You, O venerable one, are perhaps indeed a seeker, because, in striving for your goal, there are many things that you don't see, even though they are right in front of your eyes.” Hermann Hesse, Siddhartha
Sunday, July 20, 2014
Summer in Minneapolis or Food Trucks and Baseball
People don't like staying indoors when its summertime in Minnesota. Lou Holtz once described Minnesotans as the land of "Blonde hair and Blue Ears" when he coached at the University of Minnesota. Our winters are particularly vicious and our summers can be just a touch humid, mosiquito populated and have that touch of pine in the air. In the cities, there has been a sort of resurgence in the streets. You feel this hope that better days are not just here, but there will be more of them. Fears have been pushed aside, and as I wander around, it's just so carefree feeling. People get in the habit of business and consuming. There are so many festivals that happen during the summer, that it can be hard to keep track of what is going on, when. A few weeks ago, there was a food truck festival, and since the food truck season is rather short here, they were out in full force, trying to be as distinctive as possible in design and public offerings.
Business was brisk, lines were long and some of the more adventurous eaters were going for every and anything they could get. Some of them, well, I just couldn't marry up their concept with my sense of taste and my imagination. I couldn't visualize how a 'Donut Burger' would taste. I recalled how a burger would taste, how I preferred it and tried to will a donut mashup and it made my stomach churn just thinking about it. I would have rather had some pan fried termites, sautéed in a garlic oil and sea salt. So I was rather surprised to see anyone ponying up to sacrifice their greenbacks for a taste of the bizarre.
The other day, I had gone to the Mall of America, en route to some where else, but still kind of look at this mecca of capitalism to see people still chasing a good time. It's a bit excessive to me, but not so many were walking around with huge shopping bags and still many spots were open for leasing. In a way, the Mall of America has done much to shut down a lot of the malls that once did spry business in Minnesota. We had a "-dale" at every corner of the city. They were the places to go to people watch in the winters when we would get so full of cabin fever that we couldn't stand it anymore. Malls were the places to check everyone out and to see what was the fashion of the moment. The last mall I went to was occupied at maybe 50%. I thought that meant we were buying less, but with the latest numbers, Minnesota is down to about a 4 percent unemployment rate. Most of the business being created within the state is coming from companies who no longer think it's cheaper to make things in China anymore.
In Downtown Minneapolis, we were getting ready to show off out city, the All-Star Week was hosted in my humble city. The all new "Target" field really did kind of impress me. I still held my childhood memories of the old Metropolitan Stadium, watching Rod Carew play at my first baseball game. It was live, not on television and we beat the Oakland A's. Now the Mall of America is built over baseball history and our football history as well. Things change. The game was moved downtown into a shared dome, which was demolished this year to make way for a new stadium for the Vikings. I don't recall if some corporate entity has purchased naming rights.
The inside of the stadium was being spruced up, with everything being washed down. Our little part of baseball history being sold to the national audience. Right now the adding machines are rolling, trying to figure out how much of a profit was being made, or if something would come out of this for future events. I kind of lost my love of the game. It was a slow death, but maybe the game had changed to such a point that filled my mouth full of bile when I went into the merchandising store. People will spend with their hearts and not their minds. The mark-up on the Merchandise was crazy. All of the product was made abroad, with China being a primary manufacturer. With all of the hype about our food being locally sourced, we have a long way to go.
Our Downtown is beautiful, with high vacancy rates, but strangely it has grown, changed and evolved since my childhood, when the Foshay tower used to be the tallest building on our skyline. The IDS tower opened in 1972, as a sort of Monolith that ushered in a new era, a modern era. Other buildings have come to join in to create a skyline and skyway system so you could traverse the city without ever going outside. But we love the outdoors and nature and perhaps that's why we don't have that many cities here in Minnesota. We like that small town feel, where every neighborhood is like a village and our villages all link up to make our urban sprawl look somehow manageable. It's still home, and though I feel the urge to get out there in the world, to go abroad and walk in dusty streets, sit in nondescript cafes and just feel the pulse of a far away place, I'll stay put for a while.