Minnesota sports: get a Kluwe

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Wild-Vikings-Wolves-Twins-Gophers

I have always been proud that Minnesota has a team for just about every major sport: the basketballing Timberwolves, the hockey-pucking Wild, the home-run-hitting Twins, the minor-league-home-run-hitting Saints, even the lacrossing Swarm (what verb is associated with lacrosse?). Arguably our best team, the lady Lynxes, just narrowly lost the WNBA championship two days ago.

The one team I follow closely, though, is our football team, the Minnesota Vikings. There’s much to be proud of this season, a year that was supposed to be dedicated to “rebuilding” (read: sucking). Everyone but the players themselves is completely surprised that the Vikings are now 5-2, and I would guess even a few of the players are surprised.

But it’s not just successes on the field that have brought the Vikings extra attention or made me proud to be a fan recently. About two months ago, Maryland state delegate Emmett C. Burns Jr. wrote to the owner of the Baltimore Ravens to discourage the Ravens linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo from his open support of gay marriage. Vikings punter Chris Kluwe published a letter in response that is more than just strongly-worded in its takedown of Mr. Burns. It is so colorful, in fact, that it immediately went viral, and prompted many who know nothing about football to proclaim themselves fans of whatever side Chris plays for (no pun intended…or was it?)

Chris Kluwe: activist, punter, Guitar Hero

Kluwe puts his money–and his time–where his mouth is. This year in Minnesota we will be voting on a shameful proposed amendment to the state constitution that would declare marriage to be solely between a man and a woman. Kluwe has become the celebrity face of Minnesotans United for All Families, the chief opponents of the amendment. He has written to several legislators in the state who support the amendment to request a debate; none have responded.

He hopes ultimately to change the culture of professional sports, so that an active player may someday soon be able to come out as gay and still find a place for himself in the traditionally homophobic arena of the locker room. Kluwe explains as much in his recent profiles in the New York Times, Out Magazine, and our own local paper, City Pages.

But Chris Kluwe is not defined himself by any one label; just read his weekly blog at the St. Paul Pioneer Press. His latest post is about the meaningless of currency. He also quotes scripture to disagree with a Catholic Archbishop, supplies campaign reform solutions, and talks about the psychology of losing. Oh, and he’s hilarious.

So even though Chris Kluwe is originally from California, I’m gonna claim him as a shining beacon of Minnesota awesomeness. Go sports!

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How to be Minnesotan

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What you’ll need: flannel, hair binders (NOT hair ties)

Songlist: Duluth by Mason Jennings, Rock ‘n’ Roll Is Alive (and It Lives In Minneapolis) by Prince

Further reading: Lake Wobegon Days by Garrison Keillor, The St. Paul Stories by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Proud Minnesotan Paul Bunyan and his giant blue ox, Babe

It’s been a long 8 weeks since I last posted. I wanted to write about Paris. I failed. There were too many things to say. And then, like that poor duck Ping who gets off the duck boat and decides it’s better to stay in the scary world than be the last one back on the boat, thereby getting whacked on the bum, I didn’t get back to posting (seriously, that childhood story has had a serious impact on my psyche). But you know what? Ping was wrong, and so was I. It’s better to get on the duck boat where everything makes sense and you’re warm and fed even if it hurts a little to admit that you failed.

There’s only one problem: I’ve pretty much run out of topics. Almost every Monday I think of a job that somehow relates to my current situation and realize I’ve already written about it. Everything except pirates (which, for the record, I did once think would be pretty cool). And so, though I thought I’d coast through to the end of 2012 with careers galore, I’m announcing the premature end of this blog. But don’t despair! I’ve got one topic left, and it’s a doozy.

Okay, so being Minnesotan isn’t exactly a job, but it is pretty awesome. I’ve been exceedingly proud of my home state recently, and over the next week or so I’ll tell you a few reasons why. With the state and the Twin Cities consistently ranking in the top 10 for whatever top-10 poll you could think of (literacy, hipsterism, livability, prettiness), I won’t be able to cover all the ways in which Minnesota totally rocks, but I’ll do my best.

We do things a little differently in Minnesota. We play Duck, Duck, Gray Duck here. We wear hair binders. Some people think we talk funny. Dang it if we don’t make the meanest hot-dishes and jello salads this side of the Mississippi. (Trick statement: since the Mississippi starts in the smack-dab center of Minnesota, we’re every side of the Mississippi! Boom!) And we’ve got the nicest state motto around. No, seriously. It’s “Minnesota Nice.”

So, just because I’m so nice, I’ll end today’s post with a little joke. A yoke, if you will:

Ole died. So Lena went to the local paper to put a notice in the obituaries. The gentleman at the counter, after offering his condolences, asked Lena what she would like to say about Ole.

Lena replied, “You yust put ‘Ole died.'”

The gentleman, somewhat perplexed, said, “That’s it? Just ‘Ole died?’ Surely, there must be something more you’d like to say about Ole. If its money you’re concerned about, the first five words are free. We must say something more.”

So Lena pondered for a few minutes and finally said, “O.K. You put ‘Ole died. Boat for sale.'”

Good ol’ Ole