Where We Went This Year! (22,000 miles of driving!)

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Sunday, February 1, 2009



Ass cold.

I mean - COLD.

And yet, not without cause for fun.

One Surprising Note About Minneapolis in the Winter: They don't sell long underwear. No, let me say that again. There is no long silk winter underwear on any of the shelves. At a time when the temperature dips below 0 degrees Fahrenheit in the evening, when the streets are black with city slush and parking meters are bagged to prevent their use (leaving streets clear for snow removal), a city which is one of the northernmost major cities in the continental United States, whose very own football team's name recalls far off, distant lands with savage winters, and where even the local dialect seems intentionally designed to keep the opening to the human mouth as small as possible, to preserve as much body heat as possible ("Ooooh, yah, shure, I knooooow it...") - there is not a single pair of long, silk underwear in any size below XXL on the shelves of Macy's, Target, Marshall's.

I asked a sales clerk how this could be, and her response was, "Oooh, yah, gosh, I dooon't knooow. Guess we all bought 'em up, y'knooow?" I gave up looking. We're here for a week. I can use the skyway.

This is now the second time I've been to the home of Mary Tyler Moore on tour, and both times it's been smack in the middle of winter. I think that's enough.

But it has proven to be the land of surprising coincidence. My friend, Paul Fontana - sporting a new Inigo Montoya look - happened to be in town, in his capacity of Education Director for The Acting Company, which is debuting their production of Henry V here at the Guthrie. Thanks to Facebook, we realized our mutually serendipitous city status, and made use of the chance to catch up over a drink at the Marquette Hotel.

Also, a friend who was an undergrad in the theater department at UCSD while I was in grad school there, Elise Langer, has recently emigrated to these hinterlands and set up shop. I caught a Sunday matinee performance (in between our own matinee & evening shows) of Open Eye Figure Theater's new production of "Snowman." A brilliant and visually arresting fable that was a great midday surprise.

We also visited the Walker Arts Center - in equal parts, an inspiring, confounding, stultifying, and astounding artspace that has a broad range of artistic work. Kind of great - kind of weird - always worth a look.

And the Minneapolis audiences share the enthusiasm of their Iowan cousins. Always nice for the cast to be subjects of such adulation. In this series of one-week stands we're in the middle of, that's exactly what they need to keep their spirits up.

Beyond that, there's a shocking paucity of reportage to be had. Call it the fault of the icy conditions. We enjoyed the comfortable, king-sized bed of the downtown Radisson and the luxury of HBO, which we haven't had for awhile, actually. What can I say - it's tour. Some weeks, you just wanna hibernate...

Oh, and yes ... GO STEELERS!!!!

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