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Monthly Archives: January 2011

SAN JUAN-BOUND IN 6 HOURS. BAM! We even get the satisfaction of leaving in a snowstorm. I barely jammed the cars into our ice-choked alley spot; we will avoid the season’s 8th snow emergency but may be clipped by a garbage truck. Jo’s down in Des Moines for a week with her grandma, including tours of a sticker factory and the A.E. Dairy. She probably thinks she got the better vacation.

Sarah’s completing her epic packing routine. I’m stress-testing my laptop bag with art supplies, SPF 110, and my backlog of half-read books.

From last Thursday, a linocut of Justin Bieber in progress. I have no special interest in The Bieb, but was inspired by the loving attention of this artist. The final design is very swamp monster, but it captures some of his essential creepiness. Paul made a cool cut of his dog.

We’d never done this with sleds before, but we’re bound to repeat it.

And a turntable reenactment to send us out. Hasta luego!

>> Twin Sister – All Around And Away We Go
>> X – We’re Having Much More Fun
>> Cambodian outro

TWO SIGNS I DON’T BELONG IN THIS COFFEESHOP: it took three baristas five minutes to pour me a mug of coffee. And the only other patron is reading Tim Pawlenty’s “Courage to Stand.” In a town with many excellent cafés, the lameness of others feels like an affront. So let me tell you about the ones I like.

Spyhouse on Nicollet: Art students, restaurant people, transients and low-rent laptoppers (like myself) caffeinate here by day, nodding to Steely Dan, Blondie, Bowie and Stones (The décor is mostly crusty LPs and string-art clipper ships). The vibe is energetic, but with few children or “problem clients.” On the same block, you have your pick of Vietnamese. There is reportedly another location, but why bother?

Diamonds Coffee Shoppe: A maze of mostly windowless rooms in a Nordeast warehouse, this retro-modern spot has the Bohemian vibe of the artist studios nearby (welders, glassmakers, felters), without being too eclectic for the agency types moving into the strip. The furniture is ancient, curling Harley posters serve as décor, and while the food is just OK, the agreeable lady behind the counter makes it from scratch, a rarity.

Urban Bean: This Uptown place tries pretty hard—floor-to-ceiling murals, strict dichromatic palette, way too much merch. But there are lots of tables and power outlets and the owners work the counter like they give a damn. Extra points for scoring a patio table in summer.

2nd Moon Coffee Café: This redundantly named hole in the wall wins for weird juxtapositions. Somali students and grizzled old Communists. Punk Rock Moms Group and Scrabble Club. The mentally ill and the physically disabled. They have to remove ranting people and replace busted windows regularly, and many patrons don’t bother to buy anything. So I forgive the staff for playing Abbey Road a little too often.

Wonderland Park a/k/a Peace Coffee: This sparkling new emporium in lonely Longfellow (my ‘hood) is the headquarters for a local beans-on-bikes distributor. They did it up: high-varnish recycled wood tables (all four legs sit squarely on the floor; nice!), mosaic tiling, giant picture windows, and get this: bottomless cups of mad-delicious brew. Oh come, all ye freelance freeloaders.

>> Cream – Strange Brew

I CHECKED OUT EARLY this afternoon to ski Hiawatha golf course (the South High Nordic team had the same idea) and do odd errands: get Jo at daycare, notarize an affidavit for a client (I do what I say I do, I swear), and drop by the former Amazon Bookstore on Chicago Ave to thumb their unusual second-hand assortment. Alone in their basement, I entered a hyper-niche publishing time warp.

I passed on all but the Minneapolis-St. Paul Epicure (1981, photocopied menus of long defunct restaurants) and a 1976 Doonesbury collection. Cat Dependent No More! is a self-help parody, but even as a “humor” title it struck me as the saddest book of all time.

>> Spaceheads – Angel Station

IS THERE A WORD FOR STRIVING to get something right, and in doing so messing it up? Like your thoroughness and zeal are your failure? I keep stumbling into situations—eagerly, confidently—where I’d have done better if I’d tried half as hard. On the intertubes, I think it’s called “You’re Doing It Wrong.” As usj, I bet no one else noticed, yet I’d probably feel like I botched it either way.

Stepping outside of my mental hot-box, last Saturday Johanna steered us past this glass bottle display at the M.I.A. A pure experience of color and form, requiring no fore-knowledge or special discernment to enjoy. There’s a lesson for me here.

Ice queens at a park rink down the way. In the socialist utopia that is Minneapolis Park and Rec, loaner skates are free.

Want to be alone? Visit the frozen Mississippi River on Christmas Day.

‘Twas a low-key night two days after Christmas when up in Nordeast, creatures stirred (and smoked) with good ol’ St. Matty Nelson, now of Portland, Oregon, where the dream of the 90’s is still alive.

Craig Phillips discusses ailing parents, rye whiskey, and the finer points of Blingo (we all lost).

Thank you, Jesus, for giving us Prime Rib and Yorkshire Pudding Day.

Playmobil is a German toy that perpetuates the silliest German stereotypes.

At the Uptown Nassifs’ for Kir Royals. Shown here: three cousins, one boyfriend and my uncle who’s dropped 60 pounds in two months—whoa. Thanks for the fancy bottle of rye, Dan (not for guzzling, Craig).

Sarah found a kit to make dinner plates with drawings on them, like ones I made when I was four (Jo eats on the only remnant of that series every night). Here’s one of her new entries, to be delivered in hard plate form any day now.

A New Year’s Day photoshoot, staged and styled by Jo. Cheese!

>> Pete Rock & CL Smooth – Act Like You Know
>> The Kinks – Holiday

I’VE OUTLINED A STRATEGY FOR THE 36th YEAR of the Administration of My Own Mind. It came to me half-awake on 1/1/11 under the lingering influence of prosecco and pancit:

+ Accept the bad habits with the good (I’m hardly fit to judge)

+ Fill the void (spiritual, moral, what-have-you) with desire instead of anxiety

+ Suspend bogus austerity measures (eating four-day-old leftovers; squeezing more wear out of threadbare garments; repairing scissors), which have no relation to real deprivation anyhow

+ Get out ahead of the inevitable ’90s nostalgia movement (still working on the how for this one)

+ Exert the limited control I have over life in ways that actually matter—unlike, say, Teutonic punctuality or TV rationing

+ Collect more art books, vintage postcards and liquor store Ts

+ Abandon catastrophic thinking and trust that when the end does come, I won’t be ready

+ Don’t be afraid to express love, offer help, or (especially hard for me) show total indifference

+ Look a little nattier when I leave the house

>> Richard Hell & the Voidoids – The Plan
>> Fiery Furnaces – Ex-Guru