Tuesday, August 14, 2012

His friend, Leo.....

When I was growing up - and this is hard for my children to believe - the Twin Cities had FOUR daily newspapers. Both Minneapolis and St. Paul had morning and afternoon dailies, and in our household it was the afternoon Minneapolis Star that greeted me when I arrived home from school. Their page B1 columnist was a guy named Jim Klobuchar, who doubled as one of the Vikings writers during football season.

His columns seemed clever, worldly and insightful as he wrote about football and politics and growing up in Ely and current events in Minneapolis. I enjoyed his work, and it probably played a part in pushing me towards my journalism career.

Except he was a fraud. First the Star suspended him for making up quotes, and then they suspended him again for working as a speechwriter for Gov. Rudy Perpich on the side and by the end of his career he was not much more than a target of ridicule and pity.

About the time Klobuchar was slinking away (and afternoon papers were going the way of the dodo) my interest turned to a young Tribune columnist name Joe Soucheary. He wrote sports, became a sports columnist and then a general columnist. His column the day after the U.S. beat the Soviets in the 1980 "Miracle on Ice" game remains a classic more than 30 years later.

We met in the early '80s, after I reviewed one of his books in my own newspaper column. I can't say we were close friends, but we bump into each other from time to time and have a nice chat, most recently at a Wild game last year. "Sooch" has become more famous as a radio host - he is the Mayor of the small town of "Garage Logic" on 1500 AM, and also in syndication - but he has continued to write a column for the St. Paul Pioneer Press over the years.

And, as he wrote today, dozens - maybe a hundred - of those columns began with, "My friend Leo, who has a cabin up north....." They were always entertaining, full of homespun wisdom and tales from the lake. I once asked him if Leo was real - perhaps remembering all of the Klobuchar writing that turned out to be fraudulent - and he assured me that Leo was very real, and a genuine character.

Well, Leo's identity was revealed in today's column, but I won't spoil the surprise. Just click here, and you can learn all about Leo, and why Sooch spent so much time at the cabin. Enjoy.

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