Spare Mike Garrison your bummer weather quips. He’s heard them all before.
After 20 years in Los Angeles, Garrison recently moved to south Minneapolis with his wife, Raya. Every time his relocation comes up in casual conversation, a Minnesotan issues a grave warning about winter’s impending chill. He’s gotten so tired of the doom and gloom comments that he’ll occasionally lie, saying he grew up here by stealing his Minnesota-born wife's backstory. Other times he’ll tell them straight faced he came for the cold, snowy weather, hoping to kill the tired conversation.
“It’s the weirdest thing, man,” Garrison says, sipping a Scotch at Haute Dish. “People displace their misery on me. … Just because you hate winter doesn’t mean I’m going to hate winter. I might fall in love with it, I don’t know.”
As a consumer strategist for a company with a Minneapolis office, the Arizona native’s not a complete Minnesota rube. He wasn’t worried about the frigidity until the locals started drubbing it into his psyche. Frankly, Garrison — not his wife — initiated the convo about moving to Minnie.
While the booming automatic car starter market isn’t among them, there are many reasons this longtime Angeleno is stoked about living in the Twin Cities. Here are six of them:
1. The beer
“The beer scene for sure has turned me into a beer person,” Garrison says. “In L.A., I’d just order a Stella all the time.” Sure, there are craft breweries in Los Angeles, but the 40-year-old says Twin Cities breweries are consistently better. By admission, he’s no beer expert. However, Garrison enjoys the taproom vibe, from vibrant Bauhaus Brew Labs to the more intimate Dangerous Man, and the ubiquity of better beer here.
“I wasn’t aware of the craft brew scene in L.A., really. It’s hard not to be aware of it in the Twin Cities. You can’t avoid it.”
2. The biking
“One of the first things we did here was get bikes,” Garrison says. Don’t expect him to join the ranks of Minnesota’s fat tired winter commuters. But to an extent, he’s caught the Twin Cities biking bug, cruising a few miles to the bar or the Lake Harriet bandshell. This summer Garrison, who works from home, could go four days without touching his car, which makes enjoying those craft brews easier. “It’s a lot more fun to ride a bike and kick it.”
3. The music
“I always knew Minneapolis and the Twin Cities have a good music culture, but it goes a lot deeper than I thought,” he says. It’s hard to compare our little big cities’ scene with music hub L.A., says the former MTV employee. However, being on a smaller scale breeds a sense of passion, making music feel more ingrained in the culture.
“It’s also stuff like the Basilica Block Party. Those kinds of things, outdoor festivals in very cool locations, don’t happen in L.A. too much.”
4. We proudly keep it real
“There’s an authenticity and an honesty that’s kinda hard to find in L.A.,” he notes. While he loves his former city, Garrison says it has a “glossiness” that doesn’t exist in the less transient Twin Cities. With so many born-and-raised Midwesterners here, there’s a stronger sense of hometown pride.
“There’s more of a loyalty — a fierce passion for the city. You won’t find someone defending L.A. like you find somebody defending Minneapolis.”
5. Family life
One of these days procreation is in the cards for Garrison and his wife, and the Twin Cities have the child rearing edge over L.A. “The school systems in general are a little bit better,” he says. “But I feel like everything is kid friendly [laughs]. Our friends had a newborn. It was literally a month old and the first time we met him was at a brewery.”
In Hollywood, you might get a few looks for bringing a kiddo into a bar or restaurant, whereas here it’s no biggie — a pro for the active couple. “Kids don’t stop you from going places.”
6. Cabin life
“I didn’t start listening to country music until we started to drive to cabins,” Garrison confesses. Cabin and lake culture were foreign to the West Coaster. “Raya, when she lived in LA for a couple years, she totally missed it. At first I didn’t understand it, but now I totally get it. It’s part of your summer.”
Garrison’s come to embrace everything about the simple, laid-back getaways — loading up the car, the drive, relaxing with friends and family. “That’s what country music’s about, right? America. The simple things [laughs]. That’s what cabin life’s about.”