Rybak on Leno, life on the Fringe

Well, I’m assuming Jay Leno had the good taste last night not to run Mo Rocca’s footage from Minneapolis, filmed earlier, of R.T. Rybak commuting to work on a two-man bike and Chris Coleman playing bagpipes, but I couldn’t see the show last night given the bridge coverage and haven’t been able to confirm yet. In any case, I’ll let my comments from yesterday stand, no matter what deeper implications a broken bridge may or may not say about us. Namely, that I believe our progressive mayors “are redefining the good life we were last nationally noted for on the cover of TIME in 1973. Sure, it’s a little slicker, a little more canned than that walleye picture, but I think we have re-arrived–where else emanates a kind of good-hearted, self-assured public interest than Minnesota?” Hmm, I don’t know, need we reconsider?

We do, of course, have our blind spots–but we’re working on it, as demonstrated by Flow, the North Side art crawl that transpired this past Saturday along West Broadway. (Ironically, the ’73 TIME story was set on the then-Rockwellian North Side.) Observed as potentially the best use of a Cub Foods parking lot ever, the festivities began with what can only be described as gospel rap, as well as more traditional gospel and other very well-performed urban grooves (albeit belatedly, as the amps immediately blew out the power). Cardboard was laid out in front of the stage for anyone interested in busting a breakdance move, the police used their vans to haul in tables and tents. And if a few bystanders poignantly asked if there was any free food available, well, that’s why everyone was here: to draw attention to the community while showcasing a more positive side of the neighborhood. It seemed to work.

This week’s biggest event is another state highlight: the Minnesota Fringe Festival, the nation’s largest unjuried theatrical showcase, opens Aug. 2. This marks the first festival for new director Robin Gillette, lately of New York, who took over from adminstrative mastermind Leah Cooper, who arguably brought the sprawling indie-fest into the modern era. I’m always trepidatious, I’ll admit, about the festival: 160 shows, mostly by people I’ve never heard of, some of them surely involving overacting, underacting, and cross-dressing. It’s always looked like more fun for the actors than audiences. And yet, I’ve rarely been disappointed. Everyone will be lining up (you can now make reservations but still need to arrive early) for more sure things like Joseph Scrimshaw’s MacBeth’s Awesome Scottish Castle Party, Joshua Scrimshaw’s From Here to Maternity, A Beginner’s Guide to North Dakota, etc. But take a chance on some others–you could be among the first to discover the next Scrimshaws.

Elsewhere, attend the Saturday, Aug. 4, opening of new photography by this year’s McKnight Fellows at the Minnesota Center for Photography, with artist-led tours. Featured photogs: Kristine Heykants, Orin Rutchick, Mickey Smith, and Angela Strassheim.

Check out the Guthrie’s Private Lives, the Noel Coward witfest staged by hotshot director Peter Rothstein. Or on Sunday, Aug. 5, the fundraiser at the Minnetonka Center for the Arts featuring Electric Arc Radio, a kind of Prairie Home for the superhip (staged by Creative Electric Studios and Lit 6).

And up at Duluth’s Pizza Luce support the “Geeks Gone Wild” benefit: a suggested $6 to hear Trailer Park Queen, the Gallows, Haus Meeting, and the Lake Superior Cacophonic Choir and defray legal costs incurred by six streakers. The outlaw exhibitionists upheld the annual traditional of naked nerds running amok at the Geek Prom, a Duluth mainstray that moved to St. Paul last year, only to be pepper-sprayed and arrested by local cops.

And by all means, thank a Republican.

Photos: The Fringe (above) and Orin Rutchick’s Kennedy Space Center shot from the McKnight Fellows show.

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