Chris Uggen's Blog: May 2009

Monday, May 25, 2009

8 million firearm background checks in the past 6 months

gun sales continue to rise, with april marking the sixth consecutive month of big increases in use of the fbi's national instant background check system. since some attribute rising gun sales to fears of gun control, i wanted to know how much sales have risen since president obama was elected in november.

firearms sales are seasonal, typically peaking in december and bottoming out around may. since i was interested in the post-election period, i plotted sales from november to april of each year since the nics system came online. there were about 8.1 million background checks from november 2008 to april 2009, an increase of 29 percent over the previous period from november 2007 to april 2008. this was by far the largest increase of the past decade, though i can't really tell whether it was due to president obama's election, a deepening recession, or some other factor.

background checks are closely but imperfectly related to gun sales, since some checks never result in a purchase and others result in multiple purchases. nevertheless, the sheer number of nics checks is impressive, if not astounding. in a nation of 218 million adults, i count 8,097,100 background checks in the past six months alone.

how can that figure be correct? i know that not every check represents a single individual, but i'm still having trouble getting my head around the idea of 8 million in just 6 months. it would be as if every single adult resident of wyoming, vermont, north dakota, south dakota, alaska, delaware, montana, rhode island, hawaii, new hampshire, and maine all walked into bill's gun shop to plunk down five hundred bucks for a glock 19. i wonder what the next six months will bring...

Saturday, May 16, 2009

evidently the child labor laws have been suspended in brooklyn

with tor off to his last prom tonight -- white tuxedos are back, by the way -- it is finally starting to sink in that my lad will be moving out this summer. fortunately, i'll have esperanza around a few more years and the li'l nephews above are flying in from nyc for the big man's graduation ceremony and open house. judging by this photo from sis, it seems that everybody's gotta pull their weight in the family business.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

closed circuit to seth's marketing research students



as i've mentioned before, contexts is sporting a new cover design, thanks in large part to the fine students in seth werner's marketing research class. contexts served as a client for marketing undergrads, who split into groups tackling areas such as blogs, podcasts, distribution, photography, and art. the most dramatic presentation involved our cover art, as a group set up a display to show us how our existing contexts covers actually appeared from their perch in row 5 at barnes & noble and row 3 at borders. brilliant! all you could see was white space, with a stray "s" for distraction. i laughed a li'l how could we have missed something so basic laugh and, later, beamed when i saw our design team's full-page mock-ups.

so, seth, here's how contexts now looks in the back row of a borders in washington dc. i'm not sure how many issues will actually be sold at the current cover price, but your students should have some sense of efficacy that we took their ideas very seriously. now, how do we get sociology out of the back row of the politics & world affairs section?

Monday, May 11, 2009

join for justice -- pubcrim event on may 21st

next thursday's join for justice event will be part fundraiser, part research release, part networking event, part entertainment, part cocktail party, and part documentary film. my research team is opening for the band, so the talk might be a bit livelier than the one we'll give at ASA. we'll also hear from council president judge pamela alexander -- a wise and gracious leader, known to criminologists for her pioneering role in challenging gross sentencing inequities for crack and powder cocaine. all are welcome.

Join for Justice: a community gathering around issues of social and criminal justice

May 21 3-6 PM
Downtime Bar and Grill
1501 University Avenue Southeast
Minneapolis, MN 55414

Schedule:
3:00-3:30: Collection of donations at the door
3:30-4:00: Presentation of research (Chris Uggen, Ebony Ruhland, Hilary Whitham)
4:00-4:15: Presentation of CCJ’s work and requests for donations (Pam Alexander)
4:30-6:00: Live entertainment, networking, cocktails

Invitees:
o CCJ mailing list
o Felons for Felons
o Americorps VISTA mailing list
o KFAI Community Radio
o Twin Cities Daily Planet
o Hope Community
o Yo! The Movement
o Goodwill/Easter Seals
o Amicus
o St. Stephens
o University of Minnesota student groups and social science depts

Thursday, May 07, 2009

breaking wind

according to the financial times, the sicilian mob is muscling its way into the renewable energy sector:

“Operation Wind” revealed Mafia promises to local officials in Mazara del Vallo of money and votes in exchange for help in approving wind farm projects....Prosecutors suspect the hand of the Mafia in fixing permits and building wind farms that are then sold on to Italian and eventually foreign companies. In an effort to assert its control over the sector, the Mafia is suspected of destroying two wind towers that were in storage in the port of Trapani after their delivery by ship from northern Europe, local officials told the FT.

why would organized crime get involved in clean-n-green alternative energy? because they'd like to be involved in all transactions in which large amounts of money will change hands. plus, the mobsters already have the social connections, control over territory, and "friends" in local government. from the times piece:

“It is a refined system of connections to business and politicians. A handful of people control the wind sector. Many companies exist but it is the same people behind them,” said Mr Scarpinato, whose investigations have focused on the evolution of the Mafia into a modern business organisation ... Sicily’s Cosa Nostrais evolving and finding new business opportunities, including the renewable energy sector, by exploiting its historic grip over territory, construction and ability to corrupt local officials.

new regalia

one nice thing about academia is that one gets to play dress-up on occasion. this friday, i'll be the regents' flag marshal for the graduate school graduation ceremony. here are the instructions:

You will be carrying the Regents’ flag in the procession into the auditorium. After you have been cued at the center aisle door, march down the center aisle to the brass rail. Turn LEFT and walk up the steps to the masking tape marks (“R”) in front of the (Regents) flag stand. Your flag should be dipped lower than the American flag. Remain standing until after the National Anthem has been sung, then place the flag in the flag stand and be seated (your seat in the front row will be marked). You will not carry the flag out. When the ceremony ends, please wait for the mace bearer to exit. You and the other stage participants will follow him off stage to your right.

ok, i think i can handle that. the advantage in carrying the flag is that i'll be right up front to hug the newly-minted dr. vuolo as he receives his hood. i've done this a dozen times or so and i'm usually choking back a tear or two.

i also learned today that i'm chair-elect of the minnversity's council of chairs. there's no special regalia, but it will give me even greater excuse to hang out with friends in the arts and humanities, as well as the social sciences. back when i applied to soc grad school, i also applied to creative writing and social work programs. i know i made the right choice, but the urge to take poetry courses returns every spring like clockwork. on that note, here are a few lines from larissa shmailo:

Spring Vow

We will love like dogwood.
Kiss like cranes.
Die like moths.
I promise.

Monday, May 04, 2009

sortable metro area unemployment statistics

wall street journal's real time economics (via minnpost and the bureau of labor statistics) offers a sortable list of metro area unemployment rates and the change in unemployment from march, 2008 to march, 2009.

i've sorted by the march 2009 jobless rate below. the highest unemployment rate is 25.1% (!) in el centro, california, with unemployment still below 4 percent in parts of iowa and louisiana. the job market seems especially bad in california, home to 11 of the 13 highest metro unemployment rates (and none of the 100 lowest rates). overall, the national unemployment rate was 9 percent, up from 5.2 percent a year ago. of 372 metro areas, minneapolis-st. paul ranks 207th on unemployment and 190th on change in unemployment.

Metro Area, March Jobless Rate, ↑ Rise From March 2008
El Centro CA 25.1% 7.5
Merced CA 20.4% 6.7
Yuba City CA 19.5% 6.8
Elkhart-Goshen IN 18.8% 13
Visalia-Porterville CA 17.7% 6.1
Modesto CA 17.5% 6.3
Fresno CA 17.0% 6
Bend OR 17.0% 9.2
Redding CA 16.8% 6.6
Hanford-Corcoran CA 16.7% 5.4
Stockton CA 16.4% 6.2
Bakersfield CA 15.9% 5.2
Salinas CA 15.7% 5
Hickory-Lenoir-Morganton NC 15.4% 9.1
Flint MI 15.3% 4.6
Madera-Chowchilla CA 15.3% 5
Yuma AZ 15.3% 5.4
Ocean City NJ 15.0% 4.2
Muskegon-Norton Shores MI 14.9% 7.1
Medford OR 14.8% 7.2
Longview WA 14.8% 7.4
Palm Coast FL 14.3% 6.1
Rocky Mount NC 14.1% 7
Eugene-Springfield OR 14.1% 8.3
Detroit-Warren-Livonia MI 14.0% 6
Monroe MI 13.9% 6.4
Dalton GA 13.7% 7.2
Santa Cruz-Watsonville CA 13.6% 5.3
Kokomo IN 13.6% 6.5
Rockford IL 13.5% 5.1
Janesville WI 13.5% 8
Jackson MI 13.4% 5.5
Chico CA 13.3% 5.1
Mansfield OH 13.3% 6.1
Sumter SC 13.3% 6.1
Riverside-San Bernardino-Ontario CA 12.9% 5.9
Youngstown-Warren-Boardman OH-PA 12.8% 6
Myrtle Beach-North Myrtle Beach-Conway SC 12.8% 7
Saginaw-Saginaw Township North MI 12.7% 4.1
Morristown TN 12.7% 6.2
Holland-Grand Haven MI 12.6% 6.4
Niles-Benton Harbor MI 12.4% 4.9
Salem OR 12.4% 6.4
Sandusky OH 12.3% 4.1
New Bedford MA 12.2% 4.3
Bay City MI 12.2% 4.3
Vineland-Millville-Bridgeton NJ 12.2% 4.5
Danville VA 12.2% 5.3
Lima OH 12.2% 5.4
Cape Coral-Fort Myers FL 12.2% 5.5
Michigan City-La Porte IN 12.2% 5.9
Ocala FL 12.2% 6
Toledo OH 12.1% 4.8
Sebastian-Vero Beach FL 12.0% 5.8
Florence SC 12.0% 5.9
Kankakee-Bradley IL 11.9% 3.7
Port St. Lucie FL 11.9% 5.5
Anderson SC 11.9% 6.1
Battle Creek MI 11.8% 4.9
Burlington NC 11.8% 6.5
Portland-Vancouver-Beaverton OR-WA 11.8% 6.5
Punta Gorda FL 11.7% 4.9
Atlantic City-Hammonton NJ 11.6% 5.1
Spartanburg SC 11.6% 6.4
South Bend-Mishawaka IN-MI 11.5% 5.5
Anderson IN 11.4% 4.2
Providence-Fall River-Warwick RI-MA 11.4% 4.3
Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord NC-SC 11.4% 6.2
Carson City NV 11.3% 4.8
Sacramento–Arden-Arcade–Roseville CA 11.3% 4.9
Grand Rapids-Wyoming MI 11.3% 4.9
Greensboro-High Point NC 11.3% 6
Reno-Sparks NV 11.2% 5.2
Dayton OH 11.1% 4.3
Canton-Massillon OH 11.0% 4.4
Fort Wayne IN 11.0% 4.7
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara CA 11.0% 5.7
Danville IL 10.9% 3.6
Terre Haute IN 10.9% 4.3
Vallejo-Fairfield CA 10.9% 4.7
Elizabethtown KY 10.9% 5
Bradenton-Sarasota-Venice FL 10.9% 5.3
Racine WI 10.7% 4.9
Mount Vernon-Anacortes WA 10.7% 5.3
Muncie IN 10.6% 3.8
Lansing-East Lansing MI 10.6% 4.5
Los Angeles-Long Beach-Santa Ana CA 10.6% 4.8
Waterbury CT 10.5% 3.2
Weirton-Steubenville WV-OH 10.5% 4.1
Leominster-Fitchburg-Gardner MA 10.5% 4.2
Kalamazoo-Portage MI 10.5% 4.4
Greenville NC 10.5% 4.9
Rome GA 10.5% 5
Lakeland-Winter Haven FL 10.5% 5.4
Yakima WA 10.4% 3.5
Springfield OH 10.4% 4.2
Spokane WA 10.4% 4.8
Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater FL 10.4% 5
Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach FL 10.4% 5.1
Las Vegas-Paradise NV 10.4% 5.2
Fond du Lac WI 10.4% 5.4
Barnstable Town MA 10.3% 4
Louisville-Jefferson County KY-IN 10.2% 4.4
Winston-Salem NC 10.2% 5.3
Wilmington NC 10.2% 5.5
Wenatchee-East Wenatchee WA 10.1% 4.4
Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville FL 10.1% 4.8
Duluth MN-WI 10.0% 3.6
Cleveland TN 10.0% 4.1
Bowling Green KY 9.9% 4.6
Hagerstown-Martinsburg MD-WV 9.9% 5
Orlando-Kissimmee FL 9.9% 5.2
Sheboygan WI 9.9% 5.6
Decatur IL 9.8% 3.3
Clarksville TN-KY 9.8% 3.3
Jackson TN 9.8% 3.5
St. Cloud MN 9.8% 3.9
Akron OH 9.8% 3.9
Santa Rosa-Petaluma CA 9.8% 4.6
Greenville-Mauldin-Easley SC 9.8% 5.2
Elmira NY 9.7% 4.3
Oxnard-Thousand Oaks-Ventura CA 9.6% 4.2
Gadsden AL 9.6% 5.1
McAllen-Edinburg-Mission TX 9.5% 1.7
Lake Havasu City-Kingman AZ 9.5% 3.6
Owensboro KY 9.5% 4.1
Lewiston-Auburn ME 9.5% 4.1
San Francisco-Oakland-Fremont CA 9.5% 4.6
Glens Falls NY 9.4% 3.1
St. Louis MO-IL 1 9.4% 3.2
Williamsport PA 9.4% 3.2
Chicago-Naperville-Joliet IL-IN-WI 9.4% 3.8
Naples-Marco Island FL 9.4% 4.2
Salisbury MD 9.4% 4.4
Wausau WI 9.4% 4.6
Florence-Muscle Shoals AL 9.4% 5
Asheville NC 9.4% 5.1
Blacksburg-Christiansburg-Radford VA 9.4% 5.2
San Diego-Carlsbad-San Marcos CA 9.3% 4.1
Appleton WI 9.3% 4.5
Jacksonville FL 9.3% 4.6
Columbus IN 9.3% 4.9
Buffalo-Niagara Falls NY 9.2% 3.1
Scranton–Wilkes-Barre PA 9.2% 3.2
Goldsboro NC 9.2% 4.3
Green Bay WI 9.2% 4.3
Pensacola-Ferry Pass-Brent FL 9.2% 4.6
Anniston-Oxford AL 9.2% 5.1
Brownsville-Harlingen TX 9.1% 1.3
Memphis TN-MS-AR 9.1% 2.8
Pueblo CO 9.1% 3.1
Chattanooga TN-GA 9.1% 3.6
Fayetteville NC 9.1% 3.7
Parkersburg-Marietta-Vienna WV-OH 9.1% 3.8
Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Marietta GA 9.1% 3.9
Evansville IN-KY 9.1% 4.1
Charleston-North Charleston-Summerville SC 9.1% 4.7
Decatur AL 9.1% 5.2
Johnson City TN 9.0% 3.4
Cincinnati-Middletown OH-KY-IN 9.0% 3.7
Milwaukee-Waukesha-West Allis WI 9.0% 4.2
Napa CA 9.0% 4.4
Panama City-Lynn Haven-Panama City Beach FL 9.0% 4.7
Johnstown PA 8.9% 2.8
Cumberland MD-WV 8.9% 3.2
Peoria IL 8.9% 3.6
Kingsport-Bristol-Bristol TN-VA 8.9% 4
Seattle-Tacoma-Bellevue WA 8.9% 4.6
Mobile AL 8.9% 4.7
Erie PA 8.8% 2.9
Beaumont-Port Arthur TX 8.8% 3.2
Augusta-Richmond County GA-SC 8.8% 3.5
Kennewick-Pasco-Richland WA 8.8% 3.6
Reading PA 8.8% 3.8
Nashville-Davidson–Murfreesboro–Franklin TN 8.8% 3.8
Columbia SC 8.8% 4
Bellingham WA 8.8% 4.1
Prescott AZ 8.8% 4.3
Montgomery AL 8.8% 4.5
Cleveland-Elyria-Mentor OH 8.7% 2.2
Springfield MA-CT 8.7% 3.2
Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton PA-NJ 8.7% 3.2
Greeley CO 8.7% 3.5
Pittsfield MA 8.7% 3.6
San Luis Obispo-Paso Robles CA 8.7% 3.7
Lafayette IN 8.7% 3.8
Eau Claire WI 8.7% 3.9
Indianapolis-Carmel IN 8.7% 4
Gainesville GA 8.7% 4.3
Corvallis OR 8.7% 4.5
Winchester VA-WV 8.7% 4.7
Coeur d’Alene ID 8.6% 2.7
Binghamton NY 8.6% 2.9
Colorado Springs CO 8.6% 3
Macon GA 8.6% 3.1
Worcester MA-CT 8.6% 3.4
Boise City-Nampa ID 8.6% 4.1
Raleigh-Cary NC 8.6% 4.6
Syracuse NY 8.5% 2.8
Wheeling WV-OH 8.5% 2.9
Santa Barbara-Santa Maria-Goleta CA 8.5% 3.3
St. Joseph MO-KS 8.5% 3.4
Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach FL 8.5% 3.7
Bremerton-Silverdale WA 8.5% 3.7
Columbus GA-AL 8.4% 3.1
Pascagoula MS 8.4% 3.1
Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington MN-WI 8.4% 3.5
Springfield MO 8.4% 3.6
Oshkosh-Neenah WI 8.4% 3.9
Pine Bluff AR 8.3% 1.6
Fairbanks AK 8.3% 2.2
Utica-Rome NY 8.3% 2.4
Rochester NY 8.3% 2.7
Jacksonville NC 8.3% 3.3
Olympia WA 8.3% 3.4
Birmingham-Hoover AL 8.3% 4.5
El Paso TX 8.2% 2.3
Albany GA 8.2% 2.8
Kansas City MO-KS 8.2% 2.9
Denver-Aurora-Broomfield CO 8.2% 3.4
Knoxville TN 8.2% 3.4
Brunswick GA 8.2% 3.9
Grand Junction CO 8.2% 4.3
Anchorage AK 8.1% 2.1
Bangor ME 8.1% 2.9
Columbus OH 8.1% 3.1
Lexington-Fayette KY 8.1% 3.3
Philadelphia-Camden-Wilmington PA-NJ-DE-MD 8.1% 3.3
New York-Northern New Jersey-Long Island NY-NJ-PA 8.1% 3.4
York-Hanover PA 8.1% 3.6
Dothan AL 8.0% 4.1
Tuscaloosa AL 8.0% 4.2
Ann Arbor MI 7.9% 2.9
Jefferson City MO 7.9% 3.2
Hartford-West Hartford-East Hartford CT 7.8% 2.4
Kingston NY 7.8% 2.6
Norwich-New London CT-RI 7.8% 2.7
Gulfport-Biloxi MS 7.8% 2.7
Poughkeepsie-Newburgh-Middletown NY 7.8% 2.8
Richmond VA 7.8% 4.1
Sherman-Denison TX 7.7% 2.2
Altoona PA 7.7% 2.5
Huntington-Ashland WV-KY-OH 7.7% 2.8
Dover DE 7.7% 3.8
New Haven CT 7.6% 2.2
Pittsburgh PA 7.6% 2.5
Joplin MO 7.6% 2.7
Durham-Chapel Hill NC 7.6% 3.5
Lynchburg VA 7.6% 3.9
Laredo TX 7.5% 2.5
Hinesville-Fort Stewart GA 7.5% 2.6
Savannah GA 7.5% 3
Davenport-Moline-Rock Island IA-IL 7.4% 2.4
Cape Girardeau-Jackson MO-IL 7.4% 2.4
Jackson MS 7.4% 2.5
Trenton-Ewing NJ 7.4% 2.9
Valdosta GA 7.4% 3
Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MA-NH 7.4% 3.1
La Crosse WI-MN 7.4% 3.1
Auburn-Opelika AL 7.4% 3.4
Baltimore-Towson MD 7.4% 3.6
Albany-Schenectady-Troy NY 7.3% 2.3
Lewiston ID-WA 7.3% 2.4
Rochester MN 7.3% 2.5
Fort Smith AR-OK 7.3% 3
Lancaster PA 7.3% 3.4
Roanoke VA 7.3% 3.6
Bridgeport-Stamford-Norwalk CT 7.2% 2.5
Harrisburg-Carlisle PA 7.2% 2.9
Phoenix-Mesa-Scottsdale AZ 7.2% 3.3
Bloomington IN 7.1% 2.3
Burlington-South Burlington VT 7.1% 2.9
Portland-South Portland-Biddeford ME 7.1% 3
St. George UT 7.1% 3.2
Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington TX 7.0% 2.5
Tucson AZ 7.0% 2.8
Fort Walton Beach-Crestview-Destin FL 7.0% 3.2
Champaign-Urbana IL 6.9% 2
Hattiesburg MS 6.9% 2
Mankato-North Mankato MN 6.9% 2.4
Lebanon PA 6.9% 3
Virginia Beach-Norfolk-Newport News VA-NC 6.9% 3.1
Springfield IL 6.8% 1.5
Warner Robins GA 6.8% 2.4
Fort Collins-Loveland CO 6.8% 2.5
Danbury CT 6.8% 2.6
Athens-Clarke County GA 6.8% 2.7
Rochester-Dover NH-ME 6.8% 3
Tallahassee FL 6.8% 3.2
Huntsville AL 6.8% 3.7
Topeka KS 6.7% 1.9
Tyler TX 6.7% 2.7
Wichita KS 6.7% 2.8
Wichita Falls TX 6.6% 1.3
Flagstaff AZ 6.6% 2.2
Missoula MT 6.6% 2.2
Houston-Sugar Land-Baytown TX 6.5% 1.3
Dubuque IA 6.5% 1.9
Charleston WV 6.5% 2.5
Manchester NH 6.5% 2.6
Hot Springs AR 6.4% 1.6
Shreveport-Bossier City LA 6.4% 1.9
Madison WI 6.4% 2.7
Harrisonburg VA 6.4% 3.3
Jonesboro AR 6.3% 1.5
Bloomington-Normal IL 6.3% 1.7
Pocatello ID 6.3% 1.8
Boulder CO 6.3% 2.3
Albuquerque NM 6.3% 2.6
Tulsa OK 6.3% 3
Longview TX 6.2% 1
Victoria TX 6.2% 1.9
Odessa TX 6.2% 2
Corpus Christi TX 6.2% 2.6
Gainesville FL 6.2% 2.9
Austin-Round Rock TX 6.2% 3.3
Monroe LA 6.1% 1.9
Columbia MO 6.1% 1.9
Las Cruces NM 6.1% 1.9
Waco TX 6.0% 2.5
Idaho Falls ID 6.0% 2.6
Washington-Arlington-Alexandria DC-VA-MD-WV 5.9% 2.6
Killeen-Temple-Fort Hood TX 5.9% 2.6
San Antonio TX 5.9% 2.8
State College PA 5.8% 1.6
Portsmouth NH-ME 5.8% 2.2
Honolulu HI 5.8% 3.2
Ithaca NY 5.7% 1.9
Alexandria LA 5.7% 2
Charlottesville VA 5.7% 2.9
San Angelo TX 5.6% 1.9
Oklahoma City OK 5.6% 2.3
Cheyenne WY 5.5% 1.3
Little Rock-North Little Rock-Conway AR 5.5% 1.4
Grand Forks ND-MN 5.5% 1.5
Texarkana TX 5.5% 1.6
Lawrence KS 5.5% 1.8
Ogden-Clearfield UT 5.5% 2
Cedar Rapids IA 5.4% 1.4
Fayetteville-Springdale-Rogers AR-MO 5.4% 1.9
Great Falls MT 5.3% 1.1
New Orleans-Metairie-Kenner LA 5.3% 1.9
Rapid City SD 5.3% 2.2
Des Moines-West Des Moines IA 5.2% 1.2
Waterloo-Cedar Falls IA 5.2% 1.2
Abilene TX 5.2% 1.2
Baton Rouge LA 5.2% 1.5
Lake Charles LA 5.2% 1.6
Salt Lake City UT 5.2% 2
Farmington NM 5.2% 2.1
Santa Fe NM 5.2% 2.1
Omaha-Council Bluffs NE-IA 5.1% 1.4
Provo-Orem UT 5.1% 1.7
Fargo ND-MN 5.1% 1.9
Sioux Falls SD 5.1% 2.2
Sioux City IA-NE-SD 5.0% 1.2
Lawton OK 5.0% 1.5
Casper WY 4.9% 1.7
Morgantown WV 4.8% 1.4
Billings MT 4.8% 1.5
College Station-Bryan TX 4.8% 2
Bismarck ND 4.7% 1.1
Lincoln NE 4.6% 1.6
Logan UT-ID 4.4% 1.5
Amarillo TX 4.4% 2.4
Lubbock TX 4.4% 3.1
Midland TX 4.3% 3.1
Lafayette LA 4.1% 1.2
Manhattan KS 4.0% 0.8
Ames IA 3.7% 0.8
Iowa City IA 3.6% 0.8
Houma-Bayou Cane-Thibodaux LA 3.6% 0.8

Sunday, May 03, 2009

sidewalk poetry in st. paul

the city of st. paul is pouring everyday poems into city sidewalks:

Saint Paul’s Department of Public Works and Public Art Saint Paul bring you our innovative sidewalk poetry program for a second year. We invite residents to enter our contest to have their poems permanently installed in city sidewalks. We are looking for short poems that provide a delightful moment of outdoor reading. Poems may be inspiring, funny, meaningful, cynical, mundane…anything appropriate for the general public. There’s a poet in each of us, and we encourage you to enter. Up to 5 poets will receive a $150 prize and citywide honor! Deadline: Friday, May 29, 2009.

i was all set to submit a few inspiring, funny, meaningful, cynical, and mundane lines when i noticed that only current st. paul residents are eligible. that's as it should be, i guess, and i still love the program.

here's a 2008 sidewalk poem from carlee tressel -- perfect for your next romantic stroll past the corner of macalester and juliet:

Second Love

He kissed the girl
in the ballerina skirt.
It was a long one –
like the kiss –
drenching her sneakers
in tulle.

Friday, May 01, 2009

gang calling cards




via utne and we are supervision: a nice selection of chicago gang calling cards from the 1970s and 1980s.


i don't recall any mention of these in thrasher or
short and strodtbeck, but i remember seeing similar cards on st. paul's west side in the early 1980s.


mullet like me

there was a righteous mullet at the theatre last weekend, which directed my attention to this minneapolis blogger:

In 1959 journalist John Howard Griffin darkened his skin for an undercover experiment with racial tensions that would later be published as 'Black Like Me.' Now, fifty years later, a man with markedly less courage takes on a mission with markedly lower stakes. mullet like me.

strange how a haircut can fall so far out of fashion that it becomes hip, then become such an icon of irony that it becomes painfully unhip. apart from being unfashionable today, a mullet also conveys something about working-class rural white masculinity. so, wearing it now provokes derision in middle-class urban spaces, much like stone-washed jeans. yet the local hipsters are sporting mullets today, in much the same way they affected foam trucker hats and grain belt premium a few years back.

that's why mullet like me might be a bit too arch for a breaching experiment or sociology exercise. if a sociology student recorded the reactions to his mullet at the mall, karaoke night, and the high-end grocery store, any savvy bystander would quickly suss him out as an ironic hipster. he'd either blend into the background or get the half-smile of the half-amused.

there are, of course, men and women who can pull off a real unironic mullet with style. for example, jared allen of the vikings offers a 3-part code to living the life of the mullet:

1. In everything you do and wear, you must highlight your mullet.
2. Always respect another mullet -- no matter where it's at, a mullet always has the right of way.
3. Most importantly, sleeves are optional.

tor could really rock a mullet in his lanky preschool years, so i wouldn't be surprised if he returns to form in college -- a couple incisions in the mane and he'd be good to go.