Rooting Against the Home Team

Seven Minnesota authors pen poison Valentines to the place we call home

Amazona Itascica


Picture a lithe young Minnesota woman of Scandinavian descent, fresh from junior college--strong of form, tanned of skin, alma mater stitched onto the butt portion of her cutoff sweat shorts--and, whooshing back and forth in the summer derecho, her shining field of flaxen, luxurious hair, cascading like a white-gold cheese fountain at a fondue shoppe during the very apex of the '70s' fondue madness.

Charlie Alan Kraft

Atalanta in the flush of the boar hunt was less fearsomely beautiful.

This idyllic stage of a young Nordic lass's life, between the ravage of forehead zits and utter decrepitude, lasts a brief while--depending on weather and bacon intake, anywhere from three weeks to nine minutes. At this point the woman's golden mane shrinks, dims, and frizzles into what I can best describe as the Minnesota Brillo pad. It sits atop the mature feminine head like an arbor vitae or fine sphagnum moss, though generally not green, although one cannot rule this out if the woman in question has improperly combined her L'Oréal products.

I used to think that this change in life had to do with the underreported and pandemic dependency on perm chemicals, but I have come to learn that the phenomenon strikes the permed and permless with savage disregard, descending at the prime childbearing age--nature's way of shoving wonton sexuality out of the way to allow room for the grim, thankless duty of childbearing, at which point the libido is put on hold until the last towhead is out of the house and the Minnesota maiden can return to thoughts of sexual congress with her pruny, knob-kneed, half-deaf beloved, his fine Medtronic components humming away under his ribcage, gonads vainly coursing with internet Cialis, his lucky shaft now made of graphite with a custom handle.

Many unpleasant outward signs herald this sad womanly transmogrification: a predilection for driving slowly in the passing lane; a flattening of certain vowels into nasally dipthongs ("Okeeey, theeeenks, seeyah laydur"); the stunningly off-putting compulsion to dress in clogs and sweat suits, invariably adorned with puff-paint cats. All far more repugnant than the manatee-like softening of all body tissue, which strikes both genders equally.

But it is in the hair that the slide from Hellenistic grace to Gorgonistic horror most obviously manifests itself. It is why in decades past the stolid Minnesota mother would hide her head of muskeg under a colorful scarf. Yet in this era of ever-lengthening life spans and freedom from gender-based oppression, it is better to shamelessly wave one's Northwoods afro and flout present conventions of beauty, since said conventions generally issue from the pages of Maxim alongside an in-depth interview of Dog the Bounty Hunter.

Women of Minnesota, wear your frizzy hair-biscuit proudly, imagine it the moniker of the Amazona Itascica, emblazon it with L'Oréal product and wave it in defiance of smirking men such as I ,whom you will long outlive. But do yourself and humankind a favor and leave the puff-paint sweat suit in the clearance bin at Marshall's where it belongs.


Kevin Murphy is the author of A Year at the Movies; he played the robot Tom Servo on Mystery Science Theater 3000.

Kenwood Is a State of Mind


What drives me nuts about the Twin Cities? There's so much to choose from. The flat plains and endless highways that make you sympathize with the boredom serial killers face. The downtown architecture that looks like giant air conditioners dipped in beige and stood on their sides. And, of course, Lorie Line.

But for me, it's got to be Kenwood Fucks. A Kenwood Fuck is not an action. And the "Kenwood" is not even a geographical description. It's a state of mind. A Kenwood Fuck can come from Uptown, Downtown, Nordeast, Highland, Summit Avenue, your pick. A Kenwood Fuck is a person who believes his vote for John Kerry absolves him from decent behavior in other aspects of his life. A Kenwood Fuck is disproportionately proud of his "choice" not to live in Wayzata. A Kenwood Fuck will go to see Fahrenheit 9/11 to prove how correct-thinking he is, but then lets his friend from the Crocus Hill cooking class sneak in front of him at the refreshment line, thereby slowing the process for everyone who followed the rules and went to the back.

A Kenwood Fuck--or Kenwood F, if the children are in the room--is the kind of person who was humiliated when Jesse Ventura was elected, because he'd spent years trying to convince his friends in New York that Minnesota was really "surprisingly sophisticated." A Kenwood Fuck calls Garrison Keillor and Katherine Lanpher "Garrison" and "Katherine," not because he knows them personally, but because they were on the same plane once.

I was at an arts fundraiser some years ago, and the organization (I won't name it) was running a silent auction. My wife and I had our eyes on a photography session for our newborn son. We scribbled some bids, as did others, including a guy who was the board chair of the organization. Finally, we reached the end of the auction--a bell was rung--and the announcement was made: "The silent auction is now over. Please put down your pens." And, as we all moved away to the bar, Mr. Board Chair Guy tiptoed back to the bidding sheet...and scribbled his higher bid over mine.

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