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Buzzfeed, U.S. Bank (?) team up to learn Minneapolis has restaurants, 'culture'

Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune

Anthony Souffle, Star Tribune

Ever been to Minneapolis?

Kemi Ajisekola hadn't. Not until just recently, when she flew here from New York, a Famous American City with millions of permanent residents, an abundance of local "culture," and many annual visitors. Ajisekola was dispatched to this exotic Midwestern flyover afterthought called "Minneapolis" to "discover their [meaning our; well, someone's, anyway] version of hygge."

If somehow you've missed every single one of 20,000,000 recent trend stories, and are wondering "What's hygge?", fear not: Ajisekola has a thorough explanation, which we've provided in the following paragraph, with key phrases bolded:

"Hygge is a Danish word used to describe the very specific feeling of being cozy and contented and having a general sense of well-being. It is considered a key aspect of Danish culture. Hygge has recently entered the American lexicon as well. Used to describe everything from home decor to social events, hygge has become the next big thing." 

Reader: This was the first paragraph. And if you're beginning to wonder: "Why does this piece exist?", we at City Pages can't quite answer that. 

What we can say about this... thing, is that the Minneapolis-headquartered U.S. Bank (listed atop this "story" as a "brand publisher") is somehow involved. That'd be the very cool local international banking interest which announced, in two missives a couple months ago, that 1) its parent company U.S. Bancorp had, and we quote:

"reported another record quarterly profit, shaped by gains in fees for nonloan businesses like credit cards and helped by this year’s cut in federal corporate tax"

and 2) it was axing 700 people's jobs, just in time for Thanksgiving.

We could probably think of better representatives to promote the city of Minneapolis -- those petty crime pot dealers on Nicollet Mall, for example -- but alas, today, it's U.S. Bank. Them and Buzzfeed, where Ajisekola works as a "branded content writer."

And an easily impressed one at that. Ajisekola had "never been to  the city and didn't know anything  about the city," she writes, just a couple lines after saying "coziness has always been a part of the culture in Minneapolis." We believe she refers here to the longstanding local practice of wearing heavy clothing and erecting insulated structures so that we do not freeze to death between November and March. 

Rest assured, Minneapolis, our city's capable not only of basic survival, but also of having a "culture all its own," a fact that seems to pleasantly surprise Ajisekola. So did our "fall" weather, with temperatures dipping down as low as the "the 70s," causing our correspondent to "wear my winter coat for the first time in months."

[Editor's note: !]

Let's get to some name-dropping. Ajisekola spent her time here visiting a variety of local businesses -- "brands," we bet she'd call them -- and reporting to her audience just what they bring to the city of Minneapolis and its lifelong love affair with hygge culture. A brief recap of some establishments mentioned:

  • Spyhouse Coffee is not only "warm and cozy," but also where Ajisekola was 
    "surprised to learn" that in this village, Minneapolis,  coffee shops... roast coffee
  • Copper Hen Bakery Cakery and Kitchen, described here as one of the "top-tier restaurants of the budding food scene," and... hmmm, OK
  • Aster Cafe, where Ajisekola got along well with her server, reporting she "made a new friend in the space of about 45 minutes," which.. seems like a long damn time; is that how long it takes in New York City?
  • Young Joni, described as a "darling pizza place," a curious label for a cavernous space with lines out the door and national recognition; Kemi says the pizza was "good enough to satisfy our group of New Yorkers" [Editor's note: Dear God, there was a "group" of them?]
  • Electric Fetus, about which Ajisekola admits, yet again, she had "no idea" Minneapolis possessed a "vibrant arts and shopping scene" (serious question: does Buzzfeed allow its employees to use Google?)
  • Moon Palace Books, "a real find," per Buzzfeed, though perhaps not to readers of a widely disliked local tabloid rag
  • St. Anthony Main Theatre, where the writer caught a "tearjerker," determining it was "pretty funny" to see people crying in public

OK, enough. You had us at your innocent curiosity and total lack of preparation, Kemi, but we draw the line at you revealing to the broader American public that Minneapolis residents cry at sad movies. Are you trying to make us sound cool or not? 

This Buzzfeed... thing ends with our travel writer disclosing she left this city with "contentment," thanks in part to our regular habit of ... speaking to people. Including her. We'd ask what Kemi Ajisekola said back, but we can safely guess it was something like: "I don't know anything about your city, but I did not expect this! I'm from New York! "

And is, no doubt, happy to be back, especially since our notorious temperatures have now dipped well below that 70-degree winter coat threshold, and will remain low for some months now.

Listen, New York City. The Twin Cities sent you a couple writers. One of them wrote the best American novel (set in New York!) of the first half of the 20th century. Another was good enough at writing song lyrics he got the attention of people in Sweden.

And what do we, Minnesota, get in return? A shabbily reported hit piece on our dating scene, a geographically torturous Vogue magazine "travel" story, "grape salad," and whatever the fuck this backhanded Buzzfeed puffery was.

Is this the best you've got, Big City? Aren't you guys supposed to be the hip ones?

Get it together, New York. We almost feel bad for you.