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People & Places

  • BEST ACOUSTIC PERFORMER

    "Lonesome" Dan Kase

    This man is out of his era. Looking at "Lonesome" Dan Kase, with his spare suit, fedora, and battered guitar, thumbing the blues from his own lead belly, you realize he's completely from another time. He's stepped from a grainy film still or a distant stage. Fortunately, though, he's right here, almost weekly. In an era built on gimmicks flatter… More >>
  • BEST ADULT VIDEO STORE

    Sex World

    Granted, the lighting is a bit intense. But that's all the better to see this multi-level palace of iniquity's pornucopia of video delights. While the focus lately has been on amateur productions, Sex World's vast holdings touch nearly every, uh, base, imaginable--from '50s tighty-whitey gay spanking reels to the flavor-of-the-moment Loadman Cummith series. And with a respectable selection of '70s… More >>
  • BEST ALBUM OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    Soft Rock by Lifter Puller

    "First there's violence, then there's silence." When Craig Finn uttered those words on "La Quereria" in 2000, the same year Lifter Puller broke up, he could have been singing his own band's epitaph. After playing and recording together in Minneapolis since 1994, feeding the after-hours carnage of slobbery hookups, in-crowd affectations, and bad times with good drugs through their sputtering… More >>
  • BEST ALL-AGES VENUE

    Eclipse Records

    This year saw a resurgence of all-age clubs in the Twin Cities: The Whole at the U of M's Coffman Union reopened; the Babylon in Minneapolis has evolved from the Bombshelter's pepper-sprayed ashes; the Dinkytowner continues to host its "In the Garage" Sundays; First Avenue and the 7th St. Entry also have their frequent all-ages events; the Speedboat Gallery, a… More >>
  • BEST AVANT-GARDE ARTIST

    Cordell Klier

    Unlike many experimental sound artists, Cordell Klier hasn't labored in vain. Until a couple of months ago, though, when he finally moved to Minneapolis, the leonine 28-year-old labored in faraway Bloomington. While relative isolation and apparently untreatable workaholism have largely kept Klier off the local Dinkytowner circuit thus far, his prodigious output (upward of a dozen CDs in the past… More >>
  • BEST BAND NAME

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  • BEST BAND NAME - SECOND PLACE

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  • BEST BAND NAME - THIRD PLACE

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  • BEST BAND TO BREAK UP IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    The Selby Tigers

    We don't mean to pry, but if the marriage is over, and the band is gone, isn't it time to take down the bulletin board? The Selby Tigers live on, thanks to Internet life support, complete with a thread started in 2002 titled "Any shows soon?" that ends tersely in 2003 with "They died." For a while, it seemed as… More >>
  • BEST BAND TO LEAVE THE TWIN CITIES IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    Oddjobs

    Oddjobs didn't so much leave Minnesota in the past 12 months as arrive nationally during that period. Having relocated to New York in shifts over the past three years, the quintet began stepping out from the shadow of their more famous friends Eyedea and Slug last year with Drums, a shotgun marriage of trippy sonics and rap-along lyrics. The album… More >>
  • BEST BARTENDER

    Freddy Latenville at Rally Room

    In just their second home game of the season, the Minnesota Twins have managed to force extra innings against the Toronto Blue Jays. The beer vendors, however, have already called it a night, so what's a parched fan to do? Those in the loop make a beeline for the Rally Room, the secret bar tucked away on the first-level concourse… More >>
  • BEST BATTING CAGE

    Arlington and Rice Batting Cages

    The name of the place is a misnomer these days, since the City of St. Paul, which owns the facility, sold the Dome right out from over the folks at Arlington and Rice. But the batting cages keep right on pumping out baseballs and softballs to folks of wildly different skill levels. The old field is still around and is… More >>
  • BEST BEACH

    Bare Ass Beach

    First of all, it bears noting that last year's winner, Hidden Beach, is no longer so hidden. Much of its seclusion and charm have been stripped away under the pretext of buckthorn eradication. Sadly, a defilement of another sort threatens Bare Ass Beach, which is why you should get your fanny down there soon, before the place is deemed off… More >>
  • BEST BEER SELECTION IN A BAR

    William's Uptown Pub & Peanut Bar

    There's a tiny wine list on the back of the beverage menu, and a few bottles of booze sit behind the bar upstairs, a half-filled bottle of Bombay Sapphire gin looking like a lonely blue beacon through the smoky haze. And we swear we saw people drinking liters of pop one Saturday afternoon. To us, that's like ordering a burger… More >>
  • BEST BIKE TRAIL

    Gateway Trail

    With all due respect to the marvelous expansion of the Midtown Greenway and other improvements for bikers west of the river, we retain a special spot in our hearts for the easy access to rural splendor (not to mention the relatively flat terrain) offered by the 18-mile Gateway Trail. Beginning in St. Paul, just north of the capitol, the Gateway… More >>
  • BEST BLOODY MARY

    St. Paul Grill

    The bloody mary mixed at the St. Paul Grill is like every aspect of the storied downtown restaurant: elegant, simple, and first-rate. You won't get any celery sticks the size of small trees sticking out of your glass. Nor will you find your eyes watering because the bartender believes that Tabasco and pepper are more important than vodka. The key… More >>
  • BEST BLUES BAND

    Lamont Cranston Blues Band

    Some people like their blues to articulate the agonies of life on planet Earth, while others want the music to be a hedonistic, howling hoedown. Color the Lamont Cranston Blues Band with the latter shade of foot-stompin' azure. Their boogie beat has kept the West Bank and points east, north, and south bouncing and sweating for more than 30 years.… More >>
  • BEST BLUES BAR

    Viking

    Certainly, the metro boasts bigger and much fancier blues venues. But this storied West Bank hole-in-the-wall is still the unbroken link to those halcyon days when Tony Glover, Dave Ray, Willie Murphy, and "Spider" John Koerner put Minneapolis on the 12-bar map, back during the first big blues revival in the '60s. Today, the Viking remains a mecca for lovers… More >>
  • BEST BOONDOGGLE

    pooh-bahs

    Let us review the chronology. In 1997, the library pooh-bahs commence their official mutterings about the need for a replacement for the downtown library. In November 2000, Minneapolis voters respond to these overtures with extraordinary goodwill, authorizing a $140 million expenditure by a two-to-one margin. The pooh-bahs then hire acclaimed architect Cesar Pelli, who proceeds to come up with a… More >>
  • BEST BOWLING ALLEY

    Falcon Bowl - CLOSED

    "Bring your own liquor, never bowl slicker." That's the motto at this modest subterranean bowling emporium. There's no hard liquor for sale on the premises, but patrons are actively encouraged to show up toting their own bottles of whiskey or tequila (beer can be purchased back by the pool table). The BYOB policy is just part of Falcon's charm. It's… More >>
  • BEST BROKEN PROMISE

    In the late 1980s, a private developer and Minneapolis city leaders agreed to a deal to redevelop part of downtown Minneapolis, with the city forking over a $15 million loan for what became the Gaviidae Common shopping complex downtown. In June 2002, the developer, Brookfield Properties, told the city it wouldn't pony up the more than $11 million it owed… More >>
  • BEST CAREER MOVE

    Jesse Ventura Not Running For Reelection

    Gone. Vanished. Vamoosed, as he might put it. Say what you want about our old gov, but Citizen Ventura still has an impeccable sense of timing. He bailed on running for reelection when he saw the state's budget crisis looking him dead in the eye. He put the kibosh on a musical about his life that would have made him… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP THRILL

    Sex

    For inexpensive fun, nothing beats sexual intercourse. You can do it with your friends, or with strangers--sexual intercourse is a great way to meet people! It's also the perfect thing to break the ice at parties. But, you ask, is sexual intercourse cheap? Yes--and how! Sometimes you can even get it for free. We guarantee that once you try sexual… More >>
  • BEST CLUB DJ

    Jack Trash

    With an alias like Jack Trash, a tongue-in-cheek reputation for being "sloppy," and mix albums sporting titles like Hoggily Delicious, this choice might seem a little suspicious to the average Joe. But J.T. has been making the weekends of local dance music fans for years, via his extraordinary, multi-headliner one-off raves "back in the day" (thrown with the now-separated Mile… More >>
  • BEST COACH

    Glen Mason

    Glen Mason has the hardest job in the Big Ten. Not only is he charged with leading a team that's often given short shrift by sports fans, but he has the arduous task of recruiting young talent to play in the Metrodome, quite possibly the worst college football atmosphere in the country. (Come on now, can you blame kids for… More >>
  • BEST COCKTAILS

    Red Dragon

    Do you like to get tanked on girly drinks in a trendy environment, yet can't afford to plow through Chino Latino every weekend? Then Red Dragon is an excellent place to fight the losing battle against sobriety. Screwdrivers, gin and tonics, Tom Collinses, and other classic cocktails all adhere to the important rules of a good mixed drink: They're cold,… More >>
  • BEST COLLEGE ATHLETE

    Janel McCarville

    When Janel McCarville first showed up at the University of Minnesota, the thought running through many sports fans' minds was this: How is she ever going to run up and down a basketball court? The concern dissipated almost immediately, though, as McCarville dropped 60 pounds seemingly overnight, and in her freshman season gradually emerged as an inside presence--something sorely lacking… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    The day after the Fourth of July, the Minneapolis music scene declares its independence. In an art space that once housed Sunday school classes, dozens of riotous self-released and minor-label bands (highlights include Wolf Eyes, Charalambides, Six Organs of Admittance, and local psych icon Michael Yonkers) amass midday to launch an epic concert that rages until the sun rises the… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT VENUE

    It's a testament to First Avenue's reputation that there's at least one musician in this town who would rather play in the club's bathroom than in any number of clean, presumably non-urine-stained spaces across the Twin Cities. Anyone who was there when local techno wizard Fuckstorm staged a show among the urinals in the Ave's men's room two years ago… More >>
  • BEST DANCE CLUB

    Quest Club

    While the rave as a whole rests in peace in Minneapolis (and pretty much everywhere else in the U.S.), most dance music heads still softly bemoan its absence from local nightlife. While we might not see it bounce back before most of us hit thirtysomething, the next best (and well, sanitary) alternative is the swanky savior known as the Quest… More >>
  • BEST DAY TRIP

    Harbor View Cafe

    Heaven knows we hate to agree with ourselves, let alone with each other, but why mess with a good thing? There are a million different reasons for leaving the Twin Cities, but when you just feel like going someplace else and you don't have all the time in the world, there's still no better destination than tiny Pepin, Wisconsin and… More >>
  • BEST FARMERS' MARKET

    St. Paul Downtown Farmers' Market

    One of our oldest and most enduring gathering places, the St. Paul Farmers' Market is celebrating its 150th birthday this year. To celebrate, the St. Paul Growers' Association is adding a new indoor hall that by next year will sit adjacent to the market's dozens of rustic outdoor stalls in Lowertown. Open Saturdays and Sundays until 1:00 p.m., the market… More >>
  • BEST FESTIVAL

    2002 Pride Festival

    What began in 1972 with a small picnicking of activists and a short march down Nicollet Mall grew to become a gathering eagerly anticipated by more than 300,000 GLBTs and supporters each year. Last June, despite a stifling heat wave, the 2002 Pride Festival garnered a record-high 380,000 people, who were entertained by gospel mama CeCe Peniston and dance-pop diva… More >>
  • BEST FISHING HOLE

    Minnesota River

    Of our state's great rivers, the Minnesota is the most grievously abused; because, as any river rat knows, agriculture does horrible things to rivers. It pumps them full of sediments, fertilizers, and, um, animal shit. If it wouldn't lead to mass starvation, rioting and anarchy, we'd all be better off if the practice were permanently banned. Sadly, for most of… More >>
  • BEST FOOD COURT

    Mall Of America

    The "food court" is a brilliant concept: something for everyone, quickly and cheaply. Rarely, however, it is well executed. Certainly nobody around here executes it better than the Mall of America. For ambience, kitsch factor, and sheer variety, its South Food Court is unsurpassed. Start with the dining area: It is a sprawling, multi-tiered affair, overlooking the state's only indoor… More >>
  • BEST GADFLY

    Dan Cole

    At first blush, Dan Cole might seem an odd choice for such an honor. Past gadflies have included Barbara Carlson, Leslie Davis, and Dick Franson--political dreamers all. Cole, a.k.a. "The Common Man," harbors no discernible ambitions to elective office, and besides, he's a mere talk-show host on a sports radio station. Yet Cole spends his best moments exploding the cant… More >>
  • BEST GAY BAR

    Jetset Bar

    Nestled in the only remaining quiet nook of the Minneapolis Warehouse District, this beautifully designed jewel of a room runs well ahead of the local curve, gay or straight. The scene is low-key, the bar smoke-free, and the cocktails sophisticated, with updated versions of classics like the Grasshopper and the Old-Fashioned in the fore. But consider yourself warned: If it's… More >>
  • BEST GOLF COURSE

    Baker National

    If the Twin Cities have anything approaching Long Island's fabled Bethpage golf complex, it's Baker National. Here is an affordable public facility that is scenic, well-maintained, and tough as nails. If you haven't yet located your "A" game, don't despair: Novices can enjoy the nine-hole Evergreen Course ($14) or hone their chops at Baker's extensive practice facilities. The main attraction,… More >>
  • BEST HAPPY HOUR

    Rudolph's Bar-b-que

    "Happy hour" is something of a misnomer at Rudolph's. Maybe they should call the period from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. "unhappy hour," because that's the only time that patrons can't get two-for-one drinks (well, except during the day--we're not accounting for serious alcoholics or third-shift workers here, sorry). Or maybe it's because that block of time coincides with the… More >>
  • BEST HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETE

    Kris Humphries

    Being the best high school basketball player in Minnesota is somewhat akin to being the world's tallest midget. In the northland, the best athletes tend to grace the hockey rink, not the basketball court. But no one was more dominant in a single sport this year than Kris Humphries, a six-eight senior for Hopkins High School. Even though there are… More >>
  • BEST HIP-HOP ARTIST

    Mooka

    Never mind that she hails from Chicago: Mooka has adopted Minnesota, and we've adopted her. At the Red Sea in November, at a party held by her Minneapolis label, Wild Side Records, the 22-year-old did something more than hold her own against more experienced male MCs onstage. North Minneapolis rapper Contac has a voice, sure (part B Real, part Big… More >>
  • BEST JAZZ ARTIST

    Carei Thomas

    The jazz community's usual veneration of its elders is all topsy-turvy in the Twin Cities--here it's the whippersnappers that garner the national press. Still, veteran pianist Carei Thomas got a nice taste of the spotlight when his CD debut Mining Our Bid'ness (Roaratorio) drew praise from specialist journals like The Wire and Cadence. With Bid'ness's warm but complex mix of… More >>
  • BEST JAZZ CLUB

    Dakota Jazz Club & Restaurant

    How St. Paul, a medium-sized city in a predominantly white metropolitan area, came to be blessed with a trio of marvelous jazz joints is one of the more pleasant mysteries of modern times. Under the steady hand of musician-proprietors Kenny Horst and Billy Petersen, the Artists' Quarter has been a touchstone for stellar local jazz bands while mixing in the… More >>
  • BEST JUKEBOX

    Grumpy's

    We have a request for Grumpy's: Turn up the jukebox! The pleasure of pumping quarters into the most distinctive, diverse jukebox in town is often rendered futile because you can't hear a damn thing above the din of the bar crowd. This is a small tragedy. The jukebox at Grumpy's is a musical panacea: It has albums to accommodate every… More >>
  • BEST KARAOKE

    No matter where you decide to get your karaoke fix around town, the mic, the monitor, the drinks, and the crowd all start looking the same. The crowd that comes to Staraoke looks the same, too--twenty- and-thirty-something-year-old hipsters--yet what sets them apart is that they're loyal to their hostess, Arzu D2, who is migratory and sets up shop several times… More >>
  • BEST LESBIAN BAR

    Dykes Do Drag

    A monthly lesbian event located in the de facto Minneapolis lesbian bar, Dykes Do Drag pushes well beyond the typical dress-and-act-like-a-man fantasy. There's real talent on display here: modern dancers, sleazeball lounge singers, Michael Jackson look-alikes, and Zombies sound-alikes. Sweet transvestites prance and are then followed by real-live aerial acts, women who slide down silk cloths tied precariously to the… More >>
  • BEST LIBRARY

    James J. Hill Library

    Perched on the corner of quaint Rice Park, this gray marble building at first seems stark and imposing. But once you step inside the main reading room, oh, the rapture. Six stories high, the expansive room is lined floor to ceiling with books, creating an ambience nothing short of awesome. Founded in 1921, the library was the vision of James… More >>
  • BEST LIVE ARTIST

    Aphex Twin

    When Aphex Twin wants to evoke the uneasy nature of humans living in an industrial world, he lets the machines do the singing. When the Bad Plus want to evoke the humanity in Aphex Twin's mechanisms, they let people play like machines. As the jazz trio performs a cover of "Flim," Dave King holds a boxing match with his drum… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY GONE BAD

    Luke Helder

    You know the world has gone wrong when you can't get decent pub for being a serial pipe-bomber. That's why it's important to recall a more innocent time, when a nice kid from Pine Island named Luke Helder, attending school at the University of Wisconsin-Stout, went very, very bad. The kid was on the golf team. He liked a little… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY MADE GOOD

    David Bloom

    David Bloom's first major scoop concerned Iraq. In 1991 he snared a regional Emmy Award for his reporting on Florida connections to the Reagan administration's arms-to-Iraq scandal. Bloom made his final mark on journalism in Iraq as well, reporting from the front lines of Gulf War II and filing as many as 13 stories a day. Washington Post TV critic… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL GONE BAD

    Mowery

    More like "Best Local Girl Returned to Anonymity, Where She Belongs." But recall that Mowery, the local bartender--or "customer service representative," as she likes to think of it--with the longshoreman's vocabulary, had a brief moment of notoriety as a finalist on Fox's wonderfully despicable reality show Joe Millionaire. When Mowery was finally given the boot, the show's ersatz prince charming… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL MADE GOOD

    Coleen Rowley

    Admittedly, we are getting a bit sick of her. It seemed highly admirable--audacious even--when Coleen Rowley first surfaced to blow the whistle on her FBI superiors for ignoring warning signs of impending terrorist attacks prior to 9/11. Her impetuous letters to FBI brass and no-nonsense testimony before Congress were a welcome change from the usual bureaucratic decorum. Of the three… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL MUSIC COMPILATION

    No Slow All Go

    Even more than its out-of-print predecessor, 1995's No Slow All Go (Daggers), this beautifully packaged, endlessly playable collection of Minnesota punk rock aspires to be a time capsule and cultural shot in the arm at once. Collectively compiled into two exhaustive but never exhausting discs, it belongs in the great local tradition of albums capturing a "scene," starting with the… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL RECORD LABEL

    Guilt-Ridden Pop

    Back in 1999, Keith Moran was so successful in picking up buzzworthy new personalities for Guilt Ridden Pop that he nearly got Law and Order's sexiest attorney to play rhythm guitar on Mollycuddle's "The Ballad of Jill Henn-essy." Luckily, though, the primetime buff-cum-label impresario has no plans for signing the Benjamin Bratt Five or the Paul Sorvino Experience. He has… More >>
  • BEST LOCALLY GENERATED WEBSITE

    http://www.cursor.org

    First the disclosure: This is not an impartial judgment. CP and Cursor have enjoyed both formal and informal ties since the site's launch in early 1998. We count co-editors Mike Tronnes and Rob Levine among our friends. CP's own Budd Rugg made his debut with Cursor, and CP editor Steve Perry once contributed a regular column. Yet the simple truth… More >>
  • BEST LYNX PLAYER

    Katie Smith

    Man, you have to feel for Katie Smith. Here she is, one of the elite players in WNBA history, a versatile scorer who easily notches 18 points per game, and she's playing for a team that, at the end of its fourth season, was still languishing in the league's basement. Of course, the Lynx' woes are largely beyond Smith's or… More >>
  • BEST MARGARITA

    Margarita Bella

    The Ecuadorian immigrant somehow manages to smile as she tells her sad tale in quiet, lilting Spanish. She came to Minneapolis three years ago, by herself, leaving her five-year-old son behind with relatives. In five more years, she says, hopefully she will have saved enough money--more than $9,000, she believes--to bring him to the United States to live with her.… More >>
  • BEST MARTINI

    Imperial Room

    WWJD? Meaning, of course, What Would James Bond Drink? Odds are 007 would go for an elegant, classic martini, like the Imperial Room's Presidential, made with tasty Belvedere vodka and just the right nip of dry vermouth, or the Dirty Goose, which gets its salty kick from a dash of olive juice. This First Avenue favorite with the feel of… More >>
  • BEST MAYOR

    John Kysylyczyn

    As anyone who reads a newspaper knows, these are wretched times to be mayor of a Minnesota city. Most days, Gov. Tim Pawlenty appears to be either fundamentally indifferent or downright hostile to the fate of the cities. The state budget crisis has provided him with ideal political cover to yank local government aid, which is a fundamental component of… More >>
  • BEST MONTH TO BE IN THE TWIN CITIES

    May

    May is honored here not because we dislike winter. If you dislike winter, you should not live in Minnesota. There are too many people here already, and there is no reason to further crowd the place with individuals who are in a bad mood because of snow allergies or thin blood or seasonal affective disorder. That said, the Minnesota winter… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR--MINNEAPOLIS

    Palmer's Bar

    Palmer's serves its West Bank neighborhood well. As the Cedar Avenue respite between the Triple Rock, with its often homogenous clientele, and the 400 Bar, which is always overpriced, Palmer's serves stiff drinks to rowdy, sometimes rough, but always fun-loving patrons. Whether you're a crusty punk, a soul sister, an aging hippie, or simply a very serious drinker, you'll appreciate… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR--ST. PAUL

    The Muddy Pig

    An intrepid (and/or hard-drinking) anthropologist could spend a lifetime chronicling the rich and varied social life of St. Paul bars without ever hitting bottom (at least in the sense of running out of things to chronicle). Few establishments on either side of the river equal this relative newcomer to the bustling Selby/Dale corner in charm or diversity, though. A recent… More >>
  • BEST NEW BAND

    24 Hour Party People

    When 24 Hour Party People resurrected Ian Curtis only to let him hang himself on the big screen, the death was a sign of a genre reborn. Already, throngs of Anglophilic nostalgists were following the Madchester-aping dirge of Interpol and Radio Vago. And come 2003, the great Revision of Joy Division wrought Minneapolis's own Revolver, who sound like the happiest… More >>
  • BEST OLD BAND

    Flamin' Oh's

    The trick isn't just how to play rock 'n' roll, it's how to be rock 'n' roll. And if the Flamin' Oh's demonstrate anything, it's that the secret is simpler than you think. Still playing raucous 75-minute sets around town with their original '70s lineup, but without late keyboardist Joseph Behrend (who wrote one of the band's funniest songs, "Medical… More >>
  • BEST OPEN-MIC NIGHT

    The Artists' Quarter

    It's less of a Showtime at the Apollo for suburban would-bes than a genuine hootenanny at this downtown St. Paul stalwart. The Artists' Quarter is a beatnik's pleasure dome, albeit the type of place Sal Paradise might've been booted from for lollygagging (eight minutes, please). The AQ's habituÈs arrive armed with acoustic guitars, a few good jokes, and Saul Williams's… More >>
  • BEST PICNIC SPOT

    It isn't easy to find a good spot for a picnic in a big city, but we've found a little-used space that's just right for a family outing or a romantic brunch for two along the Mississippi in south Minneapolis. It's just off the bike- and footpath winding its way along River Parkway; right near the corner of East 36th… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE

    There are so many reasons not to go to the bars on a first date. You're too young to get in; or you're too broke to buy drinks; or you're old and rich but more and more often find you have to catch your breath before you blurt "I love you" to the stranger sitting next to you. Why let… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BIRD-WATCH

    Hawk Ridge Bird Observatory

    Much as we like bird peeping, it is, frankly, a little frustrating at times. Take. Unless you've got top-grade binoculars and a degree in ornithology, it is like looking at the constellations--in general, you are just dumbly pretending to identify that which you really cannot. This is not a problem if you check out the annual raptor migration above Duluth.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CAMP

    Whitewater State Park

    After spring fever, most Minnesota campers follow a single overpowering migratory instinct: Head North! And yet more than a flock of stray birds find popular refuge in the southeastern tip of the state along a relatively unknown river. Nestled into deep ravines and between spectacular limestone bluffs, Whitewater State Park offers the camper a setting unique even within the natural… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CANOE

    For a pinch-yourself experience of outdoor splendor, launch your canoe into the St. Croix up by Taylor's Falls in early October and paddle downstream 30 miles to the William O'Brien State Park near Scandia. Stands of sugar maple should be peaking crimson, orange, and yellow. Bald eagles and osprey will be wheeling in the air above and alongside the steep… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CROSS-COUNTRY SKI

    Baker Park Reserve

    Talk about a tough category: No state in the nation offers a more diverse array of cross-country ski options than Minnesota. If you want to make a vacation out of it, the trails around Pincushion Mountain up on the Gunflint Trail offer stunning views of Lake Superior, and we won't soon forget the beauty of Gooseberry Falls (just northeast of… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DUMP SOMEONE

    Loring Park

    Loring Park is suitable for any sort of dumping you have in mind. It allows for some privacy but is still public enough to avoid most nasty scenes, is scenic enough for you to avoid eye contact, and, most important, is surrounded by a world of possibilities. Perhaps you'll get lucky and make a guilt-free exit, as your once beloved… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET DUMPED

    Mall of America

    When your mother told you there were plenty of fish in the sea, did she know you'd be standing just a few feet above Underwater World? Laugh if you want to, but Mama wasn't joking. She also told you that you'd better shop around. So what better place to split with your sweetie than at the temple of consumer culture… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HIKE

    Minnehaha Park

    Rare indeed is the urban park that offers such a varied mix of terrain and natural features. Minnehaha Park is a great place to walk the dog, have a picnic, or simply lose yourself amid the quiet backwaters of the Mississippi River. Perhaps you're familiar with the fabled Minnehaha Falls--they're a worthy attraction in their own right. But to the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO ICE SKATE

    The Depot Skating Rink

    Skating outdoors has a rugged appeal, and keeping pace with the open skating crew at local hockey rinks will keep your reflexes sharp. But sometimes you need to be pampered, and this renovated downtown train depot fits the bill. The Depot's specifically designed for figure skating. This means the rink floor is constructed of soft rubber tile instead of the… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO JOG

    Harriet-Calhoun-Isles Chain of Lakes

    Runner's World, the monthly bible for those fleet of feet, ranks Minneapolis/St. Paul second on its Top Ten list of running cities, and the title is well earned. How many places, really, can you run miles lakeside while keeping a glittering skyline in your peripheral vision and dodging the occasional Canadian goose? And this year, bearing in mind the many… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO LEARN TO DANCE

    Dance Dance Revolution

    What is it with Minnesotans and their lack of enthusiasm for public ass-shaking? Memories of a heckling prom date? A John Lithgow-like oppressor? Whatever the reason, it's easily overcome with help from Dance Dance Revolution, a video-game craze that swept Japan a few years ago. Now there's no more wondering what you should do with your feet, because the game… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (GAY)

    Boom

    Okay, so it may not be the most romantic club in the metro, but that obviously hasn't kept loads of gay singles from hooking up at the Cities' premier gay-owned-and-operated boy bar. The high-energy dance music attracts an up-for-anything younger crowd not found among Boom's aristocratic patrons or the late-to-the-party trendies at Gay 90's drag nights. The clientele is fun,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (STRAIGHT)

    M&Q Bookstore

    Critic and essayist Anatole Broyard once wrote, "If it weren't for books, we'd be completely at the mercy of sex." And if it weren't for bookstores, especially the old-fashioned ramble of stacks at M&Q, we'd be at the mercy of...other things. The beauty of a bookstore is the browsing. Is there a better place to eye your beloved than by… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (LESBIAN)

    Boom

    Finally a queer bar that doesn't feel the need to cover its windows with plywood, deafen us with disco, and smoke us like salmon! Located in northeast Minneapolis, Boom has a relaxed, cosmopolitan atmosphere that says "come as you are," and the grown-up lack of queeny drama-lama-ding-dong keeps the tourista traffic low. If you're looking to meet someone who's more… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (STRAIGHT)

    Jitters

    Men have it hard in the Twin Cities. Too many young, well-dressed guys in smooth white belts and carefully tousled hair are picking up all the eligible dates in Uptown. Sometimes a leftover suitor begins to fear that the only woman he'll ever kiss goodnight is his mom. Fortunately, on Wednesday nights at Jitters, the weekly "Hipshakers" series packs so… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PEOPLE-WATCH

    Let's start with the obvious: Calhoun brings out the hardbodies. As soon as our temperamental weather changes from teeth-chattering to merely goosebumpy, rollerbladers, joggers, bikers, walkers, and people in convertibles, many of them quite attractive, come out in droves. All summer long this lake provides the best place in the city to get an outdoor glimpse of the beautiful people.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PLAY POOL

    Fat Boys Billiards - CLOSED

    If pool is just a pretense for drinking or picking up a date, there are plenty of joints in the metro with decent tables and a liquor license. If you're looking for superior competition or state-of-the-art equipment, there's a handful of spacious joints in the suburbs, including past winners Jimmy's Pro Billiards in Columbia Heights and Billiard Street Cafe in… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO ROLLERBLADE

    Rollerdome at Metrodome

    Any park can supply endless paths of smooth pavement during the summer, but how many can guarantee 70 degrees in mid-January? From November through April, skaters of all ages and speeds swarm the Metrodome for some hard-to-come-by warm winter exercise. Patrons can choose between two floors; the upper is for the speed demons, the lower for kids and equally unstable… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT OF TOWN GUESTS

    Minnehaha Park and Falls

    Here in the Twin Cities, we're so accustomed to gorgeous parks that it's easy to take them for granted. With fewer thrills than Valleyfair and far less Santana memorabilia than Hard Rock, Mother Nature still has a leg up on the usual man-made tourist attractions. Pack a picnic (or at least order takeout) and head to Minnehaha Falls for a… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO WATCH A MOVIE OUTDOORS

    Walker Art Center

    The long-reigning heavyweight champ of Twin Cities movies-and-music-in-the-park programs is prepared to duke it out in order to retain the title this year. Indeed, boxing is the subject of the films in this year's series (co-presented by Walker Art Center and the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board), and, as befits a hot-weather curatorial aesthetic that has always been wiggier than… More >>
  • BEST POLITICIAN

    Tom Rukavina

    If you've really had it with the myth that Gov. Tim Pawlenty is an affable, witty guy, then Rukavina is your kind of anti-hero. The clashes these two have had at the capitol over the years are the stuff of legend, and more often than not it's the state rep from Virginia who draws the last laugh for his self-deprecating… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC PARK

    Como Park

    One day this summer, when the sun is manageable and there's a light breeze about, drive on down to Como Park and just try to maneuver effectively through the rollerbladers, powerwalkers, and family fieldtrip spectacle. It's one big picnic of people, and a great place to spend a lazy Saturday people watching, visiting the gorillas or Sparky the Seal (but… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC RESTROOM

    Tiburon

    Everything about Tiburón is oversized. A massive fish tank, filled with rainbow-colored specimens, snakes through the middle of the room. Fountains percolate. A long wall that continually changes colors and is fronted by prairie grass looks like an exhibit from the Museum of Natural History. (Where's the stuffed leopard?) Even the cocktails--bright, fruity, and startlingly potent--seem to dwarf the drinks… More >>
  • BEST R&B ARTIST

    R.L.

    Like Prince, Next singer-producer R.L. can't seem to leave town. He works out and goes out in downtown Minneapolis. He supports local charities on the down low, and he seems to hear every word said about him on KMOJ or B96. He'll show up at South Beach for an impromptu performance with T-Low, his partner in Next, whom he joins… More >>
  • BEST RENOVATION

    Band Box Diner

    Like so many senior citizens, the Band Box recently had a little age-defying work done. After being shut down for three months, the nearly 70-year-old Elliot Park staple reopened with its capacity doubled (from one dozen patrons to two!) and its greasy-spoon charm still intact. Right now the place looks like it's been dunked in bleach, but the smell of… More >>
  • BEST ROCK BAND

    Midnight Evils

    Even following the head-kicking, throat-scorching, stick-it-in-yer-yeah! squall of their last album, the Midnight Evils' Estrus release Straight Til Morning remains a high note in their career. And we do mean high. "People may think that pot turns you into hippies," drummer Jesse Tomlinson noted in a recent issue of the local music mag Lost Cause. "But we recorded that whole… More >>
  • BEST ROCK CLUB

    Fine Line Music Cafe

    Honoring a club that has just been gutted for renovations might seem silly. But the Fine Line deserves this much. On the night of February 17, when some Seattle band set off pyrotechnics that turned the ceiling into a scene out of Backdraft, the staff got everybody out of the building quickly and safely. The same couldn't be said for… More >>
  • BEST SCANDAL

    Joe Biernat

    In the grand scheme of things, the sins of the former Minneapolis City Council member don't amount to much. Basically, Biernat was busted for accepting a few thousand dollars' worth of free plumbing work from a union hack looking for a seat on the Plumber's Examining Board. Sleazy, yes, but hardly graft on the scale of Tammany Hall. Yet Biernat's… More >>
  • BEST SIGN OF SPRING

    The first time you encounter it, it is shocking. You're driving down University Avenue the second weekend in April, windows reflexively sealed shut and the heat cranking. Just as you pass the U of M, it appears out of nowhere. You think at first that it might be an apparition. Your head jerks to the right. Your mouth falls open.… More >>
  • BEST SLEDDING

    Powderhorn Park

    As home of the beloved May Day Parade, Powderhorn Park forms a bedrock of community activism and creative spirit in the Twin Cities. When you're in awe of the May Day Parade's dazzling puppet beasts or giddy with spring fever, however, it's toilsome work attempting to envision the park's long-held winter pastime: streams of yelping children soaring down snow-covered hills… More >>
  • BEST SONGWRITER

    Mike Gunther

    "Our little town is no Jerusalem," hisses Mike Gunther on Every Dream That's Dropped and Died (Heart of a Champion). And the way the words scratch his tongue like a dusky swig of paper-bagged whiskey, you aren't sure whether the line is a warning or an exaltation of all bad things to come. After all, this is a guy whose… More >>
  • BEST STATE FAIR FOOD

    Honey Sunflower Ice-Cream

    The honey sunflower ice-cream vendor is a well-kept secret among people who are fortunate enough to stumble upon it, hidden away in a little corner of the Agriculture-Horticulture Building. Patrons have their choice of two flavors, honey and chocolate honey, both packed with a swirl of sunflower seeds just salty enough to offset the sweetness. It's served up as one… More >>
  • BEST STATE FAIR RIDE

    Ye Old Mill

    Given the damage so commonly inflicted by fairgoers upon their own gastrointestinal tracts, it would feel irresponsible to endorse a ride that further punishes the body from without--particularly any of the extreme, bone-rattling, equilibrium-disrupting, money-extorting, 45-minute-waiting, please-sign-here-so-you-can't-sue-us thrill rides. (Besides, if you're so eager to test the limits of your mortality, Valleyfair is open all summer long, tough guy!) Instead,… More >>
  • BEST STRIP CLUB

    King Of Diamonds

    Cameras are set to roll this summer on Howard Stern's remake of the 1981 T&A masterwork Porky's. Timely? You bet. From the Pentagon on down, everything early-Reagan-era is new again--including the obfuscation of everyday vices. Thus, high-profile downtown strip joints like DÈjý Vu and Schieks are as outrÈ as flavored condoms. For lascivious nightlife, the outer ring is in again,… More >>
  • BEST TENNIS COURTS

    As with so many of the Twin Cities' poorly maintained public tennis spots, a number of serpentine half-inch-wide cracks tarnish these two courts, making for some unpredictable hops. So establish a "no do-overs" policy before every match, and enjoy the pulchritudinous setting. Tucked away along the Minnehaha Creek pedestrian and bike path, between a lightly traveled part of Nokomis Avenue… More >>
  • BEST TIMBERWOLVES PLAYER

    Kevin Garnett

    File this one under "Duh." Really, the relevant question is not whether KG is the best player on the Woles, but whether he's the best player in the NBA. And the answer is yes. The league has a lot of great scorers, of course. But no other player combines inside-outside scoring, rebounding, playmaking, and defensive grit the way KG does.… More >>
  • BEST TWINS PLAYER

    Eddie Guardado

    Torii Hunter has the fat contract, the Gold Glove, and the platinum, pre-scandal Kirby personality. But if you want to know why the Twins are regarded as one of the more admirable, fan-friendly franchises in all of sports, you've got to begin with Guardado. During the dreadful years when the Twins' pitching staff was a revolving door of putrid putzes,… More >>
  • BEST USE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS

    In 1990, DFLers engineered a couple of "matching funds" and state-paid mechanisms for statewide elections that remains an admired model nationally. The idea is to provide a box on income tax returns so that taxpayers can contribute $5 to go to general campaign subsidies--and the individual donor gets the money back. Another aspect ensures that the state will pay $50… More >>
  • BEST VICTIM

    Kirby Puckett

    Forget the unseemly scuffle in the bathroom stall. Forget that his ex-wife and ex-mistress joined forces and blabbed to local and national media about what a creep he is. Forget that the speedy little Puck has ballooned to the point of wearing a size 56 suit. Forget, even, that Puckett's attorney Chris Madel whined: "It seems strange to me that… More >>
  • BEST VIEW

    Lowry Bridge

    Most people think a great view is by definition a beautiful view. They want eye candy, be it glorious architecture, unsullied natural vistas, or some combination of the two. By such measures, the view from below the Lowry Bridge doesn't amount to much. But to our way of thinking, a great view connotes a certain breadth. It should contain elements… More >>
  • BEST VIKINGS PLAYER

    Randy Moss

    Ostensibly, this season's backlash against Moss was about the Freak's erratic off-the-field behavior, most notably his arrest in September for a minor and entirely absurd encounter with a traffic control agent in downtown Minneapolis. Of course, this is hogwash. For all the talk about the importance of character in sport, fans, pundits, and the participants themselves share one priority: winning.… More >>
  • BEST VILLAIN

    Arlon Lindner

    A great strength of any worthwhile villain is the power to distract. Another is the ability to piss off everyone. Lindner, the Republican state rep from Corcoran, proved to be master of both during a crucial legislative session. The man, who once called Buddhism a "cult," made enough ignorant comments this year to have four official protests filed against him--a… More >>
  • BEST VOCALIST (FEMALE)

    Arzu D2

    Even the most bodacious, finger-curling shred of a rock 'n' roll guitar riff can get a little lonely without a substantial scream to keep it company. Fortunately for rock fans, Arzu D2, formerly of power-punks Selby Tigers and currently fronting So Fox, can split the hairs of her beehive wig just as easily as she can split power chords. And… More >>
  • BEST VOCALIST (MALE)

    Robert Skoro

    It hardly needs repeated kvetching, but Minnesota winters are harsh. Fortunately the voice belonging to local singer-songwriter Robert Skoro is as lightweight and airy as a pashmina shawl. It wraps itself around your neck and keeps you warmer than a hot water bottle. In Skoro's words--comforting and wise beyond the author's mere 24 years--you've got a new best friend. So… More >>
  • BEST WILD PLAYER

    Marian Gaborik

    This pick is a no-brainer. Gaborik is the poster boy for the Minnesota Wild's shrewd past (he was the franchise's first-ever entry-level draft pick), glowing present (they made the playoffs in just their third year of existence), and even brighter future. The 2002-03 season saw the lightning-quick Czech left-winger notch his second straight 30-goal campaign, earn an invitation to the… More >>
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