Patio Nights – past, present, and future

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The Minnesota Museum of American Art has brought back their popular musical event, Patio Nights for three nights this summer.  If you are a music lover, history nerd, St. Paul enthusiast, foodie, community explorer, want to support the MMAA make their comeback or are just looking for an excuse to get out of the house next Friday night, then make sure you are there!

You can expect beyond amazing meals from the truck of Café 128.  I had the ginger-soy sirloin skewers washed down with handmade ginger basil lemonade, both were perfection and were a great way to start the night.

When I walked into the City House space , a former municipal grain elevator, I confess I had a history nerd moment and proceeded to read almost every sign in the place.  I literally jumped up and down at the sight of a Humphrey Man Lift.  The patio offers sights of this working river (I talked to the crew of the “Betty Sue” who were maneuvering a loaded barge) and the cool breeze that rolls right across the seating area is so refreshing.  Thanks to the city of St. Paul for renovating this spot and making a great place for the community to come together in.

The music hosted by the MMAA was top notch, Communists Daughter played the first night and offered up their classic indie music.  Everyone was tapping their toes and grooving to their all pleasing style.  Matthew Inkala & the Hostages  had a host of people up and dancing. Their folk style is upbeat and great for all ages.  Up next Friday is Mr. Rowles and Band  who state they like to rock, but not in your face.  They have a bit of funk and jazz mixed in their tunes and are sure to please all in family.

Lastly when the night and sun are winding down you can wander down the path to Upper Landing Park to visit Jim Campbell’s light sculpture, Scattered Light.  The MMAA helped bring this work to St. Paul for the Northern Spark festival and it is truly a treat to be let inside and experience the 1,600 LED light bulbs moving about.  Don’t forget to stand and view it from afar so you can experience figures walking across the pixilated “screen.”  If you take some unique pictures with the sculpture, make sure to share them on the MMAA’s Facebook page!

If you live in the neighborhood, walk on down or if you drove to the city you can find Patio Nights at City House just off Shepard Road and Chestnut Street, on the path behind the Caribou Coffee. Check out the map for more details.  If a short walk along the river suits you, there’s parking underneath the High Bridge, accessed via Randolph Avenue off Shepherd Blvd.


St Paul leftovers

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A night at The Palace Stage of  Wild Tymes in St. Paul.  Alma Desnuda, from  San Francisco, and on a long road tour,   also played at Music in the Parks.

Steve Sullivan, from Steve Sullivan and the Factory,  takes his tunes out to West 7th place.

Why this venue isn’t packed to the rafters is a mystery.  Amazing music and a gorgeous, eerily lit up summer night for lingering  on the 7th Place Plaza.

Music from Alma Desnuda.

For a complete list of  St Paul events and restaurants, visit us on our website, and download our app on iPhone and Android at the usual places.


An upper West Side ramble

I’ve been waiting (and waiting) for spring to make an appearance, to try out one of the hikes  that a friend told me about 50 degrees and 3 1/2 feet of snow ago.  Walk on the Wild Side Thursday Night Hikers, refers to itself as “an aggregation of hiking enthusiasts from the Minnesota Rovers, the North Star Ski Touring Club, the Sierra Club, and others”   They convene for “hiking, conversation and conviviality.”   The hikes take place throughout the Twin Cities greater metro area.  But their website  offers a comprehensive list of  St. Paul hikes under the category of “Architectural Hikes, House Information and Histories.”

Armed, as always, with a copy and paste screen shot of the hike I intended to take, “West Side St. Paul Architectural Hike”  on my iPhone,  I traveled a short distance to the upper West Side bluffs, where the hike started at the intersection of Prospect and Hall Street. I had every intention of photographing every house along the tour.  But within a block,  a query from a homeowner wondering why I was  camera stalking his property, and the social wrong headedness of carrying on a conversation about an elderly parent in hospice care while fiddling with camera settings – I abandoned my ambition and gave in to the pleasure of a friend’s company, the surreal green of spring, boulevard plantings, and eclectic architecture.

Hope you enjoy the photographic ramble,  then check out the dozens of other suggested architectural hikes, find a hiking partner or a moment of solitude and have a chance to  revel in the relief of spring.


the slow move movement

I’ve been trying to sell my house for the last year….or two.   You’ve heard of the “slow food” movement.  I’ve been working on the “slow move” movement.  This is how it works.  While your house is languishing on the market during the current epic buyer’s  market, you savor the impending move.   You know those manic trips to Salvation Army to dump truck loads of your stuff that you look longingly at while the guy in the apron pitches them into canvas carts? No more!  The dumpster that sits in your driveway while the entire contents of your basement disappear over the metal, graffiti etched sides? Banished.

With the “Slow Move” movement, you take the opportunity to ponder (best done between 2 am and 4:15 am) how much of that stuff do you really need, anyway?   During this year ….or two, of slow-moving, I’ve found some great resources to  disinherit myself of the contents of my house in preparation for maybe someday moving day.  Here are some resources I’d like share.

Craigslist.  I’ve had great luck giving away things on Craig’s list.  There’s a good feeling about playing fairy godmother to the dozen people who respond to your offer to give them a 30-year-old desk with sticky drawers.  It’s not at all unusual to get thank you notes after such a transaction!

Kids’ textbooks,  12 years of Spanish (Dime!), Accounting,  Dystopia, etc. –  Books for Africa has a location on the East side of St. Paul It’s a fun adventure getting there.  Some really friendly people thank you, and help you carry your heavy textbooks, and provide you with a receipt for the IRS.   There is something very satisfying about transferring all that physical and intellectual weight to a place where it will be well used.  Don’t forget to swing by Swede Hollow Cafe on your way out of the neighborhood, to treat yourself for the effort.

They are pretty picky about the type of books they are willing to ship thousands of miles.  Another place to drop off your books, if you would rather exchange them for a little $ is Half Price Books.  The St. Paul location is in Highland Park.  It usually takes them 40 minutes to go through your books and you can wait there, or wait there. They are pretty sticky about letting you leave.    See, it’s the “Slow Move” movement.

The next great find was a place to recycle trophies.  It just seems wrong to throw all that metal, and perfectly beautiful chunks of walnut, into the garbage.   There’s actually a place in St. Paul that will take them, and recycle them for you.  The A.J. Shaake Company,  at 919 St. Clair.  Thank you, hockey gods.

Except all of the ribbons, that the medals used to hang on.  There’s another great place, at 1459  St. Clair Avenue, that uses all kinds of your spare craft  detritus.  They are called Artstart Artscraps. It appears that since I last visited their website they have expanded into travel programs for arts enrichment.  Definitely a place worth checking into.

The next quandary in the pre-moving saga, involved a monumental pile of CD‘s and jewel cases generated before flash drives, mp-3, i-Pod’s, or iPhones.  Many of these were Napster generated compilation CD’s, cringe worthy, and not worth the time it would take to download into iTunes.  Recycle bin? Were CD’s considered recyclable? Well, short answer, no.

Trip to google .  Unaware that a 3 day saga was unfolding.     CD’s are pretty toxic  stuff that linger in landfills for centuries.   They are not accepted in the recycling program from Eureka Recycling, St. Paul’s uber hip and green, green, blue-green, waste management company.  I wrote to ask their advice, and they engaged in a several exchange problem solving session about CD disposal.  While that dialogue was going on, I contacted 2 local major purveyors of CD’s (who will go un-named) asking advice about how they dispose of unwanted CD’s.  Bottom line answer – it’s not our problem, we throw them in the trash.  O—Kay.   On line search led to  advice such as – use them as coasters, or tie them on strings and hang in trees to deter birds.   I found one company, CD Recycling Center that accepts CD’s for recycling provided you pay the postage to send your CD’s  to them.    Then, eureka,  of a different kind,  stumbled on the fact that Best Buy company accepts CD’s for recycling.   My estimation of Best Buy soared considerably after learning of this news. The next day I traveled to the  West St. Paul Best Buy store, and stuffed the offending CD’s though their rubber recycling hole. All the while worrying that they were going to take them out back and pitch them in the trash.

Yes, moving very slowly.   But it feels pretty good.