Category Archives: Out & About

Out & About: Stepping Into the (Bathroom) Void at Macy’s

Destination: Women’s Bathrooms, Floors 4 & 12, downtown Minneapolis Macy’s

Hey ladies! Have you ever thought it would be exciting to get on a time machine, travel back to the 1920s and pee? You can do that at Macy’s in downtown Minneapolis.

OK, so there’s no time machine involved. All you have to do is step out of the intimates collection located on the 4th floor and through the portal. Here’s the entrance:

entrance to women's bathroom on 4th floor of macy's downtown minneapolis And you find yourself here:

Art deco bathroom - sink area - in Macy's downtown Minneapolis Don’t worry, the toilets are free! And in this ghostly restroom, there’s never a line!

Row of stalls in 4th floor bathroom Free toilet sign in downtown Minneapolis Macy's 4th floor bathroom. There are, however, lots of women who want to talk to you. The first time I ended up here, completely by happenstance,  there was a woman showing two of her friends the bathroom and I joined their de facto tour group to talk about the amazing tiles, original fixtures and color scheme. I’m so glad this was never renovated.

original prairie school tile over bathroom sink

How many bathrooms do you go into today where you get to enjoy beautiful tiles like these? They don’t have these at Chili’s!

close-up of lily pad tile installed over sink

flower tile over sink

sinks and tiles

The second time I was in the bathroom, I came to take photos and waited for it to be empty. Just as I was beginning to snap pictures, a woman dashed in and locked herself in a stall. When she came out of her stall into the main room, our conversation went like this:

Chatty Woman: I’m so glad I made it in here! Man, there is no place to set your stuff down though. I was running up here, looking for the bathroom, about to pee my pants and this sales clerk was like, “I know your pain! I was just like you when I was pregnant!”

Me: She did not say that! Chatty: Yes, she did!

Much squealing on both our parts at the rudeness and audacity of this woman. Then Chatty Woman pulled up her (tiny) t-shirt to show me her (bulging) stomach.

Chatty: I mean, I know I gotta do something about this but… that’s still rude, right?

Me: I think the rule is that even if someone is pregnant, you don’t bring it up if they’re in the in-between stage where they might be pregnant or might be putting on weight.

Chatty: Yeah, she shouldn’t have said anything. Oh, I just bought this new shirt and I’m gonna put it on and it will cover more of my stomach.

This changing of the shirt took place right in the sink area. Once she was in her bra, she noticed my camera.

Chatty: Hey, you’re not going to take my picture are you?

She struck a pose.

Me: Um, no. Absolutely not. I’m trying to document this bathroom.

Chatty: I didn’t even notice this bathroom. It’s cool. Here’s why I’m so fat: my man keeps on cooking for me! On Sunday we had baked potatoes, steak and salad. Then the next night he makes vegetable fried rice with rib tips!

She put her new sweater on, which was approximately the size of her old shirt and did not cover all of her belly.

Chatty: Damn! I thought this would be bigger. I guess it’s OK. I did have five babies. I’m just not pregnant right now.

She proceeded to tell me that when she was young and in love she had five babies with her man and now she wonders what she was thinking. She was caught up in a love cloud. She’s calculating who will die first. Her kids are almost all grown up except for the 12-year-old, who wears clothing that is too small. Older men ogle her and older men are disgusting.

In the middle of this conversation, it occurred to me that maybe I really had slipped into a vortex and perhaps this woman was not real. Was I imagining her? Was this like the bathroom scene in The Shining between Jack and Grady! Red rum?

Me: Have you ever seen the movie The Shining?

Chatty: Yeah. Why? Is someone going to bust in here and chase us around with an ax?

Eventually, I got Chatty to leave the bathroom so I could take more photos. I didn’t feel right taking them with her in there. But without her the bathroom did seem more gloomy and ominous. It doesn’t have the best lighting and there isn’t anyplace to set your stuff. And I still haven’t been able to figure out this sign, posted on the wall outside the main bathroom. Holly Bell? Red rum?

Sign outside bathroom asking patrons to report unsatisfactory conditions by calling "Holly Bell." So I moved on up to the women’s bathroom on the 12th floor (but not before stopping off to buy some bras. One day sale)!

The 12th floor is home to the Oak Grill, the original restaurant from when Macy’s was Dayton’s. Opened in 1947, it was first a club for men only – women had the space next door for their fluffy luncheons and fashion shows and, you know, all that dumb junk women used to do. If you go past the Oak Grill, you’ll see a small exhibit about the history of the building and it’s progression from Dayton’s to Macy’s and blah, blah, blah. I didn’t read a word of it. I was looking for the bathroom.

This bathroom is much more of a lounge, although it’s been updated. It has extremely good lighting. If you needed to get a sliver out of your finger, you could do so here without a magnifying class. There is so much light that I’m not sure anyone could work up the gumption to to anything tawdry in this bathroom.The updates however, are a bit sad feeling, sort of Vegas meets airport lounge meets clinic.

lounge in womans bathroom 12th floor downtown Macys

However, it does have Room of Mirrors. You can tell that Room of Mirrors used to be part of something really special, before the renovations. At least they left the mirrors , so you can be made dizzy while you wash your hands and see 30 more of you washing their hands and so on and so forth…

room of mirrors in 12th floor bathroom in downtown Macy's

There was a group of women here, too, having a deep conversation when I first came in (to pee – I’d talked to Chatty down on 4 for so long that I had to go again) but by the time I was washing my hands and wondering how I was going to explain my camera, they kindly explained to me that they had to leave because the mirrors were giving one of them a headache. “It’s so crazy standing here,” one of them said.

You should try a few floors down, I thought. And then I went all Vivian Maier on the place:

Taking a photo in front of mirrors

 

Standing in front of mirror taking picture

If you go: Be one of the Ladies Who Lunch and eat at the Oak Grill or The Skyroom, both on 12th floor. Oak Grill is sometimes open for dinner until 7 pm; Skyroom is lunch only. They have a salad bar and a wall of windows. No rib tips though.

Out & About: Wandering the Aisles at Whole Foods

There’s something about Whole Foods that completely throws me off my game. It confounds me like no other grocery store, although I’m not convinced it even is a grocery store. More like an organic fever dream.

Whole Foods sign for organic lemons 89 cents each

I go inside and am immediately confronted by the bakery. Even though I don’t want baked goods (lie) I take the tour, walking around the woman who is assembling an entire muffin from chopped-up samples. I spend a long time studying a loaf of “authentic French brioche,” imagining all the possibilities.

I look at all the fruit and vegetables, do a drive-by of the salad bar and wind up standing in the bulk foods section contemplating raw almonds. I think, “Raw almonds are so good for you. Even though they taste like wooden nothingness it’s good nothingness, the kind of nothingness a body needs.”

I talk to a worker in the vitamins/supplements/body products aisle. Wearing a t-shirt made from hemp that’s trimmed in jute, she stocks tiny bottles of essence of lavender while telling me about the joys of nutritional yeast. “I love to sprinkle it on popcorn!” she says. She is young – maybe 22 – beautiful and fresh-faced. The kind of woman who will very soon drop everything to help dig water wells in sub-Saharan Africa. When I was 22, I survived on peanut butter-and-jelly sandwiches and vodka tonics and thought I was hot shit because I bought the book Random Acts of Kindness at a book sale at the student union.

Of course I agree with everything this vixen apothecary is saying. In fact, I tell her I’ll look into the yeast even though this is an untruth. I won’t ever buy the yeast. It seems like an extravagant expenditure, like the time I bought flax to sprinkle on food and it ended up at the back of the cupboard for four years. I just wish I was the person who got excited about yeast.

I move on. A woman hands out samples of yogurt in little cups that look like medical waste. I never try any of the samples. I feel weird about it, as if trying a sample makes me seem desperate. “Yes, I would love to try a quarter of a flax-sesame seed flatbread cracker! My life is boring!”

I put food into my basket. Chunks of pineapple. Vegetarian chili. I end up in front of the case that holds sandwiches.

Confession: I have a horrible, guilt-inducing relationship with the cranberry tuna wrap sandwich at Whole Foods. Here is my history with this sandwich:

Discover sandwich. Eat it with some blue corn tortilla chips. It is amazing.
Eat it again.
Eat it again.
Repeat for 70 more days, although not consecutively.
Eat it again.
Feel horrible, crushing guilt after eating this sandwich for 72nd time.
Stay away from sandwich for weeks.
Eat it again.
Go to look for sandwich and find out they didn’t make it that day. Deflated. Elated. Deflated. Eat something else – marinated tofu, spinach with sesame dressing, thinking I’ll feel virtuous. I feel sad, like I missed out on something.
Check to see if they have sandwich. They do! Eat it again.
Have sandwich in hand, ready to buy, and remember that I don’t eat chicken, pork or beef. Remember that I saw tuna on TV in their whole state, as fish, not chopped up into bits. No animal deserves to end its life in a mayo-based salad.
Put the sandwich back and walk away.

“I have a very strange relationship with that sandwich,” I think. “Is this what it’s like when someone is trying to decide whether or not to buy heroin just one more time?”

The olive bar at Whole Foods

I turn to the salad bar. I pile cubes of marinated tofu into a cardboard container and spend too much time staring at the macaroni and cheese. There are beets. There is kale. There is a vat of potatoes that is crusted-over on top. I’m circulating around with the other lunch shoppers, all of us wearing knit hats that make us look eccentric and entitled, which we are.  There should be more for us here. In the middle of all this abundance, we’re not sure what we want to eat but we’re sure we shouldn’t have to search for it. It should be waiting for us on a (recyclable) tray.

I buy a salad and sparkling water in the express lane. I’ve never had a rude cashier at Whole Foods. This is something they get right – instilling charm and upbeat attitudes in their workers even in the face of women in berets who can afford cheese that is $27 a pound. They never berate me for not remembering to bring  my own bag. On Valentine’s Day, the cashier asked if I had plans but not in a creepy way. It felt very que sera, sera to me.

Also, they have good magazines. Except this one, which, if you read it, turns you into a pretentious asshole:

Clean Eating magazine

I take the salad and water to the little café area to sit with the other weirdos who want to use the tables and chairs for awhile before moving on to the next exhausting aspect of our days. Some college students talk about their impending trip to India. Someone else talks about recycling. I’m not making this up. Most of us talk about nothing because we’re alone, wringing the last bits of freedom out of our lunch hours.

Eating in their café feels like eating in a preschool that serves organic snacks and has only wooden and cloth toys. I keep looking around, waiting for a woman with a tambourine to pop out to lead us in a rendition of “This Land Is Your Land.”

I finish eating and feel dissatisfied. I think about the tuna again. “No, that’s over now. And not a moment too soon.”

I dart back inside and take a muffin sample. What the hell.

 

Northern Spark: The Remix

Had a great time at Northern Spark this year; here are some art installations and events for next time around (June 9-10, 2012!):

1. Hee Haw: The Interactive Experience
Visitors have a chance to perform their own jokes in The Cornfield, sit on The Haystack and discuss love problems and get drunk on moonshine in The Honky Tonk. Also: a mini golf course featuring the Hee Haw Donkey braying at you each time you miss a shot.

 

 

 

 

 

2. Synthesizing Cats
A large group of cats move about a glassed-in enclosure in which the floor is actually a giant Kaossilator. Each time a cat moves, another groovy sound or effect is produced for spectators. Inside the enclosure it is sound-proof, of course, so that the cats are not afraid. The “cat songs” are recorded all night and the finished album goes online the next day for download.

3. The Pee Experiment
My answer to the Walker Art Center’s “The Lullaby Experiement,” this takes place in a room outfitted with urinals and toilets in which selected participants pee. Observers are allowed to come into the room but can’t interact with the peeing participants, who must sit quietly and sip water while not urinating.

4. Ear Worm Karaoke Bus Boarding
Take a tour of Minneapolis while sipping purple drank and listening to fellow riders karaoke the best of the worst earworms the world has to offer: “Cotton-Eyed Joe,” “Night Moves,” “We Will Rock You,” “Tainted Love,” etc., etc.

5. River of Baked Goods
Visitors to the banks of the Mighty Mississippi will take turns pulling plastic deli containers filled with chocolate cake, blueberry pie, caramel rolls and chocolate chip cookies out of a special whirlpool of water with fishing poles.

6. Hi, My Name is Phil Collins
Wander through a maze populated with Phil Collins look-a-likes. Why? Well, it could be to achieve a greater understanding for the world that existed when Phil Collins had cultural significance or it could just be to freak you out.

7. Ray Stevens Laser Light Show
We’ve all had quite enough of Pink Floyd “The Wall” laser shows but have we seen enough of Stevens’ “Ahab The Arab,” or “The Streak?” I think not. Just think of the fun graphics for “Osama-Yo’ Mama!” Making art accessible for rednecks.

8. Flame Throwing Tribuchet
Positioned at Weisman Art Museum to throw flaming anything – garbage, watermelons, shit – at other buildings at the U.

9. How To Cure Insomnia
Volunteer insomniacs are put into various rooms in which a different book is read aloud to try to lull them to sleep. Visitors can judge just how sleepy they look. Suggested reading includes: Dombey & Son by Dickens, Middlemarch by George Elliot, The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan and Twilight by Stephanie Meyer.

10. No Regrets Bonfire
Everyone is urged to bring something to toss in the fire as a way of unburdening themselves of the past – whether an old journal, school picture, love letter, fax machine, pair of undies, resume or copy of James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces. You won’t regret it.

Long Night’s Journey Into More Night: Northern Spark



We toured the first annual Northern Spark Fest this weekend – an all-night art fest in Minneapolis and St. Paul. OK – we didn’t make it to St. Paul (we hardly ever make it to St. Paul) but we rode the free buses from stop to stop in the Minneapolis loop until 3:30 in the morning. Maybe we would have made it all night if it weren’t for the Walker and their Lullaby Experiment, but more on that later.

We started at Soo Vac’s 10th anniversary carnival, which was a hit because it incorporated games and art. We played Robot Skee Ball and our friend, Katie, tried her hand at donning a helmet with antlers and trying to lift a stuffed wiener dog up and place him in a giant stuffed bun. Also, props to artist Levi Murphy for his incredibly cool table tennis boxy thing.

Then we boarded a free bus to make our way across town to the Nomad Pub for ping pong and projected photos by Wing Young  Huie. Free buses were a really awesome idea. The only thing is you’re then on the circuit and have to sit for five minutes at each stop before moving on, which puts a damper on the party feeling.

Suggestion for next year: We need music on the buses. Karaoke. Acoustic music. It should feel more like you’re on a shuttle bus to your resort in Jamaica or Hawaii rather than a prison transport. OK, it wasn’t that bad. I am dramatic. Also, if there is any way to have a keg on the bus, that would be great.

All in all, we hit most of what there was to see in and around the Stone Arch Bridge: “MURMUR” by Deborah Miller (photos projected onto the Gold Medal Flour silos); “beneath a glowing ceiling of living light” by Diane Willow (this was a tented area that was completely dark inside and up above, suspended in nets, were creature-like blobs that glowed with bio-luminescent. They glowed more if you touched them but there was much debate inside the tent if people were supposed to touch them or not. Keith declared it a FAIL, much to the consternation of an old hippie lady who said, “Now, I’ve heard this is very cool so let’s just look at it and try to figure it out,” then she tried to reach up and touch the creatures and couldn’t reach them); “Domestic Storefront” by Leslie Kelman and Mark O’Brien, the egg that was part of Egg & Sperm Ride, “Classic of the Mountains and Seas” by Liu Xuguang (another projection – projections were HUGE at Northern Spark).

We also saw “Modern Monoliths migrating” by Barbara Claussen, which were red phone booths you could get inside to hear different sounds. The one we got into was like a torture chamber of buzzing. I think Keith summed it up well when he said it was a place you would put someone you didn’t like very much. We tried to see “Illuminated Stream” but couldn’t find it – if you can’t find a stream that’s supposed to be illuminated, well, that might also be a fail. Also, much to everyone’s despair, the galloping horse projection called “Nightmare” that was supposed to go up and down the river being pulled by a barge was not functioning properly.

Note: Northern Spark is enough fun that it really doesn’t matter if the art is a fail or not; it’s cool just to be out in the middle of the night with crowds of other people looking at something.

We went into downtown to the Foshay  Observation Deck at W Minneapolis for “Station Identification.” This was probably one of the best stops. Not only did we get to watch the end of the night’s debauchery at the W’s first floor bar (drunk women sure love to grind up against things – men, women, poles, the air) but we got to go up to the open “deck” and look out over the city. As we walked went around the deck (really kind of a hallway or, um, cell), there were  radios tuned to various stations so that one minute we were looking out and singing along to “All The Single Ladies” by Beyonce and the next we were looking down at cars while listening to “Low Rider” by Foghat.

Back on ground level, we walked through hordes of recently ejected party-goers (2 a.m. bar closing) and saw two guys having a fight over one of them being an unemployed loser who may or may not have lived with his mom. It wasn’t certain whether or not either accusation was true. Guy #1 said, “You’re a loser who doesn’t even have a job,” and Guy #2 said, “I don’t have a job?” as if it was not a black or white area but rather more gray. In my opinion, one is either employed or not employed. I, for example, am not employed. I do not, however, live with my mother. But we never did get to the bottom of the question of the job because they quickly moved on to “You want to see me go?” and  “You want to see how I go?” which is the male ritual engaged in before punching each other.

On our journey to the Walker, we got on unlucky bus #9, which had a flat tire that everyone, including the driver, was chose to ignore. As we chunked merrily along I thought it would have been a great art installation in and of itself. Maybe call it “Midwestern Reticence – Nothing Is Wrong Here.” By this point, everyone was a bit loopy anyway and it seemed like it was all in the game.

The Walker really brought it’s Weirdness A-Game to the festivities. This was undoubtedly the best people watching (my fave was the guy who looked like Mr. Kotter from Welcome Back, Kotter, complete with mustache, swimming trunks as shorts and a tight button-down shirt with a 70s pattern). Also, people were drunk and high. One woman came in “hot” on her bike and inexplicably crashed it. And I heard my favorite bit of overheard conversation: “I’d just take my dick out and start slapping stuff.”

But the best part of the Walker offerings was the “The Lullaby Experiment.” We wandered down a hallway and came upon a short line standing in front of a roped off area. Down the long hallway there were hooks hung with clothing and bags; there was a cubby that held shoes. A man in a bathrobe welcomed us to The Lullaby Experiment in hushed tones – about 35 people were upstairs sleeping in a room and having lullabies sung to them.

Oh.

“Would you like to go up and observe?” he asked. The way he was softly speaking I thought the sleepers were somewhere right around the corner but it turned out they were five flights up.

“Well, OK…”

We were told to wait in line, only a few people could go up at once. Bathrobe man wandered away and a new robed woman took his place. At one point a very harried looking woman came up to her and said, ” I can’t go out that door?” gesturing to a front door far down the hallway.

“No.”

The woman looked pissed but she accepted this and left.

When it was finally our turn to go up, we had to take off our shoes unless they were “very quiet” shoes. Flip flops were out of the question. “Would you mind placing your shoes in the cubby?” bathrobe man asked. We went up in the elevator and entered a lounge where two morose young women sat on couches and an anxiety-ridden man stood by a doorway. No one smiled. Next to the couches there was a set-up of tea and water for the sleepers. Another project volunteer came out and asked us to wait – there were too many observers in the space. But soon enough some observers emerged and he deemed it OK for us to enter the space.

We walked into a dark room, dotted with humped forms of sleeping humans. A woman circulated around the room singing a lullaby. We proceeded to some more couches to watch. There were two women observers who had fallen asleep. One of them, a rather large lady, was practically snoring from her place on a padded footstool. A couple who had come in to observe cuddled on one of the couches facing away from the sleepers. Apparently, they were just there for the ambiance and to enjoy the lullaby. We sat for about two minutes, got up and left.

There was something about “The Lullaby Experiment” that sucked the wind out of our sails. Maybe it was just time to go home or maybe we were depressed that “The Lullaby Experiment” got to masquerade as art but we got on the free bus one more time and headed back to where we started from. I was a little sad not to have experienced the 4 a.m. bonfire at Loring Park or the pancake breakfast at Intermedia Arts but there’s always next year.

Save The Date: Northern Spark will take place on June 9-10 in 2012.

Northern Spark Bingo!

Next year, Keith and I plan to make and publish Bingo cards for Northern Spark attendees. Groups can play along and see who can be the first to spot things like the following:

Scott Seekins (Keith won this one – he was at the Soo Vac Carnival)
A tall bike (Keith also saw this first)
A person who brought their dog to the art
A dog in a costume or wearing dog clothing
A white person with dreadlocks (aka a “wolf”)
Face tattoo
Face paint
Inappropriately dressed teen girl
Art you don’t understand
Art only you understand
Missing art – something that’s promised to be there and isn’t

 

Skijoring Loppet in Minneapolis

On Saturday, we headed out to Lake of the Isles in Mpls to see the skijoring loppet. I’ve never seen so many happy dog faces in one place. Freja was not competing but she was exhausted just from watching the dogs and hanging out in the crowd. Maybe next year we’ll be in the race – those skiis out in the garage should get some use.

Also caught some ice biking and lots of dogs leaping in the air (some of the leaping dog photos were blurry but I put them in here anyway because it’s cool to see dogs so happy they jump in the air)

Working From The Margins

pile of booksLike many others in Minneapolis, I adore the public library. I have built a queue of books on my “Request” list that rivals that of my Netflix queue. Whenever I hear about a new book I want to read, I search for it on the library’s online catalog, accepting in advance that I will most likely have to add it to my list of requests.

I patiently wait. “Oh, look,” I might think. “I’m now number 128 on the list for that novel. I remember when I was 234. Progress!”

The result of all this requesting is that books tend to come in every week. Sometimes it is one per week, sometimes six will somehow show up, like a book landslide. “Watch for books falling from your queue list.”

As a result of all this reserving, queuing and holding, I’m somewhat of a regular at my neighborhood branch. Granted, I don’t hang out there reading People Magazine or the newspapers. I don’t secret myself away in one of the window nooks to do “research” while hacking into a handkerchief. I don’t sit on the computers on a beautiful summer afternoon searching Google for images of Jennifer Lopez or the cast of Jersey Shore.

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Teddy Bear Suits & A Croquet Dominatrix

Voltage 2010

teddy bear costumeFriday night was Voltage Fashion Amplified at First Avenue in Minneapolis. This year we were perched at the railing on the upper level in order to avoid some of the pushing and shoving of last year (it got a little crazy up in that bitch) and also to allow for easier viewing of the clothing for those among us who are short in stature. I admit, watching a rock and fashion show from up above does put things in a weird perspective, not just in terms of how one sees the clothing but also in terms of interacting with the crowd. Although, things weren’t quite as raucous this year. In fact, it seemed downright organized, which is kind of disappointing. What, no sneaking into the VIP section (guarded by a tough-looking broad) to hobnob with press types and the Beautiful People? No displays of underwear? Damn.

Before I go into my download of the fashion at this year’s event, I’ve noticed that most of what fashion writing exists in the Twin Cities is consistently upbeat, dare I say perky. The idea, which is a good one if you’re connected to the industry in any way, is to champion our designers because the design world here is so small and insular. It’s a seedling that people want to see grown and flourish. I do, too. But since I’m not connected to the industry other than as an observer, sometime participant and home sewer, I can also say what other people won’t:

Minnesota designers need to take risks. Go ahead. We can handle it.

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Celebrate Life Day with Chewie, Lumpy and the Gang

lumpyTonight is the Third Annual Toys For Tots Screening of the Star Wars Holiday Special (from 1978), brought to you by the MN Film & TV Board, at Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis. There will be a short intro by Transylvania TV (“the retro monster comedy that’s really not for kids”), complete with some trivia questions, Marines collecting unwrapped toys for Toys For Tots and photo ops with a Storm Trooper, Rebel Pilot and Princess Leia from the Rebel Legion. Clint Lugert of THEY Design designed a kickass poster for the event and it will be for sale for $15.

Best of all, you can order up some drinks in the theater and not have to watch this thing sober. I’ve seen the entire special once and that might have been enough for me. I’m going to be there but more for enjoying holiday drinks with friends in the bar than watching the special, although I may sneak in for the part with Bea Arthur. I love Bea, her gangly stature, pessimism and deep voice – and she sings in the cantina for this! She’s my favorite Golden Girl, hands down. RIP, Bea.

Anyway, the theater at BLB is kinda tiny – I think it actually only seats 95 – so there is a chance that some people will not get in. But everyone can enjoy the Treebacca poster! It’s super rad. If you want to buy one online, visit the THEY Design poster store.

Treebacca Poster

Get Yer Poster While Ya Can!

Voltage: Fashion Amplified & Feet Tenderized

I suspected, going into Friday night’s Voltage: Fashion Amplified show at First Avenue, that I was wearing the wrong shoes. I’m the Mistress of Flats, not the Mistress of Peek-Toe Patent Leather Heels. But flats didn’t cut it with a short black skirt and a vintage wool tank top covered in beads and sequins. Besides, the heels elevated me above the crowd, allowing me to see the runway from the floor, not as easy thing to do when the place is packed.

My friend Ellen, always my Comrade in Arms when it comes to 1) shopping 2) fashion and 3) making fun of things, looked very pretty indeed in similarly high heels (not patent leather though) and a black, sleeveless dress. She also had on thigh-high nylons, which she announced she wasn’t pleased with as soon as she got in the car and proceeded to strip off.

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The Perfect Date: Spargelfest & Taking The Air

Two friends of mine have commented, at different times and unbeknownst to each other, that I’m pretty much an old lady. Why? I guess because I prefer to stay home, pretty much, and I go to bed early. And I drink a lot of tea. And I use words like “unbeknownst” and say things to myself like, “I’m having a devil of a time threading this needle!”

But the Black Forest Inn in Minneapolis is having a celebration from May 22-31st that all dorky “old ladies” of German heritage like me (and I suppose people who refer to themselves as “foodies”), will coo over: Spargelfest! What is it? Why, it’s a celebration of that most old lady of vegetables, asparagus. One eats many asparagus-laden dishes and then perhaps “takes the air” on Nicollet Avenue. A promenade, if you will, down a street filled with “boom cars” that need to be tsk-tsk’d.

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