Trophy Life

A few weeks ago, several members of the Minnesota Monthly staff and I attended the annual awards banquet of the Minnesota Magazine & Publishing Association. Held in November, this small gathering of publishing-industry geeks is like a pre-season holiday party: There are cocktails and compliments, old friends and former colleagues, glittering gowns, chafing dishes, impromptu toasts, and even a carving station manned by a chef in a toque. I always have a slice of roast beef—extra thick.

Except this year things were different. Yes, there were still cocktails and old colleagues, but the location had changed—from its longtime spot, a former nightclub in the suburbs (the emcee once thrilled the crowd simply by reading the titles of ’80s albums he’d found in the basement), to the Nicollet Island Pavilion in downtown Minneapolis. The crowd was changed, too: bigger and more lively than in recent years, when many local publications were grappling with budget cuts, staff layoffs, or even just survival. And the awards themselves were slightly altered: Naturally, there were the usual honors for “Best Technical Article” and “Best Use of Photography”—and I’m happy to say that Minnesota Monthly took home enough plaques to fill a wall in my boss’s office, 15 in all—but there was also a new award. For the first time in many, many years, the association selected five finalists to be considered for its newest prize, the “Magazine of the Year” award. Minnesota Monthly won.

The “Magazine of the Year” award, the judges said, recognizes cumulative excellence in editorial and design by assessing a publication’s performance at the MMPA awards over the past decade. By that measure, this honor really belongs to a host of editors, writers, art directors, photographers, and illustrators, including many who have contributed to Minnesota Monthly’s success over the past decade but no longer work at the magazine. Among them, to name just a few, are Andy Putz, Jeff Johnson, Rachel Hutton, Carol Ratelle Leach, Courtney Lewis, Elizabeth Dehn, and Sandra Hoyt. Congratulations. I would’ve had a slice of beef in your honor, but that too was different. The guy in the toque was serving strawberries.
Joel Hoekstra, Editor


Martin Kuz, who profiled Cindy Hickey, the mother of a young man detained while hiking near Iran (page 60), is a freelance writer based in California. A former senior editor for Sactown Magazine in Sacramento, Kuz has written for the Las Vegas Sun, Los Angeles Daily News and SF Weekly. A Minnesota native, Kuz says he misses much about his home state—except mosquitoes, 30-below temps, and recounts.

This month, stylist Grant Whittaker brings a new element, a makeover, to our style section, Muse (page 42). A model, makeup artist, and fashion stylist, Whittaker has worked for such agencies as Fallon Advertising and such publications as Twin Cities Luxury and Fashion. “Many times, makeovers are just a touch-up,” he says. “We all need a reminder to reassess at some point.”

Few Minnesotans know the quirks and qualities that make our state unique as well as Minnesota Monthly senior editor Tim Gihring, a native of Wisconsin. This month, for our cover story, Gihring went north to explore the delights and down comforters that come with lodge life. Read his story (page 52), and you’ll understand its central dilemma: Go skiing or stay inside by the fire with a cup of hot chocolate?