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Zombies, the State Fair and UFOs

Minneapolis settles with zombies; New Yorkers miss the State Fair; Tom Emmer creates jobs for his children; something is in the skies above St. Paul.

It’s nice to know that in the Twin Cities, there is justice even for the undead. As KARE11 reports, a group of zombies — well, let us stop to ponder what the correct collective noun is for an amassing of revived ghouls. Gaggle? Gang? Let’s go with a “groan” of zombies, a term that might be equally useful in addressing a group of children. So a groan of zombies were arrested in 2006 protesting what KARE11 describes as “mindless consumerism — appropriately, as that was the whole point of George Romero’s “Dawn of the Dead.” Alas, these particular zombies had wires sticking out of their backpacks, and perhaps the police might have let it go had they merely been ambling cannibalistic monsters, but, the times being what they were, the wires said, “possible bomb.” The City of Minneapolis has settled with the zombies for their subsequent arrest, to the tune of $165,000. KARE11 does not state what the zombies plan to spend the money on, but we can probably safely assume it’s brains.

In more tales of mindless consumerism — albeit an example that is well-loved — the State Fair is almost upon us. Actually, “mindless” is probably not the right word, as Minnesotans obsess over their State Fair with the sort of intellectual engagement usually reserved for Joyce scholars working their way through “Finnegans Wake.” As an example, the Star Tribune’s Bill McAuliffe open his story about the Fair by describing people who have attended the Fair so often, they can retrace their paths, step by step, in their minds.

As you can tell, the deluge of Fair stories has started. John Brewer of the Pioneer Press tells of Minnesota ex-pats who are living in New York City who so desperately miss the Fair they are re-creating it on the Lower East Side, mostly by wearing fanny packs and eating food on a stick. The Strib’s Curt Brown profiles some of the Fair’s characters, including “a doctor whose freezer includes three ceremonial blocks of butter carved with her daughters’ faces, a 72-year-old Minneapolis attorney whose tax write-off investment left him owning a Space Tower and a woman from Trinidad who’s ready to start swapping her delicious sweet potato pie for some impaled pork chops.”

It’s not just the Fair that’s about to make its return, though; the Renaissance Festival in Shakopee is about to turn 40, according to FOX9’s Todd Walker, who provides a video tour of the event, interviewing a Festival official about past luminaries, including Penn & Teller, who got their start at the event. In fact, with a quick search, it is possible to find Penn Jillette discussing the Festival: “[Y]ou know, Renaissance is just Hippie – it’s got nothing to do with that actual time period. It’s just a Hippie festival, now. Another excuse to do macramé and drink beer.” Sheesh. That’s gratitude for you.

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In other festival news, Lino Lakes recently had its annual Blue Heron Days Festival, which included a parade that this year included protests. As you may remember, Lino Lakes recently passed an English-only resolution, denying city money for any publications in any other language, despite the fact that they already don’t publish anything in any non-English language, and have, apparently, never done so. According to the Strib’s Patrick Kennedy, this disturbed some folks who, for some reason, viewed the measure as an “unfriendly gesture toward newcomers or potential newcomers who don’t speak English as their primary language.” About 20 protesters marched in the parade carrying a banner reading “Lino Lakes: A Welcoming Community.” Say what you will about Minnesotans, we can be pretty civil in our disagreements. Of course, had they been dressed as zombies, things might have been a little different.

Speaking of Lino Lakes, we at the Daily Glean are willing to put a wager down right now that the measure will be the subject of an especially biting example of seed art at the State Fair this year. The angrier you make a Minnesotan, the more likely they are to turn to seed art to express it.

Another probable seed art topic: GOP gubernatorial candidate Tom Emmer, who released his first television ad recently. You can watch the 30-second spot. It’s pretty general, mostly consisting of Emmer’s children — and he has a groan of them — talking about their father. “Believe me,” says one, “he creates plenty (of jobs) for us.” It’s an interesting line, as job creation seems to be at the top of Emmer’s list of campaign promises. It’s good to know he finds jobs for his children. Perhaps we can all look forward to the day when Minnesota’s unemployed can enjoy employment raking Tom Emmer’s leaves and washing his dog; it’s not clear what else Emmer might be referring to, as the ad is pretty slight on details. Minnesota Independent scribe Andy Birkey note the slogan for Emmer’s campaign, at least in this ad, is “It’s time for a new direction,” and thank goodness we have a Republican running for governor with the promise of keeping taxes low while slashing government, unlike his predecessor, Tim Pawlenty, who — er … ah ….

IP candidate Tom Horner also released his first ad, which can be viewed on YouTube, and it’s nightmare fodder. The spot shows a man’s eyes, one colored blue, the other red. And then they both look away from each other in a sort of reverse-crosseye. As Horner talks about how Democrats can’t seem to see eye to eye, the face on the screen continues to stare akimbo, eyebrows twitching out of sequence. Were it not a political ad, it might be mistaken for one of those Polish art films that PBS used to play at 3 in the morning and would leave you tossing and turning for the rest of the night.

“Tell us about net neutrality and what it means to you,” asks an intrepid reporter from the UpTake, interviewing Sen. Al Franken, who has been a champion of the subject. “It means keeping the Internet what it has been, this incredible source of innovation and of ideas and free speech” Franken responds. “And preventing it from becoming what it — frighteningly — could be, which is a way of a few corporations controlling all the information that we get … it sounds incredibly dramatic, and it is.”

Net neutrality was the subject of a standing-room-only forum at South High Auditorium Thursday, summarized by Mary Treacy of TC Daily Planet. She is herself not precisely neutral — she makes her bias explicit in her bio, where she says she “believes firmly in freedom of information,” but her piece does a good job mapping out the argument for net neutrality as presented at the forum.

A slightly less sympathetic view comes from Hart Van Denberg of City Pages. Actually, Van Denberg seems sympathetic to the subject, quoting Franken as asking, “How long do you think it will take before four or five mega corporations effectively control the flow of information in America not only on television but online?” But Van Denberg seems a little nonplussed by Franken’s behavior at the forum, from which he excused himself to spend time with his in-laws. “What’s more important than free speech in a democratic society?” Van Denberg asks sarcastically.

In arts: The Beatles played here in Minnesota, once upon a time, back in 1965, and we just can’t seem to let the fact go. We didn’t exactly make a good showing of ourselves — for instance, a local reporter asked, “How do you sleep with such long hair?” On the 45th anniversary of the gig, MPR’s Marianne Combs interviews people who remember it.

In sports: We started this Glean with zombies, we’ll end it with Martians. There have been a string of UFO sightings in St. Paul lately, mostly consisting of flashing lights in the night sky. Turns out it was a guy with a bunch of kites with lights hung from them, according to Mara H. Gottfried of the Pioneer Press. What does this have to do with sports? Does it involve any physical exertion? Then it’s a sport.

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For the record, we also consider seed art to be a sport.