Days 103-105 -- Tuesday, August 11-Thursday, August .13

On now to the American Odyssey's version of the Daily Double, Minneapolis/St. Paul; two cities for the price of one. As it turned out, my days spent in the Twin Cities served as a primer, a chance to get my feet wet for my return to New York in a couple of weeks. By that, I mean that I was occupied with many of the same leisure pursuits that fill my free time in the Big Apple, things that I haven't done much, if at all, while on the road.

For example, I dined on both Thai and Vietnamese food; also, some pretty fine pizza. I lunched at Mickey's Diner in downtown St. Paul, a cool little greasy spoon that looks today much as it did the day it first opened its doors for business in 1937. I also managed a quick run through the Minneapolis Institute of Art, savoring their small but choice collection of Impressionists and post-Impressionists.

Best of all, though, was hearing some live music. My friend, Steve, and I took in some reggae at Glam Slam: Burning Spear and Jimmy Cliff; a great show. And it's now official: the best rock band in the good ol' U.S. of A. is Los Lobos. They've always been great but they just keep getting better. Their new album, Kiko, is a strong contender for the BRETTnews Album of the Year and their live shows, as always, kick ass. Steve, his friend, Kim, and I took in the first of two nights at First Avenue and they were smoking. No one, for my money, can match their mastery of so many forms of music - blues, country, rockabilly, mexican polkas, soul - and the crowd loved every minute of it. It was so good that, even though Steve left town on Thursday, I stayed at his place in St. Paul another night so I could see Los Lobos again. They were even better the second night.

They're clearly energized by the music on Kiko and that's not hard to understand: It's an inspired recording. They've managed to take familiar sounds and influences and put them together in a way that sounds like nothing else. If Los Lobos get within two hundred miles of you in the coming weeks (although I think they're already pretty far into the tour), you'd be crazy to miss them. And dress lightly; it's going to get pretty warm in there.

I also took in, accompanied once again by Steve and his lovely girlfriend, Michaelene, a movie at a St. Paul drive-in. It was a cool, starlit night and the film, Unforgiven, was worthy of such a night. This is one dark Western, boy; no good guys in this one. It is also that rarest of Westerns: a cowboy movie with some thought behind it. See it but leave the kids at home; it's pretty violent.

I enjoyed my stay in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. I got very little sense of the difference between the two burgs, but all the locals I spoke with insisted that although they seem to be a pair of matching bookends, they're as different night and day. It seems that Minneapolis adores a minuet, the Ballet Rousse, and Crepes Suzette, while St. Paul likes to rock 'n' roll; a hot rod makes her lose control. What a wild duet!

Continue on the American Odyssey.
Return to BRETTnews.
Email us at: