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Civic Aesthetics In Ruins as I-94 Mannequin Car Disappears From Pole

Plus Outside loves Minneapolis (but not its cops), Tom Lyden signs off, and Georgia Fort hits the radio in today's Flyover news roundup.

4:48 PM CDT on September 18, 2023

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

Report: Beloved Pole Car Might Reappear Elsewhere

For god knows how long it has hovered way up there, stuck atop a towering pole overlooking I-94W in Minneapolis: a Porsche 914 with "Psalm 46:10" printed on its side, helmed by a ratty-looking mannequin. Like any freaky urban folk art, it gave motorists speeding through an impermanent world a sense of constancy. Back in 2021, Racket’s Jay Boller attempted to catalog its mysterious origins for our underutilized “Hey, What’s the Deal With?” series, though his calls to the busing company that owned the property yielded very little. So major journalistic kudos to Tommy Wiita at Bring Me the News, who managed to scoop the car’s recent disappearance and also connect with the new proprietor, Bille Bus, whose leaders “honestly didn't know the extent of its history.” Continues Hakim Abdilahi, senior manager of Bille Bus, “We thought it was going to fall over any one of these days. And if it falls over into the highway, that's a risk [for others] and would leave us responsible, too."

Hakim Abdilahi via Bring Me the News

Minneapolis city officials approved Bille Bus's plans to swap the car for a new sign in June, according to Abdilahi. BMTN reports that the Porsche’s history traces back to the 1970s, and that Reddit users recall the mannequin rocking different looks—yellow bikini, Minnesota Twins jersey—in past eras. The vehicle was transported Monday to Hot Sam's Antiques & Foto Park in Lakeville, where it’s reportedly being restored and may one day return to the top of a pole, this time overlooking I-35W in the south metro. Abdilahi, who seems like a good sport, has noticed the somber online reactions to his company’s decision, and he has one regret. "We should've put a bus up there, and put [the mannequin] on top of the bus... I thought that was an amazing idea. Just didn't think of it at the time," he says, noting that the removal ran $15,000 and going the mini-bus route would’ve added another $15K. “I'm a Twin Cities guy too, so I would never do something deliberately to disrespect anyone who takes pride in where they are from."   

Outside Magazine: Minneapolis Is a Great Place to Live (Too Bad About the Cops)

Nothing makes Minneapolis happier than showing up on a national list of Good Places. And so the news that we’ve been named one of Outside’s “15 Happiest Places to Live in the U.S.” (joining other joyful locales like Harrisburg, Tacoma, and Wilmington) will surely cause us to jump up a few spots on the list. Outside’s criteria are community, quality of life, and outdoor access, and they note that we’re No. 1 on People for Bikes’ annual large-city ratings and third on Trust for Public Land’s ParkScore rankings. Each entry on the list also has a “Room for Improvement” section, which for many cities seems to be a dealbreaker such as “everyone has already bought all the houses here” or “climate change will soon render this city uninhabitable.” Minneapolis’s own “Room for Improvement”? Our police have historically been murderous thugs. Or, as Outside puts it, we have “serious problems with law enforcement” and the MPD is “plagued by unlawful conduct, discrimination, and mismanagement.” But don’t let that stop you from relocating, seekers of happiness: As Outside reassures us, “According to a city police spokesperson, the department has undergone a number of reforms over the past few years.”

Farewell to Fox 9's Tom Lyden

The Twin Cities news scene is about to lose one of its heaviest hitters. The great investigative reporter Tom Lyden, a three-decade veteran of Fox 9, is leaving the station later this week. Lyden, 58, will spend the foreseeable future caring for his 86-year-old mom is Mariposa, California, he revealed in a tearful conversation with Neal Justin of the Star Tribune. "I am really struggling with who I am when I'm not Tom Lyden, Fox 9 investigator," he says. "I don't know. Maybe I'll find out." Lyden has been a dogged embodiment of the "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable" industry maxim, going after cults (River Road Fellowship), religious leaders (Archbishop John Nienstedt), and discriminatory housing practices, among many other worthy targets. "He may be the most deeply sourced reporter Minnesota has ever had," Fox 9 GM Mim Davey tells the Strib. "He's kind, but tough. He was the guy that regular people turned to when they had no hope." John Wanamaker of MPR News, who recently announced his own departure from our market, predicts we have not heard the last of Lyden: "He'll be doing something in journalism in the very near future. You cannot keep a guy like that down." Fox will run a special tribute to Lyden during the 9 p.m. broadcast this Thursday; the reporter has also prepped a package that'll look back at his 30 years in local journalism.

Georgia Fort and Marianne Combs Bought a Radio Station

Last year, Georgia Fort and Marianne Combs founded Center for Broadcast Journalism, a nonprofit online newsroom featuring stories written by early career POC journalists for POC communities. This week, the duo launched a new radio station, Power 104.7 FM, with similar aspirations. So far, the station has been focused on playing hip hop and R&B tunes, two genres often missing from Minnesota airwaves, with short news segments every few songs. “We’re really hoping to reach people through the music, and then intersperse news,” Fort tells Pat Borzi at MinnPost. “We’re connecting through music and having people’s attention that way. Then every couple of songs, you’ll get a 60 to 90 second news update as well.” Fort is also the founder of BLCK Press, a women-run digital newsroom; Combs is a 20-year veteran of MPR News.

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