So Long

It was a good trip and a good substitute for my annual trek to New York. This was the trip I needed right now: No intense urban bar and sex club scene, spending time with and getting to know people I actually like, good musical experiences, and sex in three states. Oh, and having a car was nice too, given the last month of my life and my great loss.

I will not miss music stores for a while.

I kinda miss him more than I expected.

I actually took a lot of time to ponder and be reflective in general too. There may be big changes coming soon, but that’s a subject for a later discussion. If you got this far into the trip, you are to be commended. Let me know what you thought. Until next time…

Duluth

Something about severely depressed port-industrial towns on the Great Lakes that I just love. Two people told Duluth would remind me of San Francisco. It didn’t, really, but there were hills and it was kinda pretty in a seedy sort of way. I’d never seen Lake Superior before, and Christopher’s private “beach” on the sandbar was avery good thing. This is his hometown, so he knew his way around pretty well and networking was efficiently accomplished. Interesting coffee house (the Orpheum Cafe), scary bars (the Main Club and JT’s in Superior because “someone has to die before a new bar can open in Duluth”), and a Perkins’ on the waterfront. And besides, anything would be exciting after an even larger dose of Wisconsin…

Interesting memories of Duluth:

  • The beach, mentioned above, at night. The lake was really calm and I can see why the Chippewa believed it to be sacred and I understand the effect it has on those who grew up near it.
  • The “Beavis and Butthead” marathon on TV in the Budget Motel, which smelled bad but had good cable.
  • The unbelievably huge loft rented by one of Christopher’s friends for like $350 a month.
  • One of the strangest drawbridges I’ve ever seen.

Chicago

I wanted Chicago to be much more than it was. Maybe I didn’t spend enough quality time there and maybe it’s because we didn’t do sufficient planning, but Christopher and I were two fags in search of a scene and there just didn’t seem to be one. Driving and parking were a nightmare (yes…worse than in San Francisco) and it was 27 degrees one day, which is outside my California-moderated temperate zone. All the same, there were moments. And anything would seem exciting after driving across Wisconsin!

  

How could I not stay at this place? It was almost as much a symbol of good karma as the White Castle I encountered on the way into Minneapolis. And it was cheap! When we checked in, having OK’ed the two people/one bed arrangement, I offered ID. The nice lady at the deask responded “I’d ask other people for it, but I won’t ask you…if you know what I mean…” (Insert wink and nudge.) My theory was it was related to our inherent whiteness. Christopher’s guess was that she thought he was my whore and the fags would treat the room gently. Who knows? Big old console TV in the room which displayed “The Simpsons” in colors I didn’t know existed. I was appalled to find a station which plays not one, but TWO reruns of “Home Improvement” daily.

The closest thing to a scene we found and the reason our road trip was scheduled as it was. Picture a 50-year-old bowling alley which has never been remodeled. Add an all-ages show, put on by Homocore Chicago featuring the Third Sex (again) and Kaia. Great scene, great place. But they need to serve food (or maybe it was just that I hadn’t had my White Castle fix for the day…)

  

 

Christopher did the Art Institute. I took pictures of buildings.

Friday was good, although the “driving aimlessly” thing got a tad tedious, especially due to the fact that driving in Chicago is truly an obnoxious thing. Downtown Chicago rules, but we were never quite able to find the “cool neighborhood” (or at least not until it was too late.) Made it home in time for most of “The Simpsons”.

I’ve always heard bad things about the Chicago bar scene, but I didn’t dare believe them. Until this week. Five bars visited: the Manhole, Cell Block, Big Chicks, Berlin, and Cocktails. The first two seemed OK, if a bit mired in the 70’s leather/disco scene (in a non-endearing sort of way.) The Cell Block actually has a dress code for its back patio, a practice I thought (hoped?) had gone out of vogue about fifteen years ago. I also question their definition of “rock and roll”. Big Chicks seemed to have potential and reminded me a little of the Tunnel Bar (not the club) in NYC, but was pretty slow, perhaps due to location. Cocktails was too deplorable and preppy to consider except as a place to sit down and be warm. Berlin may have been the best of the bunch, but it was tremendously clubby and crowded and had no place to escape. I actively solicit suggestions for my next visit.

I hate to sound like I’m running down Chicago. Maybe we just needed the right “native guide”. I just sensed a really strange energy there (and I rarely use that term) and never quite felt comfortable anywhere. Next time?

Musings on Minneapolis

Ahh, the Minneapolis nightlife. I experienced it for the first time on Monday night and found it to be not as unpleasant as you might have imagined, except for the 1AM last call. Only hit two places:

The Saloon
830 Hennepin Avenue

I liked this one best. It’s fairly large and offers a club environment and a bar section. The music was maybe a little better than your average suburban queer bar, sort of on the techno side. There’s a terminal for “net” access which seems only to connect to a small BBS. Decent beer selection. I only got hit on once, but did get a few furtive glances. “New meat in town syndrome”, I guess. Polite and friendly staff.

The Gay 90’s
408 Hennepin Avenue

The home of DJ Lon. It is almost impossible to describe how huge this place is. Nine bars inside, all of them bigger than any single bar in San Francicso. I have to say I really didn’t like the place much, but they do mix a drink which is damn near lethal. Beer selection is non-existant; I had to settle for a Bud (blecch…) The place really gave me the creeps on Monday night but was better the following Sunday. Staff was a bit rude, as a rule, except for a really friendly and kinda cute bartender at the back bar on Sunday. DJLon was pretty upset to hear about my rude treatment; perhaps I’ve misjudged based on too few visits. Apparently, the Gay 90’s is becoming a bit of a heterosexual slumming joint as well.

 

A few more musings on Minneapolis:

  • A couple of good radio stations: 770 Radio K is college radio and is great, but needs to go FM. Rev 105 is the commercial “modern rock” station, but it’s one of the best I’ve heard; they actually mix in older music where appropriate. What a novel idea; Led Zeppelin actually mixed in with music inspired by Led Zeppelin!
  • Hennepin Avenue and the former Gateway District are possibly the best arguments going against urban renewal. What once must have been a really intense urban landscape now looks like it’s been in a fight and had most of its teeth knocked out, and the few which were replaced didn’t match really well.
  • Hooray for restaurants with smoking sections. Actually, I ate at places other than White Castle and was particularly impressed with the Seward Cafe and Ruby’s.
  • Found a really good used bookstore in the Uptown District. Wish I remembered the name. Also recommended: Dream Haven on Lake Street.

Love Is All Around

On Monday morning, after a drunken and stuffed up Sunday late night, Bil broke out the Subaru to take me on the “Mary Tyler Moore Show” tour, which starred Christopher Mika in the role of Mary, and may be a video soon. Keep checking for details.

  

  

  

So much for the credits…now here’s the house…

 

Afterwards, I was introduced to the Mall of America, which is almost unfathomable in its size and features an entire amusement park within. The last few weeks have been controversial there, due to a new requirement that all patrons under 18 years old must be accompanied by an adult on Friday and Saturday nights. I guess it’s more preferable for kids to hang out on the streets drinking and doing drugs.Somehow, I can also envision this policy being — shall we say — selectively enforced, as are most curfews. Oh well. The underwater attraction was really cool, if ridiculously expensive. Alas, however, there was no Chick-Fil-A in the mall…

We also visited a music store. I visited lots of guitar stores this week. Enough to last me for several years.I also did a little driving myself in scenic St. Paul and captured a bit of the roadside architecture I love, but not nearly enough.