Art Priced to Move
Schulz & Peanuts: The 5-Minute GuideHappiness is…something that apparently eluded cartoonist and Twin Cities native Charles Schulz. So says David Michaelis, whose new biography has Peanuts fans buzzing about the comic-strip artist’s gloomy worldview and—spoiler alert!—his midlife affair with a 25-year-old photographer. Schulz and Peanuts mostly blames the man’s misery on a childhood spent amid stoic Lutherans in a dull household in clannish St. Paul. (Oh, the tragedy!) Here are eight additional talking points to deploy when holiday parties grow dull.
Schultz’s nickname: “Sparky,” short for “Spark Plug,” after a racehorse that appeared in the popular 1920s comic, Barney Google. (p. 12-13)
Breaking in: Schulz got his first taste of fame and the big money when the Saturday Evening Post published one of his drawings in 1948. Payment: $40. (p. 185-186)
Editorial foresight: Sparky’s Li’l Folks, as Peanuts was first called, appeared in the Minneapolis Star in June 1947. Two weeks later, it moved to the Pioneer Press. When Schulz pushed for more prominent positioning, the paper promptly dropped the comic. (p. 170-171)
Blockhead! The name Peanuts was the brainchild of a marketing exec. Schultz hated it. (p. 221)
Lucy-fer? Fussbudget Lucy Van Pelt shared many traits with Schultz’s first wife, Joyce. (p. 231)
Red-hot lover: Schulz proposed to Minneapolis girl Donna Mae Johnson on the third date. She promptly spurned him. Like the object of Charlie Brown’s unrequited affections, she had red hair. (p. 202-205)
No Lothario: From a letter Schulz sent to Tracey Claudius, with whom he began an affair in 1970: “If you don’t fall in love with anyone else, I’ll be around.” Sigh. (p. 467)
Pawlenty’s Cheney?In the four months since the 35W bridge collapse, perhaps no public official has fared worse than Lieutenant Governor Carol Molnau, who also serves as the state Transportation Commissioner. While Governor Tim Pawlenty enjoys widespread approval for his handling of the crisis, Molnau has become a focal point of public anger, with polls showing a majority of Minnesotans in favor of her stepping down. Things have gotten so bad that her role in the Pawlenty administration now seems oddly similar to that of a certain, taciturn, trigger-happy former Wyoming congressman who serves in the Bush administration. How similar? Here, we examine all the ways these two No. 2s are alike.
Illustrations by Darren Gygi
Bell WeatherEach year, the brigade of bell ringers returns, standing in the slush, enduring the sleet, trying to coax a few coins from shoppers who can’t be bothered unless, say, you just happen to have the last Elmo doll on earth. But some soldiers are more successful than others. The right costume, the right stance, and the right location can make all the difference. Here, the Salvation Army’s own tips for getting passersby to put some metal in the kettle, according to Annette Bauer, spokesperson for the Twin Cities Salvation Army.
* Play an instrument
* Choose the right corner
* Don't induce guilt
* Make eye contact
* Become a firefighter
Latin LessonIn July, Louis Mendoza, chair of Chicano studies at the University of Minnesota, embarked on a six-month bicycle ride that would take him through 34 states. He wanted to talk with people about the “Latino-ization of the United States.” This month, he wraps up his ride and returns to Minnesota. Some observations:
On a bike, you have to be aware of what’s 10 feet in front of you all the time: a pothole can be devastating. The margin for error is small. As an academic, I have the luxury to ponder big questions. But working-class people are often just getting by. Their focus is, ‘What’s my next little move? What am I going to eat today?’ They don’t have the luxury of reflecting on big questions.”
New immigrants have saved the economy of many small towns. The irony is that they’ve preserved a way of life. I’ve heard how the elderly in these towns are hesitant to accept changes brought about by migration, but they are also its beneficiaries.”
Latinos pointed out to me all of the things that have changed: the Latino stores, the Latino bakeries. Before, it was all about being invisible, about not drawing attention. Newer immigrants tend to come with more education and a stronger sense of their rights.”
Luxe LodgingThe paint has scarcely dried at the Graves 601 and the Chambers, yet downtown Minneapolis is already ushering in a fresh crop of luxury hotels—five within the next two years, by our count. So what gives? According to Kevin Lewis, vice president of convention sales for Meet Minneapolis, it’s a sign of the “strength of our local economy” and “the visibility and image of Minneapolis.” Apparently, if you build it....
1. The IvyOpens this month
Floor plan 136 guest rooms and suites, 88 luxury residences
Price High $200s and up
Old and new The historic 10-story Ivy Tower is now dwarfed by the 19-story hotel and 25-story residences.
Shocker The condominium residences are nearly sold out.
Past life The original tower was built in 1930 for the Second Church of Christian Scientists.
Egg on your face? The Ivy Spa Club offers a caviar facial.
2. Westin MinneapolisNow open
Floor plan 214 rooms
Price $119 and up
Past life The historic Farmers and Mechanics Bank building
Self-preservation The lobby features the original 1940s spiral staircase and wood engravings.
Sweat the details “Workout Rooms” feature a private, in-room treadmill or exercise bike.
Room service Caviar-topped deviled eggs and Kobe-beef burger from the hotel’s restaurant, Bank.
Opens July 2008
3. W Minneapolis
Floor plan 229 rooms and suites, plus meeting spaces, dining, and a spa
Original style 1920s art deco
W style Modern, minimalist
Amenities Offers a pillow menu, Bliss spa products, and pets are welcome.
High-falutin The Foshay Tower is the only skyscraper in Minneapolis listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
4. Hotel MinneapolisOpens August 2008
Floor plan 224 guest rooms, conference center, and restaurant
Primacy of needs Warm chocolate cookies at check-in, and the signature “Sweet Dreams” bed
Past life The Midland Bank Building, built in 1905. The hotel will preserve its turn-of-the-century marble columns and original plasterwork.
The players Owned by Doubletree, but managed by Morrissey Hospitality Companies, whose portfolio also includes the Saint Paul Hotel.
5. Aloft MinneapolisOpens 2008
Floor plan 155 contemporary guest lofts
Modern yet modest A stripped-down and more budget-conscious version of the W brand
Echo chambers Nine-foot ceilings, oversized windows, walk-in showers
Cord-ial accommodations In-room entertainment centers feature “plug and play” hookups for PDAs, cell phones, MP3 players, and laptops.
The Shubert’s Wish ListIt’s been almost nine years since the Shubert Theater was moved off Block E in downtown Minneapolis, and about 24 years since it held a performance. But 2008 is its year—really, says its director, Kim Motes. Construction is slated to begin then, with an opening planned for 2009. At press time, the Twin Cities’ presumptive home for dance (as well as the Minneapolis home of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra) needed about $11 million to reach its $37.1 million campaign goal. And since it’s gauche to speak directly of dollars, Motes says all the Shubert wants for Christmas is “for people to believe we’re real—that this is really going to happen.” Ironically, the Shubert has learned how to operate without a facility: For five years now, it’s held educational programs for kids in 38 locations using Internet technology, with dance and music instructors teaching remotely in real-time. “We’ve gotten rid of the location barrier,” says Motes.Which isn’t to say they would object to a few fat checks in their stocking.
Out: sermons. In: soliloquies. SteppingStone Theatre, the 20-year-old purveyor of diversity-minded plays for children, becomes the latest arts group to move out of St. Paul’s Landmark Center this month when it performs in its new space—the former Grace Community Church on Summit Avenue. The massive, century-old facility has been converted into a 430-seat theater. “We saved it from being just another bunch of condos,” says SteppingStone spokesperson Kathy Graves. Fittingly, the theater’s first show, opening December 1, is The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, about a near-disastrous staging of the Christmas story in a church. Tickets: 651-225-9265.
Photo by Ross WillitsTheatrical Conversion
Photo by Ross Willits
'Tis the SeasonBing Crosby, Mannheim Steamroller, Alvin and the Chipmunks—there are certain performers who consistently deliver the holiday cheer with some extra kick during December. Minnesota has its local versions, too. Here’s how they stack up:
The BlendersGist: Four-part vocal harmonies, interspersed with comedy bits from the kind of family-friendly Fargo boys your mother wished you had dated. Won a Regional Emmy this year for a FOX-9 TV ad. Somehow opened for both Howie Mandel and Lou Rawls.
Years performing holiday shows: 10
Latest holiday CD: 2007’s two-disc The Blenders Christmas Collection, plus live DVD
This year’s gig: Holiday Soul Tour, Dec. 7 to 9, Pantages Theatre, Minneapolis
Styling of “Let It Snow”: Lounge lizard—think Rat Pack Rudolph or Santa in a zoot suit.
Lorie LineGist: Ann-Margret meets Chaska. Famously got her start playing piano at Dayton’s. At her holiday shows, her fans often bring their own bells.
Years performing holiday shows: 17
Latest holiday CD: 2006’s The Traditions of Christmas
This year’s gig: The Glory of Christmas, Dec. 8 to 15, Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis
Styling of “Let It Snow”: Jazzy, Julie Andrews style, though lately this jingle belle has traded Santa tunes for sacred songs.
Keri NobleGist: Piano-driven pop, like Sarah McLachlan without the melodrama. Increasingly popular singer-songwriter among the Cities 97 set and, apparently, in Japan.
Years performing holiday shows: 6
Latest holiday CD: None, so far
This year’s gig: All I Want for Christmas Is Keri, Dec. 17 to 18, Patrick’s Cabaret, Minneapolis
Styling of “Let It Snow”: Haven’t heard it yet, but she does have a song called “Let it Rain.”