If you missed Coney Quest V: The Downstream Journey, which took place last October, now is your chance to make up for past mistakes. I'm leading another group of folks on the same route this week. the weather looks great and the ride is amazing, right along the Mississippi River, right down to Celt's Pub in Inver Grove where they will have an amazing coney waiting for you.
Join me and enjoy the Mississippi River and Saint Paul's finest vernacular food.
What: bike ride to eat coney dogs When: 6/12 at 5:30pm Where:Amsterdam Bar in Saint Paul Why: because they're there Who: anyone with a bike and an appetite for coneys
[Basically the problem is that the best source of Saint Paul streets & sidewalks news is the Highland Villager, a very fine and historical newspaper. This wouldn't be a problem, except that its not available online. You basically have to live in or frequent Saint Paul to read it. Until this newspaper goes online, sidewalk information must be set free. See also: Three Reasons Why I Re-Blog the Highland Villager.]
Headline: District court rules city must put trash collection on ballot Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: A judge ruled that a petition to end the city's organized trash ordinance is valid. There is a lawsuit. The City Council thinks there are state statues that defend their position. The ruling states that trash collection must be suspended at the end of June. People upset about trash are happy. There is an appeal. [Thanks, garbage people. This is such a Saint Paul fiasco. Why can't we have nice things?]
Headline: City hearings resolve disputes over unpaid trash service bills Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: People who did not like or agree with bills they received for trash collection had a change to appeal them. Sometimes these appeals were successful. Article has some stories of people who owed money, including one guy who just didn't like the organized collection because "he handles it himself." Quote from another guy: this whole deal sucks." The City Council tried to keep people focused on their specific bills rather than general ranting.
Headline: Carter opens city budget process with seven ward meetings Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: Mayor Carter has to make a budget and is having meeting about it. Taxes will probably go up. One person is upset that the meeting was in a bar. The mayor's office had "game sheets" for folks to figure out how to set the budget.
Headline: City considering the scope of Ford redevelopment impact study Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: There will be an thing called an alternative urban areawide review (AUAR) which looks at development impacts for ford. There will be public comment on it. Quote from developer guy: "we'll have two years of signifiant earthwork to do before reconstruction even starts." [That's a long time!]
Headline: Not practicing what it preaches? City sued for not offering workers sick and safe time Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: Some people who work as pool lifeguards are suing the Parks and Rec department for not offering sick time, against city ordinance. [This seems pretty wrong, on the "right and wrong" scale.] Article tells the story of someone who was not given his accrued sick time and who would not let him use his sick time when he was sick. Article includes some info about the city's ordinance. [Yikes.]
Headline: Planning Commission releases design standards for Ford site Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: There will be rules about what buildings can look like. Public comment is happening now.
Headline: Permit allows reuse of 1905 Ramsey Hill carriage house Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: A guy can convert an old carriage house into an apartment. It has been empty since a pipe burst there in 2011.
Headline: $200,000 city loan to help pay Keg an Case project overrun Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: The city is giving a loan to the Keg & Case people because redevelopment cost a bit more than they thought because of the "high costs of historic rehabilitation and the abatement of hazardous materials." [High cost of pizza slices is more like. $10, folks. For a slice.]
Headline: City considers encouraging an increase in homeless shelters Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: The there is a study to think about how to increase homeless shelters. There are more people experiencing homelessness than there used to be.
Headline: City Council lays over vote on right-of-way assessments Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: The city cannot figure out how to have people pay for streets. Some people got hit with huge bills because the way the assessments work has recently changed to be more expensive. There are lawsuits [of course].
Headline: Corps seeks public comments on master plan for Mississippi Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: There is a plan about the river. There's a map online about it at tinyurl.com/y539y5us. A meeting will happen someday, somewhere.
Headline: Friends of river oppose senior housing plan along Lilydale bluffs Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: An old strip mall might become housing for old people in Lilydale / Mendota Heights. A nonprofit doe snot like it because it might affect the view. [Fun fact: the population of Lilydale is 623. Also, I sure wish this group would focus on access to, and appreciation of, the river as well as their #1 job, which should be removing pollution. The eternal discussions of views, as if the city does not exist, is irksome.]
Headline: Central Baptist to raze two houses for new parking lot Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: A church has bought some homes and will tear them down and pour asphalt on the ground and let people put empty cars there. [I hate when this happens. My sense is that condition for the church not protesting the development next door, removing the shared bank-owned lot they used, was that they get to build this new parking lot.] Neighbors are concerned about losing housing. Quote from the board of zoning appeals (BZA) person: "i understand the desire to not lose housing, but there is also a need for parking."
Headline: Commission paves way for apartments on Island Station site Author: Jane McClure
Short short version: A vacant parcel of land by the river might become a 250-unit apartment building. Neighbors are concerned about making sure they can get to the river, and high rents in general. Some of the apartments might be affordable in some vague way.
My back began crumbling after a week of sleeping on the couch. I couldn't even stand up straight. Much more, and I feared I'd be a permanent hunchback. Not wanting that, I made my way over to the Viking Bar to sit on some high stools with stiff backs in the hopes of straightening my spine while medicating my muscles. Somewhere between the first George Jones song and the eighth, an old lush fell into the bar, probably still drunk from the night before and most likely since that one night in 1976. He sat next to me, bumping his elbow against mine, too drunk to see the other 20 or so available stools around us. He looked at the barmaid, knowing what he wanted, just not how to say it.
"Odka nnn cubes," he grumbled.
"You want vodka with ice cubes?" she asked, trying to clarify.
"Um, yeah," he said.
"Do you want a beer or glass of water with that?"
"Uh, yeah, odka nnn cubes."
"Yeah, but which do you want, water or a beer?"
She became fed up and began to pour his vodka.
"No," he interrupted her, slashing his hand through the air and pointed assertively to the orange juice.
"Oh, she said, "vodka and orange juice."
He smiled and nodded. Then he started laughing to himself and didn't stop until his drink arrived. I wondered what it was he knew that he wasn't telling us. What the big secret was. I wondered if he knew what time it was or even what day it was. I wish he would have just turned to me and said, "Excuse me, son, are you aware that while you are sitting here staring at me staring at you in the mirror that you are missing your flight back to L.A.?" That would have been much funnier than going to the airport on Sunday and being told I was a day late, don't you think?
I'm leading a little walking tour of bar history in Minneapolis' West Bank tonight. It'll be a bit different than the dive bar tours in the past, as we'll be looking at what's left of the historic landscape of the area as much as visiting current saloons.
This part of the city (or was) one of the hearts of Minneapolis bar culture for at least a century, and there's are a few stories to share about it. I hope to see you there! It'll be at least three (3) bar stops and a mile or two stroll.
What: walking tour of west bank bars When: 6:20pm - 9:00 Who: anyone Where:Republic at Seven Corners (I know it's not a dive, but there's something there I have to share) Why: because it's the last part of town I haven't done a tour of...
[Philip Carlton is a plein air painter who has lived, on and off, in Saint Paul, Minnesota. When he's not traveling the west painting landscapes, I've seen him on the sidewalks and breweries of Saint Paul painting, and here's a short chat with Philip.]
Q: How did you get into plein air painting, aka painting stuff outside?
I discovered painting early in college. I had intended to get into computer science and engineering, and then I when I started my undergrad freshman year, I fell in love with studio drawing and figure drawing, especially from live models. And got into art from that. I started painting a year later, and I’ve been doing it ever since.
Q: Why do you paint outside? How did you start doing outdoor work?
So I actually in college, I was taught painting from an indoor perspective. And it was all about using photographs and sitting a studio and not necessarily sitting in front of what you want to paint.
After college, I realized I enjoyed painting from life, whether its a person or a landscape or a still life. I like seeing something and translating it onto a canvas. Also I realized I really liked being outdoors, I like exploring and going and finding something to paint and dealing with all the elements that may or may not constrain that search.
Q: How long have you been at this?
I’ve been painting now for 15 years, and the last year and a half it has been full time, pretty much been my day job so to speak. I spend some time here painting urban stuff in Saint Paul and Minneapolis, but I also travel for various painting events in the western states. I’ve been painting a lot in Wyoming, Montana, Utah, and Arizona.
There’s a cool story behind all of this, Originally when I got into outdoor painting, people were like, “go to the nature center, go find a lake, a forest.” Traditionally pretty things to go paint, and for a while that was an easy thing. I was living south of the Cities, by Prior Lake, and there was a lot of that traditional scenery. But then I ended up moving up to live right off I-94, by 94 and Cretin, and I had an art studio there for year. And started to simply paint in the Creative Enterprise Zone, the industrial area by the train tracks, by my art studio. All these broken down palettes pallets and power lines and industry, and I was like, oh I can go to my backdoor and there’s all this old urban stuff to paint that not too many people are painting. One of my favorite paintings a few years ago was the old Rock-Ten plant, that has a cardboard pile 24 hours a day, with a giant front-end loader. I did a painting of that 2 years ago, and thought this is kind of cool.
It turns out that’s a cool area too, that plant. When it gets cold out the smokestack makes this awesome billowing clouds, and the colder it gets, the prettier it gets.
Q: What conditions do you paint in? How cold are you willing to go?
I have painted in temps as low as like 15 or 10 degrees. It’s not particularly fun, but I’ll paint down to about that. In truth, these days I chase warmer weather in the winter, but you never know. One day I was in the Grand Canyon. It was 5 degrees that morning. Around 15 or 20 is where I feel like I can paint decently a good job
Q: How long does it take you to paint a painting, in general?
It varies a lot. I would say, around 90 minutes or 2 hours is probably the minimum amount of time, I feel like I can do a complete painting then. My sweet spot these days is 3 to 6 hours, sometimes multiple days. I’ve spent up to 16 hours working on them over a couple of days. Q: So I bet you have some stories about running into people while you're working...
I do have interesting encounters. One time that was memorable was over by the McDonalds on University and Vandalia, and this guy came up to me. “Oh, your an artist? he said. “I’m an artist too,” and he started to freestyle rap for 3 minutes. I was floored by it, in the middle of winter, on University. Thee’s some fun stuff for sure. People seem generally amused to see it. I like being out there. I like showing people that, hey painting is a thing. It’s fun and this neighborhood that you think is mundane is really cool.
Another funny story: I was out in Moab , a beautiful place by the side of the road. Some guy came by on a bicycle to tell me it was too close to his property, but he was too drunk and fell over and then disappeared.
Q: Is there anything else people should know about your work?
You might mention, its kind of the style. The idea of painting outside is called plein air. It’s kind of a one of the things that’s coming back into vogue.
It’s something that I used to avoid. I thought it was like the realm of like stuffy old white men, the Monets and the bearded fresh men from 1890. But we can make this accessible and cool and exciting for people of all ages and living in all places, like to do it differently. Like I’ve been having fun lately doing a series of work for Insight Brewing. It’s just cool to realize that these are people that aren’t artists, they’re just stoked to see this cool part of their backyard turned into interesting art.
[Carlton finishing a painting on the Bad Weather patio.]