Tuesday, Sep. 16th, 2008

Local RNC Protester Takes Home Painful Souvenirs

This is old news by now, as the Republican National Convention was a few weeks ago, but I just found a (very) tiny twist to the story. Basically, Kevin Smith, a 17-year-old from Menomonie, was at the convention to protest the war in Iraq when he got arrested amid the general protesting. (He wasn’t actually protesting when he got arrested.) During his arrest he sustained a bunch of injuries and bruises and whatnot. An article in the L-T from Sept. 5 relies on comments from Smith's family, saying the cops used unnecessary force – that’s pretty much the only side of the story shown. Commenters (scroll to the bottom of the article) are quick to point out the one-sided-ness of the article. Many of the comments center on this paragraph:

  • Earlier this week, Smith told Minnesota Public Radio that after police grabbed him without saying why, he tried to pull his arm away and that's when he was beaten.

That arm-pull might say a lot about what happened. But even if the (rough) arrest was warranted, it seems that, against normal St. Paul police procedure, Smith was released with untreated, serious injuries – sans phone call. I’m assuming that kind of thing was pretty common during the (very large) convention.

Adding another twist largely unrelated detail to the story is the City Pages. In its current issue, the magazine features a comic by Ward Sutton using RNC photos. Check out the fourth panel (second down on the left). Doesn’t say anything about what happened, but what a coincidence.

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What's the Local Effect of More Bad Financial News?

Thousands of Wall Street hot shots are sitting home today in their undies while their expensive suits hang in the closet because on Monday, the nation’s already rocky economy just got even worse. They’re calling it “The Worst Financial Crisis in Modern Times,” a “Once in a Century Economic Event,” and “The End of an Era in American Business.” The Dow, NASDAQ, and the S&P all took major dives. Several companies that most of us have never heard of are either gone or clinging by their fingernails. Freddie Mac, Fannie Mae, Lehman Brothers, Merrill Lynch, AIG – many of the companies that make the entire financial market go ‘round have hit the dirt. Talking heads all over the media are spelling out certain doom.

Ok, now pretend you didn’t hear about any of that. What’s the climate of our own local economy? Several local finance and mortgage big wigs are telling the Leader-Telegram that the people and the economy around here are just fine. But even in a financially “low-risk” environment like the Chippewa Valley, this sort of repeatedly bad news must have some local effect on the thoughts of us as individuals. From job security to small business to the housing market, locals have opinions just like the fat cats on Wall Street.

Throughout all the recession talk of the last several months, its seemed to me that the Chippewa Valley economy has been just fine. But more waves of bad news do give good reason for pause if nothing else. But this naïve optimist thinks (and hopes) we’ll be solid.

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Monday, Sep. 15th, 2008

Leinie's Makes the Map ... And That’s It

If you like passing references to locally-made beer in large, progressive online magazines, then get ready – happy rainbows are about to blast from your nostrils. The beer-guzzling reporters over at Salon.com recently posted a rundown of their favorite brews in a piece called “The United States of cheap beer.” (To read, you’ll need to click through an ad.)

Well, Leinenkugel's did not make the cut. I guess that’s good, right? Not sure. But! They thought the vintage Leinie’s label was pretty enough for the article’s main graphic, as you can see above. And they did see fit to plug Midwest standards like Old Style from La Crosse, Old Milwaukee, Blatz, Milwaukee’s Best (The Beast), Hamm’s from St. Paul, and the first beer I ever drank in large quantities with my dad – Grain Belt from Minneapolis.

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Saturday, Sep. 13th, 2008

The Weekly Shakedown

What's up, our esteemed readers? Here's a whole bunch of stuff you might have missed last week. Dig:

  • We’ve got a new blog – local paranormal investigator Chad Lewis digs up really weird news stories from the area’s past and provides commentary.
  • The Peer Validated guys listen to Ryan Adams, David Carsten Daniels, the Black Eyed Snakes, and many more.
  • The newest issue is online, along with extra stuff like tunes from FanOffBirdSafe and pictures from Mark Aumann.
  • Local Independence host Scott Morfitt interviews local photographer Drew Kaiser.
  • You guys have been adding restaurant reviews like crazy.
  • Here’s a little something from the video galleries to get you all excited for Autumn in the Chippewa Valley.
  • And, of course, our Best of the Chippewa Valley 2008 is up, and you guys seem to be voting maniacs. I guess that bodes well for that big voting-based event in November.

Oh, and we’d like to give a big, hearty, double-handed handshake to our site sponsors, like these guys over here.

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Friday, Sep. 12th, 2008

Screaming Jet Engines

UPDATE: Most of Saturday's show was cancelled due to the weather. Sunday's show is said to still be on.

Question: How many “Highway to the Danger Zone” references do you think we can pack into this post? Answer: Far more than most humans can possibly endure. So let’s just say this – on Saturday, pull onto Highway 53 and then take the Melby Street exit to the Danger Zone, because the Chippewa Valley Airshow is back.

After a long hiatus, he Chippewa Valley Regional Airport will once again host that wonder of wonders: an air show. You’ve probably heard the engines roaring over your house/apartment/dorm room/underground lair all week as the performers practice. Most of that noise has been coming from the Blue Angels. These guys are the U2 of the air show circuit. Or, the Cirque du Soleil of the acrobat circuit. Or whatever. Check it out.

Bonus air show tip: Get pumped by watching this.

Also on Saturday, check out S-S-Shark Week, the Coalition Blues Festival, The Pimps, the Irie Sol CD Release Party, and/or see the House of Rock live up to its name.

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Wednesday, Sep. 10th, 2008

Local Presidential Campaigns Taken to Actual Streets

A whole new political fight has busted out in downtown Eau Claire. We’ve all seen the TV commercials, the yard signs, and the bumper stickers – but the latest weapon in the arsenal of the local political foot soldier? Stencil art. This form of subversive (and illegal) political advertising isn’t necessarily new to Eau Claire, but this is the first I’ve seen it this go around. This one was spotted just outside the Acoustic Café – but as with all stencil art, if there’s one there’s bound to be several more nearby. As can often be the case with stencils like these – it’s dark in its imagery and message. The stencil, sprayed on with black paint, shows John McCain above the words: “Don’t believe the lies.” 

Though I’m sure it’s a pain-in-the-ass for property owners and city workers, personally, I love this stuff. Anytime I spot some street art in this town I love it whether its temporary paste-up posters, spray stencils, or even simple stickers. But to be clear, I’m talking about the art stuff, the smart stuff, not the idiot-tags all over town (though I’ll admit it can be a fine line and that the whole issue is pretty delicate). The good stuff feels like a pedestrian’s reward for walking down the street rather than driving. And if it has some political or social punch, all the better. All those cars can keep their massive billboards, I’ll take some subtle street advertising any day.

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Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll Arrives

Our big, giant, massive, Valley-wide Best of the Chippewa Valley reader poll is now up and firing on all cylynders. It covers everything from local restaurants to local media to news issues to arts & entertainment and eveything inbetween. Basically, it gives you  way to tell the rest of the Valley what you like – and don't like.

This year, the Best Of poll is using the same engine that powers our web poll (bottom of this page) – Yayboo.com. It allows you to simply vote "Yay" or "Boo" for the responses that your fellow citizens have provided. A yay vote helps your choice move towards the top of the list, and a boo does the opposite. And! You get to add your own responses that can, in turn, be voted on by everyone else. We hope you like it.

Another change we made this year is that you don't need to complete the poll start to finish – you can just skip around, "yaying" and "booing" all willy-nilly in whatever order you want. You can keep voting over the next few weeks, and the only limitation is that you can only yay or boo something once per 24-hour period.

So have fun, and shoot us an email if you have any questions.

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