Early on a weekday evening, the Hexagon Bar is a perfectly darkened dive.
It's a simple Seward neighborhood joint with all the trappings of old -- affordable beverages, free popcorn, pulltabs -- and few of modern frills that none of these folks would care about, anyway.
At night, the crowd fills up with punks, metal-heads, music geeks, and noise addicts. When City Pages ranked its 10 "hipster" bars for live music, we described the Hex as the city's "grungiest, most coming-apart-at-the-seams dugout (read: credible) still clinging to life."
What they share, these no-frills regulars and the rock kids, was a door, bathrooms, a bartender, and a little penned-in space for outdoor drinking, or smoking cigarettes between songs or drinks.
Well anyway, it was penned in. Then one night the whole damn fence disappeared.
Said fence was once written about on a local blog as an improvement over the "cattle fence" that had existed previously. "This looks super classy!" the writer gushed. "It even has HEXAGONS in the design. Clever!"
Maybe a little too clever, in the eyes of one recent Hexagon Bar patron.
On the night of January 30, a Monday, a guy came into the bar and ordered a drink. A Hexagon employee would later tell police that the man was "acting strangely," though this behavior was hard to describe.
"He didn't do anything specific," reads the police report, "he was just looking around in a weird way."
As Hexagon owner Bill Hupp tells it, a bartender eventually decided the man had had enough, and cut him off.
This, the customer didn't like. He headed for the door and climbed into his vehicle, a big truck. He pulled it around to the front of the building and, accordnig to Hupp, leaned his head out the driver's side, and offered $40 to anyone who'd hook up the truck's tow rope to the Hex's fence.
"They all just looked at him like, 'Are you nuts?'" Hupp says.
Apparently yes, he was, because next thing they knew, the truck driver was linking the rope to the fence himself. With a stomp on the truck's gas pedal, he pulled half the fence right out of the ground, dragging it behind him as he headed southward. He didn't make it far, just to the other side of the building, before his tow rope fell off behind him.
He stopped the truck. By that time, people had alerted Hupp, then down in the basement working, and told him he should get upstairs, and fast. Hupp stormed out of the building and found the man still in his truck, and preparing to leave.
Hupp says he leaned his head into the passenger side. He recognized the guy a little bit, but didn't know his name, or much about him.
"He had come in a couple times before," Hupp says. "I guess I didn't realize he was just an idiot."
The bar owner demanded the vandal hand over some identification. The drunkard followed orders, giving up his driver's license; Hupp returned to the basement to make a copy and call the police. The guy followed Hupp inside, but soon lost his nerve, returning to his truck -- without his license -- and drove off.
That made the situation, bizzare though it was, a fairly simple investigation for the Minneapolis Police Department. Investigators soon found the suspect, who opted not to fight the evidence against him. Instead he's agreed to pay the damages back to the bar, which would mean no "damage to property" charges would be brought against him.
Why he'd decided he needed this fence, or that the good people of the Hex no longer deserved it, remains a mystery.
Hupp says he's already received a cashier's check from the man, who, he adds, is also not welcome to ever set foot in the bar again. (Another condition for his agreeing not to press charges.) The fence is currently being repaired, and should be back in place within the next couple weeks.
Says Hupp:"We've always had good rapport with our customers, and with police, and with the neighborhood. Our neighbors, they like the Hex. They take pride in the Hex, and that being their place."