A few weeks ago, my glasses were smashed to death in the night when a copy of Rick Perlstein’s Nixonland mysteriously fell on top of them. Tricky Dick has been gone for two decades, but apparently his enemies list continues from beyond the grave. ”Stated a bit more bluntly,” to paraphrase the words of White House Counsel John Dean’s original 1971 memorandum, “how we can use the available spectral machinery to screw our political enemies?”
From the Potluck Supper tumblr, on which Colin and Shanai have been documenting some of the artists’ projects made in conjunction with my book. This particular project was among my favorites:
On January 30th, 2014, a dozen or so souls braved single digit temperatures to see the world premiere of Kate Casanova and Chris Koza's short film Blizzard at Matt’s Bar in the heart of South Minneapolis.
Blizzard is an experimental sound and video piece inspired by “At Matt’s Bar, in a Blizzard,” an essay from the book Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow by Andy Sturdevant, which explores the introspective yet socially unifying experience of walking through a snowstorm. The exact blizzard that Sturdevant navigated en route to the iconic Matt’s Bar (of Jucy Lucy fame) in the essay took place on February 20, 2011. Casanova and Koza used found YouTube footage taken by residents of the Twin Cities from that date as source material for the project.
To show the short film, we attached a projector and audio system to the top of a car and powered it with a borrowed generator, which you can clearly hear chugging away in the video above. With the go-ahead from Matt’s staff confirmed, we screened the short film and then headed inside to warm up with burgers and beers.
Thanks to everyone that came out and special thanks to Kate and Chris for creating such a haunting meditation on winter in Minnesota. If you missed the premiere, you can still watch Blizzard online here. And thanks to Morgan L’Argent for capturing the video above!
I’ve got to tell you about this character named David Buckley Borden, because I like what he’s doing, and I like it a lot. He’s a New England artist and (by his own admission) highly unlicensed landscape architect, with personal allegiances to both the Massholes and the Mainiacs. He is also a stirring human-sized expression of the flannel-clad, flinty New England ethos native to that region, an ethos that also lives on in the shared cultural DNA of the Upper Midwest, which since 1850 or so has been largely populated by the descendants of Massholes and Mainiacs.
That work ethic and sense of humor is best expressed in his recent “Fun a Day” project, in which he made one landscape proposal per day through the month of January (above is his January 17 “shade collection box”). This project draws on the New England landscape, but also on history, conservation, amateur vexillology, mapping, graphic design, outdoor recreation, and other areas of interest to both me and maybe to you.
You can see the entire landscape proposal per day project here. If you’re a resident of Massachusetts, you can go see the Fun a Day project in person next week in Boston.
Nate reminded me on my birthday last year that you can go to the Wikipedia page for "Category: [100 years before the year you were born] births," and very easily compare your life’s trajectory to those of thousands and thousands of semi-notable people who are 100 years older than you. You can randomly click any of them and push all the dates forward exactly 100 years for ease of comprehension. My 1979 becomes their 1879.
What you find varies wildly. Joseph Louis Anne Avenol, at my age, hasn’t done a thing by 1914/2014. His first accomplishment that merits a mention doesn’t happen until the 1930s/2030s. Walther Bauersfield wrote up the plans for the first projection planetarium in 1912/2012, but didn’t get a chance to fully implement them until about a decade later. Helene Hathaway Britton already owned the St. Louis Cardinals by 1911/2011, and would for another few years; she’d divorce her husband two years from now, in 1916/2016, and subsequently sell the team in 1917/2017. Looking for 1914/2014 in Lucy Burns’ article gets you about halfway down the page — by then, she’s already dropped out of grad school to join a prominent suffrage organization and is heavily involved in organizing, advocacy, and factional disputes (which sounds exactly like the sort of thing someone at my age should be doing).
Since probably a full third of Wikipedia articles are about footballers and rugby players, most of their careers have ended completely by 1914, though they live into the 1950s and 1960s. And of course in my case a complicating factor is that, in 1914, World War I is beginning. Most everyone at my age was about to go to war for a few years.
This side-by-side comparison doesn’t tell you a whole lot about what kind of life you’ve been living, I don’t think, but it’s interesting to see as an exercise in controlled, low-stakes anxiety about the future. It’s much more interesting than looking at “Category: [Year you were born] births." Most of the people born the same year as you haven’t yet fulfilled their life’s work, just as you/I haven’t fulfilled yours/mine. Presumably, at least. The vast majority of them are footballers or rugby players, anyway.
Roast some almonds in the oven for about ten minutes, grind them up in a coffee bean grinder, then put them in a French press with some hot water. Serve in a University of Toronto coffee mug with condensed milk and honey. I guess it’s somewhere between almond milk, flavored tea, and decaf coffee.
In actuality, it’s not as good as I would hoping it might be, but I drank it anyway. It wasn’t bad, but it seemed a little dry, a little dusty — I assume that’s because of the roasting process, but I’m pretty sure grinding up raw almonds would gunk up my grinder, and I can’t think of a way around that.
I was reading Jack Black’s You Can’t Win this past week, and he describes making “pea coffee” by grinding up dried peas, and suddenly my brain was fired up with all the possibilities of all the many things you could grind up and use in place of coffee beans. Dried peas? Sure. Almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, maybe some types of beans. I was with a friend when I hit upon the idea of replacing peas with something like almonds, and she shook her head and told me, accurately, “Now that’s all you’re going to think about for the rest of the day.” Of course she was right. I had a million things I should have been thinking about yesterday — the house I live in is going on sale, I was scheduled to meet my accountant the next morning with a pile of 1099s, I have a bunch of important destination weddings this summer I have to find a way to pay my way to, plus it was the ninth anniversary of my arrival in Minneapolis that very day, as significant a life decision as I’ve ever made — and of course all I could think about all day was “I can’t wait to get home and grind up some almonds and try to make almond coffee out of them.”
Maybe I’ll try it cold, like regular almond milk. Maybe I’ll add some Frangelico. Or maybe I’ll just add a pinch of dried almonds when I grind my regular regular coffee. Maybe there are refinements to make to my hot almond drink, slowly, this winter. There are always refinements to make.
Yesterday, I linked to a spreadsheet listing the birthplaces of Minneapolis’ mayors (that sentence contains at least four of the most thrilling words in the English language). I thought I’d do the same with St. Paul, and came into the task with some preconceptions — specifically, the idea that St. Paul, being the older, more established, and more neighborhood-oriented Twin, could have St. Paul-born mayors stretching all the way back to the turn of the century.
Well, yes and no. With a few exceptions, the majority of St. Paul’s mayors have been born in St. Paul since the 1930s.
Of course, those two exceptions are pretty big ones: George Latimer (1976-1990) and Norm Coleman (1994-2002) are both New Yorkers that established themselves in St. Paul well into their adulthoods. In fact, St. Paul has had nine mayors born in New York in its history.
Before them, most of the mayors of St. Paul have some claim on being born or raised in the city back until William Fallon, mayor for one term in the late 1930s, who was born in Waconia, Minnesota.
Whether or not a person can said to have been “raised” in St. Paul, though, is a little more slippery. Charles P. McCarty, mayor from 1970 to 1972, was born in Minneapolis. How a man born in Minneapolis became mayor of St. Paul is unknown to me, though it seems like it must have been an almost insurmountable political obstacle. George Vavoulis, mayor from 1960 to 1966, merits an asterisk, too. He was born in West Virginia, but his family moved to Minnesota when he was a boy, and then into St. Paul when he was a teenager.
The first mayor born in the city was Herbert P. Keller, from 1910 to 1914. Keller was born in 1875, when the town was in the midst of a population boom that would continue for the next few decades.
You should probably count Christopher P. O’Brien, mayor from 1883 to 1886, as a native son, too. He was born in Ireland, but his family emigrated to St. Paul when he was six, just a few years after the town was founded.
Otherwise, the familiar migration patterns are reflected in the mayor’s hometowns: the first mayors came from New England or Canada, and then from the old interior west (Ohio, Pennsylvania), as well as a few from Germany or Ireland. There’s a run of mayors from Greater Minnesota in the early 20th century who likely emigrated to the capital city for political or professional reasons, and then a run of mayors born in the city’s close-knit neighborhoods. Chris Coleman, the current mayor, is from a very well-established St. Paul family.
Unlike Minneapolis, I think St. Paul’s future mayors will be less likely to come from the suburbs. I think it’s more likely they’ll have been born and raised in the city, whether their parents came from Highland Park or Southeast Asia (on that note, more of St. Paul’s mayors seem to be children of immigrants than Minneapolis — in fact, Minneapolis, supposed urban capital of Scandinavian-American culture in the country, didn’t have a Scandinavian-American mayor until the 1950s).
Or, who knows, maybe there’ll be some more that grew up in New York and then came to Macalester or St. Thomas for college or law school. That’s pretty common, too.
Our great new mayor, Betsy Hodges, also has the distinction of being the city’s first mayor born and raised in the suburbs. Like many Minneapolitans of her generation, she was born and raised in the suburbs (Wayzata, in her case), attended college out-of-state, and then moved to the city proper as an adult.
She’s also the first mayor to have not been born and raised in Minneapolis since the 1960s. Hodges was born in 1969, at the end of a decade where the population of the city had contracted for the first time in its history. I can’t find a biography of Hodges’ parents anywhere, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they grew up in Minneapolis and relocated to the suburbs after World War II.
The mayoral birthplaces roughly follow generational migration patterns to the city. The earliest mayors, born before Minneapolis was founded, came mostly from New England and the East Coast, arriving in the city as adults. Through the early 20th century, most mayors came from the interior, places like Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. Between 1880 and 1900, the city’s population grew by 400%. The Minneapolis babies born during this boom reached the age of mayoral eligibility in about the 1940s, which is when the city’s run of Minneapolis-born mayors begins.
The mayors in the highlighted cells were born in Minneapolis (or, in the case of Sharon Sayles Belton, born in St. Paul and raised in Minneapolis). With the exception of the 1960s-era mayor Arthur Naftalin, who was born and raised in Fargo and moved to Minneapolis at age 18 to attend the University of Minnesota, every mayor has been born in the city since the 1940s. Hubert Humphrey, perhaps the city’s most famous mayor, was born and raised in South Dakota, and didn’t actually arrive in Minneapolis as a full-time resident until his mid-20s.
The mayors in darkened cells were either born or reached the age of eligibility before Minneapolis was established. David P. Jones was the first mayor born in Minneapolis, and the year he was elected, 1902, was about the first year a person born in Minneapolis would be old enough to be elected mayor. Jones was the first mayor born in the Upper Midwest, as well — everyone before him was born and raised in the East. After Jones’ two non-consecutive terms in the 1910s, there wouldn’t be another mayor born in the city proper until Eric G. Hoyer in 1948.
Neither the South 12th Corporation nor any of its sponsors, shareholders, or affiliates make any guarantees, explicit or implicit, that the information on this web site is accurate, complete or up-to-date.
Mrs. M. Ridulagogna appears courtesy of Chiswick Records (U.K.).