MNMO Recommends

Parking it

When you get hot in the city, you could go north—to Duluth, Grand Marais, or the Yukon—if that’s your style. Or you could stick around. Because just about everything you could do up there—swim, fish, camp, hike, read Danielle Steel—you can do at Lake Elmo Park Reserve, about 12 miles east of St. Paul. With 2,165 acres of woods, water, and trails, it’s larger than many state parks. Try one of the walk-in campsites and see if you don’t feel like you’ve gotten away, without having gone anywhere.

Lake Elmo Park Reserve, 1515 Keats Ave. N., Lake Elmo, 651-430-8370


25 years after Purple Rain, it’s time to ask: What was that all about?

The year 1984 was shaping up with Orwellian foreboding. Ronald Reagan joked about bombing the commies. Michael Jackson’s hair caught on fire. And then that summer—cue the dry ice—a tiny dude rode in on a purple motorcycle to suggest that, with a little hustle and a lot less clothing, everything was going to be all right.

Never mind that the best acting in Purple Rain was done by Prince’s mustache, which twitched like a spastic caterpillar whenever the sultry Apollonia appeared. This movie was about the music. And how good was the music? Five of the soundtrack’s nine songs became hit singles. Last year, Entertainment Weekly called Purple Rain the best album of the past 25 years. “It holds up,” asserts Robert Rivkin (aka Bobby Z), who drummed with Prince’s band from 1978 to 1986. “We’re still talking about it, right?”

The music also put Minneapolis on the cultural map, says Jim Walsh, the erstwhile Pioneer Press music critic. Prince himself, however, has dialed down the lasciviousness since finding religion a few years back—though Walsh believes he’s still Minnesota’s sexual standard-bearer at heart. “He may be a Jehovah’s Witness, but he’s still a dude,” Walsh says. “You see that smirk when he plays—he’s smirking about the universal feeling: Let’s climb in the back seat. That smile says it all.”



Is the first annual Guy Expo a sign of the times—or of the end times?

“It’s the guy era,” concedes Shawna Suckow, a Twin Cities meeting planner who’s helping launch the Guy Expo at the St. Paul RiverCentre on August 7 and 8. Witness the rise of the “man cave,” she says, along with testosterone-fueled television like Mad Men. The expo, which will soon travel to five other cities across the country, is designed to capture the zeitgeist, mostly by offering such activities as a rifle range, paintball, and a peek at the ultimate garage.

But it’s also got some quirks, like the Almost-Darwin Contest, in which men share stories about the stupidest ways they almost died (“If you’re missing digits or limbs that would certainly help,” Suckow says). And Miss Guy Expo won’t be preening in a swimsuit but rather in a tool-belt—and must win a beer-chugging competition and tell the best joke. The festival may be for guys, but it was designed by women, who weren’t about to turn RiverCentre into the Playboy Mansion. In fact, Suckow is encouraging single women to attend. “Five thousand men in one place,” she notes. Just avoid the Darwin winners.



Artists and architects reimagine the home

When the foreclosure crisis was just beginning a couple of years ago, Minneapolis architect Jay Isenberg was consulting with local policymakers on what to do about it, and he realized how rarely the field of design and other creative disciplines have been tapped to address the problem.

“Unbundling the Housing Crisis,” displayed July 30 through September 5 at the Form + Content Gallery in Minneapolis’s Warehouse District, is the result of his vexation—theoretical solutions from eight teams of creative thinkers, organized by Isenberg, in the form of models, installations, photographs, videos, and drawings.

One group, examining the potential for sustainable, eco-friendly housing, consists of architects as well as a former director of the Science Museum of Minnesota, a prominent businessman, a professor from the Minnesota College of Art and Design, and a retired creative director from General Mills. Another group, including urban photographer Wing Young Huie, several architects, and a fabric designer, has examined the potential for a mobile temporary housing structure. “Some might be farfetched, some academic,” Isenberg says of the proposals. “But there’s a richness of ideas that happens when you really stretch the boundaries of how to look at a social issue.”



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


Randy Reyes
The up-and-coming Guthrie actor starts a Shakespeare in the Park series in Minneapolis
Chicago Avenue Fire Arts Center
The unique organization, dedicated to flame-created art, opens its doors with public financing
Minnesota Museum of American Art
The dormant institution hires a new director to lead a comeback
The NOWnet jazz ensemble
Loses popular trumpeter Kelly Rossum to New York
Southern Theater
The venue cuts its staff by nearly half


Fringe Benefits

847 performances, 22 venues, no censors. A breakdown of the 16th annual Minnesota Fringe Festival.


Sure, there are other fringe festivals—cavalcades of short, unfussy theater, dance, and music performances. Then there’s the Minnesota Fringe Festival, held July 30 to August 9 in the Twin Cities. It’s the nation’s largest unjuried affair, meaning not even the organizers know what to expect until the curtain rises. And audiences are apparently okay with that. “Minnesotans have a willingness to walk right into the abyss,” says the festival’s director, Robin Gillette. “Standing in line for a Fringe show, they’ll even tell each other, ‘I saw the worst show last night—you have to see it.’ ” Here’s some insight into this year’s unmitigated madness.

Number of
…by first-time Fringe producers
Number of shows about love
…that are advertised
as “sexy”
…in which nudity
(for the audience)
is cited as optional
Number of musicals
…about tech-support call centers
Number of shows about serial killers
…that are autobiographical
Number of Shakespeare spoofs
…blending the Bard with Pulp Fiction
Number of shows about religion
…asking the question, “What would
Jesus smoke?”
Number of shows involving mimes
Number of shows spotlighting breasts
…that are simply entitled Boobs

Main Course

This month, Hazeltine National Golf Course in Chaska hosts the PGA Championship. Here, some numbers on the state’s love affair with golf.

508 Number of golf facilities in Minnesota
5 Number of times the state has hosted a PGA Championship
$300 Price for tickets to all seven days of the PGA Championship
$191.70 Price to volunteer for the tournament
3,900 Number of volunteers it takes to stage the tournament
194 Number of countries in which the tournament will be broadcast
35,000 Expected attendance for the PGA Championship
9,165,000 Number of Americans who watched the final round of the 2007 PGA Championship on television
$1.35 million Amount Padraig Harrington received for winning last year’s PGA Championship
$42 Average cost to play 18 holes at a public golf course in the U.S.
1 Rank of Minnesota among all states in terms of per capita golfer participation 

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