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Minnesotans: Obsessed with fictional Scandinavian murders

Minnesotans, it seems, are pining for the fjords. Some of you might recognize that lede sentence as having been lifted from Monty Python’s famous Dead Parrot Sketch, which consists of a protracted discussion about a lifeless psittacine, and that seems about right, as it’s corpses that Minnesotans have in mind, at least according to Euan Kerr of Minnesota Public Radio. He has published a report about the unexpected popularity of Scandinavian crime literature, both nationally and locally, and Kerr interviews one of the proprietors of the Once Upon a Crime bookstore about the local reaction to these chilly thrillers: “They are all so depressing. I don’t know. It’s bleak tundra with frozen bodies that they have found.”

We at the Daily Glean would like to propose our own theory, which is that Minnesotans are obsessed with Danish modernist furniture (as demonstrated here), and aren’t really reading the books for the plots, but for decorating tips. Speaking of which, earlier this month writer Andy Sturdevant On MnArtists unpacked the story of a painting of the Swedish-born Minnesota governor John Lind. The painting hangs at the State Capitol, where current governor Tim Pawlenty’s administration seems to think it’s just decoration; there’s talk of selling it and using the money to pay down the deficit.

But it’s more than decoration, as Sturdevant points out: The piece is by Odilon Redon (here’s an online gallery of his work), a rather important Victorian-era symbolist painter. “It’s quite a tale, to think that French Symbolists sat in outdoor cafés of Paris a hundred years ago, debating the merits of Minnesota;” Sturdevant writes, “even more, to imagine that one of the greatest of their number was enlisted to create a portrait of that state’s inspiring young governor, only to be betrayed by bigotry, short-sightedness, and misplaced noblesse oblige — first in the early years of the last century, and yet again in the early years of this present century.”

Sturdevant is, of course, the blogger behind South 12th. Do you remember some years ago, when the old media started to collapse, and there was talk that bloggers would leap into the breach and transform into journalists? That doesn’t seem likely to happen (one imagines a newspaper made up of entries from local blogs: The front page would consist of humorous photographs of dogs), but, as Sturdevant demonstrates, bloggers can function as somewhat obsessed watchdogs. Did we say “somewhat” obsessed? With blogger Ed Kohler of The Deets, watching him go after a subject is like watching a dog with a dried sow’s ear.

Case in point: Kohler has set his sites on Minnesota Democrats Exposed blogger Luke Hellier, and he’s gnawed that subject down to a nub. Two recent examples: In this entry, Kohler takes Hellier to task for misattributing a comment from another blog as coming from the blog post’s author, while here Kohler points out that Hellier had once apologized to Sen. Al Franken for mistaking a parody for news, but has gone back and edited out the apology. Picayune complaints, perhaps, but the mainstream media have, in general, so thoroughly abandoned acting as watchdogs and fact-checkers, it’s fascinating to see how tenacious and finely detailed some bloggers can be with each other.

That’s not to say there are no examples at all of the media expressing criticism of each other. Elle Magazine, as an example, had this pointed comment about news organizations covering Minnesota news: “[W]hen the national press deigns to come to Minnesota, it’s to cover the circus.” And by that, Lisa DePaulo, who wrote the story, means Rep. Michele Bachmann, as an example. Instead, DePaulo offers what Hart Van Denburg of City Pages calls “four pages of hugs and kisses.” The subject is Sen. Amy Klobuchar, and the profile is a bit arsy varsey. “She is scary smart,” the profile claims at one point; at another, it asks “[W]ho’s more of a pioneer than she?” We’re going to go with Alexandra Bergson from the novel “O Pioneers!”, just to be contrary. But, then, Bergson pined for Carl Linstrum for how long? Too long. Klobuchar, by comparison, may be on Obama’s short list for the supreme court, according to the first few sentences in a piece on Polinaut; but then, if you continuing reading, she may not be. Advantage: Bergson.

And now, on to the circus. Andy Birkey of the Minnesota Independent informs us that Bob Anderson might be making a run for Bachmann’s seat in the next election. Anderson, as you may remember, ran for that seat as an Independent in the last election, but drew votes away from both Bachmann and DFL candidate El Tinklenberg; he’s looking to get an IP endorsement again, presumably so he can once again get just enough votes from each side of the political fence to neutralize any effect he might have on the election.

Wednesday is sort of a big day for Bachmann: She’s hosting no less a luminary than former Alaska governor and vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin in order to raise funds for Bachmann’s re-election campaign. This has gotten Rep. Keith Ellison in a bit of a snit, as Mike Mulcahy of Polinaut points out: The fundraiser is in Ellison’s district. “I need your help to send a strong message to Bachmann and Palin that their scare tactics are not welcome in my District,” Ellison wrote in an email to supporters. How to send such a message? Donate money to Ellison. Palin, it seems, is the sort of rising tide that lifts all boats.

Some follow-ups to earlier stories. You remember that Gov. Pawlenty asked Attorney General Lori Swanson to file a lawsuit against the health care reform bill? She said no. And you might remember the person known only as “Amy,” the unnamed victim of child pornography whose image of chldhood abuse is still making the rounds (New York Times on the story); she was suing so that possessors of the image should have to pay her restitution. Monday, a federal court in St. Paul said yes to her request.

In sports: Well, don’t smoke weed at the new Twins stadium, at least, not if you don’t want a warning. CNN’s iReport offers the story of a fellow who was caught smoking doobihuana at the stadium, including photos of the allegedly guilty party, and was asked to cut it out. The man apparently was smoking the stuff out of a hollowed-out bell pepper (and claimed it was “oregano”), meaning that comedian Denis Leary was right: “They say marijuana leads to other drugs. No it doesn’t, it leads to f***ing carpentry.”

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Comments (9)

  1. Submitted by Jon Collins on 04/06/2010 - 12:38 pm.

    I think you might want to look at Sturdevant’s piece again.

    I don’t have time right now to dig through the governor’s budget, but the fact that the article links to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/April_Fools'_Day, just kind of makes me think it might not be completely serious.

  2. Submitted by Richard Reineccius on 04/06/2010 - 12:50 pm.

    Scandinavian murder cases are nothing new, and not necessarily fictional. Read the recent BBC item about finding the mass grave of decapitated Vikings, probably murdered by Saxons, at the time of Erik the Red, father of Leif Erikson, before he went to exile in Iceland & Greenland.

    Richard R – Minn native in California

  3. Submitted by Max Sparber on 04/06/2010 - 12:59 pm.

    You’re probably right about Studervant. That guy is a prankster.

  4. Submitted by Tim Walker on 04/06/2010 - 01:46 pm.

    C’mon, Max. Did you really write “lede sentence”?

    What pretentiousness!

    Death to unnecessary jargon, I say!

    Follow me, Max, I’ll lead the way!

  5. Submitted by Max Sparber on 04/06/2010 - 02:13 pm.

    Of all the words I use, it’s “lede” you have a problem with? I *invented* a word for today’s Glean.

  6. Submitted by Sheila Smith on 04/06/2010 - 03:34 pm.

    FYI, Andy’s article was indeed an April Fool’s joke. (Hit the link to “take action” and see where it takes you).

  7. Submitted by Andy Sturdevant on 04/06/2010 - 08:50 pm.

    Tee hee! Sorry, gang, it was an April Fools’ Day piece. Sure says something about Pawlenty, though, that people read he might be willing to sell off priceless public treasures, and their reaction is “yeah, that sounds about right.”

    This is the second year I’ve done an arts-related April Fools’ Day piece for mnartists.org. Here’s the one from last year, about a secret contemporary art gallery, accessible only by freight elevator, located at the top of the IDS in the late 1970s: http://www.mnartists.org/article.do?rid=228474

    Thanks for the link, Max! I hope I have not created too much mischief. Just enough, but not too much.

  8. Submitted by Bernice Vetsch on 04/07/2010 - 09:33 am.

    Three cheers for Lori Swanson, a voice of sanity and clear purpose.

  9. Submitted by Max Sparber on 04/07/2010 - 12:39 pm.

    You have ruined me, Andy. Ruined me for good.

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