Friday, February 18, 2011

No Fly Zone Friday #8

Today gave me a glimpse of the impossible: being 25 and retired at the same time.

I headed toward Minneapolis at about 8:00 with no plan, and after wasting precious minutes trying to find a hard copy New York Times (I am old), I ended up at French Meadow Bakery for breakfast. After that, it was time to visit the newest in the line of upscale, Clover-brew coffee shops, Dogwood, in the shockingly remodeled and suddenly very sunny Calhoun Square.

Eighteen years ago, I wandered into the original Calhoun Square (as the world's squarest 23-year-old alternative lead guitarist) to get a cappuccino in the exact spot where Dogwood now sits. The place at that time was called Kafte Coffee, and I remember that people were already grumbling that the emergence of a Gap across Hennepin was proof that Uptown had finally sold out ... a sentiment that has continued unabated for two decades. I also remember my surprise when the Kafte barista asked me how my day was going. I didn't realize it at the time, but it was the perfect Minneapolis moment: a slacker service worker greeting you at a pretentious coffee shop.

After Dogwood and the Times (Spider-Man the Musical is now in negotiations to hire a script doctor ... all that attention to wire rigs, and it still comes down to script), I ventured across the street to the world's greatest bookstore, Magers & Quinn. My mission was to find suitable material for the upcoming mini-vacation in Zihuatanejo. I knew that serious lit wouldn't do (as I passed a black-covered copy of Mein Kampf, I imagined the stares I would get reading it on a Mexican beach), nor would American history or essay.

I ended up with a copy of a Bono biography in the form of an extended interview, plus bios of Hitchcock and Sacha Baron Cohen. Since M & Q has a fantastic audiobook section, I also grabbed CD versions of John Meacham's American Lion (about Andrew Jackson) and the Tom Davis memoir of his Saturday Night Live years, 39 Years of Short-term Memory Loss. Short of a gym membership, there's no greater bang-for-the-buck on the planet than a solid haul from a used bookstore.

Finally, the main event: "Cedar Rapids" at the Uptown. I had planned on finally seeing "The King's Speech," but the gods seemed to be pointing me in a different direction. And the movie didn't disappoint. Ed Helms does the hard work of carrying the movie (while also showing why the words "character" and "caricature" are so closely related), but it's really a John C. Reilly vehicle. If you like Dr. Brule, "Cedar Rapids" is mandatory viewing ... as is seeing the movie if you're a Minnesotan (the script was written by "one of us": former KARE-11 reporter, Phil Johnston).

All in all, the day offered a glimpse into my personal paradise: feeling psychologically in your mid-20s without all the personal and financial insecurity (for one day, let's not get carried away) that accompanies that age. In other words, it was like getting to be retired without having to be 65. When someone asked my father what he was going to do when he retired, he responded, "I'm not going to do anything. I'm just going to be." The fact that you're not expected to live your life in that state until your body is long on its decline is a crying shame. A crying, crying shame.

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