10 Biggest bummers of the decade for Minnesota
The recession, the War on Terror, the Bush Presidency: it's been a rough decade for the nation. And lest we think all the woes were at the national level, we've compiled a list of bummers specifically for us Minnesotans. Here's the local events that got us down this decade, from the merely sad to the downright horrific:
The 2008 RNC
The one thing that unified Minnesotans during a tumultous 2008 Presidential campaign season was that the RNC was a colossal pain in the ass. The right could grouse about the moronic self-styled "anarchists" who attempted to voice their dissent by smashing the windows of Macy's while the left could point at the overboard police tactics that saw journalists needlessly detained. And everyone who worked or lived in or near downtown St. Paul could fume at the nightmarish clusterfuck of security checkpoints, disorienting barricades and tangled-up traffic detours that made everyday living that much more irritating for one week in late summer. But hey, at least we all got to see the major-league debut of oratorial powerhouse Sarah Palin.
Uptown Bar and Cafe closes
First they lost their porch to the sporting goods/camping store next door. Then they were unable to transfer their liquor license over to a potential new location down the street due to bureaucracy. They faced their death as they lived: with music and beer every night. But like all good things, it couldn't last. On Monday, November 16 a bulldozer ungratiously plowed through the beloved music venue and bar, leaving a hole in our hearts that cannot be replaced by a retail unit or parking ramp. We salute you with our pint glasses.
Tornado of 2009
During the summer of 2009, a tornado came down Portland Avenue without much warning at all and smashed up the Electric Fetus, as well as many peoples' homes. We even heard someone joke, "Even the tornado didn't want to take I35," the construction there just another bummer we've had to deal with in recent years. Given that tornadoes rarely strike metropolitan areas, it was a scary reminder that we are puny humans easily crushed by forces of nature.
Kirby Puckett's decline
Puckett was always considered to be not only a great asset to the Twins community but to Minnesota as a whole -- he was easily the single most beloved sports figure in the state's history, a man who lived and loved to play baseball. But as Frank Deford's 2003 Sports Illustrated article "The Rise and Fall of Kirby Puckett" revealed, once glaucoma took his ability to play the game he loved, Puckett started becoming emotionally unstable and abusive. This culminated in the 2002 incident where he forcibly groped a woman in the restroom of an Eden Prairie restaurant, a charge which, despite Puckett's acquittal, left many Minnesotans' images of the Hall of Famer deeply tarnished. More tragic still was the fact that, just as his emotional well-being was said to have been improving, a stroke took his life in 2006.
Constructed in 2001 by a Chicago-based real-estate developer, Block E was lame when it was first built, featuring among its attractions Hooters, Applebee's, and a meat market nightclub. Woo-frickin'-hoo. Color us surprised when establishments started pulling out in 2008, starting with Border's, and Bellanote following suit in 2009. Nowadays, Block E is a skeletal shadow of its formerly bloated self; we're not sure which version of it is the bigger bummer. We predict only a few years until it's either converted to a giant paintball arena or gets torn down to make room for condos.
Let It Be Records closes
After Let It Be Records owner Ryan Cameron was informed his shop's lot would be turned into condos, he opted not to relocate and instead just shut down the store, after 16 years at the store's Nicollet mall location. The shop's vinyl collection was legendary, estimated at 2.5 million records, much of it stored in labyrinthine basement stacks. Radiohead played there and the Beastie Boys shopped for samples there. Minnesotan fans of vinyl keened in unison when the store shuttered in 2005.
Kevin Garnett moves on
Few athletes in any sport in any market have been as indelibly connected with his franchise as Garnett would come to be with Minnesota. From the mid-'90s until last season, he was the face of the organization to a degree that made "Timberwolves" and "KG" inevitable matches on a word-association test. Over the course of 12 seasons, Wolves fans watched the Kid blossom into the Man, breaking nearly every indvidual stat record and turning the most hapless franchise into legitimate contenders. So when it was announced in July 2007 that the Wolves front office was trading KG to (Celtic-) greener pastures, it came as a blow to Twin Cities sports fans. Garnett went on to win his first championship with his new teammates, while the rebuilding Wolves are still struggling to inspire anything other than ridicule.
Tim Pawlenty runs for president
First of all, he doesn't admit it, even though it's obvious to everyone. Then, while Minnesota mires in budget problems, he storms around the country trying to drum up support for his presidential run while ignoring us. He says things that just aren't true--like how he doesn't raise taxes, when really he's just shifted that burden to local governments. To make matters worse, Mr. Minnesota Nice doesn't seem to realize that he's totally boring and has absolutely no chance of appealing to anyone--even people in his own state. In the meantime, we have a governor who spends more time talking to Fox News than he does his own constituents. What a colossal waste of everyone's time.
The death of Sen. Paul Wellstone
The shocking news filtered slowly out of the northern Minnesota forest on October 25, 2002: A small plane carrying Senator Paul Wellstone had crashed, killing all seven people aboard, including the senator's wife, Sheila, and daughter Marcia. The sudden death of Wellstone, an unapologetic liberal who had been called the "conscience of the Senate," stunned the nation, not only as a human tragedy but because it came less than two weeks before the Senate election, throwing a close race into turmoil. Former Vice President Walter Mondale was hastily convinced to take Wellstone's place on the ballot but eventually lost to Norm Coleman. We're reminded of this tragedy still today on Minnesota roadways, where bumpers still bear peeling green bumper stickers declaring, "Wellstone!"
The I35 bridge collapse
On August 1st, 2007, Minnesota (and the nation) collectively craned its neck towards the wreckage of the I-35W bridge, where 13 people died and 145 were injured after design flaws and traffic weight caused the bridge to crumble into the Mississipi. It was a tragic catastrophe and the fallout didn't help matters: a flurry of impotent handwringing and fingerpointing from the government and the media, and a pervading sense of dread pointed out that in the middle of our morning commute, we too could plummet to our watery deaths for no good reason.
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