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.

Binges and Hinges

It’s been a very crazy few weeks. To quote The Smiths, “I was looking for a job, and then I found a job…”

Yes, there is some stability in the cards. I am giving up on depending on just freelance and contract work for a full-time agency gig. I wasn’t doing the hustling and scraping on purpose; it was just the hand I was dealt. You can’t get an agency gig without experience, and you cannot get experience without a job, so it was a crappy circle.

Despite the new content creation gig, I will still do freelance writing and take on clients. But, it won’t be my only way of doing things. But, it does not mean I won’t have to have a part-time hustle anymore.

It is a small firm with maybe six employees, none of which are hipsters. Plus, it is remote, so I can work without a chance of seeing hipsters and too cool for school agency types. There are two types of people who do content creation agency work; those who are chill or those who are annoying. There is no middle ground.

It is a small firm with maybe six employees, none of which are hipsters. Plus, it is remote, so I can work without a chance of seeing hipsters and agency types. There are two types of people who do content creation agency work; those who are chill or those who are annoying. There is no middle ground.

But, for the first time in over three decades, I am not doing any type of customer service or retail!

I quote the great Lloyd Dobler.

I don’t want to sell anything, buy anything, or process anything as a career. I don’t want to sell anything bought or processed, or buy anything sold or processed or process anything sold, bought, or processed, or repair anything sold, bought, or processed. You know, as a career, I don’t want to do that.

It’s sad when a store closes that has been around for over five decades. It’s like it is being placed in a home. The worst part is the vultures who come in waiting for the discount prices to drop to 50% or better. They hover over the things they want. Most of which haven’t sold for a reason. Or worse, they ask a million dumb questions, like “when are you closing?” or “when is the next sale reduction?” Store closings attract weird people. Most of them bring calculators to ensure the markdown is correct. They are truly hideous people.

After years of working in record stores, book stores, libraries, museums, and offices I can certify any statements that people are simply insane. Somewhere along the line people gave up using their brains, thinking for themselves, or learning.

The result is that there are now lots of selfish people out there. Sadly, for the last eight years, at my last gig, I waited on a lot of them. They got enough cigarettes, porn, racing forms, beef jerky and change for parking meters to last a lifetime. Generally, they were rude, and pretty stupid. I will not miss any of that.

It is not quite appliance news, but the toilet got a new flush valve. The old one lasted about 15 years and had seen better days. Now, with the new one added, that ting roars like a jet engine.

The biggest at-home hassle of the month was replacing a hinge on one of the kitchen cabinets. One of them completely snapped off. There was no pulling or extra pressure, it just snapped. It was pretty weird. Once that happened I had to find a replacement.

This was not as easy as I anticipated. As it turns out I needed an 830-40 Soft Close hinge. Every place I tried was out of them. It was crazy.

The only problem is that they do not make them anymore. Luckily, the internet was good to me and I found several replacement options.

The biggest takeaway from all of this is that shopping for cabinet hinges is pretty boring!

I finished binge-watching the latest season of Cobra Kai. It is mindless fun. The show’s soul rests completely on its nostalgia. Between ’80s metal and old clips from the film, it clearly plays with its connections to the past.

There is a lot of melodrama and predictable plot twists, but somehow, it remains an interesting melodrama. Everyone makes poor decisions. Seriously, they all do. All I want is for one of the characters to pause for a minute and reflect on the potential results of their hasty actions.

I guess you could say I just watch it for kicks.

Top Chef is back. It is early, but so far it’s been kind of dull. I hate the fact they are doing it in Texas, where over half the 15 contestants would most likely have problems voting. However, Houston’s diversity and restaurant culture could make the series more interesting as the season progresses.

I am now starting on Station Eleven. It has gotten a lot of really great reviews, and it looks interesting.

I am not sure a series set during a pandemic is the most stable thing to watch, but it looks really good.

I did watch some of the Winter Olympics. While it was not as compelling as previous ones, I enjoyed seeing curling again. I also checked out the biathlon, hockey, and any fast-moving sled thing. Luge, bobsledding, two-person bobsledding, relay bobsledding, bobsledding in kitchens. All of it.

I think the Olympics were missing a soul. They seemed flat. Maybe it was the location or lack of crowds. Instead of having it on to watch, I just tuned in sparsely when the sports I wanted to see were on.

The problem with watching things like the Olympics is that I know that if I ever met any of these people in real life, they probably would be self-centered jerks with massive egos. The curlers seem to have an “everyday person” ethos to them. Maybe that is why I watch it. Or it could be because it is stupid.

Speaking of stupid, this business with the MLB owners and players is annoying. The real people getting hurt are those who work at the games, parking lots, ticket booths, and concession stands. The local businesses that serve that industry are also screwed.

No one should be surprised, rich people have been fighting over crumbs for centuries, and this is no different.

Morris Day can no longer use “Morris Day and the Time” because the Prince estate is claiming ownership. This is a pretty crappy thing to do.

Leave him alone! The man has brought a lot of joy and happiness to people through his music for decades.

I have been listening to Fall In Love Not In Line, the new record from Kids On A Crime Spree. They are an Oakland based three piece trio, comprised of Bill Evans, Rebecca Barron, and Mario Hernandez, who make music meshes power pop, reverb fuzziness, jangly vocals, and blissed out melodies.

It is their first album in 11 years and it is well worth the wait.

I have been enjoying Reversing into The Future: New Wave Graphics 1977 – 1990. It is a wonderful book about album art and graphic design spaning punk, new wave and post-punk eras.

Written by Andrew Krivine (who owns a massive collection of stuff from this era), the book represents a visual history of the period with essays on the art, design, album sleeves, posters, and adverts

The book also signifies how the indie music scene of the time used visual design elements that coincided with the anti-consumerist and anti-materialistic aspects of the music. Eschewing away from the black and white print style of punk, designers within the new wave movement instead favored a more artistic approach. One that incorporated visual style with the music.

I also am revisiting each of Neil Gaiman’s short story collections. I had not read Fragile Things in a few years but recently explored it again, and it did not disappoint.

Currently, I have delved back into Trigger Warning, his most recent collection of short stories. I forgot how dense it was. Each of the stories is wonderfully imaginative. I am still a sucker for The Return of the Thin White Duke, his nod to David Bowie and Nothing O’Clock, his nifty Doctor Who story.

During the pandemic, I saw him do a virtual reading of Click-Clack the Rattlebag that was pretty spooky. Overall, Trigger Warning is a compendium of great stories culled from various sources.

He is doing a speaking tour right now, and I would love to see him, but I’m not sure how the money shakes out.

I was not expecting much from The Batman. I wasn’t really intrigued by the trailers and thought another version of the franchise was redundant.

However, I must admit that this new incarnation of the Caped Crusader plays out like a neo-noir. It is gritty, brutal,l and dark. It also captures the detective feel of the comics which has been missing from other films.

While it has a ridiculous end scene that causes the film to run 15 minutes too long, this mashup of mafia film, cop drama, film noir, and superhero flick captures the grimy aspects of the comics without compromise.

Colin Ferrell damn near steals the film as the Penguin, and Jeffrey Wright is terrific as Jim Gordon. Robert Pattinson’s sulky emo antics got a bit tired, but I am hoping he ups his game in the next films as Bruce Wayne develops further.

Paul Dano is pretty creepy in everything. Here he lets it all loose. Thankfully, they took the Riddler out of the stupid clothes of the comics and cartoons. Now he looks more menacing and contemporary.

Hey, if you are looking for something to listen to and love music, check out Modern Musicology, a podcast that I am on. It has been a lot of fun to do and I hope you check it out. Each week we discuss an interesting topic. Tune in and dig it!

With the cold weather seemingly behind us, I am so looking forward to reading outside in the sunshine again. I like Spring. It is not too hot and it usually features a bevy of interesting new records.

However, what I really want this spring is for an end to the madness and unhinged terror of the world to subside. maybe it will be replaced with kindness and lemonade. I doubt it. But it would be nice.