Sunday, November 1, 2009

Detour to...Minneapolis

I said my next post would be about El Salvador, but a quick trip to Minneapolis came up. We knew we had to go there at some point and figured end of October was better than mid-December. Although, had I known they have these nifty skyways between buildings downtown, mid-December could have been an OK choice. Just the walk from the hotel to the office space (all of 200 yards, maybe) might have been brutal, as I don't recall seeing any skyways in-between that area.

Much to my surprise, Minneapolis is kind of a cool town. First of all, it has more TALL people than anyplace I think I have ever been. Must be all that Scandanavian ancestry (at least that's my guess; someone else thought it had to do with growing up on the plains, but, like trees in Aruba, I would think such an upbringing would select for short genes, not tall ones). Interesting architecture in the city:
(library as seen late afternoon; less interesting in the day)

(City Hall; takes up an entire block on all sides)

(ING building; it had a sign at entrance saying "Guns not Permitted in Building"; it should have included a warning that photos of "Guns not Permitted in Building" sign were also not permitted)

These photos hardly do the architecture justice. As we walked down the street, we saw many ArtDeco buildings. One building we went into (as we were looking for bagels) had large silver doors with glass insets (so it wasn't really a glass door, but primarily glass), you walked into what looked almost tiled foyer with soaring ceilings, a windy, but not circular staircase, and over on the right was the elevators. The elevators were silver with etching; you totally felt like you were walking into a building right out of some 1940s Bette Davis movie. Minneapolis seems to have done a good job of preserving the older architecture by, in some case, building a more modern structure (but not a sterile one, see photo above) atop the original one.

Know what river divides Minneapolis & St. Paul? I did not, until I got ready to go (I always do a tad of research about wherever I am going). The Mississippi. I had never seen the Mighty Mississippi, so as we were coming from dinner in the warehouse district we took a couple block detour. The River is not so wide this far north (remember, it's not until the Ohio and Missouri dump into the Mississippi that it really becomes huge; sorry to give the geography lesson for those who already knew!):

(view from the bridge of that big blurry thing in the middle of the nighttime photo)

Things we did not experience in Minneapolis: (1) seeing the MaryTyler Moore statute! It took me until almost time to leave to realize that "The MaryTyler Moore Show" took place in Minneapolis. Those of you old enough to remember will recall her throwing off her hat in front of some big building. There is just something about being in Minneapolis that made me realize it was here. And, one of my colleagues pulled out his Crackberry and, confirmed my suspicions. (he started to whip out the Crackberry on the "Who was Humphrey vice president under" when a friendly Minneapolitan [proposed new name for a Ben & Jerry's flavor] confirmed it was LBJ. (2) We also did not meet anyone like Steve Buscemi (or William Macy) in "Fargo" (a great deal of which took place in Minneapolis). However, we FINALLY ran into a Frances McDormand in the airport waitress--just the way she said "Okay" when we ordered, with that accent with vowels so flat you think someone squashed a pancake. We had not run into that accent in the whole two days we were there. Serendipitously, I had watched "Fargo" about 10 days before, so was dying to meet real people who talked like those characters. Alas, only the waitress. (3) Snow.

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