White Terrorism in Minneapolis

IMG_2207

Some typical Neo-Nazi scribblings right in the heart of Uptown. Nice, huh? For those with a morbid interest, according to the Anti-Defamation League, 1488 stands for “14 words,” a white supremacist slogan, and “Heil Hitler,” H being the 8th letter of the alphabet. Tricky, right?

Last week, as the temperature started to drop and the rain began to shift into the first flakes of snow in the oncoming Minnesota winter, people in Minneapolis had more to worry about than a little cold. The dark side of our state and its history was on full display for any who care about such things, as Black Lives Matter continued to rally for justice in the latest example of the white supremacist legacy our state, like the rest of the nation, maintains.

Of course, this is stuff we don’t like to talk about, and I am as guilty as anyone here on this blog, focusing on all that awesome adventure stuff we can boast about around town, keeping to the well worn Minnesotan tradition of not talking about controversial political topics, don’t want to start up any interpersonal conflicts, now, do we? Best stick to safe topics like hot dish and where the best new craft beer can be found. After all, the media has widely reported how awesome we are, like, the best city in the country, a city with a quality of living at a global stage. We’ve got it all, and in many ways I think that’s true. Well, best for us white people, anyway. At the same time, we also are among the very worst cities for disparities between the economic power and achievement of black and white Americans. This, sadly, is no surprise.

Under the shadow of terrifying violence and horror across the world in recent months, many citizens of our own cities have been terrorized by the very system that is supposedly honor bound to protect us, and this has been the case since the very beginning. This came once again to Minneapolis, as it has to many other American cities in recent years, when officers representing the Minneapolis Police Department summarily executed Jamar Clark, an unarmed black citizen in front of a crowd of witnesses. This is no different from the oppressive tactics used by white supremacist police in Minneapolis for a century, as we see here, Historyapolis’s article about resistance against police violence toward the African American community back in the 1920s, called by historian James Loewen as the “Nadir of Race Relations in America. Guess we haven’t changed too much. 

Our town has a dark side, one that it has long tried to sweep under the rug. Back in the 1930s, back during the time when Minneapolis had the disgusting and well earned moniker of the Anti-Semitic Capital of the United States, we could boast the largest collection of Silver Shirts, fascist little copycats of the Nazis and Fascists in Germany and Italy, patrolling the streets.

And it wasn’t that long ago when a local German restaurant kinda dropped the ball (Hell, let’s name names, Gasthof Zur Gemütlichkeit – you can google it if you wish) by letting some dudes get way, way too into “roleplaying” Nazi SS officers and play dress up to LARP a private Nazi rally (for “historic” educational purposes, of course). Prolly best to avoid ‘em. You have my MSP-Adventure time official seal of disapproval, and I used to enjoy going there, too. Them, and the Mall of America.

As our governor maintained one of the proudest traditions of our state’s history by reiterating our duty to aid the victims of war across the world, voicing opposition to racists who wish to deny entry to Syrian refugees hoping to escape the fear inflicted upon their war torn homeland, citizens of our city once again were terrorized by their own government. As Black Lives Matter rallied to shut down the Fourth Precinct where the shooting took place, crying out peacefully for an outside investigation and the release of police documentation of the shooting to bring justice to Jamar Clark’s murder, some Minnesotans seemed to want to live up to their billing of, even in the mainstream press,  the true largest terrorist threat to the United States

I have not let my voice be heard at the 4th Precinct, though I was honored to have marched with Black Lives Matter back in April, but I’ve watched their protests and the activities of some of my acquaintances and colleagues in the fight for justice with great interest and my thoughts are definitely with the protesters. Never would I have expected the neo-Nazi scum to launch such a flagrant and horrifying attack on peaceful citizens fighting for justice and freedom of speech, but I should have known better.

As I went about my business last week, biking from library to library, while the workers for justice continued to shut down the Fourth Precinct, I saw for myself signs of terroristic white men. Right in the heart of “liberal” Uptown Minneapolis, along the Midtown Greenway, vile messages of hate were scrawled upon the underside of a bridge, letting any passersby know who exists out there. Sick to my stomach, I reported the hate marks and the city quickly dealt with them, erasing them from the visible landscape. Sadly, covering things up did nothing to chastise the source; it was later that night that I read the City Pages article describing the bloviating swagger of two armed internet Nazis threatening the lives of protesters

Seeing some stupid, pointless white supremacist scrawling and appaling online bluster annoyed me, but I didn’t think much of it- though really, I should have expected a visit from the terrorist group lurking all over the net. It was with shock and horror that I learned last night that white bigots actually shot down several protesters. Fortunately, no one was seriously injured but no Nazis were apprehended either in a heavily policed zone. Do all of these events stem from the same guys, the vandalism, the video, the attack? I don’t think they are unconnected, if only to the vast and amorphous blob of neo-reactionary fiends who plan “jokingly” online and are oh so shocked when violence actually results.  We can only keep an eye out, I guess.

They’re out there, and dangerous. If you see a white guy walking behind you, maybe you should cross the street. I won’t be offended!

Advertisements

Twin Cities Zinefest 2015

IMG_2200

Bryant Square Recreation Center, site of the Twin Cities Zinefest 2015

On an unseasonably warm Saturday, my sister and I stopped by the latest Twin Cities Zinefest, on hiatus since 2013. I attended in 2012 and really enjoyed it, so I was very excited to see what awesome stuff was on exhibit this time around. Held at the Bryant Square Recreation Center off of Lyndale Avenue just south of Lake Street, more than a dozen exhibitors displayed their creations to an appreciative audience. It is amazing how much talent  and ideas from the metro came together to share their visions.

As I have written earlier in my exploration of the Floating Library this summer, the medium of the zine is one that I find fascinating and evocative. As a DIY way to explore your own creative impulse and share stories and topics that are often neglected, ignored, or hidden, zines are a great window into other people’s lives. Whether intricate and elaborate or simple and spare, each of these pieces are something to treasure. We were both very inspired by the many diverse offerings, each representing a different style, genre, or topic of creative expression, whether comix, photography, memoir, social justice, fantasy, poetry, or the undefinable. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

Minnesota, and the Twin Cities in particular, have a very strong and vibrant zine community, one that I have found very influential to my own writing styles. As I reported recently, I am trying to put together my own zine with the help of anyone else who is interested; check out the details in my blog entry here. Hopefully, we can share them in future Twin Cities events!

IMG_2202.JPG

A few of the awesome pieces we picked up from the exhibitors at the Zinefest

 

 

 

MSP Reading Time: new book Downtown Minneapolis in the 1970s launched at the Mill City Museum

IMG_2196.JPG

Mill City Museum at night

[Cross post with my Reading Rainstorm blog segment, Land of 10,000 Pages where I discuss some of my favorite nonfiction books discussing the 1970s]

One of my favorite attractions to suggest to visitors to the Twin Cities is the Mill City Museum. A cool and innovative space nestled inside the stony, almost medieval looking ruins of the Washburn A. Mill, the museum informs and illustrates the history of Minneapolis unlike any other place in the city, I think. Back in the day, the mill district was processing more wheat than any other location in the world, feeding people across the globe and of course, making tons of money for the gilded age mill barons. If you are a local and haven’t been there, it’s one of those cool local places that should be a must see.

It also makes an atmospheric place for events and last Thursday I attended one such free gathering, the launch party of the new Minnesota Historical Society Press book, Downtown: Minneapolis in the 1970s. Photographer Mike Evangelist was a suburban kid working downtown during the 1970s, and used his time off to take photographs all over downtown Minneapolis, capturing this period in which the modern, corporate city we know today was emerging from the body of the older Minneapolis. The IDS Center sprung up, skyways began to arch over the busy city sidewalks, while areas such as the Gateway District had been flattened for parking lots in previous years.

IMG_2198

Crowd at the Mill City Museum entranced by presentation of Downtown Minneapolis in the 1970s- 1970s skyline compared to today

The Mill City Museum made a very appropriate and atmospheric locale for this discussion and gallery, as the mill district was all but dead at the time, the milling having left for other places and this area of downtown was all but abandoned, a victim of the changing of the times explored in these photographs. The launch party presentation was fascinating as Evangelist and his collaborator on the book, writer Andy Sturdevant, discussed the background by the photos and the world that they came out of, along with a gallery of the original photographs to examine. This seems to be a particularly interesting period of the city’s history and I’ve found myself quite curious about the 1970s myself. While I was not alive in any part of the 1970s, my parents certainly told some stories about the period and it was great to see what has changed and what has remained the same. In particular, the common appearance of bicycles in these photos illustrate the place they had in Minneapolis even forty years ago, the first year that bicycles outstripped the sale of cars in the 20th century. We even learned some rare and hidden information, such as the current, secret location of all of those classic Nicollet Mall streetlamps prominent in these photos. I am looking forward to reading this book in more detail soon. Available currently at local bookstores, and of course, the Hennepin County LibraryMay need to wait a little while for that one, after the discussion on MPR the other day, the number of requests have jumped!  

Make sure to follow the Old Minneapolis Facebook page, for those of you who are into that whole social media thing. I just checked it out and there are all sorts of intesresting vintage photos and stories posted very frequently. Great for something to look at on a lunch break downtown!

Autumn Lū’au at United Noodles

ILOW9440

Dancing and Food at United Noodles’ Autumn Lu’au

United Noodles is an established Asian supermarket tucked away in South Minneapolis’ Seward neighborhood among warehouses and factory buildings. I remember first being introduced to it by students from a Japanese Student Association at the U of M. I recommend it for hard to find produce and grocery items as well as its delicious, and cheap restaurant, Unideli. My family liked to get huge sacks of rice to keep us supplied over the year, as well as treats like umeboshi and that Singaporean ginger drink I really like, Gold Kili. Importing products from nations across the Asian continent, and catering to the metro’s immigrant and expat communities as well as locals interested in trying some new recipe or food, I really enjoy stocking up for a staycation at United Noodles.  

On Sunday, the grocery store had a special event that made for a very nice staycation, their fourth annual Autumn Lū’au. This was the first time I attended this event, and it was definitely a fun one to visit. As I have not yet had the chance to visit Hawaii, I really enjoyed getting this sample of island cultures in the heart of the landlocked continent heading towards its months long deep freeze. Celebrating Hawaiian and Polynesian cultures in Minnesota, the event featured a special on Hawaiian specialties at Unideli and some demonstrations of hālau hula dancing and music from Keola Santos. Along with that Hawaiian specialty incorporating a beloved Minnesotan export, spam, spam musubi, and a plate of Hawaiian delicacies which really highlight the fusion of cultures in the state, the shoppers watched the elaborate dances, creating a cool beach festival like atmosphere inside a grocery store.

It was a very fun way to experience some things we might not have seen in the metro before. Keep an eye on the events hosted by United Noodles, and check it out sometime!

IMG_2195

United Noodles entrance

United Noodles, 2015 East 24th Street, Minneapolis, open daily 9-7, Unideli 11-6

She Kills Monsters at the Playwrights Center

 

IMG_2172

Playwrights’ Center, on a chill November night, perfect for some D&D!

I’ve been meaning to write a more in depth article, but the Twin Cities has always had a strong population of geeks, nerds, and other weirdoes, a scene of which I have some familiarity. This was illustrated by a fine theatrical production I was lucky enough to see the other night, She Kills Monsters, at the Playwrights’ Center on Franklin Avenue in Minneapolis.

Written by Qui Nguyen for performance in New York, and directed by Philip D. Henry of Six Elements Theatre for its first Minneapolis production, this was a nostalgic, hilarious, bittersweet, and touching account of role playing games, relationships, and grief. A sold out show, the house was packed and ready for some

After the death of her eccentric teenage sister in a car accident, Agnes Evans, the self-described normal person, attempts to get to understand her sister better through her home-brewed AD&D module, enlisting the aid of local nerd, DM Biggs, to run her through the game. The play deals with some pretty heavy themes as she gets to know things about her sister she had missed; sexual orientation, bullying, and guilt, but the play’s great sense of humor and mid 90s setting bring joy as well. In particular, as she embarks on a journey of imagination with her sisters’ party, whom she discovers is based on her friends, the actors engage in some great stage combat with awesome looking fantasy swords and a host of everyone’s favorite D&D monsters, from kobolds (DiTerlizzi style!), mind flayers, gelatinous cubes, and, of course, beholder. The set design was also great, down to the battle map hexagons on the floor.

While there is plenty of such in jokes regarding D&D and nineties pop culture, it is also well crafted to be an introduction to such arcane topics and doesn’t delve too deeply into self-reference, taking on broader themes. She Kills Monsters is an ode to the healing power of imagination and a great way to get people who may not really get the appeal of such fun, weird games to see what it’s all about. It also helps that the actors each bring their roles (and rolls, because of course we’re gonna have dice) to life, making it the most fun production I’ve seen this year! In particular, Jessica Smith as Agnes and Samatha Smith as her nerdy, headstrong sister Tilly, and Aaron Ruder as Chuck, aka “DM Biggs,” really nailed their characters. The post-show discussion was also a great way to find out some interesting background information about the development of the show

If Six Elements ever embarks on an encore performance of She Kills Monsters, you should totally check it out!

Last Touch of Fall in Minneapolis (and some beer)

IMG_2142

Prospect Park Witches Tower, October 2015

As we move into November, we find ourselves a few weeks past the autumnal peak color here in the Twin Cities, though it was pretty spectacular around here while it lasted this year. Biking to and from various library branches for work, heading out on another local pub crawl, or just getting groceries, it seemed there was always opportunity for some quality leaf peeping (as they call it over in New England).

IMG_2141.JPG

Minneapolis, from Prospect Park

he urban forest we have going around here is one of my favorite aspects of living in the Twin Cities, this one last explosion of color as our deciduous foliage hits its reds and yellows and oranges before hitting the ground. November is always one of the dreariest months, the bare brown branches exposed in between the green boughs of summer and the white expanse of winter snow. We’ve got some weeks, it seems, before we even have to worry about that, so in the meantime, here are a few photos from the last few weeks of October.

IMG_2131

Minnehaha Creek

Speaking of the last pub crawl, we went out one chill, lovely moonlit fall night for my good friend Aaron’s birthday, taking full advantage of the awesome weather to check out a few of Northeast Minneapolis’ finest brewing establishments. Starting where we ended in August, at probably the premier brewery in Minneapolis, the fancy new Surly Brewing Destination Brewery, a great place to have a few beers. I was particularly taken with their Witches Tower Solstice Session Brown Ale. After hanging out under the Witches Tower itself earlier in the day, this was a hearty and atmospheric brew to drink under the moonlight. We next dropped by Dangerous Man Brewing, waited in line to get in with some visitors from Michigan, and had some delicious Chocolate Milk Stout. Finally, we ended up at what is probably my favorite in the metro right now, Fair State Brewing Cooperative on Central Avenue, with its focus on unique sour beers. I have really been enjoying this style more and more, I have to say. Along with some of El Taco Riendo’s extremely cheap and ample chimichangas, we finished off a good evening.

IMG_2144.JPG

Enjoying a few brews at Surly Brewing

Halloween Music Awesomeness

IMG_2166.JPG

Halloween in Minneapolis, outside Orchestra Hall

Now that its November, you know, NaNoWriMo month, where those of us who have any inkling of being a “writer” spend an hour or so each day hammering out some pointless drivel, er I mean, novel ideas (maybe that’s just me), I have not yet had a chance to report on my Halloween activities! Since I’ve been attempting NaNo for about five years now, Halloween has kind of become that last shindig before the writing crunch begins.

It’s always fun when Halloween falls on a weekend. Or at least, that’s still how I feel nowadays even though I’m out of school and I’m just as likely, and happy, to work weekends as not. Still, for our nine-to-five friends, weekend Halloweens still make things convenient. I think I may have mentioned that Halloween remains my favorite holiday, what with the creativity, imagination, and, yes, adventure, that goes along with it. I may have been a fairly timid kid, in general; scared of jump scares, horrible things, and the littlest drop of blood, but I also found Halloween, and spooky things in general, fascinating. This nostalgia has remained with me, and like any true millennial “kidult,” I still can’t get enough of it. I mean, check out this Huffington Post article from last year, Halloween Can Save Democracy. All very convincing arguments to me!

For me, I prepare for Halloween by reading spooky books and listening to spooky music, so when too awesome Halloween concerts popped up on my radar, I had to attend.

IMG_2157.JPG

Waldo enjoys MC Lars at the Amsterdam Bar and Hall, St. Paul

Over in St. Paul, at a nice early hour so the kids could still go Trick or Treating and the grown-ups could head to their parties later, the Amsterdam Bar and Hall hosted the Minnesota stop for Koo Koo Kanga Roo and MC Lars’ Joyful Smiles Tour, which definitely brought a lot of joyful smiles to all of people in the audience. It was definitely a fun time for all ages, whether hip young parents and their kids, and random kidults alike. MC Lars’ ode to Edgar Allan Poe was a particularly thematic part of the show, and of course, Koo Koo Kanga Roo, who I have talked about before, put on an awesome live show. It’s just like going back to Saturday morning as a kid- the only thing missing was breakfast cereal- though there was plenty of candy, of course, and for those over 21, the Amsterdam has a very nice list of craft beers and the little sandwiches we all love. Of course, seeing all of the costumes was a good part of the fun.

Later in the evening, after relaxing a bit from all the jumping around we did earlier, we kept on with the nostalgic theme and headed into Minneapolis to the beautiful new Orchestra Hall to watch the Minnesota Orchestra perform Danny Elfman’s score for the Nightmare Before Christmas. Conducted by Sarah Hicks, it was difficult to focus on what to watch more, the musicians or the movie. The costumes were even more elaborate and creepier here, even among the orchestra itself, and everyone seemed to be in quite the mood for some nostalgia. As director Henry Selick says, Nightmare is totally a Halloween movie, so it was perfect excuse to check out the Hall, which I have not done since its renovation.

Another fun aspect was the interactive Halloween animation filmed before the show by local arts organization Intermedia Arts, aided by concertgoers and show at the end of the show. It was fun to help put together this fun stop-motion mini-movie, with its skeletons, pumpkins, leaves, ghosts, and musical instruments. It looks like, if you missed this piece of nostalgic holiday fun, the Minnesota Orchestra will be performing the score to Home Alone, that most nostalgic of early ’90s Christmas movies later in the month. Not really as exciting as Halloween, but some may be excited!