Archive for December, 2012

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STREET FOOD and NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS

December 31, 2012

ImageYesterday, as I walked among the Viking fans tail-gating and feasting at the food trucks on 5th street, I was reminded of a conversation with my sister over the holidays.  I was sharing my enjoyment of walking downtown on Thursdays for lunch as thousands of workers  spill out of skyscrapers along Marquette and Nicollet to dine on street food…all talking to each other, greeting passer-bys and sharing tips of where to stop and “dine”.

And out of nowhere….WHAM! I was chastised for falling for that “stupid craze” and why would anyone get suckered in to paying good money to pretend it was State Fair time and ok to eat bad food in a bad atmosphere.

And once again, as I have all my life, I retreated.  After all, despite resolution after resolution to brush off the sibling intimidation, over 60 years of programming that “I’m the dumb one” is hard to overcome-try as I do!

But driving home after Christmas, I couldn’t help but think about it and all the “street food” I have enjoyed – not at the State Fair, but around the world.

My mind raced through  almost 30 years of food around the world  in a life before Creative Events….beinets and hush puppies in New Orleans; a hot dog, a knish, a big pretzel in New York City; totilla de patate in Madrid and a ham sandwich on the lawn of Monte Carlo Casino while watching the Grand Prix; a lobster roll and Moxie soda in New England; filled tortillas on the beach in Acapulco and Puerto Vallarta; bratwurst in Munich and sausages all over northern Europe; a gyro and custard pie (bougatsa) in the Plaka in Athens; cerviche in Tahiti and elsewhere; fry bread from a Native American roadside stand somewhere in the American southwest; a taco in the Zona Rosa in Mexico City; jerk pork sandwiches in Mo Bay and Ocho Rios, conch salad in the Bahamas and flatbread curry (roti) on the beach in Mullet Bay after I went lobster-diving; fish and chips and pasties everywhere in Great Britain; dim sum in Chicago…and Hong Kong, and a village in China; pizza in Naples and pissaladiere in Nice; gelati in Florence and Sorrento and tiropitakia in Tarpon Springs; great soup and bread (bsarra) in northern Africa; falafel, kibbeh, Turkish salad, tabbouleh, hummus  through-out Israel; shrimp fritters (acaraje?) on the beach in Rio; banh mi, pho bo, satays, spring rolls, soba noodles from Japan to China to the Philippines; and all that PLUS Korean bbq beef and kimchee (bulgogi and kalbi chim) –not in Korea- but through-out the Hawaiian Islands…along with the lomi lomi but NO poi; and I am sure there is more.

No, this time I am not wrong.  Street food may only be making a resurgence recently in the US but it is indeed the roots of every culture and cuisine around the world.  It is in the streets that you find the soul of a place…not in fine dining restaurant.  Street food serves as one’s introduction to the people and place; it is the key to understanding its customs and mores.  It is as one author I referenced  described: “the most democratic grub in the world; a place where politician eats alongside peasant, and flavors are unashamedly bold.”

Street Food-always present in major cities in the US-became a national “movement” mid 2000s for several reasons including the economy was dictating cheap start up costs and cheap deliverables for the consumer.  Americans, as the Mobile Society, have long been “on the go” eaters.  That access to “on demand” food simply fused with the demand for honest and delicious food.  Food and Wine Magazine called it the “luxocratic” movement as it features indulgences that are both luxurious and democratic.  And finally, street food implies energy and resourcefulness while at the same time it is “living art” that pleases, reassures, and connotes a sense of continuity.

As for the MSP street food I enjoy?  John Edger’s TRUCK FOODS struck a key note with me with the headline:

MINNEAPOLIS:  Aspirations of World-Class Street Food

Minneapolis and to a lesser degree, neighboring St. Paul, represent a certain kind of American City.  Such a city aims to be world-class; a designation that usually translates as urbane, prosperous, and purposeful multicultural.

Edge goes on to say that although by many measures, we are already world class, the street food needs to play a bigger role; then used Mill City Farmer’s Market as a positive example…mentioning the wild rice, the raw milk cheese known as “fish bait” and the food emerging from the Chef-Shack truck that not only looked, but tasted “world-class”.  (How he missed my favorite, the Himalayan yak and vegetarian mo-mos, I am not sure.  J)

So in my mind at least, I am exonerated.  Understanding these trends and why they are important is what I do, and why guests “connect” at my events.  Add to that, my past year’s immersion in the re-urbanization of Minneapolis as a world class multicultural city, and I’m thinking I am not the “dumb one” this time around.

How does that tie to my New Year’s Resolution?  One more time, I am going to try to tackle that sibling intimidation issue.  This time I am not wishing their attitude changes; that is hopeless.  I am just concentrating on my own reaction and hoping, with a little work, it improves.


 

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URBAN REINVENTION in 2012

December 29, 2012

Late in 2011, I liberated myself from suburban living and returned – for the third and I hope LAST time in my life – to the banks of the Mississippi in downtown Minneapolis.

Despite a year of challenges with pain and physical therapy and predictions of more of the same going forward, along with minimal income flowing through Creative Events to complicate and challenge things a bit more, I have not regretted the move – although the choice came with some unexpected and unwanted consequences including a growing isolation from family and some life-long friends.

And yesterday, December 28, after a six month debate with myself, I took the second step in my own personal urbanization….I sold my car!

Although I drive very little, between insurance, garage, upkeep and gas, the car I loved cost me almost $6000 a year in insurance, garage, gas and upkeep.  At $2 a MILE, that seems a luxury in my life that I do not need. 

And so today I begin at least a six month commitment to my next “life” transition in the wave of the urbanization revolution of the 21st century.

I am excited.  I am very nervous. And I am forever grateful for family and friends support of this decision….and especially for the support of my longtime friends JJ and Bella who helped me facilitate the logistics of this yesterday, and for that”after-car” transition time they spent with me last evening in moral support.

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NEW MEDIA

December 17, 2012

At the recommendation of a friend, last week I attended an IFP meeting at the Crooked Pint.  I went for several reasons – the title, “It’s a Brave New (Media) World” caught my attention professionally; the site, Crooked Pint, was a neighborhood location I had not visited; and the aftermath of the weekend snowstorm presented a personal challenge –could I walk over there?

On the downside, there was also a public forum to review the Above the Falls plan for the river that same night.  As most know, this is a passion for me, so I had a conflict-solved only because of the storm and the meeting site at MPRB which definitely was too far to walk that night.

So off I went to the Crooked Pint and I am so glad I did.  No, I am not a film-maker, so often, the discussion was over my head, but in the end, the context and questions were familiar as first the panel focused on describing what new media “is”:

Immersive; interactive; take the story of the film outside the film so the audience can interact; storytelling across platforms that create audience engagement; stories told on multiple platforms; storytelling in which the audience participates and contributes to the integrity of the story; the convergence of different media across platforms (i.e.,merging of TV and internet)

So far, so good…these are familiar topics applicable in our changing world of events as well.

Then the discussion moved on to more thought-provoking questions – questions I am not sure I can answer in my world:

  • How does one maintain a common tone across media types?
  • How do you achieve interconnectivity not just many forms of the same story?
  • Just because you can do it, should you?

Before the end of the session, I l was reminded /learned some good advice for the story “architect”:

  • Test ideas on the web
  • Learn from small failures
  • It’s not about the tactic…put the why and the who before the what
  • Find partners you trust
  • If the story is good, people will “hang in” despite a bad production

And along the way, I was directed to a wide variety of websites for further exploration and possible applications in my own world of event design.  I am sure there will be more to come on this topic as I delve into those.

As for the Crooked Pint?  I liked the ambience; I liked the BIG screen and the possibility of its use as a meeting site.

And the personal challenge of being able to safely walk over there?  Not so much.  Street crossings and medians themselves had not been  addressed yet, so at each intersection, I was forced to traverse a mountain of snow…all went well until that last one at Washington and 5th…where I took a misstep and quickly found myself sprawled out on the sidewalk! That has not helped with the pain flare-up I am already struggling through right now….but it was worth it for the new brain food I gathered at the meeting!

 

 

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2030

December 11, 2012

Repeatedly, we are reading yearend predictions for the future – often projecting to 2030 which sees ever so far away.  But think about it:  9-11 happened eleven years ago and it seems like yesterday.  Add just six years to that time span and we realize 2030 is not a far-away “future” time; it is tomorrow!

Here are today’s latest projections for 2030 as published by the US National Intelligence Council:

  • China becomes the leading economic power; but US remains a significant world leader due to its energy independence.

 

  • On the upside, there will be growing affluence with a larger global middle class…better educated, wider access to healthcare, and communications technologies.

 

  • Presented as a Teutonic shift,  “for the first time, a majority of the world’s population will not be impoverished and the middle class will be the most important social and economic sector…around the world.”

 

  • On the downside, half of the world’s population most likely will be living in areas that suffer from severe shortage of fresh water.

 

  • More radicalized groups; more violent, than current terrorists organizations

 

  • Greater use of lethal, disruptive technologies such as biological weapons and cyber-weapons

 

  • “State Failure” predicted for countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Burundi, Rwanda, Somalia, Uganda, Yemen

 

  • The “best-case” scenario is a political partnership between the US and China which may have been initiated by a crisis such as nuclear standoff between Pakistan and India

 

  • The “worst-case” scenario could be the stalling of economic globalization due to perhaps an outbreak of a health pandemic.

 

In short, they found the health of the global economy increasingly will be linked to how well the developing world does – more so than the traditional West.  Those countries include Brazil, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Nigeria, South Africa and Turkey.

2030 is just around the corner.  Another way of looking at that time span is to recall one of similar length from 1929 to 1945…from Crash to Great Depression to World War II to emerging on the precipice of a world dominated by the United States.

 

As I listen to the news pundits filling time with no election pending and nothing but the fiscal cliff and how to reform the Republican party to speculate about, it makes me wonder….

If the changes in the last eleven years cannot be accepted by the Republicans of today, how in the world are they going to adapt when not only they, but also the country need to move past the good old days  and focus on what is before us.  Can we all, as Americans, meet this challenge and that of a multi-cultural population without putting aside these great divides and relearning  how to work collaboratively for the good of the whole again?  How will we adjust and move forward as a global leader? 

 

 

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A December Saturday in the CIty

December 8, 2012

The ground was white and frosty as I set off for MCM Winter Market….the best idea for this season’s  Farmers  Market I’ve seen…recharged by the energy  it creates in the space, I tour the booths, resist the good baked goods, chat with friends and stop to make my one planned purchase….the Chile Chutney at the Gorkha Palace table.  I think I am ready for my next stop, but the crowd at 2Gingers drew me in….so why not…a little 2Gingers on Saturday morning to toast the news of the Beam  acquisition!  That slowed me down a bit, so took a little time to chat with Adrienne Logsdon (Kiss My Cabbage lady) about her  kimchi which has become a staple in my refrigerator – sampled a few “fall” blends and discovered a pretty good new one that will work well with that pork/sausage and confit winter dinner I make…I’ll be back for the January market to make that purchase , as I did not want to carry it over to East Bank and back.

Bridge deck was a little slippery so slower going, and was I glad I had that scarf to pull up over my chin to ward off that wind coming down the river!   I was happy when I could make the left turn between Lourdes Place and Ard Godfrey as I headed to Lady of Lourdes Church.  Today was their annual Christmas Bazaar (more like Christmas flea market) but it always makes my list so I can have coffee and a cinnamon roll – the kind my mom used to make – and make my one yearly purchase…the French Meat Pie…and give a small contribution to help continue the restoration work at the church.

After visiting a bit with Muriel from Ard Godfrey House/Woman’s Club, I am off to East Hennepin….first stop, the “amber” store where I resisted not only the amber, but some beautiful hand-blown ornaments from Central Europe….a quick run through Kramarczyk’s  and now it is almost time to meet a friend for momos at Gorkha Palace.

Oh what a treat…..I normally have them for lunch in the summer – purchased from their stand in the Farmer’s Market – enjoyed while people watching as I sit on the Guthrie Terrace.  But since the inside market does not include cooking, we decided to partake of this treat at the restaurant itself.  I pass it often, but confess, have never been inside, so today we experienced it…and there is no doubt, I will be back!  I feasted on Yak and vegetarian momos smothered in tomato sauce, but next time I am going for dinner so in addition to the great service and the local artwork, I can try a Nepali curry or tandoori. If you have not been, put it on your list.

A store or two more; then a quick detour into Lund’s for a box of melba rounds and I am ready to head back across the river…fortunately, it is now almost 1 so sun had done its thing on the snow and the bridge itself was clear and not as hazardous.   I make good time, fortunately, as I needed to be back in the Churchill lobby by 1:30 to be picked up for the visit to Union Depot in St. Paul!  As I glance up at the Churchill as I approach, I can, for the first time, identify the balcony that belongs to me….there it is – half way up – bedecked with my authentic Amish sleigh bells  and garlands of holly!  (I have tried to count up from the ground several times from different angles, but never have been quite sure – so this was a pleasant discovery!)

Inside, drop the bag, the mittens and big scarf and we are off again to St. Paul.  Union Square is gorgeous!   Too many people;  too many activities going on; too little time.  This deserves an exploratory visit on its own – so having seen and been seen, we jumped back in the car and returned to Mpls.

As we traveled west, my friend commented on  all the compliments I got on my hat….yes, the very hat  I purchased last year as a birthday gift to myself  – worn for the first time to Rochester at Christmas last year and was mocked by my younger sister….who obviously did not like it.  So all year long, it held its place as a “display” on an empty hook of my coat rack in the foyer….with me afraid to wear it again, as obviously it was ugly and I had no fashion taste. 

Well, this morning, tasteful or not, I donned it to hide my very short hair (the result of my dear friend Sue at Rocco’s trying to mask the new hair growth from the latest major alopecia attack I had this fall) and to cover my ears as protection from the cold. Two people at the Farmer’s Market told me they liked it; my friend Muriel told me she liked it; and then the comments at Union Station….all compliments I view as my Christmas gift to myself and another life lesson I will never learn….I am not dumb; I do have ok taste; and I should not listen to my family who are always telling me otherwise!

And now here I am….sans hat, and resting my feet…contemplating whether one last thing on my list for today is going to happen.  Do I have the energy to rally one more time…head down the street to take in Holidazzle and then perhaps a drink in the bar at the newly renovated Murray’s before returning home?

What a hard decision…I am curled up here in the library, carols playing in the background, with the lights of my trees illuminating the crystal ornaments and declaring “Peace on Earth”…right here at home.  Can I rally again?  Well, why not – maybe I will get more compliments on my hat!

 

 

 

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THERE’S SOMETHING ROTTEN IN THE NFL….

December 5, 2012

That title in the Opinion Exchange of STRIB caught my eye this morning, as I have been pondering this issue for more than 15 years – ever since I produced the NFL Player of the Year Awards Dinner at Superbowl back in the Nineties….

It was encouraging to see that the US version of Rome’s gladiators is finally producing some thoughtful dialogues.

To me, it does not seem ok that “within 2 years of retiring, 3 out of 4 NFL players will be one or more of the following: alcohol or drug addicted; divorced, or financially distressed/bankrupt”….AND the suicide rate for men who have played in the NFL is nearly six times the national average.

Really?  Lives are expendable just because they entertain us?  And no, I do not think it is okay to  push these concerns aside by retorts of  how it is their choice, and they get paid a whole lot to take that risk.  That is not a “risk” – it is more of an inevitability…just to please the football fan.

I tend to agree with the author Frank Bruni of New York Times when he said “…to be an NFL fan these days is to feel morally conflicted, even morally compromised, because you’ve supported something that corrodes too many lives.”

I admit, I am tainted by my experience working with NFL Alumni Assn for the superbowl events…and having to deal with some pretty incredible problems with some of the players that were being honored, but those days definitely broke my Sunday afternoon habit of sitting mindlessly in front of the TV … and I had not really realized how much further this had progressed in the ensuing years.

No one is saying get rid of football…but every fan should ponder the question – what can be done differently.

And if your “love” of professional football hinders you from acknowledging there is a problem, it may be time to do some soul-searching about why  you have turned into the cheering Roman in the Colesium..delighted when humans are malled and eaten by the lions.

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A MISSED OPPORTUNITY….

December 1, 2012