Seriously Funny

A homegrown comedienne checks out the Convention

Lizz Winstead, co-creator of The Daily Show, and her troupe, Shoot the Messenger, visit the Twin Cities this month to do a satirical show that plays off live footage from the Republican National Convention. Learn more in Agenda.


Ruling Power

Is Minnesota green? Depends how you measure.

5,920 Number of hybrid cars sold in Minnesota in 2007
57 Percentage increase in hybrid sales over 2006
18 Minnesota’s rank among U.S. states in hybrid sales
45 Average mpg for a Toyota Prius under normal driving conditions
80 Average mpg of Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak’s city-owned Prius, converted to a “plug-in” system
45 Number of hybrid buses currently in Metro Transit’s fleet
172 Number of hybrid buses the fleet will have by 2012
3.8 Average mpg of diesel-power buses
4.8 Average mpg of hybrid buses
340,000 Number of gallons of gas Metro Transit expects to save annually by switching to hybrid buses
90 Percentage reduction in emissions per bus as a result of conversion
334 Number of ethanol fueling stations in Minnesota
3,649 Number of gasoline fueling stations
25 Percentage of Minnesota homes with air conditioning in 1987
88 Percentage with air conditioning in 2006
62 Percentage of Minnesota electricity generated by coal
50 Percentage of U.S. electricity generated by coal
2 Percentage of Minnesota electricity generated by wind
580 Number of heart attacks in Minnesota attributed annually to pollution from power plants

Universal Fabric

True faith in fashion

A few years ago, Twin Cities resident AbdulAziz Al-Salim was looking for a witty Muslim-themed T-shirt, but found only unimaginative creations. So the 23-year-old started Muslim Tees with two other Minnesotans. The company has sold about 1,000 shirts and been featured on Here, a few tees explained.


» The firm’s most popular shirt appropriates a popular icon—the cell-phone battery symbol—to explain one of the benefits of Ramadan, which this year starts September 1. “Non-Muslims focus on the not eating part,” says Al-Salim. “They forget there’s this whole other side that’s about reconnecting.”

» At first glance, the image seems to be of mosques and minarets. But look closer. Its reflection is a city skyline, complete with skyscrapers. Al-Salim says this represents the conflict between religion and modernity felt by many American Muslims.

» This shirt features a pair of Arabic letters that begins the Shahada, the Islamic creed: “There is no other God but Allah, Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” Those not in the know might think it just looks cool. And that’s okay, too, Al-Salim says.


John Swanson

Remaking Macy’s

It occupies one of the most venerable buildings in downtown Minneapolis. So let’s put the luxe back in this landmark.


Marshall Field’s officially became Macy’s two years ago this month. Since then, the disarray at the Minneapolis downtown store has earned it the nickname “Messy’s.” In search of image-makeover tips, we consulted some experts.

Solution 1:

Clean it up!

“When it comes to standards of maintenance, Target does a better job,” says David Abele, retail consultant and former general manager of Neiman Marcus. “If you keep the place clean and neat, you add an intrinsic value to merchandise.”

Solution 2:

Dazzle us

“Other Macy’s make you happier because they have more handsome displays with appealing merchandise,” says Margot Siegel, former editor for Women’s Wear Daily, whose mother Madame Jeanne Auerbacher was an Oval Room buyer. “Our cosmetics department is lovely, but the shoe department needs an exciting redo.”

Solution 3:

Fill the place

There are about four empty floors of office space in the downtown building. “Create a magnet school there to recruit and train those interested in retail, advertising, and merchandising,” says Dawn Bromander, retail director for Monique Lhuillier and a former manager at Marshall Field’s. The student associates would get hands-on experience and boost standards of product knowledge and service in the store.

Solution 4:

Hold more events

Glamorama is an annual to-do and Prince performing in the eighth-floor auditorium in 2007 sold lots of his 3121 perfume, but hosting more fashion shows, personal appearances, and other events would attract
shoppers to the store more regularly. “Minnesotans like to feel special,” says Abele.

Solution 5:

Make downtown unique

Homogeny makes national advertising possible, but it won’t lure suburbanites downtown. Give shoppers a token of their trip to make it seem special. Consider replacing the white bags with red stars that you can pick up at any Macy’s and create special totes with an image of the historic building on them.

You Know You’re Cool When…

How to tell if you’ve made it in the local arts scene


* Click here to see the cool chart!

The Curtain

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


Highpoint Center for Printmaking
With printmaking and collecting on the rise, the Minneapolis nonprofit plans a James Dayton–designed permanent home
Elizabeth Armstrong
The former Walker Art Center staffer becomes the first contemporary-art curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The Bush Foundation
It streamlines grant-making—but at what cost?
Walker Art Center
Curator Philippe Vergne, who had organized cutting-edge exhibitions and raised the museum’s international profile, departs
Boards of directors
Secrecy about staff changes at the Southern Theater raises questions of undue power and influence


Political Jesters

Top comics seize the spotlight

Some of the most covert activity during the Republican National Convention this month will not derive from protests but podcasts, guerrilla theater, and late-night comedy— a banana peel on the red carpet for Republicans—scripted by familiar local thespians and playwrights, such as Jeffrey Hatcher (Tuesdays with Morrie), Bill Corbett (Mystery Science Theater 3000), Joseph Scrimshaw (The Scrimshaw Show), and Beth Gilleland (Sisters of Swing). Setting the tone is Wide Stance, at the Playwrights’ Center in Minneapolis during Labor Day weekend, in which the audience divides into factions and votes on key scenes, with special guest stars promised.
—Tim Gihring

Cows, Colleges, and Consternation

A year of political strife in Northfield has yielded a bumper crop of candidates for the mayor’s seat


IT SOUNDS LIKE the opening line of a joke: Seven people were running for mayor: a businesswoman, two lawyers, a former mayor, the incumbent mayor, and a city councilman who didn’t pay his rent….

But it’s no joke: It’s politics in Northfield. After months of strained relations and heated allegations between the mayor, the city administrator, and the city council, voters now have the chance to do more than shake their heads and throw up their hands. The mayoral primary is set for September 9. The top two finishers will advance to the November election.

Not surprisingly, most candidates vow to bring calm and civility back to city hall. That’ll be no small feat, considering the dramatic twists that have turned recent council meetings into a sort of public-access Jerry Springer Show. Tensions between Mayor Lee Lansing and city administrator Al Roder escalated last fall over the issue of relocating the town’s liquor store. Lansing sued Roder, the city, and three councilmen in October, alleging that they’d violated the law in discussing his family’s business interests. He later dropped the suit. In December, an investigator hired by the council found that Lansing had acted unethically in pushing for the store on his son’s property. The council asked Lansing to resign. He refused.

What’s more, Roder, who has since taken a job as a city administrator in Nebraska, has been the subject of a criminal investigation begun last summer by the police chief. He has denied any wrongdoing. Before he left town in early August, Roder said he’d drop his request for severance pay and agree not to sue the city if the mayor apologized to him for behavior that led him to resign. Who can lead the city out of the morass? The contenders include a gift-shop owner; a former mayor; a professional mediator; and a lawyer who specializes in mediation; as well as a pub owner/lawyer who’s represented clients in lawsuits against the city. There’s also Jon Denison, a councilman who’s been evicted and sued for not paying rent; and, of course, Mayor Lansing himself.

Tracy Davis, the co-host of a local news podcast, says Lansing and Denison face a challenge given the public sentiment against incumbents. “Everybody is so tired of the crap, and the obfuscation, there’s a ‘throw the rascals out’ mentality,” she says.

A local playwright and prolific blogger, Brendon Etter, has also joined the fray with a tongue-in-cheek write-in campaign. His satirical platform includes the promise to “build liquor stores everywhere I possibly can,” and he’s seeking a public apology from every citizen who’s not supporting him.

Etter says that although his campaign is unorthodox, he will serve if elected. And he’s not joking.