Last issue we took editorial liberties with our Firecracker of the Year Committee’s annual missive. They placed two very worthy individuals into the Firecracker Hall of Fame and—given the length of the issue—we saved these for the special attention they deserve. From the Committee:
In 2014 and now in 2015 your Committee found two very special candidates for our Firecracker Hall of Fame. Both, sadly, are posthumous, but richly deserving of the honor.
2014 saw the passing of two great contributors to this community. State Chamber of Commerce leader David Olson, just a few weeks after the death of his father Glenn. David’s accomplishments were well chronicled by the media. Because your readership skews to such young demographics we wanted to recognize the elder Olson whose contributions, in part because of his humble personality, have flown under the radar screen. Glenn Olson embodied civic activism in its most altruistic meaning. He became active in politics with the legendary GOP mafia that controlled Minneapolis south of Lake Street for decades. Many remember Popham, Flakne, Schwartzkopf and their crew. Glenn was elected to the Minneapolis City Council representing the Eleventh Ward. He was a voice of moderation concentrating on bettering basic municipal functions. In matters where those city councils spoke with one voice it was usually Glenn’s. He left to join NSP (now Xcel) in their community affairs group and leveraged that company’s influence for many good things, specifically in matters transit. In retirement Glenn served on the Deephaven City Council, the Metro Transit Board, and coordinated the Minneapolis Downtown Transportation Management organization. It is fair to say Glenn’s vision and energy were instrumental in defining our evolving bus and LRT rapid transit system.
The 2015 entrant, restaurateur Mike Andrews, arguably changed the face of modern Minneapolis. Although he was born in Iowa, Mike was raised on the mean streets of Kenwood in Minneapolis, learning the fabric of the good life from the hoi polloi and what it means to have a good time from his pals who lived on the other side of the tracks, in this case east of Hennepin Avenue. After graduating from Mankato State, Mike and his childhood chum, John White, opened Ichabod’s, famous for its long narrow layout, Cheesebrough art and New York feel. Possibly our first fern bar. From there he headed east to Seven Corners and opened Sgt. Preston’s, launching a bar scene that Minneapolis had not experienced. Who knows if it was the ethereal energy left behind from the glory days of the Mixers and Joe & Pete’s two-and-a-half or if Mike just had the right touch, but Prestons offered a unique environment; let’s call it semi-controlled debauchery. Along the way Mike collaborated with then City Council President Lou DeMars to shutter Minneapolis’ most antiquated laws, the “liquor patrol limits.” Believe it or not, youngsters, there was a day when one could not serve hard liquor west of First Avenue North. In 1982 Mike and John opened the Loon Café and the Warehouse District entertainment mecca was born. There are lots of ways to view Andrews. Wily businessman who brought sweat equity partners into every business (Tim and John at the Loon, Pat at J.D. Hoyts, Val at Liquor Lyles, etc.). There was the art collector who was patron to several very important local artists, and radio Mike who showed up as a regular contributor in the glory days of Dark Star at the old neighbor ‘CCO. Our favorite was Mikey the philosopher, who could be found at the corner of any one of his bars, cigarette in hand, nursing a glass and exploring the meaning of life with the dishwasher just off shift (usually an ex-con). They don’t make ‘em like Mikey anymore.
Aquatennial: Short but Still Sweet
The news of the death of the Aquatennial has been greatly exaggerated. Yes, the summer festival has had a great reorg, but there is still plenty of fun left in the grand old gal. It starts tonight with the Torchlight Parade, sponsored by CenterPoint Energy. It will end with the always spectacular fireworks on the downtown riverfront sponsored by Target. There are plenty of fun activities including the very popular water ski shows. Just follow this link: Aquatennial.
Soccer fans, tonight (July 22) is a two-fer for you. Enjoy viewing the U.S. Men’s Team face off with Jamaica in this knockout match of the Gold Cup at Target Field Plaza. The match begins at 5:00 p.m. so meet up at the Loon or Fulton for a cold beer first, join the crowd to cheer on the USA, and repair back to Hennepin Avenue in plenty of time for the parade. Thanks to the Minnesota Twins and the Ballpark Authority for bringing a new tradition to town!
Dancing with the Stars
A few weeks back the Star Tribune published a commentary supporting the establishment of a working group by the City of Minneapolis to sort through the issues related to public participation in the proposed major league soccer facility. The objective was to laud the progress and encourage the group to consider expansion to include the county and the larger civic community who also have resources to fill the yet-to-be-identified gaps in the largely team‑funded project. Strawberries and cream, served up during Wimbledon. The poor fellow was taken aback with the reaction that came from City Hall. This crème fraîche left a rancid taste in several mouths. There was allusion to the cynicism regarding the football stadium financing and for some that was the headline. Junior editor guy tried to draw a distinction but was already out of letters in this round of hangman. We must remember the lesson learned at eighth grade mixers: if you are trying to get people to dance, don’t start by stepping on their toes.
Wearing the Online hat now, we are freely willing to Rumba unapologetically in a related matter. We hope that there was a considerable unreported effort on the part of Minneapolis development officials, prodded by the elected leaders, to woo the Vikings to relocate the Winter Park training facility and other developments to Minneapolis. If this went to Chanhassen without a fight it would be a colossal mistake. The public-private partnership forged by the city’s $150 Million contribution should put them at any table, in our view, with first right of refusal. A training facility would provide year round jobs and the opportunity for kids to witness day in and day out the hard work and complexities behind professional sports. And yes, we are old and get to say that it would be good for the youth in our community to see that not everybody driving fancy Escalades and custom pickups are showing off ill-gotten gains. We are certainly willing to pass along what may have happened in that regard. Sometimes cheap land trumps all. We just hope somebody tried.
Finally, we will be publishing our annual “Summer Reading” issue in August. Please submit your recommendations, along with a brief review, to email@example.com. We have been publishing this special issue for more than twenty years and over that time period received maybe that many authentic reviews. The rest, well, hell, we made up. Please save us the work!