Tag Archives: Explore Minnesota

Escaping Anxiety This Summer of Our Discontent

By reading narrative, we escape the anxiety that attacks us when we try to say something about the world.  Umberto Eco


In this summer of our discontent we have a sense that control has been wrested from our hands.  One way to be sure that we are not reduced by the situation in which we find ourselves is to explore our options – especially ideas and events that expand our thinking beyond the harsh reality of the day.  Here are just of few of the creative mind-refreshing events happening this summer – the tip of a mighty learning iceberg (which, unlike physical icebergs, is not melting as a result of human stupidity.) Clearly the major institutions have promoted grand events, exhibits, openings and more.  Following are just a just a very few of the initiatives with a bookish connection that may be slipping through the promotional cracks.  There’s no intent to be inclusive, simply to suggest that readers be on the lookout for escape routes from anxiety!

The 2017 Book Art Biennial.  “Shout Out: Community Intervention, Independent Publishing, and Alternative Distribution” is the theme of this biennial event.  Expect programming that “encourages people of all disciplines and skill levels to amplify individual and collective voice through grassroots artistic practice.” The centerpiece of the Book Art Biennial is the presentation of the MCBA Prize, a unique award that showcases and honors the best artists’ books in the world. The winner will be announced at a gala and awards ceremony the evening of Saturday, July 22. (http://www.mnbookarts.org/biennial)

Registration is open through June 11 for exhibitors at the Thirteenth Annual Twin Cities Zine Fest set for September 24 2017.   The Free For All Zine Lounge is now open through August 13 at Boneshaker Books, 2002 23rd Avenue South.  Sponsored by the Twin Cities Zine Fest (http://tczinefest.org)

A Good Time for the Truth: Race in Minnesota. June 12 (7:00 PM – 8:30 PM) Minneapolis Central Library. IBé, Bao Phi and Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria as they read their essays from the timely book, “A Good Time for the Truth.” This collection from 16 local writers features reflective essays on life as a person of color in Minnesota. Q&A will follow the reading hosted by the editor Sun Yung Shin. Registration is encouraged and can be done here. (https://www.facebook.com/events/1761221477450326/?acontext=%7B%22ref%22%3A%223%22%2C%22ref_newsfeed_story_type%22%3A%22regular%22%2C%22feed_story_type%22%3A%22117%22%2C%22action_history%22%3A%22null%22%7D)

The East Side Freedom Library continues its monthly collaboration with A Greener Read Bookstore.  On June 16th the theme is “Storytelling through Vinyl and Film” Gather at 5:00 at the Bookstore, 506 Kenny Road in St. Paul, for happy hour and listening to music.  Focus will be on South African “kwaito” music, a blend of traditional South African forms and hip hop. ESFL will also continue their Women from the Center Reading Series, featuring the work of Midwest writers from diverse communities who support one another as they “write their truths.   Writers on the fourth Thursdays of the summer months include these:   June 22: Norah Murphy (White Birth, Red Hawthorn: A Memoir), July 27: Marcie Rendon (Murder on the Red River), August 24: Carolyn Holbrook (Earth Angels).  In fact, ESFL sponsors a robust summer programs overflowing with ideas and energy. ESFL is at 1105 Greenbrier Street, St Paul 55106. Check the full schedule here: (http://eastsidefreedomlibrary.org)

On Wednesday, June 21, Minneapolis parks will open more than 50 new Little Free Libraries  a gift from the Minneapolis Foundation to local families in honor of Minnesota Public Radio’s 50th anniversary. MPR hosts, local authors, and other guest readers will celebrate by reading children’s books at story times in parks all over the city, from sunrise to sunset on summer’s longest day. Book It to the Parks!  (http://www.minneapolisfoundation.org/bookit/)

Silverwood Park, in the far Northeast corner of Hennepin County, is one of the mighty county’s lesser known havens for creative expression of every sort.  Focus is on the talents of local and emerging artists. Silverwood Onstage is the summer series of amphitheater programs that include Wednesday night concerts, movies and a mixed bag of performances. For details on the diverse selections click here:   (https://www.threeriversparks.org/page/silverwood-onstage)

If you’re not already in a book group, you might want to join one of the several sponsored by the Minnesota Women’s Press.  To learn more, click here:  http://womenspress.com/main.asp?SectionID=10&SubSectionID=36&ArticleID=38&TM=62697.43

When’s the last time you reached out to immerse yourself in an unfamiliar bookstore?  Here are some possibilities that will welcome you with open tomes:   (https://www.newpages.com/independent-bookstores/minnesota-bookstores)

My favorite indie, Eat My Words, is moving up the road a piece this summer – still in Northeast Minneapolis.  More in a related blog post.   Meanwhile, the EMW calendar indicates more, not fewer, events.  Proprietor Scott VanKoughnett  confirms that event attendees will not be asked to tote armloads of books to the new site.  Click here for an interview with EMW Scott  VanKoughnett::  (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tumRr08qkrc)

Traveling this summer?  The American Writers Museum, the gift of retired executive Malcolm O’Hagan and other donors, opened May 16 in Chicago.  (http://americanwritersmuseum.org)

Closer to home, you might want to check out the SoMN, a network of southern Minnesota history museums.  (http://www.exploreminnesota.com/travel-ideas/5-must-see-museums-in-southern-minnesota/)

For the motherlode of ideas for summer escapes explore with the editors of Explore Minnesota their “bucket list” of possibilities!       (http://www.exploreminnesota.com/travel-ideas/your-2017-minnesota-bucket-list/)

We ALL Dream of Ice Cream – The Scoop on National Ice Cream Month

It’s National Ice Cream Month!  That momentous fact might have slipped my addled mind had I not been an interloper at the Hennessy-Beech Families’ Fourth of July 2013 picnic in Lewiston, Minnesota yesterday.  The legendary piece de resistance of that grand occasion is overflowing bowls of HOMEMADE ice cream topped with fresh picked strawberries.   Words fail….

President Ronald Reagan, who did have his finer features, must be lauded for inaugurating National Ice Cream Month in 1984.  This year the nation will celebrate National Ice Cream DAY on Sunday, July 21 – just one of the 31 days set aside for exultation of ice cream as one of the basic food groups.

As everyone knows, consuming ice cream with finesse is an art.  What we may not know is that the origins of the frozen treat of the gods goes back as far as the second century B.C.  Alexander the Great enjoyed snow and ice flavored with honey and nectar.  And there are even Biblical referencs to King Solomon’s  fondness for iced drinks during the harvest season.  Nero Claudius Caesar (A.D. 54-86) sent runners into the mountains for snow which was flavored with fruits and juices fit for an Emperor.

Historians of ice cream tell us that Marco Polo returned to Italy from the Far East with a recipe akin to 21st Century sherbet, adding that the recipe probably evolved into ice cream sometime in the 16th Century.   Charles I during the 17th Century scooped up “cream ice” and Catherine de Medici encountered the treat when she married Henry II, King of France.

The masses learned about ice cream when Sicilian Procopia introduced a recipe at Café Procope, the first café in Paris.

The first account of ice cream this side of the pond comes in a letter written in 1744 by a guest of Maryland Governor William Bladen; sometime later the first ice cream ad appeared in the New York Gazette in 1777.  The Father of Our Country George Washington spent approximately $200 of his personal fortune for ice cream during the summer of 1700 while President Jefferson was purported to have an 18-step recipe that anticipates today’s Baked Alaska.  Dolly Madison, always the perfect hostess, served strawberry ice cream at her husband’s second inaugural banquet.

The fortunes of the hit a cool high in the early 1800’s with the invention of ice houses.  Steam power, mechanical refrigeration, homogenization, electric power and motors, packing machines and new freezing processes created an ice cream boom – a utopian world in which production of frozen dairy items in the U.S. tops 1.6 billion gallons.  The ice cream industry reports total revenues of $10 billion in 2010 with take home sales representing the largest section of the market generating revenues of $6.8 billion.  Nine percent of all the milk produced by U.S. dairy farmers is used to produce ice cream.

Enough history – too many stats.  Where’s the closest ice cream parlor!

Whether it’s a malt, a shake, a sundae or a delectably portable sugar cone,  you want it near and you want it now!   Options abound and parlors pop up in the most unlikely places.  Thanks to sound research and this state’s commitment to open access to government information you can find a robust roster of ice cream parlors on the Explore Minnesota website.   From Afton to Winona (alphabetically) the annotated list will inspire delectable road trips that lead to ice cream haunts best known by the locals but open to all.

Fear not – You can venture out even without a GPS system – the industry provides a handy map that guides you straight to the frozen splendors that cool these humid days and remind us all of just how great summer evenings really are!