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Her Favorite Things

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This month, Katherine Kersten marks three years as a full-time columnist at the Star Tribune. The sometimes incendiary, always right-leaning writer has made her fair share of enemies in that short time, judging by the responses published on the newspaper’s letters page and website. But does she really write only about liberals hijacking our schools and the homosexual assault on marriage? Or does it just seem that way? To find out, we tallied the most-repeated topics among the more than 250 columns that Kersten has produced since May 2005.

Muslims and Islam = 16 times
Same-sex Marriage = 9 times
35W Bridge Collapse = 4 times
The U of M = 14 times
War in Iraq = 8 times
Republican National Convention = 3 times
Her Dog's Self-Indulgent Lifestyle = 1 time

—SHANNON HASLING


Save or spend?

If someone handed you a $600 check right now, what would you do with the money? Under a new economic-stimulus plan, $100 billion in tax rebates will hit mailboxes this month for single filers with adjusted gross income (AGI) below $75,000 and couples with AGI below $150,000. Based on an online poll, here’s how qualified Minnesota Monthly readers plan to spend their windfall.

—ELIZABETH DEHN

Paying off my Visa: priceless – 51 percent
Feed my piggy bank – 32 percent
Vegas, baby! – 8 percent
Order the lobster – 3 percent
Buy one share of Google – 3 percent
MOA, here I come! – 3 percent


Issued by a Higher Power

At the end of April, after a year-and-a-half on the lam, former high-flying businessman Robert Beale was expected to finally go on trial in U.S. District Court in Minneapolis. From 2000 to 2004, prosecutors allege, Beale refused to pay taxes on the $5.7 million he earned as CEO of Comtrol, his family’s successful Maple Grove tech firm.

But a typical tax-evasion case this is not: In various court documents, Beale has identified himself as a “Public Minister to Holy Scripture,” and argued that he was exempted from paying taxes by God, the U.S. Constitution, and sundry court decisions. Even amid such eccentricity, however, one artifact of the case stands out for its epic weirdness: Beale’s “passport.”

The document, issued under a fake name and seized when Beale was apprehended in Florida last November, looks like something a government office might issue—it’s made of burgundy vinyl, embossed in gold, and bears a picture, physical description, and expiration date. In this case, though, the issuing authority is the Kingdom of Heaven.

No, not that Kingdom. This Kingdom is an Internet-based religious organization that recognizes only God’s authority. It issues passports and other forms of ID to any baptized “Citizen of Heaven” who “renounces his allegiance to all worldly governments.”

“Because we have separated from the world, we are now foreigners to our neighbors,” a FAQ on the Kingdom’s website explains, which promises that the document “is helpful in dealing with the government of unbelievers.”

Beale might quibble with the latter claim. If convicted, the feds could send him to prison for up to 12 years.

—BETH HAWKINS


What Goes Around

The return of the record...sort of

At 26, Mark Meikle is too young to have yanked the zipper on Sticky Fingers, the famed Rolling Stones album designed by Andy Warhol. Meikle was a mere kindergartner when CDs pushed LPs into music history along with 8-tracks and Elvis.

So why, as president and co-founder of Plymouth-based Legacy Productions (LP, get it?), is Meikle bringing the album back? Technically, he’s not: Legacy, which records school bands and church choirs, has begun packaging some of its CDs with ersatz LPs—but the record is simply a holding device, containing no music. Meikle came up with the LP package because he admires the full-on rock ’n’ roll experience that giant photographs of dudes encased in leather—or illustrations of magical hobbit lands (hello, Yes)—once offered. Never mind that the New Hope Senior Concert Band is unlikely to be found in either scenario. Or that today’s teens wouldn’t know an LP from JLo.

“Look what’s

happened to music,” Meikle laments. “You once had a huge picture of the star on the cover—a shiny, heavy LP. Now it’s nothing. We’re trying to bring back the style of the old days, educate kids, get parents talking with them about the birth of rock ’n’ roll.”

Baby boomers have long claimed that LPs are more aurally satisfying than CDs—even though their eardrums burst in ’76 during a Thin Lizzy concert. Now the kids dig them: The new LP for Princeton High School in central Minnesota features glowing letters circa 1978. Perhaps the LP is rock. “I told our art director, ‘You gotta be more extreme with the albums,’” says Meikle. “Yeah, it’s churches and schools, but you gotta make them feel like rock stars.”

—TIM GIHRING


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