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How to Help Staffers of the Wonderful 19 Bar After Fire

Plus allowing women's toplessness, banning book bans, and catching up with an area teacher in today's Flyover news roundup.


Noooooooo 🙁

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of important, overlooked, and/or interesting Minnesota news stories.

'With Love, Everyone Is 86'd Until Further Notice'

On Friday, The 19 Bar—the wonderful, historic, cozy, divey, warm, dimly lit, perfect-place-to-play-pool 19 Bar—suffered a terrible fire. It was a freak blaze, according to WCCO, ignited after a garbage truck hit a power pole, which toppled and caught fire when it landed on top of the bar. No one was hurt, according to a Friday evening post on the bar's Facebook page, but the pictures are painful to look at: collapsing ceilings, tremendous smoke/fire/water damage, ruin all around.

Open since 1952, The 19 is the oldest queer bar in Minnesota and one of the oldest queer bars nationwide. If you'd like to support the 19's eight out-of-work staffers, you can contribute via this GoFundMe or this one. There's also a benefit with live entertainment (and Jello shots) planned for April 7 at The Saloon.

"We will have to face this challenge one day at a time and will update as needed," the 19's Facebook post reads. "With love, everyone is 86'd until further notice."

Talkin' Toplessness

Weren't we freeing the nipple back in like, 2012? Not in Minnesota, apparently—the Star Tribune's Louis Krauss has the scoop on a state legislator's attempt to make it legal for women to go topless. House Rep. Samantha Sencer-Mura (DFL-Minneapolis) heard about the case of Eloisa Plancarte, who was sentenced to 90 days in jail for walking around a convenience store parking lot with her breasts exposed in 2021, and whose conviction was just upheld in February by the Minnesota Court of Appeals in February. (The judges, two men and one woman, voted 2-1 to uphold—take a guess how they voted!)

Sencer-Mura has proposed amending Minnesota law so that exposed breasts can't be considered indecent exposure. And while she says she knows her proposal probably won't get a hearing this year, she tells Krauss she wants to get the ball rolling, especially as our understanding of gender identity evolves. In other words: Can a law enforcement officer always look at a topless person and say, "That's a woman"?

Elsewhere at the Capitol...

A Ban on Book Bans

While states like Texas and Florida eliminate books from schools and libraries, Minnesota's House and Senate have introduced bills that would prohibit the banning of books on on "content or subjective objections," MPR's Peter Cox reports. (Hmmm, sound familiar?) The so-called "ban on book bans" has support from a number of state officials, including Gov. Tim Walz and Lt. Gov. Peggy Flanagan, who spoke in support of the bills at St. Paul's Como Park Senior High School last week.

“It is a powerful, powerful tool, so the fact that folks are trying to take that away from our students, I just don’t get it," Flanagan said. "When my kid is excited about a book, it is a win. Right?”

You tell 'em, Lt. Guv!

Meet Mr. Eich

Enough politics! Let's catch up with Matt Eicheldinger, known to his Wayzata sixth graders as Mr. Eich. Or, let's let Mpls.St.Paul Mag's Steve Marsh catch up with him—he already did, over dan dan noodles at a Bloomington Szechuan restaurant.

Eicheldinger currently has the the No. 1 pre-ordered book at Barnes & Noble, Matt Sprouts and the Curse of the Ten Broken Toes, and he's one of the most popular teachers on social media, with 300,000 followers on Instagram and another 100K on TikTok. He talked with MSP about teaching through Covid, getting inside the mind of a sixth grader, the loooong journey to getting his new book published (he has five book deals now), and Nathan Fielder’s The Curse in a funny and enlightening Q&A.

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