Saturday, October 13, 2012

Exploring Minneapolis

Cousin Carol - Hostess with the Mostess!
Last weekend, I indulged in quick road trip to Minneapolis - a 6-7 hour drive, straight south, turning left at Fargo. Back in June, I had bought a ticket to see comedian Louis CK, because I happily buy anything he’s selling. I knew I’d be needing an urban break right about now and Louis is a brilliant writer and performer. I was right, this was much needed - a rare case of foresight.

Minneapolis Convention Center, awaiting The Master.
(Louis also goes out of his way to make things cheap and easy for the fans, even arranging his entire 45-city tour to circumvent the evil Ticketmasters of the world. Tix were a straight $45, every seat, every venue, every city, no extra charges.)

Photo by Flowizm
Lucky for me, my cousin, Carol, lives in the City of Lakes so I have a lovely place to stay - fancy plumbing and everything. (She is the daughter of Walter, my 92-year-old cousin.) Carol is the best hostess, always planning meals around my organic/local/veggie inclinations, and offering up show tickets. This time, I brought her a haul of Scranch produce (watermelon, squash, tomatoes, pumpkin) so I’m hoping she got a sense of my gratitude, beyond my stating it again and again.

I love a good corner.

Mississippi River from the Guthrie's Amber Room.
On Saturday, she took me down to their incredible Farmer’s Market, right next to the beautiful Guthrie Theater (behind Carol, above) and alongside the Mississippi River. It was a beautiful, chilly day. After spending a season on other side of the table, I now explore Farmer’s Markets with a new appreciation for all the work and care that went in to the gorgeous produce. I saw at least one head of broccoli that made me want to cry, it was so perfect. I marked the day by purchasing a hand-knitted hat (lined with fleece, no less) from Barn Swallow Garden - I love it!

Edible garden boxes downtown - super cool.
The market is held partly outside and inside a section of the Old Mill Factory, a beautiful building that is half art gallery, half ancient ruins. Most of the factory was destroyed in a deadly flour dust explosion in 1878 (killing 18 people) and they left it, as is. I didn't realize that innocent flour could be so explosive but this summer, I've been learning about the lethal potential of grain dust. One small spark and BOOM! Known as the Great Mill Disaster, it reduced the city's milling capabilities by a third.

The building included a moving installation called “The Bridge” which documented the survivors of the horrific bridge collapse in 2007 that killed 13 people. The entire place reminded me that every city, every town, every village has its own tragedies, woven into its history, often making it stronger as the community has to pull together to survive.

Explosion remants
Carol treated me to a delicious brunch at Spoonriver, right alongside the market and theater. We were shown to our table by the owner, Brenda Lee Langton, an inspiring agent for organic and local food in Minneapolis. I had an market-special omelette packed with savory fresh produce from the vendors next door. Carol had some fancy French Toast made with coconut milk, rosewater and cardamom. We finished up with some chocolate and pistachio cream puffs. Ah, city food!

"One of each, please."
Minneapolis is a city I could live in, no problem. First, they have the best public radio station I’ve ever heard and no shortage of art galleries, theaters, book stores and world class restaurants. I noted a concerted support of bicycles and public transportation and an eclectic mix of old and new architecture.

The winters, I’m sure, are brutal but then again, they don’t have to deal with the dreaded migration of Californians, something that is complained about wherever I go - like a rash that spreads the country. (I can only stand there sheepishly, when hearing this complaint.)

The Mary Tyler Moore statue, downtown.
I'd requested that we check out the Walker Art Center with it's accompanying sculpture garden next door and Carol obliged. The gallery was a fun space with many ponderous pieces - some incredible, some ridiculous and nearly all, thought-provoking. There was even an exhibit that encouraged people to take a piece of it home. (It was a poster of a b/w photo and I did.) Photography was encouraged, which is rather unusual for a gallery, so, I grabbed a few shots:

Wall-sized, um, necklace
I loved these
Eyeball wallpaper near the bathrooms
Cra-ZEE eyes watching as you head to the loo...
But the sculpture garden was amazing - truly delightful. It began with a small courtyard framed in stone benches, each one engraved with a thought. Of course, you naturally expect some beautiful bits of poetry, parables or deep life wisdoms but that would be soooooo predictable. These benches had a lot to say about everything else:

Like I said, random.

But the rest of the sculpture garden was equally fun - not huge but just big enough to ask yourself, "What's a giant spoon and cherry doing in the woods?"

In fact, the spoon/cherry duo is pretty famous in Minneapolis and I can see why - it's looks amazing from any angle.
And then, I caught this beautiful man smiling ear to ear - he was watching his children play - and I couldn't help stealing a shot....

...then he turned his head and GAVE ME SOME SUGAR!
Thus, giving me my favorite shot of the entire trip. God, I love strangers, they're my favorite. Other sculpture garden shots:

Carol also took me to see an incredibly funny (and totally necessary) sketch comedy show called The Rainbow Election ("Mommies and Mormons and Gays, Oh MY!") at the Brave New Workshop comedy theater downtown. It was a hoot. Honestly, the sketches were hysterical and spot on with neither the Dems or Repubs coming out clean - mud was expertly flung in every direction.

In the lobby.
Lordy, they did a whole bit on hoodies - how a normal citizen can become a criminal just by flipping up their hoodie, especially if they are African-American. Like any good satire, it was dead on. The dudes playing Obama and Romney (Andy Hilbrands and Bobby Gardner, respectively) really worked overtime. My favorite quote from the show:

"There are 7.5 million gay people in America but only 6 million Mormons. That means, statistically speaking, it's 25% less weird to be gay than it is to be Mormon."

Even the urinal in the woman's bathroom had something funny to say:

So yeah, Minneapolis - I dig it. They even have 80s-themed bachelorette parties here - what more do you need?
Oh yeah, you need a whole room made of yellow tinted glass, and a baby:

Thanks for showing me the town, Carol! Back to the farm I go...


Anonymous said...

There's a hare over bell in the front yard here at work.Good taste abounds! Kirk

Heather Clisby said...

Right? I actually took that shot for you.

Anonymous said...

Great rendition and pics. It was a fun day. You are welcome to visit again any time cuz.

Heather Clisby said...

Oh, I will - don't you worry about that, Carol. Thanks for being such a great hostess.