February 21, 2005

Syl Jones is an IDIOT.

The following is posted in its entirety, so you don't have to give the Minneapolis Star Tribune your email address.
Actually, if you want to go to the site and respond, use 'bugmenot' as the user id and 'startribune' as the password. They can send junk-mail into cyber-nowhere all day long if you use that ID.

Syl Jones is a Foxtrot 'India November One Delta Ten Tango. If you are military, you understand. If you are not, ask someone who is. Then thank them for their service.

Syl Jones: Living in Minnesota is easy, once it's explained
Syl Jones
February 21, 2005 SYL0221


Dear Mr. Fowler:

Welcome to Minnesota. Your public relations agency did a poor job of briefing you about this state and preparing you for the worst. A sophisticated agency would have conducted its own research on your background and uncovered those glaring errors -- errors that, sad to say, have instantly reduced your credibility.

Since I occasionally work pro bono for millionaire sports team owners, let me help you out. We can start by reviewing a few rules. Rule No. 1: 'You Must Be Holy Even Though No One Else Is.' Minnesotans do not like millionaires -- especially those who don't look like them or who mime the mooning of Green Bay fans on TV.

People around here consider themselves egalitarians -- a euphemism to cover jealousy. They may have DUIs, attend strip clubs and have numerous stays at local rehab centers. They practically invented mooning, binge drinking and the middle-finger salute. But your résumé, your marriage and your video rental records had better be spotless.

The second rule is, 'Remember Your Place.' You will hear that said indirectly during your tenure here many times, just as you will also hear the phrase, 'This has nothing to do with race.' Drop a nickel into a bucket each time it's said and you'll soon be able to build that new stadium in Anoka County.

You see, the Great Chain of Being has been disturbed by the simple fact that you have the financial ability to purchase the beloved Minnesota Vikings. You don't yet understand what you've bought -- the heart and soul of Nordic manhood, the only reason some people in this state get out of bed between September and January.

If you don't believe me, look at the effort Glen Taylor's minions made to discredit you in the media, implying that you might not have the resources needed to run the NFL owners' financial gantlet". That's because you're not supposed to have that kind of money, son. Then again, the fact that you do will be cited as evidence that racism is a thing of the past. All of which makes you an extremely puzzling but somehow useful symbol in this state.

That Taylor is rich might annoy the hell out of some folks but, hey, at least he's the right ... oops. I was about to say something impolite, and nothing is more important than being polite in public in Minnesota, especially for a black man. Because the third rule is, "Anything you say will be used against you."

You were quoted as saying, "I want the people of this state to like me." Big mistake. That phrase will be repeated ad infinitum, the way Sally Field's "You like me! You really like me!" was used against her. This is about business, Mr. Fowler. Minnesotans don't respect wealthy business people who want to be liked because they know the truth: It ain't gonna happen.

Understand something -- this is the place where the inmates in charge of that asylum known as KFAN radio routinely launch cowardly attacks against former Vikings Coach Dennis Green in absentia. This is the place where, when Daunte Culpepper throws an interception and the Vikings lose, Minnesotans line up after the game to call in and castigate the Pro Bowl quarterback as "just not smart enough to play the position." And this is also the place where the big bad Randy Moss has gotten the media so riled up they can't wait to see him traded. Of course, none of this has anything to do with race.

That's Minnesota. My advice: Ignore questions about whether the Vikings mascot will now be forced to wear dreadlocks. Keep Moss. Fire the Great White Hope Mike Tice, who is without a doubt the best offensive line coach ever to demonstrate the truth of the Peter Principle.

Hire Ray Rhodes as your new coach, trade Matt Birk, Michael Bennett and that absentee tight end Jimmy Kleinsasser to Baltimore for Ray Lewis or Ed Reed. Play teeth-rattling defense, long-ball offense and give no interviews. Then go to one of the blackest cities in the nation, beat Tony Dungy in the Super Bowl, and let's start us an African American football dynasty up here in the land of the ice and snow.

Oh, and be cool. Which shouldn't be hard in this weather.

Syl Jones, Minnetonka, is a journalist, playwright and corporate communications consultant.
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