Puck Soup

When the puck drops on the third annual U.S. Pond Hockey Championships, held from January 18 to 20 on a (hopefully) frozen Lake Nokomis, the competition will feature thousands of amateur players, hundreds of peculiarly named teams, and one notable trophy: the Golden Shovel. But the tournament will also be marked by another unique phenomenon: It has a doppelgänger. 

In February, Eagle River, Wisconsin, will host something called the USA Pond Hockey Championships, a tournament that will look and feel remarkably like its similar-sounding Minneapolis competitor. Both tournaments were started in 2006, both feature divisions categorized by age and hockey experience, and both feature a four-on-four format that eschew goalies and checking. So which—in the name of Herb Brooks—is the real pond-hockey proving ground?

Local bias aside, the nod here goes to the U.S. Pond Hockey Championships. Started three years ago by local PR exec Fred Haberman, the tourney has quickly become one of the country’s premier hockey tournaments (of any kind), with numerous former Division I players, Olympians and NHLers taking part. This year, says USPHC spokeswoman Claudine Galloway, the tournament will include more than 200 teams from 13 states and several foreign countries. Registration for the “open” division—the most competitive—filled up in less than a day. “Even the winner of the Canadian national tournament comes here to play,” Galloway says.

The USA Pond Hockey Championships, on the other hand, don’t boast the same sort of cachet, though the event does have one thing going for it: the imprimatur of officialdom. It’s organized by USA Hockey, the governing body for amateur hockey in this country. “We see it as another way to give our players more opportunities,” says Ashley Bevan, director of adult hockey for USA Hockey, who says the organization knew nothing of its Minnesota-based rival when it started the tourney. “It’s just a great way to get more people involved.”


Freshman Year

Seems like only yesterday our own Michele Bachmann was new in Washington, manhandling the president after the State of the Union. But the GOP congresswoman and Democrats Keith Ellison and Tim Walz, the other greenhorns in the House from Minnesota, are now halfway through their freshman terms, with voting records to assess and war chests to fill before the November elections.  An assessment—and a look ahead. 

Official House of


Votes the party line: 97 percent of the time
Bills sponsored: 15
First-year fumble: How about his comparison of Bush’s post—9/11 policies to those of post-Reichstag Nazis? Or the grandiloquent floor speech on the anniversary of Senator Paul Wellstone’s death—the one that flubbed basic facts about the crash?
Rebound: His crusade against shady lenders in Minnesota has gone over better than political pork in his urban district.
Reelection threat level: Low. Are there any non-liberals left in his true-blue district?

Official House of


Votes the party line: 92 percent of the time
Bills sponsored: 7
First-year fumble: Fresh on the heels of Death-Grip-Gate, Bachmann claimed Iran had plans to partition Iraq for terrorists. She later “clarified” that she knew of no actual plan.
Rebound: Bachmann regained her GOP cred by siding with the president when he vetoed a $35-billion increase in funding for the State Children’s Health Insurance Plan. Bush favored a bump of $5 billion.
Reelection threat level: Low. She’s raised almost $900,000, and the Democrats’ attention is focused on nabbing outgoing Republican Jim Ramstad’s seat in the Third District.

Official House of


Votes the party line: 96 percent of the time
Bills sponsored: 9
First-year fumble: The sergeant major got an earful from his constituents after he supported a White House—sponsored bill making wiretapping easier.
Rebound: Walz crossed the aisle to co-sponsor a bill bettering National Guard benefits with Minnesota Republican John Kline. Extra points for doing more than just jawing about bi­partisanship.
Reelection threat level: High. He has already raised $1 million, but faces a very connected Republican stalwart from Owatonna, Dick Day.


Photo by Judy Griesedieck, Getty images

Icons or eyesores?

“A lot of postwar buildings aren’t huggable,’” says Charlene Roise. Most aren’t eligible for the National Register of Historic Places either—a building typically must be 50 or older to win protection from the wrecking ball. And that’s a problem says Roise, an architectural historian based in Minneapolis, because many modernist structures are in danger of being altered or bulldozed. Here’s a short list of buildings she’d like to see preserved.

Orchestra Hall and Peavey Plaza


The concern: Minnesota Orchestra is planning a $90-million addition that would, among other things, double the size of the existing lobby. The 2009 expansion will eat up a chunk of Peavey Plaza.
Why save it? Peavey Plaza proves concrete can be park-like and is one of the few open spaces in downtown Minneapolis, says Roise.
Roise’s rallying cry: Think Mary Tyler Moore. “You look at that building and you say, ‘Ooh, 1970s!’”

Minneapolis Public Service center


The concern: The land beneath this five-story beauty might be worth more than the building.
Why save it? Built as part of mid-century urban renewal, it’s symbolic of the city’s efforts to revive its slumping downtown. It also features the same material—porcelain enamel metal—found on Lustron houses (several exist in Minneapolis) and White Castles. How cool is that?
Roise’s rallying cry: “It’s a little jewel.”



The concern: With the Twins and Gophers leaving, the stadium’s days appear numbered.
Why save it? Aesthetics aren’t the only reason to save a building. Innovative construction methods sometimes warrant historic consideration. Which brings us to the Dome’s roof: It’s air-supported Teflon. Sure, it’s collapsed three times. But mostly it’s stayed up.
Roise’s rally cry: “We shouldn’t just toss it out without talking about it,” Roise says. But, she adds, “I’m not going to lay down in front of a bulldozer for it.”


House Party

The 2008 Republican National Convention is coming, and Twin Cities homeowners are putting up places for attendees to rent. Here’s what we found available—and our thoughts on the amenities and likely occupants.

Summit Hill Mansion

8 bedrooms
7,000 square feet
$50,000 per week
6 fireplaces, 2 kitchens with Wolf appliances, full gym, and wine room.

Big enough for a nice family from Salt Lake City.

Luxury Lake Home

6 bedrooms
6,000 square feet
$22,500 per week
6-person hot tub, wet bars, pool table, foosball table, pinball machine.

What? No Swedish massage? Caviar?

Cozy Charmer

2 bedrooms
$2,000 per week
Built in 1874
Owners describe themselves as “hip, partnered guys.”

Plenty of closet space, too.

Crocus Hill Condo

2 bedrooms
1,250 square feet
$3,000 per week
Fireplace, parking, views of St. Paul Cathedral.

Note to Wisconsin delegates: six bars within a two-block range.

Golf Course Community

3 bedrooms
3,000 square feet
$7,000 per week
“For nice Republican convention attendees, preferably fellow NRA members.”

Gun rack included.

Bachelor Pad

4 bedrooms
5,000 square feet
$25,000 per week
Sauna, cocktail bar, master bedroom with two-person whirlpool.

Perfect for a quick, um, caucus.

Suburban Stunner

4 bedrooms
3,000 square feet
$25,000 per week
Gourmet kitchen, wet bar, theater, baby grand piano.

Invite Condi and Dick over for band practice. 

Lowertown Loft

1 bedroom
900 square feet
$6,300 per week
High-speed Internet, 42-inch plasma TV with cable, PlayStation 3.

A Young Republican’s fantasy.

Quiet Suburb

3 bedrooms
3,300 square feet
$8,000 per week
30 miles south of St. Paul
Owners to reside in basement level.

Rent at your own risk.


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Local Boy

There are no stadiums in Duluth dedicated to Ernie Nevers. No statues either. But the largely forgotten football legend and the team he transformed will likely be the talk of the town when the next George Clooney movie is released.

Leatherheads, due out in April, is based on the story of the Duluth Eskimos, the NFL franchise that Nevers led to glory in the 1920s. The script, by former Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly, floated around Hollywood for years before Clooney nabbed it, casting himself as the team’s owner, Renée Zellweger as his romantic foil, and John Krasinkski (of The Office) as a powerhouse player who bears a striking similarity to the real-life Nevers.

Nevers, a Duluth-area native, was a three-sport All-American at Stanford who was eventually wooed back home by an old friend, says Chuck Frederick, author of the new book Leatherheads of the North. Nevers’s decision to sign with the Eskimos kept the ailing NFL alive. “The president said, ‘Young man, you just saved the NFL,’” Frederick says. Talk about an upset.


Snow Bird

If you’re looking for clues as to where Bill Holm, the bard of Minneota, plans to spend his time now that he’s retired from teaching after 42 years at Southwest State University, you might take a hint from his latest book. The Windows on Brimnes: An American in Iceland offers Holm’s perspectives on American life, as seen from the house he owns in Iceland, his adopted homeland. But don’t expect Holm to leave Minnesota altogether: He only intends to extend his annual summer sojourn in the balmy North Atlantic from three months to four. 


Leaving Las Vegas

Former Rat Pack party girl Jane McCormick dishes—and dissuades—in her new book, Breaking My Silence 


She came to Las Vegas as an 18-year-old, hoping to become a showgirl, but within hours of arrival Jane McCormick was forced into prostitution. She would spend the Swinging Sixties as “Baby Jane,” sleeping with the likes of Frank Sinatra and Dean Martin.

But as she reveals in her new memoir, Breaking My Silence, McCormick would have given up the big money for a little normalcy. And now, as a 66-year-old grandmother living in Vadnais Heights, she hopes to change Minnesota law to get girls off the street and put johns behind bars.

You started life as an Indiana farm girl. How’d you wind up in Vegas?
It was not a happy childhood. I was molested—all kinds of horrifying things. By 17, I had two beautiful daughters but was divorced; the children were awarded to my mother-in-law. I ended up with some guy in Hollywood who took me to Vegas. I thought he loved me, but he put me out for prostitution—told me all I had to do was sit in a cocktail lounge and pretty soon guys would want to buy me a drink and take me up to their rooms. And that’s exactly what happened.

How did you meet the Rat Pack?
A lady I met, a prostitute, introduced me. Frank [Sinatra] wanted to party, and some of that was pretty eye-opening. Our first encounter, I ran into the bathroom and locked the door. We knew each other for 10 years. I also was with Jerry Lewis, one of the nicest men I ever met.

Despite the furs and fancy cars, would you have left Vegas—if you could?
I have 72 scars on my head. I had my arm broke, my leg broke. The casino bosses introduced me to millionaires and I still got some guy beating me. But you get stuck on the money. I probably made half-a-million dollars in a year, from about 1960 to 1972. And I had a tenth-grade education.

Why do penalties for prostitution need to change?
The problem now is that the girls are the victims. The john goes home to church and family and the prostitute goes to jail—where the hell is the justice in that?

How did you finally leave Vegas?
Johnny, the guy I was in love with, got violent. So I go out with a girlfriend, and we’re on the highway, and I hear a popping noise. I thought I must’ve blown a tire but then I see it’s Johnny sitting up in the passenger seat of a Mercedes convertible, shooting at me. I said, “I’m outta here.” I became an electronics assembler in Chicago—I was never so excited about anything in my life.

Body Slam

If you resolved to get fit in the New Year, but the idea of hot yoga leaves you cold, consider the next wave of aerobics classes. Check out this trio of trendy workouts that’ll have you looking lean faster than you can say “jazzercise.” 



The Firm

, 245 Aldrich Ave. N., Suite 220, Mpls., 612-377-3003
Think MTV meets perky fitness guru Denise Austin. Instructors lead students through simple sets of dance moves then mix it all together with the music.
Heart rate: sky high
Who’s there: mostly twenty- to thirtysomething men and women
Recovery period: sore quads on day 2, ready to pop ’n’ lock again on day 3
Payoff: endurance
Cost: single class, $20




, 167 Snelling Ave. N., St. Paul, 651-646-8418
This Russian technique features a weighted ball with a handle that is lifted in quick, repetitive movements.
Heart rate: off the charts
Who’s there: mostly women; a few Pilates instructors looking to up their game
Recovery period: three to four days
Payoff: strengthens legs, arms, back, and core muscles
Cost: beginners’ intro class is free



Align Pilates

, 708 N. First St., Mpls., 612-343-7500
The former uses a medieval-style contraption of pulleys to stretch and lengthen your limbs. Gyrokinesis replicates the movements on the floor.
Heart rate: low
Who’s there: downtown-loft dwellers, Rondell White
Recovery period: a day
Payoff: stronger core
Cost: private session, $80


The Met Comes Looking

Anyone ever told you you’re a diva? On January 19, New York City’s Metropolitan Opera will hold its annual regional auditions at the Ted Mann Concert Hall in Minneapolis, hoping to discover the next Caruso or Callas among the Midwest’s young opera singers. The best belter wins big money and a chance to appear on the Met stage in Manhattan. Granted, it’s unlikely you’re among the 15 or 20 hopefuls trying out, but here are a few pointers in case you find your inner Pavarotti.

  • Sing in the shower. It’s not just for amateurs—the pros do it, too: “Steam is always good for singers’ voices,” says Jamie-Rose Guarrine, who competed in last year’s contest.
  • Be a man. Two-thirds of opera-audition contestants are generally sopranos, says tenor Josh Kohl, so there’s less competition among other voice types. And Kohl should know: He won last year’s Met audition.
  • Don’t yell. Your vocal cords will thank you. “Even if I found out that the Met had hired me, I’d curb my enthusiasm until after the audition,” says Guarrine.
  • Drink more than you should. Water, that is. “Every day, singers drink more than the recommended volume,” says Guarrine. Dry winters wreak havoc on throats. “We’d all love to sing by a humidifier.”
  • Don’t take yourself too seriously. “It’s a stressful day,” says Guarrine, “but since the competition is free and open to the public, you can make it a performance instead of a contest. It’s hard to know what the judges are looking for, so to win, the sun, moon, and stars have to be in alignment. Adds Kohl: “It’s kind of a crap shoot.” —T.G.

To Stand or Not to Stand

SHOWBIZ TYPES once believed the road to Broadway ran through the Twin Cities. Patrons were certain to give any premiere, nay any performance, a standing O.

But lately, it hasn’t seemed to work: The New York Times called the 2002 premiere of Arthur Miller’s Resurrection Blues at the Guthrie Theater “disappointingly unpersuasive.” And last fall, most of the audience remained seated as the curtain dropped on the debut of Brian Friel’s The Home Place. So should Tony Kushner worry about getting a chilly reception when he premieres his next work here, at the Guthrie, in 2009?

In fact, there’s never been such a thing as a free pass, says Rohan Preston, the Star Tribune’s theater critic. “Audiences here have always been savvy,” he notes. “I think people just mistake their enthusiasm and love of theater for naiveté.”

But there are decided benefits to premiering a show in the Twin Cities, rather than New York, Preston says. If a playwright is anything less than satisfied with the production of a new work, it’s perfectly acceptable to ask the New York critics not to come—”and they generally abide,” Preston says. The upshot: There’s time to work out the kinks before the national media sink their teeth into the show. It certainly worked for The Lion King. —T.G.

Photo courtesy of the SPCO

Genius Among Us

Feel free to ask tough questions of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra’s newest artistic partner, Dawn Upshaw, when the renowned soprano performs with the ensemble on January 18 and 19 at the Ord­way Center. After all, she was recently awarded a $500,000 Mac­Arthur Fellowship—a so-called genius grant. “I received a phone call one morning asking if I was sitting down,” she recalls. “It was completely unexpected.” Upshaw hasn’t decided yet how to use the money, she says. Last year, as she battled breast cancer, there was some question whether she would continue to perform at all, but she is now much healthier—and wealthier. And still kind enough to sing Mozart, Ravel, and Stravinsky for us common folk, too. —T.G.

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