Discovering my inner groupie

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August 18, 2003 // UPDATED 11:03 am - April 30, 2007
By: Julie Swenson
Julie Swenson

The Flat Earth Defenders leave her defenseless

I always think I can slow it down, but the last patch of summer between the Fourth of July and the first day of school is a blur. It's the end of so many great summer things -- roasted corn on the cob, cheap blueberries and raspberries, wearing shorts to the office on Fridays (only if there are no client meetings) -- that I miss so much in January.

This year, I've had one of the best summers of my adult life because of two discoveries: a) Scooters, need I say more? and b) my inner groupie. You see, I never had posters of Duran Duran, Rick Springfield or Billy Squire on my bedroom walls as a teen. They don't encourage that sort of thing on the speech team -- unless you are talking about Clarence Darrow or Jesus. While my friends threw screaming fits when our parents wouldn't let us go see Devo at the Guthrie, I didn't even blink. Big deal, I thought, I'll use the money to buy the cassette tape instead. (To this day, I wonder what they thought would happen to us at the Tony-award-winning Guthrie Theatre. Maybe they were worried we'd all come home and give up Advanced Placement Chemistry for acting.)

Eventually, though, I grew up, gave up on chemistry anyway, and spent way too many nights at First Avenue. But I still wasn't a groupie. I only went there because that's where the cute guys went. I didn't care at all about the live bands playing there. I couldn't tell the difference between Soul Asylum and Soul2Soul, and that suited me just fine. My mission was to go in, give out my phone number and get home in time to still get eight hours of sleep before work in the morning.

This summer, I didn't even know the Fine Line was closed until someone told me it was opening again. And it only came up in conversation because I had discovered my inner groupie. My inner groupie had stumbled upon the Flat Earth Defenders and I had to know where I was going to see them next -- which happened to be the Fine Line. That would also be the place I would see them last because, like summer, the Flat Earth Defenders broke up and disappeared. Sigh. Nevertheless, it was a great summer. I followed the Defenders all over Downtown this summer and had a ball.

I went to places I had only read about in the back of City Pages. I went to Lee's Liquor Lounge, Bunker's and even the Terminal Bar to see the Flat Earth Defenders play. These establishments are pretty far off the beaten path of my life Downtown. At my St. Thomas classes, no one ever says, "let's run across the river for happy hour at the Terminal Bar;" you couldn't possibly make across Downtown and back in time for class during rush hour. By the same token, not one of my clients has ever said, "let's meet at Lee's to go over your proposal." And as for Bunker's, the thousand or so motorcycles parked around the place on beautiful nights have frightened me for years.

This summer though, I got over it. I went to see the Flat Earth Defenders at all these bars. Lee's plays host to the world's hippest square dancers on their massive dance floor. Really -- uber-hip square dancers can be found there most nights, or so they say. At the Terminal Bar I gobbled down tons of free popcorn and found out bars Downtown can stay open 'til 2 a.m. nowadays. And Bunker's wasn't scary in the least. The night I went, there were very few motorcycles in the parking lot -- the Flat Earth Defenders attracted more of a Cabrio crowd than the biker set -- but even if there were a few hundred bikes there, it would have been just fine. Everyone at Bunker's is friendly, and I heard that Bonnie Raitt hangs out there when she visits Minneapolis. There's nothing scary about Bonnie Raitt.

So the summer is almost over, but I did get some souvenirs. Unfortunately, the Flat Earth Defenders didn't print up any posters for me to put up on my bedroom walls but they did come up with a great T-shirt. I have two of them. This fall, I plan to wear those T-shirts back to Bunker's, Lee's and the Terminal (not all in one night, of course) and maybe, just maybe, another band will inspire my inner groupie to come out again.

In addition to slavishly following doomed bands, Julie Swenson ( owns

Abbas Public Relations.