Earn up to 20% Back on Hotels, Miracle Landing in California, Flying an Empty A380 and More

Earn up to 20% Back on Hotels, Miracle Landing in California, Flying an Empty A380 and More

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Each Saturday, we round up news stories that you may have missed from the week before, including several that already appeared on The Points Guy, and some more that we haven’t covered yet. If you’re an avid TPG reader, scroll down for the new stuff. Here’s the top miles, points and travel news you may have missed this week.

Capital One Venture Rewards Cards Now Earn 10x Miles at Hotels.com, Up to 20% Back Total

This week, Capital One updated its Venture Rewards and VentureOne Rewards cards with a great new perk for hotel spending. Both cards will earn 10x miles on purchases made at Hotels.com/Venture.

Plane Makes ‘Miracle’ Emergency Landing on Southern California Freeway

A small plane departing from San Diego to Van Nuys made an emergency landing on a Southern California highway when its engine started failing. Emergency responders called the landing a “complete miracle.”

Across the Atlantic In An Empty A380: Emirates Economy, New York to Milan

Read TPG Senior Editor Julian Mark Kheel’s take on the coach-class experience on Emirates’ fifth-freedom flight between New York (JFK) and Milan (MXP) aboard its A380.

American Airlines Reduced Mileage Awards for February-May

With American Airlines’ reduced mileage awards, passengers can save between 1,000 and 7,500 miles per round-trip flight, depending on the route and the type of AA co-branded card you have.

Instagram Star Gets Kicked off American Flight After an Argument

Fitness model and Instagram star, Jet Selter, was kicked off an American Airlines flight after getting in an argument with the flight’s crew.

How to Travel More for Fewer Miles With the United Excursionist Perk

Take a look at how you can use the United Excursionist perk to travel more in 2018 using fewer miles.

Here Are Situations That Could Get You Free Miles From an AA Flight Attendant

After learning that American Airlines flight attendants will be able to give passengers in-flight compensation, we wanted to know more. Here’s what we found out regarding what kinds of situations could get you some free miles.

TSA PreCheck Now Available With Five New International and Domestic Airlines

One of the best parts of TSA PreCheck, aside from the shorter security lines, is that the program keeps expanding. Take a look to see which airlines have begun participating in the program.

Chase and Starbucks Launch First Co-Branded Credit Card

The Starbucks credit card has finally arrived. On Thursday, Starbucks and Chase launched the co-branded Starbucks Rewards Visa Card, a card that allows you to earn Starbucks Rewards stars on non-Starbucks purchases.

In other news…

 

Sign up for Singapore’s KrisFlyer Program to get 1,000 Free Miles 

If you sign up now to become a KrisFlyer member, you’ll automatically receive 1,000 KrisFlyer miles. Just enter the promo code in your email when completing the KrisFlyer application and you’ll be ready to redeem your miles immediately.

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February 3, 2018 at 12:15PM

I’ll Need Your Café’s Wi-Fi Password Because I’m Working on My Novel Today

I’ll Need Your Café’s Wi-Fi Password Because I’m Working on My Novel Today

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Hi there. Good afternoon. Oh, gosh, I can’t believe it’s already the
afternoon! The plan was to wake up early and be here by 9 A.M. to get
to work on my novel. That’s right, a novel. I’m writing a novel, and it’s
going to have characters, conflict, dénouement—all that stuff. Wow, it
feels so good to say it out loud. I’ve been telling every single person
who will listen that I’m currently working on a novel, but it feels
especially amazing to tell you right now.

To get my once-in-a-generation story down onto the page, in my laptop,
though, I’m going to need your café’s Wi-Fi password. Sorry, I don’t
know if you heard me: I’m going to be writing a novel here in your café
today! How exciting for you!

That’s the thing about writing a novel. You think you can get by without
the World Wide Web. I mean, isn’t my imagination the widest web of them
all? However, I will need to connect to your Wi-Fi to do some online
research in order to fill my story with historically accurate details.
Sure, I’ll spend most of my time staring at my ex’s vacation photos on
Facebook, but it’s all just a part of the writing process.

Gee, what a privilege it is for you to have me here in your café,
working on my inevitable masterpiece. One day, when I manage to actually
write any part of this novel, you’ll get to tell people, “I saw him
working on that novel in my café! He asked for the Wi-Fi password and
then sat down to write the greatest work of the last fifteen—no,
twenty—years!”

Are there any other power outlets in here or do I have to use the ones
in the back of the café? I’d really prefer to sit somewhere near the
front, so I can gaze out the window and be inspired by the hustle and
bustle of the city. Novels are so much more than just the physical
manifestation of an author’s unique voice. They’re a reflection of an
author’s surroundings and atmosphere. You know what a novel is, right?
It’s like a long book. I’m currently working on one.

Ah, shoot. Was that password case-sensitive? Can I have it again? You
know what? This reminds me of the writing process. It requires so much
going back and reworking. Luckily, I haven’t had to do much editing on
my novel yet since I haven’t actually written anything.

Would you like to take a photograph of me and hang it up, so you can one
day tell your patrons that a famous author sat here for twelve hours
using your Wi-Fi and only purchased a single coffee? What size for the
coffee? The smallest you have, please.

O.K., I guess I’ll sit at this table right over here. Please don’t call
my name once my tiny coffee is ready, just in case I’m deep in the
throes of writing my novel. I wouldn’t want you to interrupt my train of
thought. As I’ve mentioned, I’m writing a novel with my hands and my
brain. One more time, what’s the Wi-Fi password?

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February 3, 2018 at 12:11PM

SURFACING: Jump on the Bandwagon of a Winning Super Bowl Team? Not These Cleveland Browns Fans

SURFACING: Jump on the Bandwagon of a Winning Super Bowl Team? Not These Cleveland Browns Fans

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SURFACING

Jump on the Bandwagon of a Winning Super Bowl Team? Not These Cleveland Browns Fans

Meet the superfans of a struggling franchise in the National Football League.

Image
Denny Kochever, known as “Dawg Face,” standing in front of his seats in the Dawg Pound section of the Cleveland Browns’ FirstEnergy Stadium.CreditStephen Hiltner/The New York Times

CLEVELAND — It all started with a “woof.”

In 1985, Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield, cornerbacks for the Cleveland Browns, began barking at their defensive linemen — an unconventional rallying cry. Nearby fans overheard the antics and returned their own barks.

By the end of the season — after spending months popularizing the phenomenon in practices, games and during interviews — Dixon and Minnifield had established a new identity for the Browns’ defense: the Dawgs.

It wasn’t long before a large section of the Browns’ home field, Municipal Stadium, in the cheap bleacher seats beyond the stadium’s eastern end zone, was named the “Dawg Pound.” There, among a clientele that consisted largely of blue-collar Clevelanders, in a city characterized by its resilience and still gripped by the demise of its once-booming steel industry, grew something strange and wonderful.

Image
Yes, that fan is holding a can of Alpo dog food in September 1995.CreditDavid Liam Kyle/Sports Illustrated, via Getty Images

The Dawg Pound was a kind of cultural caldron, and the people who occupied its bleacher seats were pioneers of a new form of fandom. First they barked. Then they donned dog masks and carried fistfuls of Milk-Bone dog biscuits into the stadium. Over time, their costumes and props became more and more outlandish: oversize bones, ornamental necklaces, hard hats, massive floppy ears. Then came the names and the fixed personas: D. Dawg, who wore a rabid dog mask and carried a cowbell. Dawg Face, who wore No. 30 and, no matter the temperature, always wore shorts. There was Big Dawg, who sported No. 98; Mobile Dawg, who was known for traveling to away games; Junkyard Dawg; Jam Dawg; Sick Dawg; Fly Dawg; Mad Dawg; and Ugly Dawg.

“We were Browns junkies,” said Mike Randall, who went by Dawg Pound Mike.

The Dawg Pound’s enthusiasm spread throughout Northeast Ohio. Fans recorded songs dedicated to the Browns — fawning odes that hit the market on records and cassette tapes and flooded the local radio shows.

“The Dawgs are barking; they’re all having fun,” went one chart-topper, a paean to the Browns’ beloved quarterback at the time, Bernie Kosar. Another consisted of a rock ballad interspersed with dog barks. Yet another celebrated — in the ’80s sense of the word “bad” — the “Bad, Bad Cleveland Browns.”

Within the stadium, though, things weren’t always lighthearted. There was a rough-and-tumble side to the Dawg Pound — a dark side, an overtly problematic side. “By today’s standards, it was a violent section,” said Vince Erwin, the man behind D. Dawg. Things often descended into hooliganism. Kegs were smuggled in. During contentious, heated games, fans were apt to hurl objects at the opposing team: dog biscuits, snowballs, beer cups.

“It was an intimidating group,” recalled John “Big Dawg” Thompson, who, at the height of his Dawg Pound fame, was one of the most famous sports fans in the country.

In 1995 — in what remains the most infamous moment in Cleveland sports history — the then owner Art Modell announced his plans to relocate the team to Baltimore. When the Browns played their final game at Municipal Stadium, fans in the Dawg Pound dismantled their wooden bleacher seats with wrenches and hacksaws. Elsewhere in the stadium, a whole set of seats was ripped out and passed overhead from row to row, and finally dumped onto the field in protest.

For more Surfacing pieces, like one on a Jamaican synchronized swimming team, click here.

Image
Rowdy much? Cleveland Browns fans, angry at the team’s decision to move to Baltimore, threw a row of seats onto the field after the Brown’s victory over the Bengals in December 1995.CreditStephen Dunn/Getty Images

“That was a scary day,” recalled Denny Kochever, the man behind the Dawg Face persona, with an audible tinge of emotion. “Scary and sad.”

A year later, Municipal Stadium was demolished — and the original Dawg Pound section went with it.

By anyone’s standards, today’s Cleveland Browns — reborn as an expansion franchise in 1999, along with a new stadium and a new, fancier Dawg Pound — are the worst team in the National Football League. The Browns lost every game in the 2017 season, finishing 0-16, a low matched by only one other team in league history, the 2008 Detroit Lions. Their record over the last two years is an abominable 1-31. Since relaunching the franchise, the Browns have fielded no less than 28 starting quarterbacks and have burned through eight head coaches. (Hue Jackson, hired in 2016, is the ninth.) The last 19 years have yielded only two winning seasons and a single playoff appearance.

Nevertheless, an estimated 3,000 fans held a parade in January for the team’s “perfect season.” (For some, it offered a chance to show their undying support — or to finally be in on the joke. For others, it was less a celebration and more a form of protest.)

Image
Cleveland Browns fans participated in a “Perfect Season” parade after the team lost all its games.CreditTony Dejak/Associated Press
Image
A fan donning a dog mask with the losing streak written on it.CreditTony Dejak/Associated Press

Mr. Kochever, 71, was recently standing over an odd assortment of football paraphernalia, all of it strewn throughout his bedroom: flags, dog masks, necklaces, rawhide bones. The pile covered half the room, and he had plenty more stored away. He’d laid it all out as proof of the depth of his loyalty.

“There are still a few of us who bleed orange and brown,” he said, referring to the Browns’ colors. “But the last 20, 25 years — it’s been tough.”

“When you’re winning, you have everything: team spirit, enthusiasm, the creativity to come up with trinkets and costumes,” he continued. “I used to get up and run across the Dawg Pound. I’d be yelling, I’d be waving my bone. But there’s not a lot to get us going anymore.”

Image
Denny Kochever, known as “Dawg Face,” showing off the mask he wears at Cleveland Browns games.CreditStephen Hiltner/The New York Times

There’s an old cliché in Cleveland, one that’s been minted on T-shirts and adopted as an unofficial Browns motto: “There’s always next year.” It encapsulates the city’s consciously misguided, yet enduring, sense of hope.

But at this point, so many next years have piled up that an entire generation of Browns fans has come to know the team only as perennial losers — and, by now, many of the Dawg Pound superfans who defined the city’s sporting culture in the ’80s and ’90s have vanished from the stands. Those who are left — fans like Dawg Face and D. Dawg — have become an ever-shrinking subculture in Northeast Ohio, custodians of the fading memory of the Browns as a gritty and formidable football team, one that, between ’86 and ’89, played in three out of four A.F.C. championship games, and, in the 1950s and ’60s, won four N.F.L. championships.

As the fan base has changed, so, too, has the nature of the Dawg Pound itself. Heightened security measures have made the section less rowdy and more family friendly, and have prevented fans from carrying in some of their more distinctive flair. Mr. Erwin, for example, was barred from carrying in both his large orange bone (a potential weapon) and his cowbell (a “noise maker”). Far from the intimidating fan section it once was, the Dawg Pound became, in the words of one commentator, “a surly collection of unsatisfied fans.”

“Back in the day, it was rare to see more than one, maybe two fans from the opposing team in the Dawg Pound,” Mr. Kochever said. “Now they come in like it’s nothing.”

Image
Vince Erwin, known as “D. Dawg,” at his seat in the “Dawg Pound” with a large orange bone and a cowbell. He is barred from bringing in those items during games.CreditStephen Hiltner/The New York Times

“I try to keep the fire burning with my kids and with the younger fans,” said Mr. Erwin, a season-ticket holder since 1978. “But they don’t know what it’s like to be loyal to a team through bad times. For them, it’s easier to jump on the bandwagon of a team that’s winning — and laugh at those of us who don’t.”

When you ask Browns fans why they still support their team, you’re met with something of a refrain.

Cleveland is a football city, people around here say, and the Browns will eventually turn things around. There’s a sense of logical inevitability. This, after all, is “Believeland,” where residents who have endured a long series of devastating defeats — Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, Jose Mesa’s blown save in the ninth inning of the ’97 World Series — still find a way to hope against hope.

And in football, Browns fans say, the winds of fortune change — or can change — on a year-to-year basis. Look no further than Sunday’s Super Bowl, which includes the Philadelphia Eagles — the worst team in their division last year. One good draft, the collective belief around here goes, and it could all turn around.

Image
Vince Erwin a.k.a. D. Dawg.CreditStephen Hiltner/The New York Times

But there’s something, too, about the enduring effect that Dawg Pound culture has had on the psyche in Northeast Ohio. All those Browns songs from the 1980s, the ones that were piped over the radio and into people’s cars and homes? “I still know the words to all of those,” said Susie Welch, who grew up in Cleveland’s West Side and attended games in the Dawg Pound at the old Municipal Stadium. “It was part of a culture that enveloped the whole city.”

And that culture, by way of a kind of Browns-fans diaspora, has spread through the country — and around the world. Ms. Welch, who left Cleveland for Madison, Wis., some 20 years ago and subsequently founded the Mad City fan club, is one of tens of thousands of registered members of Browns Backers Worldwide, a nonprofit organization with over 300 clubs in more than a dozen countries.

“We’re just always going to support the Browns,” Ms. Welch said, “win or lose — or lose even worse,” she said with a laugh.

“We’ve got two of the best teams in their respective leagues,” said Justin Eckert, a 32-year-old Dawg Pound fan, referring to the Cavaliers and the Indians. “But put on sports talk radio in the morning and what do you hear? Browns, Browns, Browns.”

“There’s a lot of fans out there,” said Dan Eckert, Justin’s father. “They have a real love for the Browns — they’re just lying dormant right now. But when we start winning again, everybody in Cleveland will be coming out of the woodwork. We’ll be bigger than the Cavs and the Indians combined. Just you wait.”

Stephen Hiltner joined The Times as a staff editor in 2016. He was previously an editor for six years at The Paris Review. He is a graduate of the University of Oxford and the University of Virginia. @sahiltnerFacebook

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February 3, 2018 at 12:00PM

Jump on the Bandwagon of a Winning N.F.L. Team? Not These Cleveland Browns Fans

Jump on the Bandwagon of a Winning N.F.L. Team? Not These Cleveland Browns Fans

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Jump on the Bandwagon of a Winning N.F.L. Team? Not These Cleveland Browns Fans

Meet the superfans of a struggling franchise in the National Football League.

Image
Denny Kochever, known as “Dawg Face,” standing in front of his seats in the Dawg Pound section of the Cleveland Browns’ FirstEnergy Stadium.CreditStephen Hiltner/The New York Times

CLEVELAND — It all started with a “woof.”

In 1985, Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield, cornerbacks for the Cleveland Browns, began barking at their defensive linemen — an unconventional rallying cry. Nearby fans overheard the antics and returned their own barks.

By the end of the season — after spending months popularizing the phenomenon in practices, games and during interviews — Dixon and Minnifield had established a new identity for the Browns’ defense: the Dawgs.

It wasn’t long before a large section of the Browns’ home field, Municipal Stadium, in the cheap bleacher seats beyond the stadium’s eastern end zone, was named the “Dawg Pound.” There, among a clientele that consisted largely of blue-collar Clevelanders, in a city characterized by its resilience and still gripped by the demise of its once-booming steel industry, grew something strange and wonderful.

Image
Yes, that fan is holding a can of Alpo dog food in September 1995.CreditDavid Liam Kyle/Sports Illustrated, via Getty Images

The Dawg Pound was a kind of cultural caldron, and the people who occupied its bleacher seats were pioneers of a new form of fandom. First they barked. Then they donned dog masks and carried fistfuls of Milk-Bone dog biscuits into the stadium. Over time, their costumes and props became more and more outlandish: oversize bones, ornamental necklaces, hard hats, massive floppy ears. Then came the names and the fixed personas: D. Dawg, who wore a rabid dog mask and carried a cowbell. Dawg Face, who wore No. 30 and, no matter the temperature, always wore shorts. There was Big Dawg, who sported No. 98; Mobile Dawg, who was known for traveling to away games; Junkyard Dawg; Jam Dawg; Sick Dawg; Fly Dawg; Mad Dawg; and Ugly Dawg.

“We were Browns junkies,” said Mike Randall, who went by Dawg Pound Mike.

The Dawg Pound’s enthusiasm spread throughout Northeast Ohio. Fans recorded songs dedicated to the Browns — fawning odes that hit the market on records and cassette tapes and flooded the local radio shows.

“The Dawgs are barking; they’re all having fun,” went one chart-topper, a paean to the Browns’ beloved quarterback at the time, Bernie Kosar. Another consisted of a rock ballad interspersed with dog barks. Yet another celebrated — in the ’80s sense of the word “bad” — the “Bad, Bad Cleveland Browns.”

Within the stadium, though, things weren’t always lighthearted. There was a rough-and-tumble side to the Dawg Pound — a dark side, an overtly problematic side. “By today’s standards, it was a violent section,” said Vince Erwin, the man behind D. Dawg. Things often descended into hooliganism. Kegs were smuggled in. During contentious, heated games, fans were apt to hurl objects at the opposing team: dog biscuits, snowballs, beer cups.

“It was an intimidating group,” recalled John “Big Dawg” Thompson, who, at the height of his Dawg Pound fame, was one of the most famous sports fans in the country.

In 1995 — in what remains the most infamous moment in Cleveland sports history — the then owner Art Modell announced his plans to relocate the team to Baltimore. When the Browns played their final game at Municipal Stadium, fans in the Dawg Pound dismantled their wooden bleacher seats with wrenches and hacksaws. Elsewhere in the stadium, a whole set of seats was ripped out and passed overhead from row to row, and finally dumped onto the field in protest.

Image
Rowdy much? Cleveland Browns fans, angry at the team’s decision to move to Baltimore, threw a row of seats onto the field after the Brown’s victory over the Bengals in December 1995.CreditStephen Dunn/Getty Images

“That was a scary day,” recalled Denny Kochever, the man behind the Dawg Face persona, with an audible tinge of emotion. “Scary and sad.”

A year later, Municipal Stadium was demolished — and the original Dawg Pound section went with it.

By anyone’s standards, today’s Cleveland Browns — reborn as an expansion franchise in 1999, along with a new stadium and a new, fancier Dawg Pound — are the worst team in the National Football League. The Browns lost every game in the 2017 season, finishing 0-16, a low matched by only one other team in league history, the 2008 Detroit Lions. Their record over the last two years is an abominable 1-31. Since relaunching the franchise, the Browns have fielded no less than 28 starting quarterbacks and have burned through eight head coaches. (Hue Jackson, hired in 2016, is the ninth.) The last 19 years have yielded only two winning seasons and a single playoff appearance.

Nevertheless, an estimated 3,000 fans held a parade in January for the team’s “perfect season.” (For some, it offered a chance to show their undying support — or to finally be in on the joke. For others, it was less a celebration and more a form of protest.)

Image
Cleveland Browns fans participated in a “Perfect Season” parade after the team lost all its games.CreditTony Dejak/Associated Press
Image
A fan donning a dog mask with the losing streak written on it.CreditTony Dejak/Associated Press

Mr. Kochever, 71, was recently standing over an odd assortment of football paraphernalia, all of it strewn throughout his bedroom: flags, dog masks, necklaces, rawhide bones. The pile covered half the room, and he had plenty more stored away. He’d laid it all out as proof of the depth of his loyalty.

“There are still a few of us who bleed orange and brown,” he said, referring to the Browns’ colors. “But the last 20, 25 years — it’s been tough.”

“When you’re winning, you have everything: team spirit, enthusiasm, the creativity to come up with trinkets and costumes,” he continued. “I used to get up and run across the Dawg Pound. I’d be yelling, I’d be waving my bone. But there’s not a lot to get us going anymore.”

Image
Denny Kochever, known as “Dawg Face,” showing off the mask he wears at Cleveland Browns games.CreditStephen Hiltner/The New York Times

There’s an old cliché in Cleveland, one that’s been minted on T-shirts and adopted as an unofficial Browns motto: “There’s always next year.” It encapsulates the city’s consciously misguided, yet enduring, sense of hope.

But at this point, so many next years have piled up that an entire generation of Browns fans has come to know the team only as perennial losers — and, by now, many of the Dawg Pound superfans who defined the city’s sporting culture in the ’80s and ’90s have vanished from the stands. Those who are left — fans like Dawg Face and D. Dawg — have become an ever-shrinking subculture in Northeast Ohio, custodians of the fading memory of the Browns as a gritty and formidable football team, one that, between ’86 and ’89, played in three out of four A.F.C. championship games, and, in the 1950s and ’60s, won four N.F.L. championships.

As the fan base has changed, so, too, has the nature of the Dawg Pound itself. Heightened security measures have made the section less rowdy and more family friendly, and have prevented fans from carrying in some of their more distinctive flair. Mr. Erwin, for example, was barred from carrying in both his large orange bone (a potential weapon) and his cowbell (a “noise maker”). Far from the intimidating fan section it once was, the Dawg Pound became, in the words of one commentator, “a surly collection of unsatisfied fans.”

“Back in the day, it was rare to see more than one, maybe two fans from the opposing team in the Dawg Pound,” Mr. Kochever said. “Now they come in like it’s nothing.”

Image
Vince Erwin, known as “D. Dawg,” at his seat in the “Dawg Pound” with a large orange bone and a cowbell. He is barred from bringing in those items during games.CreditStephen Hiltner/The New York Times

“I try to keep the fire burning with my kids and with the younger fans,” said Mr. Erwin, a season-ticket holder since 1978. “But they don’t know what it’s like to be loyal to a team through bad times. For them, it’s easier to jump on the bandwagon of a team that’s winning — and laugh at those of us who don’t.”

When you ask Browns fans why they still support their team, you’re met with something of a refrain.

Cleveland is a football city, people around here say, and the Browns will eventually turn things around. There’s a sense of logical inevitability. This, after all, is “Believeland,” where residents who have endured a long series of devastating defeats — Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble, The Shot, Jose Mesa’s blown save in the ninth inning of the ’97 World Series — still find a way to hope against hope.

And in football, Browns fans say, the winds of fortune change — or can change — on a year-to-year basis. Look no further than Sunday’s Super Bowl, which includes the Philadelphia Eagles — the worst team in their division last year. One good draft, the collective belief around here goes, and it could all turn around.

Image
Vince Erwin a.k.a. D. Dawg.CreditStephen Hiltner/The New York Times

But there’s something, too, about the enduring effect that Dawg Pound culture has had on the psyche in Northeast Ohio. All those Browns songs from the 1980s, the ones that were piped over the radio and into people’s cars and homes? “I still know the words to all of those,” said Susie Welch, who grew up in Cleveland’s West Side and attended games in the Dawg Pound at the old Municipal Stadium. “It was part of a culture that enveloped the whole city.”

And that culture, by way of a kind of Browns-fans diaspora, has spread through the country — and around the world. Ms. Welch, who left Cleveland for Madison, Wis., some 20 years ago and subsequently founded the Mad City fan club, is one of tens of thousands of registered members of Browns Backers Worldwide, a nonprofit organization with over 300 clubs in more than a dozen countries.

“We’re just always going to support the Browns,” Ms. Welch said, “win or lose — or lose even worse,” she said with a laugh.

“We’ve got two of the best teams in their respective leagues,” said Justin Eckert, a 32-year-old Dawg Pound fan, referring to the Cavaliers and the Indians. “But put on sports talk radio in the morning and what do you hear? Browns, Browns, Browns.”

“There’s a lot of fans out there,” said Dan Eckert, Justin’s father. “They have a real love for the Browns — they’re just lying dormant right now. But when we start winning again, everybody in Cleveland will be coming out of the woodwork. We’ll be bigger than the Cavs and the Indians combined. Just you wait.”

Stephen Hiltner joined The Times as a staff editor in 2016. He was previously an editor for six years at The Paris Review. He is a graduate of the University of Oxford and the University of Virginia. @sahiltnerFacebook

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February 3, 2018 at 11:18AM

Check In: At the Boxotel in Montreal, Life Is Lofty

Check In: At the Boxotel in Montreal, Life Is Lofty

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Check In

At the Boxotel in Montreal, Life Is Lofty

The lobby is poured concrete. The rooms have high ceilings. And the terrace has sprawling views of the city.

Image
The Boxotel lobby.CreditFélix Rioux

Rates

Rooms start at about 165 Canadian dollars (about $131 at 80 cents to the U.S. dollar).

Basics

For her first hotel project, the Montreal property developer Marie-Jeanne Rivard wanted to mix the coziness of homestays, the services of a hotel and the downtown feel of loft living. The result, open since last winter, is something new for Montreal: Twenty high-ceilinged, clean-lined rooms equipped like small apartments, complete with top-end appliances, tableware and cutlery. Abstract photomontages of Montreal street life adorn the whitewashed walls. A sleek aesthetic extends through Boxotel’s airy, poured-concrete lobby and to 175B, a subterranean gallery showcasing Quebec and Canadian artists. On Boxotel’s sixth floor, a tiny gym and sauna open to a sprawling outdoor terrace with panoramic downtown views. A reality-TV star in Quebec — she renovates and sells homes on the hit show “Flip a Fille” — Ms. Rivard often checks guests in herself at Boxotel’s tiny front desk, called “The Box Office.”

Location

With shabby residential buildings nearby, Boxotel’s block can feel bleak. But its Ontario Street location, a five-minute stroll from buzzy Blvd. St-Laurent to the east and the Quartiers des Spectacles zone of cultural attractions just south, makes Boxotel an ideal home base.

Image
A Loft King Luxe room at Boxotel.CreditFélix Rioux

The Room

All blond wood and white walls, my 390-square-foot Loft King Luxe room, the second-largest category, felt like a chic Montreal pied-à-terre. Meticulously fitted cabinetry hid sleek washer/dryer, dishwasher and refrigerator units from upscale German brand Blomberg; nooks held helpful basics like detergent and dishwashing liquid. The Montreal potter Benoit Daigle supplied the moss-green tableware. Scandinavian-inspired furniture, including a desk and love seat, added pops of color. Working in the room was challenging; the desk lamp was weak, and just two outlets faced the desk. My king bed was firm, and crisp sheets made falling asleep easy. But nonstop street noise punctuated my slumber. A deep-soaking bathtub between the bed and the sliding terrace doors went unused. Clamor aside, it was easy to imagine living in my “box” — as rooms are cheekily called — for an extended stay.

The Bathroom

The gray-paneled bathroom made me glad to be traveling solo; just a clear pane of glass separates the toilet from the shower. A simple button operates the enormous rain shower head, but kept popping off the wall. A backlit makeup mirror suspended above the compact sink adds a thoughtful touch. Ms. Rivard worked with the Montreal skin-care company Cocooning Love to create aroma-infused bath amenities like hô wood shower gel and lemon-cypress shampoo.

Dining

Montreal’s beards-and-tattoos set has already made Boxotel’s tiny Café Nomade a favored hangout. A counter with a compact kitchen, the cafe makes picture-perfect cold dishes like yogurt with fresh fruit, chia seeds and local honey ($6.95), and elegantly piled-up sandwiches like the Quebecois ($8) — creamy chicken salad, lettuce and pickles on sourdough. (The menu changes often.) Dense breads and pillowy croissants come from Montreal bakery Arhoma; Café Williams of Sherbrooke, Quebec, supplies beans for superb coffee drinks. From 7 a.m. to 11 p.m., guests can order room service; my Turkish breakfast ($8) and strong brewed coffee ($2) came in about 20 minutes, cheerfully delivered by Café Nomade’s barista and food preparer. A wooden block carried four nutty raisin-bread halves alongside tiny cups of almond butter, honey, and olives, mixed nuts and dates. It was filling and fortifying.

Amenities

Aside from the top-end appliances and kitchen accouterments, amenities are basic: High-speed internet, high-definition TV and a yoga mat rolled up in the entry closet of your “box.” Most rooms have terraces, which make perfect coffee-sipping spots in warm weather. Staffing here is lean, with just three or four T-shirted staffers typically on duty, but they’re courteous and responsive.

Image
The Boxotel terrace.CreditMadeleine-Elyse Boucher

The Bottom Line

Even in hotel-saturated Montreal, Boxotel feels fresh. The lack of traditional hotel-style pampering, and a very low staff-to-guest ratio, means the property is best suited to independent travelers. But it’s a terrific way to experience downtown Montreal like a local.


Boxotel, 175 Rue Ontario Est, Montreal; boxotel.com.

A version of this article appears in print on , on Page TR3 of the New York edition with the headline: Sleek, Stylish and Spacious. Order Reprints | Today’s Paper | Subscribe

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February 3, 2018 at 11:18AM

Bites: A New Orleans Restaurant Offers Creativity Between Bread Slices

Bites: A New Orleans Restaurant Offers Creativity Between Bread Slices

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Bites

A New Orleans Restaurant Offers Creativity Between Bread Slices

At Turkey and the Wolf, standard lunchbox fare is just a launching pad for the high-flying imaginings of a merry band of inventors.

Image
The fried bologna sandwich at Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans.CreditSara Essex Bradley for The New York Times

Plenty of people regularly ate sandwiches as kids. But few, if any, have spun that experience into culinary gold like Mason Hereford, whose restaurant Turkey and the Wolf in New Orleans was lauded by Bon Appétit as America’s best new restaurant in 2017.

“I sure enough ate my share,” said Mr. Hereford, 31, who grew up Charlottesville, Va., before moving to New Orleans in 2008 and working his way from line cook to chef de cuisine at Coquette, a respected contemporary Southern bistro. “But it wasn’t until I came to this city of po’ boys that I began to consider the creative potential of a sandwich.”

Sandwiches are the stars at this 40-seat, no-reservation restaurant with street-front patio seating for 25 more, a former barbecue joint and a wings shop in the Irish Channel neighborhood. Inside, cinder block walls are painted sea-foam green and décor runs to thrift store whimsy. Patrons order at the counter and eat at sundry chrome dinettes off mismatched dishes (including plastic Disney plates), seasoning their food with kitschy vintage salt and pepper shakers.

But to call Turkey and the Wolf a sandwich shop is misleading. Standard lunchbox fare is just a launching pad for the high-flying imaginings of Mr. Hereford and his team, a merry band of inventors whose professional cooking chops are on view in the crowded but supremely orderly open kitchen. Over the course of two different lunches, friends and I grazed through much of the small, changing menu, which includes cocktails with enigmatic names like the bourbon-based They Grow Up Slow Fast and My Mom Blacks Out Better Than Yours, featuring pecan vodka and mulled wine.

Image
Counter seating at Turkey and the Wolf.CreditSara Essex Bradley for The New York Times

Given the reports of lines out the door, our wait to order and sit was surprisingly short — probably thanks to a pipe-bursting freeze that had settled on the city. The collard green melt on rye wowed us with its marriage of tender, braised greens, crunchy slaw, gooey Swiss cheese and spicy pickled cherry pepper dressing. Lemony yogurt and cucumbers brightened a roti filled with deeply seasoned, slow-cooked lamb neck meat, while a crazy-looking sandwich of nicely chewy, fried bologna soared on the crisp vinegar-brined potato chips, melted American cheese and hot mustard also layered between its two thick slices of buttered-and-griddled white bread (baked by a friend of the chef).

On the “Not Sandwiches” side of the menu, which included deviled eggs garnished with fried chicken skin and an Alp-sized wedge salad, the fried potpie, plump with herb-infused, moist chicken and paired with a tarragon-buttermilk sauce, disappeared quickly.

According to Mr. Hereford, coming up with new dishes is a collaboration, and nothing appears on the menu until it’s been tinkered with and tasted up to 20 times by the kitchen staff. “We’re looking to create a fun vibe here, to be a place that doesn’t take itself too seriously,” he said. “But that doesn’t mean we don’t take our food seriously.”


Turkey and the Wolf, 739 Jackson Avenue; 504-218-7428; turkeyandthewolf.com. An average meal for two, minus drinks and tip, is about $35.

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February 3, 2018 at 11:18AM

Strange Ideas in Venice

Strange Ideas in Venice

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Venice HDR Tutorial

Today’s Venice photo gives me a chance to mention a really cool tutorial we did in Venice. Here’s A LINK to the tutorial. It’s one of the highest-quality videos I’ve ever made. Enjoy!

Daily Photo – Strange Ideas in Venice

One night in Venice after dinner I had an idea to take a photo like this. I wanted to add as much darkness and mystery as possible. This is not usually the case because I shoot with a tripod, which I use for long exposures to get a lot of light. But I thought I’d mix it up this evening and try something a little different.

Strange Ideas in Venice

Photo Information


  • Date Taken2016-01-28 22:51:46
  • CameraH5D
  • Camera MakeHasselblad
  • Exposure Time1/15
  • Aperture4
  • ISO3200
  • Focal Length28.0 mm
  • Flash
  • Exposure ProgramAperture-priority AE
  • Exposure Bias

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February 3, 2018 at 08:03AM

Football’s Long Eclipse

Football’s Long Eclipse

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The Super Bowl is the most popular annual event in American life. When
the ritual began, in 1967, the Green Bay Packers, of the National
Football League, defeated the Kansas City Chiefs, of the American
Football League, by a score of 35–10, and, although the Los Angeles
Coliseum contained patches of empty seats, more than fifty million
people watched on television, the largest sports audience in the history
of the medium at the time. Last year, more than a hundred and eleven
million people watched the Super Bowl, more than triple the TV audience
for the Oscars. There’s little doubt that the game between the Patriots
and Eagles on Sunday night will attract a similarly gargantuan
viewership.

Fans of a certain age (and all those with the technical dexterity to
operate the YouTube time
machine
) might best recall
the charms of the early Super Bowls, and of the game itself, by watching
N.F.L. Films and listening to its most stentorian narrators, including
John Facenda, a.k.a. the Voice of God. N.F.L. Films was the brainchild
of a Second World War veteran and topcoat salesman named Ed Sabol, who,
in the early sixties, won a small contract with the N.F.L. to film the
games and produce highlight films for broadcast on television.

Sabol, soon joined by his son Steve, did for the League what John Ford
did for the War. Most historians of the form speak of Sabol’s film of
Green Bay’s last-second victory over the Dallas Cowboys on “the frozen
tundra” of Lambeau Field, in 1967, as his masterpiece, but, like those
cineastes who unaccountably prefer the period charms and underlying
darkness of “The Magnificent Ambersons” over the more obvious qualities
of “Citizen Kane,” I am partial to “Elements of Victory,” an ambling
masterwork on the Packers-Browns Championship game of 1965, featuring a
Hemingway-terse script by Tex Maule, Ray Scott’s understated narration,
and the kettledrum-and-brass soundtrack that thunders under each
“Super-Slow Motion” play from scrimmage. The narration begins––“In the
gray chill of early dawn, the snows came to Green Bay”—and the martial
drama unfolds from there.
The dramatis personae include the stout and earnest place-kicker Lou
Groza, the omnipotent running back Jim Brown, the “Golden Boy” Paul
Hornung, and the hulking creatures of the line—particularly the pulling
blockers Jerry Kramer and Fred (Fuzzy) Thurston. Sabol’s signature
technique––his answer to Orson Welles’s “deep focus”––was called “tight
on the spiral,” in which he keeps the camera trained on the pigskin as
it leaves the quarterback’s twisting, unraveling arm; gently ascends in
slo-mo; peaks downfield, then descends, rotating, rotating, into the
outstretched hands (always “the outstretched hands”) of the receiver.
The setting is rarely a sunny clime; nearly always, the action unfurls
in frigid places like Lambeau Field, in Green Bay, where “the
elements”––snow and rain and mud and “howling wind”––conspire to make
the gridiron battle resemble the Battle of the Somme, but with
commercials for beer and radial tires.

When I was a kid, I watched these Sabol-produced films incessantly: “NFL
Game of the Week,” “Hard Knocks,” “Greatest Moments” (the histories and
tragedies), and also “Football
Follies
” (the comedies),
which featured the League’s fumbles, pratfalls, and bobbled balls. Sabol
made the games far more dramatic than they were; there were no
longueurs. Each moment of action was heightened, prolonged,
monumentalized.

But what the Sabols, to say nothing of the various N.F.L. commissioners,
broadcasters, and advertisers, were not especially eager to emphasize
was the damage. Super-Slow Motion was a super deception. Collisions on
the field that led to fractured arms and legs, broken backs, cracked
spines, torn ligaments, and, above all, concussions, were lost under all
the Wagnerian flights, the basso-profundo voice-overs, and the
mythopoetical scripts.

The hits were always “spectacular,” never gruesome. Injured players got
“dinged,” then they “shrugged it off.” Someone got his “bell rung” or
his “cage rattled.” Euphemism was, for decades, the stoical language of
football. And yet we now know, and we have known for long enough, that
football doesn’t have “an injury problem”; it has a brain-damage
problem
.
Countless players suffer from early dementia, depression, confusion,
suicidal tendencies, and countless other alarming, often mortal,
conditions resulting from the game.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical
Association
showed that, when scientists examined the brains of a
hundred and eleven deceased N.F.L. players, all but one showed signs of
degenerative brain
disease
.
That’s what all those “spectacular”––and unspectacular––hits so often
come to: chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or C.T.E.

When Rob Gronkowski, the redoubtable tight end for the Patriots, got
“dinged” in a helmet-to-helmet collision with the Jaguars safety Barry
Church last month, he suffered an injury, his second concussion, that
could only hasten a path to a diminished middle age. Nevertheless, he
has pronounced himself “full go, ready to roll” for the Super Bowl. “My
mindset is, whenever you hit a speed bump in the road, just to get back
up, keep doing what you gotta do through the process and not put
yourself in more danger,” he told reporters. “Do everything that you can
right, and just keep on truckin’ and get back out there.”

In the mid-fifties, the dominant sports in the United States were
baseball, boxing, and horse racing. American life had not urbanized and
accelerated to the point where the three hours of languid, pastoral play
in a Tuesday-afternoon baseball game were deemed “slow.” Speaking one
night at Delmonico’s, in 1889, Mark Twain referred to the sport as “the
very symbol, the outward and visible expression of the drive and push
and rush and struggle of the raging, tearing, booming nineteenth
century!” That lasted well into the twentieth, somehow. In the
mid-fifties, everyone knew the name of the heavyweight champion, an
exalted office, and columnists competed to find the apt gladiatorial
metaphor to describe each bout. The Kentucky Derby was an event far
bigger than the N.B.A. Finals. If you were Jimmy Cannon or Red Smith or
any of the big columnists, you saw basketball as a banal game of “up and
down,” played by curious overgrown gland cases; you preferred an
afternoon at Churchill Downs, the grandstand redolent of bourbon,
crushed mint, and horseshit.

Things have changed. As baseball’s ratings slump and twitchy fans
complain of games dominated by long episodes of spitting, scratching,
and pitching-mound conferencing, there are rumbles of reform (shifting
the strike zone) and revolution (a seven-inning game). Baseball is still
selling tickets and drawing fans, but it feels as though it has
dropped out of the center of popular entertainment, lost pace with the
times. Horse racing has declined far more radically, overwhelmed by
alternative games of chance. An image of corruption, drugs, and cruelty
to animals did not help much, either.

Boxing, by its very nature, proved unreformable. There is, undeniably, a
terrible beauty in the best fights––an athletic craft exemplified by the
likes of Ali, Sugar Ray Robinson, and Roberto Durán––but cruelty and
violence, and the terrible pleasure taken in cruelty and violence, are
at the center of things. The very point of the contest is to render an
opponent temporarily unconscious or to bruise and bloody him into a
helpless state of “technical” knockout. Who wants their child to box?
Twenty years ago, when I was writing a book about Muhammad Ali, nearly
all the ex-fighters I interviewed displayed signs of dementia or worse.
When I spoke with the former heavyweight champion Floyd Patterson, in
1997, he was still the chairman of the New York State Athletic
Commission, which supervises prize fighting in the state. He was only
intermittently coherent. The next year, during a deposition, he could
not remember the names of his associates or of his secretary, and he had
to step down from his position.

In the journalism of the past decade, more and more N.F.L. players and
players’ families are describing the toll of the game on their bodies,
their minds, and their lives. It is a collective portrait of pain,
mental illness, physical debility, and, often enough, shattered
families. The latest is an
essay
published this week in the Times, by Emily Kelly, whose husband, Rob
Kelly, played for the New Orleans Saints and the New England Patriots in
the late nineties and early two thousands. As with so many other veteran
players, Rob Kelly suffers from debilitating emotional problems,
including paranoia, sleeplessness, depression, and an inability or
unwillingness to communicate. There is almost no doubt that the cause is
football.

How do you “fix” a game in which the attraction of the game resides in
its violence, in the crash of huge, super athletic men, down after down,
game after game, year after year? A special helmet? More rule changes?
No less an authority than the President of the United States has
complained that rule changes are “ruining the game.” “Today, if you hit
too hard, fifteen yards, throw him out of the game!” an outraged
President Trump said during a rally in Alabama last year.

I don’t watch much football anymore––the N.B.A. playoffs are, for me at
least, an infinitely greater pleasure––but, hypocritical as it is, it’s
hard to deny the excitement or the beauty of the game when I do tune in.
But the beauty is the beauty of a car crash in an action movie––only
here there are no stunt men, no C.G.I. As N.F.L. players often say,
nearly every play feels like a car crash, a real one. Even after an
“injury free” game, players soak themselves in ice baths; they are, head
to toe, an enormous contusion.

After covering the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, I remember driving
one Friday night from New Orleans to the airport in Houston to get a
flight back to New York. For hours, all I could find on the radio was
high-school football, and everywhere I looked, along the road in
Louisiana and Texas, there were illuminated stadiums filled with
cheering fans and kids slamming into each other, revelling in the game
of football. Now the ratings for the N.F.L. are starting to decline.
Some Pop Warner and high-school programs, particularly in wealthier
communities, have diminished or shut down. Parents are asking the
question once asked of boxing: Do you want your kids to play football?

This will not be the last Super Bowl any more than Ali–Frazier III was
the last heavyweight-championship fight. But, just as boxing inexorably
shifted to the margins of American life, this might be, for football,
the start of the long eclipse.

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February 3, 2018 at 01:12AM

8 Things to Do in Minneapolis Besides Watch the Super Bowl

8 Things to Do in Minneapolis Besides Watch the Super Bowl

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In just days the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul will roll out the red carpet to welcome fans to the 52nd annual Super Bowl. Thousands of visitors will flock to the downtown Minneapolis area for the biggest night in football. With no hotel rooms currently available in Minneapolis or Saint Paul, Airbnb hosts are preparing for over 125,000 visitors. However, if you’re among those football fans whose beloved team didn’t make it to the big game, you may be looking for something more to do. Luckily, Minneapolis is a vibrant city that welcomes its visitors with plenty to explore. Discover all the ways you can make the most of your visit to the Bold North during the 10-day long celebration.  

1. Mall of America

Who needs the Super Bowl when shopping at this mall is a sport in itself? Since opening its doors in 1992, the Mall of America has been a leader in retail, entertainment and attractions in Minnesota. Boasting over 520 stores, 60 restaurants, an aquarium and the largest US indoor theme park, this mall in Bloomington, Minnesota is one of the top tourist destinations in the country. While you can’t expect to experience everything in one trip, be one of the 40 million visitors each year (12,000 visitors per day) to indulge in the endless options to shop till you drop — literally.

2. Mill City Museum

Explore Minneapolis’ industrial past at the Mill City Museum, one of the only major institutions dedicated to the early milling industry in the US. Housed in what was once the world’s largest flour mill, this museum offers galleries and features historical artifacts and interactive exhibits for visitors to enjoy such as the flour tower ride and baking lab. Tourists and locals alike deem this museum one of the best places to experience the city’s history. After a day of learning, head up to the observation deck to catch a panorama of the Mississippi River, Saint Anthony Falls and Stone Arch Bridge.  

 3. Guthrie Theater

After your visit to the Mill City Museum, consider a trip to the historic Guthrie Theater. Also located on the banks of the Mississippi River, you’ll find one the city’s most renowned and beloved theaters. The Guthrie Theater opened in 1963 with a production of Hamlet directed by Sir Tyrone Guthrie, the theater’s founder. Since then, this classic playhouse has produced some critically-acclaimed playwrights and has made a name for itself with high praise from generations of visitors. Round out the Guthrie experience with a magnificent view of the Mississippi River from the museum’s 178-foot cantilever bridge known as the “Endless Bridge.”

4. Walker Art Center

Even if you’re not a cultural enthusiast or art buff, a trip to the Walker Art Center is definitely worth a visit. Known for its diverse collection of contemporary art, this museum houses a variety of films, books and arts from early 20th century to the present. Not to be confined to its indoor attractions, the museum’s biggest draw is the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the largest urban sculpture park in the country. Since opening in 1988, the garden has showcased more than 40 works from the Walker Art Center’s collection. Stroll through the 11-acre garden and catch a glimpse of the iconic Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture and fountain — you won’t regret it.


Photo by: Education Images/UIG via Getty Images

5. Chain of Lakes

Most big cities boast about their towering skyscrapers, but no other city can rival Minneapolis’ scenic lakes and parks. Appropriately dubbed the “City of Lakes,” Minneapolis has 22 lakes, with the largest located in the southern part of the city. Situated southwest of downtown Minneapolis, the Chain of Lakes — Cedar Lake, Lake of the Isles, Lake Calhoun and Lake Harriet — are most popular for ice skating and ice fishing, although open to visitors year round. Whether you’re taking a spin on the ice or watching pond hockey, the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes offers a great outdoor and scenic escape.

6. Minnehaha Park

Overlooking the Mississippi River, Minnehaha Park is one of Minneapolis’ oldest and most popular parks. More than 850,000 visitors each year travel near and far to venture through the 167-acre park. With more than three miles of trails, you can easily find a place to enjoy the scenic byway, which includes the park’s most-visited attraction, the Minnehaha falls. In the winter, the fall freezes and creates a frozen cave which is easily accessible by foot.


Photo by Joe Christensen/Getty Images

7. Weisman Art Museum

The Weisman Art Museum is a wonderfully intimate art museum founded (and financed) by philanthropist Frederick R. Weisman. Exhibited on seven floors, the museum contains more than 25,000 works of contemporary art. Here, you’ll find pieces by famed artists Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe and Roy Lichtenstein, in addition to an impressive permanent collection of ceramics and Korean furniture. The Weisman Art Museum can be found nestled in the University of Minnesota campus.

8. Minnesota Zoo

If you’re interested in learning more about animals native to the state, plan on visiting the Minnesota Zoo. This 485-acre zoo in Apple Valley, Minnesota houses more than 5,300 animals and 268 species — 38 of which are endangered. Perhaps the best time to visit the zoo this year is Feb. 17 – Mar. 11 for the annual Tropical Beach Party. There, families can escape the cold and warm up as they explore the wildlife at the Minnesota Zoo.


Photo of Fennec Fox by Minnesota Zoo


Featured photo of Mills Ruins Park, Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by @gccooper_ via Twenty20)

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February 3, 2018 at 01:01AM

What Trump Hopes the Nunes Memo Will Sell

What Trump Hopes the Nunes Memo Will Sell

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Let us begin with a close reading of a Trump tweet. “The top Leadership
and Investigators of the FBI and the Justice Department have politicized
the sacred investigative process,” the President
wrote,
on Friday. His use of the word “politicized” taps into the broadly
shared image of politics as something dirty and discredited: to
politicize something is to sully it. One might argue that, although
law-enforcement agencies should be protected from the forces of
electoral and party politics, they are, by definition, political: they
insure the observance of laws that result from the political process.
But such an argument would be complicated and, in the current political
conversation, exotic. Trump senses this better than anyone: his
Presidency is a function of this view of politics.

But then the tweet takes a turn: “. . . politicized the sacred
investigative process in favor of Democrats and against Republicans.”
Some acts of politicizing, it would seem, are worse than others. This,
Trump continues, “would have been unthinkable just a short time ago.”
There are a few ways to interpret this assertion: Trump is saying that
an investigation could not have been politicized until recently, or that
it could not have been politicized in favor of Democrats and against
Republicans, or—most likely—that it could not have been politicized in a
way that favors the opposition party.

That gets us to the heart of the tweet: the freshly declassified
memo
that it served to promote. The memo was released a couple of hours
later. Written by the chairman of the House Intelligence Committee,
Devin Nunes, the document claims that the F.B.I. used unverified
information and withheld key facts when it obtained permission from the
FISA court for the surveillance of the Trump-campaign adviser Carter
Page. Trump and House Republicans, who voted to release the memo to the
public, appear to think that it should serve to invalidate the Robert
Mueller investigation, which makes use of the products of this
surveillance.

The FISA process took place in the month before the election. In Trump’s
view, there should be nothing particularly surprising about what he sees
as partisan behavior on the part of the F.B.I. back then—after all, this
is the same man who believed, or wanted others to believe, that
President Barack Obama had him wiretapped. What makes no sense to Trump,
though, is that now that he has won—now that he has been in charge for
a year—he still has to contend with this investigation.

In the world that Trump has always inhabited, all that has ever
mattered, apparently, is who is in charge. If something or someone went
against his wishes, he fired that person. The more people he fired, the
more successful he was, and the more successful he was, the more people
he fired. As President, Trump has been shocked to discover that firing
people is both harder and less effective than he has always known it to
be. He fired James Comey, the F.B.I. director, and it didn’t stop the
investigation. A man who generally has no time for the actual workings
of government, Trump is concerned enough with the difficulty of firing
federal employees that he included the issue among his major policy
proposals in his State of the Union
address
:
he said that he would ask Congress to authorize every Cabinet member to
summarily fire people in his or her agency. That was an applause line
(among many applause lines). And yet here he is, the most powerful man
in the world, helpless to squash an investigation that annoys and
frightens him. How can this be? The explanation, of course, is that the
process is politicized.

This is true. The independent functioning of the F.B.I. and the Justice
Department, even though they are part of the executive branch, is a
norm—an essential political understanding of how things are done in
government. It contradicts Trump’s understanding of the world precisely
because political institutions work differently than business,
especially the sort of twentieth-century family-owned business that has
shaped Trump’s understanding of norms.

The release of the memo highlights the clash of norms, and this is what
makes it an effective move. In the coming weeks, the memo may be
debunked on the facts, but this is immaterial. It will have had the
effect of making the investigation seem even more convoluted and
confusing, making reality even murkier. But this is still not the most
important impact of its release. The spectacle of a President in a
standoff with the F.B.I., with the F.B.I. insisting on secrecy while
the President touts transparency and brandishes accusations of
dishonesty and bias, serves gloriously to reinforce the antipolitical
brand of this President and his tweets.

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February 3, 2018 at 12:57AM