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Help Name This Bone-Chilling ‘Snow Creature’ That Lives Inside Midtown Global Market

Plus greater Minnesota's moochin', City Center's over, and Birk's blinding JESUS in Flyover news roundup.

4:18 PM CST on December 4, 2023

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JFC…

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

Haunting Holiday Creature Needs Name

He's neckless and genitalless. He's gangly and pasty. He's Midtown Global Market's bone-chilling new "snow creature," and he needs your help. Forged by local artist Gustavo Boada (In the Heart of the Beast Puppet Theatre, BareBones Puppet Theatre), the toothy creature currently goes by "IT," but the folks behind MGM announced a naming contest Monday to rebrand the "old, friendly northern snow creature [who's] rumored to be more than 200 years old." You can submit suggestions now through Sunday IRL or via this link; a $100 gift card winner will be declared December 18. (My pitch is Yaaaaasquatch, provided he's a feminist.) The grinning, three-fingered snow creature is set to be an annual presence inside the market, one that'll soon sport a Santa hat and scarf, we're told. Will a proper name and that clothing render him more or less terrifying? We're afraid to find out.

Greater Minnesota Is a Welfare State

So writes the Minnesota Reformer's Madison McVan in this story about which part of the state generates the most tax revenue (the Twin Cities metro) and which part benefits more from government aid (basically everywhere else). That observation isn't new, though McVan highlights it at a bitterly divided moment in American politics. Who could forget Rep. Matt Grossell's (R-Clearbrook) Rocks & Cows Act, which was introduced at the Capitol this summer to explore the possibility of North Dakota and South Dakota annexing western Minnesota. "Many people in greater Minnesota are feeling left behind and ignored by policymakers in St. Paul," Grossell told Racket at the time. But, as McVan illuminates in great details, those rural residents benefit more per capita on important things like health care, education, and transportation. Will pointing out these discrepancies do anything to alleviate the culture war grievances that color all political discourse these days? Absolutely not. Though maybe, just maybe, Rep. Grossell-types will finally thank us city slickers for dropping extra shekels in their overturned MAGA hats.

Let's Fix City Center

As far back as 2005, folks have been sing-talking about the demise of City Center. The hard-luck downtown Minneapolis mall is mostly vacant today, and it hasn't exactly thrived in the decades following its 1983 debut. Star Tribune columnist James Lileks devoted his latest piece to the "anti-human bunker" at 40 S. Seventh St., writing that the flaw in its conception—attempting to draw suburbanites downtown with bland, suburb-like offerings—was mimicked by nearby developments like Gaviidae Common and Block E. Lileks, who really can get cooking when he's at maximum effort, blasts the "dour, dun-hued dullard" complex while offering four interesting ways to salvage its role in downtown: tear down part of City Center to create space for a park; wrap its Hennepin Avenue parking ramp "with enormous video displays, like Times Square"; rent the mall out at "rock-bottom" rates with indie merchants and pop-up stores; and paint the main tower an "audacious hue" to liven up the street views. "Downtown is changing," he concludes. "And a reimagined City Center that serves the locals (and didn't look like a squat Bastille) isn't an audacious plan. It's just a plan—an ordinary, plausible plan. Sometimes they stir the blood, too."

JESUS, Matt Birk

We first got a look at Matt Birk's 11,422-square-foot Mendota Heights mansion while reporting on his eyebrow-raising PPP payment. (Curiously, Dakota County tax records show that the ex-NFLer/failed lieutenant governor candidate purchased the massive property for $305,000 in 2021...) Local Redditors caught glimpse of—and had a good laugh at—the ol' Birk compound last year in a post that has been resurfacing this holiday season. In it, the original poster writes, "I live a couple blocks from Matt Birk. His block does an epic holiday light display, it's truly delightful... until you get the 1-billion lumen JESUS in front of Birk's house." Now, it's easy (and fun!) to mock the anti-abortion zealot who erects that garish yard display, but please remember the reason for the season: The bright, blinding light of Christ.

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