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The State of Cool

How the middle of nowhere became the center of everything.



(page 1 of 2)

Look at you. Supping on sushi, sipping pisco sours (and only one at a time!), critiquing architecture as though blueprints were beach reading.

A few years ago, you would’ve thought a YBA was a degree in yo-yoing; now you’re namedropping every Young British Artist who crosses the pond.

But whatever. We’re all cool here now, as of roughly five minutes ago. It doesn’t matter that I prefer the tunes of Frankie “Polka King” Yankovic to the art of Frank Stella, or that I once declared my favorite music to be anything that gets faster as it goes along, like “Hava Nagila” or the “Chicken Dance.” It doesn’t matter that our state mascots are a bucktoothed rodent and a bird that takes off like a rubber chicken from a slingshot. The Twin Cities have reached critical coolness, and no amount of Cracker Barrels or jean shorts can take that away from us.

How did this happen? One day we’re downing mushy peas at Pearson’s, the next we’re slicing through slabs of Wagyu beef. Our chefs won’t cook anything now that wasn’t sunbathing an hour ago at an organic farm within 40 miles. And what of our nightlife? You realize the song “Funkytown” is ironic, right? That our mainstream club scene was so milquetoast in 1979we wouldn’t have known a backbeat if it booted us off our tractors? Now there’s enough velvet rope in downtown Minneapolis to keep an army of square dancers at bay.

If TIME magazine was right in 1973, when it suggested that to search for Saturday evening entertainment in Minneapolis “is to be conscious that nights are for sleeping,” then the times they have a-changed. But they haven’t changed everywhere; Cleveland, St. Louis, Detroit are not cool the way the Twin Cities are now. No one’s hailing those cities for their architecture, the way Newsweek declared Minneapolis “design city” last year. Or for their arts scene, the way USA Today lauded Minneapolis. To visit even much larger metropolises—from Houston to San Diego to Philadelphia—is to be conscious that size does not matter.

Something happened here, and no single phenomenon accounts for it. Not our famous philanthropy or our many Fortune 500 headquarters or even all those foreign dudes who designed the new Walker Art Center, the new Guthrie Theater, and the new downtown Minneapolis library. Rather, we owe our distinction to the way myriad things, and not a little luck, have come together—a perfect storm of coolness. If it had not happened exactly this way—if we had tried to imitate New York, if the Daytons had lived somewhere else—we might be merely cold instead of cool.

We were cool once before, actually. It was 1984. Prince had the number one song in the country from his hit soundtrack to his hit movie, Purple Rain. The Replacements, a band that could sing eloquently of wasted youth despite being wasted, released the album Let It Be, defining the alternative-music scene. And the local ad agency then known as Fallon McElligott Rice stole the One Show in New York, winning six gold awards on advertising’s biggest night. They would later be named agency of the year by Advertising Age magazine, the first midsize firm accorded the honor. For once, we smelled like roses instead of lutefisk.

Trouble was, no one noticed. You almost had to be related to The Replacements members, or at least relate to them, to know about their underground music. You had to read Ad Age to care about Fallon. And even if Prince’s domain was popular culture, most Minnesotans weren’t about to bow before a man with ruffled shirts and a thing for raspberry berets. If 1984 looks like a watershed year today, Twin Citians at the time could be forgiven for acting like nothing had happened, plodding to their jobs at 3M and polka dancing at Nye’s (and not ironically).

What we had in the ’80s and early ’90s was an exclusive kind of cool, appreciable only to those with the right magazine subscriptions. I should know—I was one of them. As a student of ad copywriting at the University of Minnesota, I dutifully bowed before the work of Fallon McElligott, and when I talked Pat Fallon into addressing my classmates, at least one kid literally bowed before me.

This was arguably the asshole age of advertising, when creative directors strutted like gods, as though they had created the moon, not a Wheaties ad. Firms like Fallon could get away with such scandals as the so-called Dinka Incident: When the director of the Women’s Center at Minnesota State University–Mankato complained about the agency’s “male gonad” style, specifically its ad for the TV show Dynasty, in which three female characters appeared under the headline “Bitch, Bitch, Bitch,” a Fallon employee mailed her a picture of an African tribesman pressing his face to a cow’s rear and suggested she address that deviant behavior instead. Later, the company sent her a pith helmet and offered to buy her a one-way ticket to Africa. Well, they did lose some $22 million in business. But kids like me still did almost anything to impress these agencies. One of my classmates sent more than a hundred fortune cookies to a firm, including one giant cookie with the message “hire me.” Another delivered a live dog, bearing a similar message. We were only slightly less obnoxious than the ads.

But this clubbiness isn’t sustainable, of course—there’s always going to be someone cooler than you. It can even be masochistic. At the old Loring Café, likely the hippest hangout in Minneapolis during the ’90s, I never rated the attention of the aloof waitresses and once received the worst service of my life. Sitting outside on a hot day, I asked for ice cream; about half an hour later I was brought three tiny scoops and no spoon. After another 20 minutes, the waitress brought a utensil for me—a fork, and to the wrong table. Not that it mattered much—my ice cream had melted.

This kind of cool isn’t terribly unique, either—every good-sized city has an exclusive enclave of hipsters. Nor is it very Minnesotan. In fact, it’s very New York. And that’s not necessarily a good thing. In The Mad Monks’ Guide to New York City, an irreverent travel tome, authors James Crotty and Michael Lane (a.k.a. the Monks) take aim at the city’s avant-garde. Its “sleek and empty” aesthetic, they say, has distorted New York’s bighearted spirit into something narrower and less accessible, and for this the authors blame Andy Warhol, “the cold, distant, disingenuous face of popism.” True coolness, they argue, “is inclusive, not exclusive.”

It’s a good thing, then, that Minnesotans in general are almost preternaturally inclusive, if initially shy. Our niceness, sappy as it sounds, is what eventually made us cool. It just took us awhile to stop acting like everyone else.

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MN Events Calendar Sponsored by:

June 2015

Come to Big Sandy Lodge and Resort to get all the delicious pancakes you can eat for only $5.

Cost: $5

Where:
Big Sandy Lodge and Resort
20534 487th Street
McGregor, MN  55760
View map »


Sponsor: Big Sandy Lodge and Resort
Telephone: 218-426-5040
Website »

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Come join us at the Skyway Theatre as we take over the block for the Pride Parade!  Drinks and brunch starting at 9am and DJs at 12pm! Get the best seat for the best parade of the...

Cost: No Cover

Where:
Bar Fly & Maruso
715 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis, MN  55403
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Telephone: 612-333-6100
Website »

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Pride Parade Rooftop Viewing Party CRAVE Rooftop – Downtown Minneapolis Live DJ: DJ FANCY RESTAURANT Start time: 9am $5 from each ticket donated to OutFront Minnesota ...

Cost: $10 (includes free Absolute or Jameson cocktail)

Where:
CRAVE Rooftop
825 Hennepin Ave MN
Minneapolis , MN  55402
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Pride Parade Viewing Party UNION Rooftop – Downtown Minneapolis Start time: 9am (presale tickets) / 10am (day-of tickets) Live DJs: DJ Lindsay ‘Shiek’ Earney and DJ Lenka...

Cost: $10 (includes a free mimosas, glass of champagne or Absolute cocktail)

Where:
UNION Rooftop
731 Hennepin Ave
Minneapolis , MN  55403
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YogaFit's Mind Body Fitness Conference is where students work towards a Yoga Alliance registry, earn continuing education credits, or simply deepen one's yoga practice and transform...

Cost: $329- $975

Where:
Hilton Minneapolis
1001 Marquette Avenue South
Minneapolis , MN   55403
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Show your Pride by taking part in the Twin Cities Pride Rainbow Run on Sunday, June 28th! Starting at Boom Island and ending near Loring Park, the route takes runners along Hennepin Avenue as...

Cost: $30

Where:
Boom Island Park
800 Sibley Ave NE
Minneapolis, MN  55413
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Sponsor: Twin Cities Pride
Telephone: (612) 255-3260
Website »

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Join YogaLean's author Beth Shaw in this new 1 day YogaLean Transformational Workshop during the Minneapolis Mind Body Fitness Conference.  Explore holistic modalities of weight loss,...

Cost: $129.00

Where:
Hilton Minneapolis
1001 Marquette Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN  55403
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Website »

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Join YogaLean's author Beth Shaw in this new 1 day YogaLean Transformational Workshop during the Minneapolis Mind Body Fitness Conference.  Explore holistic modalities of weight loss,...

Cost: $129.00

Where:
Hilton Minneapolis
1001 Marquette Avenue South
Minneapolis, MN  55403
View map »


Website »

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The 2015 Twin Cities Pride Festival features over 400 exhibitors, 40 food and beverage booths, 20 sponsors, and 300,000+ visitors who participate in this free celebration of the GLBT...

Cost: Free

Where:
Loring Park
1382 Willow Street
Minneapolis, MN  55403
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Sponsor: Twin Cities Pride
Telephone: (612) 255-3260
Website »

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The 2015 Ashley Rukes GLBT Pride Parade will be held on Sunday, June 28, beginning at 11 a.m. along Hennepin Avenue in Downtown Minneapolis. The Parade route starts at 3rd and Hennepin and ends at...

Cost: Free or $40 Grandstand tickets

Where:
Hennepin Ave in Downtown Minneapolis
Hennepin & 3rd to Hennepin & Spruce
Minneapolis, MN  55403
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Sponsor: Twin Cities Pride
Telephone: (612) 255-3260
Website »

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The Twin Cities Pride Entertainment Team is excited to bring you over 50 local acts during Pride Weekend. The schedule is below, but know that things are subject to change.  ...

Cost: Free. $10 General/$75 VIP for Pride in Concert 6/27 5pm at Loring Stage.

Where:
Loring Park
1382 Willow St
Minneapolis, MN  55403
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Telephone: 612-255-3260
Contact Name: Twin Cities Pride
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The celebration will be held in true Lurcat style, featuring music, dancing, festive food, cocktails and more! Café & Bar Lurcat is central to the Pride festival in Loring Park and found...

Cost: Free to enter

Where:
Cafe & Bar Lurcat
1624 Harmon Pl
Minneapolis, MN  55403
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What do you get when you explore the magical, yet tangled, intersection between the genius of art and the self-destruction of addiction; set it to catchy music against a backdrop of vivid visual...

Cost: $25.00

Where:
Minnetonka Theatre
18285 Highway 7
Minnetonka, MN  55345
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Website »

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Don’t miss one of Minnesota’s hippest and hoppiest events. This local craft beer tasting event includes live music and a ton of tasty appetizers paired with the best brews in the Twin...

Cost: $50

Where:
Nicollet Island Pavilion
40 Power St.
Minneapolis, MN  55401
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Sponsor: Canvas Health
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The Minnesota Boychoir, under the direction of Mark Johnson, will be concluding their 2015 East Coast Tour with a Welcome Home Concert this Sunday, June 28 at the Graebner Memorial Chapel on the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Graebner Memorial Chapel
Saint Paul, MN

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Open Window Theatre is making a children's event of fantastical proportions with their summer youth theater production of James and the Giant Peach.  Roald Dahl's imaginative adventure...

Cost: ADVANCE: $6/child (lap child free), $8/student, $12/adult

Where:
Open Window Theatre
Metropolis Minneapolis Building
1313 Chestnut Avenue
Minneapolis, MN  55403
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Telephone: 612-615-1515
Contact Name: Jeremy Stanbary
Website »

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We know it's the height of summer, so we think it's the perfect time to get a SUP you'll love. Get your board now while there is still plenty of summer left. Some of our hottest selling...

Cost: Free to attend

Where:
, MN


Sponsor: Silver Creek Paddle
Website »

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Join us for an afternoon of stories, music, and poetry that evoke and express a profound connection to place — places we’ve lived, struggled, thrived, seen changed or destroyed, or...

Cost: Free

Where:
Blue Ox Coffee Co
3740 Chicago Ave S
Minneapolis, MN  55407
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Sponsor: Kairos Earth
Telephone: 405-365-8796
Contact Name: Chelsea Scudder
Website »

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We know it's the height of summer, so we think it's the perfect time to get a SUP you'll love. Get your board now while there is still plenty of summer left. Some of our hottest selling...

Cost: Free to attend

Where:
, MN


Sponsor: Silver Creek Paddle
Website »

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RN’s and LPN’s for Evenings, Nights & Weekends - $2,000 hiring bonus Trillium Woods, a brand new continuing care retirement community, is opening on July 6th and we are having an...

Cost: Free

Where:
Trillium Woods
14633 Country Road 4
Plymouth, MN  55446
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Invest a few life-changing hours in our Power Trading Workshop, where you'll learn: How to identify points where supply and demand are out of balance and price is about to move. The two...

Cost: free

Where:
Online Trading Academy
7900 International Drive Suite 170
Bloomington, MN  55425
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Telephone: 952-814-4410
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Bring your lunch and learn more about the opportunities to live, learn, and work with a community overseas through Peace Corps service.   Peace Corps is a federal agency which provides...

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Phalen Picnic Pavilion
1600 Phalen Dr
St. Paul, MN  55106
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Sponsor: Peace Corps
Telephone: 651.233.9605
Contact Name: Krista M. Mastel
Website »

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Bring your lunch and learn more about the opportunities to live, learn, and work with a community overseas through Peace Corps service. Peace Corps is a federal agency which provides U.S....

Cost: Free

Where:
Lake Phalen Picnic Pavilion
1600 Phalen Drive
St. Paul, MN  55106
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Sponsor: Peace Corps
Telephone: 612.233.9605
Contact Name: Krista M. Mastel
Website »

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Enhanced and engaged learning, creating and sharing ideas, and forming partnerships are just a few benefits of collaborative classroom learning. Now, with tools like Office 365, OneNote for...

Cost: Free

Where:
Microsoft Store - Mall of America
162 South Ave
Bloomington, MN  55425
View map »

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 Join us for a 4th of July barbecue, yard games, and outdoor movie hosted by Mary Mother's Young Adult Catholics Hanging Together group. All are welcome! Bring a dish to share. This...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mary Mother of the Church in Burnsville
3333 E. Cliff Road
Burnsville, MN  55337
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Sponsor: Young Adult Catholics Hanging Together
Telephone: 952-890-0045
Contact Name: Kosi Onyeneho
Website »

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OneNote is a free cross-platform app that helps students and teachers save time, stay organized, and collaborate more effectively in and out of the classroom. Students can build portfolios of...

Cost: Free

Where:
, MN

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Summer is the sweetest time to savor the river, so sign up now for River City Revue! It's a delectable blend of live music, cool history, and hands-on art adventures, all happening at the Saint...

Cost: $10 - $15

Where:
St. Paul Yacht Club
375 W Water St
St. Paul, MN  55107
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Sponsor: Mississippi River Fund, Works Progress & the National Park Service
Telephone: 651-291-8164
Contact Name: Katie Nyberg
Website »

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Enter the halls of Casket Arts to encounter the work of 20+ artists working in paint, sculpture, light, fibers, and sound. A one night only event with several site specific...

Cost: Free

Where:
Casket Arts Carriage House
1707 Jefferson St Ne
Minneapolis, MN  55413
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The flipped classroom is an innovative method of teaching that allows for multimedia lessons and in-class exercises. Now you can “flip” your own classroom using familiar tools like...

Cost: Free

Where:
Microsoft Store - Mall of America
162 South Ave
Bloomington, MN
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The foundation of Jillian's country-esque, classically trained songwriter-style musicianship was built on northern Minnesta's Iron Range. Under the talented eye of Helina Pakola, who has...

Cost: 5

Where:
Mankato Brewery
1119 Center Street
, MN  56003
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Sponsor: Mankato Brewery
Website »

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One of the most highly sought-after skills in the workforce today is coding. In this workshop, we’ll show you how to create an app from a template, add content, and upload an app to the...

Cost: Free

Where:
Microsoft Store - Mall of America
Bloomington, MN

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Bryan Olds Band will be performing live at Big Sandy Lodge and Resort on Friday, July 3. The folk-rock blues band plays a variety of original songs, as well as covers, ranging from Pearl Jam to...

Cost: Check with venue for details.

Where:
Big Sandy Lodge and Resort
20534 487th Street
McGregor, MN  55760
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Sponsor: Big Sandy Lodge and Resort
Telephone: 218-426-5040
Website »

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The 90’s alternative rock band – The Mallrats – will take the Amphitheater stage at Grand Casino Hinckley on Friday, July 3 at 8:30 p.m. Following the show will be a spectacular...

Cost: $10 general admission

Where:
Grand Casino Hinckley Amphitheater
777 Lady Luck Dr
Hinckley, MN  55037
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Website »

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Bunker’s Music Bar & Grill Presents Award Winning Vocalist Patty Peterson & Friends with Special Guest Melanie Rosales Friday, July 3, 2015 - 9:30pm 761 Washington Avenue N,...

Cost: $10.00

Where:
Bunker's Music Bar and Grill
761 Washington Ave N
#325
Minneapolis, MN  55401
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Sponsor: Bunker's Music Bar and Grill
Telephone: 847-624-5087
Contact Name: Carrie Miller
Website »

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It’s almost that special time of year again, where you pull out your flag, grab your lawn chair, and put on that sunscreen…the 68th annual Saint Anthony Park 4th of July Parade and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Saint Anthony Park/Langford Park
Saint Paul, MN  55108


Sponsor: 4th In The Park Committee & The Saint Anthony Park Community Foundation
Telephone: 651-343-7365
Contact Name: Josh Becerra, Jeanne Hansen, & Emma Seeley
Website »

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Mystic Lake’s Rock and Rockets Fourth of July Celebration returns this year with another spectacular fireworks display. The free, all-ages event will take place outside Mystic Lake beginning...

Cost: Free

Where:
Mystic Lake Casino Hotel
2400 Mystic Lake Blvd.
Prior Lake, MN  55372
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Telephone: 952-496-7388
Website »

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Celebrate this Independence Day by watching fireworks light up the night sky over Big Sandy Lake. The event will take place at dusk, between Davis and Goff’s Bay, on the Fourth of July.

Cost: Free

Where:
Big Sandy Lodge and Resort
20534 487th Street
McGregor, MN  55760
View map »


Sponsor: Big Sandy Lodge and Resort
Telephone: 218-426-5040
Website »

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