exec marks her first year

By Laine Bergeson

Ordway Center for the Performing Arts’s president and CEO Patricia Mitchell is gearing up for another musical-theater season in St. Paul. Here, the Los Angeles native and former Hollywood Bowl director talks about the Ordway, Minnesota’s art scene, and why St. Paul is the hottest spot in the metro.

Was there culture shock, coming from Los Angeles?
There wasn’t, really. I have a cabin up north that I built in 1985. My mother’s family always went to this place on Ten Mile Lake, so when we were kids that’s where we had our family vacations. I’ve always felt like a Minnesotan on some level. I love the fact that we have weather here, whereas what you have in Los Angeles is climate, which is boring. Though I must say that the concept of a white Easter is unusual….

I notice there’s a liberal comedy show on the docket a week before the Republican convention.
Yep. Laughing Liberally: Saving Democracy One Joke at a Time. It should be a scream. And, of course, when Barack Obama came to speak at the Xcel, and there were 30,000 people standing in line, we went over and flyered the heck out of ’em.

One of your big goals is to explain to the public exactly what the Ordway is.
After I’d been here about two months, I thought, “If I hear one more person say they’re confused about what the Ordway is….” It was perfectly obvious to me: We’re a performing-arts center, so we have distinguished resident companies; we produce and present our own programs; we have comprehensive education programs. But we haven’t been good at making that be the message.

What do you make of the local arts scene?
I don’t know if people who’ve lived here their whole lives realize what a remarkable cultural community this is. Think of the museums, the two major orchestras, and the 60-some theater [houses]. And what is here is infinitely more accessible than what’s in California. I know people speak of the traffic here, but coming from L.A.….

Do you see your job as having a civic aspect?
In a way, yes. The mayor is fond of saying that as the Ordway goes, so goes downtown St. Paul. It’s great to have that kind of civic significance. The thing that makes me giggle is how people talk about St. Paul as Minneapolis’s dead sister. But those people aren’t coming over here to check it out. Actually, the joint is jumping.

In 2010, the Ordway will mark 25 years. What shows will be coming?
I’m not giving any hints. But we will celebrate.  


Room Service

New lodgings with luxury amenities


The number of boutique hotels in downtown Minneapolis expands significantly this month, with the addition of the W and the Hotel Minneapolis, following close on the heels of the newly minted Ivy. Below, a few stats on the lavish offerings and luxe environs offered by the latest in local lodging.

The Hotel Minneapolis

214 Fourth St. S.
2 to 4: Number of ottomans in each room
150 to 200: Number of Doubletree chocolate-chip cookies served daily
1,750: Approximate number of Neutrogena shampoo bottles used per week
200: Thread count of sheets


W Minneapolis–The Foshay

821 Marquette Ave.
230: Number of rooms with hot-pink minibars
18: Number suites with hot-pink leather teddy bears
1: Pets allowed per person without charge
40: Weight limit (in pounds) of pets allowed
350: Thread count of sheets


Hotel Ivy

201 S. 11th St.
28,000 of each: Approximate number of signature shampoos, conditioners, hand lotions, shower gels, and hand soaps used annually
20 to 30: Complimentary shoe shines given per day
2: Number of concierges on duty
$8: Cost of a bowl of Porter & Frye’s French onion soup, one of the most popular room-service items
500 to 800: Number of hand-crafted chocolates left on pillows during turndown each week
400: Thread count of sheets
—SARA GLASSMAN


Dear Paul

Expert answers to your most dire questions

BY PAUL DOUGLAS
 

Q: Paul, this spring’s cold spell seemed freakishly long. What gives?
A: This winter was a little colder than average, but it felt unreasonably cold and long because the previous winters were so mild and easy. It’s like having five easy exams and then—pow!—a really tough exam that leaves you reeling, your head spinning. The biggest factor in keeping us colder longer: La Niña. As the baby sister of El Niño, this big, cool span of Pacific Ocean water has impacted where and how the jet stream blows downwind across North America. Many La Niña events are accompanied by chillier-than-average weather from the northern plains to New England. This was one of those winters.

Q: Why are Minnesotans so obsessed with the weather?
A: It’s a common experience that we all share, but our climate gives us reason for concern: Our state’s extreme temperatures are comparable to Siberia, giving us some of the most severe weather in North America. And, unlike politics, religion, and high-school sports, it’s a relatively safe topic—in line with “Minnesota nice.”

Q: Paul, sometimes I see things in the clouds? Is there any science behind this phenomenon, or am I just crazy?

A: You’re not crazy, but please stay away from the nuclear power plant in Monticello.

When I look up at the clouds, I think of Orville Redenbacher. On a sunny day, when the ground and air warm up, the result is countless, localized “thermals.” As the air rises, it cools and is unable to hold as much water vapor, so it condenses into visible cloud droplets, forming chubby little “popcorn-like” cumulus clouds, which can bubble and boil into all kinds of unusual shapes, depending on wind speeds and instability aloft. I, too, have seen bunnies and puppy dogs and old girlfriends’ faces in the clouds. I’m not a psychologist, but in all probability, those shapes you see in the clouds are something or someone you’ve been thinking about lately—consciously or unconsciously. There, feel better?

Paul Douglas is a meteorologist, inventor, and businessman living in the Twin Cities. Got a tough question? Send it to dearpaul@mnmo.com.


The Sound of Minnesota Singing our own praises

O sing we now of Bunyan and the Purple One and above-average kids! Or something like that. Six community choruses across the state have been working with such acclaimed composers as Edie Hill, commissioned by the American Composers Forum to celebrate Minnesota’s 150th anniversary with original songs. Find out what they think is worth warbling about in the state when they perform their cooperative compositions as a 300-voice choir on August 23 at the Minnesota State Fair. —T.G.


The Curtain

Who’s up, who’s down in local arts and culture

 

RISING

Kaywin Feldman
The new director of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts has quickly streamlined its management, laying the groundwork for more ambitious programming.

The Museum of Russian Art
Narrow focus, big budget—the young museum has doubled its staff with three new hires, including an operations director lured from the Smithsonian.

Minnesota Film and TV Board
The state’s carrot to filmmakers returns: $1 million in additional incentives were approved by the Legislature—though it’s still only half of the film board’s request.

Independent cinema
The projectors have flickered out at Minneapolis’s venerable Oak Street Theater and the Bell Auditorium. Can the revived Parkway Theater pick up the slack?

Shubert Theater
Surprise, surprise: Construction on Minneapolis’s long-awaited home for dance has been pushed back again (to fall). And the design has been scaled back, due to slow fund-raising and rising costs.

FALLING


Conventional Art

What will delegates to the upcoming Republican National Convention find at Twin Cities museums and theaters? Politics, of course. 

By TIM GIHRING

Dr. Seuss for President

Where: Jean Stephen Galleries, Minneapolis, ongoing
What: You know Dr. Seuss for the Lorax, the Sneetches, and other snuffle-uffles, but he also drew political cartoons tackling fascism, nukes, and legislative kerfuffles.
P.C. factor: None of Seuss’s infamous World War II–era cartoons slurring Japanese-Americans are included.

Hail to the Chief: Images of the American Presidency

Where: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, from August 2 to September 21
What: From the original Dubya (that would be George Washington) to today, our presidents in paintings, sculptures, photographs, and decor.
P.C. factor: Expect Washington crossing the Delaware, not Nixon crossing ethical lines.

Genus elephas

Where: Premier Gallery, through September 19
What: Juried show of art inspired by the iconic GOP symbol, the elephant.
P.C. factor: The gallery claims political neutrality, but the elephant presents a temptingly large target.

The Lion, The Witch, and the War Hero; or, Is McCain Able?

Where: Brave New Workshop Theatre, through November 8
What: Al Franken’s old haunt celebrates its 50th season by satirically skewering the electoral process.
P.C. factor: Yeah, right. The BNW plays offense, not defense, folks.

Hindsight is Always 20/20

Where: Weisman Art Museum, from August 23 to January 4
What: Artist R. Luke DuBois searched for the most frequently uttered words in each president’s State of the Union speeches. He then arranged those words in 43 different prints—one for every president—that resemble optometrists’ eye charts, with the top of each print featuring the president’s most popular word choices and the next most frequent words below it in decreasing size and so on. Atop Lyndon B. Johnson’s print: “poor consumer beauty police.”
P.C. factor: Hey, they said it.


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