Essays

Where is Victor’s Secret?

VICTORIA'S SECRET is coming to Uptown. I am so relieved. Around February, the former Gap at Hennepin and Lake will be transformed into a pink-walled palace of scraps of lace-edged polyester and bits of push-up wiring, stacks of thongs of many colors and racks of sweatpants so low-rise that the perplexing innie-outie question is answered for...

Bike in a Bag

I WAS FEELING LEFT OUT of the Minneapolis bicycle movement, so I bought myself a little folding bike online.  It arrived in a box about the size of a large flower arrangement and came with its own zip-up bag. Like a gym bag, only instead of stinky athletic shoes and rolled up underwear, there’s a whole...

Hating the Whos

THIS IS THE TALE of the holiday letter and the handgun, with the legend of the discarded tree and the decapitated other tree tossed in. For unimportant reasons, it wasn't until the morning of Jan. 6 that I sat down by the roaring fireplace to write my annual holiday letter. Let's call it an early valentine...

Pollster Politics

THIS WEEK, I was out on the boulevard digging holes for plants and protecting them by chanting the mantra “May no dog pee on your head, may no dog pee on your head” when a political-party-worker-guy strolled up.  He asked me five questions. Would I vote for Obama? Franken? Karen Clark? Keith Ellison? And which...

Killer Plants

I'VE ALWAYS liked plants, but now they are trying to kill me. I recently contracted poison something-or-other — ivy or oak or Virginia Creeper, which, despite its innocent reputation, can be plenty toxic if you are a sensitive individual, the Internet tells me. Apparently I qualify as an empath. I was not rubbing my face nor my...

Crimefighting Mama

SOME COLUMNS AGO, I wrote about drug deals happening on my nice little corner of Whittier and how tough it is to get the police there in time to catch anyone doing anything. After that column ran, a police officer phoned me at home to suggest that I, a mother of three untrained in...

Music From a Distant Room

MY 18-YEAR-OLD SON is out in the garden, shaking Preen over the mulch -- his job assignment for the day. He's wearing half a dozen leather bracelets, a 9-pound metal chain attached to his wallet (in case slugs attack, I suppose) and headphones. I don't know why he bothers with those headphones. It's summer in the city,...

Gentlemen, Please Keep It Down

WHY DO young men hoot when they're drunk? There's a reason I'm asking. I live on a corner, so I have twice as much pedestrian and automobile traffic as do single street-dwellers. I also live among many young people, who, come the weekend or even the dinner hour on an odd Tuesday, entertain themselves with the...

The Life of the Boulevard

I CONTEMPLATE, from here on my front stoop, the purpose of the city boulevard. Boulevards are the no-man’s land between private and public property, the line where what-is-mine meets what-is-no one’s; strips of green or brown or mottled space running north and south, east and west, laid over the city like a criss-crossed counterpane. Upon boulevards,...

The Knocker Lady of Whittier

WHEN WE BOUGHT this 90-year-old house in Whittier, we thought the heavy, wide, wooden door needed a knocker. We went to a store that sells metal pulls and knobs and levers and latches. While I was musing over whether we should choose a brushed finish or a shiny one, my husband interrupted me, beaming. "I found...