The future location of Don Blyly’s Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores is still being decided he told subscribers in his January update. The two stores were burned by vandals on May 30 while protests were happening elsewhere in Minneapolis. Blyly has since cleared and sold that lot, and is looking to reopen elsewhere assisted by the Official Help Save Uncle Hugo’s Fund at GoFundMe which has raised $180,295 to date.
Here are the highlights of Don Blyly’s “How’s Business?” update.
The sale of the old Uncles lot has gone through, but while Blyly was waiting for the deal to close the two properties he liked best for the Uncles’ next location were tied up by other buyers:
As I have discussed before, I did extensive searching of retail real estate for sale as a new home for the Uncles and found 3 options that might work, but didn’t want to be in a position of making an offer until we had the closing on the sale of the old Uncles lot to the dentist next door. The dentist and I originally wanted to have the closing around the start of November, but the city’s actions caused the closing to be delayed until December 15….
I thought of the 3 options as Option 1 (the best, in Richfield, with slightly less retail space but lots of off-street parking), Option 2 (in south Minneapolis, about the same amount of space as the old location, with about 8 or 9 off-street parking spaces), and Option 3 (in south Minneapolis, with about double the space of the old location and no easy way to split off the extra space to rent to somebody else, more than double the property tax of the old location, and no improvement in the parking situation compared to the old location).
Somebody else bought Option 2 about a week before my closing on the Uncles’ old lot. My real estate agent contacted the listing agent for Option 1 to arrange for me to go through the space and see how much work it would take to convert it to a bookstore. He learned that another potential buyer has it under contract, which means they have 90 days to move forward with the purchase or the property can go back on the market. It didn’t occur to him to ask how far into the 90 day period we are, but the listing agent promised to give him a call if the current deal falls through.
Blyly will be exploring additional properties. Also, he seen that buying makes more sense than renting.
My agent also sent me information about another possible option in Bloomington, and I found another new listing in Richfield, both of which I will drive by in the next week. I did a little research on renting a space for the Uncles and was amazed at some of the asking prices, so I’m going to continue to look for a space to buy for a few more months.
Blyly continues to sell off his personal collection of books, with the money going toward reopening the Uncles.
I’m still listing the books from my personal library on Abebooks whenever I can find the time. Poul Anderson took a few days, Piers Anthony took a few day, Isaac Asimov took about a week to get through. Today I did J. G. Ballard (and some other books). Tomorrow I hope to get through Iain M. Banks (and some others). At the rate I’m going, I figure it will take me 12-18 months to get through the alphabet if I don’t open a new brick and mortar store and forever if I do open a new store. You can view the Uncles’ Abebooks listing by going to: https://www.abebooks.com/uncle-hugos-sf%2funcle-edgars-mystery-minneapolis/3358938/sf and click “View this seller’s items”.
He advises customers:
You only want to buy one book, it costs you the same whether you go through Abebooks or directly through me, but if you want to buy multiple books you will save on shipping by buying directly from me. The money from selling my personal library will go into the pot of money to try to re-open the Uncles.
THE GIRL FROM UNCLES. Blyly’s oldest daughter, Mina Blyly-Strauss, has launched The Uncles Story Project, gathering stories about the history of the paired bookstores and their impact on customers and authors. She is still looking for more material to add to the site. Her intro begins with a photo (see it at the link) —
Above is a picture of me as a young child on the counter of Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore with my dad (Don Blyly) to the right and his friend and long-time employee, Scott Imes, to the left. Uncle Hugo’s predated me by almost a decade, having been started in Minneapolis in 1974 by my dad. He started Uncle Edgar’s Mystery Bookstore a few years later, though still before I was a glimmer in anyone’s eyes. This being the case, I grew up never knowing a world without Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s.
On the Owner’s page, Don Blyly tells how he started the business, including a section on the store dog Ecko. There is also a great story about the late Scott Imes that follows this intro —
Scott Imes: A Manager Like No Other From 1977 to December 11, 2001, Scott Imes was the manager of Uncle Hugo’s, and he had the most amazing memory I’ve ever encountered. He knew thousands of people by name, what each of them liked to read, the names of all their kids, where their kids were going to college, what their kids were studying at college ,etc. He was dedicated to getting people to read more sf and fantasy, was always making recommendations, and always asking for recommendations.
The Authors’ stories page already has contributions from Naomi Kritzer, Jo Walton, Steve Miller and Sharon Lee.
1981: My first adult job, front desk clerk at the Radisson South Hotel, working for minimum wage. Got paid every two weeks, and after I picked up & banked my check every Friday, I went down to Uncle Hugo’s Science Fiction Bookstore — their original location on 4th St. — and bought one book.
I was on a quest, you see. Gregg Press had printed a number of Fritz Leiber’s books in library-quality hardcover editions, and Hugo’s had them ALL on hand. So each Friday, as I said, I’d venture down there, make the hard decision, and add one to my tiny shelf of SF hardcovers.
Got ‘em all, though it took time. And to this day, those fifteen books are the cornerstone of my Fritz Leiber library. And so, thank you, Uncle Hugo’s!
(1) WILLIS DISCUSSES SURGERIES. Connie Willis gave a medical update to her fans on Facebook:
I haven’t posted anything recently, mostly because I had a difficult summer and fall. I had two surgeries in a row: an emergency surgery for a herniated disc in my upper back and then four weeks later a knee replacement, and the combination completely laid me low. I know, that sounds like poor planning, but the doctor was anxious to get it (and my ensuing physical therapy) done before the Covid got completely out of hand in our area.
We just made it–Weld County goes red tomorrow, with 45 of our 48 available ICU beds filled–so it was the right decision, but two surgeries that close together really took it out of me, and I’ve been too exhausted to do much more than my exercises and my worrying about the political and pandemical situation.
Willis nevertheless has completed a couple of projects:
… In spite of surgeries, the pandemic, and obsessing about the election, I did manage to get some writing done. I finally finished my UFO novel, THE ROAD TO ROSWELL, it’s now in my agent’s hands! Yay!
It’s about a young woman, Francie, who goes to Roswell to be a college friend Serena’s maid-of-honor. Serena (who has horrible taste in men) is marrying a UFO nut, so they’ve scheduled the wedding to take place during the UFO convention that happens every year in July on the anniversary of the Roswell crash. And when Francie goes to get something from Serena’s car, she’s abducted by an alien and dragged off on a road trip across the Southwest that includes RVs, wind farms, rattlesnakes, chemtrails, casinos, cattle mutilations, a charming con man, a truly annoying conspiracy theorist, a sweet little old lady, a Western movie buff, Las Vegas wedding chapels, and Monument Valley.
I also finished a Christmas story called “Take a Look at the Five and Ten,” which is out right now in ASIMOV’S November/December issue and is coming out in a beautiful edition from Subterranean Press.
(2) WOODEN SHIPS. Watch as renowned artist “Johnna Klukas Turns a Spaceship.”
(3) LIADEN AUTHORS ASSIST UNCLE HUGO’S. Sharon Lee and Steve Miller have announced how they’re helping Don Blyly of Uncle Hugo’s Bookstore by providing an exclusive signed page —
Don Blyly at Uncle Hugos Bookstore, working from home after his store was burnt out, has been trying to keep up with demand for our books. He tells us that the exclusive to the Uncles signed-via-tipped-in-sheets Trader’s Leap (latest hardcover Liaden novel) has arrived and is being shipped as he has time — he’s already packed some Canadian orders as well as a bunch of US orders. Official publication date was set for December 1, but since Baen doesn’t usually embargo books (and Don’s house can only hold so many books) Don is going ahead now. He mentions that he has more than enough for the 150 or so pre-orders, and he’ll ship new orders first-come basis after the pre-orders are done. http://www.unclehugo.com/prod/ah-lee-miller.php
In the face of this, we’re releasing the related Ambient Conditions chapbook in paper edition as soon as it can work through the Amazon.com …. the ebook is still set to be published November 27.
And that’s the news this morning …
(4) LIMITED TIME BARGAIN. [Item by Daniel Dern.] Amazon Unlimited for $0.99 for two months –(remember to cancel before the period is up, it’s $9.99/month regularly… although there’s also a $29.97 for 6 months deal on this page.)
While I own an Amazon eReader — Kindle — I’m more likely to read it on my iPad or my non-Fire tablet, so I’ll splurge for the $0.99 deal.
And then do my best to remember to use it while I’ve got it!
Join the John W. Kluge Center for a discussion of the latest thinking on the search for life and intelligence outside of Earth.
This conversation, hosted by Blumberg Chair Susan Schneider, and featuring Caleb Scharf and Sarah Imari Walker, explores the relationship between intelligence, life, and consciousness, in biological and synthetic cases. It considers whether AI could be conscious, as well as the related epistemological questions of how to identify intelligence and consciousness in beings that are very different from us perceptually and cognitively. The speakers will consider philosophical issues about the nature of intelligence, discussing how to identify intelligence in biological life and AI, and how our understanding of these areas informs the search for life in the universe and our ability to detect it.
This event is cosponsored by Florida Atlantic University, Initiative on the Future of Mind.
Susan Schneider leads the Florida Atlantic University (FAU) Initiative on the Future Mind, and is the William F. Dietrich Professor of Philosophy at FAU. She is the most recent Baruch S. Blumberg NASA/Library of Congress Chair in Astrobiology, Exploration, and Scientific innovation at the Kluge Center.
Caleb Scharf is Director of Astrobiology at Columbia University, New York as well as a research scientist studying exoplanets, exomoons, and the nature of environments suitable for life.
Sara Imari Walker is Deputy Director of the Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at Arizona State University (ASU), Associate Professor at the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU, Deputy Director, Beyond Center for Fundamental Concepts in Science at ASU, and an associate professor at ASU
…Somewhere during that period, I picked up a book called The Black Cauldron, by Lloyd Alexander. It was my first introduction to a secondary fantasy world so vast and lush that I could imagine myself in it with remarkable ease. Based loosely off Welsh mythology, the world of Prydain contains undead soldiers, evil witches, giant cats, dwarves, and giant winged birds called gwythiants.
I was enchanted in a way I’d never been with any other book before. I wanted to live in this world, despite its rather high body count. I wanted to pick up a sword and ride on a horse and follow Taran of Caer Dallben on his adventures. I discovered the book was actually the second in a series, and quickly devoured the rest of the Chronicles of Prydain.
Lloyd Alexander’s books are what made me fall in love with fantasy. Theybecame a direct line to Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Garth Nix, Tamora Pierce, and Megan Whalen Turner. I might have discovered those books eventually, but Prydain was my first and best love. They introduced me to the themes that so often appear in fantasy, ones I cherish and hold dear.
(7) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
November 22, 2012 — The animated Rise Of The Guardians enjoyed its premiere. It was directed by Peter Ramsey and produced by Christina Steinberg Nancy Bernstein from a screenplay by David Lindsay-Abaire. The feature starred the voice talents of Hugh Jackman, Jude Law and Isla Fisher. It was based on William Joyce’s The Guardians of Childhood series, it really bombed though most critics at least grudgingly liked it. However, the audience rating at Rotten Tomatoes is very healthy 80%.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born November 22, 1862 – Warwick Goble. Illustrator, mainly of children’s books or what was so thought. First to illustrate The War of the Worlds. I’ve found only a few covers made during his lifetime; at least a hundred fifty interiors. Here is Vector 202 re-using a War of Worlds interior. Here is another for War of Worlds. Here is the 2014 reprint of Green Willow (1910), with his forty watercolor-over-ink interiors. Here is a Pook Press biographical page showing several reprints. Here is a 2008 Dover edition of reprints. Here is The Star Lovers. Much more outside our field, e.g. Van Milligan’s 1906 Constantinople, Fletcher’s 1919 Cistercians in Yorkshire. (Died 1943) [JH]
Born November 22, 1896 – Joel Townsley Rogers. A dozen short stories for us; his fine novelette “Beyond Space and Time” is in Boucher’s Treasury vol. 1 (don’t complain of its 1938 style, it’s a masterwork; Boucher was no dope), “No Matter Where You Go” is in Mills’ 9th Best from “[The Magazine of] Fantasy & Science Fiction”. Four other novels, hundreds of shorter stories. JTR was one of the first U.S. Navy flyers. (Died 1984) [JH]
Born November 22, 1932 — Robert Vaughn. His best-known genre work was as Napoleon Solo in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. with other genre work being in Teenage Caveman, Starship Invasions, The Lucifer Complex, Virus, Hangar 18, Battle Beyond the Stars, Superman III, C.H.U.D. II: Bud the C.H.U.D. (seriously who penned that awful title?), Transylvania Twist and Witch Academy. God did he do some truly awful films. Oh, and he wrote the introduction to The Man from U.N.C.L.E. series companion that came out a generation after the series aired. (Died 2016.) (CE)
Born November 22, 1940 – Roy Thomas, 80. Took over Alter Ego from Jerry Bails, appeared in DC and Marvel lettercols; going pro, worked a while for Weisinger at DC, then Marvel: Sgt. Fury, Doctor Strange, Conan, the Avengers, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, first successor to Lee as editor-in-chief. Back to DC: Wonder Woman, revival of the Justice Society. Marvel again and independents. Saw Lee about RT’s Stan Lee Story 48 hours before Lee died. Inkpot. Roll of Honor in the Eagle Awards. One of Fifty Who Made DC Great. Eisner Hall of Fame. [JH]
Born November 22, 1940 — Terry Gilliam, 80. He’s directed many films of which the vast majority are firmly genre. I think I’ve seen most of them though I though I’ve not seen The Man Who Killed Don Quixote, Tideland, The Zero Theorem or The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. I’ve seen everything else. Yes, I skipped past his start as the animator for Monty Python’s Flying Circus which grew out of his work for the children’s series Do Not Adjust Your Set which had the staff of Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. Though he largely was the animator in the series and the films, he did occasionally take acting roles according to his autobiography, particularly roles no one else wanted such those requiring extensive makeup. He’s also co-directed a number of scenes. Awards? Of course. Twelve Monkeys is the most decorated followed by Brazil with two and Time Bandits and The Fisher King which each have but one. He’s not won any Hugos to date. My favorite films by him? Oh, the one I’ve watched the most is The Adventures of Baron Munchausen followed by Time Bandits. (CE)
Born November 22, 1943 — William Kotzwinkle, 77. Fata Morgana might be in my opinion his best novel though Doctor Rat which he won the World Fantasy Award for is in the running for that honor as well. And his short stories of which there are many are quite excellent too. Did you know Kotzwinkle wrote the novelization of the screenplay for E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial? The usual digital suspects are well stocked with his books. (CE)
Born November 22, 1949 — John Grant, 71. He’d make the Birthday list solely for being involved in the stellar Hugo Award winning Encyclopedia of Fantasy which also won a Mythopoeic Award. And he did win another well-deserved Hugo Award for Best Related Work for The Chesley Awards for Science Fiction and Fantasy Art: A Retrospective. Most of his short fiction has been set in the Lone Wolf universe though I see that he did a Judge Dredd novel too. (CE)
Born November 22, 1953 – Marly Youmans, 67. (Pronounced like “yeoman’s”.) Ten novels, two dozen shorter stories, poems (five books so far). Interviewed in Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Waylines. Six of her books collaborated with Clive Hicks-Jenkins who decorated; MY did title poems for The Book of Ystwyth: Six Poets on the Art of CHJ. Website here (“Seek Giacometti’s Palace at 4 a.m. Go back two hours”). [JH]
Born November 22, 1957 — Kim Yale. Married to John Ostrander until 1993 when she died of breast cancer, she was a writer who’s first work was in the New America series, a spin-off of Truman’s Scout series. With Truman, she developed the Barbara Gordon Oracle character, created the Manhunter series, worked on Suicide Squad, and was an editor at D.C. where she oversaw such licenses as Star Trek: The Next Generation. Oh,and for First Comics, she co-wrote much of Grimjack with her husband. (Died 1993.) (CE)
Born November 22, 1958 — Jamie Lee Curtis, 62. Can we agree that she was the best Scream Queen for her film debut in the 1978 Halloween film in which she played the role of Laurie Strode? No? Well, that’s my claim. She followed up with yet more horror films, The Fog and Prom Niight. In all, she’s the only character that survives. She would reprise the role of Laurie in four sequels, including Halloween H20, Halloween: Resurrection, Halloween II and Halloween III: Season of the Witch. She shows up in up of my fav SF films, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension as Sandra Banzai but you’ll need to see the director’s extended version as she’s only there in that version. Is True Lies genre? Probably not but for her performance, Curtis won the Golden Globe Award for Best Actress – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy and the Saturn Award for Best Actress. Damn impressive I’d say. No, I’m not listing all her films here as OGH would likely start growling. Suffice to say she’s had a very impressive career. (CE)
Born November 22, 1980 – Daniele Lanzarotta, 40. A dozen novels, four shorter stories. Recently some film work. Has read The Old Man and the Sea, looks forward to Dracula. Hockey fan. [JH]
Born November 22, 1982 – Maryse Meijer, 38. One novel, two collections; novella “Northwood” separately published. I thought this interview after a reading MM headlined more helpful than her Website, but what do I know? [JH]
(9) COMICS SECTION.
At Dilbert, naming calls.
(10) ANOTHER THEORY OF FANDOM. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] This is a passage from Isaac Asimov’s In Memory Yet Green (1979) about how he joined fandom only to learn that in 1938 the Queens Science Fiction Club and the Futurians were engaged in a titanic fan feud.
Science-fiction writer L. Sprague de Camp (another dear friend of mine) has…developed a theory of human contentiousness that I rather like. He points out that in the long history of human groups in the food-gathering stage. a multiplying tribe was always in danger. A group of fifty could not gather any more ground than a group of twenty-five could, and would not find any more food. Therefore, the fifty might starve where the twenty-five would not.
If the fifty were full of loving kindness and brotherly affection and could not bear to break up, they would be in serious trouble. If they were contentious individuals who tended to split up, each smaller group, staking out a territory of its own, might survive. Hence contentiousness had survival value and flourished, and still exists among mankind despite the fact that ever since agriculture became the most important activity of man, co-operation, and not contentiousness, has been required.
Sprague says that if the contentiousness of small groups is to be studied seriously, no better start could be made than to read and study (however painful that might be) The Immortal Storm [by Sam Moskowitz].
An international team of researchers says that small lasers could be used to guide lightning strikes — much like Thor’s legendary hammer Mjölnir.
“It turns out that to deliver particles, you do not need high-intensity lasers, even low intensity like your laser pointer will be already enough,” Andrey Miroshnichenko, a researcher at the University of New South Wales in Canberra, Australia, told Agence France Presse of the work.
The team says it’s already tested the concept in labs using devices known as hollow lasers, which in effect create a pipe of light. These lasers can short circuit storm clouds and trigger lightning strikes by heating micro-particles in the air.
… On Wednesday, a team of scientists and engineers showed results from a promising new approach. It involves mounting electrodes on an expandable, springy tube called a stent and threading it through a blood vessel that leads to the brain. In tests on two people, the researchers literally went for the jugular, running a stent-tipped wire up that vein in the throat and then into a vessel near the brain’s primary motor cortex, where they popped the spring. The electrodes snuggled into the vessel wall and started sensing when the people’s brains signaled their intention to move—and sent those signals wirelessly to a computer, via an infrared transmitter surgically inserted in the subjects’ chests. In an article published in the Journal of NeuroInterventional Surgery, the Australian and US researchers describe how two people with paralysis due to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease) used such a device to send texts and fool around online by brain-control alone….
What could be scarier than driving down a dark road at night? Driving down one of these dark roads at night. If any of the below routes—compiled by Commercial Truck Trader—pop up on your GPS this spooky season, consider finding an alternate way to your destination.
1. JEREMY SWAMP ROAD // SOUTHBURY, CONNECTICUT
Jeremy Swamp Road and several other streets in southwestern Connecticut are said to be frequented by Melon Heads, creatures that, according to the New England Historical Society, live in wooded areas and “look like small humanoids with oversized heads” that “survive by eating small animals, stray cats and human flesh, usually the flesh of teenagers.” Some say the Melon Heads are the result of inbreeding, with others theorizing that they escaped from local hospitals or asylums….
… Exempting terrors such as Nine Lives and Grumpy Cat’s Worst Christmas from the canon of feline representation, these everyday animals are turned to all sorts of purposes in horror, and seeing as it’s Halloween, we’ve been thinking about some of those different portrayals. There’s a famous storytelling maxim that states characters should ‘save the cat’ early on in the story, but in horror, they more often need saving from the cat.
What follows is not a complete, exhaustive cat-alogue of their screen history in the genre. We haven’t included one-off models of moggyness, such as the 2010 home invasion film Burning Bright, which contrives a Lemony Snicket-esque tower of circumstances to put a live tiger in a boarded up house with a teenager and her autistic brother during a hurricane. Instead, we’re using key examples to look at nine major tropes for cats in horror, whether lucky or unlucky; natural or supernatural; good or evil…
Getting onto actual feline characters, there are a fair few films that position cats as zombies or revenants, to one end or another, usually to differing degrees of gross-out.
For instance, on one end of the scale, we have Thackery Binx in Disney’s Hocus Pocus, with his immortal soul trapped inside a black cat by the wicked Sanderson sisters. He gets flattened by a tyre at one point, but the curse affords him a swift return. On the gorier end, Re-Animator‘s Herbert West demonstrates his ghastly green serum on his roommate’s dearly departed pet Rufus, though it’s unclear if he was already dead when West got hold of him….
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] In “Honest Game Trailers: Genshin Impact” on YouTube, Fandom Games says that this game has so many micropayments that it’s perfect for people who played trading card games as a teenager and can say to themselves, “I’ve been ripped off this way since I was a kid and I’m not stopping now!”
[Thanks to Steve Miller, John Hertz, John King Tarpinian, JJ, Mike Kennedy, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, Daniel Dern, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Paul Weimer.]
The future of Don Blyly’s Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores might be in south Minneapolis, or even Richfield, he told subscribers in his November update. The two stores were burned by vandals on May 30 while protests were happening elsewhere in Minneapolis. He has since determined to sell the lot and reopen elsewhere. The Official Help Save Uncle Hugo’s Fund at GoFundMe has raised $177,708 to date.
Here are the highlights.
An assist from the local newspaper changed the tune of the city’s obstructionist regulators:
The debris removal was halted at about 95% completed for over a month while we tried to negotiate a new plan with the city. I finally went to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune with the story of what had been going on, with lots of documentation. The reporter talked to several other sources to confirm what I had told him, and then he started talking to people at the city. The city learned late Thursday afternoon that the story was going to run in the Sunday paper. Friday morning the city suddenly decided to be much more cooperative. It still took awhile to work out details, but the debris removal under the new plan was completed about a week and a half ago.
Then it took some jawboning of the construction company to finish their work properly:
Next, the site needed to be fenced, both to satisfy the city and under my sales agreement to the dentist. The fencing went up yesterday, but the work crew left a 1.5 foot gap between the bottom of the fence and the ground at the corner where it meets the sidewalk. I told the work crew that this was not acceptable. I was told that it was impossible to have the fence meet the ground at that location. I went home and called the supervisor and explained the situation and told him it was not acceptable. He told me that it was impossible to make the fence meet the ground in that corner. I told him that I guess we would have to see if the Better Business Bureau agreed with him or with me. He got very upset and told me that mentioning the Better Business Bureau was a very counter-productive thing for me to do, but he would go take a look the next day at the area I was complaining about. I went over to the site this morning with a sketch pad and a tape measure to document the “impossible” problem. I pulled up just as the fencing company truck pulled away. They had done a first rate job of fixing the “impossible “ problem.
There’s a to-do list before the sale of the lot can go through.
Now I have to wait for the bills from the debris removal contractor and the fencing contractor, pay the bills, and get lien waivers from both of the contractors, and we can have the closing on the sale of the lot to the dentist. At that point I won’t have to drive over to the old site to shovel the sidewalk for the empty lot any more, as I have been doing (although none of the other owners of burnt out businesses have been doing that, and the city doesn’t seem to care). Once I have the dentist’s money in my bank account, I will be able to move forward more aggressively with looking for a new building to buy.
Blyly has sifted the area real estate market and has his eye on several possibilities. The best case scenario might allow him to reopen in June. If not…,
I’ve been looking through hundreds of commercial real estate for-sale listings on the internet for the entire metro area, have driven out to look at about 15 possible locations in south Minneapolis, northeast Minneapolis, Columbia Heights, western St. Paul, and Richfield. I’ve found 3 sites that I consider good potential new sites for the Uncles, two in south Minneapolis and one in Richfield. I like the Richfield location best, but it would require extensive remodeling. Once I have the dentist’s money in my account, I’ll hire a real estate agent, have an architect and general contractor go through the Richfield location with me and give me an idea of how much it would cost to make it ready for Uncles use, and see if the numbers will work. If the numbers will work, we might be able to re-open in June. If the numbers don’t work, then I’ll look to see what else has come on the market and then move on to my next best option.
Blyly is selling off his personal collection of books, with the money going toward reopening the Uncles.
I’ve been listing books on Abebooks.com, although more slowly than I had expected. Some are signed copies that assorted people (mainly authors) have donated since the fire, but most are hardcover and trade paperback books from my personal library. I started at the top of one the bookcases on the first floor (which happened to be part way through Avram Davidson) and I’ve been working through the alphabet (and got most of the way through Harlan Ellison yesterday). I’ve sold a lot of my Philip K. Dick books and signed Thomas Disch books, plus British David Eddings hardcovers and assorted other random books. You can view the Uncles’ Abebooks listing by going to: https://www.abebooks.com/uncle-hugos-sf%2funcle-edgars-mystery-minneapolis/3358938/sf and click “View this seller’s items”.
He advises customers:
If you only want to buy one book, it costs you the same whether you go through Abebooks or directly through me, but if you want to buy multiple books you will save on shipping by buying directly from me. [E-mail: UncleHugo@aol.com] The money from selling my personal library will go into the pot of money to try to re-open the Uncles.
Politicians are fond of telling the electorate that “every vote counts”, and Joe Biden’s campaign went far out on Tuesday night when it held a virtual rally targeting the Star Trek voting bloc.
Hosted by Democatic politicians Stacey Abrams, Pete Buttigieg and Andrew Yang, “Trek the vote to victory!” was an unusual campaign event – featuring a raft of Star Trek stars including Patrick Stewart, Mulgrew and George Takei, and apparently aimed firmly at Trekkies.
The rally offered the latest example of how Biden has attracted celebrities to his campaign, and it also provided a chance for whoever runs the Biden campaign Twitter account to do a joke.
…It was Yang, who ran against Biden for the Democratic nomination, who opened up the event, the self-professed “math nerd” proving himself to be a keen trekker.
Things didn’t go immediately to plan, however, when one of the Star Trek actors – 19 cast members, from five iterations of the show, appeared at the event – immediately praised a policy idea that Yang had championed, and that Biden has ignored.
“I just want to say thank you for bringing the idea of universal basic income into the mainstream of political conversation,” Will Wheaton, who played Wesley Crusher on Star Trek: Next Generation, told Yang.
“It’s super important and there’s no excuse for that not to go forward.”
Universal basic income – the idea of the government giving every adult a regular stipend – was Yang’s key issue during his presidential campaign, but it is not a part of Biden’s plans for government.
The awkwardness continued as Marina Sirtis, aka Counselor Deanna Troi from Star Trek: The Next Generation, used the Biden event to offer very faint praise for the Democratic nominee.
“I mean I lean very left,” Sirtis said. “But this time we had to just find someone who can beat Trump.”…
… City officials did not reverse course until a Star Tribune reporter inquired about the stalled project. On Thursday, Barbarawi received an e-mail informing him that he can use the slab for parking, at least on a temporary basis.
“I apologize for the confusion,” wrote Brad Ellis, manager of zoning administration and enforcement for Minneapolis….
… Over the summer, Barbarawi struck a deal with Blyly to buy the bookstore property. With three large concrete slabs, the parcel offers ready-make parking for as many as 10 cars. But the plans hit a roadblock when Barbarawi shared his proposal with a city inspector, who insisted that all of the slabs be removed immediately.
[Steve Poor, the city’s director of development services] said the project was stopped because the Minneapolis City Council limited parking in the neighborhood years ago. Though Barbarawi’s building would normally be allowed to have up to 15 parking spaces, the code change brought that down to 12.
Barbarawi was told he could seek city approval for a new parking lot once he finalizes his expansion plans, but he and Blyly objected since it would cost another $25,000 to remove the slabs and meet the city’s other requirements, and even more money to rebuild the parking lot.
“It’s such a waste of resources that doesn’t need to be spent,” said Andy Ristrom, the project manager at Bolander who has been overseeing the demolition work.
Poor, who approved the temporary parking arrangement for Barbarawi, said the city will likely struggle with other rebuilding projects.
“We recognize that people need assistance to guide them through the government,” Poor said. “And right now we just have a lot more new and novel problems to try and address. I am not sure anybody was prepared to make this kind of pivot that we’ve all had to make in the last six months.”
Blyly said he’s glad the city found a way to compromise, but he’s not sure he will be rebuilding in Minneapolis. He’s considering a move to St. Paul or Richfield.
“It would be more convenient for me and a lot of my customers if I stayed in Minneapolis, but Minneapolis has felt very unfriendly toward businesses — especially after the riots,” Blyly said.
(3) STICK A FORK IN IT. LA Comic Con is now officially cancelled says SYFY Wire. While this seemed inevitable, they had announced plans to run in December. The con’s now rescheduled for September 24-26, 2021.
…”Last week on Oct. 7, Gov. Newsom finally gave an update on reopening plans for theme parks, which most people thought would precede event and convention guidelines,” reads the L.A. Comic-Con website. “In his announcement, the Governor said he had decided NOT to provide reopening guidelines yet for theme parks, and by extension, events. Without guidelines, there is no way for L.A. County, the City, or event organizers like us to know if the plans and changes we made to be safe will be right, or enough. So with that new direction from the State, we are rescheduling.”
(4) REMEMBERING A SFF PIONEER. Czech diplomat and sff fan Jaroslav Olsa Jr. commemorated the anniversary of Miles J. Breuer’s death (3 Jan 1889 – 14 Oct 1945) today by posting an excerpt of his forthcoming article “Pioneering Sf Writer Of Gernsback´s Amazing Stories Has Died Exactly 75 Years Ago”. “But do you know he was Czech? And do you know that he wrote many of his science fiction stories originally in Czech?”
…For its first nine issues, Amazing Stories [founded in 1926] contained classics from the likes of Verne, Wells and Edgar Allan Poe, supplemented by more modern works from speculative fiction writer Edgar Rice Burroughs and fantastic fiction writer Abraham Merritt, both of whom were already publishing their works in pulp magazines.
Only in subsequent years did Amazing Stories feature a new generation of writers. In 1928, Jack Williamson, whose career as a science fiction writer would span three-quarters of a century, published his first story in the magazine. A year earlier, Amazing Stories featured a story by David H. Keller, one of the pioneers of early technological “scientifiction”. However, the very first writer in this wave is the now largely forgotten Miles J. Breuer. His story “The Man with the Strange Head” was published by Gernsback in the January 1927 issue – as soon as the serialization of Wells’ The First Men in the Moon concluded.
Breuer was born in Chicago, studied in Texas, became a doctor in Nebraska and died in Los Angeles. At the turn of the 1920s and 30s, Breuer’s readers viewed this author, who was supposedly “discovered” by Gernsback, as a major star of the science fiction genre. However, Breuer’s career as a writer did not begin with Amazing Stories. Rather, his first genre tale had already been published almost two decades prior. Indeed, writing under the Czech version of his name as Miloslav J. Breuer, the author had already published numerous stories in the Czech language (which were subsequently published in English in early science fiction magazines)….
…While produced by fans and sometimes including fannish references, the majority of these productions are not actually *about* fandom the main focus in most cases being the parody of other works, hence the FAN and SF/PARODY distinction. The line between the two is often a fine one, however, and some may disagree with the side of it on which some of these have been placed.
Most of these productions were humorous. The few that were serious have been labelled DRAMA. You’ll notice that one – and only one – production was also labelled ‘BALLET’. This was performed to the strains of ‘Danse Macabre’ and featured several male fans in panto drag, including Ted Tubb! Sadly, only two photos of this ‘ballet’ are known to survive….
Hansen adds: “I also recently discovered a pile of production photos the Liverpool Group took while filming ‘May We Have The Pleasure?’ in 1957. These can be found via the link on the above page.”
…Chris has been ebooking since the late 1990s and, except for some time at The Digital Reader, has been writing for us since 2006. He has also run his own blogs, including That’s All I Have to Say, full of miscellaneous essays as readable as his TeleRead posts.
Over the years Chris also left some fearless comments here, not the least being the time he called on me to furnish “A bit more precision in your writeup, please.” Something I probably need to be reminded of nearly every day.
(7) MEDIA ANNIVERSARY.
1995 — Twenty five years ago at Intersection, Mirror Dance by Lois McMaster Bujold would win the Best Novel Hugo. It would also win the Locus Award for Best SF novel, and was on the long list for a Nebula. It was the ninth published novel in the universe of the Vorkosigan Saga. It was published by Baen Books the previous year. Runner-ups were Mother of Storms by John Barnes, Beggars and Choosers by Nancy Kress, Brittle Innings by Michael Bishop and Towing Jehovah by James Morrow.
(8) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born October 14, 1829 – August Malmström. Collected motifs from Norse mythology. Professor at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts, later its manager. Bequeathed 650 watercolors and drawings, 26 sketchbooks to the Nordic Museum on Djurgården. Here is Dancing Fairies; see this one too. Here is King Heimer and Aslög. (Died 1901) [JH]
Born October 14, 1893 – Lois Lenski. Author, illustrator (of others’ work too, e.g. first ed’n of The Little Engine That Could; Hugh Lofting’s Twilight of Magic which puts her with us). Prose, poetry, lyrics, plays, paper dolls. Newbery Medal, two Newbery Honors; Regina Medal; three honorary doctorates. (Died 1974) [JH]
Born October 14, 1894 – E.E. Cummings. (In fact he wrote his name with capital letters.) Phi Beta Kappa and magna cum laude from Harvard, how do you like them apples, hey? Master poet. Distinctive, inimitable style (proof, many have tried and failed). A nice question whether his poetry or Shakespeare’s is more attractive or more substantial – answer, yes. Anyone wondering what he has to do with us may read this. (Died 1962) [JH]
Born October 14, 1910 – Marian Place. A tireless researcher, a strong opinionated woman. Fifty books for children and adults. Four Golden Spur awards. For us e.g. The First Astrowitches. (Died 2006) [JH]
Born October 14, 1926 1953 — Richard Christian Matheson. Son of fiction writer and screenwriter Richard Matheson. He is the author of over 100 short stories of psychological horror and magic realism which are gathered in over 150 major anthologies and in his short story collections Scars and Other Distinguishing Marks, Dystopia and Zoopraxis. Best known for I Am Legend which has been adapted for the screen four times, as well as the film Somewhere In Time for which he wrote the screenplay based on his novel Bid Time Return. Seven of his novels have been adapted into films. In addition, he wrote sixteen episodes of The Twilight Zone including “Nightmare at 20,000 Feet” and “Steel”. The former episode of course has William Shatner in it. (Died 2013.) (CE)
Born October 14, 1927 — Roger Moore. Bond in seven films 1973 to 1985, a long run indeed. And he played Simon Templar in The Saint for most of the Sixties, one hundred and eighteen episodes. Let’s not forget that he was in the Curse of the Pink Panther as Chief Insp. Jacques Clouseau! (Died 2017.) (CE)
Born October 14, 1935 – Dennis Hamley, 85. Seven novels, a dozen shorter stories for us (including “Colonel Mustard in the Library with the Candlestick”). Other fiction and nonfiction. His first book was three medieval Mystery Plays in modern versions for schools, so a few years later he imagined a boy led back into the 14th Century. DH talks about his life and work at his Website. [JH]
Born October 14, 1946 — Katy Manning, 74. She was Jo Grant, companion to the Third Doctor. She also appeared with the Eleventh Doctor on the Sarah Jane Adventures in a two-part story entitled “Death of the Doctor”. She appears as herself in The Five(ish) Doctors Reboot. (CE)
Born October 14, 1953 — Greg Evigan, 67. TekWar, one of Shatner’s better ideas, starred him as Jake Cardigan. I really liked it. Yes. Shatner was in it. He also shows up in DeepStar Six as Kevin McBride, as Will South in the horror film Spectre aka The House of The Damned, as Marcus Cutter in Cerberus: The Guardian of Hell, and on the Alfred Hitchcock Presents as David Whitmore in “In the Driver’s Seat”. (CE)
Born October 14, 1956 — Martin Millar, 64. Among his accomplishments was the novelization of the Tank Girl film. Apparently it’s even weirder than the film was! He won the World Fantasy Award for best novel with his book Thraxas, and the entire Thraxas series which are released under the name Martin Scott are a lot of not at all serious pulpish fun. (CE)
Born October 14, 1963 — Lori Petty, 56. Rebecca Buck – “Tank Girl” in that film. She was also Dr. Lean Carli in Cryptic, and Dr. Sykes in Dead Awake. She had one-offs in The Hunger, Twilight Zone, Star Trek: Voyager, Brimstone, Freddy’s Nightmares and Alien Nation, and voiced Livewire in the DCU animated shows. (CE)
Peter Watts’ Blindsight looked at first contact with aliens in a different way when it was first published in 2006, and it’s been one of those books that friends have fervently recommended in the years since.
One fan [Danil Krivoruchko] has taken it upon himself to adapt as a short film, which he released this week: a short CGI short that looks absolutely stunning….
“Danil reached out to me pretty close to the start of the process,” Watts commented. “They were in the ‘Let’s make a tribute fan site’ phase, which as I understand it fell somewhere between the ‘let’s do a couple of CG illustrations for the rifters gallery’ and ‘Let’s blow off the doors with a trailer from an alternate universe where someone made a movie out of Blindsight’ phases.”…
(12) CAN’T SLEEP? [Item by Martin Morse Wooster.] I’m not sure where “The 52 Stages Of Insomnia” by Marco Kaye at McSweeney’s fits in the File 770 categories but it’s definitely fannish!
Sensors printed directly on the skin have been inching closer to commercial reality in recent years. The dream of highly sensitive sensors could have a wide array of applications, from robotics to medicine, but the field has been limited by its method of circuit printing. Currently, printing circuits directly on the skin requires a lot of heat – something the skin isn’t generally fond of.
Now, researchers believe they may have solved this problem. A team from Penn State University have developed a method of fabricating high-performance circuitry directly on skin without heat, according to a study published in ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces.
While flexible sensors already exist and have applications in future physiological monitoring, applying that technology to the skin has remained an issue for scientists. If this process is viable on a large scale, it may pave the way for the technology to help patients with various conditions.
A trio of space travelers has launched successfully to the International Space Station, for the first time using a fast-track maneuver to reach the orbiting outpost in just three hours.
NASA’s Kate Rubins and Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos lifted off as scheduled Wednesday morning from the Russia-leased Baikonur space launch facility in Kazakhstan for a six-month stint on the station.
…“We’re planning to try some really interesting things like bio-printing tissues and growing cells in space and, of course, continuing our work on sequencing DNA,” Rubins said.
(15) VIDEO OF THE DAY. In “Honest Trailers: Scream” on YouTube, the Screen Junkies take on the 1996 film, from a more innocent time when people didn’t lock their doors and a cop could ask a teenager, “What are you doing with this cellular telephone, son?””
[Thanks to Howard Beale, Andrew Porter, John Hertz, Michael Toman, Cat Eldridge, JJ, Martin Morse Wooster, John King Tarpinian, Rich Lynch, Rob Thornton, and Mike Kennedy for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Xtifr.]
Don Blyly, owner of Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores, which were burned by vandals on May 30 while protests were happening elsewhere in Minneapolis, has sent another update to his subscribers. His son Sam Blyly-Strauss posted the full text to their GoFundMe campaign, which has now raised $175,858. Here are the highlights.
Blyly has decided not to rebuild at his old location because a new building would push his insurance and property tax bills higher than he can afford.
…The old building was masonry construction, and I had a lower cost of insurance because of that. The new building would have been wooden frame construction, so my cost of insurance would have gone up. …And replacing the old building with a new building would have pushed the property tax bill from around $20,000 per year up to at least $45,000 per year, and it was very difficult even before covid-19 to cover the $20,000 per year property tax bill.
He’s negotiated the sale of the property to the neighboring dentist.
…I decided to put a rebuild at the old location onto the back burner and talk to the dentist next door, who wanted to expand his dental clinic onto my lot. I figured that the cash from the sale of the lot, plus the insurance money, would allow me to buy a decent older building in a better location, hopefully with off-street parking.
The city issued a permit and work began. Then a building inspector changed the requirements. Now progress has stalled while Blyly, the dentist, and a hired civil engineer negotiate with the city.
…The demolition contractor had filed plans for what we wanted to do on the lot–finish knocking down the walls, haul away the debris, clean out the basement but leave the foot-thick concrete walls in place, perforate the old basement floor in spots so that rain water could escape, and leave the concrete slabs for Uncle Edgar’s and the back room in place. The city looked over the plans and issued a permit based on our plans.
…The demo guys told me that they would finish filling the basement with dirt before taking down the Uncle Hugo’s wall, and they expected the entire job to be done sometime on Friday, September 25.
I went back over to the site Thursday morning and the heavy equipment was still there but no workers were there. I went back Friday morning, and again there were no workers. I went onto the site and found a red “Stop Work” order from the same inspector who had approved our original plan and issued the permit. I went home to contact the demo people to find out what was going on. While I had been at the site, the demo company had sent an e-mail explaining that the inspector had decided that he now wanted all the basement walls removed and the concrete slabs removed.
Removing the basement wall would require the removal of the dirt that had been dumped and compacted into the basement hole. Taking down the basement wall that holds up the sidewalk would cause in the dirt under the sidewalk to fall into the basement, which would result in the sidewalk sliding into the basement, and probably take out the major internet cable that was just installed under the sidewalk about a year before, with me being responsible for the cost of repairing the cable and replacing the sidewalk. The city has now agreed to allow the basement wall that holds up the sidewalk to remain in place, but is still insisting on all the other changes to our original, approved plan. The dentist and I have had several meetings on how to get the city to go along with what we both want and he has hired a civil engineer to argue with the city, but at this point there is still no progress.
One bonus is that Blyly’s safe has been recovered from the debris. But it will be awhile til that’s any real benefit.
Late in the afternoon on Thursday, September 17 the demo guys dug the safe out of the debris in Uncle Hugo’s basement, and water started dripping out of it. They pointed out that safe salespeople like to brag about how fireproof their safes are, but never talk about the fact that they are not waterproof. The next morning they broke it open while I was there to observe. After 3.5 months of being hit by fire hoses multiple times and many rain storms, not much had survived. None of the legal papers had survived. None of the checks waiting to be deposited had survived. The cash had survived, but the currency was dripping wet, slimy, mildewed, and stuck together. I took it home, started carefully peeling the bills apart and spreading them on sheets of cardboard to dry out, and after 24 hours of drying gathered it up and put out a new batch of bills to dry. After 3 days it was all dry and I took it to the bank to try to deposit it. The bank refused to accept it and told me that I would have to deal with the U.S. government on my own to try to convert it to usable money and provided me with a (wrong) internet address for instructions on how to do this. I managed to find the correct website and discovered that I had to mail the cash with explanation of how it got so messed up and lots of other information to a P.O. Box in Washington, D.C., registered, return receipt required, insured, to make a claim. In normal times, it takes the government between 6 months and 36 months to process a claim, but these are not normal times with so many government workers working from home. Perhaps I’ll get something back from the government before old age gets me.
People have encouraged Blyly to shift to another city. Whatever else he decides, he’s determined to stay in the metro area.
The behavior of the city does not make me want to re-open in Minneapolis, especially since so many people have told me how much friendlier St. Paul is to businesses than Minneapolis and that property taxes are lower there. I’ve started looking harder for a new location on the western side of St. Paul or in Richfield instead of in south Minneapolis. But I’ve had people suggesting other places to relocate. One person wants me to relocate to Oklahoma City (where the cost of housing seems to be about 1/3 the cost in Minneapolis) and another person wants me to relocate to Northfield. I’m not interested in moving myself or the Uncles out of the metro area.
Blyly says Fox News and a Japanese network have interviewed him.
I’ve been doing a lot of media interviews since the fire. A few weeks ago Fox News from New York City contacted me to say they were sending in a team to interview various business owners who had been impacted by the riots and they wanted to interview me. They were coming to town on the first day of debris removal at the Uncles, so the interview was filmed with a crane piling up a 15 foot tall pile of burned books in the middle of Uncle Edgar’s. It quickly became clear that they were trying to get me to say pro “law and order” things that could be used to benefit Trump. Instead I kept saying things like “neither political party has a monopoly on incompetence” and drawing a distinction between arresting people who are breaking the law and using storm trooper tactics on peaceful protesters. They used almost none of my interview. About a week ago a reporter for a Japanese network (which he said was the Japanese equivalent to the BBC) called, confirmed that the bookstore had been burned in the riot, and then started asking me about Black Lives Matter. I failed to see how having a burnt bookstore made me an expert on Black Lives Matter, but I talked to him for awhile. When he wanted to fly in a television crew to interview me about Black Lives Matter, I declined.
Don Blyly, owner of Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores, which were burned by vandals on May 30 while protests were happening elsewhere in Minneapolis, has sent another update to his subscribers.
Blyly says he has succeeded in getting the city to issue a demolition permit. The water bill he had to pay as a prerequisite is still a source of confusion.
The city water bills continue to arrive and not make sense. The demolition contractor said that the water bill needed to be paid in full, whether it made sense or not, before a demolition permit will be issued, and he sent me a copy of the latest water bill. I authorized him to pay the water bill and add it to his bill to me. The demolition permit was finally issued, and about ten days after he paid the latest water bill from the city, a new water bill arrived in the mail at my home for a different amount than what the demolition contractor had paid, and the new bill did not show the payment made by the demolition contractor.
The demolition work has been agreed. Blyly has received an estimate to rebuild in line with the probable insurance payout.
…Nine days ago I met with the architect, the general contractor, and the demolition contractor at the ruins so that we would all be in agreement about what should be removed and what should be left behind. At that point I was given a very general estimate that the cost of the rebuild would be about $400,000 more than the figure the insurance company had come up with, and I told them that would be too much. They worked for another week and came up with another estimate that was almost exactly the same as what the insurance company had estimated. But I have a bunch of questions about their proposal which we will have to discuss next week. The demolition contractor will start removing debris in a few days.
Blyly has also looked over other commercial properties – none have sparked his enthusiasm.
I’ve looked at a few commercial properties that are for sale, both in Minneapolis and first ring surrounding locations, but haven’t yet seen anything I’m very excited about. I expect prices will go down as more businesses fail because of covid-19. A lot of companies will also be reducing the amount of space they need as “work-from-home” becomes standard procedure instead of an emergency coping procedure. A lot of other companies are looking to leave Minneapolis out of fear of more looting and rioting in the future, especially around the time of the trial of the four cops involved in the death of George Floyd. I have to admit that I’m not interested in opening up in time to be burnt out a second time, so I’m inclined to wait a bit before deciding what to do next.
By David Dyer-Bennet: I’ve committed art. Documentary art, in the form of a book and a website (plus I will be offering prints of some of the photos for sale).
I got caught by the fascinating things people were writing and painting on the panels put up to protect windows here in Minneapolis, when things kind of came apart after George Floyd was killed. And by the layering and juxtapositions, and the broad range of views being expressed.
The website and book are live, you can see what I’ve done at Words Over Windows. (The book is an Amazon print-on-demand production, but the proofs look quite good. There’s also an ebook, which would look great on a good tablet.)
…Minneapolis property owners have complained that the policy was slowing the pace of recovery and turning piles of debris into public safety hazards. The situation is different in St. Paul, which has been issuing demolition permits without requiring the prepayment of the second half of 2020 property taxes, which are due in October.
…“This will remove one small roadblock, but I am not sure how much it will actually speed up the entire rebuilding process,” said Don Blyly, owner of Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookstores in Minneapolis, which were destroyed in the riots. “You are still going to have the problem of a whole lot of demolition permits being handled by people who are working at home because of COVID-19.”
Blyly, who hired a contractor to remove the rubble from his lot a month ago, still doesn’t have his demolition permit, even though he paid his taxes last week.
Minneapolis City Council Member Andrew Johnson said he will introduce legislation at Friday’s council meeting that would require city officials to expedite the approval process for riot-damaged properties and waive all administrative fees.
“We should be processing their applications first, in front of everyone else’s, and they shouldn’t be subject to any unnecessary steps that are slowing stuff down,” Johnson said. “We need to bend over backward and do everything possible to help them with rebuilding.”
(2) F&SF COVER. The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction’s Sept/Oct 2020 cover art is by Bob Eggleton for “The Shadows of Alexandrium” by David Gerrold.
(3) QUITE A FASCINATING ARTICLE. In “My First Thriller: David Morrell” on CrimeReads, Rick Pullen interviews Morrell, who explains that sf writer and Penn State English professor Philip Klass not only inspired Morrell to find the path he needed to complete First Blood (whose protagonist was John Rambo) but also introduced Morrell to his first agent.
…He read the show’s credits, noting that Stirling Silliphant was the creator. His local library found the address for the “Route 66” production company (the beginning of Morrell’s love affair with libraries). He mailed Silliphant a hand-written letter, saying “I want to be you.” Surprisingly, Silliphant wrote back with a single-spaced, two-page letter within the week. (The framed letter now hangs in Morrell’s office.)
“I wish I had some specific advice for you or encouragement,” wrote Silliphant, “but what I have to say is certainly not new. Keep writing…eventually if you have something of promise to say, someone will help you or hire you.”
…While at Penn State, he met science fiction writer Philip Klass, better known by the pseudonym William Tenn, who taught the basics of fiction writing.
“It was astonishing that a university would hire a real writer. He did not have a degree. He was the backbone of their creative writing department…I couldn’t get into his classes. They filled up right away. So Klass agreed to meet me during office hours.”
To test Morrell, Klass instructed him to turn in a short story every week, and every week he did.
Eventually Klass summoned Morrell to his office and begged him to stop writing fiction. “You’re terrible,” he said.
“He was right,” Morrell says. “I was writing bad Joyce and Faulkner.”
From Klass, he learned “every writer has a dominant emotion.” Morrell’s was fear. Maybe if he wrote honestly about fear, Klass told him, he would stop writing all of his horrible imitation fiction.
“I took him at his word.”…
(4) HELP NEEDED. Filer Lenora Rose hopes someone can lend a hand:
I have a writer’s issue to do with language — specifically semi-Nordic language — and I think this might be the right place to ask for help?
So I’m dealing with a fantasy setting that is used for the course of at least three books. One of the countries major characters come from speaks something I have been rendering, for the purpose of getting through the rough drafts, as quasi-Nordic — sometimes actually looking up words in Swedish or Norwegian or Icelandic and picking the one that sounds the least like English, and also going a Germanic style take two or three words and squish them together. It didn’t help that I decided they were the culture where the names of humans mostly translate to other nouns (Snow, Willow, etc) and the names of the non-human sapient race are usually those Germanic-style squished-together compounds (Bright Witty Magpie is one, as is Stream in Spring Flood). The protagonist is a multi-linguist and cares about this stuff.
Well, the story is now getting into final draft stages in every other way, and the placeholder language is still something that would almost certainly give any linguist or speaker of any of the related Scandinavian languages creeping horrors.
It certainly bothers me, because in the “I don’t know what I don’t know” way, I’m terrified I am going to end up, (as one author did when inventing names she thought sounded Welsh), naming someone a slang term for women’s hygiene products or something similarly terrible.
So basically I need a consult with someone who speaks a related language and would be willing to make non-painful translations or naming suggestions, or a linguist to do the same. *I am assuming this is something where I should pay for their time in some way*, at least if it goes past an initial consultation.
If anyone is willing to help, please relay your email through OGH – mikeglyer (at) cs (dot) com
….With 2020 seeing the re-emergence of the Black Lives Matter movement, leading to many conversations about inclusivity, [George R.R.] Martin’s mispronunciations have taken on a deeper meaning.
“The backlash is absolutely justified,” said Hugo award winner and British fantasy author Jeanette Ng. “But I am sometimes frustrated that it gets reduced down to an anger about him mispronouncing names rather than this deeper tension between competing visions of the genre and the award…Whilst the mispronunciations matter, they are ultimately a symptom of that deeper disconnect of what the [awards are meant to do].”
(6) ASFA SPONSORS BIPOC MEMBERSHIPS. The Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists is offering “Sponsored Memberships For BIPOC”. Donations have raised the number available to 15.
In recognition of systemic biases against BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, & other People of Color) both within the Speculative Fiction & Fantasy communities and without, the Association of Science Fiction & Fantasy Artists intends to sponsor memberships in the organization for BIPOC artists. These sponsorships will be open to up-and-coming artists as well as established artists, and each membership will convey voting rights in the annual Chesley Awards in addition to periodic opportunities to exhibit in shows with other ASFA artists. Additionally, ASFA encourages its BIPOC members to participate in our Board elections, as candidates for Board positions and as voters, to ensure that the organization’s representatives are truly representative of our membership and our aspirations for the community overall.
The site of America’s first nuclear meltdown — and subsequent cover-up — in the picturesque hills of Ventura County may soon join Hearst Castle, the cable cars of San Francisco, and the Santa Barbara Mission as an official landmark in the National Register of Historic Places.
In what some have described as a cynical attempt by a U.S. government agency to avoid a long-promised cleanup of toxic and radioactive contaminants, NASA has nominated the Santa Susana Field Laboratory for official listing asa traditional cultural property.
…Hidden within the chaparral and rocky peaks of the Simi Hills, the Santa Susana Field Lab conducted research that was critical to the nation’s Cold War ambitions, yet toxic to the Earth. The partial meltdown released radioactive gasses that the public was never warned about, and spent rocket fuel, heavy metals and other toxins contaminated the soil and groundwater.
…Now, NASA and a coalition of Native American groups have proposed the area be designated a traditional cultural district. The move has been opposed by critics, who fear that strict laws protecting Native American artifacts, combined with terms of the 2010 agreement, could make it difficult to clean up contamination.
4. Winning an award is not always as important as being a finalist. I can speak to this personally: In terms of my career, it was far more important for me to have been nominated for the Best Novel Hugo award in 2006, than it was for me to win it in 2013. Why? Because in 2006 I was new to the field, and having my first novel nominated was a thing, especially when coupled with the nomination for the Campbell Award for Best New Writer. I was the first person in more than twenty years to get nominated for the Campbell and Best Novel in the same year, and it changed my status in the field from “who is John Scalzi” to “oh, that’s John Scalzi.”
I didn’t win the Hugo that year (nor should I have: Spin by Robert Charles Wilson won, and deservedly so), but it didn’t matter because the boost put me in a different career orbit. When I did win the Best Novel award, several years later, it was great, and I loved it, and I wouldn’t trade the experience. But careerwise, it wasn’t a transforming event. It was a confirming event. My professional career didn’t change all that much after I won. Whereas being nominated earlier was transforming, and ultimately more important to my career.
…The novel, which follows the love story between vampire Edward Cullen and high schooler Bella Swan that fans originally fell for in the first Twilight book back in 2005, is currently No. 1 on USA Today’s Best-Selling Books List as well as on The New York Times’s Children’s Series List. While the original book series —which was adapted into a franchise of movies starring Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson in the leading roles — was told from the point of view of Bella, this version takes readers inside the mind of her bloodsucking boyfriend, Edward.
Something about that last line sounds a little off….
When I first envisioned Web-beings, it was a thought experiment on a biological basis for being semi-immortal. I arrived at the notion of organisms who manipulate their molecular structure using energy to repair aging and damage. It led me to aliens who’d hide themselves by cycling, as I called it, into the form of shorter-lived intelligent species. To be convincing, they’d need to know how to behave as one. Thus I had them (there were six at the start) collect and share everything they discovered about a species, from its biology (and thus how to be that form) to every aspect of society and culture.
When your memory consists of your flesh, you’re able to store vast amounts of information, which Web-beings exchange by biting off bits of one another. (I love my job.)…
(11) A CONZEALAND SOUVENIR. W.O.O.F. #45 put together by the Worldcon Order of Fan-Editors for CoNZealand is a free download from eFanzines [PDF file]. It boasts a cover by Tim Kirk, and contributions from John Purcell, Chris Garcia, Rich Lynch, Chuck Connor, Ahrvid Engholm, Evelyn & Mark Leeper, David Schlosser, Mark Blackman, Andrew Hooper, Murray Moore, Kees van Toorn, Wolf von Witting, R. Laurraine Tutihasi, Roger Hill, Alan Stewart, and Phil Wlodarczyk. Guy H. Lillian III served as the Offcial Editor.
(12) I DON’T KNOW — THIRD BLAST! On the Dragon Awards site: “A Blast from the Past (Winners) – Part 3” with Kevin J. Anderson, Nick Cole, Larry Correia, Richard Fox, Claudia Gray, Brian Niemeier, S.M. Stirling, and Harry Turtledove.
If you were a voting electorate of one, what book by any other author would you give a Dragon Award to? What books by other authors would you recommend to those who voted for or enjoyed your book?
Nick Cole: I’m going to decline naming any authors because I have too many talented friends. If you enjoyed Ctrl Alt Revolt!, I guess I would recommend that you read any book by any author who’s been cancelled. Instead of just arbitrarily listening to someone’s opinion on some author and why they should be banned, blacklisted, and their works burned in a bonfire either digital or physical, I think you should take the time to read that book, listen to that person, and come to the conclusion yourself.
(13) BOOK ANNVERSARY.
August 2015 —[Item by Cat Eldridge.]The House of Shattered Wings, the first of her Dominion of The Fallen series by French-Vietnamese author Aliette de Bodard was published by Roc in the U.S. It would be the first novel in what has been a prolific and award-rich writing career. In addition to the decadent, ruined Paris set of the Dominion of The Fallen series, there’s her Xuya stellar empire where she makes rich use of her French-Vietnamese heritage. Of the new writers I’ve been reading (and most are female), I think she’s one that bears watching as it’ll be interesting to see what new universes come from her. And yes I’m waiting for the first Xuya novel somewhat impatiently.
(14) MEDIA BIRTHDAY.
August 13, 1953 — George Pal’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’ The War Of The Worlds premiered in Atlantic City, New Jersey. (Not New York City as is popularly believed.) It was directed by Byron Haskin from the screenplay by Barré Lyndon. It starred Gene Barry and Anne Robinson. It was narrated by Cedric Hardwicke. The film was both a critical and box office success with it earning back its budget in its first run. And it would won an Academy Award for Special Effects. Audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes currently give it a 71% rating. (CE)
(15) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge and John Hertz.]
Born August 13, 1895 — Bert Lahr. Best remembered and certainly beloved as The Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz, as well as his counterpart who was a Kansas farmworker. It’s his only genre role, though In the war film Meet the People, he would say “Heavens to Murgatroyd!” which was later popularized by a cartoon character named Snagglepuss. (Died 1967.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1899 — Alfred Hitchcock. If he’d only done his two Alfred Hitchcock series which for the most part was awesome, that’d be enough to get him Birthday Honors. But he did some fifty films of which a number are genre such as The Birds and Psycho. Though I’ve not read it, I’ve heard good things about Peter Ackroyd’s Alfred Hitchcock. (Died 1980.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1909 — Tristram Coffin. He’s best remembered for being Jeff King in King of the Rocket Men, a Forties SF serial, the first of three serials featuring this character. He showed up on the Fifties Superman series in different roles, sometimes on the side of Good, sometimes not. He played The Ambassador twice on Batman in. “When the Rat’s Away the Mice Will Play” and “A Riddle a Day Keeps the Riddler Away”. (Died 1990.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1922 — Willard Sage. He showed up on Trek as Thann, one of the Empaths in “Empath”. He was Dr. Blake in Colossus: The Forbin Project, and had roles in The Land of Giants, Invaders, The Man from U.N.C.L.E., The Outer Limits and The Sixth Sense. (Died 1974.) (CE)
Born August 13, 1928 – Sir George Pollock, Bt. The 5th baronet (an oversimplification); pursued photography that had light itself as its subject; invented color photographs using controlled light, originally through glass, which he called Vitrograph; later, large-scale photographic murals. Five book and magazine covers for us; here is New Writings in SF 3. Two album covers for His Master’s Voice; here is HQM 1008 with Stravinsky’s Soldier’s Tale (translation in part by Michael Flanders!), here is HQM 1026 with Prokofievand Shostakovich. Here is Galactic Event. Website here (under re-construction but some help). Appreciation by the Photographic Alliance of Great Britain here (“NGV” is Nat’l Gallery of Victoria) (PDF). (Died 2016) [JH]
Born August 13, 1932 – John Berkey. A hundred seventy covers, two hundred twenty interiors. Mixed his own colors. Here is Starman Jones. Here is Star SF 6. Here is the Nov 94 SF Age. Here is a Star Wars book. Here is One Giant Leap. Four artbooks; lastly J. Frank ed., The Art of John Berkey. Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame. Spectrum Grand Master. Website here. (Died 2008) [JH]
Born August 13, 1945 – Rita Krupowicz. (She usually signed “R.J. Krupowicz”.) Ten covers, as many interiors. Here is The Dark Cry of the Moon.Here is the Nov 85 Fantasy & Science Fiction. This is from The Vortex Library on Twitter. (Died 1991) [JH]
Born August 13, 1952 – Donna Barr, 68. Enlisted in the U.S. Army, school-trained Teletype operator. Much of her work self-published, available electronically. Stinz was serialized in the Eclipse Comics series The Dreamery (hello, Lex Nakashima). GURPS (Generic Universal RolePlaying System) and Traveller role-playing books. “I usually do a rough on scrap paper (junk mail has lots of blank backs!), happily cutting and pasting, then I copy the whole thing (so the back is clear), rearrange the copy backwards on the back of the final paper, slap in some lettering guides, flip it over on a light table, and use it as a rough guide while I ink. No penciling, and no erasing.” Website here. [JH]
Born August 13, 1974 – Christina Henry, 46. A dozen novels, half a dozen shorter stories. Alice, Red Queen and Looking Glass are “a dark and twisted take on Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”; The Girl in Red is “a post-apocalyptic Red Riding Hood novel”. The Ghost Tree, expected next month, is “an homage to all the coming-of-age horror novels I read when I was younger – except all those books featured boys as the protagonists when I longed for more stories about girls. Just to clarify, though – this is not a young adult novel; it’s intended for an adult audience (like all of my work).” [JH]
Born August 13, 1977 — Damian O’Hare, 43. Though you might know him from the Pirates of the Caribbean films, The Curse of the Black Pearl and On Stranger Tides where he played Gillette, I know him as the voice of John Constantine on Justice League Action. He also showed up in Agent Carter. (CE)
Born August 13, 1990 — Sara Serraiocco, 30. She plays the complex role of Baldwin on the Counterpart series which I’ve got on the iPad for watching soon. Anyone watch this? (CE)
Born August 13, 1990 – Marlon Pierre-Antoine, 30. “Helena’s Empire” is an E-book novelette. Its sequel Wandering Stars explores a teenage girl’s whblooming romance with Lucifer (i.e. after his fall), whom she meets on a beach. MP ranks The Divine Comedy above Animal Farm, both below The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. [JH]
Years after the completion of the second outing of his alternate history series The American Way, 12 Years a Slave screenwriter John Ridley is returning to comics to reveal The Other History of the DC Universe. The long-awaited series, exploring DC’s lengthy comic book mythology from a new angle, has been newly scheduled for a November release.
The five-part series, originally announced in 2018, re-examines important and iconic moments from DC’s comic book history from the point of view of characters from traditionally disenfranchised groups, including Jefferson Pierce — better known as Black Lightning — and Renee Montoya (The Question). Giuseppe “Cammo” Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi, and colorist José Villarrubia are the artists for the series, with covers from Camuncoli and Jamal Campbell (Far Sector, Naomi)….
In a rare public fallout for Netflix, the creators of the platform’s highly anticipated, live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender, the acclaimed Nickelodeon cartoon, have walked away from the project.
Avatar: The Last Airbender’s full run became available on Netflix this past June, attracting a huge audience and reigniting the 2000s cartoon’s popularity. But in separate posts published to their respective blogs and Instagrams, Avatar franchise creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko said they were no longer involved with the previously announced Netflix remake, due to prolonged creative differences.
“When Netflix brought me on board to run this series alongside Mike two years ago,” Konietzko wrote in his Instagram post, “they made a very public promise to support our vision. Unfortunately, there was no follow-through on that promise. … [T]he general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and unsupportive environment.”
“I realized I couldn’t control the creative direction of the series, but I could control how I responded,” DiMartino added on his own website. “So, I chose to leave the project.”…
”People ask me to predict the future, when all I want to do is prevent it.” Ray Bradbury has been acclaimed as the writer most responsible for bringing modern science fiction into the literary mainstream but, as the quote above shows, he regarded himself as the author of modern philosophical fables, rather than a sci-fi writer. In his dystopian works, such as Fahrenheit 451, he holds up a mirror to contemporary society and then transposes it into fantastical and futuristic scenarios. Bradbury was a prolific writer who tried his hand at everything from poems and novels to TV and radio scripts but it’s his early short stories which he produced in his twenties that are perhaps the most imaginative.
To mark the centenary of Bradbury’s birth, Rajan Datar is joined by three Bradbury experts to help him navigate through the author’s prodigious output: Professor Jonathan Eller from Indiana University who is also the Director of the Center for Ray Bradbury Studies; Dr. Miranda Corcoran who teaches American literature at University College Cork with particular interest in science fiction, horror and the gothic; and Dr. Phil Nichols who combines research into Bradbury’s TV and other media work with the teaching of Film and Television Production at Wolverhampton University.
(21) TOONING OUT. Camestros Felapton’s attention was drawn to “The Webtoon Short Story Contest” by Vox Day’s complaints that his Arkhaven Comics entry got no love from the judges:
Where there are stories gathered together there are story competitions and Webtoon is no different. They recently held their Short Story competition with the winners announced here https://www.webtoons.com/en/challenge/contest/us-contest-2020. It’s a juried award with cash prizes that splits winners and runners up into two categories: “Brain” for stories that blow your mind and “Heart” for stories that warm your heart (Rules and FAQs).
“Why are you telling us all this Camestros?” I hear you say….
Camestros proceeds to make some interesting observations.
And it wasn’t just unawarded. Midnight’s War somehow didn’t even qualify as one of the 36 runners-up despite being one of the top 10 ranked in Popularity and earning a higher rating than two out of the three Silver winners.
This tells me that Arkhaven needs to seriously rethink our plan to use Webtoons as a platform….
…JAY PRICE, BYLINE: Esports has exploded in the past few years. There are pro leagues, bricks and mortar arenas, players with six-figure salaries. Millions of people log on to streaming platforms like the Amazon owned Twitch to watch games and interact with players and each other. Many are of recruiting age. The military has taken notice. Major General Frank Muth just finished a stint leading U.S. Army Recruiting Command.
FRANK MUTH: This really has brought us into the modern era of where this generation and the next generation – they’re mainly hanging out online all the time.
PRICE: The four largest military services all now have teams or official players. Sergeant Nicole Ortiz is on the Army’s team. Her role includes playing games while socializing and explaining military life to viewers, like her own as an IT specialist.
NICOLE ORTIZ: A lot of them, they look at movies and think that the Army is just about war and shooting guns. In reality, I used to work at a help desk.
PRICE: Recruiting brass say the new esports push is already helping, especially given the difficulties of face-to-face recruiting during the pandemic. Part of the allure is being able to interact directly with viewers through the chat function. And that’s where the military’s esports initiative ran into some trouble.
KATIE FALLOW: What they did here is impermissible under the First Amendment.
PRICE: Attorney Katie Fallow is with the Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University. She represents an activist named Jordan Uhl. On the Army and Navy Twitch channels, he posted messages including, what’s your favorite U.S. war crime? Uhl was banned from both, along with dozens of others who posted similar messages or other comments the military gamers deemed improper.
FALLOW: Because they basically said, we don’t like that you’re raising questions about war crimes or things that the military is sensitive about. And they blocked people based on their viewpoints.
(24) SOONER OF LATER IT ALL ADDS UP. In “The Cost of Perseverance, in Context”, the Planetary Society says the cost of the latest Mars Exploration Rover mission sounds quite modest compared to some other chosen figures.
NASA expects to spend approximately $2.7 billion on the Perseverance rover project. This number can sound large, even excessive, to some—but it’s a number that demands context. Let’s give it some….
The total cost of the Perseverance rover is equivalent to…
33 hours of running the Department of Defense
Slightly less than 1 day of Social Security spending
One year of spending on the Space Launch System rocket
…Northumberland Park garage will host vehicle-to-grid technology, which feeds energy stored in parked electric buses back into the electricity network.
If the government-funded Bus2Grid project is rolled out across London it could power an estimated 150,000 homes.
The project will begin in November and run for three years.
Putting energy back into the grid when demand is high and recharging buses when demand is low helps make the network more efficient by balancing the peaks and troughs.
Ian Cameron, head of innovation at UK Power Networks, said: “A fleet of bus batteries harnesses large amounts of electricity and they are habitual, with regular and predictable routes, driving patterns and timings.
“That means we can easily predict and plan for how we can use any spare electrical capacity they can offer.”
(27) FORBIDDEN KNOWLEDGE. Forbidden Planet, the world’s largest and best-known comic book and cult entertainment retail chain, is throwing itself a 42nd birthday party — Forbidden Planet 42 – an online event featuring many genre and other celebrities.
On Saturday August 29th 2020, ForbiddenPlanet.com will play host to a huge range of celebrity interviews, as alumni from the worlds of science fiction, comics & popular culture come together to help the store celebrate 42 years of pop-culture addiction – and ponder the answer to The Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe and Everythingwith an all-star cast of our oldest friends & customers!
This star-studded online event will feature new, exclusive interviews with some of Forbidden Planet’s most celebrated customers including William Shatner, DMC, Neil Gaiman, Alice Cooper, Jonathan Ross, Gerard Way, Garth Ennis, Kevin Smith, Michael Moorcock, Simon Pegg, Mark Millar, Dan Slott, V.E. Schwab, Dave Gibbons, Brian Bolland, Dirk Maggs, Chris Claremont & Ben Aaronovich amongst others, hosted by Forbidden Planet’s Andrew Sumner.
As part of the Forbidden Planet 42 celebrations, this online extravaganza will also host a tribute to Forbidden Planet’s old friend – the late, great Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy) in the shape of a rare, never-before-heard interview with Douglas (recently discovered in the Forbidden Planet vaults) conducted by another old pal, celebrated author Neil Gaiman.
[Thanks to Kathryn Sullivan, John King Tarpinian, JJ, John Hertz, Rose Embolism, Chip Hitchcock, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, Gordon Van Gelder, Martin Morse Wooster, Michael Toman, and Andrew Porter for some of the ridiculous number of stories in today’s Scroll. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Olav Rokne.]
Blyly’s predicament shows the Twin Cities are quite different in the way each applies a state law.
In Minneapolis, on a desolate lot where Don Blyly’s bookstore stood before being destroyed in the May riots, two men finish their cigarettes and then walk through a dangerous landscape filled with slippery debris and sharp objects. The city won’t let Blyly haul away his wreckage without a permit, and he can’t get a contractor to tell him how much it will cost to rebuild the store until that happens.
In St. Paul, where Jim Stage’s pharmacy burned down during the same disturbances, crews have already removed the bricks and scorched timbers. A steel fence keeps out trespassers. Stage expects construction of his new Lloyd’s Pharmacy to begin later this month.
The main reason for the different recoveries is simple: Minneapolis requires owners to prepay the second half of their 2020 property taxes in order to obtain a demolition permit. St. Paul does not….
…[Minneapolis] City officials say their hands are tied, pointing to a state law that prohibits the removal of any structures or standing timber until all of the taxes assessed against the building have been fully paid.
The law, however, leaves enforcement to the county, and Hennepin County officials said they made it clear to the city of Minneapolis this summer that they would not enforce the requirement for any riot-damaged properties.
Local business owners are appalled by the finger-pointing, noting that nearly 100 properties in Minneapolis were destroyed or severely damaged in the riots following the death of George Floyd. The vast majority of those properties are either still standing or have been turned into ugly and often dangerous piles of rubble. Owners say the lack of progress is discouraging reinvestment and sending customers to other parts of the metro.
Across the river, recovery is moving much faster:
In St. Paul, officials have been issuing demolition permits in as little as a week, records show.
IT TAKES TIME TO PULL PERMITS. The city has to give permission for the demolition.
A couple of weeks ago I hired a company to handle the demolition and debris removal at the Uncles site. I asked the guy when the work could be done. He warned me that even in the best of times Minneapolis never issued a demolition permit in less than 30 days, and these are not the best of times. But he got the ball rolling to get the permit. (For those who remember when the Robert’s Shoes building at the corner of Chicago and Lake burned to the ground about 3 years ago, it took the owner 4 months to get a permit to haul away the debris. Every time he thought he had provided every possible piece of paper to the city, they would demand something new.)
THE DENTIST IS ALREADY DRILLING. A neighboring business is making life complicated.
I’ve written before about the dental clinic being built in 1995 using my firewall as his firewall, which worked fine until the Uncles burned to the ground. Suddenly, the new owner of the dental clinic wanted my firewall down as fast as possible so that he could repair his wall and get his business running again. I took down the front half of the wall by hand using a hammer and crow bar on the century-old mortar, but I knew that the back half would require machinery to take down. The dentist called late last Thursday to say that his contractor said that the back half of my wall next to his wall would have to come down within the next 10 days for the contractor to get his work done on time. I explained about the demolition permit and that we would not have the permit within the next 10 days…
On Friday I explained this to my contractor, who wanted to meet with me and the dental clinic contractor at the site sometime on Monday to look over the situation and the proposed solution….
On Monday I took a carload of mail orders to the post office at 9 am and then went to the Uncles site to take measurements to be able to do a site map of the Uncles as the building was before the fire. The dental clinic contractor had already used his bobcat, but not at all like I had been told he would. He did not go through the clinic. Instead, he took down the entire back wall of the back room (which I was assured he would not touch), scooped up most of the debris in the back room and lifted it over the wall into the Uncle Edgar’s space (thereby knocking down much of the Uncle Edgar’s side wall and back wall to about the 4 foot level), and then took down the back room wall next to the clinic and pushed it over next to the Uncle Edgar’s wall. When I arrived, a workman was busy taking down the dental clinic wall and tossing it into Uncle Hugo’s basement. When I complained about this, he claimed that he would pick it all up and put it in the clinic’s dumpster whenever a new dumpster was delivered. Three days later the clinic’s dumpster has been replaced, but the clinic just keeps tossing more of their debris into Uncle Hugo’s basement and hasn’t removed any of the sheet rock tossed in there on Monday.
GOT TO PAY THE PROPERTY TAX, BUT HOW MUCH? When your property has burned down, it’s only fair that it be reassessed for a lower value.
One of the things necessary to get a demolition permit is that the entire year’s property tax must bepaid before the permit can be issued. Half of the year’s property tax is due May 15 (and was paid) and the second half is due by October 15. But Minneapolis publicized that they would be reducing the property tax for the second half of the year for buildings destroyed or significantly damaged during the rioting. I filled out the form on-line in early July, and the city promised that a tax assessor would contact me within 3 business days. Nobody ever contacted me, so on July 20 I tried to contact the city assessor’s office.
…My on-line form had arrived, but around 800 properties had requested re-assessment because of damage from the riot and the work-from-home staff was simply overwhelmed with work. The city assessor’s office had until the beginning of September to complete those 800 re-assessments and send new figures to Hennepin County so that they could come up with new property tax figures. …Certainly not an ideal situation, but I now know that I should pay the higher tax now to move a step closer to the demolition permit, and hope someday to get a partial refund.
NOBODY TURNED OFF THE WATER? Apparently, in Uncle Hugo’s debris-filled basement, the water has been leaking for two months.
I eventually received a water bill for the store, forwarded to my home (which seems to added about 7-10 days). It charged me for estimated water and sewer volumes from 6-12-20 to 7-12-20, but demanded that I call them to arrange for a meter reading. I called and explained that the building was burnt to the ground on May 30, the water meter was in the basement under many feet of rubble, and I assumed that they had turned off the water when the fire struck, just like the electrical company and the gas company had done. The first person I talked to assured me that the water had not been turned off, and that the water had probably been pouring out of a broken pipe in the basement for over 2 months, so my water bill would probably be much higher than the estimated bill….
WINDING UP THE BUSINESS. This would be complicated anyway, but now the pandemic is affecting everyone.
It is taking longer than I expected to get matters cleared up with some publishers. Immediately after the fire the publishers were all asked to put the account on hold so that no orders could be shipped to us until we were ready, cancel all the old purchase orders that had not yet been sent, and change the address from the store address to my home address to speed up communications. Then, when a new monthly statement came in I would look for invoices that we might not have received (dated late May) and request copies of them so that I could determine if we had received them.
Both UPS and the post office stopped delivering to much of south Minneapolis after May 26 because of the riots. … UPS simply returned to sender every package addressed to the Uncles and over 100 other businesses, but some of the warehouses the boxes were returned to were short-handed because of covid-19 and took months to issue credits… It was a real mess trying to figure out what I really owed and send out checks. …I hope that within another month I’ll have everything cleaned up with the cooperative publishers
A MAN AND HIS DOG. Don Blyly’s dog, who comes from a long-lived breed, misses the store.
…If Ecko lives to be 20, that means she’ll still be dragging me around on half-mile walks when I’m 81. I’m not sure what to think about that. But she really misses going to the store and greeting people.