Posts Tagged ‘Minnesota’

My blogroll-ed friend Ted Reinert badgered me into going to this show and I’m glad he did. I had seen the Arcade Fire and their awesome openers Spoon twice each and didn’t expect much from either this time around. Both bands put on better shows than I thought were possible.

UPDATE: After many, many posts and articles for MIL, this is my first piece to rise to the top of the Most Popular list! Literary folks love the Arcade Fire.

“How are the people on the hill doing?” asked Win Butler, Arcade Fire’s lead vocalist, of the fans crammed onto the sprawling lawn behind the Merriweather Post Pavilion amphitheatre in Maryland. “That’s where I’d be,” he announced proudly. Before launching into the encore, he shared a story from his suburban Houston childhood: as an usher at an outdoor venue in Texas (not unlike the 16,500-person space he was now headlining), he would turn a blind eye to eager fans from the cheap seats sneaking down to the stage.

Experiences like these colour the band’s third album, “The Suburbs”. Most of Arcade Fire is native to cosmopolitan Montreal—the adopted hometown of Win Butler and his bandmate and brother William—yet the new record sounds like it came straight out of the American rust belt: “Some cities make you lose your head/Endless suburbs stretched out thin and dead/And what was that line you said/Wishing you were anywhere but here/You watch the life you’re living disappear.” Butler delivers these lines on “Wasted Hours”, a song that echoes the Midwestern malaise of The Replacements, who first proclaimed that “Anywhere’s Better Than Here”.

Even the stage was set up to evoke the claustrophobic sprawl of middle America: a lone streetlight was visible in the rear left of the backdrop, with an image of cracked pavement and a bridge overpass enveloping all eight members of the touring band. A giant billboard, which doubled as a video screen and lighting display, rose out of the rear centre of the stage, tying the suburban motif together.

I first saw the Arcade Fire six years ago in the Midwest.

Click here to continue reading the MIL blog post or to make a comment.

Photo credit: NRK P3 (via Flickr)


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This is my third post on a topic of my choice for the Prospect‘s writing test (and the favorite of my sister, who graciously helped to copy edit my submissions). I give a Minnesotan take on the Oracle of Omaha in this piece. The first TAP test post had a green angle, the second talked up tax policy.

Warren Buffett is perhaps the only financer in history who is as revered on Main Street as he is on Wall Street. Buffett’s appeal in the Midwest—the part of the country that most closely resembles the mythical Main Street of American political lore—can be explained by his plainspoken criticism of financial excess, his long-standing commitment to philanthropy, and the fact that the Oracle of Omaha actually lives in Nebraska. Even the annual shareholder meetings of his $100 billion conglomerate Berkshire Hathaway are as American as apple pie.

So many were surprised by Buffett’s unabashed support for Goldman Sachs at what has been called “the informal summit of Main Street American capitalism.” No one should be shocked by Buffett’s satisfaction with the $5 billion preferred stock investment he made in Goldman or his support for the bank’s embattled CEO Lloyd Blankfein. Buffett’s statements are part of a broader pattern of advocating for one thing while profiting by contradicting his supposed beliefs.

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With a 10-1 record unrivaled since their historic 15-0 season in 1998, the Minnesota Vikings have this long-suffering fan feeling a bit strange.

Watching the football game this afternoon, I found myself emitting the same sort of smug laughs President Bush must have made when given progress updates during the invasion of Iraq. Will the end result of the Vikings season be “Mission Accomplished” or, with the franchise’s first-ever NFL championship, a real mission accomplished?

Much depends on the health of their 40-year-old warhorse and erstwhile enemy Brett Favre. The future-Hall of Fame quarterback is having a banner year with this afternoon’s resounding victory over the Chicago Bears being no exception. Indeed, he very nearly broke his personal passing yard record. Last year, his backup Tavaris Jackson couldn’t even pilot the team into the playoffs–in spite of having Adrian Peterson, the most dangerous running back in football, to carry the ball every couple plays.

At the beginning of the regular season when the surprise signing of Favre–the longtime leader of the hated Wisconsin Packers–was announced, I predicted he would get us within a game of the playoffs, throw a season-ending interception, and then rip off his jersey to reveal his familiar green and yellow number 4 sweater underneath. Now it is difficult for me to imagine such a scene anywhere outside of the Superbowl.

Like Bush after the capture of Baghdad, Vikings fans like me continue to hope all will end well–in spite of what history and premonition might suggest.

Photo credit: jpellgen (via Flickr)

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Fun factoid that didn’t make the final cut: four of the top five houses were from teams in cold-weather climates. The beautiful, fifth-place finisher from my home state of Minnesota is featured below. The full standings are here.

minnesota-solar-house-corbin-hiarThe US Department of Energy recently concluded its fourth “Solar Decathlon” in Washington, DC. The ten-event competition is a two-week contest between 20 of the world’s most energy-efficient houses. For the two brief weekends when the houses were open for viewing, the rows of futuristic abodes transformed the usually humdrum National Mall into the busiest and most high tech block in America. On the soggy final day of the contest, throngs of umbrella wielding architects and environmentalists replaced the standard assortment of tourists, protestors and ultimate Frisbee players on the nation’s quad.

Like the last decathlon in 2007, this year’s 
gold medal went to Darmstadt University of Technology in Hesse, Germany… 

Click here to read the rest of the MIL post about “The Homes of The Future.”

Photo credit: Dept of Energy Solar Decathlon (via Flickr)

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tommy gThis is a fun little post about a movie I have yet to see.  I hope to change that soon.


Over Independence Day weekend Michael Mann, acclaimed director of such films as “Heat”, “The Insider” and “Collateral”, released another beautiful crime drama about an infamous Midwestern bank robber, John Dillinger. Over the course of a 14-month crime spree during the Great Depression, Dillinger came to be viewed by much of the press and public as a modern-day Robin Hood. “Public Enemies“, based on the book of the same name by Bryan Burrough, a Vanity Fair correspondent, is the seventh film to be made about the short-lived bandit turned folk hero. By many accounts, it is also the most elegant. Aided by Johnny Depp’s star power, the film has raked in over $66.5m thus far at the domestic box office.

While the film is not a diatribe against the banking excesses that lead to both the Great Depression and what is now being referred to (perhaps optimistically) as our “Great Recession”, banks and their guardians have not taken its release lightly.

Click here to read the rest of the blog post and make a comment.


Photo credit: Aaron Landry (via Flickr)

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Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has an uncanny ability to provoke befuddlement in the faces of her adversaries.


Click here to watch the Talking Points Memo clip.

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