I am presently away from New Orleans, engaged in an annual summer tradition, a 4th of July gathering of my partner’s extended family in the faraway idylls of central Minnesota.

Her parents live in Staples, two and a half hours north of the Twin Cities of Minneapolis/St. Paul and their ongoing daily demonstrations and civic strife following the police killing of George Floyd. And nothing tells you how far away you are from the madness of those places and these times than a perusal of the local newspaper here, the Staples World. In particular, the weekly crime reports are a glimpse into a completely alternate reality.

Staples is one of its own pair of twin cities; it shares a border, newspaper, school district and police department with the neighboring the town of Motley. Combined population: 3,500. WHAT.

I have written about the Staples World police reports in these pages before and I do so again now to inform you, dear reader, that no matter how bad you think it is where you are right now – in the midst of panic, pandemic, police brutality, racial strife, culture wars and government meltdown – things could be worse.

You could be living in the lawless wilds of Staples/Motley, where untamed mob rule runs roughshod over law and order. Herewith, verbatim, are just a sampling of reports to law enforcement in the week leading up to our visit.

(Author’s note: I didn’t make up or change a single word of it.)

June 16: The Motley Police Department received a complaint from a Motley resident regarding three juveniles who were riding mini dirt bikes past his residence on Main Street West at a high rate of speed. After getting one of the riders to stop, the rider took a swing at him, along with swearing, yelling and flicking his middle finger in the air.

June 17: The MPD assisted the Todd County Sheriff’s Office with a report of two cows on Highway 10 near 321st Avenue. The owner was able to chase the cattle into a nearby pasture.

June 17: The MPD received a call from a male subject asking for assistance with getting his property – four teddy bears – back from from a woman residing in the 400 block of Pine Avenue. Subject was advised that he needed to arrange an exchange with the woman or take the matter to conciliation court.

June 22: The MPD issued a citation to Robin Littlewolf, 27, for the theft of a coffee mug from the 2 Tall Tavern.

June 23: The MPD received a report of an ordinance violation in the 900 block of Postel Drive. The property owner has not mowed their lawn yet this year and there are several dead trees on the property.

And I’ll stop there. You get the idea: It’s a world gone mad when a guy can’t get his teddy bears back from his ex, cows are roaming the streets with impunity and wild youths are giving upstanding citizens the finger.

These really might be the end of times.

And that’s it for now, the annual dispatch from your man on the ground in Staples, Minnesota, the Land of 10,000 Lakes – and just as many tales from the naked city.