My aunt died recently. The wake was on St. Paddy’s Day; the funeral was the next day in the church she spent many of her days in, and in front of a bunch of hard-bitten Irish-Catholics, St. Paul’s own Father Jim DeBruycker gave a eulogy whose money line was,
“I say this all the time, but when we die, God is not going to say, ‘What did you do wrong?’ He’ll say, ‘Did you have a good time?’”
Cue the Romantica song “On My Mind,” which finds a young First Avenue patroness asking singer Ben Kyle, “Are ye having a good time?” To which the lad replies, “I guess, as far as good times go.” Meaning, of course, that one man’s good time is another man’s stunningly tedious bore.
As such, my good times these days find me seeking out simple pleasures, free gigs and walking everywhere I go, usually late at night, opening my eyes to the architecture and places that normally whiz past the car window. But when that and all else fails, I start making stuff up.
It all started a few weeks ago as I was walking into the 331 Club for about the 12th time this winter. I decided to pretend I was in another city, far from home.
It worked; soon I was conversing with the locals, asking them about their fair city and enjoying the amazing local music and culture it had to offer.
OK, it only worked for a little while, until I (and the rest of the bar) got sick of me. But in recent weeks, a rainy night at the Bryant-Lake Bowl, with dank and dirty Lake Street lurching outside the windows, became a Seattle speakeasy; dinner at Café Ena became a leisurely night out in Bogotá, Colombia; Jimmy John’s a Southside Chicago deli. The next night I wasn’t at Whiskey Junction, but in a Prague pub, muttering, “I wish we had a place like this in Minneapolis.” An hour later, quicker than you can say “Blitzkrieg Bop,” I transformed the 7th St. Entry, the Magnolias, and all the attendant Scando-German rockers into the best little punk rock scene in East Berlin.
Am I bored with my hometown? Hell, yes. It’s March. The streets are pot-holed, the mud is deep, the economy talk is dull, the spring is fake. The only thing keeping me going is my imagination, and the hard-won knowledge that there is nothing like the elixir of spring and summer in Minneapolis — especially on Hennepin and 1st Avenues, post-midnight on the weekend, which provide the greatest people-watching scene this side of Mardi Gras, Times Square, Rio, Burning Man, or wherever else your fertile imagination takes you. See ya there.
Jim Walsh also writes for the Southwest Journal.