12th October 10
Here’s a two year anniversary treasure for you, reader. This is the original header I made for S. 12th in October 2008. I’ve just rescued this .jpg from my old held-together-with-duct-tape drug-Dell that I used until earlier this year. That’s the view from my living room window, sitting at the dinner table and facing south.
I never ended up using this for reasons I can’t recall — I think the orientation was wrong, or I couldn’t figure out how to place the image atop the page — but it’s kind of nice, isn’t it?
19th July 10
vickyj asked: Let's say a law is passed enforcing each citizen to have one hugely tacky marble statue in front of their house. What would be on your lawn?
An excellent question. Here is Donald Barthelme, writing in 1976: “There is one thing America has a sad paucity of: Monuments. Every tacky little fourth-rate déclassé European country has monuments all over the place and one cannot turn a corner without banging into an eighteen-foot bronze of Lebrouche Tickling the Chambermaids at Vache While Planning the Battle of Bledsoe or some such. Whereas America tends to pile up a few green cannonballs next to a broke-down mortar and forget about it.”
He’s right, of course. So this law, however it may have been passed — and frankly, I suspect some serious monkey business, as the economic and ideological climate right now isn’t particularly well-suited for public art-related expenditures of this kind — might be just the thing to make us all believe in America again. Her greatest moments as a nation, captured in marble. On people’s front lawns.
I will also admit that I like the idea of WPA program for marble sculptors. I know a fair amount of un- and underemployed art school graduates with degrees in three-dimensional work and somewhere north of 12 credit hours of art history, and I’m sure they’d rather be chiseling Hellenic washboard abs out of a slab of marble than working on temporary museum installation crews or making coffee for yuppies. Let’s put them to work. In a pinch, art workers in other disciplines could even be recruited. Show me a person with a basic sense for composition, a working knowledge of the Early Classic Style, and some degree of upper-body strength, and I’ll show you a potential taxpayer-funded marble sculptor. Not only does this initiative put artists to work, but it quiets conservative critics of public arts funding, because what is more conservative than marble sculptures? Liberal critics will be harder to quiet, because they (we?) hate beauty, but they will be appeased by the fact that each sculptor will be secretly instructed to include a large helping of crypto-socialist symbolism undetectable to the right. Ha ha ha! Stupid Americans!
As for me, I suppose I would request a sculpture of Phil Ochs at Carnegie Hall in 1970, resplendent in his gold lame Nudie suit. It’s certainly tacky, but it’s also heroic, two idea Ochs understood better than almost anyone. “If there’s any hope for America,” he said, “it lies in a revolution, and if there’s any hope for a revolution in America, it lies in getting Elvis Presley to become Che Guevara.” And there you have it. A fine concept for a marble statue.
Now that I have been thinking about this subject, I am actually reminded of a great local story on a statue-related subject that I haven’t heard much follow-up on. A few years ago, a Mexican governor donated a statue of Emiliano Zapata to the city of Minneapolis, to be placed here in Powderhorn Park. Powderhorn is, as you may know, a heavily Mexican neighborhood, and it was meant to be a gesture of goodwill and civic friendship. The city balked, because — as revolutionaries tend to do — Zapata was carrying a rifle and a few bandoliers of ammunition. “A figure with a rifle,” so goes some of the arguments, “had no business standing in a city park wrestling with crime.” As far as I know, the statue is still in a money-wiring storefront right across the street on Lake. The most recent articles I can find are from 2007. Has anyone heard anything more about this? That was three years ago. It’s probably time for someone to write a follow-up. “Someone” might mean “me.”
So, in a round-about way, thanks for the reminder, Vicky.
14th July 10
I somehow missed Annotations’ touching account of the last time I ran into him that he posted earlier this week — in case you did, too, click through for the whole thing. It has all my favorite elements for a good narrative: non-traditional transit methods, winter, a party, feelings, geographic name-checks, bro-tastic camaraderie, magazines and nostalgia.
The article is entitled “The Silver Lining,” and real the silver lining is that I can give this thing back to Andy now. Because I am the guy who returns your torn magazines.
You sure are, Mike. I thank you, and I can’t wait to see what I missed.
Also, if memory serves, the party wasn’t very good. It was a lot of college kids, and not the good kind, either.
14th July 10
SOUTH BROOKLYN. A region or composite neighborhood in the New York City borough of Brooklyn, encompassing areas of Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, Red Hook, Gowanus, Park Slope and Boerum Hill. The somewhat historic name of South Brookyn has been revived in recent years to foster a closer connection among the constituent communities, though the name has always been popular nomenclature for the neighborhood’s locals. The revived term was less often applied to Park Slope and Sunset Park, which had come to regard themselves as distinct. Since the early 50’s, some kids growing up in the areas that make up South Brooklyn have affiliated under the name South Brooklyn Boys. [Wiki]
SOUTHSIDE CHICAGO. Well, the southside of Chicago / is the baddest part of town. [lyricsfreak.com]
SOUTH LOS ANGELES. Often abbreviated as South L.A., is the official name for a large geographic and cultural portion lying to the southwest and southeast of downtown Los Angeles, California. The area was formerly called South Central Los Angeles, and is still widely known as South Central. [Wiki]
SOUTH DETROIT. ok in the lyrics it says “just a city boy born and raised in south detroit” ok im from windsor which is a city south of detroit. do they mean downtown detroit? or windsor? because there is no south detroit… [answers.yahoo.com]
SOUTH PHILADELPHIA. The people in South Philly are satisfied with what they have and where they are. That’s a positive in a way, but for me, it’s a negative…The ultimate in South Philly is you own your own row home, you rent a house in Wildwood for the summer, drive a nice car…order out when you feel like it, and you’ve made it in life…There isn’t that drive to get out. [South Philadelphia: Mummers, Memories, and the Melrose Diner, Murray Dubin, pg. 114]
SOUTH SIDE PITTSBURGH. hey man. I was down in the south side yesterday with my girl goin’ bar hopping, and we ended up passing out on east carson st. [Urban Dictionary]
SOUTH AUSTIN. South Austin is one of the most important treasures on the Globe! Talk a walk around South Austin and ask people where they’re from, and you’ll find they’re from all over. There are people from all over Austin, the continental United States, and from all over the world. The people, places, and sites in South Austin are not just something South Austinites should defend. People from all over should preserve the culture and lifestyle of South Austin. [southaustinculture.org]
SOUTH BOSTON (Southie). The girls there are fine as hell. All they do is fight, drink, smoke and party. You want to see if your [sic] tough roll up in the fucking place and trust me they will eat u alive i know from my own experiences. [Urban Dictionary]
SOUTH PORTLAND. Older homes, many with historic significance, built around 1910. Residents tend to be either retired or young and the neighborhood has achieved a reputation for its artists colony. [Portland Planning Commission, 1977]
SOUTH PHOENIX (South Mountain Village, South Mountain District, or SoMo). In the decades prior to the 1970s, South Phoenix was the only part of the city in which homes were sold to African American and Mexican American residents, due to restrictive covenants in place on housing in other parts of the city. [Wiki]
SOUTH BRONX. They tried again outside in Cedar Park / Power from a street light made the place dark / But yo, they didn’t care, they turned it out / I know a few understand what I’m talkin’ about / Remember Bronx River rollin’ thick / With Kool DJ Red Alert and Chuck Chillout on the mix / When Afrika Islam was rockin’ the jams / And on the other side of town was a kid named Flash / Patterson and Millbrook projects / Casanova all over, ya couldn’t stop it / The Nine Lives Crew, the Cypress Boys / The real Rock Steady takin’ out these toys / As odd as it looked, as wild as it seemed / I didn’t hear a peep from a place called Queens. [lyricsdepot.com]
21st June 10
Yesterday I tied the Mediator to one of the food-themed bicycle stands outside the Global Market, and noticed the two objects had combined to create a 1970s-era feminist metaphor.
1st June 10
Above is a drawing I did in, oh, 2007 or so that Herbach just posted, originally made for the program for one of the Electric Arc Radio Shows. EARS was a debauched live radio production I occasionally performed in, masterminded by a small, brilliant group of Minneapolis writers and musicians. Herbach found this drawing, along with scads of other related drawings and promotional items I’d helped create, while cleaning out the downstairs apartment at S. 12th.
Herbach is moving from downstairs to live part-time in Mankato, where he secured an excellent, tenure-track creative writing position at the university there, and where he will live some of the week. There are a great many Minneapolitans regularly referenced on S. 12th, but there is only one that earned his or her own tag. I am very happy he has secured the position, but I am terribly sorry to see him gone from the apartment downstairs.
Incidentally, one of the best features in the Minneapolis urban landscape is the beautiful, baroque neon liquor store signs that creep up on most of the arterial streets. The liquor stores close at 10pm and they’re never open Sundays, but they are gorgeous all the same. The “Clerky’s Liquors” sign is based on the one at Minnehaha Liquors, a few blocks away from where I live. It’s just one of the many amazing neon marquees in and around South Minneapolis. Franklin Nicollet, Skol, Zipps, Lowry Hill and Hum’s are also favorites.
Man, that drawing’s a lot nicer than I remember it being. I really ought to draw in pen and ink more often.
10th May 10
Screen shot from The Atomic Cafe (1982). An archival animated depiction of a nuclear warhead falling on Minneapolis — quite near Powderhorn Park, in fact. It’s part of the long, almost completely silent sequence set to Franz Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody #2 in C Sharp Minor that ends the film (the spooky part of the Liszt piece, not the Daffy Duck part). I have to admit, I jumped in my seat a little.
5th May 10
This one’s for you, N. Don’t let your mind split open.
5th May 10
As a public service to the lovestruck counterculture enthusiasts of South Minneapolis, it is a tradition here at S. 12th to post all the missed connections from the May Day Parade the following week. Here’s who we’re on the lookout for this year, street team:
Click fast, readers — Craigslist ads are, as you know, only here on earth for a short time before they disappear forever. Do you know a brunette sitting in a chair? Did you call out N’s name, after all this time? Have you talked to Jeff about that hippie girl that was trying not to make eye contact with you in the drum circle? Speak up! Make some southside dreams of love come true!
15th April 10
Since Tumblr hero Mills just broke the exciting news that he and Will are relocating to San Francisco, it seems like a good opportunity to finally bring out this post that’s been moldering in my drafts section for a few months. Below is some advice on moving to San Francisco from last year from Matthew Honan’s blog. I am fairly sure I first read it on kottke.org, but it’s stuck with me. Honan advises potential transplants to, first and foremost, be certain to move to San Francisco proper:
…I don’t simply mean that you should not live in the East Bay or the Peninsula or Marin. I mean live in a part of the city that your great-grandparents would recognize as being San Francisco. Somewhere that was entirely residential, and all of the homes in your neighborhood existed, prior to 1915. If you’ve only lived in SoMa, you haven’t lived in San Francisco. I know a lot of people who’ve moved here from somewhere else only to settle in SoMa…or South Park or China Basin or some other reclaimed part of San Francisco’s industrial past. Big mistake. If you haven’t lived in one of San Francisco’s traditional neighborhoods, you’ve missed out. You haven’t ever gotten to experience one of its primary joys…This is a city of small communities, each with its own character. Get to know one, with its small shops and locally owned businesses, and you’ll find it infinitely rewarding.
This really interested me: the Great-Grandparents litmus test. I was wondering if this same test could be accurately applied to other cities. Would your great-granddad recognize your neighborhood as part of the city you live in? If so, does that make your experience more rewarding? Here’s Karina Wolf on Bright Wall in a Dark Room, writing about the neighborhood in which The Royal Tenenbaums is set:
It correlates with the more modestly numbered streets of Washington Heights where you’ll find a hilly Manhattan full of shambling buildings. The neighborhood is downtrodden and grand: a reminder of a time when New York’s greatness was still under construction. One of my friends, a new New Yorker, moved up there because he thought that’s where he’d find the real city.
The real city. In this case, the portions of Manhattan your great-grandfather would recognize as the newest parts of the city. If you’re looking for summer reading material related to the old New York, Steven Millhauser’s Martin Dressler captures the spirit of that time and place very well.
It’s worth noting that my homestead on S. 12th passes the test, although just barely. My house was built sometime around 1910, as were most of the houses in the area. South Minneapolis, as I’ve written before, is laid out on streetcar lines — houses were built on narrow lots and clustered together, with commercial and light industrial areas located every several blocks on the streetcar lines. This arrangement does make Powderhorn Park a more cohesive neighborhood than others. The older neighborhoods in Minneapolis have that feeling, too: Loring Park, Stevens Square, Marcy-Holmes, Phillips (or at least the pockets not totally devastated by the freeway construction in the 1960s), Whittier, Nicollet Island, Elliott Park, wide swaths of Northeast and North, the less farty portions of Uptown, the parts of the West Bank that weren’t also torn up in the 1960s to build the University expansion. Not coincidentally, these are the places in Minneapolis I’d most want to live.
Of course, Minneapolis isn’t a particularly old city — very little of the housing stock is older than 1900 or so, and almost nothing is older than the Civil War. The further south or northeast you go from downtown, the newer the buildings get, until you reach either the first-ring suburbs or about 1960, whichever comes first. Powderhorn Park itself was practically a suburb in 1910. Said a couple of Minneapolitans a generation earlier about building parks in the city:
‘Why do we need a park? There will never be a house south of Tenth Street.’ Another opponent claimed: ‘The whole city south of Franklin is a park.’
St. Paul, of course, is about twenty-five or fifty years older than Minneapolis in most portions. Most St. Paul neighborhoods pass the Great-Grandparents test. I am pretty sure almost every neighborhood I’ve lived since I was 18, with the possible exception of Bryn Mawr in Minneapolis, has passed the test.
So what about your neighborhood? Has living in an older portion of town versus a newer portion made for a dramatically different experience? Would you rather live in Morningside Heights than on Long Island? What parts of your city would not compel your great-grandma to ask you what you’re doing all the hell way out in the boonies? Are those places nice places to live?