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Sample Minnesota's rich history, courtesy of a microfilm archive

Dec. 20, 1968: A so-so review for the Beatles' 'White Album'

As Christmas approached and Apollo 8’s crew prepared to circle the moon, arts critic Peter Altman gave what came to be called “The White Album” a lukewarm review in the Minneapolis Star. Altman, who went on to become the Guthrie Theater's literary manager and artistic director at the Kansas City Repertory Theatre, exposed Star readers to the term “obscurantist,” which he no doubt usually reserved for his classical music reviews.

Album Not
So Exciting

Minneapolis Star Critic
Invention, not creativity, is the salient quality of the Beatles’ new two-record set.
The album, called simply THE BEATLES (Apple SWBO-101) and packaged in a plain white wrapper with a fold-out poster enclosed, is sporadically clever but not truly inspired or equal to “Revolver,” “Rubber Soul” or “Sergeant Pepper.”
Had it been produced by some other artists, perhaps this album would be more satisfactory critically. It is impossible for the Beatles not to suffer from extravagant expectations, and not become the victims of claims made in their behalf.
August 1965: The Beatles invaded Met Stadium in Bloomington. (Minneapols Tribune photo by Kent Kobersteen)
“The Beatles” reveals confident and canny performers far past the crises of developing their art. The casual and assured eclecticism of the record could only have been achieved by shrewd, intelligent musicians of wit and imagination. But the total performance nonetheless has an air of decadent dilettantism, and this diminishes its excellence.
Many Influences
There are innumerable strains and influences on “The Beatles.” The purposefulness of “Sergeant Pepper,” where all kinds of musical ideas were used to achieve one specific atmosphere, has been discarded in favor of a more relaxed, stylized and playful approach.
This is in many respects a musicians’ record, on which things are done simply for their own sake; some of the things are worth doing, some are superficial, and there is no over-all feeling or setting to cover up the mistakes.
The best things on these four sides are very good. The infectious, quasi-Nigerian “Ob-la-di, Ob-la-di” [sic] is charming, funny and fresh. “Dear Prudence” is a typically graceful and transparent ballad. “Rocky Raccoon” is a shrewd, completely winning parody of western gun ballads motivated by a natural ingenuousness that assumes, for example, that the Gideon’s bible must be left in hotel rooms by some man named Gideon. Isn’t that logical?
Trenchant Satire
There are some moments of trenchant satire.
“Bungalow Bill” surgically dismantles the virility cult of the American male with verses like: “He went out tiger hunting with his elephant and gun. In case of accidents he always took is mom” and its refrain of “Hey, Bungalow Bill, what did you kill?”
The record contains too many moments, however, when satire gives way to gratuitous tweaking of the Establishment’s nose, and at other times the music degenerates into self-parody.
Just as the photo-collage of the poster is in spots coyly taunting of social conventions (nudity), so songs like “Why Don’t We Do It In the Road?” are little more than childish challenges. “Glass Onion,” with its references to previous Beatles songs and its hint of providing a key to earlier mysteries, is an obscurantist’s footnote rather than an artistic statement.
Silly Bit
The concluding “Good Night” is a silly bit of sentiment camp, and the sound[s] of “Wild Honey Pie” merely are noisy and vexingly monotonous.
Very small record stores sold hundreds of copies of this album the day it went on sale, and no critical caveats can keep “The Beatles” from being the most common Christmas tree item of 1968.
Nor do I wish to put down the Liverpool quartets, to imply that they are frauds or finished. There are, after all, numerous things to admire on their latest collection. But this is hardly their most exciting or most persuasive album.

Nov. 19, 1958: Salt in Verne Gagne's eye

In the 1950s, before pro football and major league baseball arrived in the Twin Cities, pro wrestling had a place on the sports pages of the local newspapers. The story below is from the Minneapolis Morning Tribune.

There’s a lot to admire about old-time pro wrestling. As far as I know, grapplers did not use steroids or demand new arenas at public expense. But I can’t get the rules straight. It was legal to give your opponent a ferocious eye gouge, sleeper hold or pile driver. But rub a little salt in the eye? That was cheating.

RIP, Verne Gagne. The pro wrestling legend died this week at age 89, surrounded by his family in Minnesota. 

Wins on

Vern[e] Gagne was declared the winner over Mitsu Arakawa on a reversed decision Tuesday night before 2,988 fans at the Auditorium. The time was 22:15 in the one-hour time limit match.
  Verne Gagne in about 1953.
The Japanese wrestler had felled the former University of Minnesota football star with his stomach claw hold, but referee Joe Valento reversed the call after Arakawa was said to have rubbed salt in Gagne’s eyes.
Gagne pinned Arakawa initially with the drop kick but the referee was incapacitated at the time, having collided with the wrestlers.
It was when the referee was out of action that Mitsu employed his salt trick. Several fans along with the boxing promoters jumped into the ring to call attention to the violation.
In the semi-windup, Stan and Reggie Lisowski of Milwaukee defeated Tex McKenzie and Chet Wallich.
Verne Gagne, 225, Excelsior, won by reversed decision over Mitsu Arakawa, 238, Japan, 22:15.
Stan Lisowski, 254, Milwaukee, pinned Tex McKenzie, 275, Houston, 8:15; McKenzie pinned Stan, 10:40; Reggie Lisowski, 257, pinned Chet Wallich, 237, Hollywood, 6:10.
Bearcat Wright, 270, Omaha, pinned El Toro, 300, 13:50.
Joe Pazandak, 245, Medicine Lake, pinned Johnny Nellis, 212, Belgium, 12:20.

Verne Gagne's championship belt was on display at the Minnesota History Center in 2014.