TWISP | This Week In Saint Paul: Monday, October 26th – Sunday, November 1st, 2015

Lowertown Saint Paul's favorite brat guy Todd Romocky on his last day of the season.

Last Friday the rain slowly crept its way into our autumn. Even though the street sweepers have made their rounds, out my front window the sign telling us not to park there is stuck in a ground littered with even more leaves than when it was first staked. Rain is knocking leaves from the trees faster than the turning calendar. That means it is time to get out and see the town before the season turns.

Prom 1999


When you asked me if I wanted to go to prom,
I was filled with excitement, until you requested
if my date could be your brother;
my 1st and last ex-boyfriend.


(Illustration: Roberta Avidor)

Newly ordained, I stand in front of a brightly decorated Christmas tree. Next to me is Nhia (Jonah) Xou Yang, former CIA collaborator turned minister. We are in the shared sanctuary of our respective Hmong and American congregations in a church on Saint Paul’s North End. It is Advent 1982. Soon the peacefulness is shattered. A rock band composed of Hmong teenagers arrives, rehearsing as they do each weekday afternoon. The noise drives us from our contemplation...


Wang Ger (Photo: Mike Hazard)

Wang Ger, also called Joe, has been trying to teach me to speak more words of Hmong.

“I have learned English; you can learn more Hmong.”

I am not a good student, but he does not give up...

Seventh Place: Saint Paul's Window on The World

Hmong stall owners on Seventh Place during a summer farmers' market (Photo: Dan Tilsen)

Downtown Saint Paul is rarely accused of being exotic. But hidden right in its midst is a thriving, bustling microcosm of the great wide world. I’m talking about Seventh Place. Only one block long, Seventh Place is Saint Paul’s answer to European pedestrian-only city centers. From the golden entry archway facing St. Peter Street to the frequent bustle of the Wabasha pedestrian crossing, the patterned brick underfoot lifts its denizens out of the workaday world and transports them to an old city square in Nordic Europe, or on days when the farmers’ market is in session, to Southeast Asia.