Apr 14 2014

Free-range Parenting

greenkidsI’ve mentioned this before, but Doctor Dash and I are constantly sliding books and articles to each other via night stand. He told us about an Atlantic article about how we’re overprotecting our children at dinner and he was so fired up about it, so nostalgic and verbose and downright frothy, that the kids and I were all ears. Of course, I couldn’t wait to read it and I wasn’t disappointed.

As summer approaches and we fling open our doors and send our youngsters out into the world, it’s nice to be reminded that it’s not only ok to pull back, it’s good for them. I have been trumpeting this philosophy of child rearing since the beginning days of this blog and it’s validating to read a well reasoned article supporting what I’ve always assumed were personal views shaped by my own gut feelings and a splash of laziness.

Letting kids figure out how to get around – even if it means getting lost and having moments of uncertainty – is empowering to them. Letting them brush up against strangers allows them tune into their own gut reactions and lets them feel and understand that balance of good versus bad in the world. (Hint: there is overwhelmingly more good, but you’d never know that by listening to the news). Falls, scrapes and collisions teach lessons about physics, physical boundaries and self care.

A little freedom is our way of saying to our kids: we trust you, we trust people, we trust our city. Even if we DO whisper a hasty Hail Mary prayer from time to time.

You will want to read this.

Nov 14 2013

Minnehaha Love Song

photo-8There’s a stretch of creek that runs in front of our house that’s just about the most bucolic place you’ve ever seen. Shimmery waters, rustling trees, picturesque bridges – it’s gorgeous. And wholesome. But not everything is entirely what it seems.

When we bought our house we told our friends out East we were moving to Minnehaha Creek. Minnehahahahaha we would bray nervously, making light of our move back to the Midwest and to a place with such a preposterous name.

Little did I know how Minnehaha Creek, the backbone to the good green city of Minneapolis, would insinuate itself into my imagination and my reality. We didn’t just buy a house. We bought a kingdom.

It takes thirty seconds to walk down into the gorge of the creek from my house and I feel my cells quicken. I feel ten years old and more than a little frothy. Places like these, woods like these – this is where the best and the worst stuff happens. This is where you’re free. Free and hidden.

I remember dirty magazines in the spot I used to go to with my friend, Effi, back where I grew up. I remember clearing ground, making forts, staring up through the canopy of woody capillaries. I remember digging in the dirt, making smooth concavities to hold our stuff. I remember a dude who scared us bad – as in, run away with branches tearing at you and your heart pounding in your ears screaming bloody murder, bad. He was probably just a teenager looking for a place to smoke.

Years ago, I was hanging out on the bridge down at Minnehaha Creek with my babies. A man appeared with a look in his eye and an energy roiling off his shoulders that stopped me cold. I tasted bitterness in the back of my throat – fear. I will never know if he meant us harm. I do know that my body responded to him like prey.

And yet, despite or because of what I know about the woods, I still shoo my brood down to the creek. Go play. Make a fort. Explore. Run around. Brush up against life, nature, people. My son broke his arm on a cold winter’s day when he fell out of a tree after one of my shoos. Another time, two of them came home cheeks aflame with outrage. A woman had yelled at them for touching the dead fish caught in the muddy pools during a drought.

It takes a village, I told them.

You have my permission to touch the dead fish, I told them.

The creek is a favorite strolling place of a lady we call the Minneha-ho. She sticks out on these paths thick with runners and bikers in high tech sports gear. Ink black hair, sky high heels and more nights carved onto her face than her hot pants would have you imagine. I don’t think she’s actively looking for action, not that it much matters to me. Everyone needs a spot to walk and think and let the sun hit your tired back.

My kids’ favorite babysitter lived across the creek from us. I wonder if she ever told her mom about the time I rolled ass over teakettle down the snowy sledding hill when I was walking her home after a boozy night out. I popped up and dusted myself off with a chipper, not-fooling-anyone woopsiedaisy! Maybe she was too young to realize.

In winter, people sit on the banks, lace up ice skates and glide down the creek. It’s ridiculous and lovely – like a goddamn Currier and Ives painting. In summer, canoers and kayakers float by, disturbing the mallards and waving to feral children (mine) hanging off the bridges.

A couple winters ago, the Southwest Minneapolis Patch reported ‘Naked Man in High Heels Flees Police Near Minnehaha Creek’. He was apprehended and treated for lacerations to his feet from running in heels in the snow. His poor feet. He should talk to the Minneha-ho about more sensible shoe options. But, the truth of the matter is that he picked the best spot in the city for his little foray.

This is where you’re free. Free and hidden.

Sep 16 2013

Music Monday: Patti Smith

2d946c9aI had the indescribable pleasure of seeing Patti Smith perform this past week at a cool event called Station to Station – a traveling art installation featuring concerts, art and artisans choo-chooing its way from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Unlike my usual m.o., I actually came to Patti through her look first, her writing second and her music third. It seems I’ve always unconsciously knocked off her iconic androgynous style – flat chested, no hips, her tomboy look always worked for me. Still does. I wear many different things, but I am most myself in a pair of Chucks and jeans. That’s what I wear when I want to be free. Or invisible. Or invincible. I was a total nerd and stole a white oxford from Saint James and basically wore the black ribbon outfit pictured above (also the cover of her Horses album). Felt like a goofball and also, a million bucks.

A few years ago I read her quiet gem of a memoir, Just Kids. It’s about her friendship/love with Robert Mapplethorpe, and I must admit it shook me. These people were so extremely outside of my experience growing up – basically finding no other way to live than to completely mesh life and art, so that one bled into the other until they were indistinguishable and often deeply painful. I read it again with the ladies of my book club, the second time leaving me free to concentrate on her words and how she delicately strung them together like the beaded necklaces she and Robert used to wear. Her writing is so beautiful, tender, strong and honest – really just a way to describe her too.

She took the stage with her son, Jackson. (Don’t even get me started on the awesomeness of watching a mom and her boy make music together). She was soon joined by Gary Louris, Mark Mallman and a few other local musicians. She pretended not to know their names, but she did of course. They were utterly and obviously in her thrall – grown men, accomplished musicians, full-fledged rockers just happy and jazzed to be on stage with her. It’s not often, in this society, that a woman of that age gets to command that much respect and adoration. It was inspiring to say the least.

She is simply bad ass. But she’s also delicate and her voice sounds unexpectedly young and sweet. I think that she has lived so authentically her whole life, that she’s one of those people you can see into. She’s complex, she’s a thinker and a creator, but she’s very very clear about who she is and what she is. When you can see and feel someone with that immediacy, their art goes straight to your heart. There are no layers – no artifice – no attitude. Nothing to get in the way and distort the art. She very simply gave us the gift of herself without a lot of fanfare. And that is her power.

She dedicated this song to all of our “loves” and to her love, the late Fred Sonic Smith. Talk about a swooning moment. Top five, people.

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Sep 9 2013

Happy (belated) Birthday to Saint James

santiandmomIn the spirit of catching up one bite at a time, I just want to go back a couple weeks and wish my boy a happy 13th birthday. The birthday post is kind of a state of the union address, is it not?

Someday I might peruse back and read that the summer Saint James became a teenager, he would still get excited every time he saw the great blue heron in the pond near his school. I’d be happy to remember that he was, as ever, still into creatures and critters of every kind, spending time outdoors either kicking a ball or neck craned towards the ground, searching for something alive.

I would remember that he was crazy for soccer and approached every team he played on with an open heart and a willingness to give absolutely everything to his coach, his boys and the game. I might like to read that he felt the big wins and losses with equal intensity, and that he fought back tears like a champ. But I saw them.

I might chuckle at our obsession with the suspenseful, slightly inappropriate, tween show, Pretty Little Liars, and the sneaky, winking face he use to make to tantalize me to watch with him. Only dipping in for every 3rd to 4th episode, I got a detailed play-by-play of what I missed – more words that I normally heard out of Saint James, he had an earnest interest in keeping me caught up. It was our thing – and he laughed at me when I screamed. That show is some scary shit.

When I read back, I’ll know that as of age 13, his hand was still smaller than mine when we pressed them together. We both think the tips of his fingers will reach mine by Christmas. We’ll see.

I might be reminded that a couple days after his birthday, on my birthday, we were a tumble of bodies and blankets at Music and Movies at the bandshell when my people started agitating to put our “plan” into effect. And by “our plan” I mean “their plan.” They had decided August 23rd, my birthday, was when we would take a dark night swim. The heat wave had given way to a cool breeze and fatigue and gravity would have made it all too easy to try to talk them out of it. But since it’s generally better to choose YES, we went.

The lake was quiet and still and there was a huge, waning harvest moon hanging in the sky. Everyone stayed within the buoys except for Saint James and me. We ventured out together, as we do, silent except for the occasional look at the city! look at the moon! We swam and swam, easy strokes and pounding hearts, the water and the night sky the same impossible black, thrilling at the tiny lights on shore and the unthinkable depths below.

And then I heard it. Otters, mom? Otters. Saint James’ favorite animal for many years, otters swim on their backs and hold hands. Ya, let’s do otters. We flipped onto our backs and held hands in the dark. He’s a thin boy, Saint James, and floating doesn’t come easy. Fill your lungs buddy.

We floated in silence for no more than a minute, but it was a minute that held wrapped tightly within it thirteen years of my heart’s longings and loves for this kid. It was a minute where I was fully able to feel my blessing in real time, as opposed to in retrospect. It was a minute that will stay with me always.

Thank you for otters, Saint James. And happy birthday, kid.

Sep 5 2013

Tiny Floating

tinyfloatingI love lakes. I just do. So many people prefer oceans, or (egads) swimming pools, but to me nothing beats a cool, deep lake. I like that the water is sweet. I like that it holds mysteries. I like that lakes are alive, yet contain nothing that can actually eat me. Lakes are safe, but they are dark – and something about that floats my boat.

August had me returning to the lake every day. Multiple times a day. After a summer spent at the pool, I’m over its artificial blue waters and right angles – the chlorine, the bodies. Something about the late summer light makes me yearn for nature and its wild edges. I crave the inky black water and the cloud streaked sky. Morning, noon and best of all, night, the lake is different and completely gorgeous each time.

I’ve always been one to swim out way far – searching for the middle – possibly the area where I go tiny dancing. On vacation I would eye a distant rock island for days until one day I made a break for it with Saint James. We don’t swim fast, we don’t swim freestyle. A simple, head out of the water breast stroke allows us to talk and go for days. He’s always been my deep swim companion and we’d turn, panting and proud, to see our people, impossibly small and worriedly standing with hands on hips on the shore.

This August, through the heatwave, the middle of Lake Harriet became my parlor of sorts and I brought anyone who was game. Dash, Supergirl, book club ladies. I wanted to share the MIDDLE, because the middle is better than the edges.

It occurs to me that what draws me back again and again is the same exact feeling that I get from crunching my way out onto the white expanse in the wintertime. It’s found territory – a place where your body isn’t necessarily supposed to be. I love being where I’m not supposed to be.

Floating on my back, with planes flying overhead or the moon hanging like a swinging bulb, the water lapping at my temples – this is the physical sensation of summer that I am choosing for myself this year. This is what I will think about when the snow flies and the lake is frozen to land. I will imagine those waters holding my body afloat, limbs splayed and eyelids heavy, a sacred offering to the sun.

May 1 2013

And so it begins . . .

securedownloadMy boy has sipped from the delicious cup of freedom and there is no turning back. As you know, I’ve always loved the wandering. Go forth, ride like the wind, find your friends, explore. Come home tired, happy, dirty and smarter.

I feel lucky to live in a city that feels safe for our kids. There are sidewalks, bike paths, businesses and people out and about – lots and lots of people. There are also lakes and trees and parks and donut shops. Lenore Skenazy, a proponent of anti-helicopter parenting and free roaming kids writes about the “popsicle test” – if an 8 year old can walk to buy a popsicle by herself and finish it before getting home, then that city is probably thriving and therefor a safe place for children to inhabit and own. I think our little apple passes the popsicle test with flying colors.

Then there’s what I’m going to call the “eyes and ears” test. In the last couple weeks I’ve had at least three friends mention that they spotted Saint James out and about with his crew. There’s a loose but vast web of benevolent watchers who will recognize my kid and take note of where he is and what he’s up to. There are scores of mamas who will, I trust, report back to me if they see something I wouldn’t like.

When I spot one of my friends’ kids out in the wild, I make a point to wave or make the quickest of quick breezy contacts – just so they know I see them and just so they’ll see me. If they’re too far away, I take a beat to check them out – make sure all is well. Our kids seeing and being seen by adults they know has a double benefit: I will tell your mom if you’re not wearing your helmet. But also: I am here if you need me.

So I’m purportedly comfortable with the ever widening perimeter Saint James is claiming as his own. Why then, did I spend this past weekend in a state of suspended waiting and disbelief as the hours stacked up and he didn’t darken my doorway for food, drink or rest?

He’s roaming far and wide, and with him – always – goes a piece of my heart. I know he’s a good kid and he looks both ways before crossing the street. I also know that if there’s a short cut that doesn’t involve staying on the bike paths, he’s going to take it. I know that the boys really are playing sports for hours on end. But I also know that these day-long peregrinations may not be as wholesome at age 16.

My conversations with Dash are completely ridiculous.

Me: Oh my gosh, he’s been gone since ten this morning!

Dash: Ya, it’s good.

Me: It IS good. Yes! So good. I love it. But it’s been hours!

Dash: uh huh.

Me: I mean, what is he eating? He’s going to be so exhausted! What are they doing? He left at the crack of dawn this morning!

Dash: You’re the one who’s always saying . . .

Me: IknowIknowIknow!!! It’s good! It’s so good, but it’s been HOURS!

Dash: . . .

Me: I mean, what on earth are those boys up to? It’s been hours!

Dash: . . .

Me: It’s so awesome. Ya. Don’t you think he should come home rest for a bit before practice?

And I’m leaving out the parts where Dash rolls his eyes and tells me I can’t have it both ways and that I started the whole wandering thing and I slam the door in a huff.

Yep, we’re still figuring this out. So for now the rules are that he has to tell us the plan and who’s involved. He has to text back within a reasonable period of time if we text him – we have yet to define what a reasonable period of time is because he’s been decent at getting back to us. He needs to text when there’s a change of location. I’m also thinking he’s going to have to come home for lunch or start using his own money for food otherwise he’ll be at Tin Fish feasting on fish tacos every damn day this summer.

And the most important rule of all: be a good kid. You never know who might be watching.

Feb 8 2013

This Season We’re In

securedownloadRed Vogue emailed me a little winter promo she had put together because the jumping fish girl is actually Supergirl. When I saw it, I just sat with my chin in my hands for a few minutes and stared. It’s so lovely.

The feeling I get from seeing these two photos side by side is the essence of Minnesota life for me. The lakes loom large for our families, in winter, spring, summer and fall and to see Harriet dressed in her two most contrasting costumes is a good reminder that winter is not forever. And also a good reminder that winter is not forever.

Y’all know I’m a fan of a wintery lake. When I was the mystery guest in Supergirl’s classroom, my clues for favorite places were 1. Clancy’s meat market in Linden Hills, 2. First Avenue and 3. the middle of the lake in the middle of the winter. Tiny dancing is still one of my life’s most unique and mind clearing  pleasures, but trucking out with the kids, Dash and Foxy Brown (or any combination thereof) is equally warming – warming in all ways.

If you haven’t walked out to the middle of Lake Harriet by yourself, with your dog or with your kids, you are missing out. Truly missing out on a physical and mental sensation that is ephemeral and uniquely tied to this time of year. I’ve said this before: It is found ground. How can we not enjoy standing on its firmness and marveling at our spot in the world?

When I’m out there, my pooch tearing around like a chocolate blur, I find myself slowly turning 360 degrees to take in the white expanse, the variegated sky, the winking lights. When in life do we ever take a slow 360? It’s so rare.

I take the big clearing breaths I don’t remember or get to take the rest of the time when I’m wrapped up in my bulky sweaters, hunched against the wind or over a cup of hot tea.

I note that what’s missing in color and saturation is more than compensated for in pattern, texture and shadow – all courtesy of the wind and the clouds and Mama Nature’s deft hand.

And I am grateful for the cold that makes it possible, because that is no longer something we can or should take for granted.

Winter is not forever.

Nov 12 2012

Music Monday: Lia Ices

I swear, I’m riding an exhausting, heady and soul satisfying wave of love lately. It’s only exhausting because apparently, for me, love involves a bit of carousing.

Over the last few days I’ve celebrated the election and the fact that our state was the FIRST of about 30 to shoot down a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Love Minnesota.

I’ve also attended my first Bat Mitzvah and was overwhelmed by Lady Doctor Poodle’s beautiful, poised, spiritual 13 year old daughter and the lovely way the Jewish faith celebrates this coming of age. Love the Jews.

I’ve danced in the beautiful kitchen of a new friend with a bevy of fabulous gay men and leggy ladies to again celebrate the Vote No victory. Love the Gays. Love dancing. Love champagne.

I recovered from said revelry by going to Sunstreet Breads with my kids in the morning and feasting on a fried chicken biscuit and gravy wonder of satisfaction and deliciousness. Always game for indulging mama’s need for some solid grub, my squirrels were good company on a gray Sunday morning. Chatty, mellow, hungry and funny they actually came up with a plan to watch a movie when we got home. Footloose 2 (ridiculous), blankets, puppy pile – all before noon. Love some hibernation.

And today, the snow flew. I’m feeling back to normal. Almost. But also very blessed right now. This is what I’m thinking for this winter: keep it simple, slow down, notice everything, be happy and celebrate life whenever I can.

Enjoy this beautiful song. I can’t get enough of her voice. Love is Won by Lia Ices.

Nov 5 2012

Music Monday – The National

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In honor of our national election . . . get it? I know, LAME. But these guys are anything but.

I’ve been meaning to throw The National some Music Monday love forever. They are a long time favorite of both Dash and mine. Both albums, Boxer and High Violet, are on frequent rotation at our house.

Their music is, flat out, beautiful. And on this tense, gray, damp autumn day it sounds just about perfect.

Oct 29 2012

Music Monday: Macklemore

vote_no_cartoonI was driving back from school with Saint James when this Macklemore song came on the radio. After listening for a bit he said: this is a song about voting no, right? I listened a little more and nodded. Sounds like it, bud. I could tell he liked it because he shazammed it, which is how I remembered to go back to it and give it another listen.

We were out to dinner with a couple families a few weeks ago and one of the things we talked about was how interested and vigilant all our kids are on the marriage equality issue. I’m not going to pretend that they aren’t swayed by what they hear from us, but I think to a large extent, the ideas of equality, of acceptance, of ‘live and let live’ are intuitive to little kids.

Saint James had a friend with two dads back when he was in daycare. The option of two dads has been in his world view since he was in diapers. If anything, he’s flummoxed that this is even an issue. To him, it’s a non-issue – or it should be.

I never really “got” the whole lawn sign thing before this. I know what I believe, but I didn’t particularly see the point in trumpeting it to the world. I suppose showing solidarity is worth something, but to me, it seemed unlikely someone would ever be swayed by a sign on my lawn. I guess you could say I was peevish about propaganda – even propaganda that I believed in.

But I’ve changed my mind. The Vote No signs one every other lawn in our neighborhood are the reason all our kids are so tuned in. Even Devil Baby knows what the issue is and what side of it we’re on. Because she can read and because she can wonder, she knows all about this. And she’s six. Seeing a Vote Yes sign is like spotting a yeti in these parts. There is one near their school and Supergirl reports on it when she gets off the bus (apparently, it has been spray painted – which is a great segue into talking about freedom of speech). The signs spark conversation and that is everything.

I’m going to go pick one up tomorrow.

In the meantime, enjoy a song. Share it with your kids.YouTube Preview Image

Oct 23 2012

Summer Nugget: Just Keep Dragging Your Kids to Stuff

astronautalisI was scrolling through pictures on my phone the other day and stumbled upon this one from the Bastille Day Block Party this summer. As is increasingly the case, we had a moody Saint James on our hands that day. He wasn’t digging the bands or the scene and he didn’t perk up until we ran into Creeper Bud and familia and he had someone to pal around with. Never underestimate the power of a peep.

We were happily ensconced to the left of the stage, kind of behind the speakers when the eagle-eyed Creeper Bud spotted Astronautalis milling around before his set. He is absolutely adorable, as you can see. As dapper a rapper as ever did rap. Supergirl grabbed my phone and walked over to him, we pushed the littles to follow and she got some girl to take this photo while we looked on with ridiculous grins on our mugs.

The best part of this little summer escapade, however, was Saint James’ turn around. Nothing I could have done or said would have changed his mind more than a musical connection. Having heard the song Dimitri Mendeleev on the radio earlier and talked about it with Dash (apparently, Mendeleev invented the periodic table – the kind of fact both Dash and Saint James are likely to know and me, not so much), he had his aha ! maybe this IS cool moment as soon as Astronautalis took the stage and started to sing in his inimitably intense way. He was hooked. I was happy. And more importantly, vindicated.

Because how can anyone stay moody listening to cool live music in a crowd of happy people on a perfect summer afternoon? I have to remember this episode because with the teen years fast approaching, my role as the official familial “dragger to things” is only going to become more and more challenging. I’ve got to keep dragging, but remain detached from the reactions. I need to keep in mind that it is not in my power to make anyone like anything. That maybe if I drag but I drag lightly, it’ll become more about the thing and less about the mother dragging to the thing. Right? Right.

Oct 22 2012

Music Monday: Bob Marley

YouTube Preview ImageDoctor Dash and I watched the documentary, Marley, this weekend and we were both blown away. We’ve long been fans of Bob Marley’s and reggae in general, but it turns out there’s A LOT we didn’t know.

Directed by Kevin Mac Donald (did you ever see The Last King of Scotland? Oof. Good.), the movie revealed a shy, complicated, charismatic, spiritual and talented man. I guess I knew about as much about Bob Marley as could be gleaned from a poster in a college dorm room: dreads, weed, great tunes. His short life was about so much more and this movie was not only a great way to learn about his message, Rastafarianism and Jamaica’s struggle for unity, but chocked full of awesome concert footage and photos – a complete joy to listen to and watch.

Stir it up, little darlin’.

And speaking of stirring it up . . . Supergirl and Little Red totally played me and Big Red yesterday. They came home from the park claiming that the other mother wanted to take one last dip in Lake Harriet. How well they understand their mothers. Supergirl knows how fixated I am on the “lasts” of each season – and I played right into her hand. Big Red is just always super game for an adventure, so she was an easy catch too.

It was a gorgeous night down at the lake, so unfortunately we had quite an audience as we cringed our way into the frigid water. The lake is low, making a quick and dramatic plunge impossible. With so many eyes on us, we couldn’t very well back out and we were left to awkwardly Nestea plunge into two feet of water. Of course there was no avoiding the guttural shrieks of pain, but it felt great – and the balmy 65 degree air felt like a warm blanket allowing us to sit on the beach wrapped in towels as the sun went down.

Those stinkers. It was perfect.

Let it be written. October 21st, baby.lake

Oct 2 2012

A Love Letter to Minneapolis

bldgsYou all know how much I love this little city of ours. You only need peruse the Little Apple category to the right to see all my love posts about this place. We had an August stay-cation this year that seriously rivaled going away in terms of watery adventure, delicious and varied meals, utter relaxation, culture, outdoor music and good old fashion bushwhacking. If you’re motivated and you have some time to stay put and enjoy it, this city just blossoms for you. The photo above was taken on a beautiful night on the Stone Arch Bridge during that week.

Almost everyone I know who lives here, loves it. And loves the kind of people who choose to make this their home. As a transplant, I am acutely aware of why it’s good here and why we chose it – because we did choose it.

The Huffington Post is running a series of love letters to different places and Monica Nassif, the founder of Caldrea (who also happens to live on my street) contributed a love letter to Minneapolis. I loved reading it the way you love it when a teacher praises your child. Yes yes yes! you nod, bursting with pride, a little teary-eyed and wanting to hear more.


Sep 17 2012

St. Vincent + David Byrne = Brilliance

5050e120bea56.preview-620You know the saying about the whole being greater than the sum of its parts? What if each part is SO great that it’s hard to imagine what might happen if you sum it to anything at all? That’s how I felt going into this concert on Saturday night. I felt like anything could happen.

David Byrne and Annie Clark are a match made in heaven. Cerebral, off kilter, deeply musical, borderline geeky and profoundly cool – it is no wonder and also lucky happenstance that they ended up collaborating with each other. I think a lot of people thought that this was David Byrne’s way of launching a protégé, of holding up a worthy newbie and saying pay attention people – I am passing my baton of awesomeness to this woman! But I think their partnerships is more balanced than that.

He is the elder statesman (still smooth as silk despite a small paunch that was revealed when he took off his blazer) and she is young, but they seem like equals with a true creative relationship. Clark brings as much to the table as Byrne and that is an INSANE thing to say when you’re talking about DAVID FREAKING BYRNE! And not for nothing, there’s no baton passing happening. Byrne is not going anywhere.

Their album, Love this Giant, is heady and challenging. I gave it a few listens in advance of the show and there is nothing easy about it. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the concert. They had a giant brass band moving in carefully choreographed routines behind and around the two of them while we were blown away by giant sound, ethereal vocals and confounding lyrics. But the chaos started to take form and settle into these really cool songs that made sense to the ear. After that beautiful show, the album sounds way less obtuse. I’ve got it on repeat.

Personally, I think it’s flattering that they decided to kick off this tour in Minneapolis. From the moment they took the stage they were pretty much saying We’re doing this, people! Keep up! - also super flattering to an audience. And when I say flattering, I really mean lucky. We were lucky to be there, plain and simple.

I didn’t expect this to be a standing-up show and I’m so glad it was because we got to dance. How could you not in the presence of those two freaky dancers? I. Love. How. They. Move. Annie does this robotic shuffle that allows us to shelve her fashion model looks, for a moment, so that we can fully appreciate her art and her virtuosic guitar playing. David Byrne moves just like David Byrne. He simply dances – it’s a physical manifestation of his music, his body’s way of translating the songs. They are both without guile and clearly doing nothing to conform to anyone else’s idea of what something should sound like or look like.

They are both true originals. I’m so glad they found each other. Take a look at Who from their album and listen for those horns –  a simultaneously charming and bad-ass third voice on Saturday night. But you’ll see it’s Annie and David you can’t stop watching. I want more.

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Aug 20 2012

Music Monday: Hot Cheetos and Takis

5447Hellooooo from the sunny slopes of the month of August. Time is running through my fingers like sand and even though I think about writing often, actually sitting down with my laptop has proven nearly impossible. But this. This I had to post. I’m sure you’ve seen it by now, but if not, take a listen and a look-see. And show your kids.

A product of the Minneapolis North Community Beats and Rhymes Program, these kids unfurl the funnest, sickest, slickest song about Cheetos I’ve ever heard. Maybe the only song about Cheetos, but no matter. Just goes to show, it’s the how, not the what. If you need convincing, check out this article in the Village Voice enumerating the 10 best things about the song.

Salty goodness.

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