On Tuesday, highly revered British newspaper the Guardian published an article titled "The insider's cultural guide to Minneapolis," a sort of boilerplate "Best Of" for the culturally curious outsider. And good for them, too. Mazel tov! Minneapolis is a teeming metropolis rich with world-class music and entertainment, a reliably progressive voter base, and the kind of darling elected officials who make you want to scream "USA! USA!" as if the first black president took the White House all over again.
So, when I first learned that our fine city — not to mention several of my friends — had been highlighted in one of the most respected journalistic institutions of our time, I was flush with unfettered glee. The kind of glee that sinks in after a good sneeze or when a new Kanye record drops. You know, the special kind of glee — not the FOX kind. And bonus: The paper even enlisted a local writer to zero in on the can't-miss cultural artifacts with a degree of expertise. This surely won't be a disaster like the New York Times or the Reuters profiles of Minneapolis ... right?
Needless to say, I was intrigued. Then I got eight sentences into the article. Here are some lowlights I cherry-picked for your bemusement.
Just start with this scintillating lead: "Minneapolis sounds like cars, buses, trucks and bikes all the time, especially during rush hour." OK. But so what? Everyone's got cars and buses — even Hastings. Hell, Karachi's got insane cars and buses but you don't see the New York Times handing out travel pamphlets.
"Keith Ellison became the first Muslim Congressman in 2003." Great moment indeed. As a brown-skinned, first-generation Indian-American, it might be one of my favorite moments. Except the thing is, he wasn't sworn in in 2003 — it was 2007. I understand an error like this seems minor, but come on: You're the motherfucking Guardian. You broke the Edward Snowden story. You showed the world the unspeakable horrors of Abu Ghraib. And remember that interview with Lana Del Ray where she told you she wished she was dead? Legendary stuff. Seriously, though. Where is the editor on this thing? You couldn't find some fresh-out-of-Columbia, messenger-bag-carrying intern to gloss over this pablum for 10 minutes during your weekly pitch meeting, a meeting I know he/she/gender-is-a-construct-and-it's-irrelevant wasn't invited to?
"Everyone's tuning into 'Prairie Home Companion.'" Alright, say what you will about PHC (and I know you will say it), but I don't know anyone under the age of 45 who wasn't home schooled that's listening to Prairie Home Companion. This is an insult to every young person with taste or a Spotify account. Prince is also referenced in the piece, one that required the on-the-ground insights of an insider.
"What's the big talking point? In local media? ISIS. In the streets? Black Lives Matter. In the tweets? ISIS." I don't even think I know what this means. What streets? The streets of Dinkytown? Are students just lumbering around Como decrying the police state and institutional racism in between vodka Red Bulls while unironically YouTube-ing '90s "Jock Jams"? (God, I hope so. That'd be fucking amazing, right?) Anyway, excuse me for sounding like everyone's least favorite J-term English instructor but expand on this, please.
"A lot of fledgling bands have members who've found success here they probably could not have found at home. Writer Becky Lang has written about this …" OK, fair. Minneapolis is fertile ground for aspiring musicians and my friend Becky gets a cool shout out. Here's the thing: That Tangential piece the Guardian links to is literally entitled "The Problem with The Minneapolis Music Scene."
Look, I'd expect this kind of stuff from the Sun or even the Telegraph. Not even those tabloid-y oafs at the Daily Mail would stand for this. I know this is just a fun cultural guide; I'm not so naive to think that this was top-shelf priority at the Guardian offices, but five strikes and this is just outright absurd.