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Pilllar Forum is Building Out a Designated Venue Space!

Plus MnDOT's snowplow naming contest returns, remembering labor journalism's early days, and one of MN's last typewriter shops closes in today's Flyover news roundup.

1:06 PM CST on December 5, 2023

Instagram: @pilllarforum|

Pilllar’s current in-cafe show space is about to get a whole lot bigger.

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

Pilllar Forum Goes for It

Northeast Minneapolis coffee-slash-skate shop Pilllar Forum never intended to be a show space: "music wasn't really even on the radar" when they opened last year, owner Corey Bracken told Racket in August. But throughout 2023, the Central Avenue spot has become one of the go-to DIY show spaces in Minneapolis, hosting more than a dozen local and touring bands—especially in the punk and hardcore community—each month.

Which is why we were initially devastated by an Instagram post from Pilllar this morning. "It’s been fun, but it’s time to say goodbye to hosting shows in this small space," their bait-and-switch announcement begins, before adding the good news: "Because after over a year of moving tables and chairs for the 100+ events, we decided it’s time to upgrade!" They've signed a lease on the space next to the existing cafe, where they'll build out a "legit stage" with a PA system, lighting, and additional cafe seating. (Not to get ahead of ourselves, but we're inclined to agree with the commenter who wrote, "I don’t want to jinx anything but this reminds me of a certain now closed place with wicked Sunday brunch and excellent roster of live music.") Look for Pilllar's venue side to open in early 2024, and revisit our recent feature on the growing number of new music venues here.

Let's Give the Snowplow a Good Name, OK?

It's not just the abominable albino monstrosity at Midtown Global Market that needs naming—MnDOT is once again seeking your suggestions for its “Name a Snowplow” contest. Now, longtime Racket readers know that our staff has a... perhaps unhealthy obsession with the snowplow names. We do not approve of "Plowy McPlowface" because it is stupid and bad. We do not approve of the the size of Plowy McPlowface's name, either, because if you're going to put a bad name on the plow it should at least be legible from a distance. We ranked last year's finalists, and, by god, we'll squeeze content out of this year's list of finalists as well.

Here, assembled hastily for the purposes of this daily news missive, are some of Racket's not-bad suggestions. Do your worst, commenters:

  • Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: It's a Pulitzer-winning novel, set in the icy tundra of the Czech-Polish border, AND it's the most metal name you could possibly give a snowplow.
  • Pablo Snópez: Honor the Twins' curse-breaking, if quickly heartbreaking, postseason by naming the plow after one of our stars. We would similarly accept Donovan Snowlano and Alex Klear-alloff.
  • The Snowld Yeti: Credit where credit's due, Racket Reader Dave. They sure are a New York-based and -founded band that wrote some songs about Minnesota.
  • The Brining: Red rum! Red rum!
  • Slosh Hartnett: Go ahead—give the Minnesotans who were here for Hartnett's brief return to the state something to reminisce about.
  • Steve Zahn: Fuck it. Steve Zahn the snowplow.
  • Ope, Just Gonna Plow Right Past Ya: It got nearly 30,000 votes in the contest that eventually saw UNDESERVING Plowy McPlowface take home the W. Justice for this rightful winner.

The Women Who Built MN Labor Journalism

You know that old saying about history repeating itself? Well Amie Stager has an excellent piece for Workday Magazine/Minnesota Women’s Press about the history of women labor journalists that includes the following passage:

As the labor movement of the mid-20th century declined, the business model of traditional journalism became more commercial—advertising became focused on demographics rather than on circulation that attracts readers of all classes. Newspapers abandoned poor and working-class issues in favor of addressing more affluent and educated readers.

The labor press emerged to counter this trend. Workers and their organizations published news and literature with various political agendas. This provided a counternarrative to the corporate media machine. Minnesota has a rich history of female labor journalists and writers who were also advocates and activists. In the late 1800s, the Minneapolis Tribune and St. Paul Globe ran labor columns edited by Eva McDonald Valesh.

I'm no historian, but doesn't that sound... well, not unlike what we're seeing in the Twin Cities today, with pro-labor publications like Racket, and the Minnesota Reformer's new labor-oriented column The Break Room, and the recently relaunced Workday Minnesota itself? I'm off on a tangent here—Steger's story is really about the outstanding work done by women like Valesh and Marvel Cooke, the Mankato-born journalist and community organizer who was the first African American woman to work for a white-owned newspaper. But I think the whole thing will resonate with anyone who cares about labor, or journalism, or the women who've been written out of our collective history.

RIP, Vale Typewriter

Pour one out for Vale Typewriter Company in Richfield—the long-running typewriter shop, one of the last operations of its kind in Minnesota, will close at the end of this month, according to KSTP. Owner Mark Soderbeck says that business disappeared almost entirely as computers took over in the '90s, and these days, he repairs only a handful of typewriters a week for collectors who still use 'em. As someone who's never written anything on a typewriter, I'm nonetheless nostalgic about this and feel a small tweak of sadness hearing about shops like Soderbeck's going away. Let's lean into that melancholy Tuesday feeling—take us away, Mineral!

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