Rooting Against the Home Team

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

I snarled, under my breath, "Kenwood Fuck." I'm hoping the appellation catches on.

 

Jeffrey Hatcher is the author of the plays Three Viewings, Murderers, and Korczak's Children; and the screenplays for Stage Beauty and the upcoming Casanova.

Paris Has the Champs-Elysées; Minneapolis Has 62 Precision-Engineered Tubes Lined with 7 Miles of Industrial Carpet Piling

BY DOBBY GIBSON

We have a special love for the great outdoors here. Or so proclaim our license plates, government seals, even our new state quarter. And yet the indelible image with which visitors leave the Twin Cities is only sometimes our lakes, and almost never a loon sighting. More often newcomers are captivated--in many cases literally held captive--by the skyway, the human Habitrail we've constructed to allow us to go entire weeks without setting foot outside.

We all love a toasty skyway on a bitter January day. Unfortunately, the skyways themselves aren't seasonal, and so their barren, no-frills convenience has become our city's defining characteristic year-round. It's given Minneapolis, especially, the vibe of a Saskatoon airport concourse.

Chicago has the Magnificent Mile, Paris the Champs-Elysées. Minneapolis has the skyway: 62 precision-engineered tubes lined with 7 miles of industrial carpet piling, a good deal of it no doubt sprayed with a sensible coating of Scotchguard™.

Up there, the unchanging atmosphere of our city's collective HVAC systems keeps us all as uniform as tennis balls in a pressurized Dunlap can. Not only do the skyways make us look more alike, they prevent us from altering our routines. Bored silly, we're all invariably checking voicemail, new messages or not. And then there's that skyway wave, the one we administer to those we recognize without stopping to talk. Unlike a city street, the skyways aren't for congregating--only passing through.

The skyway could only thrive in a city that hedges its bets, where everyone eats promptly at six and is in bed by ten. We don't take risks with food or fashion--we damn well aren't going to take any by walking at street level. What a perfect complement to our skyline's other Tupperware-like feature, the Metrodome, where fake grass thrives and events are pumped full of artificial crowd noise. I suppose someday we'll figure out how to broadcast city "ambience" in the skyways, too. Prerecorded horn honks. Canned watch-it-bubs.

In Dante's hell, the damned are plunged into rivers of boiling blood, then frozen into a lake. In my version, they'll be given a worse fate. Forced to travel one story above actual sensory experience, they'll be kept impossibly cool in the air conditioning of an endless Minneapolis skyway.

They'll shuffle in silence until they pass one of those senior citizens slumped motionless on her foldout chair. The only sound will be the soft click of a single digit advancing in the old lady's mechanical hand counter, signaling the onset of another tomorrow, horrifying for being completely indistinguishable from today.

And now that I've gotten that off of my chest, can anyone tell me how to get to the Government Center?

 

Dobby Gibson is the author of the poetry collection Polar.

"My Name Is Ivor, "and I'm Calling "from Copenhagen!"

"BY R.D. ZIMMERMAN

The calls come at any time of the day or night. And they come from any part of the country--Tennessee, Texas, California--not to mention from any part of the world. Like this one I got not too long ago from Denmark:

I'm happily lost in sleep when the phone rings. Rolling over, I see the little red numbers on my digital alarm clock, and assume that nothing short of a family emergency would prompt a call at three in the morning.

"H-hello?" I grunt.

With a beautiful Scandinavian accent, the bright, happy voice on the other end asks, "Ja, ja, hello, is Robert Zimmerman there?"

"This...this is he..."

"Really? Truly? Oh, my God! I can't believe this--I'm your number one fan!"

Well, at least it isn't a sales call. And at least this isn't some kind of dire emergency. This guy, whoever he is, is decidedly pumped--as much from alcohol, apparently, as from finding me.

My number one fan continues, saying, "My name is Ivor, and I'm calling from Copenhagen!"

I can't balance my checkbook, but I am good with time zones, and I quickly do the math and calculate that in Denmark it's 11:00 in the morning. My guess is that Ivor has been drinking a few too many bottles of Tuborg since the night before.

"This is a dream come true," blurts Ivor. "I can't believe I'm really talking with Robert D. Zimmerman."

"Yep, that's me."

Suddenly I'm overcome by a triple wave of vanity, pride, and joy, which wakes me faster than a triple shot of espresso. Oh, my God, I realize. It's finally happening. My books are everywhere. I'm being read around the entire globe. I've finally attained worldwide fame.

But then just as quickly Ivor shoots me down, asking, "Would you please, Bobby, sing something for me? Please? It would make me so happy for the rest of my life!"

Oh, dear God. How could I be so stupid? This isn't a call for me. It's another one for him.

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