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Guess Who Loved Golfing and Fishing in Minnesota?

Plus an update on Stillwater prison conditions, the EPA and 3M, and Alan Sparhawk announces his first solo album in today's Flyover news roundup.

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This is Juice golfing in the ’90s, almost certainly not in Minnesota.

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

Dead Wife-Battering Murderer Enjoyed His 2008 MN Vacation

You already know that football legend and horrible person O.J. Simpson died yesterday. But did you know he spent part of the summer of 2008 golfing and fishing in northern Minnesota?

The Bemidji Pioneer covered Simpson’s summer sojourn on Otter Tail Lake, while he was “taking a break from the Florida heat ahead of his trial set for September in Las Vegas.” At that trial, Simpson would be convicted of armed robbery and kidnapping that October, and sentenced to 33 years in prison. Simpson golfed at Thumper Pond Golf Course, where “the temperature was a pleasant 77 degrees,” the Pioneer reported. He said he was “pleasantly surprised” with the area and that he hoped to catch some walleye. His first drive “sail[ed] to the left and off the faraway into a heavily treed area.”

Why Minnesota? Well, Simpson’s girlfriend at the time, Christie Prody, was originally from Fergus Falls and still had family there. The story quotes Prody as saying, "He kids me all the time and has a hard time thinking I live near Fargo because he has the movie on his mind." (Haha, it’s funny because that’s a movie about a dead wife.)

Simpson was impressed with Fargo, for non-murder reasons. "I had one of the best cigars I've ever had in my life, and that says a lot, because when you live in Miami, you're forced into being a cigar smoker," he told the Pioneer.

A story by Mike McFeely that ran today in the Grand Forks Herald has much less sunny memories of Simpsons’s Minnesota visit, classifying his day on the links as “pretty uncomfortable.” "We had many threatening phone calls prior to his round due to the public finding out he was going to be playing Thumper," Jeff Olson, the PGA professional at the course in 2008, told McFeely. "One person asked if we sold black gloves and then yelled a few choice words and hung up.”

A year later, after Simpson went to prison, Prody told Good Morning America that she feared for her life during her 13-year relationship with him and was convinced that he had killed his wife Nicole Brown Simpson and Ron Goldman.

Anyway, there's the grim local angle you didn't know you needed.

“We Filtered the Water With Socks. It Was Medieval.”

That’s a quote from Jesse Curry, a former inmate at Minnesota Correctional Facility-Stillwater, speaking to Caleb Hensin for a PiPress story about the truly horrendous conditions at the prison. You may recall that last September, 100 Stillwater inmates protested those conditions, resulting in a daylong lockdown; the state departments of Corrections and Health responded by launching an investigation and promising improved water management. Hensin’s story details just how awful things were at Stillwater. In addition to the foul water, the facility lacked air conditioning and was consistently understaffed. Visitation rights were allegedly curtailed without reason. And Kent Jones, an inmate of over 24 years, said that when prisoners protested they were denied meals and showers.“They use hygiene as a weapon against us,” according to Jones. 

White House Acknowledges MN Activist Who Fought "Forever Chemicals"

Yesterday the EPA announced new limits on PFAs, the so-called “forever chemicals” that have proven a hazard to humans when dumped in our water supply. And since one of the chief companies behind the spread of PFAS, Maplewood-headquartered 3M, is in our state, it’s only right that White House officials acknowledged the work of the late Minnesota activist Amara Strande, who died last year of a rare cancer she linked to chemicals 3M dumped improperly near Oakdale, Minnesota. “Today’s action is a critical step in striving to ensure that no child or community, no family, no parent experiences the devastation that Oakdale has seen,” said Brenda Mallory of the White House Council on Environmental Quality Deena Winter at the Minnesota Reformer reports. The EPA is also setting aside $1 billion for cleanup, and Minnesota is gonna need it. KARE 11’s Kent Erdahl reports that that 23 water systems in the state exceed the new EPA limits. Ah yes, 3M, it really is “a changing world.”

The New Yorker Profiles Alan Sparhawk, Learns It Snows in Minnesota

First, the good news: Alan Sparhawk, formerly of Low, is the subject of a new and mostly fine feature in the New Yorker by Justin Taylor. Sparhawk addresses the 2022 death of his wife and bandmate, Mimi Parker, and his work with his new band, Derecho Rhythm Section; he also announces his first ever solo album, due this fall, called White Roses, My God. The piece is definitely worth a read—if you can make it through the first paragraph.

Last winter, I flew to Minneapolis to hear a funk quartet play at a bar. The weather was miserable: hard-frozen snowbanks in every gutter, skating-rink sidewalks, roads so ripped up by rock salt and plow blades that I had to return my first rental car, because it shook like a leaf if I took it above thirty.

Oh come on! If I went to New York to interview a musician and started it with some “the buildings are so tall and the sidewalks are full of people!” nonsense you’d (rightly!) call me a rube and a hack. Chat about the weather is a cheap way to start any story, but doubly so when the purpose is to invoke a geographical cliché. And also, not to be that guy, but we barely even had a winter this year.

OK, one more complaint: Taylor calls Low a “seminal indie-rock band” and, eww, please stop describing art as influential splooge. Other than that, though, a good read! 

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