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Battle of the Memes: Rick Astley Sues Yung Gravy

Plus Driver's Licenses for All passes the House, Operation Endeavor's latest PR blitz, and some silly stunt journalism in the Strib in today's Flyover.

2:48 PM CST on January 31, 2023

Sir John William Chiaravalle III|

Yung Gravy

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Never Gonna Give [My Copyright] Up

You’re nobody till somebody sues you—and that means Yung Gravy is now officially a star. Man-meme Rick Astley has filed a suit against the Rochester-bred, MILF-loving party-rapper, saying the song “Betty (Get Money)” contains an unacceptable imitation of the ’80s pop star’s voice. Mr. Gravy secured the rights to “interpolate” the music from Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up”—that’s the right to recreate the music, which is a much easier permission to secure than the right to sample the original recording. But Astley is alleging that the vocal on Yung’s track infringes on his “right of publicity”—an expansive right that protects an individual’s name, likeness, or identifying characteristic (in this case, a voice) from being used without permission. (Not every state has a right of publicity law: Prince’s estate lobbied to pass one in Minnesota in 2016, but the legislature demurred.) The music industry is watching this case closely, because if Astley wins it could signal either a) a new way for older artists to protect their rights or b) another way litigation is limiting the creative rights of newer artists. Either way, we’ll keep you updated, because Racket has somehow become Minnesota’s only source for Yung Gravy news.

House Passes Law Allowing Undocumented Minnesotans Licenses

DFL’ers fended off GOP resistance and proposed amendments to pass a bill that would allow undocumented Minnesotans to obtain driver’s licenses. Now we’ll see if the Senate (where the DFL majority is narrower) does the same. The (irrational) fear is that undocumented people will use this driver’s license to vote. (Voter impersonation is a statistically non-existent occurrence. Why would anyone commit a felony just to vote, especially if that could result in deportation?) Minnesotans could obtain a driver’s license regardless of immigration status until 2003, when then-Gov. Tim Pawlenty, invoking 9/11 and security concerns, banned undocumented people from getting licenses. For the next 20 years, undocumented Minnesotans either stayed off the roads or were forced to break the law because of their need for transportation.

Operation Endeavor: Police PR Blitz is Still Working!

Public safety is often a game of public perception and political showboating, so it makes sense that the MPD would try to clean up the streets with “data-driven” collaboration, claims to “prioritize safety,” and press conferences. This week, Minneapolis Police released a pretty vague 90-day report showing that yes, this program is doing… something. They’ve got some numbers, comparing 2021 data to 2022 from the end of September through mid-December. Gunshot victims and carjackings are down 29.8% and 65.2% respectively, so that's something, though it's worth pointing out that while crime spiked nationally in 2020, it has been dropping again since. Keep idling those cop cars, I guess.

A few more interesting tidbits from the report:

  • Cops confiscated $98,482 in cash during arrests.
  • Police took in 6,715.44 grams of cocaine, way more than what they scored in fentanyl, meth, crack, or heroin.  
  • Someone typed this out, in earnest: “Community response to Operation Endeavor has been positive, with Minneapolis residents commenting on the improved safety downtown.” 
  • “More than half (56%) of the total Calls for Service assigned to Operation Endeavor Officers were self-initiated. This is a primary indicator proactive work being performed by officers.” Congrats on the fact that cops, like the rest of us, are actually doing their job?
  • “There have been no formal complaints made against any law enforcement officer working an Operation Endeavor shift as of 12/17/22.”

Can You Brita Better Liquor?

Now THIS is the kind of silly stunt journalism the Strib Variety team could stand to do more of! On TikTok, there's been a bit of a viral trend where folks pour cheap, shitty liquor through a Brita filter to see if they can get it to taste a tiny bit better. So the Star Tribune's Alex Chhith asked longtime Twin Cities bev expert Trish Gavin (who's one of the folks behind the forthcoming Eat Street Crossing food hall) to try it out. They gave it a shot with Karkov vodka, "a college party favorite" that's just $11.99 for 1.75 liters at Total Wine (no discernible difference), two kinds of gin (ruined both in the process), and Fireball Whiskey (improved!). Gavin's theory? The Brita filters in those TikToks still have water in 'em, which means folks are essentially just watering their liquor down. Too bad!

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