Exploration: Stuff I’ve Done/Seen in the Twin Cities Recently

1. Urbex around Saint Anthony Main

The plan was to meet a friend at the Saint Anthony Main for a walk and a movie. But we got distracted by some river-edge side paths during our walk and ended up spending the afternoon checking out the disused piping and sluicing structures under the bluffs. Lots of neat old canals leading from the bluffs to the river, plus some really fantastic graffiti.

Rating: 10 out of 10 stoic Norwegians

Eventually we ended up under the Stone Arch bridge, where we encountered a birthday party of nice people quietly celebrating the end of the summer. We did some shots with them, sang Happy Birthday to the birthday girl and went on our merry way. I love chance encounters like that. They make me feel more human.

Also, I would like to note that I did all of this in cheap flats from Target and never got a single blister. I love you, cheap flats from Target.

If you decide this is the sort of afternoon that would suit you, wear long pants and close-toed shoes, don’t go alone, and be aware that you are sort of venturing into a lot of homeless people’s living rooms. Don’t be rude. Don’t be stupid. And watch out for sudden drop-offs near the river edge.

2. Lucha libre wrestling in Uptown

I came on this by happenstance while shopping with a friend in Uptown and, being a Nacho Libre devotee, had to stop and check it out. If you don’t know what Lucha wrestling is, here is enlightenment.

Rating: 7 out of 10 lumbersexual beards

The “bad guy” fighters was from La Vegas, the “good guy” fighters were local. The bad guys were wearing paisley tights, the good guys were wearing cat masks and denim overall shorts. The bad guys told women to shut up to attract men, the good guys lead the crowd in rousing chants of “Meow, meow, meow!” It was something to see.

The fighting itself was very, very clearly choreographed, which kind of took the edge off the whole performance. But the luchadors’ athleticism was still pretty impressive. Backflips and dramatic faceplants galore.

“It wasn’t feminist enough for me,” I said to my friend as we walked away.
“And I feel like it was overly violent,” she responded, thus proving once and for that we are not the target demographic for luchadore wrestling or any kind of wrestling.

HOWEVER, once I put aside my issues with all the jokey misogyny and get over the macho-ness of it all, I definitely think I’ll go again. It’s a spectacle worth seeing.

3. The End of The Tour at Uptown Theatre

A talky lit-film featuring Jason Segel as David Foster Wallace and Jesse Eisenberg as some journalist who rides along on the Minnesota stretch of Wallace’s book tour. They talk about fame, writing and what it means to be a genius/famous person.

Rating: 8 out of 10 pieces of lefse

The movie was good. Jason Segel’s performance was great. I’ve had a soft spot for him ever since How I Met Your Mother, and hearing him discuss writing, acting and getting sober with Marc Maron just made it bigger and gooshier. He’s almost unbearably vulnerable in the movie, disappearing completely into the character. I’ve never read Infinite Jest (I know, I know) or cared about Wallace, but watching Segel air out Wallace’s fears made my heart ache, knowing the end he came to.

Also, I literally got butterflies when the first panoramic shots of the Twin Cities flashed across the screen. I love seeing this place get some positive attention, especially in light of the press we’ve gotten for random shootings lately.

4. Leonardo Da Vinci, Codex Leicester and the Creative Mind at MIA

An exhibit focusing heavily on the engineering side of Leonardo’s genius. Featuring pages from the Codex (basically his idea notebook) and modern inventions relevant to his engineering research.

Rating: 2 out of 10 Sven and Ole jokes

I kind of thought the exhibit sucked, to be honest. First off, the only pieces in it that were directly related to Da Vinci were pages from the Codex – which were all written in his illegible backwards hand and therefore impossible to read. And there were three rooms full of them. If I wanted to find out more about Leo’s technical musings, I would get a translation of the Codex and read it myself instead of pouring over superficial summaries of each page under the too-dim lights of an exhibit.

The exhibit also included two or three modern inventions loosely inspired by Da Vinci’s designs, which…who cares? I didn’t come to an exhibit about the guy who painted the Mona Lisa to see diagrams of early roller skate models.

The last (vaguely related) room in the exhibit was fantastic, though – an open installation of life-size coral reproductions, created from textile and plastic scraps. It really felt like being underwater – you were in this deep blue room, surrounded by enormous, grotesque, vivid coral structures taller than your head. I spent most of my time in there, just enjoying the color and sensuality of it. It didn’t QUITE make for the disappointment of the rest of the exhibit though.

5. Dinner at the Wilde Roast

The Wilde Roast is an American restaurant on the Washington Ave side of Main Street. I went there for dinner with a friend.

Rating: 5 out of 10 Tater Tots

Nice patio, good service, “ehh” food. I got the scallop and shrimp ceviche, my friend got the fish and chips. The shrimp in the ceviche were way too big, and chewy. The scallops had a weird doughy consistency. The fresh tomato sauce they were in was bright, but not mind-blowing enough to make up for the mediocre seafood.

My friend’s fish and chips tasted pretty dull to me, although she enjoyed them. All in all, I probably won’t go back.

Here’s more on local exploration:
Grow: Talking Change with Gabe Sehr, Organic Farmer
Exploration: An Abandoned Farmstead with a Fantastic Dairy Barn
Exploration: Abandoned Houses in Small Towns
Exploration: Stuff I’ve Done/Seen in the Twin Cities Recently
Exploration: Checking Out a Modern Abandoned Building

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