Minnesota Monthly's 7th Annual Uncommon Loon Awards

Recliners going rogue, pilots flying by, Brett Favre turning purple—we look back at 2009’s most outrageous, obnoxious, and just plain odd events.

Board Games

It’s bad enough that Ted Poetsch was being booted out of the Minneapolis home he had lived in for all of his 53 years—yet another foreclosure on the city’s North Side. But as he hurriedly boxed up his possessions, the situation turned insultingly ironic—he heard a contractor drilling into his door frame, and within minutes he was boarded up inside. Who came to his rescue? His attorney.

His Indian Name is Unprintable

It’s hard to say which is sadder: A Duluth T-shirt shop peddling shirts with such slogans as “My Indian Name is ‘Drinks Like Fish’” and “My Indian Name is ‘Crawling Drunk.’” Or, that when the city’s human-rights officer and a member of the Duluth American Indian Commission visited said store, the store-owner didn’t remove them so much as sell them at a discount. Or, that the T-shirts apparently sold out.

“I don’t want the guy to ever come back into the city of Minneapolis again. He was a jerk when he was here.”
—Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak talking on MSNBC about former Minnesota Vikings receiver Randy Moss 

Humble Servants

Nothing ever came of the lawsuits alleging that Bloomington businessman Nasser Kazeminy funneled money to former Senator Norm Coleman through his wife, Laurie. Unless you count such gems as this testimony from Kazeminy’s colleague, B. J. Thomas, who was asked by the FBI, “In that conversation that you had with Mr. Kazeminy, did he tell you, ‘United States senators don’t make shit’? Or words to that effect?” Thomas responded affirmatively. Nice to know someone’s looking out for the working poor.

Sometimes He Feels Like a Nut

When Governor Tim Pawlenty jumped on the ACORN-bashing bandwagon, he ordered state agencies to cease all funding to the community-organizing group and called for a thorough investigation of the state’s relationship with the beleaguered activists. But apparently there was never any state funding to stop. ACORN lobbyists had, however, helped the legislature craft a 2007 bill on predatory lending that Pawlenty passed and later touted as one of his proudest accomplishments. Oops.

Put Your Feet Up

This is apparently how they roll in Proctor: Dennis LeRoy Anderson tricked out his overstuffed recliner with wheels, a steering wheel, and a lawn-mower engine (top speed: 20 mph), then drove his rocketing recliner to a nearby bar. Trouble ensued after he drank “eight or nine” beers and crashed the chair-mobile into a car in the bar’s parking lot. After Anderson failed a sobriety test, the offending chair was impounded, promising a police auction like no other.

Paging I.P. Freely

Urine trouble now, Medtronic. When Brooklyn Center resident Ubaldo Dominguez Ramos discovered he was being featured in a Medtronic ad for a prostate device along with the headline “Now I can go like I am 19 again!” he was furious. Not only did the ad falsely suggest that he had prostate problems, but the image was used without Ramos’s consent, he says. He’s suing the company for $75,000 in damages, wiener take all.

Say What?

Minnesota may have a former comic in the Senate now that Al Franken’s in office, but perhaps no Minnesota politician is eliciting more guffaws than Congresswoman Michele Bachmann. Among her quotable comments last year: Warning that the United States is “running out of rich people,” suggesting that members of Congress have a “real aversion to capitalism,” and vowing to not answer personal questions in this year’s U.S. Census. Like what planet she hails from?

Civilian Targets

Kathy and Rich Nelson were literally shell-shocked last April when a 102-pound artillery shell hurtled just past their house south of Pillager and bulldozed a path through their woods. The shell, which was filled with wax, originated at Camp Ripley and flew eight miles off course during a test. A sheepish employee came to pick up the shell that night, but two weeks after the incident the Nelsons still hadn’t received an apology from the training center. Apparently, big guns mean never having to say you’re sorry.

For a Nice Time…

They called themselves the Minnesota Nice Guys, and their Hawaiian shirts and penny loafers reinforced the image. But the sex-ring part? Not so much. Last spring, Minneapolis cops busted the group of about 30 well-heeled older men who enjoyed the services of high-end prostitutes; the guys would fly the ladies into town from Florida, put them up in topflight hotels, and pay around $500 an hour for their services. The alleged ringleader started the scheme shortly after retiring—from his job as a Hennepin County lawyer. Because everyone needs a hobby.

Next Time, Let’s Flip a Coin

We thought that having a comedian run for Senate would make for some good laughs, but there was nothing funny about the longest election contest in state history—except to everyone outside Minnesota. The chortling began right away when incumbent Norm Coleman graciously offered Franken the “opportunity” to concede to Coleman’s initial 215-vote lead (which required an automatic recount anyway) and didn’t stop until all the ballots were examined with lawyerly precision—including those with elaborate squiggles, short essays, and a single vote for the write-in candidate “Lizard People.”

“Give me a water board, Dick Cheney, and one hour—and I’ll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders.”
—Former Governor Jesse Ventura on Larry King Live


Notable nuttiness from next door

➥ Going Ape

When police in Fond du Lac heard that a bandit in a gorilla suit was hitting local convenience stores, they figured it was simply an eccentric disguise. Then they realized how odd the monkey business really was: The pretend primate was only after bananas, but not real ones, mind you—the fake fruit that hung as an advertisement near the real bananas. Naturally.

➥ Sticking Together

As his girlfriend tied him to a motel bed and blindfolded him, Donessa Davis figured he was in for a crazy-good time. He wasn’t counting on the Krazy Glue. As it turned out, girlfriends No. 2 and No. 3—along with his wife—were waiting outside, all of the women having recently discovered that they’d been duped by Davis. They marched in, taunted Davis, slapped him, and essentially told him where to stick it—as they super-glued his penis to his stomach.

➥ Was “Eat Cheese or Die” Already Taken?

First, the Wisconsin Tourism Federation decided to change its name after acknowledging that its initials, WTF, had become more widely recognized as a crude shorthand for disbelief. Then, the Wisconsin Department of Tourism had to pull the plug on its marketing campaign centered on the slogan “Live Like You Mean It” when it was revealed that the slogan had previously been used to sell Bacardi Rum. WTF indeed.

➥ Frankly, My Dear

Oscar Mayer’s Weinermobile drivers don’t always cut the mustard. Last July, a young woman piloting the 23-foot hot dog was attempting to turn around on a dead-end street when she instead speared a Wisconsin home. The impact cracked the house’s foundation, cratered the garage door, and left a meatier shower of fiberglass frankfurter parts on the scene. We suspect Oscar Mayer will encourage the driver to take the hot-dogging elsewhere.

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