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New Back-to-Office Propaganda: The Bosses Let You Pick Artwork

Plus more dirt on Phillips, drink to Hawaii, and new Vikes despair in today's Flyover news roundup.

Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash|

A file photo to represent how your lipsticky boss feels about themself.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

New Dystopian Carrot to Lure You Back to Cubicle

If a manager can't watch over and/or pester you IRL, what purpose, if any, does that manager serve? Corporate America has been gripped by this fear since the pandemic started waning, with legions of do-nothing bosses trying like hell to end WFH hegemony. (At least for people with bullshit computer jobs—like the author of this very blurb!) To get you into the office, they're dangling: gratis food, loosened dress codes, freaking ping-pong, “contemplative spaces," and as reported in today's Star Tribune, prestigious works of art. Hilariously, managers at Minneapolis-based financial services company Thrivent Financial will "get to choose artwork for their [office] walls," though "employees also can weigh in on pieces hung near their cubicles." Empowering!

In a puffy Strib story that should inflict actual pain on your soul, readers learn the Fortune 500 firm has amassed a collection of "1,300 religious masterpieces" in addition to "500 modern showstoppers" over the past five years. Thirty-six bosses oversee the "curation team" that hangs paintings throughout the new, $125 million HQ in downtown Minneapolis. (Apparently Target Corp., Cargill, and General Mills also hoard "museum-quality archives.") "This is a new way of working," according to Thrivent's art director/chief curator, Joanna Lindell.

Tom Rassieur, a curator at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, very generously describes the program in terms of worker agency. "I think what is really unusual about it is that people get the choice," he says. "You get a veto power over just what the boss offers you." Careful, Thrivent: If you give an employee an original Yinka Shonibare, he might ask for a union...

Daily Beast Keeps Filleting Dean Phillips

The Daily Beast came out swinging hard when U.S. Rep. Dean Phillips announced his entitled, me-wanty-White-House nomination challenge against President Joe Biden last month. In DB's first salvo, reliable left-punchers like the DCCC and DFL honcho Ken Martin come off as reasonable, with Martin (a friend of the congressman!) saying, “As far as I can tell, there’s no one in Minnesota, including in his own district, that’s excited about the prospect of him running for president... most people having a midlife crisis would go buy a new sports car.”

Last week DB reported on Phillips taking cash from scandalous GOP megadonor Harlan Crow, and today the Beast is back with another bruising Phillips dispatch, this one aimed at the liquor scion's significant real estate portfolio. Journalist Roger Sollenberger reports that, through a previously undisclosed holding company, the millionaire lawmaker purchased a $1.5 million D.C. townhome in 2019, one that he'd make his primary residence. The fact he didn't report the company is a violation of House Ethics Committee guidelines, Sollenberger writes, and the residency filing muddies voter eligibility waters. In total, the Daily Beast examined eight years of Phillips's financial docs, work that ultimately produced more smoke than fire; the campaign didn't provide comment.

Though, as the piece notes, those records do demonstrate that Phillips "deals in sophisticated financial instruments and structures.... It’s a life experience uncommon to all but a select group of Americans, and not exactly in lock-step with the populism that has shaped much of the current national political debate." One fun example of that vast class disconnect: The location of his luxe 37-acre Middleburg, Virginia, compound is known as "the Nation’s Horse and Hunt Capital.” Yee-haw!

Drink Local Craft Beer, Help Hawaii Rebuild

Back in August, historic Hawaii wildfires killed at least 115 people and leveled thousands of homes and businesses. The estimated economic damage to the island state? Six billion, per Moody's. Now, we don't recommend seizing on the Kōkua Project to recapture all of those losses—you'd be drunk off your duff! That's because the project in question is a collective of 700 breweries from around the globe who, with coordination help from Maui Brewing Co., are banding together to brew an identical Kōkua session IPA. Profits from that beer's sale will benefit the Maui Beer Company Fire Fund, and 16 Minnesota breweries have joined the sudsy relief campaign that'll run through next year. You can chip in via guzzling at the following taprooms:

Vikes Reach Grim Milestone

In absence of championship glory, Minnesota sports fans must find sad-sack solace in historic feats of wallowing. Last night brought yet another cosmic bad luck doozy: After the Texas Rangers secured a World Series victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks, the Vikings now find themselves the oldest active MLB/NBA/NFL/NHL franchise to have never won it all. Bravo on the photo choice...


Right as we hit publish on this edition of The Flyover, news broke that First Avenue's staff is seeking unionization with Unite Here Local 17. Here's hoping ownership does the right thing!

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