Friday, August 26, 2005


Nonmonkey is the Archie Bunker of our times: fiercely bigoted, perpetually crabby, cloistered in his own little realm where the only good news is the news he can complain about. The problem with this type of existence is that he often must look really hard in odd places to find a fellow useful idiot that shares his dim view of "reality".

And so Nick goes off to the fair, desperate to turn it into a miserable milieu of ennui and hopelessness:

Add food for thought to what you'll consume at the fair

Oh look: Nonmonkey is giving us "food for thought". See, he knows stuff.

The State Fair is where we go to catch a glimpse of ourselves, to find out how we're doing, to look in the mirror and check the mood of Minnesota. No one person can take it all in, and not even the combined effort of every newspaper and TV station in town can quite capture the mood. But after a first stroll around the fair Thursday, I say: The mood is not good.

This is the type of journalistic research NM is famous for: he pokes his head into a situation, takes a quick look around for anything - anything - he can expand to Brobdingnagian proportions that allows him to "prove" his thrice-weekly thesis; namely "the world sucks and wingnuts are to blame".

Ever since 9/11, there has been an edge to the fair, a throbbing anxiety that has murmured just below the sound of screams and compressed air machines. But this year, it has seeped in a little deeper, becoming an actual undercurrent of discord.

Anybody who's been to the fair in the past 3 years ever observe this "edge" NM is talking about?

I didn't think so. It's a figment of his fertile (pun intended) imagination.

And note: after "one stroll" through the fair grounds, early on the FIRST DAY of the fair, NM already notes this edge has descended into a meaningless NM trademark rhetorical flourish an "actual undercurrent of despair."

You won't have to notice it if you don't want to spoil your end-of-summer party. But it is as plain as the polls that show deep disapproval of the way the unending war in Iraq is going and with the deafness of the country's leaders -- of both parties -- to growing questions about the direction of the United States.

Yes, desperate for yet another diatribe against the war, he uses the STATE FECKING FAIR as the backdrop. On Planet Nick you can go from deep fried Twinkies on a stick to Mosul in the bat of an eye. Can you say "one-trick monkey"?

I stood at attention Thursday as National Guard soldiers raised the American flag outside the Leinie Lodge and we observed a moment of silence. Nearby, in a familiar tableau that was unsettling, a man lay flat on his back in the intersection of Dan Patch Avenue and Cosgrove Street, attended by ambulance workers while a small crowd gathered. I was thinking of lima beans.

This is what I like to call a "Ryan Rhodes Dream Graf". That would be the part of a NM column that simultaneously drips with stilted self-promoting condescension, non-sequitur and patent unintentional absurdity while at the same time not doing a thing to advance the narrative outside of providing a hamfisted segue to the meat -as it were - of NM's story. A RR Dream Graf typically, but not always involves a St. Paul White Castle.

I'll leave this one to Ryan, and content myself to call NM a moron, and move on.


I had just left the crop art exhibit in the Horticulture Building, where I found the usual depictions of celebrities and pop icons -- from portraits of Pope John Paul II to one of Johnny Cash, amusingly composed entirely of various seeds all of which, befitting the man, are black.

But there were edgier works, too, including a life-size immigrant worker scarecrow. The champion scarecrow wears a sombrero and a crucifix, has a face made of burlap and has a pamphlet in his pocket about how to learn English. Created by Laura Burlis of Minneapolis, this scarecrow isn't about the fears that trouble crows. It's about the ones that trouble America.

[Dramatic music]BUM BA BUM BUM[/Dramatic music]

So, NM's whole thesis is based upon 1) Some sort of gestalt he felt with the wandering crowds on a single loop of the fairgrounds; and 2) Artists. Who ply their craft. In the medium. Of seeds.

Journalism doesn't get much better than this.

Allow me a quick digression so that I may try my hand at Nonmonkey style analysis:

The St. Louis Cardinals suck. The Cards have no less than 10 players on its roster whose batting average is below the super dismal .225 mark.

They also have three pitchers with an ERA of over 10.00 (yes 10!).

Oh wait. They're the best team in baseball! How can that be, in light of the above facts?

Moving on...

One award-winning crop-art display was a miniature military cemetery, complete with a seed-art Old Glory and gnarled trees standing amid a somber scene of graves laid out in rows. Each grave, bearing a painted number, was represented by an upturned lima bean. "In Tribute," was the title given by artist Steve Dahlberg of Minneapolis, who added: "1,863 casualties as of 8-20-05."

Dahlberg put the finishing touches on his work last Saturday. By the time the fair opened, 11 more had died, including another Minnesotan.

And here, I must refer you back to that graf above that contained the line "but it is as plain as the polls that show deep disapproval of the way the unending war in Iraq is going". If the only news you get from Iraq is the Gleeful Rolling Body Count variety that the Strib, the New York Times, WaPo, CNN, the Big Three Nets and, as we see here, NM himself deals in, then it's not too hard to explain those polls. Well, there is also the pollsters' tendency to oversample Democrats.

Please allow me a moment to duct tape my head before I impart the next excerpt. I suggest you do the same.

One provocative art exhibit is an installation of communion wafers by St. Paul artist Margaret Hilger. The piece is called, "In God's Name: America's Holy War," and consists of hundreds of wafers spilling onto an altar, each printed with a date, presumably the dates of troop deaths in Iraq. Many visitors passed "America's Holy War" without reacting, perhaps missing the message. Others stopped in their tracks.

"It's a very good statement," said Lucille Matousek of Mankato. "We are sacrificing our young people for nothing, in a pseudo-religious war."

Oh barf.

That's all I can say.

Barf barfity barf barf.

Hey, wait one cotton candy-pickin' minute! I though this war was about oil! Oh well, if NM's "truth tellers" are now telling us it's a "pseudo-religious war," then I guess that it is. Crop artists are so much more tuned in to reality then us troglodytes. Except when they're hitting the bong, that is.

In the Marketplace of Ideas, you'll find Hilger's in the Less-Than-a-Dollar Closeout bin.

Lana Thormodsgaard of Colorado, who was in town to see her three Twin Cities-area sons, was knocked almost speechless. She felt "assaulted" by Hilger's work at first, but after staring at it for a while, it started to make more sense to her.

"We are in a spiritual war," she said. "It's exactly what God did when he sent Jesus into the world. He declared war on the principalities and powers of the Evil One. It is a holy war."

"Evil One." Heh. It's just so precious how NM gets a quote invoking religion so that he can prove his bona fides to all those wingnut Christians he abhores. Not the first time he's used that little trick.

Does anyone else find it strange that Nick didn't encounter anybody who found this work obscene? Or dullwitted? Or ugly?

No. That wouldn't serve his thesis.

I don't know if that's what the artist intended (I couldn't reach Hilger) [as if he tried. Or he did reach Hilger, and Hilger just didn't tell NM what he wanted to hear. -ed] But there is not just food on a stick at the fair. There is also food for thought. No one ever said a fair is just fun and Ferris wheels.

No, in post 9/11 Minnesota, fairs are edgy, depressing affairs with an undercurrent of discord.

Here's some food for thought, Nick: did it ever occur to you how chronic bitch-merchants like you might react if those you condemn actually took your advice?

Like if we didn't go into Iraq. Saddam would still be jerking the inspectors around ,and all you people would either be complaining that a) Afghanistan was a "quagmire"; b) "nothing" was being done in the "War on Terror"; or c) agitating to insert our military into a civil war in some place like Sudan.

Like if cops were more "proactive" against inner-city drug dealers. Then y'all would be crying "foul" about the overt racism of the Minneapolis police harassing young black people.

Like if everybody donated books to a school that had bare library shelves. Then you'd just scream that that wasn't the problem (though you had actually said that it was), and that the "real problem" is that the school doesn't have enough funding - to presumably buy the books that the school had just gotten for free through the generosity of the public.

Heh. That last one did happen.

Enough of your chronic bitching. Stay in your hole and wallow in your own misery. Leave the rest of us out of it.

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