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A new beer, and other things that make locals somewhat happy

INCLUDING: Local gossip, local music, visits from celebrities and an environmentally friendly stadium.

Minneapolis is now home to a new beer, and it’s a sort of a masterpiece of niche marketing. Jessica Armbruster of City Pages takes a look at it: The brewer is August Schell Brewing Co., the folks behind Grain Belt,  and the beer is named Nordeast. Although the name hearkens back to the time when Northeast Minneapolis was full of an ethnic working class whose accents still revealed their Scandinavian and Eastern European roots, the target audience for the beer is almost certainly the neck-bearded, tattooed, and bowling-shirt clad crowd of scenesters that have taken over the neighborhood in the past decade, and might have gotten a bit tired of the Pabst Blue Ribbon they drink in an apparent attempt to fulfill every cliche of their subculture. But how is the beer? “It’s all right,” says Armbruster, which should make it perfect for fans of PBR. All right? You’d think a writer might strive for a grander word to express a vaguely satisfying experience — we’d have selected “eellogofusciouhipoppokunurious,” but perhaps that’s too grand a word.

The Minnesota Daily heads Northeast with a video camera in tow to gauge reactions from locals, who seem, at best, slightly more enthused: “I like it,” one says. “I think I’ll have some more.” Note that there is not more than one syllable per word in that sentence. Maybe the Nordeast beer doesn’t deserve more.

While we’re on the subject of local scenesters, there’s a lot of chatter about former Twin Cities’ scribe Diablo Cody being pregnant. We at the Glean are not clear why this is causing ears to prick up — just look around, the world is swarmed with ankle-biters, so pregnancies must be happening all the time, unless all these kids are coming from tubes, World State-style. Nonetheless, the national media — and, later, the local media — picked up the story on Cody with one factual error in it: They credited the father as being Ms. Cody’s ex-husband, local Blue Sky Blackout bandmember Jon Hunt. L’eotile Magazine’s gossip blog, LOL/OMG, tracks the story through t+weets. Full disclosure: This writer officiated at Hunt’s marriage to his current wife (yes, Glean writers are certified to perform marriages), and wouldn’t have if he knew Hunt was still tomcatting about with his ex.

Here we have an item that is not news, unless you’ve tumbled through a vorpal whirl into 1940, but we were intrigued when former “Mystery Science Theater 3000” cast member (and current Rifftrax cast member) Kevin Murphy tweeted about a song that had bedeviled him since childhood. He linked to a video of a preposterously infectious earworm titled “The Hut Sut Song,” in which the song’s singers are literally driven mad by the melody and its nonsense lyrics (“Hut-Sut Rawlson on the rillerah add a little brawla.”) As it turns out, two of the song’s three composers were Minneapolitans: Leo Killian and Ted McMichael; the former was inspired by Swedish folk songs heard growing up locally, and the latter founded a local singing group called The Merry Macs, who also tormented the world with an equally incomprehensible song called “Mairzy Doats.” A word of warning: These songs will climb into your skull and rattle around there for the rest of your natural life. Once heard, this can’t be unheard.

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In the same way that once seen, Meredith Westin’s photographs of local hero Har Mar Superstar can’t be unseen. Westin snapped the pervy crooner at a date at the Weisman Art Museum, proving Mick Jagger’s adage that “First you shock them, then they put you in a museum.” Anyone familiar with Har Mar Superstar knows he has a habit of stripping down to a pair of disquieting unmentionables, and he does so in these images, so be warned before you click.

Do you know what we Twin Citians love even more than beer, gossip and obscure, locally composed novelty songs? We love appearing on national lists. Oh man, put together a list called “The Five Best Places in the Country for Celery,” drop Minneapolis somewhere in that list, and you can be sure the local media will run with the story, with Jason DeRusha of WCCO doing a one-minute sport on why local celery is so good, and Minnesota Public Radio offering a half-hour of folk music dedicated to celery, and the Walker Art Center’s magazine offering up an essay of the surprising influence of celery in the films of Joel and Ethan Coen. So when The Atlanta Post put the Twin Cities on a list, it was bound to get noticed. Thankfully, it was a list we can actually take some pride from: TAP places us as No. 5 on its list of the Top Five Innovative Cities for African-Americans. One reason: “[B]lack-owned firms grew by 95 percent in Minnesota from 1997 to 2002 (they practically doubled).”

Actually, Jason DeRusha’s attention was elsewhere Thursday. Because there is another thing locals love: celebrity visits. So when Jon Bon Jovi ducked into town, DeRusha was on the case to find out why. Turns out Bon Jovu has a charitable organization that works on issues of affordable housing. The rocker was visiting the People Serving People shelter in downtown Minneapolis, which impressed him: “This is by far the most remarkable place I’ve ever been,” DeRusha quotes Bon Jovi as saying.

It’s a good time for a good organization to be doing good work, as things are pretty bleak in the world of homelessness. The Simply Living blog notes that the number of homeless families with children increased 27 percent between 2006 and 2009.

We’d suggest letting them sleep in the proposed new Vikings stadium, but the author of this Glean left New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, and knows there is a bad precedent there. WCCO’s Pat Kessler looks into the details of the latest stadium funding plan, and finds state Sen. Tom Bakk discussing a planned bill to fund the stadium through “a menu of items, including special Minnesota Vikings license plates and stadium user taxes on game day tickets, concessions and parking.” We can’t really fault such a plan, as it would primarily be taxing football fans when they spend money on football (as well as taxing gamblers, who might enjoy gambling on football games), but we can’t help but wonder where we might find a similar bill that tries to locate a similar amount (almost a billion dollars) for Minnesota’s homeless families.

At least our most recent stadium has a few things going for it. It’s awfully green, for instance: The Twins stadium has the highest LEED rating ever for an outdoor baseball facility, according to Perry Finelli of Minnesota Public Radio. And Minnesotans love LEED ratings, so much so that we probably don’t have to tell you that it stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design and accredits businesses and organizations for environmentally sustainable design, construction and operation of buildings and neighborhoods (read more about it on Wikipedia).

Heck, get Bon Jovi in the new stadium, drinking local beer and making a list of top celebrities and musicians from Minneapolis and St. Paul, and you have a pretty good day here in Minnesota. Pretty good? Why, it’s virtually eellogofusciouhipoppokunurious.