• Tag Archives St. Paul
  • Jazz Noir

    Spring                                                                                       Planting Moon

    And some rain.  Ta dah!

    The Hamm Building in downtown St. Paul anchors a vibrant outdoor cafe scene.  A week ago today the snowplows would have been roaming St. Peter, tonight young couples sat at tables, drank beer, ate, talked.  The energy was good.

    The Artist’s Quarter formerly of 26th and Stevens in Minneapolis, formerly of Lowertown St. Paul, is now in the basement of the Hamm Building.  A room light on decor, with lots of black it feels like a jazz joint.

    The play tonight, the radio drama, broadcast live over KBEM to what is now its international audience, was a period piece set in 1929 just before and just after the crash, most of the play taking place in a boarding house run by Avon Davis and her Dad.  On Rondo Avenue, now under Highway 94.

    It didn’t shy away from identifying Avon’s grandparents as former slaves or the pride Avon’s father had in owning and operating his own business.

    Avon was a budding talent on the jazz piano, encouraged by a novelist and week by week resident of the boarding house who had been working on his novel for 17 years and now needed J. Beam to achieve the mood to write.

    It was fun.  The audience had a part.  When the applause sign lit up, we shouted or spoke lines from one of two colored handouts.  “That’s hot.”  “She sure can play that thing.”  “Oh, baby.”

    The place had all chairs and tables filled and it felt like the start of something, something uniquely Minnesota, yet going out to the nation and the world.



  • Capitol Camp Out

    Mid-Summer                                                                  Waxing Honey Flow Moon

    Mark and I drove into St. Paul to help set-up the Capitol Camp-Out action on the lawn of the State Capitol.    We helped set up the sound system, then transferred to pitching tents, ones with which we had no prior experience.  That was fun.  How do these things work?  This cross piece bends and goes there.  Nope.  Over there.  Sigh.  To make things more challenging the tents could not have stakes, State Capitol grounds rules.  When Mark and I left, the area had begun to fill up already with tents.

    After that we toured St. Paul, Rice Park, Irvine Park, Summit Avenue in particular.  Mark took over the wheel when we finished with Summit Avenue and drove us home, preparing himself for his driver’s license test.  He can’t do that until he gets a piece of paper from California confirming his previous license there some 20 + years ago.

    Kate spent the morning entering contacts into her new IPad2.  She’s already learned how to play several games.  She has a definite solitaire jones, playing with care and precision, the same way she quilts.

    Last night, still working out my new schedule, I spent an hour or so throwing out magazines.  Yes, I know.  I keep saving them for that mythical moment of return, which, I’m finally admitting, just never occurs.  Wired, Scientific American, Economist, Sierra Club, Philosophy Now, Dissent, Parabola, Orion.  I love magazines.  And don’t like to part with them.  Until now.

  • Ethics Escaped Their Heads Long Ago

    73  bar falls 30.07  1mh ENE  dew-point 48  Sunny, pleasant

    New Moon (Thunder Moon)

    The little red car has its new head.  Phhew!  Even so, new heads require inspection to be sure their connections are good, so it won’t come home  until Saturday.  Too bad we don’t inspect the heads of decision makers as well.  Say, hmmm.  Bush. Cheney.  Rumsfeld. Each one of this trinity of corruption and incompetence has a bad leak somewhere, for sure all their ethics escaped their heads long ago.

    Kate and I had lunch at Saji-ya in St. Paul.  This is an old hangout for me, but I hadn’t been there in several years.  They had redecorated.  When I mentioned it to the host, he said, “Oh, 3-4 years ago.” Sashimi is a great lunch, light and healthy.  Kate had her usual tempura.

    We both agreed that if we ever moved back to an urban area that it would be St. Paul.  It has leafy streets, older homes, distinct neighborhoods and a generally laid back approach to urban living.  The main large avenue, Summit Avenue, has a long, relatively intact stand of Victorian homes, many large enough to qualify as mansions.  Rice Creek Park, which has the Ordway Center (music and performing arts center), the central Public Library, the James J. Hill Library, the St. Paul Hotel and the Landmark Center (former federal building) remains my favorite urban space.  The center city is compact and contains many buildings from the turn of the century (the last century) so modernism has not stained its skyline as it has Minneapolis.

    The St. Paul Chamber Orchestra plays the kind of classical music I love.  The state capitol and the main government offices are just up the hill from downtown.  The Mississippi river winds through its heart and, as a result, the street system has a charming eccentricity.  Many people from Minneapolis claim they can’t drive in St. Paul.  Too confusing.  I have the same problem in the western suburbs.

    We’ve had another money meeting with the woman I think of as our financial strategist.  She helps us with the practical side of money management and she is very good.  After a period of lackadaisal attention to the financial aspect of our life, we have developed a steady routine, a consistency that has allowed us to build up cash reserves, save plenty of money for retirement and still enjoy travel, taking care of our family and our home.