Milwaukee, WI — The pilgrimage continues.
Fargo was kinda there. Bigger than I expected. I checked out the downtown scene. People seemed nice enough. But I got that vibe it is the kind of town where if the out of towner piped up with a negative comment about the local sports team a most savage gangland style beating would be in his future. So, to be on the safe side, Go Bison. Speaking of local sports, I hit up the Roger Maris Museum. Well, technically it’s a museum, but in reality it’s a hallway in a shopping mall. Had some of his old awards, many of the home run balls from 61, some old jerseys, a recreation of his Yankee Stadium locker and a replica of his marker from Monument Park. Can’t say that I was blown away, but it beat the hell out of the guy trying to sell those head massagers. Legal action should be taken against that guy. He (not this one guy in particular, I am referring to all head scratcher thingy salesmen as a single intentiy) walks up and just sticks that big spider hand contraption on your head and starts working it. Thanks for the lice dilweed. I never see him wash the dag blasted thing, much less disinfect it. Just a bottle of Lysol, or maybe a bottle of that blue stuff barbers use. I have no idea what’s in the jar (it could be blueberry Kool Aid for all I know) but over the years I have developed a trust with that viscous looking substance. When I see an instrument come out of that jar, I feel confident that it is now sanitary and by all legal and social parameters ready to touch my scalp.
Basically everyone I encountered was ridiculously friendly. Before leaving town, I stopped to fill up the car. When I went inside to prepay, the lady looked at me like I asked her to donate a kidney for al Qaeda. Apparently the pumps at this station don’t even have a prepay option (or maybe the clerk just didn’t know how to work the register for prepay). And what’s more, according to her and a couple of folks in line behind me, this prepay thing is catching on in other cities. And they fear (because of a few recent after dark drive offs) that this untrusting system may soon make it’s way to Fargo. For a brief moment, I wanted to move to North Dakota and raise a family. Then I stepped outside, looked at the landscape, felt the chill in the air and said “nuts to that.”
The trip across Minnesota took longer than I expected. I’m about ready to give up on Mapquest. At this point I think that site would tell me that the Millennium Falcon made the Kessel Run in less than eleven parsecs. Minneapolis did not disappoint. Well, there was one huge disappointment, no shows at First Avenue while I was there. Just a night earlier and I could have stood in that historic club and hurled insults (and maybe a beer bottle) at Evanescence. I think it would be fun to be a reverse Dead Head like that. Follow around a crappy band and sit around and talk about how the Portland show sucked more than the San Fransisco show. Then sell bootlegs of other bands and try to convert the fans to decent music. Minneapolis is a very walkable city. And when you don’t feel like it, the light rail gets you pretty much anywhere you want or need to go. I stopped by an open mic. Not only was the comedy better than expected, but the crowd was huge, and involved. Quite the shock to my little comedy system. I wanted to call up all of my Los Angeles comedian friends and bring them into the warm embrace of a Minneapolis crowd.
I found some cool bars as well. When in town I highly recommend the Imperial Room. Reasonably priced drinks, cool decor, good service and a most enjoyable mix tape (or ipod shuffle, I’m so old). It was great to be in the city that gave me (OK, and the rest of the world) Prince. I settled in for some Monday Night Football. And congrats to Brian Urlacher and his Bears for their victory over Matt Lienart and his Cardinals in the Paris Hilton Bowl. Usually staying in a hotel next to the bus station is a bad idea. On this particular night it gave me something great. I can now top pretty much anybody’s crazy homeless guy story. I saw a gentleman standing on the sidewalk, pissing into the street and yelling at his penis. I wanted to stop and admire this entertaining creation of nature. But decided to keep walking, while peeking over my shoulder.
Now it was time for the holiest of pilgrimages. The city that gave me the Violent Femmes and Miller beer. Milwaukee here I come. Another very walkable city. I made my way out and crossed the river. When in Milwaukee I stop by The Lodge (just off Water St). Good drinks, great tunes and some cool folks to have prolonged music discussions with. The next morning it was up and off to see what Milwaukee famous, and made me a complete buffoon a time or two. The Miller Brewing Company is of course a massive operation. They gave the full history from Fredrick Miller’s birth to the hundreds of thousands of bottles they now ship out daily. Walking around the gift shop gave me a few chuckles. Seeing people pay good money for the same crap the distributors have given me for free over the years (although they didn’t sale what a really wanted, the jumpsuits that employees wear). At the end of the tour there is a tasting. I was expecting to be exposed to some of the newer and/or less popular brews from the fine people at Miller. Not the case. Far be it from me to complain about free beer, but the first sample was Miller Lite, followed by Miller Genuine Draft. Lastly the served up some apple flavored thing. YUK! When will people learn that fruit and beer and not meant to interact. And I had to question the logic of providing tour takers with three beers in less than 30 minutes and then sending them off to the roads of Wisconsin. While enjoying the three beers (OK, enjoying the first two beers), the friendly people at Miller place a stack of postcards on the table and will provide the postage to send them anywhere in the world. I couldn’t remember anybody’s mailing addresses. But a couple of addresses did pop into my mind. So I sent one to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. I wished the administration a happy Halloween and told them that even though it had only been a couple of days, I already deeply missed habeous corpus. I also sent one to my old dorm room.
Time to put the states the border Canada in my rear view mirror. Well I’m southbound, lord I’m comin’ home to you.
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