Archive for the ‘Minnesota’ Category

Cinematic – The Terrace Theater

Wednesday, July 23rd, 2014

Places speak to us, I can hear them saying things.

TerraceTheaterMinneapolis

In older spaces, like the Terrace Movie Theater right outside of Minneapolis, when I look at photos of its heyday I hear an excited voice saying, “This will be a great space, designed with care, making the people inside it feel important and the time they spend inside it feel important. This attention to design, this feeling, will bring people here and bring people back which will make the space a success and the business behind it profitable.”

TerraceMovieTheater

TerraceTheater

Most commercial spaces (or schools or churches) built after 1979 or so have less inspiring things to say. Something more like, “America is fading and making a profit in it is so hard today. This bland, builder’s-grade structure will do well enough. It’ll keep investment costs and overhead low, and through this approach the space will have an easier time being a success and it won’t be so hard for the business behind it to become profitable.”

Both these stories that spaces can tell you make sense, logical sense. But one story makes life better, and America better, and industry and craftsmanship and so much more so so much better.

TerraceTheaterRobbinsdale

The Terrace theater is like seven minutes from where I live, and one minute from the hospital my sister was born in. I don’t recall having ever been there before it closed in the late 1990s. But it still stands there today, tired and tattered within a parking lot growing so much wild, weedy greenery it looks like those “Earth After Mankind” Discovery Channel specials.

Sigh.

Apparently at The Terrace there was a TV Lounge for macho husbands to sit and watch sports games and such while their wives watched the latest chick-flick weepies in the theater proper on the big screen.

What a place. What a time…

Hot and Cold

Monday, January 6th, 2014

Last night, as Daisy and Mrs. Patmore swirled into the modern world with the arrival of an electric mixer in their Downton kitchen, I myself took a step back.

SangerHotWaterBottle

Hurly said temperatures the next few days in certain spots in Minnesota were going to be colder than on Mars. He knows everything about almost everything, but I didn’t believe him until that moron that knows almost nothing about nothing (AKA Siri) proved him right. Last night Mars was -51 or something and this morning Bemidji had a windchill of about -52.

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Friends in my Facebook feed have dubbed it the Freezepocalypse and so to ensure Hurly and I didn’t frostbite-the-bullet in our sleep, I filled up the German hot water bottle I received at Christmas and tucked the sunshiny little thing under our covers right before bedtime.

HotWaterBottle

Battling the apocalypse-ish elements really isn’t so bad if you can do it in retro rubbered style.

Tied

Tuesday, November 5th, 2013

On our tenth anniversary of being together, Hurly and I drove to the ritzy courthouse in St. Paul and got hitched. Like legally!

For someone who can hardly buy a bottle of spring water without wonder-worrying about its aesthetic impact on their life, I was surprisingly intent on keeping our big day totally low key. I wanted the focal point of our nuptials to be us and our love, not how expertly/obnoxiously art-directed and Design*Sponge-y every needless little detail was. Enough of my life is sacrificed ritually to the Style Gods above. A wedding day seems like it should be void of all that ego-driven energy.

I mean, I own American Apparel tote bags more expensive than my suit was. And I looked at dozens of rings but the one that excited me the most was a vintage, twenty-buck thing off etsy. From top to bottom, our wedding day remained remarkably immune to my otherwise omni-present materialism.

And although we had small-scale simplicity in mind from the beginning, that isn’t to say that plotting our wedding day was easy or stressless. Being among the first same-sex couples to be married in our state, Hurly and I were working without a template or set of traditions to follow that reflects our generation’s revamped definition of marriage.

We kept it simple, partly just because we’re two dudes who grew up figuring weddings were for everyone but people like us, but I really hope in the coming decade that same-sex couples will begin to establish their own thoughtful traditions for future generations to adopt. And that it gets easier and clearer to envision what a Guy on Guy wedding should/could be.

Once it finally went down, our own Guy on Guy day was great. I don’t remember what words our judge used to tell Hurly and I that it was finally legal and that we could kiss, but after we kissed, all I wanted was a hug. Not from my new husband, exactly – but from my old friend, from my favorite friend.

My first pet name for him was Treasure and the name of this blog actually (plus my whole life) is a wink and a nod to him.

Snug ‘n Snuggly

Thursday, January 10th, 2013

There’s a good month or so in Minnesota when getting dressed in the lightless morning has about zilch to do with trying to look good and everything to do with surviving the sub-zero temperatures outside.

I knew the happy-patterned Portuguese Flannel shirts from Gitman Vintage that Unionmade started selling right before Christmas would make getting dressed this January not only practical but purdy as well.

I ordered the shirts in two different patterns. One was super Me, one was refreshingly less Me – but the Me Me one looked better, and I’ve finally, just recently accepted the fact that you have to buy clothes based on how they actually look on you, not how you wish they would look on you. Optimism trumps realism in a lot of spaces and places, but don’t let it dupe you (and by you, I mean Me) when you’re making up your mind in front of a mirror.

I knew the boppy blue shirt I ended up keeping was gonna shoot me through winter’s darkest hours looking right and bright-eyed. The vintage flannel is thick but utterly un-stiff. Super, super soft – to the point that strangers start and then won’t stop snuggling you.

Winter’s really hard. Soft snuggles never hurt.

Long Time No See

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

It was a long, hard fall. I meant to keep in touch. Show you the midnight blue sweater I’ve been over-wearing, or photos of how our bedroom makeover turned out. But the bedroom’s still essentially bed-less and I’m too scruffy for a blue sweater photo shoot. Maybe Christmas will set things back on an inspired and accomplished track. For now, here’s how I spent some of the past couple months:

Driving to a casino just to eat at the buffet. Photographing jello I didn’t eat, and not photographing things I did eat…

Buying boots that looked like Red Wings but were actually Clarks. One of my New Year’s resolutions will be to kick my addiction to white crepe soled shoes. Enough was enough a long time ago…

Glamming up pumpkins with silver and brass thumbtacks…

Receiving this flashcard from my oldest friend. I considered making it my Twitter icon for a while. Maybe someday I still will…

Learning it was David Bowie who invented that over-used broken-back supermodel pose. The world is good and ready for a new position.

Attempting to bring more texture and pattern into Tudor “Mansion”…

Designing demonic new characters with my niece on our Wii U. This is the latest in our proud tradition of carefully crafted freaky female toddlers. We gave her the chic new Anna Wintour-ish hairstyle Nintento added to the design palette, and finished her off with a five o’clock shadow – and then we named her Jill.

Trying to plan a perfect Christmas…

But settling for something else instead.

Playing in the very first snowfall with Hurly and the gang…

And almost buying Hanukkah flowers, even though I’m 1/00th Jewish.

What is everyone else doing and buying and wearing and loving?

No

Tuesday, November 6th, 2012

However it all goes down: I can’t help but feel hurt and disappointed by the fact that roughly half of adult Minnesotans were, at some cruel point, given full permission to, on this election day, attempt to engrave their discrimination of people like me and my beloved Hurly into our state’s constitution.

That’s utterly un-American. And completely un-Christ-like (if you’re into that sort of thing). It feels, it stings exactly like Third Reich-style persecution, at work somehow, decades later, in the year 2012…in the heart of America…in the city and in the state I’d chosen to call my home.

We are all Americans, we are all God’s children – and even if, and even when, my neighbor won’t stand up for my rights, I will always stand up for theirs.

So off I go to vote Hell To The No, and then spend the rest of my day encouraging God’s other Minnesotan children to get out and do the same.

Preview: SnowGRADE Men’s Market

Thursday, February 9th, 2012

It speaks volumes about Minnesotan style and values that the state’s quickly become home to arguably the most beloved men’s pop-up market in America, September’s annual NorthernGRADE.

Event founders Larry Felitto of J.W. Hulme Co. and Kat MacMillan of Pierrepont Hicks and @mrsphicks Shoes are at it again, launching NorthernGRADE’s cooler, if not frostier, spin-off SnowGRADE on Saturday Feb. 25th. Here they share the story behind their new pop-up, and tip us off on which American-made goods they’re aiming to take home.

Why did you decide to spin-off NorthernGRADE into SnowGRADE?
Larry: The response for the last NorthernGRADE event was overwhelming and more and more I kept hearing from attendees and vendors alike that we should do more of these throughout the year. People really had a great time.

SnowGRADE is adding workshops into the mix. What can people expect to see and learn?
Larry: There will be an axe restoration workshop, a home brewing 101, leather care workshop, leather tooling workshop and the fellas at Marvel Bar are talking about doing a cocktail workshop. I’ll be front row for this one!

Kat: Peter Geye is a local author, who wrote a book called Safe From the Sea. He’ll be there talking about his book and signing copies. His book is about a man and his father, an old sea captain, coming to grips with their relationship… it takes place outside Duluth. It is such an appropriate book for SnowGRADE. And Peter is quite a guy.

Tell me about some of the new vendors who’ve come on board for SnowGRADE.
Larry: Best Made Axe Co. and Northern Brewer are two that I’m most excited about seeing. Both companies, although not menswear, exemplify the heart and soul of SnowGRADE; the idea of American made, craft, durable and quality.

Kat: I am so excited to welcome Byrd and Belle’s modern and gorgeous iPad covers. Moonshine Coffee is providing the coffee, which is so delicious I will probably be highly caffeinated all day long.

Kat: Rancourt and Co. is coming in from Maine. They make traditional handsewn shoes and boots. Frost River is coming. Their bags are awesome! We’ve got a great crew.

How have you tempted out-of-towners to brave the Minnesota winter and attend the event?
Kat: I think folks from elsewhere feel Minnesota in February is something they have to do at least once in their lives. It’s about character building. Or something.

Is there anything you’re hoping to bag at the event for your own wardrobe?
Kat: A Cause and Effect belt. A Byrd and Belle iPhone case. There is a pen at Askov Finlayson that I have to have. It’s apparently used by the State Department and it’s very heavy and can write upside down or underwater, since I am always writing notes while scuba diving I have to have it!

Larry: Fairbault Woolen Mills just launched a line of beautiful new scarves in a variety of colors, I’ve got my eye on one of those.

Larry: I’m also a little disappointed I didn’t pick up a hat from Ball & Buck at NorthernGRADE so I might have to spring for it this time around.

– – –

And there you have it. Better pad your wallets and bundle up, boys. SnowGRADE’s gonna be ice hot!

The Nights Before Christmas

Tuesday, December 20th, 2011

All is now glistening and glowing here in our little house we inaccurately (but affectionately) call Tudor Mansion. The year we moved in I found a bucket of deeply discounted garland in citrusy sherbet colors during a Boxing Day sale. And so ever since then our home’s holiday get-up has strayed from the red/green grind of Christmas tradition.

Our house is already outfitted in faded, sea-glassy colors the rest of the year, so we simply tint our Christmas in the same sorts of hues, adding in Whoville-like pops of bubble gummy pink and key lime green.

Many of the pieces have been handed down to us from German Grandmothers or Church Crocheting Club members over the years and have become some of our favorite items for the warm sense of history they bring to our set up.

And everything else we try and keep silvery or sparkly or fuzzy or felted.

I try and find one or two new things to add to the arsenal each year. We ordered a dozen boxes of white bubble lights for the tree back in November, but they were back-ordered and only arrived a few days ago.

Next year, though, we’ll bubble up for sure.

Many out there may whine about how early it gets dark the end of December. But I can’t wait for the sun to fall out of the sky this time of year so I can flick on the tree and watch our non-Mansion shine.

‘Tis The Season For Fleet Farm

Wednesday, November 23rd, 2011

Tough guys nearby stomp into Mills Fleet Farm for macho-man basics like jerky, deer bait, and cordless chainsaws. I, on the other hand, tend to trot on in when I need strange boxes of ginger snaps or silly chocolate rabbits for the girls in my films to snack on as period-perfect props.

But I am particularly drawn to the timeless charms of The Farm this time of year when stocking stuffer season comes ’round.

Fleet Farm’s somewhat random, retro-tinged merchandise offers up everything from suspenders to saskatoon jam, and 1980s board games to Brokeback-ready wrangling shirts.

So while you may stop by in full-on Santa mode to scope out rugged, all-weather gifts for the dudes and Dads and dunces in your life…

It’s likely you’ll end up leaving with some marshmallow fluff, Carhartt carpenter pants, or bubbling Christmas tree lights for your own greedy life.

I mean, maybe it’s better “to give than to receive”, but what’s totally best is shopping someplace where you can do both at once.

I mean how could you seriously be expected to pick up a quirky-cool can of saskatoon jam for your divorced Aunt LuAnn, and not snatch some up for your own amazing self?

A Downside to Upgrading?

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

Next week I’m eligible to upgrade my phone, which I’m only partially excited about because the subpar camera on my iPhone 3GS has taken some really above-par images the past year that it’s been stashed in my pocket. The fuzzed up photos it captures I’ve found to be rather dreamy and almost Polaroid-like. (With or without post-effects apps.)

I’m crossing my fingers that the three extra megapixels, better optics, and built-in flash that’ll be heading into my hand next week won’t perfect away all the awesome imperfections I’ve gotten so used to.

Because I don’t really want to document my daily life in crisp, accurate reality. I want to keep capturing it abstracted and veiled, like it all took place 25-extra years ago on the sets of strange Sissy Spacek movies.

Speaking of which, I now present a series of never-before-seen images from the past seventeen months, taken and never Tweeted while on the sets of strange Sissy Spacek movies while I lazily lived my life.

Goodbye, ol’ phone!

Sweater Weather

Thursday, November 10th, 2011

Fall comes pretty early up where I live, and generally I don’t mind rushing in the season early with the heartier outfits I wear the second that Labor Day ends.

But since our Winters are deadly serious and seemingly ceaseless, I try and hold off on wearing sweaters until November. Otherwise by March I’m sick of every cardigan, cableknit, and cowichan I own.

Now that sweater season is in full swing, I’m finally able to break out the Gant Rugger Dot Jacquard V-neck I spotted at the label’s Soho store.

A little bit Newsies, a little bit Network, it blends a 1930s coziness with a 1970s swankiness that lets the late Fall know I’m good and ready for it, at last.

Boldly mismatching its maroon hue with drab olive and inky turquoise amps up the Autumn palette to the extreme, and suggests a dweeby, inherited-at-boarding-school backstory for the sweater.

Come the final and still-frozen days of March, I’m sure I’ll be fully fed up with the sweater and its red-brick thickness. But for now/for November it couldn’t feel more perfect.

Talking Shop: Askov Finlayson

Sunday, November 6th, 2011

Any serious shopper has surely (sorta-seriously) imagined opening their own little retail spot. This week I was able to live the daydream through conversations with Minnesotan brothers Eric and Andrew Dayton, whose vibrant new clothing and accessories shop Askov Finlayson opened last month in a 130-year-old building the brothers have carefully converted into an elegant model of the non-Mega Mall.

Capping off a space that also includes the brothers’ buzzy but cozy eatery The Bachelor Farmer and underground watering hole Marvel Bar, the arrival of the Daytons’ compound of cool in the warehouse district of Minneapolis has officially turned the ever hipper ‘hood into our city’s own mini-Williamsburg.

Stocked with revered/revived heritage brands like Penfield and Wm J. Mills & Co., as well as up-and-coming labels like Salt Lake City-based Zuriik Shoes, Askov Finlayson takes timeless style and tips it playfully toward tomorrow.

Eric (above, right) and Andrew (left) were kind and candid enough to sit down and describe their exciting transformation from avid shoppers into savvy shop-owners with the opening of Askov Finlayson.

Where did the idea to open Askov Finlayson originate?
Eric: I worked for Target before business school and got a great retail training there. However, much like opening a restaurant, the idea of opening a store grew out of the opportunity to buy the (Marvel Rack) building and bring it back to life. With my brother as my partner on the project, we wanted to fill the space with businesses that aligned with our personal interests and also would work well together. We hoped that putting a restaurant, bar and shop all under one roof and then programming the second floor with events would create something of a clubhouse for the neighborhood.

How did you go about selecting the brands and products you’re stocking?
Andrew: Our focus has always been on quality of design and construction. It also has to be something that my brother and I both really like, which tends to narrow our search considerably.


I’m curious how your past and current experiences as shoppers, in Minneapolis and beyond, maybe influenced your decisions as new shop-owners.
Eric: There are a lot of great stores in the Twin Cities and we’ve become friends with many of the owners behind them. That said, there were a number of amazing brands that we admired and that were not being offered locally. We saw an opportunity to introduce those brands and add another point of view. We wanted to be complementary to the existing stores in town, not duplicative.

What’s been the best thing about opening your own shop?
Andrew: We get a great mix of customers coming through the store and I find myself spending much of my day interacting with interesting people. Our building is in such a vibrant neighborhood that what’s most exciting to me is simply being a part of it.



What product/products have been the biggest hit with the shoppers at your store?
Eric: People have been responding positively across the assortment, which is a huge relief to Andrew and me! It’s hard to identify a stand-out after only a few weeks, although I will admit that we drastically underestimated the appeal of Vilac balloon boats.

What insight have you gained from interacting with your customers so far?
Andrew: People respond to a perspective. I think that trying to appeal to everyone can ultimately make a store (or a bar or restaurant) less appealing. Even if someone doesn’t buy what we’re selling, they almost always appreciate that we’re taking a position. Fortunately, though, so far a lot of people are buying!

Speaking not as fashion business-owners, but just as dudes, what have you added to your wardrobes this season that you’re super keen on?
Eric: We have spent so much time and energy filling the store with what we believe is a great assortment of merchandise that our own closets haven’t been updated in quite some time. One exception is an awesome jacket that our friends at Epaulet designed in partnership with Vanson. We each got one (different colors of course).

What’s coming up still, this first year, for Askov Finlayson that you’re especially excited about?
Eric: I’m really excited to add local designers Annie Larson and Kenton Sorenson this fall, and then brands like Quoddy and Vilebrequin in the spring. We also have some collaborations with artists in the works, and those are a lot of fun.

Askov Finlayson
200 North 1st Street | Minneapolis, MN 55401
612.206.3925