Vanishing icons, Dinkytown, and the low percentage of African Americans on campuses (5×8 – 11/15/13)


There are a fair number of people who can sing the rest of this tune if you spot them the first few words…

The Northwestern Bank weatherball was hailed as the tallest illuminated sign between Chicago and the West Coast when it was constructed in 1949 and became the icon of downtown Minneapolis.

It was rescued from a 1982 Thanksgiving fire and sent off to the State Fair, where it would permanently warm the hearts of old-timers, but, stored in the cattle barn, it proved too costly to repair and was sold for scrap in 2000.

It’s coming back.

WCCO has announced it’ll build a new weatherball without the ball. A tower of letters — spelling WCCO, of course — will change colors atop its downtown building and hence be known as the “weather watcher.”

That doesn’t rhyme with anything. We’re going to need a new jingle.

More icons: Metrodome’s pitcher’s mound, outfield baggie up for sale (

Goodbye, Star Tribune building (MPR)

When a hardware store dies (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

I discover Plainview & then the curtain falls (Minnesota Prairie Roots).


Dinkytown, the Minneapolis neighborhood, is hot. Real hot. More than half of Dinkytown property owners surveyed by the Minnesota Daily said they’ve been approached by a developer interested in their land.

That’s because the developers have found a bottomless pit of opportunity, Minnesota Daily says: student housing, the market that a lot of other college cities seem to want to avoid.

The race for Dinkytown property isn’t limited to developers — a handful of existing property owners are always looking to invest more in the area.

Wally Sakallah, owner of Wally’s Falafel and Hummus, is well established in Dinkytown. Last week, he signed a purchase agreement to buy the building that houses his Hideaway head shop.

“I’m not going to be bought out,” he said. “It’s not going to happen — over my dead body.”

It wasn’t the first time he’s bought the building leased by one of his businesses. He purchased his own restaurant’s building to halt development last year.

“It’s not about money for me,” he said. “I love Dinkytown as is.”

But Sakallah said he doesn’t blame other property owners for selling their land to developers. He said he knew one Dinkytown property owner who was offered $2.2 million for land he bought for $600,000.

“He would be stupid if he said no,” Sakallah said.

(Longtime property owner Irv) Hershkovitz said that sort of buying power makes it hard for locals like him and Sakallah to compete.

“It’s almost impossible to buy property in Dinkytown anymore because of all the developers,” he said. “We can’t cash flow it.”


This spoken word piece was performed at UCLA, about a problem at UCLA, but it could have been done at any number of higher education institutions.

(h/t: BuzzFeed)

Related on campus: University of Minnesota officials and student athletes took the stand Thursday in former associate women’s head golf coach Katie Brenny’s lawsuit against the University Board of Regents and former Director of Golf John Harris. Brenny alleges that as her boss, Harris diminished her job duties against after discovering she is a lesbian. Brenny resigned in October 2010, two months after being hired. (Minnesota Daily)


See what you missed, Shakopee? Canterbury Park scrapped its plan for an Americanized version of the running of the bulls in 2014 after a bull got loose at the Dakota County fairgrounds, injuring 8 people.

No problem, bull-runners. There’s always Georgia, which embraced the run with open arms and running feet, the New York Times reports today in a way only the New York Times can.

Bryant Knight, a 27-year-old health care worker from Macon, Ga., was in the largest cluster of runners, his feet pounding against the moist dirt, his head looking over his shoulder. How far back were the bulls?

He had long wanted to do something like this. Hemingway was one of his favorite writers. In “The Sun Also Rises,” there is that riveting scene of the running of the bulls during the San Fermín festival in Pamplona. A man is hooked in the back by a horn, lifted into the air, then stamped.

That was not going to be him, Knight was certain. He was not that foolhardy or courageous. He wanted “to get somewhat close to the bulls but not super close.” After a while he chose to angle toward the safety of the fence. He never really saw the horns lunging toward him.

A brown bull suddenly rushed up below his left elbow. Then it smacked him in the back. He was shoved in front of another animal’s rampaging hooves. He was trampled and dragged and sent rolling. The ground rumbled.

Fun times.


Bonus I: One-On-One With Dave Chappelle (WCCO)

Bonus II:
“When the 1947 India-Pakistan partition ripped the two nations apart, Baldev was forced to relocate overnight, leaving behind his best friend Yusuf,” AdFreak says in its review of another commercial that tells a great story. “Before that, they had been inseparable, flying kites together in the square and stealing Jhajariyas from Yusuf’s family shop. Decades later, Baldev’s granddaughter uses Google and those few tidbits of information from her grandfather’s memories to find Yusuf and arrange a heartwarming reunion for her grandfather’s birthday.”

Bonus III: Recycling? Don’t overdo it. (Marketplace).

What could the president or members of congress do to improve your view of government?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: This week on the Friday Roundtable, our guests will discuss the sexual abuse scandal in the archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the plight of boys in society, and whether campaign cash skews judges’ decisions.

Second hour: A look at the future of the town of International Falls with Tom Weber and Ground Level reporter Jennifer Vogel. Tom and Jennifer spent several days in the town talking to residents about challenges, and opportunities, in the wake of recent layoffs at the Boise Paper Mill.

Third hour: Phil Picardi speaks with a DNR official about a new report from the National Wildlife Federation that says Minnesota’s moose are among the big game most significantly impacted by climate change.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – Mayors Julian Castro and R.T. Rybak speaking at an Achieve Minneapolis event about the importance of education. Part 2: R.T. Rybak reflects on the election.

Science Friday (1-2 p.m.) – What makes one idea succeed as thousands of others fail? An inside look at the rise of Twitter, and what comes next.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – Dan Olson profiles Café Societe’ band members including vocalist 24-year-old Amelia Rivera Baretto, a native of Bogata, Colombia, by way of Guatemala. She’s now a classical voice student at the U of M who answered a Craig’s List ad for “vocalist” and ended up with Mark Chergofsky, a substitute elementary school teacher by day and professional musician by night.

A cynical British comedian stars in a new movie about a cynical British journalist who becomes less cynical. It’s Steve Coogan. And he plays alongside Dame Judi Dench. The new movie, Philomena, is based on the book “The Lost Child of Philomena Lee.” NPR reviews it.

Do you know of someone we all should meet? Who’s the most interesting person you know? Submit their name and tell me why.