Restoring Sanity in MN; Lowertown Loves Love; Recent Milestones in Saint Paul; More Minnesota Nice; Chow Yun Fat sighting?

Welcome to the fifth edition of the Pig’s Eye Post!

The Minnesota State Quarter, which prominently features a loon, the state bird, has been around since 2005.

Our beloved loons and human snow birds are starting to migrate now, and we hope they stay safe from the miles and miles of oily Gulf Coast waters. The hunting season of our other state bird—the mosquito—has come to a welcome end and—whatcha know?—the long fall shadows of tree limbs extend on our Saint Paul sidewalks like stills from a Tim Burton movie.

Last weekend, Minnesotans who were too cheap to spring for a plane ticket for Washington D.C., in order to attend the Jon Stewart/Stephen Colbert “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear,” held a rally at our very own State Capitol Building.

As 250,000 people gathered on the Washington Mall, 200 gathered in Saint Paul. FOX News quoted Dan Stevens, one of the local rally organizers: “Mostly we are going to simulcast the rally from D.C. and get together and remind each other we can be nice and we can disagree without being disagreeable.”

In completely unrelated news, we’re still accepting entries for our Minnesota Nice story competition (poems also accepted). We’ll send the winner either a copy of the 2011 Almanac and/or a cup and we’ll send the runner-up whatever the winner didn’t want. Send us your stories (400 words max) at stories@saintpaulalmanac.org and we’ll post some of the best in the coming weeks! Read the latest entry from Janet Preus in the New Writing section below!

More Saint Paul Almanac readings events around town!

The Saint Paul Almanac continues its year-round literary celebration of Minnesota’s capital city with the acclaimed Lowertown Reading Jams. The second season of the eclectic series, curated by Tish Jones, will be presented on Monday, November 8, 2010 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Black Dog Café, 308 Prince Street in Saint Paul. The Jams will continue on the second Monday of each month through July 2011.

The Saint Paul Almanac‘s “Celebration through Stories” readings are ongoing until early December in coffee shops around the city. The event series features contributors to the Saint Paul Almanac reading their pieces from the 2011 edition.

Coming events include the Mad Hatter Coffee Cafe and Teahouse (Nov 13th), and Common Good Books (Nov 15th), with more on the 20th, 22nd, and 29th. See our Celebration through Stories event page for more information.

Lowertown Loves Love

PROBLEM: Lowertown has been hit significantly by business lost during the ongoing Light Rail construction work, as the following KARE 11 News Report sadly notes.

SOLUTION: As always in Saint Paul, there are more parking lots than you’d ever need, and construction is taking place along 4th, affecting Kellogg, 4th and 5th Streets from the Farmers’ Market at Broadway to Downtown Saint Paul.

However, if you approach Lowertown from Kellogg Boulevard, or from the I-94 Kellogg exit that brings you down Kellogg Bridge, you even won’t notice any construction. Both Kellogg Boulevard and the place you are going to park is located outside the area affected by construction.

Parking (see map below) is easiest accessed on the north side of Kellogg at the foot of Kellogg Bridge, in the Prince Street lots. This isn’t Minneapolis. Parking fees are just $2 (weekday) or $1 (weekend)—evening or overnight—with an additional fee if you plan staying on through the morning for brunch with friends in the hood. That lot puts you right next to the Black Dog Coffee and Wine Bar, Lowertown’s central hub of information and community. They’ll tell you how to get to Everest basecamp from there!

Rock Solid Parking in Lowertown During the L.R.T. Construction. Click to enlarge

Do see the construction while you can. Treat it as a sightseeing trip! The opening of the LRT connection between Downtown Minneapolis and Lowertown/Downtown Saint Paul will mark a powerful change of the flow of life into the neighborhood. Come and see the construction of a historic Minnesotan public transport system and visit with the people who live in Lowertown and make it what it is today.

Coming Events in Lowertown

Lowertown First Fridays is coming of age at the grand ol’ age of one year old! Come down and commemorate the occasion with us by seeing art on November 5th from 6-9pm at all the open studios, then, in a special Twist o’ Fate, we will be partying at Echo Arts starting at 9:30pm. Don’t miss this opportunity to see art and have fun with the artists!

The Black Dog Coffee & Wine Bar is holding a “Dancing on the Grave” party as part of the November 5th Lowertown First Fridays, from 7–10pm. The Dog promises Fire Dancing, Music, Food, Drink and General Merriment, all for free! The Black Dog Café can be found at 308 Prince Street, Lowertown. 651.228.9274. www.blackdogstpaul.com

The Saint Paul Almanac continues its year-round literary celebration of Minnesota’s capital city with the acclaimed Lowertown Reading Jams. The second season of the eclectic series, curated by Tish Jones, will be presented on Monday, November 8, 2010 from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at the Black Dog Café, 308 Prince Street in Saint Paul.

For other upcoming event listings, check out our Saint Paul Calendar at http://saintpaulalmanac.org/saint-paul-calendar/

And if you get some good photos from a local event and want to weigh in with a short, memorable review, contact us: http://saintpaulalmanac.org/about/contact/

Recent Milestones in Saint Paul

Close to Saint Paul’s heart…

October 25th marked the eighth anniversary of the death of Minnesota Senator Paul Wellstone. The Almanac was sent this video created by a class of fourth, fifth, and sixth grade students at Lake Country School with their teachers Malinda Holte and Media Mike Hazard. Watch a scene from this documentary portrait of Paul Wellstone, THE MAGIC GREEN SCHOOL BUS:

For more information about The Magic Green School Bus, visit http://www.thecie.org/wellstone/

The University Avenue Project and the 2011 Saint Paul Almanac

From May through October of 2010, award-winning photographer Wing Young Huie, who has received international acclaim for his many projects that document the changing cultural landscape of Minnesota transformed Saint Paul’s University Avenue into a six-mile-long, multi-media, public gallery. Embedded in this tapestry of words, music, and images are a host of issues such as ethnicity, gender, and social disconnection. The photos ask such questions as, “Who are you? What advice would you give a stranger? How do you think others see you? What don’t others see? How has race affected you?”

Writing in the Star Tribune, Mary Abbe reminded us of the scope of the 5-month-long project, which ended on October 30th:

With huge murals plastered or projected on buildings, and photos displayed in 80 storefronts, the Duluth-born artist has reflected the hopes, dreams, and daily life of the city back to its residents. Running from the KSTP tower to the State Capitol, the project has been dubbed the nation’s largest public art installation.

We’re missing the University Avenue Project already and hope more bold, engaging exhibits grace the city in the future. The 2011 Saint Paul Almanac features almost two-dozen photos by Wing Young Huie. Get your copy of the 2011 Almanac here.

New Almanac writing from David Mura, Janet Preus, Linda Kantner with memory support from Jane Sevald, and Norita Dittberner-Jax

FACT OR FICTION: On the Mythical Sighting of Chow Yun Fat in St. Paul

By David Mura

She was working first
shift at Taco Bell
when out of Hong Kong
and the two-fisted guns
and that scene in the kitchen
where he rolled through flour
for dumplings and rose white
faced as the angel of death…

Read more.

THINGS WE LOVE: A Minnesota Nice Story: The Area Reporter

By Janet Preus

For well over a year I drove around Ottertail County, poking around in its little towns, stopping whenever something caught my eye, asking “why?” a lot, and “who should I talk to?” It would be easy to make light of what I did under the title “area reporter,” just because the towns are small, relatively few people are affected by their decisions, and most of the world barely knows where Minnesota is, much less Ashby, Erhard, Henning or Dent. But that would be missing the point. Read more.

SEPTEMBER 11TH MEMORIES: In a City Classroom

By Linda Kantner, with memory support from Jane Sevald

I learned a few sparse details about the tragedy of September 11 at Lutsen’s Bar on Lake Superior. I waited in the lounge for my turn to use the pay phone and watched as the television silently showed strangers holding hands and jumping from the burning towers. I felt like I was returning to a changed world. My friend Jane Sevald was also entering a whole new world. At age forty-five, she was taking on her high school classroom teaching English and writing at Como High School to students from Ethiopia, Somalia, Laos and Iraq. Read more.

PEOPLE: Memories of Russia with a Dentist in Frogtown

By Norita Dittberner-Jax

Dr. Sobkoviak of Frogtown, our dentist, stood looking out the window of his office at Western and University and saw Russia. As he changed the point of the drill, looking straight through Old Home Dairy across the street into the Kremlin, he warned me about Nikita Krushchev. He was slow and thorough, stopping to polish his glasses in front of that window. In his starched white tunic, he was a true professional. Read more.

Saint Paul Facts: We got ’em, now you know ’em

From the photographer: "Highland Water Tower, St. Paul, MN. I've heard it rumored that this tower is the highest point above sea level in St. Paul; during the Highland Art Fest, they open the tower for folks to climb." (Photo: Michael Hartford/Flickr Creative Commons)

DID YOU KNOW? The octagonal Highland Water Tower, built in 1927, is 134 feet high and holds 200,000 gallons of water in a steel tank.

Photo courtesy of Michael Hartford. Visit Michael’s photostream on Flickr.
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