Monday, December 03, 2007

How about some karma offsets?

Headline below the fold on the front page of today's Strib:

How much bang for GOP bucks?
Packed hotel rooms, restaurants jammed with patrons, thousands of shoppers descending on retail stores.

That's the promise from organizers of the Republican National Convention who say the influx of visitors for the Sept. 1-4, 2008, event at the Xcel Energy Center will pump $150 million to $250 million into the state's economy.

. . . Mostly in the form of steak dinners, crappy red-white-and-blue souvenirs, and shiny nickels tossed to buskers screwing up "God Bless America." Figures take into account the likely 10-12 percent tips generously showered upon the servers, hotel staff, etc.

Okay, now consider the headline directly below the one about how the Twin Cities were about to be rolling around in bags of cash handed down straight from the altruistic elephants:

Concrete jungles' dirty secret: Miles of unpaved streets
. . . St. Paul has about 60 miles of streets that have never been finished to moderns standards -- though most of them have been covered with enough layers of oil that they appear to be roughly paved. Officials are working to change that.

. . . St. Paul is tackling its oiled streets by spending $12 million a year to pave roads, check underlying utilities and add curbs and lamp posts. As part of that program, which the city hopes will rid St. Paul of oiled streets by 2018 (!! - Ed.), residents are assessed about 25 percent of the cost -- about $38.50 per foot of a homeowner's lot width.

Gosh . . . if only the city had an unexpected windfall or some sort of sign that it was time to pretend to be part of the big leagues or . . .

Granted, the hundreds of millions of dollars brought in by the RNC don't exactly go right into the city's coffers. But still. Come on.

Still lost . . .

It's tough to find your way around out here in Flyover Country. I mean, we may live in an era of GPS-equipped cars and Google Earth and whatnot, but obviously the cartographers still haven't been able to map out the vast, unknown territory between the coasts. And how appropriate, then, that this unexplored wilderness will soon be home to scary civil liberties-trashing, social services-eviscerating, beady-eyed, white-toothed, undomesticated beasts. "Here be monsters," indeed.

From the Strib:

A Nexis search of the last three months’ worth of news stories about the convention turned up a dozen references to the convention being held in Minneapolis, in publications ranging from the Washington Times to The People’s Weekly News. Other offenders include National Public Radio, the New Republic, the Associated Press — and a news release written by an anonymous staffer working for Minneapolis City Hall. Even high-ranking Republicans, including Jim Nicholson, the party’s former national committee chair, and Kentucky Sen. Jim Bunning, were quoted placing their convention in the wrong city.

Not even The New Yorker and its famed team of crack researchers and fact-checkers managed to figure out that the Convention is going to be in . . . hang on, it's on the tip of my tongue . . . Sao Paulo? San Jose?

From the "Comment" in the 11/26/2007 Talk of the Town*

. . . But in 2008, in Minneapolis, the Republicans will nominate a candidate on a promise of four more years of the same.

*In other words, from the first page of text that anyone outside of New York actually reads. Way to go, guys! Need a copy editor? Have your people call mine.

Damn liberal media conspiracy. Oh . . . wait. The elephants themselves are still wandering around trying to figure out where they are. Check out their logo:

First, staying on topic: Granted, they managed to get the real city on there. But note how it gets second billing.

And now the graphic itself must be commented upon, because, really, you just can't let it pass. I mean, it's kind of the elephant in the room, isn't it? Specifically, the washroom.

As numerous wags have noted, that elephant sure does have a rather, er, wide stance, and given that "Minneapolis-St. Paul" is a term most commonly used to describe a certain international airport . . . and the placement of the red "2008" . . . and . . . okay, guys, this is a joke, right?

Some choice comments from Kos:

Are they going for a "Still screwing the country in 2008" theme, or is it a reference to hypocritical adulterers like David Vitter and just about the entire Republican presidential field?

Elephants only stand on their hind legs for one thing; count on the Extinction Party to know nothing of their habits.

Judging by the shape of the eye, I'd say he's been shot in the face by Cheney.

Monday, August 27, 2007

A New Circus Act

What's crazier than a barrel of monkeys, more alarming than a town-wide invasion of Snoopy statues, and more astounding than dancing elephants? What's as laughable as a GOP delegate trying to get into the Minneapolis Convention Center for the big event and more absurd than Norm Coleman mentioning on prime-time television that he -- he, personally -- revitalized the oh-so-bustling area around "The X," which he most assuredly will do sometime next September?

Here's what: anarchists having planning meetings. From the Strib:

A group of activists who describe themselves as "anarchists and anti-authoritarians" will hold a private strategy session over the Labor Day weekend to discuss plans to protest at the Republican National Convention to be held in St. Paul Sept. 1-4, 2008.

Friday, August 03, 2007

2008: The Return To The Bridge

Mark my words: when the elephants come for their convention next year, there will be a major photo op, and much dramatic praying, at the site of Wednesday's bridge collapse. Perhaps even a speech by a faux-quasi-liberal about how we need to elect Republicans so that this won't happen again, because, like, they care and stuff.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Out-of-shape elephants

It's been an interesting last few months here at Convention Central, including a fun period of time when I couldn't get my Blogger login to work.

But now it's back! Now Convention Apprehension can re-conquer the interweb and vanquish the pachyderms (metaphorically speaking)! Huzzah!

And just in time, because now things are getting serious. Triathlete, civic booster, and sometime-Mayor of Minneapolis R.T. Rybak, he of the mismatched socks and appearances at every last event within the city limits has once again demonstrated his unmatched energy, this time by leading Republican operatives on a 45-minute tour/sprint through downtown.

This just a few days after Hizzoner went tandem biking with Jay Leno sidekick Mo Rocca (who also apparently spent some quality time with Chris Coleman, the guy who runs the city across the river, what'sitcalled ... oh yeah, Saint Paul; Coleman played the bagpipes).

In other news, the Green Party just might have its 2008 convention in Minneapolis. It's hard to get excited ab0ut this -- what fun's a convention without the protests? Or without the ridiculously overboard corporate sponsorships? Or without, y'know, like, people who might actually influence policy in this country (and even stand a chance of being elected)? Insert your own joke about not being able to tell disheveled-looking Greenies from the panhandlers on Nicollet Mall.

And finally, this one came across the Convention Apprehension Newswire while the interweb was broken (or at least blog access): So ... you know how Saint Paul is actually kind of a small city? And you know how they're expecting 35,000 or so delegates and media representatives and elephant groupies? And you know how last time, in New York, where the elephants Never Forgot to milk the location for all its drama, there were something like 10,000 police officers?

Well, Saint Paul, wee village that it is, has a grand total of 600 or so police officers. And now they think they need 4,000. So if you have a badge of some kind -- vintage Lone Ranger collectible, Junior DARE Officer wedge-o'-plastic that you're using as an ashtray, or whatever -- please call Chief John Harrington and sign up for duty.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

Just when you'll most need a drink ...

... Every last bar in town is already booked. Well, fine, not quite. But when elephants come to town, they take up a lot of room, and a lot of booze.

Sez the Strib, a year and a half before the show arrives in town:

Many top venues -- and a few lesser ones -- will be locked down, rented out to private events for more than 30,000 delegates, journalists and lobbyists. Most venues aren't booked yet, but are being held open for parties, often sponsored by corporations and lobbyists, to entertain conventiongoers and nurture the party's bonds to its movers and shakers.

Regulars at Brits on Tuesday were bemused and surprised to learn that their local haunt would be off limits during the convention, which runs Aug. 31 to Sept. 4 next year.

Luckily, the Irish have some sense.

The Local [a popular pub in downtown Minneapolis] "shies away from blocking off space, said general manager Josh Petzel. 'We always want to make sure there is some area of our place where people can walk in off the street and enjoy a pint.' "

I'll drink to that.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Signed, sealed ...

Well, it's official. The paperwork is signed, no going back now.

Gov. Tim Pawlenty to the Republican National Convention: "You have made a great choice. We will not let you down."

Sen. Norm Coleman, according to the Strib, had visions of hoisting the Stanley Cup when he was working to lure the NHL to Minnesota. . . . Wait for it. . . . "But this goes way beyond that."

Because nothing says "triumph of the human spirit" like the world's biggest celebration of partisanship. I mean, what kid, especially in Minnesota, _hasn't_ dreamed of someday attending the Republican National Convention?

Quick, what's the difference between the NHL and the RNC? One features preening thugs with bad teeth and worse haircuts, fighting and jawing and, when all is said and done, uttering trite soundbites for the assembled reporters. And the other is hockey.

Monday, December 11, 2006

How about "Gateway to Minneapolis"?

Having realized that the elephants are indeed coming to town, with media circus in tow, and that the eyes of the nation will, like it or not, be on their fair city in less than two years, Saint Paul's civic leaders have announced that they're beefing up the ol' tourism effort. That is, they're gonna work on their brand, make the town more exciting; they've even hired a hot-shot consulting firm to help them with their makeover.

Key quote from the Strib's article: "Don't be surprised if the motto announced in May sounds something like 'St. Paul, a Twin like no other.' "

Pardon? It says about as much about the city as Washington state's new tourism slogan says about that fine locale: "Say WA." Hell, at least that one's snappy and easy to remember. I can even see how it'd sound mildly appealing, or at least captivatingly quirky, at least after a few drinks.

"A Twin like no other," though? Well actually, see, the thing about twins is that there are two of 'em, and, well, one really is very much like the other, no matter how much each town's partisans may argue to the contrary.


I would love to be in the brainstorming sessions when they try to think of ways to market Saint Paul.

"How 'bout 'River of Dreams'?"

"Yeah, we could use that Billy Joel song!"

"But Minneapolis has the river, too."

"Right. OK, what does Saint Paul have that makes it unique?"

" 'Capital City'!"

"A capital idea! Haha!"

"... But then again, there are other a bunch of state capitals."

"Oh. Crap. Yeah, like, a lot of them. Like a couple dozen."

"Waitwaitwait! I've got it! We combine the words River and Capital: Rivital! Riviting, Ravishing, Rivital!"

"Hmmm ... Could work. Or ... cap ... -iver ... cap ... 'Caper'! Yeah! 'See what the Caper's all about!' "Come investigate our Caper!"

"I like it. But there's still something missing. Something ... personal. Unique."

"OK, OK, listen to this one. Here's what I'm thinking. I'm thinking Snoopy. I'm thinking Charles Schulz. I'm thinking 'Peanuts': We still have all those damn statues all over Rice Park, don't we? And I'm thinking about the Republicans. That's gonna be our chance to shine. So here it is. Ready for it? OK: 'Come for the elephants. Stay for the Peanuts.' Get it?"

"Dagnavit, that's good!"


"Anyone have any final comments, then?"

"Well, if I may: Shouldn't we go for a broader audience than the families? We need something for everyone. And I think we have that in F. Scott Fitzgerald, our other famous native son."

"That's it! Done! We're in agreement then: 'Come for the elephants. Stay for the Peanuts. . . . And the booze."


"Can't wait to see that on a travel mug!"