27th November 13
About a year or maybe two ago, Joe, the proprietor of Lemon Ice Forever, wrote me an email offering me $10 for a commissioned piece of original writing, describing a character “whose entire worldview revolves around the fact that they think Pink Floyd is better than the Beatles.”
I agreed enthusiastically to do it “shortly,” and then took nearly two years to actually do it do it.
But I did do it, eventually, and Joe has just published the results. Please enjoy them below, and I thank Joe for his kind words about my book. When and if the Rolling Potluck Thunder Supper Revue With Meeting to Follow comes crashing through Dirty Side in 2014, expect to see Mr. Bernardi up on that stage somewhere with a laser pointer:
This installment of Lemon Ice Forever Saving Publishing comes courtesy of Andy Sturdevant. Andy is no stranger to being paid to write, having recently published his first book, Potluck Supper With Meeting To Follow, just last month. Not long after PSWMTF’s release, I had the privilege of putting down an overrated book of Ted Chiang’s nerd-power fantasies disguised as science fiction short stories in favor of Andy’s boundlessly charming cubist portrait of Minneapolis, his adopted hometown.
Andy’s book contains, among other things, a nostalgic tale of a moment of quiet reflection in a doomed romance. The tale is set in a dive bar and prominently features a Roxy Music song. If you know me well at all, I don’t need to go on about how much I enjoyed it. If you don’t know me well at all: Cf. nostalgia, Roxy Music, dive bars, and doomed romance.
Andy agreed to write a piece driven by the point of view of a character whose entire worldview is informed by the fact that he or she thinks Pink Floyd were superior to The Beatles. He did so with what I would describe as as a characteristic midwestern gusto. Unlike his Minnesota Twins, however, he managed to knock it out of the park, even going so far as to reference 102.1 WAQY (“Springfield’s [guitar riff] classic rock”), my childhood classic rock station.
Click through, and read the heck out of it.
21st November 13
CB Radio Slang Atlas
Seventies trucker slang for one-hundred and forty-five American cities, according to Lanie Dills’ Official CB Slanguage Language Dictionary (1978 edition). You can use these yourself next time you’re driving through Dirty Side, the Hub, the Buffer, Big South, Hole in the Wall, Air Cap 8, Yellow Breath, Charlie, and Big Brother.
Most cities have multiple names — I chose the one I liked the most. Depending on context, “Little Twin” could refer to St. Paul, Duluth-Superior, or Fargo-Moorhead. “Big Twin” is always Minneapolis. “Big D” could be Des Moines, Denver, or Dallas, depending on where the trucker was located.
See if you find the three references to two American presidents of the 1970s, and the two references to athletic championships of the 1960s and 1970s. And if anyone can explain why Columbus, Ohio was known as “Disco City,” I’d love to hear it.
12th November 13
The spammers are finally starting to speak my language.
Claim a Nigerian inheritance? No, thank you.
Facilitate a bank transfer? Sorry, can’t help.
"Assist" on a "project"?
Hello! Let me know what email address I should send my PayPal donation to! Actually, let me take the next three days off work so we can get started right away. I’ll start writing up the State Arts Board grant and put together a list of designers, IP attorneys, public historians, and community organizers we might be able to work with on some of these specifics. Maybe I should I get Colin and Shanai on the phone and see if we can fold it into existing Works Progress programming? I’ll send you my W9 in just a minute.
Sit tight, Mrs. M. Ridulagogna, we’ll have this thing running in no time.
6th November 13
Yesterday, Minneapolis voters chose overwhelmingly to “modernize” the language of the city’s 200-page city charter. I voted against the measure, since I think it’ll create too much uncertainty with ordinances that, while somewhat wordy, still have a century of legal precedence behind them. But that’s not what most voters thought, and so when the charter is updated, much of the archaic language and provisions will be removed. Including, probably, most of these:
"A snow blower may be operated at any time during the pendency of an official snow emergency and at any time within twenty-four (24) hours following a snowfall of one (1) inch or greater."
"At least ten (10) footcandles of light shall be available throughout the stable to allow for effective cleaning."
"Nor shall any person or persons swim across any lake or park water unless accompanied by a boat and then only with permission from the park and recreation board or its proper officers."
“Every maker, baker or manufacturer of bread, every proprietor of a bakery or bakeshop and every seller of bread shall keep scales and weights suitable for the weighing of bread, in a conspicuous and convenient place in his bakery, bakeshop or store, and shall, whenever requested by the buyer and in the buyer’s presence, weigh the loaf or loaves of bread sold or offered for sale.”
"Eggs which contain black rots, white rots, mixed rots (addled eggs, sour eggs with green white, eggs with stuck yolks, moldy eggs, musty eggs, eggs showing blood rings, eggs containing embryo chicks at or beyond the blood ring stage), or any other eggs that are filthy, decomposed or putrid shall be deemed to be inedible."
"The annual fee for such a license shall be twenty-five dollars ($25.00) for unspayed or unneutered ferrets, fifteen dollars ($15.00) for spayed or neutered ferrets."
“Any loaf or loaves of bread made, baked or offered or exposed for sale contrary to the provisions of this chapter shall be subject to confiscation, and the inspector or other officer of the city who discovers any violation of any of the provisions of this chapter shall order and cause all such bread to be confiscated and turned over to the proper authorities to be used for the benefit of the poor of the city.”
“When the finger is used in placing caps in machinery, a sanitary covering must be worn upon the finger.”
“When satisfied that the applicant is of good moral character and has met the requirements of this chapter, the director of licenses and consumer services shall issue a license to the applicant to engage in the business of street photography, and shall furnish the applicant with a circular badge not less than two (2) inches in diameter which shall contain the words ‘Street Photographer, License No. ____________.’”
“No permits for further burials in Layman’s Cemetery located at the corner of Lake Street and Cedar Avenue shall be granted.”
“No person shall teach dancing or conduct or operate any dancing school in the city without first having obtained a license.”
“The word ‘carnival’ shall mean and include an aggregation of attractions, whether shows, acts, games, vending devices or amusement devices… which, from the nature of the aggregation, attracts attendance and causes promiscuous intermingling of persons in the spirit of merrymaking and revelry.”
"As used in this article, the following words and phrases shall mean: Rap parlor. An establishment or place primarily in the business of providing nonprofessional conversation or similar services for adults.”
“Each horse employed under this chapter while ‘on the street’ shall be diapered with an appropriate sanitary device designed specifically for this purpose. In the event of a mishap it shall be the responsibility of the driver/owner to immediately remove or otherwise clean the street, sidewalk or property in the general area of the mishap.”
“No advertising matter or sign on any bench shall display the words STOP, LOOK, DRIVE IN, DANGER or any other word, phrase or symbol which might interfere with, mislead or distract traffic.”
“Provided, however, that this section shall not prevent the awarding of prizes for skill in marksmanship.”
Thanks to Chuck Terhark for his spirit of merrymaking.
31st October 13
28th October 13
In June 2003, I drove up to Chicago by myself to see Lou Reed play at the Skyline Stage at Navy Pier in Chicago. It was the only time I ever saw him perform live, despite considering myself, at that time, to be the #1 Lou Reed fan in Louisville, Kentucky in the 18-24 demographic range in the years between 2000-2004. It was, before or since, the most money I’ve ever handed over to see an artist live (doing the calculations now, I estimate that the ticket price and travel costs were roughly 15% of my monthly net income).
For such a large, outdoor venue, it was a small band. Just a bassist, guitarist, cellist, and Lou on guitar. It’s been enjoyable, in the past day, to read other online reviews of the same show, filling in details I’d forgotten. It was the first time I’d ever encountered Antony, who sung on a few of the songs and would become much better-known to me a few years later as the Antony of Antony and the Johnsons. Lou’s tai chi instructor was also part of the revue, and he came out for a few songs and did some accompaniment. They played “Sunday Morning.” They played “Street Hassle.” Lou told a funny story about the secret fourth chord in “Sweet Jane.” He wore black leather, which sounds like it could have been ridiculous, but I reported breathlessly to my friends back home that if you squinted your eyes, he looked just like he did on the cover of Transformer.
After the show, not having anything else to do — at that time, no friends in Chicago to visit — I drifted to the area near the backstage, vaguely thinking I’d get a chance to meet Lou. There was another person back there waiting, a guy roughly my age from Chicago who’d just completed his BFA. He told me he was moving to New York the following week.
"What are you going to say to Lou?" he asked.
I told him I didn’t know, exactly. Thanks, I guess?
He nodded. “I just want to tell Lou that I’m the next great American painter,” he said.
So we waited behind a fence, behind the Skyline Stage on Navy Pier, waiting for Lou Reed to walk by. We talked about the usual stuff in a conversation I have no specific memory of, about painting and art and New York City. I’d visited for the very first time just a month earlier, and I was exactly the sort of dumb, starry-eyed twenty-three-year-old to write of the experience at the time, “I finally saw the beautiful city that beget the Velvet Underground…”
About an hour or two later, Lou walked by. “Lou!” we shouted. He looked over. Me and my painter friend blinked, not knowing how to follow up.
"Thank you!" I shouted.
Lou nodded, and kept walking.
That was it. Not having much else to do, the painter and I exchanged contact information and parted ways. I drove around the city for a few hours and eventually wound up sleeping in a hotel parking lot near Milwaukee. I am certain I lost the painter’s contact information as soon as I returned to Louisville.
I wonder whatever happened to that guy. I wonder if he did become the next great American painter (although the chances aren’t good, since I can’t think of many great New York-based painters that have emerged in the past ten years). I admired then, as I do now, the painter’s instincts, as well as his very specifically worded self-assessment. I can’t think of anyone — not even an actual painter — that it would be better to have that particular piece information than Lou Reed. He wasn’t looking for Lou’s blessings, or for a professional contact, or anything like that. It’s not like he thought Lou would say, “Ah, well, I’ll mention something to Laurie.” He was probably hoping Lou would sneer at him or something.
I guess he just thought that, somehow, if Lou Reed knew he was the next great American painter, that would be enough. He never even got to say it to Lou Reed, but even so, I don’t think he was wrong.
24th October 13
This reminds me of a weird dream I had in college.
22nd October 13
I just couldn’t recapture the goony, singleminded, vaguely insincere glee of my original expression in the printed photo.
"More than anything, “Potluck Supper with Meeting to Follow” feels like a long ambulatory conversation with an exceptionally interesting friend. Sturdevant’s voice — inquisitive, witty and intelligent — invites us in at every turn. The book’s material presence reinforces that invitation; it’s a lovely artifact, beautifully designed and charmingly illustrated."
22nd October 13
Patricia Hagen in today’s Star Tribune (via Potluck Supper).
Oh, shoot. I may have forgotten to mention that I wrote a book, and then the book came out, and that it got a nice review in the Star Tribune this morning, and that you can buy the book from your favorite bookstore or online. I wonder what else I forgot to tell you?
Ah, how about this: Have a look at the Potluck Supper tumblr, too. Me, Coffee House Press, and my old pals at Works Progress are organizing a series of about a dozen public art projects, created by about a dozen Twin Cities artists in response to specific essays in the book, including Dawn Brodey, Kate Casanova & Chris Koza, Pritika Chowdhry, Chris Cloud, Our Flow is Hard, Isa Newby Gagarin, Red 76, Mike Hoyt, SuperGroup, Joan Vordebruggen and Brad Zellar. They’ve got all sorts of events lined up in the next several weeks. Keep an eye on the calendar.
What a month. It’s been fun and it’s only getting more fun.
18th October 13
Something pointed out to me by Keith Harris last night: a former Democratic city councilman named Dan Cohen is a viable (or, at least, very well-funded) candidate for mayor of Minneapolis in 2013. Dan Cohen is notable for losing the 1969 mayoral race to law-and-order independent candidate Charlie Stenvig. Stenvig was sort of the Frank Rizzo of the Upper Midwest, except his base of “white ethnics” were Scandinavians instead of Italians.
To give you a sense for the bizarre time-warpiness of Dan Cohen’s candidacy: imagine if Bill de Blasio was running for Mayor of New York against whoever lost to John V. Lindsay in 1969. That person happened to have been Mario Procaccino (above, with the mustache, on the left). Mario Procaccino is not a viable candidate for New York mayor in 2013, mostly because Mario Procaccino is 101 years old and has been dead for twenty years. Moreover, even if Procaccino was still living, he’d seem like a figure from a distant past so radically different from our own that the idea of him being a viable candidate in Bloomberg’s New York seems less like something that would happen in real life and more like the plot of a high-concept Life on Mars-style indie comedy.
Weirder still: this bizarre time-warpiness seems to resonate with very, very few people in Minneapolis, possibly because Minneapolis’ collective civic memory only stretches back about as far as Prince’s Dirty Mind. If you’re in Minneapolis, ask the first ten people you see on the street who Charlie Stenvig was. If more than three people know, I’ll buy you a frosty tallboy of Grain Belt Premium. If you’re currently in New York City, try the same with John V. Lindsay. All ten people won’t know, but I’d bet a lot more than three will.