Monday, May 12, 2008

Whose birthday was it yesterday, Spotty?

Well that's easy, grasshopper. Yesterday was Pentecost; it was the birthday of the Christian church.


Yes, but I suspect that isn't the answer you were looking for.

It was also Minnesota's 150th birthday, its sesquicentennial. Nick Coleman notes this about the observance:

The sesquicentennial begins not with a bang. It starts with a dud.

Cannons were fired in celebration when word arrived in St. Paul by riverboat that Minnesota had been accepted into the Union on May 11, 1858. But there will be no cannon fire today, the state's 150th birthday.

Why not? Because the Minnesota Department of Transportation building might collapse.

I kid you not.

The proud North Star State is hitting the Big 1-5-0 in such a condition of decrepitude that we have to make sure the party doesn't get too loud and bring down what remains standing.

It's like when you throw a birthday party for Ancient Aunt Ethel and warn the kids not to pop the balloons because she might keel over.

Minnesota might, too.

Today's muffled statehood observance -- already hampered by funding shortages and forced to share the spotlight with moms and walleyes -- will be even duller than planned. And a lot quieter.

Civil War re-enactors who volunteered months ago to bring artillery to this afternoon's Capitol events have been told by state officials that they cannot fire off their replica cannons.

Apparently, the DOT building is so neglected that its facade might crumble just from the concussion of the Civil War era cannons.

Just think how cool that would be, boys and girls, to be a Civil War re-enactor and bring down a building, without a cannon ball even? It is the stuff from which re-enactor dreams are made.

It is also, as Nick says, emblematic of where Minnesota finds itself today. This out to be like when a dog turns 280, or 350, or even, gulp, 420: a chance for a really good party and some introspection.

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