June 2011 MinneCulture Archives

History of Nicollet Island, Part II
Produced by Jessica Folker

Once a posh enclave for the city’s wealthiest residents, Nicollet Island had turned gritty by the early 20th century. Dominated by industry and inhabited by transients, many who wandered onto the Island were drawn to the bars
and flophouses of skid row. By the 1970’s, slumlords offering cheap rent attracted an enclave of colorful characters, and Nicollet Island became home to an eclectic mix of hobos, hippies, artists and working-class families.

In part 2 of the History of Nicollet Island, producer Jessica Folker introduces us to former and current Island dwellers, who share stories about living with drifters, donkeys and some of the Twin Cities’ best musicians on this urban island oasis.

Interviews include:

Kevin O’Rourke
An award-winning street poet and Island inhabitant who has lived in a number unusual dwellings, including a houseboat and a school bus.

John Chaffee
Still living on the island, of all current residents, John Chaffee has been there the longest, since early 1970s.

Jack Chaffee
John’s son, Jack, was grew up on Nicollet Island during the 1970s-80s.

Prudence Johnson
Jazz and folk singer Prudence Johnson shares memories of what it was like to raise a daughter on the Island.

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Stories from KFAI’s 10,000 Fresh Voices series:

1. Mixed Blood Theatre’s Radical Hospitality
Produced by Dale Connelly
Beginning in September, Minneapolis’ Mixed Blood Theatre is taking an unusual approach to ticket pricing by offering free admission to patrons on a first-come, first-served basis. Reserved tickets will cost $15 dollars, but those willing to take a chance and show up without a reservation will have a good chance of seeing the production for free. Calling this approach “Radical Hospitality,” staff say erasing economic barriers is part of Mixed Blood’s mission to build an inclusive, global audience.

2. Riot Act Reading Series
Produced by Cyn Collins
Riot Act Reading Series is a monthly literary event that takes place at various Minneapolis and St. Paul bars. Co-hosted by punk poet Paul D. Dickinson and writer/poet Laura Brandenburg, the series has been going since 1998.

3. Amias Project & Another Land
Produced by Dan Greenwood
Nicole Smagleck has traveled extensively to Tanzania and East Africa. During one trip, she met an elder tribal woman who suggested she bring Tanzanian handicrafts and jewelry back to Minnesota. Nicole did just that, founding the Amias Project and Another Land—two companies that promote Fair Trade and help support the Barabaig tribe. KFAI producer Dan Greenwood visited Nicole at the Northrup King Building, where the Amias Project and Another Land are located. For more information, visit amias.org.

4. Once Upon a Crime Bookstore
Produced by Britt Aamodt
For 25 years, Once Upon a Crime has been home to cold-blooded killers, con men and unsavory characters. That is, it’s been the literary haunt for crime and mystery novels, and one of only 30-odd bookstores in the country devoted to these genres. KFAI’s Britt Aamodt talked to owner Gary Schultz and St. Paul mystery novelist Susan Runholt about the bookstore and it’s big day at the Edgar Awards.

5. Zeitgeist Music Group
Produced by Dixie Treichel
Since 1977, Zeitgeist has been creating and performing new music by living composers, and has been commissioned for more than 150 new works. Operating out of Studio Z in downtown St. Paul, the quartet includes Heather Barringer, percussionist and artistic co-director; Pat O’Keefe, woodwind player and artistic co-director; Patti Cudd, percussionist; and Shannon Wettstein, pianist. The group tours outside Minnesota and collaborates with artists of all types and genres to create new work that challenges the boundaries of traditional chamber music.

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History of Nicollet Island, Part I
Produced by Jessica Folker

Nicollet Island is the only inhabited island in the Mississippi River, and this leafy Minneapolis oasis has attracted a colorful crowd: gilded-age tycoons, train-riding vagabonds, hippies, and well-known musicians have all called the Island home.

In the first of this two-part documentary, producer Jessica Folker explores the Island’s more distant past, beginning with its days as a safe place for expectant Dakota women.

Christopher and Rushika Hage—a resident couple whose love for the Island spawned two books on its illustrious history—offer stories about mosquito-plagued pioneers, murderous maids, beer caves, and disastrous events that affected the entire city.

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1. Wild Food Summit
Produced by Michelle Alimoradi
Most people have probably never cooked with fiddle ferns and cattails, but each year at the Wild Food Summit, food enthusiasts gather to forage and prepare feasts from nature’s bounty. Now in its seventh year, the Minnesota Wild Food Summit promotes ecological sustainability and community. KFAI’s Michelle Alimoradi spoke to participants about the week-long event at White Earth Indian Reservation, which is just one of three Wild Food Summits in the country.

2. Urban Chickens
Produced by Sabrina Crews
Urban chicken coops are on the rise. Some city dwellers raise hens for their eggs, others harvest the birds for meat. KFAI’s Sabrina Crews interviewed urban poultry owners Mimi Holmes and Janelle Hiland to find out why they keep chickens in the backyard.

3. MN Spoken Word Association
Produced by Maria Almli
In 2001, the Minnesota Spoken Word Association burst onto the scene with Singers of Daybreak, the first-ever spoken word conference. For 10 years, this grassroots organization has nurtured young artists through school programs and special events. KFAI’s Maria Almli spoke to co-founders and creative directors, e.g. Bailey and Sha [SHAY] Cage, about a decade of creativity.

4. Quatrefoil Library
Produced by Dixie Treichel
Quatrefoil Library takes its name from the 1950 James Barr novel—one of the first literary works to portray homosexuals in a positive way. When it opened 25 years ago, Quatrefoil Library was a unique resource for GLBT education, research and community. Today it is one of the oldest and largest GLBT lending libraries in the country.

5. Twin Cities Pride
Produced by Dixie Treichel
The Twin Cities Pride Festival is an annual, weekend-long celebration of freedom, which includes the Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade. KFAI’s Dixie Treichel produced this story about TC Pride and the history about the parade, which honors those who spoke and marched publicly in support of the GLBT community.

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Last Reel: Drive-In Movie Theaters of Minnesota
Produced by Todd Melby

They had names like The Cinebuff, the Bronco, The Maple Leaf, The Sunset. They were the drive-in movie theaters of Minnesota. Once, there were more than 80 outdoor movie theaters in the Gopher State. Today, only a handful remain, including the Sky-Vu in Warren and the Starlite 5 in Litchfield.

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New stories from KFAI’s 10,000 Fresh Voices series.

1. Fiber artist Beth Baron
Produced by Todd Melby
If you’re a painter, you can go to the store and buy oils or watercolors. But what if you’re an artist obsessed with materials you can’t buy at a store? That’s the dilemma facing Beth Barron of Minneapolis. The main ingredients in her creations are Band-Aids. And not new ones either.

2. Experimental sound artist, Philip Blackburn
Produced by Dixie Treichel
Environmental sound artist Philip Blackburn records outdoor sounds, creates large-scale activities for untrained musicians, and presents unusual public sound experiences. KFAI producer Dixie Treichel talks with Blackburn, who recently participated in the Twin Cities Northern Spark Festival.

3. Mushroom man, Tom Peterson
Produced by Michelle Alimoradi
Tom Peterson is known to many as “the mushroom man.” For years Peterson has been hunting and gathering fungi, and teaching people about the multiple, healthful properties of mushrooms.

4. Stunt man and children’s rights advocate, Eric Howell
Produced by Michelle Bruch
Eric Howell is a film-industry stunt man who also acts, writes and directs. But Howell does more than leap from buildings and crash cars—he’s an advocate for children’s rights. His award-winning screenplay, “Anna’s Playground,” shot in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, has drawn critical acclaim. In fact, United Nations officials are using the film to advance a resolution on children in armed conflict.

5. Baseball legend, Harmon Killebrew
Produced by Katey DeCelle
Harmon Clayton Killebrew spent more than 20 years as a professional baseball player—many for the Minnesota Twins. Second only to Bath Ruth in American League home runs, he was inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 1984. Killebrew passed away from cancer last month, and despite his nickname, “the Killer,” he will be remembered as much for his kindness and humanity, as for his baseball prowess.

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Guitar Party, featuring Dosh & Haley Bonar
Produced by Daniel Zamzow

A special, family friendly event at the Cedar Cultural Center. With Jeremy Ylvisaker, Jake Hanson and Andrew Broder (guitars), Mijah Ylvisaker (voice), Mike Lewis (bass), J.T. Bates (drums), Dosh (drums) and Haley Bonar (guitar and voice). Mijah, Jeremy’s daughter, is in the first grade at Hale Elementary.

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1. Wise Acre: farm-owned, farm-to-table eatery
Produced by Nancy Skalkos
The distance from farm-to-table will be closer than ever with the opening of Tangletown’s Wise Acre Eatery in South Minneapolis. Owners Dean Engleman and Scott Endres have added 17 acres of vegetables, chickens, Scottish Highland Cattle and Berkshire pigs to their ornamental plant production in Plato, Minnesota. The farm will directly supply ingredients to Chef Beth Fisher and Manager Caroline Glawe for what may be the first farm-to-table restaurant owned by the farm. KFAI’s Nancy Skalkos reports.

2. Fulton Beer: Minneapolis’ latest craft beer
Produced by Jessica Folker
What could be better than brewing beer with your closest friends? Selling it as a wildly successful microbrew! One of the Twin Cities’ up-and-coming local companies, Fulton Beer, will open its brewery just blocks from Target Field this fall. KFAI producer Jessica Folker talked to the guys behind Fulton Beer about their journey from being a garage brew, to one of Minnesota’s most successful craft beers.

3. Ruth Adams: leader of the world’s most dangerous polka band
Produced by Marya Morstad
Ruth Adams had been the accordionist for The World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band at Nye’s Polonaise Room for 35 years, when she passed away in March 2011. Featured on Jon Stewart’s The Daily Show, ABC’s Good Morning America, and in Sonny Tormoen’s short documentary about her life, The World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band (www.dangerouspolkafilms.com), Ruth was a Northeast icon and Minnesota treasure. KFAI producer Marya Morstad paid a visit to Nye’s to reminisce about Polka Queen Ruth Adams with former pianist Lou Snider, hostess Evie Radke, and bandmate and trumpeter Joe Hayden.

4. Sweet Lou Snider: a life at Nye’s Polonaise Room
Produced by Marya Morstad
Nye’s Polonaise Room is a Northeast Minneapolis relic. With its swanky dining room, classic piano bar and jam-packed polka lounge, Nye’s has been serving crowds for six decades. Earlier this year, accordion queen Ruth Adams, leader of the World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band, passed away at the age of 79, and long-time pianist Lou Snider retired after 45 years behind the keys. Collectively, these women entertained patrons for 80 years. In the next two pieces, KFAI’s Marya [MAR-e-ah] Morstad pays tribute to these two indelible performers: Ruth Adams and “Sweet Lou” Snider.

5. Exotik-a-GoGo
Produced by Nancy Sartor
Exotik-a-GoGo is the house band at Psycho Suzi’s Motor Lounge. Every Friday and Saturday the sextet sets the mood in the upstairs bar with tiki, lounge and exotica numbers. In this segment, meet the band: Craig Gallas, Clint Hoover, Vince Hyman, Bob Ekstrand, Chris Johnson and Tom Cravens. Produced by Nancy Sartor.

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The Shubert Theatre of Minneapolis
Produced by Dixie Treichel

The Sam S. Shubert Theatre opened in Minneapolis in 1910. An historical landmark and the oldest legitimate theater in Minneapolis, it has had many incarnations and monikers: as the Shubert, a broadway style performing theater; the Alvin, a vaudville/burlesque theater; the Minneapolis Evangelistic Auditorium; and the Academy, a cinema house.

In 1999 the Shubert was uprooted and relocated to Hennepin Avenue, and is now in the Guiness Book of World Records as the most massive building ever moved on rubber-wheeled dollies. Now called the Goodale Theater, it is currently under renovation and is part of a new, three-building complex, including the Historic Hennepin Center for the Arts. The complex, which includes an atrium, has been dubbed the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts. It is slated to open on September 9, 2011. Produced by Dixie Treichel.

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