July 25, 2007

Post-Potter Nick Fisk

As predicted, I finished the fine tome, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows last night, and I was greeted this morning by the latest installment penned by Nick "Grandpa Poopshoes" Coleman. In this latest Nick Coleman piece, we find our tragic hero, once again, heroically whining about something, in this case, high-end real estate development.

We join our heroic scribe, who is frantically using his wand/pen against the evil Realtormort, firing a salvo of fairly unimpressive jibes in order to construct an equally unimpressive lead paragraph:

You can still get an Ellington, a Hemingway or a Thoreau. But forget about the Twain, the Whistler or the O'Keefe. They're gone, and they probably were out of your price range anyway.

Peering from the smoke and carnage of his opening salvo, Nick spies his nemesis, Realtormort, who is busy being successful and prosperous, which tells Nick something must be gravely, gravely wrong:

I'm talking real estate, baby. Prime property above the Mississippi in downtown Minneapolis, where a luxury 400-foot-high condo tower called the Carlyle offers a taste of how the river gorge in the Twin Cities will look in a decade if development is our only value.

DEVELOPMENT! One of the Unforgivable Curses! Development is a sign of prosperity, which is an evil our hero cannot abide, unless it's his own, but NEVERMIND THAT!

The Carlyle's residences, "designed to fulfill the aspirations of our nation's greatest artists" (and named for writers, musicians and artists), are priced from the $300,000s to $1.5 million. Ninety percent of the 255 units have been sold, including a million-dollar one purchased by University of Minnesota President Robert Bruininks and his wife, Susan Hagstrum. Finishing work continues on the upper stories, but floors 5 through 28 now have residents.

90 percent! How could so many souls be taken by the false promises of Realtormort?! How could so many wish to have a luxury condo on the banks of the Mississippi? Don't they know that land could have been better utilized as an unprofitable, and probably poorly kept-up city park, sustained through tax dollars taken from people who would probably never even use said park? Sparks sputter from our hero's wand:

From all appearances, the Carlyle is a big hit. And a big hit is what it put on the historic river district in its shadows.

Realtormort doesn't even notice.

At 39 stories, the Carlyle towers over the St. Anthony Falls Historic District, one of the most endangered historic sites in the state.

Endangered historic site! Wait. . . what?

I think you can like the Carlyle, or even lust after its luxury, and still wonder, "How did this gigantic project on the edge of a historic river district get approved?"

Realtormort fires back: "Because people want to see the land value go up, and they want to see continued growth for Minneapolis, you stupid moron, so it got approved!"

People far from Minneapolis have asked the same thing.

"The scale and impact on the river corridor is undesirable," says Royce Yeater, Midwest director for the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The trouble, he says, is the building stands almost on the edge of the river, rather than a block or two back from the river, closer to the central loop.

Realtormort rubs his temples in exasperation: "Let me get this straight: you're saying the Midwest director for the national trust for historic preservation is also somehow an expert on architectural and design asthetics? Also, you are aware, if the Carlyle were to be located two blocks from the river, it would be that much less desirable? There would be no incentive for people to buy anything lower than the 10th floor. It's appealing because IT'S RIVERFRONT PROPERTY, not two-blocks-away-from-riverfront property."

The trust's president, Minnesota native Richard Moe, has called for a moratorium on development in the area. Yeater says the trust would like to see something along the lines of Chicago's effort to save the Michigan Avenue Street Wall, which preserved a "wall" of 10-to 12-story vintage buildings along Lake Michigan by pushing taller new developments a block or two away. Such a strategy here would have kept the Carlyle at a respectful distance from the Falls of St. Anthony.

A respectful distance?

But I guess that's just water over the falls now.

"I sense you're running out of whining jinxes, Coleman," said Realtormort, a thin smile curving his upper lip. "Perhaps you'd like to change tactics, and duel me with your 'Staff of Nonsensical Segues?'"

Two workers died during construction of the Carlyle.

Kraig Arnold died in 2005 after falling down an open shaft. And in November, an ironworker named Arne Fliginger died after falling 35 stories.

"AHA!" cried Realtormort. "A most excellent riposte! Yes, Coleman, when your logic and common sense fail you, as they they so routinely do, you can always fall back on your horcrux of human mortality."

After Arnold died, the builders were fined $25,000 by the state -- the minimum when a death is ruled to have been caused by a serious violation of safety rules. Another $25,000 fine was levied after Fliginger died, although the case is still open.

"Falling down a shaft is considered a serious violation of safety rules?" queried Realtomort. "So noted."

Undeterred by Reatormort's dismissive disdain for his human mortality horcrux, our valiant hero attacks again with his 'Staff of Nonsensical Segues!'

The name "Carlyle" was picked for marketing purposes and has no significance, although it reminds me of Carlton the Doorman on the TV sitcom "Rhoda," a spin-off from "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" after Rhoda moved back "home" to New York.

"Carlyle" connotes New York, where a luxury hotel called the Carlyle bills itself as "a Manhattan Legend."

Taken back by the sheer, oppressive nonsense rained down by Coleman's enchanted staff--as well as the mere thought of Coleman's staff in general--Realtormort falls back to regroup. Sensing his advantage, Nick goes on the offensive, casting a pathetic One-Liner Charm:

If the Big Apple can have a legend, the Mini Apple must have a mini-legend, I guess.

Realtormort takes the charm directly in his chest, and Nick hurriedly fumbles in his vest an unveils "The Brochure of Lazy Journalist Research," brazenly using Realtormort's weapons against him:

"For the first time in this city's history, a residential building has come along that offers the kind of lifestyle found in places like New York, Chicago or San Francisco, and even there, only rarely."

That's the breathless pitch in the sales brochure, which calls the Carlyle "history in the making" and touts "extraordinary residences" that "take your breath away" (I told you it was breathless) which "overlook St. Anthony Falls, a place of magnificent prominence, where the city of Minneapolis was born."

"Please. . ." croaked Realtormort. "No more. . . "

But, Nick wasn't done yet. No, he had a Shakespeare Charm remaining in his arsenal:

Yep. That's the rub.

Now, nearly lifeless, Realtormort watched as Nick Coleman once again held forth ""The Brochure of Lazy Journalist Research:"

"You've never seen Minneapolis like this before," the Carlyle's brochure brags.

No. And you shouldn't see Minneapolis like this again.

With the lifeless body of Realtormort behind him, Nick Coleman walked triumphantly away, his two imaginary friends at his side.

The end?

Posted by Ryan at July 25, 2007 09:30 AM | TrackBack
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