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A Range of Minnesotan Tidbits

October 11, 2010

So after the brilliant return of the Monthly Happy Hour to Le Poisson Rouge on October 1st, I apparently completely forgot about my responsibilities to the online ex-pat Minnesotan community.

But now I’m back – and I have a number of things to share with you!

First thing first – my lovely mother sent me a picture of some graffiti she saw in Minneapolis while out on the Greenway – very beautiful representation of everybody’s favorite lumberjack:


Now that that’s out of my system… if you enjoyed the wonderful DJ Cherry Spoon’s musical prowess at the latest happy hour, be sure to check out her blog chronicling the Best of the C-Grade Restaurants in NYC. Very lovely musings from a fellow Minnesotan transplant in NYC. As a special treat, here’s an extract from the inaugural post:

Over the past decade, the street has gone from “Murder Avenue” of hip-hop lore to hipster/breederized BID (business investment district, for those of you not privy to local government terminology). Yet all the while, little John’s Coffee and Donut has remained resolute, with its no-nonsense red sign with yellow block lettering. What, with the red signs of Liberty Pizza and the Associated grocery store across the street, the strip is already color coordinated sans help of extra taxes per store square foot. It’s almost as if it always were some Disneyified version of Brooklyn.

Well, almost…

Along a similar vein, we’d love to congratulate Minnesotan writer in NYC Ben Westhoff for having published his first book! “New York City’s Best Dive Bars: Drinking and Diving in the Big Apple” has a pretty self-explanatory title and looks like a fun piece of work! You can order it here – or check out his website and order an autographed copy. Here’s a brief extract that I found quite amusing:

Irene’s Pub

Greenpoint, Brooklyn

You know you’re out of your element when you walk into a bar and
people first stare, then rearrange themselves to make room for you to
sit down. It sets the tone for the evening. You’re the show.

So it went at Irene’s Pub, where my wife Anna, my friend Dillon and I
were told there would be old Polish men passed out on the bar. There
was that, and also a Spuds Mackenzie doll, a picture of Pope John Paul
II and plenty of Christmas lights. Though a sign read, “No smoking
permitted in the bar”…there was, in fact, smoking in the bar.

“Mike,” said the guy in the camo pants, introducing himself to us and
gesticulating in a way that indicated we would be fine if we stayed
with him. In his garbled English, he added that he was Slovakian – not
Polish like most everyone else here — and went on to tell us about a
life-changing AC/DC concert at Madison Square Garden and how the only
true Americans were the Indians.

But he spent most of his time on a monologue intended to demonstrate
the weakness of our economy. His cousin had left Slovakia sometime
after the fall of the Berlin Wall and moved to Italy, see, where he
was now an ambassador. Mike, meanwhile, departed the country of his
birth around the same but hadn’t fared as well.

“I…carpenter!” he cried.

He began buying us shots of Bison Grass vodka – called Żubrówka in
Polish. It’s sweet and minty, and the bottle has a long piece of grass
in it. As soon as our glasses hit the bar he ordered another round,
which I paid for. While I was in the bathroom he grabbed Anna and
began dancing with her to the Europop playing on the jukebox. I came
back to him spinning and dipping her. They returned to the bar and he
apologized. “She, yours? So sorry. I’m idiot.” Before we left he
complimented her curls, “The best,” and bought us another round of
Bison Grass vodka.

I haven’t been able to discern this place’s exact address, and there
seems to be absolutely no trace of it on the internet. Someone told us
it was called “Walker’s,” but the bartender insisted it’s called
“Irena.” A neon Budweiser sign on the premises, however, calls it
“Irene’s Pub,” so let’s go with that.

As a final note, after last week’s disappointing game against the hometown team,  a Minneapple reader named Stephanie recently noted, “Perhaps people can post ideas to watch the Twins game in NYC without being heckled by the raging Yankees fans.” People have suggested co-opting the Vikings’ Bar None for such purposes, but the more venues we can get dedicated to Minnesotan culture and sports, the better! Any suggestions?

And since you’ve made it this far – a video treat from Minnesota golden boy Jeremy Messersmith:


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