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Should the Menacing Coon Rapids Turkey Be Executed?

Plus evictions are up, RIP Terry Bellamy, and the curious state of Lilek's column in today's Flyover.

Screengrab: WCCO

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

DeRusha Offers Murderous Advice to Turkey-Terrorized Coon Rapidians

The people of Coon Rapids are being threatened by a wild turkey. “This turkey attacks me every single day,” local fowl victim Rachel Gross told CBS News. “Follows me, goes up my stairs, tries to get into my house. When I leave in my car, it follows my car.” This is clearly an angry turkey, perhaps possessed by the spirit of someone wronged in a past life. “I have to carry my broom and my water and my golf club everywhere I go,” Gross added. And yet, the kindly people of Coon Rapids simply want this vicious enemy “relocated.” But Jason DeRusha, now a bomb-throwing talk radio host, has offered a solution he never would have in his earlier media incarnation as kindly TV morning show dad.

We at Racket discussed the matter, and expressed opinions ranging from “Tell me where Coon Rapids is and I’ll kill it myself and put its head on a spike as a warning to other birds with bad ideas” to “if you did it… away from the public… where you wouldn’t traumatize children…” to “I’m not necessarily anti-killing it.” So what we’re saying is… maybe DeRusha is right?

The Eviction Situation Is Getting Worse

During the worst of COVID-19, U.S. lawmakers were put in a curious situation: They were forced to enact measures that would materially benefit the lives of citizens. Early on, members of both parties sensed the Give a Mouse a Cookie dangers inherent to that, and fought like hell to end the era of stimulus checks, enhanced unemployment and child tax credits, and, crucially, eviction moratoriums. (The results of those temporary benefits were profound… temporarily.) In Minnesota, where eviction filings had hovered near 15,000 annually pre-pandemic, the numbers plummeted to around 4,000 during 2020 and ’21. As renters are yet again forced to boot-strap it, we’re witnessing skyrocking new eviction filings, the Star Tribune reports, with 18,855 such filings taking place last year. This year ain’t looking better.

“It was a crappy situation, but I thought with me having health issues, they would work with me,” Christopher Niedzielski, a recently evicted Burger King manager from Brooklyn Park, tells the Strib. To its credit, the newspaper leans more into the toll of misery than the whining of property owners, though landlords are given the final word. Elsewhere, we hear from folks like Rachael Sterling, a lawyer with tenants’ rights organization HOMELine. “We thought we were in crisis—and we were in crisis—at that point [in 2019],” she says, noting the rise of big-biz housing firms. “Now we’re even worse off… The larger corporations are much less likely to hold off on filing an eviction than your local, smaller management companies or smaller landlords.”

RIP Terry Bellamy, Icon of the Local Theater Scene

Actor/director Terry Bellamy has had a huge impact on the local theater scene, bringing Black characters to Black stages, including Mixed Blood and Penumbra, where he was a founding member of both theater’s acting companies. His older brother, Penumbra Theatre founder Lou Bellamy, told the Strib that he believes COVID-19 and systemic failings of our medical system were the cause of his death. “He had had Covid and had tried to get help,” he said. “I know that he exhausted as many avenues as he could to get help, and I think the health care system just failed him.” Lou had spoken with Terry on the phone last Thursday. His other brother, bassist Layne Bellamy, found him deceased in his home on Saturday after police were notified to do a wellness check. Terry was 70. 

At Penumbra, Terry worked with then up-and-coming playwright August Wilson, originating “Booster” in Jitney and “Levee,” a character that was modeled after him, in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. He was known to give explosive, all-in performances that moved audiences and his colleagues alike. “Art is the pathway, the avenue, for Black people to show our humanity,” he told the Star Tribune in 2021. “It’s a way toward justice and healing of the gaping wound of slavery that America wants to dance around.”

Lileks’s Column Is Really… Something

Far be it from us to lecture about the “newsworthiness” of a given topic; our website engaged in a heated internal debate over the merits of Lake Chipotle just last week. With that glass-house-y throat clearing, we beg you: Please read this new piece from Star Tribune columnist James Lileks. Headlined “Get a whiff of this guy,” it’s a 578-word exploration of pet dogs sniffing human groins; the column, published Friday morning, has attracted zero comments at press time. Sample paragraph:

“Human, sugar, sausage, milk, no idea, no idea, no clue, bird poop, can’t place it, don’t ask me, some cat, wait—no—lots of cat, pee, pizza, pizza box, pizza delivery guy, pizza delivery guy with pee on shoe, some dead bugs, some live bugs, no idea, mouse, yogurt container, wood, grass, car.”

Like many recent Lileks pieces, it was inspired by a dubious survey from one of the endless PR content mills that spray journalists’ inboxes with article prompts. In this case, LoveYourDog.com. Recent Lileks musings have been spurred by similar surveys and studies from Crossword-Solver.io (“You’ll probably never guess what Minnesota’s favorite emoji is”), WalletHub.com (“The survey says: Minneapolis is not fun. St. Paul? Worse.”), and Preply.com (“At what age should you should stop using contemporary slang?”). As Lileks himself notes, humor is famously subjective. So we’re reserving judgment on his treatise on doggie crotch-sniffing. The very existence of his column, one boasting effort levels that vary considerably from Lilek’s terrific old “Streetscape” series, is a fascinating rabbit hole into what happens when a writer with obvious chops applies ‘em to the lowest hanging fruit. It’s the byline embodiment of this Slate stunt. God help us… we can’t stop reading.