People & Places

  • BEST ACOUSTIC PERFORMER

    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… More >>
  • BEST ALBUM OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    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… More >>
  • BEST ALL-AGES VENUE

    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… More >>
  • BEST BAD TIMING

    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.… More >>
  • BEST BAND NAME

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  • BEST BAND TO LEAVE THE TWIN CITIES IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    After releasing a funky lip-smack of a sophomore R&B album, Play, Vanguard's core members Scott Ruffner and Ian Jones relocated to Manhattan last year to start a record label (TVP Records) and a production company. Ruffner and Jones still periodically revisit their home turf to reunite with their old, full-funk ensemble, reminding us why their decade-galloping funk mischief is so… More >>
  • BEST BANK

    First Bank is now USBank. Norwest will soon be Wells Fargo. With commercial banks in these parts morphing faster than the marquee at your local multiplex, finding an inexpensive place to stash your cash is becoming harder by the day. And although most banks offer some kind of free account, anyone who has tried to keep his check register balanced… More >>
  • BEST BATTING CAGE

    This out-of-the-way blast from the past is tailor-made for the kitsch-loving St. Paul Saints fan. Weathering mechanical modernization and Atari-influenced computerization for the last 25 years, this family-owned amusement park offers buzzing go-carts, a wonderfully cheesy miniature golf "course," even paint ball in a nearby, sparsely wooded field. But it's the outdoor batting cages that are most reminiscent of the… More >>
  • BEST BEACH

    Take your air-conditioned SUVs up to your cool cabins and your crystal clear lakes. Relax on your swaying docks with your cooperative kids. Grill your lake fish and frolic by your campfires. We'll take the gravelly shore and the half-nude punk rockers. The teens smoking ditchweed beneath that bony tree with gnarled roots. The bad mustaches and the hacky-sack game… More >>
  • BEST BEER SELECTION IN A BAR

    For sheer, ridiculous variety, Williams has a lock on this category. With over 300 different bottled beers available upstairs, 70-odd tap varieties in the basement peanut bar, and a selection that changes every week, this place really moves the suds and draws the crowds. Sure, you can get an Abita Purple Haze (brewed in Louisiana) with a subtle taste of… More >>
  • BEST BIKE TRAIL

    After so many April showers, the system of paved paths and mountain bike trails known in some guidebooks as the "Three Bridges Bikeway" may be a big mud pie. Nevertheless, when the sun comes out, this is the perfect network of paths for first-time mountain bikers and veterans alike, with dirt trails that won't intimidate beginners and enough steep climbs… More >>
  • BEST BIKER BAR

    The hogs come out in springtime. Your Fat Boys. Your Sportsters. Your Softails. The rumbling of pipes plays a rough bassline below the treble shrieks of the cappuccino maker. There's parking out front, bikes only, and sometimes you'll see some makeshift tune-ups at curbside. No need to hide your Japanese bikes at Bob's--especially not the ones with the wide, smooth… More >>
  • BEST BILLBOARD

    It's hard to miss the simple, startling billboard at the intersection of University Avenue and Vandalia Street in St. Paul. Against a black backdrop, the white lettering carries this message: "Will the road you're on get you to my place? --God." Apparently His last ad agency wasn't getting the word out.… More >>
  • BEST BLOODY MARY

    So many Bloody Marys are social climbers, posing as a special juice blend or an exciting flavor sensation instead of being true to what they are: an alcoholic drink. Luckily, the dingy-but-proud Poodle Club is no fern bar entertaining notions of grandeur. It's a bar that serves liquor--no frills about it. And so each week during a narrow 15-minute window--from… More >>
  • BEST BLUES BAR

    Though the Blues Saloon in St. Paul may possess more space and majesty, the Viking has the advantage of smallness: It's always comfortably packed. It also has the advantage of history: The long, narrow West Bank joint with booths lining one side and a stained-glass sun behind the bar has stood in the same place since the 1920s and has… More >>
  • BEST BOONDOGGLE

    When this block on the south end of Nicollet Mall is gone, Minneapolis will have taken yet another giant step toward looking exactly like downtown Houston.… More >>
  • BEST BOWLING ALLEY

    Stardust Lanes has more madhouse ambiance for curious voyeurs who consider bowling an intriguing "experience." And the bohemian-friendly haven of Bryant-Lake Bowl is certainly a more opportune spot in which to see and be seen. But Elsie's is the place folks go simply to bowl. Amid an assortment of neighborhood regulars, cheap dates, and earnest amateurs like yourself, you'll find… More >>
  • BEST BOXER

    When the 106-pound Grigsby captured the vacant IBF junior flyweight title in December, the St. Paul native also became the first Minnesotan to win an internationally recognized belt since World War I, when St. Paul's Mike "The Harp" O'Dowd held the middleweight crown. That alone would certainly put Grigsby in the running as the state's best boxer. Then, this past… More >>
  • BEST CAR WASH

    The last time we sent a vehicle through Central Car Wash's sudsy vault, an old woman approached us at the observation windows and chirped, "It's fun to watch, isn't it? I've been coming here for 30 years!" And it is oddly fascinating to observe the high-pressure hose boiling away road dirt and salt, the innumerable octopus tentacles slapping and caressing… More >>
  • BEST CAREER MOVE

    From the stewardship of the Minneapolis Community Development Agency--where her job involved negotiating with private developers on behalf of the city--to an executive post with Ryan Companies Inc.--where her job will almost certainly involve negotiating with the city on behalf of a private developer. Yanisch, you'll recall, had capped her four-year tenure at the MCDA by leading the charge to… More >>
  • BEST CEMETERY

    The older one gets, the more dead people one knows. Which not only means more funerals, but also more gravesite visits. After a while you begin to figure out that it's really all about you--that is to say, about your comfort and convenience. What difference does it make to the dearly departed where they're buried? It's not as if they… More >>
  • BEST CHARITY

    This plucky nonprofit, nonsectarian group flies teams of health professionals into war-torn areas like Macedonia, Bosnia, Rwanda, and Somalia. Though they'll do triage work in camps with recently displaced refugees, their focus whenever possible is to bolster existing indigenous healthcare systems. And after other agencies have flown off to the next hotspot, the American Refugee Committee stays on, assisting refugees… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP THRILL

    When it comes to quickening the pulse, nothing quite matches the thrill of exercising one's constitutional right on the spur of the moment. Last year 15.79 percent of the Minnesotans who voted in the November election took advantage of this little perk--the highest percentage to have done so in a nonpresidential election since same-day registration was instituted in 1974. Pundits… More >>
  • BEST CLUB DJ

    Rather than choose one of the cast of longstanding superstars who keep the local club scene alive--e.g., Drone, E-Tones, or Jennifer--we thought we'd spotlight the best of the new school of youngsters working the all-ages circuit. DJ Tyrone, a member of the Family Werks crew, has been the highlight of the Foxfire Coffee Lounge's Friday dance parties. We caught a… More >>
  • BEST COACH

    On the eve of the Timberwolves' best game of the shortened '99 season, a "we've arrived" buzzer beater against the Sonics, thin-skinned superstar Stephon Marbury announced he'd be leaving for the New Jersey Nets. The New Jersey Nets! Days later the pups became a national story after losing to the lowly L.A. Clippers at home. All this after the front… More >>
  • BEST COCKTAILS

    A few years back there was a going-away party for a Star Tribune editor at this dark, wood-paneled watering hole, beloved by Stribers for its proximity to the Newsroom of the Twin Cities. (It's also stumbling distance from City Hall.) At the climax of the evening, the guest of honor scrambled atop a chair to address the assembled. He berated… More >>
  • BEST COFFEE HOUSE

    You can't toss a cup of decaf double latte in South Minneapolis without hitting a coffee house. Even in this glutted market, Anodyne stands out--partially because of the distinctive façade that juts out over Nicollet Avenue like the bow of a wrecked Spanish galleon. Inside, Anodyne seems to have discovered the antidote to Starbucks. Besides a java fix of Guatemalan… More >>
  • BEST COLLEGE ATHLETE

    Dubbed "instant offense" during his first two years as a sixth man for the University of Minnesota's men's basketball team, senior forward Quincy Lewis used to take a lot of heat, some of it public, from coach Clem Haskins, for his spotty defensive play and itchy trigger finger. But by the end of a heady junior year--which included a Big… More >>
  • BEST COMEDY CLUB

    The Twin Cities comedy circuit may be a bit small compared with its '80s heyday, but Acme has managed to keep the Twin Towns guffawing with a mix of well-known national headliners and local acts. The place to see comic stars, this club has played host to the sardonic sneers of Margaret Smith, the I'm-mad-as-hell-and-I'm-not-going-to-take-it-anymore sputterings of The Daily Show's… More >>
  • BEST COMMUNITY NEWSPAPER

    In recent times this 20-year-old monthly, which was born as a newsletter for the Minneapolis American Indian Center, has gone beyond covering Native American issues to focus increasingly on regional news crucial to the community, offering well-sourced stories about trends in education, the practical effects of welfare reform, and institutional racism. Besides associate editor Sue Rich's yeoman work with news… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    Simply for rarity, this slice of Minnesota pop life was worth the wait. As the deep-voiced, string-popping bassist for Sly and the Family Stone and the leader of Graham Central Station, Larry Graham had inspired a generation of '70s funk practitioners, not least a young Minneapolis resident named Prince Rogers Nelson. And on this cold February day, after more than… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT VENUE

    Few doubt that the larger of First Avenue's two concert rooms has a central place in the documentary that will someday be made about Minneapolis rock 'n' roll. But this converted Greyhound station's black cinder-block exterior is more than a punk-rock landmark and a postcard for Purple Rain fans. (As recently as last fall, Sleater-Kinney exclaimed how excited they were… More >>
  • BEST DANCE CLUB

    Well, they've still got that strangely undanceable dance music. The DJs here aurally tease clubgoers with occasionally interesting but rarely groovy mixes of everything and anything: techno, rock, and big beat, and occasionally dub, lounge, and God knows what else. We could point out that First Ave. does offer the best video show in town--a giddy montage of Bruce Lee… More >>
  • BEST DAY TRIP

    Time to face the truth: There are people in our fine seven- (nine-? eleven-?) county metro area who have never seen the city. Either city. Pretty amazing, given that a mere 150 years ago St. Paul was the Twin Cities metro area. So here's an invitation to all of you (and especially those who refuse to drive I-94 for fear… More >>
  • BEST DEMOLITION

    When it comes to historic architecture, Minneapolis city officials have long exhibited a penchant for knocking stuff down rather than preserving it. But we gotta say this for them: When they do set their minds on saving an edifice, they spare no expense. Enter the Shubert Theater. The city spent four million dollars to trundle what remains of its exterior… More >>
  • BEST DRAG KING

    Until a few months ago, we couldn't confirm that such a breed existed. Compared to their stiletto-heeled sisters...er, brothers, the elusive drag king is difficult to spot in his natural habitat. Not so for Heather Spear, the Gentleman King, who was often spied playing with local bands Deformo and the Shepherd Kings, as well as directing her own herd of… More >>
  • BEST DRAG QUEEN

    With her oversize, Steven Tyler lips and Elton John eyeglasses, and a hairdo that might look normal on your insane aunt, Miss Richfield (a.k.a. Russell King) resembles the family member you might confide in about tawdry secrets while shopping. Although drag queens seem to be a dime a dozen these days, and she isn't exactly stepping out of the pages… More >>
  • BEST EXAMPLE OF COMMUNITY JOURNALISM

    This riveting four-part series, a joint effort undertaken by the Star Tribune, KTCA-TV, Minnesota Public Radio, and the Insight/KMOJ Public Policy Forum, highlighted the conflicts and kinships between two struggling Minnesota communities, one rural, the other urban. A video link was set up to connect politicians, pundits, scholars, and spiritual leaders gathered at Lucille's Kitchen in North Minneapolis with a… More >>
  • BEST FANTASY

    Swish. Swish. Thunk. Swish. You've been going all night, and sunrise is very far away. But you keep going, going, because they expect you on the other side, because your mission cannot be delayed. Swish. Swish. Thunk. Thunk. The woods are dark and silent, but you are not afraid. This wilderness, after all, is your home, and no one--human or… More >>
  • BEST FARMERS MARKET

    The St. Paul Farmers' Market has been supplying produce to this area for 148 years. For the nonhistorians among us, that would be ten years longer than this gopher-pocked patch of prairie has been a state. Every Saturday and Sunday morning from late April through October, 100-plus growers offer their finest, freshest fruits, vegetables, and potted plants--which, according to the… More >>
  • BEST FEMALE VOCALIST

    Face it: Most female singers get their propers only if they do the little-girl alternative-rock coo or bellow the blues down in Koko Taylor's register. Dana Thompson does neither. Best known as the chirpy diva of the local eight-piece jazz and ragtime band the Hot Heads, Thompson is both jazzy and full of moxie while delivering her Betty Boop melodies… More >>
  • BEST FESTIVAL

    A fringe festival of any stripe is wonderfully unpredictable, seemingly poised on the brink of anarchy despite its organizers' best intentions. Scores of performers compete for attention, audiences trek like art-seeking pilgrims from one theater to the next, and show quality swings dramatically from first-rate to spectacularly bad. In short, risk is inherent in every aspect of the event. That's… More >>
  • BEST FEUD

    It's tempting to present this coveted award to our new governor. After all, in the course of his brief political career, Ventura's inclination to shoot from the lip--a talent that served him well as radio host and rassler--has been sparked by the tiniest provocations. But few of Ventura's targets have put up much of a fight. And as any aficionado… More >>
  • BEST FISHING HOLE (RURAL)

    For any angler who enjoys a measure of solitude, the dizzying proliferation of Jet Skis and high-tech watercraft on Minnesota's 12,304 lakes presents an especially ugly dilemma: Fish amid the nightmare on prime waters or risk an empty stringer in less productive spots. Fortunately, there are still a few overlooked gems out there, particularly on the state's smaller rivers and… More >>
  • BEST FISHING HOLE (URBAN)

    Sadly, besides providing another way for rich, drunken adolescents to become paraplegics, Jet Ski contraptions have also ruined countless formerly fruitful Minnesota fishing holes. Luckily, the Skis haven't yet completely taken over Lake Minnetonka, still the best urban spot to catch a panoply of finned creatures ranging from the mighty bass, northern, and muskie to the lowly bullhead, dogfish, and… More >>
  • BEST FOOD COURT

    When archaeologists unearth Gaviidae in the year 3015, they will most certainly marvel at the State Fare Food Court. They will have found McDonald's ruins and Subway shards at other digs, though the relatively rare Manchu Wok might spark a debate. (Only Annie's Frozen Yogurt will be a complete mystery--by that time children will be downloading their frozen desserts off… More >>
  • BEST GADFLY

    How do we love Dick? Let us count the ways. Franson's life is an open book--make that an open fax. There's almost nothing the man won't put into a press release (including details you never wanted to know about his recent prostate surgery). A retired army first sergeant, Franson served one term on the Minneapolis City Council back in the… More >>
  • BEST GARDEN TOUR

    Right as the wilting dog days of summer kick in, this annual excursion takes place over two weekends in some 35 private gardens around the Cities and beyond. Sure, you could space out your sightseeing with a series of more limited tours in hopes of catching different plants in bloom, but this circuit includes landscapes that take their glory not… More >>
  • BEST GAY/LESBIAN BAR

    For some unfathomable reason, the Saloon has shied away from the funky house music that made its Thursday nights central to Twin Cities nightlife last year. As a result the lanky club kids who stirred up the mix (including most of Minneapolis club life's queer contingent) have been replaced by even more monolithically buff men dressed in baseball caps and… More >>
  • BEST GOLF COURSE

    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… More >>
  • BEST GOLF COURSE ON WHICH TO HAVE A DADAESQUE EXPERIENCE

    Cannon Falls has something even funkier than Pachyderm Recording Studios; there is also the public, nine-hole Elmdale Hills golf course, located about ten miles south of Hastings. Every Monday and Tuesday, for real, llamas are available as caddies ($25 per animal, $10 extra for each player; a foursome using two pack animals goes for $80).… More >>
  • BEST GOOD SPORT

    "If it weren't for bad luck," the old saying goes, "I'd have no luck at all." Surely, former Viking quarterback Brad Johnson had reason to contemplate that sour perspective a few times during these past few years. After dutifully toting the clipboard for the first four seasons of his professional career, Johnson has made the most of his opportunities as… More >>
  • BEST GOOD TIMING

    Timing may not be everything, but in the business of professional sports it comes damn close. Throughout his long career as an auto-sales and communications magnate, Billy Joe "Red" McCombs has displayed the typical billionaire's touch for cutting the timely deal. In the '70s and '80s he raked in profits buying and selling two pro basketball teams (the Nuggets and… More >>
  • BEST GROUND ZERO

    Throw out all the plans. Burn the engineering studies. Rip up the newspaper clippings and meeting minutes documenting 30 years of controversy over the rerouting of Minneapolis's Hiawatha Avenue. Start over--here, on this spot of tall grass and oak, where some see a precious urban wilderness and others a weedy plot begging for asphalt. Maybe it's the spirit of the… More >>
  • BEST GUBERNATORIAL APPOINTEE

    Mondale sputtered to a distant fifth in the DFL gubernatorial primary last September. But as things worked out, he wound up in a better place than Skip Humphrey. In January newly installed governor Jesse Ventura tapped Mondale to head the Metropolitan Council, a move that showed the self-styled Reform Party gov's politics are more complexly nuanced than the pundits gave… More >>
  • BEST HAPPY HOUR

    Many so-called happy hours around town only last a couple of hours and offer some nominally discounted drink prices. At Porter's, happy hour is a marathon event: Two-for-one drinks from 3:30 until 7:30 p.m., every day of the week. You'll be surprised how happy you can get for so little. Porter's also features discounts on many appetizers during that period… More >>
  • BEST HOAX

    Seeing as how last November marked the 100th anniversary of the discovery of the Kensington Runestone--the 202-pound slab of rock that allegedly tells the story of a Viking expedition to Minnesota in 1362--it's a fitting time to contemplate the state of hoaxes in Minnesota. Alas, we have suffered a lamentable dearth of inventive fakes in recent years. But there are… More >>
  • BEST HOTEL

    In 1908 Lucius P. Ordway set to building a hotel that would beckon business visitors from around the country. He hired the New York architectural firm that had designed Grand Central Station and instructed them to use only the finest materials available. Nearly a hundred years (and one renovation) later, the Saint Paul Hotel reigns locally supreme in design, service,… More >>
  • BEST ICE-FISHING HOLE

    As in summer, Lake Minnetonka is by the far the best nearby locale to catch pan and/or larger fish. Prime time to hit the ice is between 4:00 and 5:00 in the morning, when the fish bite best and the dark bays loom like vast lunar landscapes. Sorel boots, five layers of wool, and a flask of blackberry brandy are… More >>
  • BEST INDOOR PARK

    Chances are by about Groundhog Day, you (or more to the point, your kids, if you've got 'em) have seen pretty much everything Must-See TV has to offer--twice. If you play one more round of Nintendo, the neural pathways in your brain will come unknit. You've made a single obligatory foray (in snowpants!) down to the park but turned around… More >>
  • BEST JAZZ CLUB

    Dakota owner Lowell Pickett is the patron saint of national jazz in these towns, fending off the IRS and frequently digging into his meager bank account to bring commercially dubious but musically rich, innovative acts to St. Paul. Like Ray Drummond's Excursions All Star Band, an ensemble that ran five headliners deep; Charles Lloyd's quartet, which visited the Dakota in… More >>
  • BEST JESSE VENTURA MERCHANDISING SCHEME

    Never mind the T-shirts, the bumper stickers, the books, or those dadburned action figures. The best Jesse cash-in product so far appeared online in late January: our gube, sensitively immortalized on black velvet. The genius behind it all is L.A.-based film-school dropout Bill Robison, who commissioned an initial "limited edition" of ten paintings from Tijuana artist Jorge Terrones (also known… More >>
  • BEST JESSE VENTURA QUOTE

    We thought this was gonna be like shooting fish in a barrel. But there's a problem with trying to pin down the definitive gubernatorial pronouncement: Every time you're sure he can't top what he just finished saying, the big lug goes and opens his mouth again. We eliminated several pearls of wisdom simply on the basis of overuse, e.g., "Win… More >>
  • BEST JESSE VENTURA WEB SITE

    Many of the online sites devoted to Gov. Jesse Ventura are essentially working with the same batch of "content," as the new media gurus say, so winning this derby comes down to a matter of smart, sassy packaging. Venturafiles.com, billed as "Ground Zero for the Ventura Revolution" (but they don't really mean it), takes the prize for combining real info,… More >>
  • BEST JOKE AT THE EXPENSE OF THE NEW GOVERNOR

    Everybody's had their fun with the new governor: late-night TV hosts, the national press, Garrison Keillor. Even Doonesbury creator Garry Trudeau got some mileage out of lampooning our beloved blowhard. After Ventura remarked on The Late Show with David Letterman that the streets of St. Paul appeared to be the handiwork of drunken Irishmen, many bashed and heckled the new… More >>
  • BEST JUKEBOX

    It should make sense that the club that served as the spiritual focal point for Minneapolis's rock 'n' roll heyday should have a jukebox whose selection list reads like an aural history of the city's sound and sensibility. Choosing from predictable landmarks like Hüsker Dü's Warehouse Songs and Stories and the Replacements' Let It Be and punk classics from the… More >>
  • BEST KARAOKE

    Antler chandeliers, decades-old fryer grease, and the smell of stale alcohol fill this city slickers' version of a rural hunting lodge. Walking into the Country Bar and Grill, one would almost expect to see orange vests and guns of all sizes alongside burly beer-drinking men. This stereotype is sometimes close to the truth, except from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m.… More >>
  • BEST LIBRARY

    We'll concede that the downtown library doesn't rank high on the aesthetics meter. If stateliness and charm is what you're after, you may want to curl up with a novel at the St. Paul Public Library's central branch. But in terms of sheer volume of volumes, this ugly 1961 edifice reigns supreme. We're talking 2,386,687 books and printed materials, 128,858… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BLUES BAND

    Sisterhood and brotherhood are powerful, as the sibling roots rockers in Indigenous know well. These twentysomething blues enthusiasts from the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota make a big, warm sound in their big, warm family. And if they aren't technically "of the Twin Cities," they play here so often you'd barely notice if they changed Zip Codes. For… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY MADE GOOD

    What, you thought we were gonna give it to Skip Humphrey? Way back in the summer of '97, when the gube-jockeying commenced, the race gained national notice as a quartet of DFL scions pitted themselves against each other to face Democratic carpetbagger-turned-GOP mouthpiece Norm Coleman. But as Mark Dayton, Ted Mondale, and Mike Freeman fell by the wayside, and the… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL MADE GOOD

    The erstwhile diva of the local gossip columns was keeping an uncharacteristically low profile--even going so far as to become engaged to a portly Long Island plastic surgeon (that'll be Hubby Number Three, for those of you who keep score)--when from way out of left field came Kenneth Starr. Along about halfway through Starr's 445-page inquisition came the tale of… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL MADE O.J.

    Everybody's entitled to their 15 minutes of fame--and here's hoping this 23-year-old St. Anthony High and University of Minnesota alum is done with hers.… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL JAZZ ARTIST

    Other locals have more nationally prominent profiles (Jack McDuff, Anthony Cox), and more noteworthy styles (Kenny Holman, Bill Carrothers), but when it comes to the sort of ubiquitous presence, technical proficiency, and stalwart excellence that keeps a local scene humming, you can't do any better than Karr. The veteran saxophonist and flutist significantly upgrades the quality of any setting, from… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL LANDMARK

    Ever wonder how it would feel to utter, in all seriousness, some classic but cliché line? You know, like "Stop the presses!" Or "Is there a doctor in the house?" Well, here's your chance. Head to the Mall of America, and locate Knott's Camp Snoopy. (That's a depressing moment in itself, but this is a mournful item. Bear with us.)… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL POP GROUP

    It almost seems redundant to give the Hang Ups this award again, but Minneapolis hasn't produced a better band in years and it isn't likely to produce one anytime soon. In fact, the Hang Ups even register nationally as one of the better purveyors of wistful high pop. They avoid glibness or cheeky retro gestures while reworking the Byrds, Simon… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL R&B GROUP

    While countless bands earn a steady living by moving the weekend crowds with more traditional R&B, pop hopefuls with dreams of radio stardom and more contemporary tastes often find themselves scrounging for attention at community talent shows and other less-prominent venues. That's how Next's R.L., T-Low, and Tweety started out. In fact, even after this hometown group scored the number… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL RAP GROUP

    Local hip hop exploded in 1998. What had been a diffuse, isolated scene came together in a series of events (most notably Bon Appétit's weekly open mics) and albums including the groundbreaking debut by St. Paul's Abstract Pack. Bousta Set It (For the Record) will be remembered as the Let It Be of local rap--a homegrown underground hit that put… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL RECORD LABEL

    Minneapolis is blessed with a number of noteworthy record labels, from Kim Randall's eclectically rocking No Alternative to Woody McBride's techno syndicate Communiqué. But none made as much noise in 1998 as Jace Kraus's History of the Future. And when we say noise, we mean NOISE. History specializes in breakcore, a genre that melds James Brown's "Funky Drummer" and Faust's… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL REGGAE BAND

    In small Caribbean and Central American towns, any music with a hint of hip hop gets the tag "reggae." In the Twin Cities, most of what locals call reggae is a kind of pop-rock so soft it could put Sting to sleep. But Dred I Dread adeptly follows the south-of-Mexico aesthetic, mixing deep dub riddims with hip-hop and ragga vocals.… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL ROCK BAND

    Has a punk band ever made rocking out sound like such hard work? Craig Finn's apoplectic streams of consciousness make it sound as if he's about to burst a blood vessel in his brain. Meanwhile, the rest of the band bashes about in search of a chorus with a determination that borders on the obsessive. On last year's The Entertainment… More >>
  • BEST LOSER

    Someone should write a thank-you note to Gary Anderson. Thanks for making an incredible 106 of your 107 attempts at extra points and field goals in your first year as a Viking; for nonetheless refusing to sign "Mr. Perfect" on your autograph, even when fans begged you; for admitting that, after a season of feeling 14 years younger than your… More >>
  • BEST MALE VOCALIST

    When you first hear Mason Jennings sing out loud, you're caught off guard, wondering what bizarre condition could enable a 24-year-old kid with an acoustic guitar to sound like a 94-year-old blues singer. But when Jennings calms to a rolling lull--that's when you're sold. For sure, his vocals are expressive. But Jennings never succumbs to Michael Bolton Syndrome, never overextends… More >>
  • BEST MARGARITA

    Before we sing the praises of Boca Chica and its la Señora margarita ($4.25), there's something we need to get straight. Whatever your Midwestern palate has been conditioned for, the margarita is supposed to consist of absolutely fresh lime juice, tequila, and triple sec, shaken with ice and served neat. Over the decades various upscale watering holes throughout the Western… More >>
  • BEST MARTINI

    The standard martini is simple: gin served with a splash of vermouth and an olive. In recent seasons, though, the vast number of martini variants has watered down the definition of the cocktail to any liquor served nearly straight in a sleek, conical glass. Take, for example, the Black Martini (citrus vodka and Chambord with a twist) or the Jerry… More >>
  • BEST MINIATURE GOLF

    The winner by a long putt, Adventure Gardens offers 18 holes of mini-golf on a highly challenging course that's replete with split greens, tricky angles, and water and sand hazards--and for a reasonable cost, too. Adults pay $5 ($2.75 before 6:00 p.m.) for the privilege of teeing off here (children and seniors pay $3.50), with the added bonus of enjoying… More >>
  • BEST MONTH TO BE IN THE TWIN CITIES

    See "Best Month to Leave the Twin Cities."… More >>
  • BEST MONTH TO LEAVE THE TWIN CITIES

    Honestly, doesn't all the endless bitching over Minnesota winters grate on your nerves? Our television meteorologists behave as if it's a calamity every time a veneer of snow hits the lawn. (Paradoxically, of course, they go into burlesque fits of mourning for the snowmobile industry when we suffer a dry spell.) Come on! If you hate winter, why the hell… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR (MINNEAPOLIS)

    They're fighting for your soul up in Northeast Minneapolis. In the land with as many churches as bars, it's not uncommon to see Catholic and Orthodox worshiping across the street from one another amid the many dens of gin littering the neighborhood. Nowhere is this phenomenon more noticeable than along the stretch of Fourth Street between 14th and 22nd avenues.… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR (ST. PAUL)

    Though there's not a whole lot of neighborhood immediately surrounding the Starting Gate, there's usually a comfortable community feeling in this room. Despite the large front windows--a rarity for a bar like this--most of the interior is appropriately dark and seemingly immune to time. It's easy to relax and share stories in one of the many cozy booths, or at… More >>
  • BEST NEW BAND

    A gaggle of indie-rocking tykes from Hopkins High, the Plastic Constellations are a garage-rock band that plays the most gentrified garage-rock ever--a messy, post-Pavement art-pop that tries to approximate their heroes' sonic pastiche the way the bands of yore used to try to approximate the Kingsmen's manly clamor. Of course, the Constellations being but young'uns, what comes out is as… More >>
  • BEST NEWS FOR BUDGET TRAVELERS

    Not even a full cruise season after the mechanics' and groundworkers' strike against Northwest Airlines illustrated just how dependent we are on one Goliath airline, this upstart vacation charter company announced its decision to start scheduled service from here to ten U.S. cities. Sun Country's flight schedules are a little odd and its planes are crowded, but fares are rock-bottom… More >>
  • BEST OLD BAND

    The Flamin' Oh's, the Trashmen, the Litter, and a cruise ship full of other aging rockers have made impressive and high-profile returns to the Twin Cities music scene after long absences. But Safety Last, in their unassuming way, are the most graceful recent revivers of their own ghost, playing Carl Perkins and Hank Ballard standards with uncommon familiarity and ease.… More >>
  • BEST OPEN-MIC NIGHT

    An open mic is an amazingly democratic phenomenon, if also an occasionally painful one for audience and performer alike. Since 1991, singer-songwriter Leslie Ball has cleared the Southern stage for the performance efforts of the bold and adventuresome. Newcomers to this midnight Saturday gathering immediately feel the winning rapport among host, audience, and performers. While you will hear mutterings about… More >>
  • BEST PARADE

    There just aren't as many places as there used to be where you can simultaneously catch a few rays, Barbara Carlson dressed in sequins, and a drag queen driving a scooter. Thank goodness for the parade that puts an exclamation point on the annual Minneapolis Pride Festival. Sponsored by Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Pride/Twin Cities, the event, scheduled this… More >>
  • BEST PICKUP JOINT

    For the discerning pickup artist, good music, decent drinks, and conversation are more than just a distraction from the business at hand. While the Walker Art Center may not be a "joint" in the classical sense--the $14 door charge ($7 for members) stands in evidence--the After Hours party on the second Friday of each month offers welcome respite from the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE

    Although it wears the masks of Agriculture, Commerce, and Industry, the Great Minnesota Get-Together has always been about Love. Just ask any 4-H kid and he'll tell you about the itchy swoon of his first State Fair crush. There's something in the hot summer air, suspended in the atomized grease, that quickens the pulse--and couples of any sexual orientation are… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A PICNIC

    We're talking picnic here--no wimpy, lunch-hour sandwich affair, no romantic twosome with goat cheese on pumpernickel. We're talking extended family/clique/cluster; blankets, coolers, and ants. Meat, or at least some hefty eggplants, on the grill. Five salads, at least one of which must contain potatoes; three desserts, at least one of which must be a bar cookie. Some screaming, ideally provided… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BE AWED

    The warm air over the rocks and the cool breeze from the big lake create perfect aerial elevators; the thermals carry you up, up, until you reach cruising altitude, point your head south, and glide the rest of the way. If you're a bird, that is. If you're not, you may have to content yourself with a makeshift perch, a… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BIRD-WATCH

    A fair number of the beautiful birds painted by John Audubon doubled as handy meals. Some days, the nineteenth-century wildlife artist would down dozens of birds with his gun, and his notebook features lively asides about particularly tasty portrait subjects. This fact seems especially germane in a state where the idea of tracking what's called "non-game wildlife" seems practically countercultural.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CANOE

    It's right in the middle of everything, but most folks don't know it exists. Here's a flawless first-date option for summer: Rent a canoe from the Lake Calhoun beach house. (Rates are roughly five dollars an hour; plan on a couple.) Then saddle up and hightail it straight under the bridges to Lake of the Isles. A lot of boaters… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CATCH AN AMERICAN EEL

    The American eel is a beautiful thing to behold, according to Tom Dickson, author of Fishing for Buffalo, which has been called America's only comprehensive book on angling for rough fish. Dickson, who lives in St. Paul, is one of the few, true experts when it comes to the gar, the carp, and the American eel. He tells us that… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CROSS-COUNTRY SKI (RURAL)

    In the heart of the Chequamegon National Forest hides a four-season recreational region known as the Cable Area of Northwest Wisconsin--home of the world-renowned Birkebeiner Trail. This is the only spot in the U.S. designated as an official world-class tour site for cross-country skiing marathon races. The 42-kilometer trek (European standards are used to measure all cross-country ski courses) incorporates… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CROSS-COUNTRY SKI (URBAN)

    While there's nothing particularly surprising about the 26 kilometers of track that wends its way through this historic site, there is a lot to be said for the serenity to be found so near two bustling downtowns and an international airport. A perfect place for novice skiers and fans of moonlight striding, Fort Snelling's grounds offer up gentle terrain that… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DUMP SOMEONE

    There are degrees of dumping, it's true. Yet the Loon's parking lot fits the bill in most instances. For one thing, there's nothing like a Loon popsicle or a pack of cigarettes to gently ease into a congenial split. Too brief an affair--or too volatile--for in-person confrontation? The Loon's lot has two pay phones: one drive-up and one walk-up. Put… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET DUMPED

    There's no good place to be dumped (with the possible exception of a gun range). But if the boom's gonna be lowered on you, it might as well happen at South Beach. Number one, you can drown your sorrows. Second, look at all the beautiful people around you. Mr. or Ms. Pain-in-the-Keister isn't the only walleye in the pond, and… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GO CAMPING

    Need to get away from the cube, the cash register, or the highway's tether? Want to escape without bringing it all with you in the full-metal experience of the RV? To feel the rustle of prairie grass against your calf and the call of the whippoorwill without having to drive over the border? Afton State Park offers the perfect spot… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GO FOR A DRINK AT 8:00 A.M.

    At 8:00 a.m. almost any day, a steady ant-line of cars flows into the parking lot of the Polish Palace in Nordeast. Mostly American makes, Fords and Chevys, with a few older-model Toyotas thrown in. Behind the wheels are public servants--law enforcers and postal workers--coming off the night shift. Their holsters and tan shirts are stuffed in their duffel bags… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GO ROCK CLIMBING

    This is where avid rock climbers go between mountain climbs. The granite feels like the rock out West, the cliffs are marbled with good climbing cracks, and it's the only place within quick-drive distance (about 45 minutes from the Cities) where you can engage in traditional climbing with full gear and top set ropes. Divided by the St. Croix River,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GO WINTER CAMPING

    Cruise ships setting sail empty. Miami hotels deserted. Southbound planes taxiing around Minneapolis/St. Paul International, waiting for just one paying customer....It could happen, if more people knew how much fun it is to shovel out a camping spot after eight hours on skis; to shake the icicles from your hair each morning; to thaw food in your mouth. Sound tempting?… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HEAR BLUEGRASS

    The first thing you'll notice about the Homestead Pickin' Parlor is that it looks damn down-home despite its Richfield strip-mall surroundings. Once inside the shop's cozy environs, which are stocked with the best and latest in bluegrass recordings, you'll find a wide selection of jam sessions on many weekday nights and weekend afternoons, including a gathering for advanced players Saturdays… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HIKE (URBAN)

    The St. Anthony Falls Heritage Trail offers something for everyone: scenic views of the Minneapolis skyline, the industrial past's remnants, and the Mississippi River; a smattering of local history; groomed areas and benches to rest in and on; and some unruly flora--everything except the chance of crossing paths with a deer (this is best urban hike, after all). The western… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HIKE (WOODSY)

    Some 2,500 acres criss-crossed with 45 miles of hiking, biking, and horse-riding trails, the Elm Creek Park Reserve protects happily diverse lands. Near the Eastman Nature Center, you can stroll boardwalks around a pond, stretch out through prairie grasslands, and wander Big Woods--and that's within just a square mile or two of space. Longer trails give a better picture of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO ICE-SKATE

    After midnight. Stars by the hundreds. A hush over the frozen terrain, and ice like glass. The junior-league hockey tots cleared out hours ago, the warming hut closed at nine, and it's just you, your silver blades, and a gaggle of stray skaters looping the lake. All 33 Minneapolis rinks have melted off by now, but come mid-December the plows… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO JOG

    The Lake of the Isles path, with its hills and twists, follows a route that's more of a double-helix than a boring old oval. It's an enchanted place: The lake's native grasses and flowers are left to grow naturally, which is nice on the eye (unless the gnats are out and shielded by all that green stuff). Try taking a… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO LEARN ENGLISH

    Used to be that you could get through half a lifetime in parts of Minnesota without speaking a word of English. Germans, Norwegians, Swedes, and Czechs shopped, banked, and worshiped in their native languages a century ago; even government agencies did business in the Old Country's tongue. Recent immigrants don't have that luxury: If you speak only Hmong, Russian, or… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO LOSE YOUR SHIRT

    Casino gambling is a fool's game (aside from blackjack, which is boring). The lottery is for weenies. And we wouldn't buy a pull-tab if you paid for it. For those of us who like our betting with a dose of actual skill, there's the local bookie or there's the ponies. We'll take the ponies--the only (legal) game in town where… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (GAY)

    The Saloon may be the easiest place to think of when you're looking to meet a man--but why would you, dear reader, want to meet a man who doesn't like to think hard? For those who prefer places where it's possible to scope out the options based on stunning conversational skills as well as tight jeans, the cozy, urbane Cafe… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (STRAIGHT)

    Settling on the best place in the Twin Cities to meet unattached straight men is like trying to name the best place in the nation to see a California condor: Sightings are rare. But when the single heterosexual male is spotted, it's often in the aisles (or behind the counter) of Electric Fetus, CDs being one of the wily creature's… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (GAY)

    The fog machines erase the weariness of the day; look out over the crowd and all you see is heart-thumpingly dreamy gay women, glistening from dancing and dressed to the nines. Caveat: We're talking Metro's downstairs dance annex, and only on Saturday nights. During the rest of the week, we suspect, they're frolicking in a secret wood-nymph hideaway. (Either that… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (STRAIGHT)

    The trouble with honoring grocery stores and public parks in this category is that while there are, of course, single women passing through such locales, only a fraction are open to flirting with City Pages readers sporting ink-stained fingers and dry mouths. On the other hand, Bondage A Go-Go Thursdays and Sin City Saturdays at Ground Zero inherit the proud… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MULL OVER WHAT'S GONE WRONG WITH YOUR LIFE

    The prime perch for existential wallowing is the park bench located up the hill in Kenwood Park, a couple of hundred yards from the north end of the lake. Offering prime views from on high of the seemingly happy Kenwood hordes below playing tennis and gavotting around the lake, the wooden bench is uncomfortable, enough so that after exactly 13… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SALSA

    The consolation prize goes to First Avenue, whose Thursday night Salsa Infernos represent the club's biggest step away from the alt rock that has been its bread and butter for most of this decade. And although the rich assortment of Latin dancing in both Minneapolis and St. Paul clubs offers a stark contrast to the pallor of our radio spectrum,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE A SANDHILL CRANE

    Carlos Avery is only a 45-minute jump from the Cities, making it the nearest state wildlife area owned by the Department of Natural Resources. The drive is, without a doubt, worth it: Carlos Avery, which has been owned and managed by the state since the 1930s, is a paradise of wetlands and wiregrass marsh that attracts all sorts of wildlife,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SEE A STRIP SHOW AT 9:00 A.M.

    The Payne Reliever's third-shift strip show starts at 9:00 in the morning with a happy hour and amateur dancers. "Amateur" means that the handful of performers--clad in miniskirt or short shorts and bra-like top--are paid with tips only. The women mingle with the customers, hoping to arrange a table dance, which can be had for ten dollars, or maybe five.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SLOW DANCE

    With an intimate supper-club atmosphere (dim), classic American soul food on the menu (greasy), and jazz veterans or dance DJs filling your ears (funky), Arnellia's is an essential spot for pleasure dining in St. Paul. But it's also among the few small supper joints with a genuine dance floor, complete with disco ball and multi-mirrored walls. The Wednesday-night DJs throw… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO SWING DANCE

    City Pages was cutting a rug back when your grandma wore hoop skirts. Yet we've never seen anything like the dance craze that has lately hit the Cities, which beats hula hooping and mosh pitting by a mile. Floors that hadn't known a good night's crowd for years have seen action all over town, and the worn-out boards in grimy… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO WITNESS AN ACCIDENT

    You never know when you're gonna wake up one morning with a yen to see some car carnage. (Maybe you just got a little too worked up over those advertisements for the Monster Jam at the Metrodome.) But where do you go? Glad you asked. First, rule out the freeways--you can't just sit on the shoulder in your chaise longue… More >>
  • BEST POLITICIAN

    As glad as we were to see the guy join the Ventura administration, we're going to miss him on the Minneapolis City Council. And not just because of the fireworks. As the council's sole non-DFLer, Minn was a lonely caucus of one--but a very articulate caucus. Though he was almost certainly the council's most business-savvy member, he never became a… More >>
  • BEST POOL HALL

    If you're going to shoot stick, shoot stick with the best. Shoot stick where old-timers spin tall tales for the wide-eyed, eager youngsters. Where the waft of Marlboro reds keeps hustlers buzzing until the doors lock at 4:00 a.m., and where seasoned journeymen stop for some action on their way through town. Shoot stick where there's no booze to bleed… More >>
  • BEST PROOF THAT "WILD" IS A LOUSY NAME FOR A HOCKEY TEAM

    Who didn't cringe when the NHL's newest franchise declared that it would be known simply as the "Wild"? Horrid franchise tags have become a dismaying trend in professional sport of late, as such dubious choices as the Rage, the Raptors, and the Mighty Ducks all attest. But the Wild is, without question, the worst of the bunch. Who is the… More >>
  • BEST PUB

    St. Paul is the Irish town, so it makes sense that the best pub is located there. The Dubliner has three pictures of JFK hung in various corners, and its crowd is most often a mix of neighborhood folk and Irish expatriates. The always-gregarious expats pull up chairs around the bar, and soon begins a nightful of stories about Enid,… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC BEHEADING

    Back in 1994, the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton wooed Farmer to run the city's planning department. He was the epitome of a golden boy, bringing with him a sparkling résumé that included stints as a planning consultant in Canada, India, and Germany; teaching positions at several universities; and a 14-year term as deputy planning director in… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC GARDENER

    When she's not counseling inmates at Lino Lakes state prison or working as a volunteer lobbyist for the Association for Nonsmokers-Minnesota or working to rid the landscape of billboards promoting free transport with the Yellow Bike Coalition (deep breath), this 54-year-old St. Paulite practices guerrilla gardening: beautifying public land throughout the Twin Cities, without asking permission. In 1998 Minnesota Monthly… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC PARK

    The Cities are stocked with great parks, and the best recreation area is often the one nearest your door. Still, if you're up for a real outing, the marvelous scenery where the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers meet has the rest of them beat by a mile. Fort Snelling offers lots of amenities that are rare within city limits--enough space to… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC RESTROOM

    Public toilet facilities are highly valuable real estate of a sort; thus the axiom "location, location, location" applies. Sure, the facilities here aren't breathtaking--although the red-brick walls do add a nice touch. They are, however, clean and functional, and the surroundings can't be beat. Before and/or after you satisfy nature's urge, you can lounge to your heart's content within the… More >>
  • BEST RENOVATION

    This squat, unflashy brick building may not look like the grandest renovation in recent memory. But in a city that has been forever callous about saving old structures, it's a wonder the little freight house survived at all. After sitting vacant for more than 25 years, the two-story edifice was recast last spring as a Dunn Bros. Coffee outlet with… More >>
  • BEST ROCK CLUB

    The new-look 400 Bar of the late 1990s is just a single room on the West Bank. It can have slightly higher cover charges than spoiled Minneapolitans are used to, and it doesn't exactly break attendance records every night. So why have we been going there more often than to any other rock club of late? It's the booking. Give… More >>
  • BEST RUMOR ON THE LOCAL MUSIC SCENE

    Closing-time fears have dogged First Avenue for nearly two decades, and for fairly obvious reasons. For one, the old black ark's lease has a six-month demolition clause, which means the Ave. is always potentially two seasons away from The End. And according to management, the club has been losing money since 1997--not an auspicious sign. While spokespeople at the Hard… More >>
  • BEST SENSORY-SURROUND

    By high summer the gardens are in full bloom and exploding with color--purple and sky-blue asters, orange butterfly flowers, and purple coneflowers. Just a stone's throw from downtown Minneapolis flourishes the nation's oldest public wildflower garden. Established in 1907 by transplanted Easterner Eloise Butler, who feared the city would eventually gobble up the local flora and fauna, the garden has… More >>
  • BEST SHAMELESS SPORTS-MERCHANDISING PLOY

    This Best Buy exclusive hit the racks in mid-December, when it still seemed that the home team Just Might Go All the Way. It's a compilation of ten musical PA-system thumpers ranging from the Gap Band's "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" and the Village People's "Y.M.C.A." to Big Country's "In a Big Country" and the Scorpions' "Rock You Like… More >>
  • BEST SHOOTING RANGE

    With reasonable prices (seven dollars for one person with one gun, three dollars for each additional person or gun) and accessible hours (10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Sunday) Burnsville Pistol Range is no private enclave. Call it the people's shooting range: a safe, professional environment for amateur marksmen and -women to practice… More >>
  • BEST SHOW OF SPINE

    It would have been so easy to roll over. They could have come up with a nice rationale--stuff about "balancing diverging points of view" and "the interests of the community as a whole." They could have listened to the St. Paul Companies' siren song about a shiny new corporate building and some 6,000 jobs on the site of the old… More >>
  • BEST SIGN OF SPRING

    Every year, just when you've become convinced that winter will never end, the fine folks at the Conservatory put on their spring flower show. Park staff says it's the most popular of their seasonal unveilings (they almost always have one going), and with good reason: It's like taking a trip back to the days of formal gardens. Some 14,000 tulips,… More >>
  • BEST SONG ABOUT A LOCAL INSTITUTION

    Last time the Austin, Texas-based Watson was in town, he played Lee's Liquor Lounge, where he was greeted as warmly as any regular. Local Watson fans love his old-school-styled country music and Watson loves 'em right back. He opened his set with "Louie's Lee's Liquor Lounge," his affectionate ode immortalizing Minneapolis's greatest reconstituted honky-tonk and its beloved proprietor, Louie Sirian.… More >>
  • BEST SONGWRITER

    Alabama-bred Marlee MacLeod has spent a career quietly investigating the intricacies of life as a Southern girl born again into the culture of Amerindie rock. Never bombastic or unduly confessional, her songs stake out a private world where references to the way "the iridescent birdie on my Visa card" looks in the lonely glow of late-night TV uncover ideas about… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS BAR

    This comfortably sized bar has an unfair advantage here, since it sits across the street from the Dome, making it the ideal pre- or post-game destination for Twins, Vikings, and Gopher football games. What the hell: It's not a bad spot to come to after a monster truck rally, either. Sure, they've got the requisite TV sets and plenty of… More >>
  • BEST SPORTS TRADE

    In a glorious season stained only by that hideous loss in the NFC Championship Game, the Minnesota Vikings seldom lacked for heroes. The reborn Randall Cunningham and the redeemed Randy Moss made most of the headlines, as the Vikes scorched opposing defenses for a record-setting 556 points. But all the gaudy numbers would have been impossible were it not for… More >>
  • BEST STATE FAIR RIDE

    I fell into this burning Ring of Fire. It goes down, down, down, then the cars go higher. And it turns, turns, turns--the Ring of Fire. The Ring of Fire.… More >>
  • BEST STRIP CLUB (FEMALE DANCERS)

    If you're going to design a strip club for the downtown Minneapolis male bourgeoisie (and wannabe bourgeoisie), you need to give your room not just the veneer of class, but a kind of ski-lodge coziness that makes all those nervous Oles-in-suits comfortable. Rick's Cabaret fits the bill, with a dimly lighted sports bar at the front leading to an elegant… More >>
  • BEST STRIP CLUB (MALE DANCERS)

    With an early-evening time slot given over to buff male dancers (7:30 to 9:30 p.m.), Friday and Saturday nights at the Payne Reliever can have the pitched air of a girls' happy hour gone loopy. Though attendance varies wildly, this mirror-walled, working-class St. Paul club can get rowdy on a crowded weekend, and its eight or so male dancers certainly… More >>
  • BEST TENNIS COURTS

    The faint hum of cars speeding down Hwy. 55 is a welcome reminder that we're not serving into a suburban void. Otherwise, the conditions for tennis here are as blissful as one could imagine this close to the city. Located a half-block south of the highway and just west of Winnetka Avenue, these half-dozen well-maintained courts are windscreened to prevent… More >>
  • BEST TIMBERWOLVES PLAYER

    What a difference a year can make. Since 1998, the Wolves have devolved from the most dynamic young team in the NBA to a squad of aging role players who will most likely be nipping at the heels of the pack all season. Ironic that the Wolves set off the salary controversy and subsequent players' strike by offering a $126… More >>
  • BEST TOURIST ATTRACTION

    When out-of-town visitors show up, we inevitably and unenthusiastically yield to their pleas to ogle the Mary Tyler Moore house, the Spoonbridge and Cherry sculpture, First Avenue, the Art Institute....Then we take them to that dank stretch of Third Street in the shadow of the Metrodome where reposes Ray Crump's Original Baseball Hall of Fame Museum of Minnesota. Long ago,… More >>
  • BEST TOURIST TRAP

    People come from all over the upper Midwest to pay--to pay!--to park their cars on this denuded city-owned block in the heart of downtown Minneapolis.… More >>
  • BEST TWINS PLAYER

    Why does Twins manager Tom Kelly look like he's about to break into tears every time someone asks him about the team's prospects in 1999? Perhaps he knows that vague descriptions like "talented," "young," and "exciting" really mean that most of the team's lineup should be playing softball in Kenosha. After some belt-tightening by gazillionaire owner Carl Pohlad, Kelly and… More >>
  • BEST USE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS

    The new name is a freebie. It's the revamping of the 17.6 acres that for 70 years was known as the Sears complex that'll cost a pretty penny. No one has yet tallied up the final price tag for this public-private venture, probably because the blueprints keep changing from month to month, but the cost of merely cleaning up the… More >>
  • BEST VEGETARIAN BAR

    Okay, so it might be the only public vegetarian drinking hole in town. But the Triple Rock Social Club would also qualify for plenty of other awards, like Best New Bar, Best Punk Pickup Joint, Best Bar Makeover, and Best Graphic Menu Design. Let us explain. Not long ago Blondie's on the Avenue--a cheerfully mediocre West Bank shotgun saloon--shut down,… More >>
  • BEST VERDICT

    Conventional wisdom has long dictated that juvenile court proceedings should be conducted behind closed doors in order to protect the minors involved. While this is an admirable gesture, many children's advocates have maintained that closing the system robs it of its accountability and also ends up actually discouraging people from coming forward on behalf of abused children. Last June juvenile… More >>
  • BEST VICTIM

    After they put in their eon of public service, at least O.J. Simpson jurors got to 1) render a verdict, and (because the verdict was hugely controversial) 2) enjoy their 15 minutes of fame on the talk-show circuit. Not so for the Ramsey County residents who last year spent four months hearing the state's federal lawsuit against Big Tobacco. Having… More >>
  • BEST VIDEO ARCADE

    When you're downtown, it's all about having options. Beer and rye for breakfast? No problem--there's sure to be a dive near the parking ramp. A noon-hour romance? It's the Whitney if you're serious, the Hilton for a quick getaway. Need to stretch that coffee break into a lazy afternoon, wander no further than Pop's. Dark and cool seven days a… More >>
  • BEST VIEW

    Walk out onto this pedestrian/bike path, turn to face downtown, and behold: the history of Minneapolis business in a panoramic nutshell. In front of you, the twinkling lights of the modern skyscrapers. To your right, the uppermost lock on the Mississippi. On the riverbanks behind and in front of you, the remains of the city's storied mills. And not far… More >>
  • BEST VIKINGS PLAYER

    Rookie Vikings receiver Randy Moss may have stolen the show last season, but Randall Cunningham was the man who put it on in the first place. While Moss's talent seemed to derive from some alien biotechnology, Cunningham made things happen with veteran savvy and a cool head, proving that even the best receivers are nothing without the poise and leadership… More >>
  • BEST VILLAIN

    First, pleading poverty, the billionaire Twins owner demands a publicly funded stadium. Then he nearly succeeds in selling the team down the river to North Carolina. Then he refuses to let former St. Paul Saints co-owner Mike Veeck put together an offer to buy the club (Veeck, sadly, has since left town to work for the Tampa Bay Devil Rays).… More >>
  • BEST WAY TO GET BACK AT YOUR LANDLORD

    The window in the hallway has been broken for three months, the cockroaches are back, and the hot water is room temperature at best: For $600 a month, shouldn't you be entitled to better? Find out at these free seminars covering everything from the basic (what exactly is an FHA mortgage, anyway?) to the obscure (if you wanted to, could… More >>
  • BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY

    As the birthplace of Bob Dylan, Duluth is destined to go down in literary history like Joyce's Dublin. The Twin Cities, residents of which rarely deign to even notice their neighbor 150 miles to the north, will meantime be remembered as some hick burg from a 1960s sitcom. Plan on spending several hours sifting though the Babel of vinyl at… More >>
  • BEST WINNER

    They were asking for it--Bud Grant, Howard Hanson, and their latest ally, Jesse "My natural heritage is DuPont fishing" Ventura. They were begging to have their faces rubbed in it, to be insulted and humiliated, to get a dose of their own medicine: Lining them up on the Capitol steps would have been nice, and forcing them to take turns… More >>
  • BEST WRITER AT A LOCAL DAILY

    The Saint Paul Pioneer Press calls Ruben Rosario its public-safety columnist. Technically, that may describe his spot in the newsroom hierarchy. But Rosario's real function, to hear his colleagues tell it, is that of community conscience: "Ruben feels it's his duty to keep us aware that there are complicated explanations for sensational events," says Walt Parker, Rosario's editor until last… More >>
  • SECOND BEST BAND NAME

    Good puns don't need explaining, and neither does good music. The five-piece modern swing group includes two members of Trailer Trash (Nate Dungan, Andy Olson), an ex-Wallet (Max Ray), and secret weapon Joe Savage.… More >>
  • THIRD BEST BAND NAME

    Youngsters might think Vaseline Alley is just another great, greasy punk-rock band name, but the classic-rock fans these kids are trying to offend will immediately see it as a play on Gasoline Alley, the 1970 sophomore effort by Rod "The Mod" Stewart. And what a wry, ingeniously witty play it is, coyly referencing all those early '80s homophobic jokes about… More >>
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