Monday, November 17, 2014

Minnesota: L'etoile du Nord...not the "uncool" Midwest

I haven't written a blog post in a few years.  And, this may be the only one I do for quite some time.  But, when I saw this article about Minnesota lamenting being lumped in with the Midwest, I felt the need to write something. 

First off, Minnesota, you are part of the Midwest, whether you like it or not.  You are a lot closer to Indiana, Michigan, and Ohio than you are Washington, Oregon, or even British Columbia.  I know that's a sore spot since Minneapolis desperately, desperately wants to be just like Seattle, Portland, or Vancouver.  But, those are the facts.  Your flagship school is a Big Ten school, which used to be strictly Midwest.  Your sports teams largely play teams from Chicago, Detroit, Wisconsin, Missouri, and Ohio.  You have a lot of dairy farming and other agriculture.  For crying out loud, your biggest annual event is the freaking STATE FAIR!!!  You don't get more Midwestern than that!

Second, I know Minnesotans really believe that the state they live in is a really unique and beautiful snowflake.  No one has lakes like we do, and no one has the cultural sophistication of the Twin Cities like we do.  I have bad news for you, but those Republican-voting miscreants to your east have a lot of lakes and a good amount of culture as well.  No mid-size Minnesota city could pull this off, but Appleton, WI can. 

Third, the whole idea is based on a flawed premise anyway.  If you really think branding Minnesota (and the rest of the so-called Upper Midwest) as "the North" will make the Twin Cities more of a regional center than it already is, you're sorely mistaken.  I think people here believe their sphere of influence goes farther than it really does.  I speak from an insider and outsider perspective (I live in the Twin Cities area, but am not from here), but I think the sphere of influence of the Twin Cities pretty much ends at US 53 (and starts to fade quickly past US 63) in Wisconsin, and at around US 20 in Iowa.  I'm not as certain about the Dakotas, but I would guess it ends at around the Missouri River.  So, if you really want to not be considered part of the Midwest, you're really isolating yourself.  That has its limitations.  Also, in a world where megaregions are probably going to be a major driver of commerce and population growth, it's better for the Twin Cities and Minnesota to be a part of this than not to be. 

But you know what, if you want to break off from the Midwest and make up a region so you can be the center of it, that's fine.  However, I am pretty sure Iowa and Wisconsin want no part of it.  I'm quite certain that Michigan doesn't, as it has its own large city that, while severely flawed, is still bigger than the Twin Cities. 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Moribund Burgermeister?

Yeah, that's probably true. I do enjoy a good burger. And, since I wrote nothing in 2011, moribund is probably a good assessment. Hence, I have my role in the Mr. Dilettante administration in his role as mayor of the M.O.B.

Maybe I'll be a little less moribund in 2012. I have fans in Asia who are epic spammers who wait breathlessly for new content, after all.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Do I really think Brett Favre is going to retire? See above for answer. Even if he announces it in the next couple of days, I still don't believe him. I will believe it if the 2010 season goes by and he does not show up.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oat sodas, caucasians, and what have you - Louisville Report 2

As I alluded to, the reason I went to Louisville was for Lebowski Fest. For those of you who are unaware (and based on the box office receipts back in 1998 you might be), The Big Lebowski is a Coen Brothers movie that was the follow-up to Fargo, which is loved by most, except Minnesotans. So, expectations were pretty high for Lebowski, except that for various reasons, people didn't take to it right away. It is generally considered to be a box-office flop.
However, when it came out on DVD, people started to give it another look. On college campuses all around the country, kids got drunk and watched this movie over and over again. I know, because I was one of them. This is definitely a movie that needs repeat viewings to really get. But, once you get it, you really get it.
The history of the festival is available at the link for those interested. It is a good story. Anyway, this was the ninth year. I went with two friends from Kansas City who I met a few years ago through my buddy Jason (occasional commenter here).
The first day, there was a free studio performance at the studios of WFPK, a radio station in Louisville that is most like The Current here in Minneapolis. The show is posted on the site if you are so inclined. It was an interesting mix of indie rock, bluegrass, and a couple of other acts I couldn't quite pigeonhole. I will talk more about the bands in the next post.
That night, a couple of bands played outside the Executive Strike & Spare, which hosted the majority of the festival. Then, we had a late-night screening of the movie. That was the beginning.
On Saturday, after a day of hanging around the city, we reconvened at the bowling alley. Outside, some more bands played...then, we bowled. I scored a 125, which is good for me. Afterwards, there were many beers (oat sodas), white russians (caucasians), and good times and fun conversation. I even met this guy (he was Liam in the movie). He's a great guy, and is the one person from the movie who regularly comes to Louisville for the festival.
As for bowling on Shabbos, what can I say...I f'n roll on Shabbos!!
Lebowski Fest was an outstanding time. I really enjoyed myself, and really enjoyed meeting people who are really into the movie (and they are really, really into it), more than I am, and this is with me being a pretty big fan of The Big Lebowski.
UPDATE: Photos from the Saturday night party are available here.
Next: An underrated music scene?? In Kentucky?!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Louisville Report - 1

As posted below, I spent last weekend in Louisville, a city that I haven't really visited before. I did not know what to expect, except that it would have a pretty genteel, southern vibe going. Well, there was some of that, but my impression of Louisville is that, while southern, it's not entirely southern.
I have to say, I really enjoyed what I saw of Louisville. The Fourth Street District in downtown was a pretty cool area, with the part I saw consisting of local businesses (not much in the way of chains). We ate lunch at the Bluegrass Brewing Company, which had pretty standard brewpub fare, but was pretty tasty. I had a good amber ale (alt).
We had some time to kill on Friday afternoon, so we went to Cave Hill Cemetery, as recommended by our visitor's guide. Apparently this is a frequently-visited place. Especially for fans of Colonel Sanders, who is buried here. The people who run the cemetery saw clear to paint a yellow line from the entrance to his grave.
Later that afternoon, we decided to go to a great neighborhood bar called Shenanigans (no link, unfortunately). It is literally a neighborhood bar as it is completely surrounded by houses.
But, the highlight for me about Louisville, besides things I will write about in future posts about Lebowski Fest and the music scene, is the Highlands area, along Bardstown Road. Despite the heat (it was around 96 degrees on Saturday), we walked around the neighborhood. A couple of highlights included Why Louisville, which has an eclectic collection of items, and Ear X-Tacy, which is one of the better music stores I have ever been to, rivaling the former Let It Be Records or Electric Fetus in Minneapolis, the old Atomic Records in Milwaukee, B-Side Records in Madison, and any Exclusive Company in Wisconsin.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by how cool Louisville is. I don't think I could live there (too hot and humid), but I would like to, and probably will, visit there again. I recommend it highly. And, I didn't even see the more common tourist attractions there.
Next: Caucasians, oat sodas, and rolling on Shabbos.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Abiding in Louisville

I wasn't blogging on my last trip to Detroit in April, but I am now. This time, I am going to Louisville, KY, a city I have never really visited before, but have been through (once as a kid).

So, why Louisville in the heat of summer? This is why.

Anyway, either while on the road, or upon my return, I will tell you all about it. In the meantime, know that I will consume more Kahlua this weekend than probably at any point throughout the rest of my life.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

So, what about your doorknobs?

So, one of the things I am adjusting to out here in the burbs is the type of conversations people have.

OK, first thing I am adjusting to is talking with neighbors. I rarely spoke with any of my neighbors in any of my previous residences. I don't think the average apartment building is conducive to knowing neighbors. However, in this new neighborhood, my roommate is starting to get to know his neighbors. This is good for him as he bought this house, and will be living here for the foreseeable future. As for me, it's probably a good thing to know these people as long as I am going to be here.

However, if all these people have to talk about is easements, yards, and lighting fixtures, I am going to go insane. I have never cared about this crap. If I am going to get to know people, I want to get to know them. This is the sort of thing I would pin on the whole Minnesota Nice thing, but I imagine this is what happens in subdivisions all over the world. But anyway, I fully expect a conversation to take place soon about entryways. I expect to be riveted by that one. I will let you know how it goes.

My hope is that there comes a point where this stuff stops, and interesting conversations begin. If not, it will be one factor in why I move right back to Minneapolis as soon as I am able.