News Reporting for the Twin Cities Daily Planet
Art attacking expectations: André Salvadore’s journey (10/31/07)
This piece was published when I was still just a freelancer for the Daily Planet. I successfully pitched editor Mary Turck on the idea of me profiling artist André Salvadore—who also happened to be the guy who cut my hair.
Spittin’ truth in North Minneapolis (3/10/08)
While my plans for a complete series of articles on spoken word in the Twin Cities (among the planned entries: a profile of Dessa by Andrea Swensson, then a freelance music journalist and now City Pages music editor) didn’t quite pan out, the effort did get me up to a Burger-King-turned-coffeehouse in North Minneapolis, where I met the remarkable Tish Jones. “Don’t ever apologize for your stuff!” Jones told her teen protegés. “Be proud of it.”
Pipestone’s Hiawatha Pageant ends 60-year run (7/2/2008)
One of the best decisions I’ve made as a journalist was to make the several-hour drive to see a performance in the last of 60 summer runs of the storied Hiawatha Pageant in Pipestone, Minnesota. The epic production might as well have been frozen in time in 1948, when rallying the whole town to enact Longfellow’s poem seemed like a great idea. (Town population: 4,156. Cast size: 125.) It was—until tourism slowed and the town shrank to a point where the production was no longer sustainable.
St. Thomas drops the curtain: Eliminates theater department, slates Foley Theater for destruction (10/9/2008)
The University of St. Thomas would have preferred to keep the closure of their formerly distinguished theater department and the concordant destruction of the historic Foley Theater quiet, but I caught the story and helped to shine a light on student and faculty dissatisfaction with the administration’s decision. The administration’s explanation—low student interest, a theater that would have been expensive to renovate and was standing in the way of a new student center—was not unreasonable, but I have the impression that an administration with different priorities could and would have acted differently. This was a real loss for the local theater community.
She’s a hippie, she’s a mystic…and now, she’s going to be a priest (4/21/2009)
Having been raised Catholic, I assigned this story to myself because I was curious about what a “Liberal Catholic” was. It turned out that these Liberal Catholics were very liberal indeed: the priest-to-be had formerly been married to the pastor, and after their divorce he conducted the ceremony of her second marriage. “I like to say,” she told me, “that Dick married me twice.”
The return of Mazarati: “Y’all don’t think they’re funky? You’re wrong!” (5/31/2009)
The quote in the title is by Prince, who released Mazarati’s self-titled 1986 debut as record #001 on his Paisley Park label. I was able to hang out with the band—now best known for creating the arrangement and recording most of the parts on Prince’s “Kiss”—as they reunited for the first time in 20 years.
Turkish delight: Whirling Dervishes of Rumi at the U (8/12/2009)
This was quite interesting to see and to write about. There aren’t many ancient sacred ceremonies that go on tour and charge admission. The opening concert of Turkish music was an added treat.
“You don’t get to pick your obsessions”: John Irving addresses a rapt audience of Minne-acolytes (11/10/2009)
Getting in to this ultrapacked event was one of my biggest string-pulling successes as a journalist; it turned out to be a fascinating conversation with the author. (Shhh: I still haven’t read any of his books.)
It’s Naked Time! MTN’s Freaky Deeky celebrates two years broadcasting call-in theater of the absurd (1/6/2010)
The story of my introduction to Freaky Deeky, a show on which I’d become a regular cast member. I still use this article to explain to people what the hell Freaky Deeky is. “Some viewers undoubtedly find Naked Time genuinely erotic, others find it hilariously ironic, and some probably find it both.”
1419 and Love Power closed by City of Minneapolis (with Sheila Regan, 3/10/2011)
This was my biggest scoop on the arts beat, a great tag-team collaboration with Sheila. She spotted the sign and made a quick call to one of the 1419 residents, and I tracked down some details and tried to contact the landlords. Unfortunately they were suspicious of our angle and didn’t answer my questions, so we had to run the story without any quotes from them. They were furious when the story broke and seemed one-sided (because that’s what happens when you don’t give your side of the story), so issued a statement to another media outlet. The irony is that I was a regular at both spaces when they were operating—at the time they closed, I was Foursquare mayor of both! I was sorry to see them go, but the landlords’ “legal enough” (my term) business model does not seem to have been tenable.