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Best Of 2014


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People & Places


Best Of :: People & Places

Best Sign of Spring

During the cold and gray months of the year, bars and restaurants feel more cramped. Getting a drink means throwing elbows; finding a table means unexpected waits. Feeling claustrophobic? Take solace in the dream of the first day of spring: It's a beautiful day, nicer than any in a while, and you decide to head out for a drink to celebrate the sunshine. You gird yourself for a wait. But then the host asks you, "Indoors or outdoors?" That's when you remember that your space woes weren't just winter grouchiness: They were the real thing that happens when your regular spot shrinks by half for the cold season. So opt to sit outside. Maybe you're at W.A. Frost, with its sprawling patio, admiring the budding greenery. Perhaps you're at Northbound Smokehouse & Brewpub. As you nurse a beer at a picnic table, gardeners are planting hop vines next to you. Wherever the patio, kick up your feet, spread out, and start preparing for the elbow-throwing event of the new season: fighting for a table outside.

Best Local Girl Made Good

In the sometimes froufrou world of interior design, HGTV star Nicole Curtis falls more on the This Old House end of the spectrum, getting down and dirty with mold and rot to restore old homes to their former glory. She's a pint-sized self-described "rehab addict" who is brimming with moxie — and she knows how to wield a sledgehammer. Originally from Detroit, the poster city for urban blight, Curtis has a soft spot for abandoned treasures, including her largest project to date: a restored mansion on Minnehaha Parkway in south Minneapolis. She gets entire communities to join in cleaning blighted properties in frigid winter temps (the chance of making a cameo on her TV show might have something to do with it). Plus she's a TV network's dream: a spitfire single mom, smart as a whip, and ready to crack skulls when her team of brawny bro-dudes doesn't show up to work on time.

Best Local Boy Made Good

Born in St. Paul, Joshua Daniel Hartnett attended Cretin-Derham Hall and South High School before leaving our snowy tundra to stake out a career as an actor. He rose to fame as a heartthrob in Pearl Harbor and a staff sergeant in Black Hawk Down before tackling the role of Matt Sullivan in 40 Days and 40 Nights, which was all about his effort to not sleep with a girl. But Mr. Hot-Nett (as women are prone to call him) is more than just a pretty face. This year he returned home to support the mayoral candidacy of Betsy Hodges, who would go on to victory. "Betsy Hodges is my choice for mayor of Minneapolis because she is a fierce advocate for social progress and equality who has 21st-century solutions to keep Minneapolis moving forward," Hartnett said. Currently starring in Penny Dreadful on Showtime, Hartnett can also be seen locally holding court at Tilia.

Best Facebook Page

There's something amazing about seeing old-school, pre-social media pictures on a site that typically traffics in quizzes about which Game of Thrones character you are. That's why the Old Minneapolis page is a must-follow on Facebook. Created and maintained by Jesse Jamison, Old Minneapolis features black-and-white photos, news clippings, and other archival reminders of a city that has changed mightily. With over 49,000 Likes, it's a popular page with a generation of people who never got to see the 1970s the first time around. The site marks modernity as beginning on October 18, 1988 — the day demolition began to tear down Block E — and exclusively features material about the city from before that date. Seeing a new post appear in your feed brings instant nostalgia and a reminder of simpler times, before you were bombarded with updates from your friends every few seconds. Here's hoping we'll never have to take the "Which Old Minneapolis Building Are You?" quiz.

Best Tweeter

Most of the chatter on Twitter isn't as funny as it pretends to be, but that's not the case with Chris Steller's account. Everything about his feed — from the cartoon profile pic to the hashtags — is wonderfully irreverent. Others try, but Steller is adept at pointing out the absurdity and unintended hilarity right under your nose. Steller got national attention when he had some fun with the Strib's now infamous headline — "Vikes fans face new bang for the butt" — which Steller passed along (via Twitter) to Jim Romenesko's well-read media blog. It helps that Steller is a journalist with a ballsy temperament: This is the guy who once sent Arianna Huffington an email asking if she'd consider blogging on his Fridley Patch site for free. One of Steller's long-running gimmicks is to occasionally retweet everyone who misspells "stellar" like his last name. For someone who tweets as often as he does, Steller has a surprisingly high shooting percentage, which makes him our Minnesota must-follow.

Best Ghost Twitter Account

The second the snowflakes start to fall — which is basically every other day this year — Twitter turns into a place for grumpy residents to come together and compare cell phone pictures of snow banks on their patios. But there is one Twitter account that takes all of our misfortune and makes it hilarious. That account is @MPLSweather. We don't know who authors this mysterious weather account, but (s)he has fans as illustrious as former Mayor R.T. Rybak. Some of the funniest tweets include "#MPLSweather update: Full-scale riots break out at car washes across the metro as commuters try to wash off thick layers of salt, sadness," and "#MPLSweather update: Without apocalyptic winter storm in the forecast, @kare11 runs twentieth story about ice caves on Lake Superior today." This account provides at least one reason to embrace the blizzard, and for that we are thankful.


Best Sign of Spring: Restaurant patios return


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