The Edufication of a Minnesota Catholic Boy

Jun 10

The Edufication of a Minnesota Catholic Boy

My old Catholic grade school, St. James, on Randolph and View in the West Seventh neighborhood of St Paul, is on the ropes: School and church both in mothballs, offered for sale or rent to the next crappy charter school to come down the pike, unless it’s Muslim (Rumor in the neighborhood is that inquiries from a Muslim school were rebuffed). St. James was a...

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Happy 50th to the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band

May 19

Happy 50th to the Brian Boru Irish Pipe Band

Over the years, I’ve had a close relationship with the Brian Boru Irish bagpipe band of St. Paul, a band named after the High King of Ireland who defeated the Vikings (defeating the Vikings used to be more difficult in olden times than it is today) at the Battle of Clontarf in 1014. I had these good guys play at my wedding reception. They ate all the food...

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Ruby Red Letters: Re-Starting the Beating Heart of St. Paul’s West End?

May 19

Ruby Red Letters: Re-Starting the Beating Heart of St. Paul’s West End?

    The developers of the old Schmidt Brewery site in St. Paul — being turned into lofts and apartments after years of disastrous and misguided attempts to make the brewery into a headache-inducing ethanol plant — are thinking about restoring the old S-C-H-M-I-D-T sign. I’m all for it — IF the sign truly looks like the iconic sign...

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Macy’s to St. Paul: Suck It!

Jan 03

Macy’s to St. Paul: Suck It!

A few years ago, I popped into the Macy’s Department Store in downtown St. Paul looking for winter jackets for my three growing school boys, aged 7, 5 and 3. I couldn’t find any warm jackets in the children’s department, so I went looking for the Warm Coat Department I figured must be located somewhere else. I returned to the...

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Pearl Harbor, 1941: St Paul Sailors Fire the First Shot

Dec 07

Pearl Harbor, 1941: St Paul Sailors Fire the First Shot

  (This post originally was published on 12-7-11) If you grow up in St. Paul, you will hear the story of the Naval Reservists from the city — kids, mostly, ranging in age from 17 to 21 or 22 — who fired America’s first shot of WWII on the morning of Sunday, Dec. 7, 1941. I know what I’m talking about: My old man, a Navy veteran, told me...

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A Circle of Grief: Wellstone and St Paul

Oct 22

A Circle of Grief: Wellstone and St Paul

Paul Wellstone died Oct. 25, 2002, with his wife, daughter, and a handful of extraordinary people who were known and loved in his adopted hometown, St. Paul. I wrote this for the Pioneer Press on the day after Paul died, to chronicle the mourning, the disbelief, the numbness 10 years ago, as St Paul became a tight-knit circle of grief. St. Paul was somber and...

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Wilfare 4 Zygi/Zero for Kids

Nov 01

Wilfare 4 Zygi/Zero for Kids

Walking into the Charles M. Schulz Hockey Arena last Saturday, bringing my boys to their first hockey practice of the season, I noticed something strange: Hardly anyone was leaving the arena. Usually, as we come in, a horde of kids is leaving the ice, and on Saturdays in the Fall, they are not the typical Minnesota youth hockey player. They are poor, mostly minority,...

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The Turf Club gets Duded Up

Oct 15

The Turf Club gets Duded Up

  St Paul’s venerable Turf Club celebrated Monday the installation of a massive and awesome glass-mosaic mural enshrining the club’s long, honored history as a venue for western, country and rock-a-billy (along with all other kinds of music, as well). The mural, which covers the University Avenue establishment’s east side exterior, was...

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