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Photo by Todd Buchanan

THE DARK AND STORMY

The best summer cocktail is the one that never leaves your hand, no matter where you are or what you’re doing, be it soaking up the rays or super-soaking the kids. But that doesn’t mean it needs to be weak, which is probably why the Dark and Stormy has become the unofficial drink of summer in the Cities. Served at Smalley’s (pictured) in Stillwater and a growing number of other bars and restaurants around the metro, the D ’n’ S ain’t your mom’s seasonal sipper. It’s pirate potion, made with black rum and ginger beer—strong enough to keep you put, refreshing enough to sustain you through a long day of barbecuing or buccaneering. It’s the favorite drink of Bermudians, and now it should be yours.
 


NORTH STAR STAT

Religious Faith: Minnesota has never been known for its religious diversity. There are Lutherans. There are Catholics. And there is everybody else. According to a religious-identification survey published earlier this year by Trinity College, however, even that overly simplistic formula gets it wrong. To be sure, Minnesota still boasts a large number of Catholics: 29 percent of adults in the state identify themselves that way. And “Other Christians,” a group that includes Lutherans, make up 51 percent of the state’s adult population. Yet those figures are static or declining. So which groups are getting bigger? Non-Christians—and non-believers. In fact, the percentage of Minnesotans who subscribe to non-Christian faiths doubled since 1990. And those who do not identify with any religion, are atheist, or are agnostic now make up fully 12 percent of the population.
 


How to be a Better Minnesotan

Talking to Strangers (Without Talking About the Weather)

It’s true, even the most taciturn of Minnesotans will have to talk to a stranger at some point in their lives. And so, for your own good, we’re declaring a weather-talk moratorium this summer—no more chats about dry heat or dew points (whatever they are). For advice, we consulted WCCO-TV reporter Jason DeRusha and his cameraman, Joe Berglove, who talk to strangers all the time, mostly without incident, for their “Good Question” segment on the 10 p.m. newscast. Berglove suggests knowing at least three kinds of sport fish to discuss—better yet, where they’re biting. DeRusha has found that any tip about bargains is a good opener. “Minnesotans are cheap,”  he says, so offer the name of the butcher who sold you some ground chuck for two bucks a pound. Both agree on the topics to avoid: politics, religion, and babysitters (“No parents want to give away the name of their favorite sitter,” says DeRusha). And only advanced conversationalists should use Berglove’s icebreaker: poking fun of someone’s outfit. “Try a compliment, instead,” DeRusha offers, “or you might get punched in the face.”
—TIM GIHRING
 


Passport, please

An odd corner of the country gets even stranger

BY TIM GIHRING

PHONES DIDN’T ARRIVE here until 1991. Mail comes twice a week in winter. Heck, the place is completely surrounded by Canada. So how could the 70 or so folks hunkered down in Minnesota’s Northwest Angle—the northernmost point in the Lower 48—get any more isolated?

Starting this month, the Department of Homeland Security is requiring that anyone entering or returning from Canada (as well as Caribbean countries) carry a passport. Since it’s already necessary to cross into Canada just to reach the cartographic aberration that is the Northwest Angle—it’s the result of a surveying error—everyone in the area’s only settlement, Angle Inlet, now needs a passport just to leave town.

Angleites have put up a stink that’s wafted all the way to Washington, D.C. “We scream a lot to our legislators,” says Celeste Colson, who operates Jake’s Northwest Angle Resort. As a result, DHS recently agreed to make cheaper, wallet-size passport cards for border dwellers.

The fix seems to have mollified Angle residents, who once famously threatened secession over fishing regulations. Isolation, after all, is part of the appeal. “It’s like living in the ’50s here,” says Colson. “It’s pretty nice, though it’s not a great place to have a heart attack yet.”
 


KEEPING TRACK

Park Place

Minnesota boasts one of the oldest and most popular state park systems in the nation. What explains our passion for public lands? Here, some numbers:

1891 Year that Minnesota’s first state park, Itasca, was established
5,717 Total campsites available in state parks
267,251 Total acreage of Minnesota state parks
460,000 Total acreage of land used to cultivate sugar beets in Minnesota
40 Total number of beaches in Minnesota state parks
1,255 Total miles of trails in state parks
8,375,506 Total number of visitors to Minnesota’s state parks in 2008
1,693,263 Cumulative number of visitors to the Minnesota State Fair in 2008
11,000 Approximate number of people who volunteered to work at Minnesota state parks in 2008
19 Total number of goats used to control weeds at Itasca State Park
 


‘N’ Game

Get it right, folks: Bachman’s isn’t Bachmann’s

Over the last nine months, as Michele Bachmann has risen from little-known congresswoman to one of the country’s most prominent Republican voices, she’s garnered the sort of media coverage normally reserved for presidents and pregnant celebrities. That may be good for her, but it’s been a tad complicated for one local company: Bachman’s.

It turns out that every time Bachmann, a second-term Representative from Stillwater, utters a statement that makes news (a not infrequent occurrence these days), Bachman’s—the local chain of home and garden stores—is inundated with calls. “It started last fall,” after Bachmann’s now-famous interview with MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, says Larry Pfarr, Bachman’s director of marketing. “Now, whenever she says something that gets attention, the phones start ringing.” Just last month, in fact, a gardening club called to say it would no longer shop at Bachman’s because of it’s affiliation with Bachmann.

Pfarr dutifully explained to the caller that Bachmann had no connection to Bachman’s, of course, before offering up a bit of well-worn advice. “Every time somebody calls, I tell them that they just need to check the spelling on the names,” he says. “Most of the time, you hear the caller gasp after I say that.”
 


New Lune Rising?

A year after Theatre de la Jeune Lune’s demise, its players regroup

They don’t have a name. And they could really use some money. But Dominique Serrand and Steven Epp, the two Tony Award–winning thespians who went down with Theatre de la Jeune Lune a year ago, have formed a new nonprofit in Minneapolis.

This spring, the duo taught playwrights how to create stories the way Jeune Lune did, through improvised movement. But Serrand and Epp don’t expect to be staging anything themselves for some time. “The blood of the arts is money,” says Serrand, “and it’s not the right time to ask for individual gifts.”

Meanwhile, Serrand and Epp have struggled to find work. Serrand was compelled to sell his house this winter, and he’s hoping to land a $50,000 fellowship this month from the Bush Foundation to help make ends meet. “Things are very, very, very tough right now,” he says.
—TIM GIHRING
 


THE CURTAIN

Who's up, who's down in local arts and culture


RISING

Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The museum is given a valuable painting found in a rural church

Larry Long

The folksinger plays Pete Seeger’s New York birthday bash

Minneapolis College of Art and Design

President Michael O’Keefe leaves; new head Jay Coogan arrives from the Rhode Island School of Design

Osmo Vänskä

The maestro deals with a divorce, a pay cut, and a smaller staff

Minneapolis Institute of Arts

The museum cuts 6 percent of its budget

FALLING
 


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