We’re Gonna Make It After All

Citizens, I have a bunch of other stuff to put out into the world, but since that would maske this entry way too long I have decided to make it a separate post.

We took a trip to Minneapolis in October. I had never been there and was pretty excited. The first observation I noticed was how painfully efficient their airport was. It was easy to ge around and was laid out in a pretty practical manner. There was some great public art and lots of natural light. Another thing I noticed is that the city is really clean. I mean no one litters and you just don’t see stuff lying around.

On the downside, it is not a city known for good restaurants. There are some yes, but it’s not like Atlanta or Chicago or Nashville. And people go downtown to eat. They have an entire block of restaurants, but sadly, a lot of them are kind of touristy.

Somehow, we got there during the brief window when it’s not painfully cold. The weather was in the 60s and 70s and sunny. Because it gets so cold a lot of building downtown are connected by Skyway, the world’s largest interlinked collection of enclosed pedestrian footbridges (The Replacements wrote a song about it). They are pretty incredible.

It is interesting to see a city where the urban planning has been thought out and appear to run efficiently. Another weird thing is that the buses are clean and appear to be full often. From what I hear mass transit is not viewed with the stigma there that it has here or in other Midwest cities.

There are no slyscrpaers. It is nice. But, there is a lot of Brutalist architecture downtown. They love them some concrete there.There is also the art deco fabulousness of the Foshay Tower sprinkled in amongst some modern buildings.

One nice surprise was the American Swedish Institute which had some interesting art and a great cafe serving Swedish treats. On the day we went they hand a band from Sweden playing traditional Swedish music. it was pretty interesting.

I went to Electric Foetus, a vaunted record store there. They sell a selection of everything; movies, shirts, books, incense, stickers, and… music. While they had a good selection, it was curated mostly with recent releases. They didn’t have a deep catalog for a lot of artists. But, the staff was super friendly and the store is organized

The Minneapolis Institute of art (the MIA) has an incredible collection of Asian art. It has some wonderful Impressionist stuff to and a decent collection of modern work too

St. Paul is kind of weird. It’s filled with a lot of banking and corporate stuff. It’s very esoteric. However, it does have a few blocks of interesting older houses and small businesses. We wandered there to see the Charles Schulz sculptures. These are left over from the city-wide public art thing they did a while back where Peanuts characters were placed all over the city.

Ironically, Schulz didn’t love his time in Minneapolis St. Paul.

Another cool thing was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s house at Summit Terrace. It is nestled on a residential street and is pretty easy to miss if you are not looking for it. Part of a section of rowhouses, the home was owned by Fitzgerald’s parents. It is the residence where the author worked on This Side of Paradise in 1918 and 1919.

There also is an Upton Sinclair house a few blocks away,

Luckily, there were not many people at the Mary Tyler Moore statue, located on the corner of Nicollet and 7th Street. As far as likenesses go, it is not too shabby. The detail is pretty good. It is taller than I imagined.

If you want a decent view of the entire city. head over to the Guthrie Theater. Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Jean Nouvel, it has three separate theater spaces and a great observation deck that overlooks the riverfront. The view is terrific.

And because it is Minneapolis, a chunk of that area is indoors so folks can still see the city in the dead of winter.

We saw Vietgone, an amazing play there. If it tours be sure to see it.

Paisley Park is pretty far out in the suburbs but worth the trip. The tours vary in format but generally last about an hour. The biggest takeaway from the visit is that Prince was a hoarder. He saved everything. He has enough music in the vaults to release an album a year for a century. Plus, he saved thousands of performances, both visual and audio.

The tour takes you through his kitchen and common areas as well as several studios where you can see where he made music. The studios are retrofitted for needs. He had a small enclosed studio with a cement wall. Some are large, and some are small. One studio has a ping pong table. Prince loved him some ping-pong.

There is no photography allowed, and deviating from the tour gets you a stern lecture. In the end, you wind up in a massive performance space filled with his belongings and memorabilia. There are cars, guitars, the motorcycle from Purple Rain, costumes, pianos and so much more. It’s massive. The guy had over 3000 pairs of custom-made shoes alone and over 300 cars.

It is interesting just how much unreleased music Prince left behind. He clearly was a workaholic and a perfectionist. Despite his personality quirks he was clearly a genius.

If you want to get away from running around and enjoy the creative spirit of art visit the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden. I would not go in the winter.

Located next to the Walker, the park has a wide range of sculptures to look at. Yes it is contemporary art, but none of it is too weird to alienate folks who just want to walk around casually or get fresh air.

Spread out over 11 acres, the park has plenty of walking space to explore. The colelction is impressive and also serves as a great conversation starter.

Cock (2013-2016) by Katharina Fritsch is pretty easy to see from anywhere nearby. It is bright. At 20 feet tall in height he placement on a big pedestal makes it stand tall.

Fritsch is a sculptor who uses everyday things as the subjects of her sculptures. She also incorporates mythology into her work.

Hephaestus (2013) by Matthew Monahan looks like something from a futuristic movie. His themes usually touch upon archaeology, philosophy, history, and literature. As a result the statuary and sculpture of ancient civilizations serve as a model for his work.

Here, the mask-like face and outstretched arm reach out to you. The personage is clearly proud and defiant.

Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, Spoonbridge and Cherry 1985-1988. This is the centerpiece of the park. it’s pretty cool. The stem part of the piece is a mini fountain. If you visit the park this serves as a good place to get your bearings. I was surprised how big this piece is.

There are other cool works on display too. They have a Calder that is cool too.

Minneapolis also has a nifty Dylan Mural, some cool bookstores and a prolific scene. This is good because all of those make up for the sheer Hell that it is the Mall of America. That place is so massive it’s impossible to navigate. When we were there, it was amazing people watching with lots of freaks.

Then there is the overhead music. We heard “Just the Two of Us” and “We’ve Only Just Begun” and Bette Midler’s “The Rose.” It was like visiting a care home.

If you want to understand why Americans are so divided and so focused on materialism, visit here. It was a shopping hub forthe weird, vain, lonely and aimless. They also have an aquarium there. One has to wonder how good the animal care is there.

Going to the Mall of America is like stepping back in time. It reminded me of mid-80s and 1990s trips to Jamestown Mall or Crestwood Plaza. But on steroids. It’s a place you don’t need to go to, but you should just to have the experience.

While I was bummed out that I didn’t hear anyone with the accent until day 3, I was impressed by how nice folks were. But, do not be mistaken, the racial tension that came to light with the death of George Floyd is also noticeable. This is, ion many ways, a city grappling with the issues brought to light by his death.

I love going to new places and getting the pulse of the place. Travel is a great way to have new experiences, relax and learn a lot. I’m not sure why I never visited Minneapolis before. Listening to Prince, Husker Du and The Replacements, I felt like I knew the place. Yet, I was pleasantly surprised by it. I just wont visit in the winter.