Best Of :: People & Places
In a metro area that boasts some of the best and most varied golfing in the country (more than 90 courses within easy driving range), it's damn near impossible to pick a favorite. Still, taking into account the key factors of convenience and comparatively cheap greens fees ($23 for 18 holes Monday through Thursday, $25 Friday through Sunday), Columbia gets our top nod. Golfers tend to talk down city tracks and, to be frank, some--read: the majority of the St. Paul courses--are indeed comically easy. But even aficionados can be off-mark in their snobberies. Sure, Columbia is not as well maintained as the Wilds or the scads of other upscale private courses that have sprouted like loosestrife in the outer 'burbs. And sure, the more-than-occasional breach of golfing etiquette can leave Columbia's greens dotted with divots. No matter. Built in 1920, the second oldest muny track in Minneapolis is still a classic, flattered by lovely, old-growth cottonwoods and elms and an inventive layout. We are especially fond of a pair of challenging par fours (holes two and six), some quirky par threes, and more than one exciting par five. Columbia gets extra credit for recent improvements, including a sensible reconfiguration of the old back nine. If the billy-goat trudge from the 15th to 16th hole doesn't get your heart pumping, the daunting tee-shot on 16 certainly will; the slightest hook to the left and you're lost in the woods. You'd better arrive early for weekend rounds and for the Twilight Specials ($17 after 4:00 p.m., $12.50 after 6:00 p.m.), as Columbia's virtues are hardly a secret among its largely blue-collar regulars. Although the course attracted more than 51,000 golfers last year alone, midweek players can usually walk on without reservations.
If you think traditional American folk music is all about frogs and mama, go out and buy the American Anthology of Folk Music. Sex and violence are at the heart of our folk tradition, folks. But if the '60s revival did occasionally glance down at these darker roots, it more often set its sights on contemporary social struggles, forever associating the acoustic guitar with peace and justice. Three decades later the local acoustic scene has produced a number of ("post-")folk stars who mess with our ideas of what strumming sans amplifier should be about, including the Mason Jennings Band and Brenda Weiler. (Both, with any luck, will become giant pop stars in a few minutes.) Still, only singer-songwriter Pablo revives folk's first-person-narrative tradition of sex and violence, and he manages to do so without sounding either exhibitionist or boastful. He has a remarkable vocal range with a throat affectation that's in Dylan's tradition, not his style. Pablo's melodies sound like they've been thrown down a flight of stairs, jumping scores of notes, sometimes in a single syllable. "Goddamn the agile sexless dreams of imperfect history," he quavers at one point on his agile, sexful 1998 album, Vulgar Modalities. You tell it, brother.
Last fall when rumor began spreading that there was a 23-year-old drum 'n' bass artist working out of his parents' Edina basement, many local insiders assumed the music he made would be a fraction as interesting as that exotic home life. Well, we were wrong. The willfully elusive anti-beats and ductile, melodic structures found on Mandell's import debut Parallel Processes have made for the most innovative, if not just plain best, music this town has produced since the Jayhawks' heyday. Mandell's classically influenced "techno etc." is simultaneously as challengingly rich and accessibly hooky as that of his U.K. post-rave contemporaries Autechre. And even if it could stand an inflection of the wistful cutesiness evinced by his compositional hero Aphex Twin, Mandell's seriousness has an admirable integrity that's sorely lacking in the cheap ironists who parody techno's cheesy lineage in disposable disco. As music, Parallel Processes updates Schoenberg for the Twenty-First Century, making love to your ear hole just as passionately as it plays with your mind's eye.
It comes as little surprise that as the nation's latest baby boom passes into adolescence, all-ages venues such as the Whole Music Club on the University of Minnesota campus, Bon Appétit in Dinkytown, and the Coffee Shock in St. Paul are experiencing a late-'90s boom. But the Foxfire Coffee Lounge has managed to do something more than merely cash in demographic trends. The downtown Minneapolis club has remained both forward-looking and inclusive during its first year of existence, with early band bookings including little-known but highly acclaimed national acts such as indie-rockers Creeper Lagoon and punk-funkers the Make Up. The coffee-and-sandwich shop also gives its high-ceilinged, wood-floored space over to weekly teen Bible-study meetings, DJ nights, periodic hip-hop get-togethers, and hardcore punk shows. Chances are you'll find the widest age range of punk fans in the Cities here, sometimes scrunched into the same deep-cushioned couches.
The day after the Vikings' dismal loss in the NFC title game, McCombs's lieutenants met with state officials to begin pressing their case for a new stadium. It's only a matter of time until Vegas posts odds on how much longer the team will stay in town.