Monday, February 8, 2010
Things I never noticed before yesterday: Dear Lord, Minnesota is twee.
Yesterday, after visiting a cafe where menu items are named after sweet, arty waitresses,* a friend and I meandered into Shoppe Local. A branch of the local gift shop Patina (which is the kind of place where you can purchase meme books and ice cube trays shaped like numbers), Shoppe Local features gifts exclusively from Minnesota companies, like the Jane Jenni design above. Oh, these bacon magnets and beard cards and MTM t-shirts are adorable, I thought. This is so Minnesota.
And then I said to my friend, “This place really is twee as fuck, isn’t it?” He agreed.
I’ve always been a huge fan of the term “twee,” as it has its heart in everything I loved from the ages of 16 to 22. It’s quite specific for a description of a subculture, much more so than the h-word, and it’s a little bit dated these days. “Twee as fuck” has always been a gorgeous phrase. It’s fun to say, and it’s onomatopoetic: it drips with irony, but the adorable kind. “Twee” can be derogatory, sure, but I’ve never seen it as a bad thing to be, probably because I’m pretty twee.
And it’s not just the local gift store, which will be twee by virtue of being a gift store. In its entirety, Minnesota—in its wholehearted and genuine embrace of the crafty, of community, of DIY mentality, of way too many readable local luxury living magazines, of projects like the Art Shanties, of hot dish, of farmers markets where you see all your friends—really doesn’t try hard to escape the twee. Just look at Spyhouse! Or Caffetto! Or Diamonds! Indie coffee shop culture destroys any chains in the Twin Cities.  Other places I’ve lived don’t even come close to the amount of handmade community support, of new lovable ideas (some better in theory), and of awe for things that are sorta intellectual, sorta cheesy.
Another example: Residents use the phrase “Minnesota nice” genuinely, to describe themselves, like it means something. As an outsider I’ve been given about eight different definitions of “Minnesota nice” and none of them fit anyone I’ve met here. There’s a lot of pride in it, though, because it was created here, and it’s cuddly when you say it because it shows off your accent.
Even this t-shirt from Burlesque, which was the least twee thing in Shoppe Local, is pretty twee. It was famously worn by Slug from Atmosphere, a leading member in what is probably the most twee hip hop scene in the country. Think about it: they might as well call it DoomTwee, amirite?
Finally: Swedish meatballs and lefse. Colleges that pride themselves on show choir. Northeast Minneapolis. The Saint Paul Saints. Charles Schulz. Bicycles. Lunds. Electric Fetus in Duluth. And the twee-est man on the planet, the one whose name I will not mention, but whose initials are GK.
I’ve lived in a place or two, and I will decidedly say that other parts of the country are not as twee as Minnesota. In Charleston, someone once got robbed with a rusty axe, which is definitely not twee. (Southern culture is pretty much the opposite of twee, but that’s another story.) Delaware is innocuous; New York is overflowing. Only Minnesota is really twee enough for this lady.
So, at Shoppe Local, I bought a purple babydoll dress with owls printed all over it. It’s designed by a local designer named Calpurnia Peach, which if you read the local fashion blogs, is totally community supported and also so hot right now. Take a look: is that Twee As Minnesota or what?

*Really, the Blackbird Cafe is one of my favorite restaurants and you should eat there.

Things I never noticed before yesterday: Dear Lord, Minnesota is twee.

Yesterday, after visiting a cafe where menu items are named after sweet, arty waitresses,* a friend and I meandered into Shoppe Local. A branch of the local gift shop Patina (which is the kind of place where you can purchase meme books and ice cube trays shaped like numbers), Shoppe Local features gifts exclusively from Minnesota companies, like the Jane Jenni design above. Oh, these bacon magnets and beard cards and MTM t-shirts are adorable, I thought. This is so Minnesota.

And then I said to my friend, “This place really is twee as fuck, isn’t it?” He agreed.

I’ve always been a huge fan of the term “twee,” as it has its heart in everything I loved from the ages of 16 to 22. It’s quite specific for a description of a subculture, much more so than the h-word, and it’s a little bit dated these days. “Twee as fuck” has always been a gorgeous phrase. It’s fun to say, and it’s onomatopoetic: it drips with irony, but the adorable kind. “Twee” can be derogatory, sure, but I’ve never seen it as a bad thing to be, probably because I’m pretty twee.

And it’s not just the local gift store, which will be twee by virtue of being a gift store. In its entirety, Minnesota—in its wholehearted and genuine embrace of the crafty, of community, of DIY mentality, of way too many readable local luxury living magazines, of projects like the Art Shanties, of hot dish, of farmers markets where you see all your friends—really doesn’t try hard to escape the twee. Just look at Spyhouse! Or Caffetto! Or Diamonds! Indie coffee shop culture destroys any chains in the Twin Cities.  Other places I’ve lived don’t even come close to the amount of handmade community support, of new lovable ideas (some better in theory), and of awe for things that are sorta intellectual, sorta cheesy.

Another example: Residents use the phrase “Minnesota nice” genuinely, to describe themselves, like it means something. As an outsider I’ve been given about eight different definitions of “Minnesota nice” and none of them fit anyone I’ve met here. There’s a lot of pride in it, though, because it was created here, and it’s cuddly when you say it because it shows off your accent.

Even this t-shirt from Burlesque, which was the least twee thing in Shoppe Local, is pretty twee. It was famously worn by Slug from Atmosphere, a leading member in what is probably the most twee hip hop scene in the country. Think about it: they might as well call it DoomTwee, amirite?

Finally: Swedish meatballs and lefse. Colleges that pride themselves on show choir. Northeast Minneapolis. The Saint Paul Saints. Charles Schulz. Bicycles. Lunds. Electric Fetus in Duluth. And the twee-est man on the planet, the one whose name I will not mention, but whose initials are GK.

I’ve lived in a place or two, and I will decidedly say that other parts of the country are not as twee as Minnesota. In Charleston, someone once got robbed with a rusty axe, which is definitely not twee. (Southern culture is pretty much the opposite of twee, but that’s another story.) Delaware is innocuous; New York is overflowing. Only Minnesota is really twee enough for this lady.

So, at Shoppe Local, I bought a purple babydoll dress with owls printed all over it. It’s designed by a local designer named Calpurnia Peach, which if you read the local fashion blogs, is totally community supported and also so hot right now. Take a look: is that Twee As Minnesota or what?

Owls!

*Really, the Blackbird Cafe is one of my favorite restaurants and you should eat there.

Thursday, January 7, 2010
Photo from Bolobilly.
Hipshakers, evidently, is a R&B/soul/funk dance party that is happening tonight at the Kitty Cat Klub.
A note on the venue to non-Minnesotans: Yes, it’s called the Kitty Cat Klub.
Despite its outside appearance and name similar to a club in a popular musical, the Kitty Cat Klub is not a strip club nor a fancy burlesque joint with Fosse dancing. Nor is it exclusively a lesbian bar, as I originally thought. Instead, the Kitty Cat Klub is a lounge in the middle of Dinkytown (the area by the University of Minnesota). It seems like it would want its customers to be fancy, but no one ever dresses up to go there. There is a photo booth, pool table, pinball machine, and lots of kitschy decor.
In fact, its over-curated kitsch that’s designed to appeal to the kids is not dissimilar from the East Village’s Yaffa Cafe, but with the KCK the decor seems even less genuine, more of a way to lure in all the Golden Gophers who thought about art school but picked sociology instead. But that’s not a bad thing; the Kitty Cat Klub is rather comfy and there is often good music there.
If you go on a Thursday or Friday evening towards the end of the semester, the Kitty Cat Klub is a good place to find graduate students who can’t hold their liquor. If you go on a Monday or Tuesday evening in the middle of the semester, it’s a good place to find graduate students who can.
If you are a graduate student who likes to dance there, it’s a good place to run into your current and former students.
Since I can’t wind up wasted at the Dinkytowner anymore, and since I no longer am in grad school, the appeal of the Kitty Cat Klub has waned exceedingly. But, if there is garage rock, I will go. Verily.

Photo from Bolobilly.

Hipshakers, evidently, is a R&B/soul/funk dance party that is happening tonight at the Kitty Cat Klub.

A note on the venue to non-Minnesotans: Yes, it’s called the Kitty Cat Klub.

Despite its outside appearance and name similar to a club in a popular musical, the Kitty Cat Klub is not a strip club nor a fancy burlesque joint with Fosse dancing. Nor is it exclusively a lesbian bar, as I originally thought. Instead, the Kitty Cat Klub is a lounge in the middle of Dinkytown (the area by the University of Minnesota). It seems like it would want its customers to be fancy, but no one ever dresses up to go there. There is a photo booth, pool table, pinball machine, and lots of kitschy decor.

In fact, its over-curated kitsch that’s designed to appeal to the kids is not dissimilar from the East Village’s Yaffa Cafe, but with the KCK the decor seems even less genuine, more of a way to lure in all the Golden Gophers who thought about art school but picked sociology instead. But that’s not a bad thing; the Kitty Cat Klub is rather comfy and there is often good music there.

If you go on a Thursday or Friday evening towards the end of the semester, the Kitty Cat Klub is a good place to find graduate students who can’t hold their liquor. If you go on a Monday or Tuesday evening in the middle of the semester, it’s a good place to find graduate students who can.

If you are a graduate student who likes to dance there, it’s a good place to run into your current and former students.

Since I can’t wind up wasted at the Dinkytowner anymore, and since I no longer am in grad school, the appeal of the Kitty Cat Klub has waned exceedingly. But, if there is garage rock, I will go. Verily.

A couple months ago I went to see a contemporary psych-rock band and before the show they played a bunch of authentic 60s psych and garage rock. Because I was alone and it was just the house music before the show, I did not dance, but I dearly, dearly wanted to.

Soul, garage, etc., from the late 60s is by far my favorite for getting my groove on. I will dance to pretty much anything with a beat from that decade. Back in New York (this was five years ago, now) I loved soul nights and 60s nights and would never stop dancing. And, as much as I would totally go to a Lady-Gaga-and-Beyonce-only dance night here, I’d probably get bored after a half an hour. But a 60s dance night would keep me endlessly entertained, and we don’t have any here.

I would make one myself, but half of the appeal of the garage/soul/psych night is that they played records I’d never heard before. Actually, unless it’s Motown, girl groups, or the Beatles, my 60s collection is pretty sparse. I don’t even own Nuggets! Also, I’m a terrible DJ because all I want to do is dance, to anything, and not pay attention to what’s going on.

So, great garage-rock record collectors in the Twin Cities, please organize! Have a dance party! For all of us! So I don’t have to listen to the above song over and over again in my bedroom. It’s almost the only psych rock song I have, and I only own it because of the Austin Powers soundtrack!

For the record: This entire post was inspired by Corgan signing Strawberry Alarm Clock.

Update: I have just been informed that there are two different dance parties that I have described in the Twin Cities, and that one of them is tonight. So I’ll see you at the Kitty Cat Klub, then? (Thanks, Andy!)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Approximately 50% of bartenders and cafe workers in the Twin Cities area have a t-shirt with this design on it:

The design is usually on a shirt of some other color besides black, which is about as goth as taking showers. It’s kinda like seeing the dude with the Dark Side of the Moon prism on his shirt.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

After a day walking up and down one street in St. Paul with most of the young population of the Twin Cities, this is exactly how I feel.

(mp3 originally from This Recording)