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People & Places

  • BEST ACOUSTIC PERFORMER

    Rodine

    He rarely plays live, but newcomer Rodine's self-titled long-player on Mercy Recordings is a performance in itself: It kicks off with a stark reading of Dylan's "New Morning," which is gutsy enough, never mind all the freshly unwrapped reworkings that follow (to name a few, covers of Ray Charles's "The Jealous Kind," Johnny Cash's "There You Go," Hank Williams's "Last… More >>
  • BEST ADULT VIDEO STORE

    Sex World

    In some instances, size does matter--especially when you're talking 20,000 square feet. At $4.28 per video for two nights with a $50 per movie deposit, SexWorld's gargantuan selection of flesh in motion can be a bit daunting for the neophyte who doesn't know a double-D feature from a triple-X film. But since even newbies are free to browse the aisles… More >>
  • BEST ALBUM OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    Seven's Travels

    Every year readers pick Atmosphere as the best hip-hop group in the Twin Cities, and every year we point that readership to another act they should notice as well (see "Best Hip-Hop Artist, p. 154). Atmosphere are by now such a self-sustaining cultural phenomenon that the crew--rapper/guiding personality Slug, producer Ant, concert DJ Mr. Dibbs, and other friends--needs a boost… More >>
  • BEST ALL-AGES VENUE

    The Garage

    City Pages readers over 21 years of age will be forgiven for assuming the Garage takes this category by default. It has been a rough year for minors who want to see live, amplified music. The Babylon Gallery burned down, the Fireball Espresso Cafe met the wrecking ball, and Eclipse Records closed with plans to relocate. Hip-hop nights at Bon… More >>
  • BEST BAND NAME

    Happy Mother's Day, I Can't Read

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  • BEST BAND NAME (SECOND PLACE)

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  • BEST BAND NAME (THIRD PLACE)

    screaming monkey boner

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  • BEST BAND TO BREAK UP IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS

    The Crush

    Maybe they were trying to break your heart. Onstage, this local pop-punk band played Paxil-spiked emotive rock to a room full of people who would always be teenagers in their minds. And for a while, they lived their fans' high school dreams: The Crush released two albums on the Bay Area record label Adeline, which is run by the band's… More >>
  • BEST BAND TO LEAVE THE TWIN CITIES IN THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    Har Mar Superstar

    We are hereby changing the name of this category to "Best Band to Leave the Twin Cities, Gyrate with Naked Supermodels in Ibiza, Dry Hump a Steer in Majorca, Record Simulated Orgasms in Los Angeles, and Still Make Hometown Fans Want to Lick Your Nipples." Because now that Har Mar Superstar has won, the hammy R&B singer just upped the… More >>
  • BEST BARTENDER

    Kristina "Lola" Lalor

    Neighborhood bars really serve as an outpost for those familial feelings you could never, ever express to your actual family. That makes the bartender a patriarch, a matriarch, a brother, a sister, a spouse, and an ex-lover, all in one heady swirl. Who could be all of that and remember what the hell you're drinking on top of it all?… More >>
  • BEST BATTING CAGE

    Grand Slam

    Ping. Ping. Ping. Ah, with springtime comes the sweet, sweet sound of metal on horsehide. And there's no better place for steroid-free swings than Grand Slam, which, along with six batting cages, boasts a go-cart track, laser tag, basketball games, mini golf, and many more diversions for the attention-deficit cabin-feverish freak in all of us. It's open from 10 a.m.… More >>
  • BEST BEACH

    Hidden Beach

    We tried. We really did. Over the past year, we journeyed into the suburban hinterlands in search of a better beach than Minneapolis's beloved muddy strand on Cedar Lake. But even after being deforested and exposed, Hidden Beach still stands as our most eminent summer getaway that's still within city limits. And even with the MPD making regular rounds to… More >>
  • BEST BEER SELECTION IN A BAR

    Muddy Pig

    Yeah, we know that William's Uptown Pub and Peanut Bar has something like 300 bottled brews and its fair share of taps and that Old Chicago can boast high numbers of what Kurt Vonnegut once called "yeast farts" with a bit of hops, malt, and water. But is selection all about numbers? Serious beer drinkers should avoid the family restaurant… More >>
  • BEST BIKE TRAIL

    Cannon Valley trail

    This seems as good a time as any to congratulate Mr. Mike Sandberg from outlying Guthrie, Minnesota, who almost single-handedly has jeopardized the existence of some 1,300 miles of Minnesota bike trails. His lawsuit, filed with two other plaintiffs, led to an appeals court ruling that revoked the old railroad easements providing public access to cyclists. The nearly 100 planned… More >>
  • BEST BLOODY MARY

    Al's Bar

    By now everyone knows that the Twin Cities is a bloody mary haven. From the St. Paul Grill's spicy concoction to the Uptown Bar and Cafe's liquid breakfast of champions, at least half of the urban watering holes in these parts offer some fine variation on the potent combination of vodka and tomato juice. But it turns out there's some… More >>
  • BEST BLUES BAND

    Hayes

    Quit your What year is this anyway? bitchin' and listen up, young bucks and lionesses. It says here that Lamont Cranston is the best blues band because the blues is about stubborn stick-to-itiveness, grooves made outta ruts, and because Hayes and his compadres have been kicking the shit out of stages from coast to coast for 35 years as of… More >>
  • BEST BLUES BAR

    MMC

    Fans of live blues have always dug the option of getting on the floor and getting nasty, or sitting back and watching others do the same. Lucky for all involved, not only does the MMC (the biggest music-club room in St. Paul) feature the old stage from the Mirage in Minneapolis and a massive dance floor, but it's got a… More >>
  • BEST BOONDOGGLE

    Tim Pawlenty

    You think this is no fait accompli? You think our political leaders will heed all those opinion polls and assorted municipal referenda that have demonstrated, time and again, the public's opposition to further subsidizing big-time sports? Then you probably also think Minnesota is a good government state. The sad reality is that the political culture in Minnesota is essentially indistinguishable… More >>
  • BEST BOWLING ALLEY

    Mady's - CLOSED

    Mady's is a well-kept secret, and we're tempted to keep it that way. Why not send the hipsters to Elsie's and keep this Nordeast gem/dump to ourselves? Located in the basement of a strip mall, next to a mattress store, Mady's is about as unprepossessing as lanes come, with a stuffed marlin over the bar entrance who looks like he's… More >>
  • BEST BROKEN PROMISE

    Coleman repeatedly vowed he would oppose the Bush administration's irresponsible plan to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration

    In his 2002 campaign for the U.S. Senate, the oleaginous, lantern-jawed opportunist went to great lengths to position himself as a common sense moderate. Politically, this made sense. Running against Paul Wellstone (and then, for a week, Walter Mondale), Coleman needed to appease not the right--those votes were locked in--but the center. And what better way to round up that… More >>
  • BEST CAREER MOVE

    Randy Meier in the dayside anchor seat at MSNBC

    When word came down from on high last February that , our heads were still reelingKSTP-TV wouldn't renew main news anchor Randy Meier's contract from KSTP's botched attempt to re-sign his popular co-anchor, Julie Nelson, who's now making twice as much money over at KARE. We couldn't fathom what the problem might have been. We'd always thought Meier was talented… More >>
  • BEST CHEAP THRILL

    winter driving

    Let's face it, winter around here is one long, death-defying stunt. There are wind chills that would send your average Inuit scurrying for south Florida, and the grit-encrusted mountains of snow that swallow cars and small children. Last but not least, there is the ice that turns Twin Cities roads into a demolition derby for three months. Whether you're whipping… More >>
  • BEST CLUB DJ

    Kahale

    Kahalé has more aliases than a big-time New York mafia family, but maybe that grandiose list of titles is warranted. From the early party days he spent introducing ghetto house tracks under the name Ralph Laurenn, to the sadistic, mid-'90s techno sets he conducted as DJ Apollo, to the intimate V.I.P. room house excursions he led as Dirty Mackenzie, Kahalé… More >>
  • BEST COACH

    Flip Saunders

    It's easy to forget exactly how dreadful the Minnesota Timberwolves were before Flip Saunders took the helm in 1995. His predecessor, Bill Blair, had compiled a miserable record of 27-75, and Saunders inherited a talented but troubled roster that included Tom Gugliotta, J.R. Rider, Christian Laettner, and a kid named Kevin Garnett. By the next season the Wolves were competing… More >>
  • BEST COCKTAILS

    Chino Latino

    Chino Latino often gets slammed for being too hipster-friendly, but we don't give a damn about the patronage: If loving a place that sells cocktails that come with umbrellas and plastic monkeys is wrong, we don't want to be right. If you want a boring beer or a simple glass of wine, then by all means go to another, less… More >>
  • BEST COLLEGE ATHLETE

    Thomas Vanek

    Here in the land of Herb Brooks, the usual love of the homegrown underdog runs especially strong, with affable scrappers like Dave Spehar, Kevin Lynch, and "Benchwarmer Bob" Lurtsema among the most fondly remembered local athletes. But this year, despite heartstring tugs for valiant Gophers guard Lindsey Whalen and gutty St. John's wideout Blake Elliott, it's time to give a… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT OF THE PAST 12 MONTHS

    Lifter Puller

    I saw it happen. I was there. Words whose weight should be reserved only for presidential assassinations, natural disasters, broadcast television breast-unveilings, and last summer's Lifter Puller shows. Anyone who spoke those sentences last June recalls every detail from the nights the broken-up-and-moved-away indie-rock band reunited to celebrate the grand opening of the Triple Rock's new concert venue. The brand… More >>
  • BEST CONCERT VENUE

    the Turf Club

    Go ahead. Show us a musician who doesn't like strutting under the glimmer of Christmas lights or sucking up a beer beneath the velvet paintings in the Clown Lounge downstairs. Show us a fan who hasn't shown up early for Raleigh's Tacos (Tuesdays and Fridays), or crowded into the photo booth, or leaned over the bar to chat with ever-affable… More >>
  • BEST CORPORATE CITIZEN

    General Mills

    According to the Minnesota Council on Foundations, charitable giving for education and the percentage of all dollars donated to programs in the Twin Cities area are both on the decline. General Mills is vigorously bucking both trends. The philanthropic part of the company, General Mills Community Action, ranked second only to the Target Foundation in grant dollars to statewide education… More >>
  • BEST DANCE CLUB

    Tabu

    If there was a category for Best Bad Club Made Good, there would be no question that Tabu would take home the victor's window decal. But since there is no such category, proprietor Farzad Freshtehku will have to settle for Best Dance Club. You might not know his name, but if you know his story, you probably owe him your… More >>
  • BEST DAY TRIP

    Schell's Brewery

    This is the story of August, who begat Otto and Adolph and Emma, who married George, who begat Alfred, who...okay, let's be done with the begetting already and talk about beer. It was 140 years ago that young German machinist August Schell first brewed 200 barrels of the stuff and started selling it to his peers. After his brewery boomed… More >>
  • BEST FARMERS' MARKET

    the Midtown Farmer's Market

    Until recently we were much more in favor of farmers' markets in the abstract than the concrete. Sure, every year, as soon as the weather warmed up, we'd get all excited about the simple luxuries that might grace our table once the peak-sweet vegetables started to roll into town. But our enthusiasm would wane once we actually tried to do… More >>
  • BEST FESTIVAL

    Grand Old Day

    The six-figure turnouts at this annual street fair reflect more than ballooning civic ecstasy at the onset of summer. It's a sign that, deep down, St. Paulites may not be ready to fully yield one of their most distinctive thoroughfares to corporate invaders. While it's still lined with some of the Twin Cities' best-loved independent businesses, Grand Avenue has watched… More >>
  • BEST FISHING HOLE

    Ford Dam

    First, a disclaimer: This is not a legal place to boat, nor is it an especially safe place to boat. If you fall overboard when the river is running hard, you might drown. Even in calm conditions, there are risks. On summer weekends, the place is lousy with lawmen, so should you venture into this forbidden zone, you might want… More >>
  • BEST FOOD COURT

    Mercado Central

    O, woe is the food court, that bizarre union of cheap commerce and gluttony, hurry and rest, which really gained footing around these parts, mostly in shopping malls, in the 1980s. It's not so much that the food court was a bad idea at the time, it's just that as time marched on, the food court became so corporate, so… More >>
  • BEST GADFLY

    Phil Krinkie

    Phil Krinkie doesn't want to spend money on anything. Not to build a billion-dollar playpen for a huckster used-car salesman from San Antonio, and not to, um, educate our kids. We may not always agree with the Shoreview Republican's views, but we admire his pit bull approach to spotlighting dubious government spending. When Gov. Tim Pawlenty unveiled his asinine proposal… More >>
  • BEST GAY BAR

    the Saloon

    Let's face it: The contenders for this category have nothing on the Saloon. The rude security people at the Gay 90's have more sass than the Adam's-appled divas belting out Diana Ross songs onstage. The yuppie patrons at Jetset look like they just walked out of a Bret Easton Ellis novel. The street scum who slime their way into the… More >>
  • BEST GOLF COURSE

    Minneapolis city courses

    Okay, so it's not one course, it's actually five. But bear with us here. Built in the 1920s and '30s, the Minneapolis city courses boast beautiful views, challenging but fair holes lined with mature trees, and eminently walkable layouts. Yet each has its own personality, and taken as a whole they present an enduring challenge to the avid golfer. Want… More >>
  • BEST HAPPY HOUR

    Psycho Suzi's

    What good is "happy hour" if it finds you surrounded by long faces, bad music, and office-boardroom decor? Really, if it was just about cheap booze, you could drink at home. Happy hour should have the power to actually improve your mood, especially on those dead-of-winter afternoons when it's dark by three o'clock and the black ice is hazardous and… More >>
  • BEST HELLRAISER OR ACTIVIST GROUP

    JOBS NOW Coalition

    Unless your last name is Dayton, Pillsbury, or Cowles, you owe the folks at the helm of this St. Paul-based nonprofit a debt of gratitude. We don't know anyone else who is as dedicated to looking at Minnesota's economy from the standpoint of the working stiff, or anyone else who is doing a better job of explaining exactly how it… More >>
  • BEST HIGH SCHOOL ATHLETE

    Erica McKenzie

    Housley. Broten. Chorske. Hendrickson. All legendary--if fairly recent--names of Minnesota high school hockey. And of course, being men, they all went on to greater successes in the Olympics or the NHL. But in recent years, the girls' game has been churning out players who, in certain circles, have become household names as well. That's certainly the case with Erica McKenzie,… More >>
  • BEST HIP-HOP ARTIST

    Doomtree

    What do you need to make a great hip-hop crew? An identity, first of all, and the Star Tribune's Chris Riemenschneider got the hook right for Doomtree: "Rhymesayers with skateboards." You also need early recordings that will eventually become collectible, and the Doomtree label/studio produced enough raw, noise-happy homemade discs last year that, had they been combined, would have made… More >>
  • BEST IRISH PUB

    Dubliner

    Tom Scanlon has operated a bar at the corner of University and Cretin Avenues for 20 years. For most of that period it was called the Ace Box Bar and it catered to overnight factory workers and truckers. Then one day in the mid-'90s the main employer in the immediate neighborhood packed up and moved to Eagan. "The day after… More >>
  • BEST JAZZ ARTIST

    George Cartwright

    You might say George Cartwright is a ringer. By the time he settled in Roseville a few years back, the 52-year-old saxophonist and composer had already established himself as one of the leading lights of New York's downtown scene, where Curlew, his genre-busting free-improv/ rock/blues/funk fusion unit, occupied the catbird seat at the Knitting Factory and sundry other venues for… More >>
  • BEST JAZZ CLUB/BEST RENOVATION

    Dakota

    Our perennial winner in the "Best Jazz Club" category has strengthened its status by moving to elegant new digs in downtown Minneapolis. We actually miss the beleaguered Zinc--we loved the spacious bar, bitter Bastille cocktails and tangy lemon tarts. But now with the Dakota moving in, we feel like the movie version of Bridget Jones--getting to sleep with Hugh Grant,… More >>
  • BEST JUKEBOX

    Turf Club

    The jukebox at the Turf Club is one of the most underutilized musical treasures in the Twin Cities. There's a simple, obvious reason for this: Most people go to the Turf Club to hear live music. Consequently, the jukebox stays dormant during the bar's busiest hours. The old skells and pool players who populate the Turf in the pre-dusk hours… More >>
  • BEST KARAOKE

    Country Bar and Grill

    Some years ago, no one would have thought that karaoke, the ultimate geek party favor, would make a comeback. But it's bigger and hipper than ever, and therein lies the problem. The spirit of karaoke is a populist one, and too many of the karaoke nights around town have become too ironic, too meta, or just too competitive for the… More >>
  • BEST LESBIAN BAR

    American Sports Cafe

    Just miles west of Club Metro's gravesite sits an unremarkable sports bar. Its faded red sign sticks out of a dirt parking lot, indifferently announcing its presence, and the generic venue name written on it might as well be Drink Beer Here. But don't let its drab appearance fool you, because with the money the American Sports Café saves on… More >>
  • BEST LIBRARY

    St. Paul central library

    To step into the immaculately renovated St. Paul central library just off Rice Park is to be transported back to a time when public libraries were the locus point of cities and hothouses of civic life. The library has all the modern amenities you'd expect, of course: convenient internet access, an efficient and helpful staff, and a terrific children's room… More >>
  • BEST LIVE ARTIST

    Heiruspecs

    The list of hip-hop crews who rely on live instrumentation is brief because the music can be redundant if the group doesn't take risks, or embarrassing if there's no intuitive intimacy between the MCs and the band. And yet, after nearly seven years together, Heiruspecs is achieving the sort of magical synergy that only the Roots have really mastered. When… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY GONE BAD

    Dick Borrell

    You have to hand it to Dick Borrell: The mustachioed businessman from the west metro town of Waverly has more chutzpah than any 10 Minnesota politicians combined. In his 2002 race for the state House of Representatives, Borrell blustered his way to victory despite a sordid personal revelation that would have sent lesser aspirants scurrying for the cover, comfort, and… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL BOY MADE GOOD

    Fitzgerald

    Fitzgerald has seemed destined for NFL glory from an early age. The son of a KMOJ and Spokesman-Recorder sports reporter, the Holy Angels alumni and former Vikings ball boy had the chance to learn at the feet of pro greats like Cris Carter and Randy Moss. In his short but memorable career at the University of Pittsburgh, Fitzgerald showed that… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL GONE BAD

    Patricia Anderson

    Much as we'd like to give this to some Hollywood starlet who betrayed her Minnesota roots and lost herself in a den of sin, misfortune, and bad career moves, it's time we all face facts: We don't have any celebrities here in Minnesota--at least not ones who haven't already bored us to tears. In fact, speaking of tears, the closest… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL GIRL MADE GOOD

    Katherine Lanpher

    Katherine Lanpher could also be eligible for the "Best Comeback" award, for it was little less than a year ago when the former MPR Midmorning host was charged with drunk driving and hit and run. Yet instead of letting the incident ruin her career, Lanpher got her act together and continued to host Midmorning, all while emitting her trademark chortle.… More >>
  • BEST LOCAL MUSIC COMPILATION

    Iron Range

    The Iron Range doesn't just love country music, it is country music: The ravaged north of our state is at once a thing of beauty, a product of human pain, and a terrain whose ownership and cultural control is far from decided yet (at least if environmentalists, Bible-bangers, workers, and corporations have anything to say about it). That an album's… More >>
  • BEST LOCALLY GENERATED WEB SITE

    http://www.cursor.org

    The American electorate is not, as the current thinking goes, split into halves: the blue and the red. Rather, the blue is itself divided between those who believe Jorge can be beaten and those who have looked at the Electoral College with a sober eye and a calculator. The half who see vulnerability in POTUS, we've noticed, tend to be… More >>
  • BEST LYNX PLAYER

    Katie Smith

    The 2003 season saw both full-time denizens of the Target Center lose a first-round playoff series. For the long-suffering Wolves, this was, of course, nothing new. But for their WNBA counterparts, it was cause for celebration. After a coaching change and a revamping of the roster, the Lynx made their first playoff trip. And right there, as she has been… More >>
  • BEST MARGARITA

    Bar Abilene

    Ideally, margaritas should be as plain as the sun in the sky: sun, a few fluffy clouds, sky--perfect! What more do you need? Well, tequila, for one, and not any of that oaked-up junk that arrivistes find so sophisticated; in a margarita, tequila should be pure as sunlight, oak smoke not needed. After the tequila you need triple sec or… More >>
  • BEST MARTINI

    Monte Carlo Bar and Cafe

    We searched high and low for the perfect martini in these Twin Cities. What we found may surprise you. Night after night we walked out of [Your Bar Name Here] completely and utterly convinced we had found the best martini. It was always the third one. It's quite simple, almost as simple as the ingredients in a classic martini. The… More >>
  • BEST MAYOR

    Lee Hunt

    If we ever have a reason to think about small-town mayors, it's usually either as lovable town-dad sorts or vaguely corrupt, Mayor Quimby-style politicos--not particularly polarizing types. But Lee Hunt of Lake Elmo, a town of 7,500 just southeast of St. Paul mostly known for its enormous regional park, has been nothing if not controversial thanks to a protracted fight… More >>
  • BEST MONTH TO BE IN THE TWIN CITIES

    January

    Admit it, one of the benefits of Minnesota residence is the bragging rights you have among your out-of-town friends. "So, how cold is it now?" they ask, and over the phone line or even via return e-mail you can discern a sympathetic shudder when they get the reply, "It's about 10 below, but it feels like about 30 below with… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR--MINNEAPOLIS

    Chatterbox

    There's a purple-haired girl sitting next to a white-shag lampshade playing Yahtzee with a young but already grizzled tattooed guy in a work shirt. Two very PTA-looking moms sit a couple of tables over and watch their kids play Atari. Boisterous groups of twentysomethings gulp beer and sip wine (no hard liquor here--all the better for failing to attract hard-core… More >>
  • BEST NEIGHBORHOOD BAR--ST. PAUL

    Arnellia's

    Sure you've heard all about Arnellia's lately. You've read about the Cameroonian immigrant who was gunned down there by some knucklehead one early Friday morning in February for no reason whatsoever. And about the St. Paul cop who subsequently lost his job because he purportedly fled the scene of the shooting instead of lending a hand. The tragic incident put… More >>
  • BEST NEW BAND

    Zebulon Pike

    Death metal is dead. Long live death! Because as the plague of Morbid Angel imitators yields to the sound of this proggy quartet grinding out spirit-of-'76 chords, there's no need to fear the reaper. Guitarist Erik Fratzke, moonlighting from his gig as Happy Apple's bassist, brings a jazzman's ear for improv to Zebulon Pike, rolling out more noodling than you'll… More >>
  • BEST OLD BAND

    Westside

    Named for the St. Paul neighborhood that gave us Augie Garcia and his band, Minnesota's first rock 'n' rollers, Westside is a similarly integrated group of Latino and black musicians, anchored in the muscular but understated beat of drummer and co-founder Junior. They are, in other words, the embodiment of the sexy cosmopolitanism espoused by a nephew of one of… More >>
  • BEST OPEN MIC

    the cabaret

    One of the best things about Balls is that it takes place at midnight every Saturday on a real stage in a real theater, though the dark recesses of the stage do bear a swampy likeness to a missing molar. As you enter the playhouse, someone will ask you if you're going to perform, and there's almost always pressure to… More >>
  • BEST PICNIC SPOT

    Plymouth Avenue North

    If you haven't explored the downtown side of the Mississippi, between Broadway and Hennepin Avenues, you are severely missing out. The water floats gracefully by a sloped bank, which affords privacy from the nearby street. Clumps of trees and plants, along with a carpet of well-tended grass, are home to a surprising range of wildlife, from eagles to the occasional… More >>
  • BEST PLACE FOR A FIRST DATE

    Bryant-Lake Bowl

    Some of us unlucky few, when put face to face with an individual we are attracted to for a first date, are reduced to neurotic, sweaty-palmed, compliment-fumbling train wrecks barely able to formulate cohesive sentences. Just like Stan Marsh on South Park, still unable to tell Wendy Testaburger his true feelings. It is for people like us that there is… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO BIRD-WATCH

    Whitewater

    For most of us, memorable bird-watching is an accidental phenomenon: Out of the corner of our eye, we notice a huge raptor hovering in the sky, or a UFO with distinctively bright plumage whizzing through the trees. But if you want to get purposeful about it, the vast acreage of Whitewater--located about 100 miles southeast of the Cities and 25… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CAMP

    unnamed island in the Mississippi River in Minneapolis

    Who says you have to leave the city to go camping? As many as 500 people "camp" in Minneapolis every single night. Granted, most of the homeless hot spots leave something to be desired. The highway overpasses--a mainstay--are noisy, smelly places. The grass median on Royalston Avenue is very popular, though that has more to do with its proximity to… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CANOE

    Banning Rapids of the Kettle River

    It's safe to say that canoeing on Minnesota rivers is about as popular nationally as visiting the library at Daytona Beach. In the world of paddling, the Boundary Waters Canoe Area may be Minnesota's claim to greatness, but there are a lot of folks in the state who know the BWCA best as an endless series of newspaper articles about… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO CROSS-COUNTRY SKI

    Lebanon Hills

    Out among the hardwood tree stands and small lakes and ponds of Lebanon Hills, the wintertime trails are nicely groomed and, better yet, never crowded. Best of all is the sense of escape from the cities; houses and paved roads are rarely visible from anywhere in the park. Judging by its proximity to the airport, you'd think passing planes might… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO DUMP SOMEONE

    e-mail

    Given the peculiar state of modern romance, it's reasonably likely that you met your soon-to-be-ex online. Isn't it fitting, then, that the relationship should end where it began? Granted, e-mail is a cold-blooded form of communication. In the short history of the internet, the carelessly or callously worded e-mail has probably launched more feuds than three centuries of hillbilly moonshine.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO GET DUMPED

    Nicollet Avenue

    Take your love interest shopping, and you're bound to expose the fatal flaws in your relationship. The stresses of parking, waiting, and screaming children are bad enough. Add to that the icy anger brought on by having to walk down the wind tunnel known as Nicollet Avenue on a chilly Saturday afternoon. Whoa, who knew he could be so testy?… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO HIKE

    Afton State Park

    This splendid park is the place to hike when you sleep till noon on a Sunday, go out for waffles and read the paper, and then decide you'd like to get away from it all for a while before it's dark outside and your office is making its usual Monday morning claim on your life. Sloping from pine tree prairies… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO ICE SKATE

    Parade

    The Milwaukee Road Depot is elegant in its atmosphere and architecture, and rinks like Edina's Braemar will give you a bracing draught of hockey skating at its purest. But to paraphrase the old saw about giving tasks you want done right to your busiest employee: If you want a great place to skate, go to where all the skaters are.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO JOG

    Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden

    It's all a matter of scenery and challenge. Take the running path west along Cedar Lake to the beaches; early in the morning you can watch the sunrise. Continue to the bridge crossing 394 and you'll enter Eloise Butler Wildflower Garden, where a serpentine stretch takes you up and down and round a quaking bog to the pond thick with… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO LEARN TO DANCE

    Arthur Murray Studio

    The sleeper find of the year for would-be dancers is the Date Night Dance classes offered by the St. Paul Arthur Murray Studio. For a measly $25 per couple, you can learn the basics of social dance, in a real studio, from actual instructors. No smoke. No meat market. And when you show up at the salsa club of your… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (GAY)

    19 Bar

    After a few decades of selling 3.2 beer, this hole in the wall near Loring Park--reputed to be the city's first gay bar--recently upgraded to a full liquor license. And the jukebox is a gem. For seductive barroom tableau, you can't beat dialing up "Maggie May" and bending over one of the room's 75-cent pool tables for a corner-pocket shot.… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE MEN (STRAIGHT)

    Wedge Community Co-op

    It's a meat market, sure, but with the clout of being the first certified organic meat department in America. Beyond free-range poultry and sirloin, there's no better place in the Cities than this bohemian enclave to pick up your own tofutti-cutie. Simply put, you need the basics--cereal, toilet paper, apple/carrot/banana smoothie with extra wheat grass-- and so does he. Why… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (LESBIAN)

    Women's Prison Book Project Pancake Breakfast Fundraiser

    Every Sunday afternoon women gather at the Arise! Bookstore to read letters from women in prisons all over the country and send them the reading material they request. There's no tiresome sign-up process and no stupid training meeting: Just show up with a smile and a willingness to pitch in and you'll be doing good in the world before you… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO MEET SINGLE WOMEN (STRAIGHT)

    Opitz Outlet

    We are aware that the public penchant for '70's retro fashion includes a revival of the rumor that the best place to meet single women is at the grocery store. This is a lie that's almost as ugly as low-riding flair pants. Gentlemen, if you want to meet single women, position yourself near a $25 pair of Anna Sui boots… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PEOPLE-WATCH

    Perkins

    Many of us city folk don't realize that much like the adventures of squid and jellyfish at the bottom of the ocean, sometimes there's some wacky stuff going on in the 'burbs. So whether it's the cheap eats available at the most ungodly hours or the way that the cool hangouts in the outer metro areas tend to overlap and… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO PLAY POOL

    Fat Boy Billiards - CLOSED

    There's nothing fancy about this Northeast pool hall. No booze. No food to speak of. No flashing lights or live DJs. Fat Boy can lay claim to one simple boast: the finest collection of pool tables and cues in town. This is the place to shoot some serious stick with no distractions--and therefore no excuses. The decade-old, 20-table, two-story hall… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO ROLLERBLADE

    the River Roads

    For years this category has been a see-saw battle between the Dome and the Lakes. It's time to break the tie and the routine by honoring a place less congested than the shorelines and more outdoorsy than the HHH. When you need a place to roll without stress, the River Roads' long straightaways are a great benefit to relative beginners,… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO TAKE OUT-OF-TOWN GUESTS

    Purcell-Cutts House

    By all means visit Snoopy. He's big and he's inflatable and your guests will want to see him standing there, a sentinel for Florsheim Shoes and Cinnabon, and all the other one-of-a-kind retail establishments down in Bloomington. Once you've received Snoopy's benediction, and your guests' bemused thanks ("Wow," they always say. "It's really just a mall"), take them to a… More >>
  • BEST PLACE TO WATCH A MOVIE OUTDOORS

    Walker Art Center

    It's a measure of Twin Citians' appreciation of cinema under the stars that there actually is a little competition for this title. Stevens Square Park has played host to a lively series of movies (and music) for years, and Nordeast's Bottineau Park and St. Paul's El Rio Park became worthy additions last summer. (The latter's Sound of Music sing-along on… More >>
  • BEST POLITICIAN

    Pawlenty

    It's been said that years from now, future Minnesotans will look back with amazement that we once had the temerity to elect a former pro wrestler as governor. But it's quite likely that they'll view the Pawlenty years with equal wonder. It won't just be that after a century of progressive, populist governors, we voted in a conservative who's the… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC PARK

    Como Park

    Maybe Como Park isn't as vast as it appears. Perhaps the park's topography--its myriad rolling hills and winding drives--make it seem grander than it is. Certainly, density accounts for some of its splendor. After all, no other green space in the metro offers Como's variety: a zoo, an amusement park, a world-class conservatory, a lake with paddleboat rentals, and a… More >>
  • BEST PUBLIC RESTROOM

    Amtrak

    We're all getting tired of the swanky bathrooms and the one-upmanship that goes with them--they don't really mean anything besides their superficiality (eye candy), and essentially, their invasion of one's privacy. As desolate as an Amtrak restroom might strike you, it's the meat-and-potatoes version of a restroom. A nondiscerning, nondiscriminatory, bare-bones kind of a place. Author Richard Ford has something… More >>
  • BEST R&B ARTIST

    J. Isaac

    We could probably retire this category with a lifetime achievement award to Flyte Tyme's Jimmy Jam Harris and Terry Lewis, or get nostalgic and go with Prince. Instead, we'll give a nod to the up-and-coming artist J. Isaac, who's played just a couple of gigs around town but has a sweet, stellar self-produced CD revolving around romantic commitment, entitled Marriage… More >>
  • BEST ROCK BAND

    J.A.P.

    The first time we saw Sweet J.A.P. singer Sho, he was flying face-first through the air in a swan dive, his nose headed straight for the drum kit. It wasn't his drum kit, mind you. In fact, it wasn't even his band playing onstage. You might say the music just moved him. Though if his music similarly moved us to… More >>
  • BEST ROCK CLUB

    Triple Rock

    We admit that when we first visited the Triple Rock, our insatiable urge to see a show was trumped by our insatiable urge to eat a burrito. But now that countless other local haunts also resemble Chipotle (we dare you to check out Tonic's sterile silver walls and not thirst for a gin-and-taco-sauce cocktail), it's clear that our attraction to… More >>
  • BEST SCANDAL

    switching long distance services with deceptive telemarketing pitches

    Back in the bad old days, political graft was unambiguous. As the Vice President, Spiro Agnew accepted cash bribes in paper sacks in the basement of the White House. There was a certain straightforward integrity to such old-school corruption. Nowadays, most graft is the lawyered variety. For the most part, the rotten deals between politicians and business people aren't illegal… More >>
  • BEST SIGN OF SPRING

    sudden, dramatic spectacle of vast swaths of flesh exposed for public

    For the naturalists, there are bird migrations. For the news junkies, there are heartening reports of snowmobilers crashing through thin ice. For the baseball nuts, there is spring training. For everyone else, there is something much better: the sudden, dramatic spectacle of vast swaths of flesh exposed for public consumption. What a glorious relief it is. After all, the grimmest… More >>
  • BEST SLEDDING

    Green Acres Recreational

    Not since Clark W. Griswold greased his metal saucer with the patented super-slippery kitchen lubricant in Christmas Vacation has the sport of sledding seen such death-defying audacity. For those wanting to pay tribute to old "Sparky," Green Acres is an ideal place to do just that. Granted, the place uses inner tubes rather than saucers, but when properly applied they… More >>
  • BEST SONGWRITER

    Askeleton

    His songs ain't gonna climb every mountain, swim the deepest ocean, or chop down every tree in the Amazon with a Swiss army knife just to pen 3,500-word love songs on the finest wood-pulp paper. But Askeleton albums are epic in a smaller, subtler way. Frontman Knol Tate's music, simple but never simplistic, plays like an adult nursery rhyme, calling… More >>
  • BEST STATE FAIR FOOD

    It ain't fried and it doesn't come on a stick. Frankly, it's unlikely to build up in your arteries like stucco, or to accelerate the hour of your death. That's a sure turnoff when it comes to State Fair cuisine. And yet these plastic-wrapped tubes of locally pressed cider do kind of behave like a stick. You can carry them… More >>
  • BEST STATE FAIR RIDE

    Magnum

    Maybe you're the kind of person who likes to spend $25 to be strapped into a nylon harness, hauled into the air by a discount winch, and then dropped about 75 feet, until the man-corset tightens around your corndog-bloated belly and you bounce a few times like a helpless and drooling toddler--all this while a small crowd sits on the… More >>
  • BEST STRIP CLUB

    Le Cirque

    There are a few things that any decent human being should do only in the privacy of her own bedroom. Getting naked isn't one of them. True, when in public, we prudish Minnesotans like to cover our bodies with a ridiculous amount of clothing: earmuffs, headbands, glove liners, butt warmers, nose thawers, thigh sweaters, tooth heaters, chin kindlers, and for… More >>
  • BEST TENNIS COURTS

    St. Kate's campus

    Why should we tell you and everyone else our favorite hidden gem of tennis courts? Oh, yeah--that's our job. Sorry. We lost our (ahem) grip for a minute, pained as we are to divulge these fine courts, tucked away from view on the east side of St. Kate's campus, behind the dorms. Pull in the driveway off Fairview, mosey around,… More >>
  • BEST TIMBERWOLVES PLAYER

    Latrell Sprewell

    Yeah, yeah, we know. This year The Big Ticket is having a career year in a career full of career years, and there's no reason this season to dismiss the cries of "KG for MVP." But this is also likely the best Wolves team to date, and that has to do with massive roster changes in the off season. No… More >>
  • BEST TWINS PLAYER

    Johan Santana

    Every time a local sports scribe includes the words "ace" and "Radke" in the same sentence, he should be immediately banished to Bemidji to serve as the paper's curling correspondent. (Yes, Gordon Wittenmyer, we're talking to you!) There's simply no evidence that Brad Radke is capable of being the ace of any pitching staff, and he's most certainly not filled… More >>
  • BEST USE OF TAXPAYER DOLLARS

    new playground equipment

    We're completely, hopelessly, irretrievably smitten with the new playground equipment that's popped up, a few parks at a time, throughout Minneapolis over the last three springs. Because most of the city's play equipment was old and far from meeting current safety standards, in 2002 the Minneapolis Park Board began replacing the chipping, creaking wooden climbers and aluminum swing-sets. Although each… More >>
  • BEST VICTIM

    Joe Soucheray

    Poor, poor Joe Soucheray. He is the most put-upon of modern American archetypes: the Conservative Male Talk Show Host (CMTSH). For a group that spends an inordinate amount of time decrying the "culture of victimhood" that is supposedly stripping America of its moral backbone, these folks sure do whine a lot. The Mayor of Garage Logic, like every CMTSH, is… More >>
  • BEST VIEW

    downtown skyline from St. Anthony Parkway in northeast Minneapolis

    Some of the most impressive views of the downtown skyline are marred by the presence of interstates 94, 35W, and 394. With their elevated exit and entrance ramps, smog, and constant traffic snarls, these highways are not merely obtrusive, they are a dreary reminder of how car culture has diminished the aesthetic qualities of the Mill City. Yes, there are… More >>
  • BEST VIKINGS PLAYER

    Moss

    The farcical finale to the season--a last-second collapse against a woeful Arizona Cardinal team--did more than merely knock the Vikings from playoff contention. It very nearly erased all the good memories from what had been a fun, if ultimately disappointing, season. In September, fans had no reason or right to expect much. In retrospect, the Vikes' 6-0 start was an… More >>
  • BEST VILLAIN

    David Strom

    The Pawlenty era has seen the rise of a most unlikely public watchdog, the Minnesota Taxpayers League. The conservative group, which basically views all taxes as the end of Western civilization, has managed to chart the course for the governor's agenda and all of his neo-con followers at the Capitol. And its mouthpiece is David Strom, a former Carleton College… More >>
  • BEST VOCALIST (FEMALE)

    Alicia Corbett

    You won't find her name on the lips of many hipsters or hypesters, but take it from the well-honed ears of CC Club barkeep/tastemaker Ken Wenzel, who, during one particularly memorable Corbett set, enthused to a fellow fan, "She's the best. Janis Joplin, Joni Mitchell, Chrissie Hynde, I don't care. She's the best. Ever." Corbett's to-the-gut magnetism can be chalked… More >>
  • BEST VOCALIST (MALE)

    Jacox

    When no less of an expert on exquisite vocalese than Curtiss A tells you matter-of-factly one night that Jacox is "the best singer to ever come out of this town," you don't argue. You simply consider the statement for yourself, regard the soul man's work with the likes of the Butanes Soul Revue, Willie and the Bees, the Lights Out… More >>
  • BEST WEEKEND GETAWAY

    Duluth

    There are quaint American cities without Duluth's windblown bohemia, lakeside burghs without Duluth's severe beauty, and party towns without Duluth's excessiveness. But combine these fascinations into one place, located less than three hours north of the Twin Cities, and you have an almost obligatory road trip for anyone interested in culture as well as nature. For the latter, by the… More >>
  • BEST WILD PLAYER

    Roloson

    Without Roli between the pipes this season, the woeful Wild would have flirted with the lowest point total in the NHL. Minnesota's hometown pro hockey team may have failed to duplicate last year's stirring playoff run, but Roloson actually improved upon his breakthrough 2002-03 season, becoming arguably the league's most capable netminder. With just a handful of games left in… More >>
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