Minnesota music: Hot cheetos and kidneys

Leave a comment

Earlier this week, Minnesota had the rare distinction of having some of the best weather in the country. Those who are not from Minnesota seem to have only one concept of the state: that it is in a perpetual state of winter. And this, I’ll admit, makes me a little sad for my state. Because, in truth, we have gorgeous seasons, and in summertime it gets hot. Like seriously hot.

The hottest anthem of this past summer, already feeling like a distance memory, is yet another source of Minnesota pride. (Nice transition, right?) If you haven’t heard Hot Cheetos and Takis yet, you’re welcome:

These North Minneapolis kids created this song and video as part of a YMCA camp. And their whole album is amazing. It just makes your heart smile, no?

You might be surprised to learn that kids in the Twin Cities have plenty of local hip-hop idols to turn to, from Brother Ali to master beat-boxer Carnage to my favorites, Doomtree, a seven-piece group (I’ve written about Dessa before, the sole–amazing–female in the group):

The guy who raps first in that video, POS, released a new album just last week. Sadly, the release was somewhat overshadowed by POS’s announcement that he would be canceling the release tour on account of needing a kidney transplant ASAP. Immediately, support came rolling in. His friends set up a donation site, pointing out that he’ll have lifelong prescription costs and “rappers don’t have robust benefit packages.” They asked for $25,000 to pay for the transplant and follow-up costs, and gave themselves 120 days to raise it.

It took about 5 days. As of today, just a week after the site launched, 767 people have donated for a total of $33,116. Several have told POS seriously that if they’re a match, they will donate a kidney of their own as well. And if that doesn’t make your heart smile, I don’t know what would.

Advertisements

Happily ever after

Leave a comment

The closing ceremonies of the Olympics are almost unbearably sad to me. Unlike the opening ceremonies when everyone dreams of winning a medal–realistically or not–the closing ceremonies are defined by the victories and defeats of the past 2 weeks. But whether or not they got the gold–and the majority of them didn’t–these athletes will be retelling their stories for the rest of their lives.

As I said to friends on Friday night, I feel so bad for most of these athletes who will spend the next 60 years wishing they’d gotten the gold medal. One friend responded, yeah, and we get to spend 80 years wishing we’d gotten a gold. Touché. Psychologically, however, it’s hardest on silver medalists. While bronze medalists are generally happy just to be on the podium, and non-medalists are generally happy to even be a part of the Olympics, silver medalists are those who missed out by a thousandth of a point or a thousandth of a second. Just ask Lashinda Demus, American hurdler who vowed to never quit until she bumped up her silver status to gold, or McKayla Maroney, whose sour expression on the second-tier silver podium spawned the meme McKayla is not impressed.

Not impressed.

And for those who did get the gold? What happens after the end of the fairy tale? What will Michael Phelps and Misty May Treanor do, for goodness sake, without swimming or beach volleyball?

The second half of the musical Into the Woods wonders what happens after “happily ever after,” and the answer is not a rosy picture. The show ends with the Children Will Listen, a song which cautions that wishes do come true, but “sometimes the spell may last / past what you may see / and turn against you.”

Hopefully that won’t be the case for the Olympians now returning to their home countries. Because, even if McKayla isn’t, we are certainly impressed with our fairy tale heroes and heroines, and hope that “happily ever after” really can come true.

How to live in a fairy tale

Leave a comment

What you’ll need: fairy godmother, magical animal friends

Songlist: When you wish upon a star

Further reading: Household stories from the collection of the brothers Grimm

Beauty and her Beast

I have a confession: I spent three hours last night watching the finale of The Bachelorette, in which the lovely Emily Maynard got engaged to her Prince Charming. The man she chose as her fiancé had previously said of her, “Emily gives me the feeling that people write fairy tales about.”

The Bachelor franchise has an obsession with fairy tale endings. Contestants often speak in fairy tale terms as they describe their dates of dining in castles or swimming with dolphins in the world’s most gorgeous places (actually, they more often speak in ridiculous metaphors such as “Today we jumped off a helicopter together into the ocean, because, you know, love is a leap of faith”). It’s a natural comparison to make because fairy tale endings are romantic, simplistic, and, oh, they don’t last.

On Saturday night I went to a brilliant performance of Into the Woods, the Stephen Sondheim musical that follows Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Jack of Beanstalk fame, and Rapunzel to their happily ever afters…and beyond. For the initiate, intermission is confusing since the characters have each already accomplished all they set out to do–what more do we need to see? In the second half, though, we find out that while Cinderella has stopped running, her prince hasn’t given up chasing. Jack slew a giant, but now the giant’s wife is hungry for vengeance. And characters start dying. After a frivolous first half, the second half is surprisingly sobering.

Which is like that time I watched the non-Disney version of The Little Mermaid and found out the original Ariel committed suicide to spare her beloved prince. Ouch.

Fairy tales are not particularly happy places to live in. Sure, a lot of the Grimm Brothers’ tales end in marriage, but first there are deals with the devil, murders, severing of limbs, and disowning of family members. In one particularly gruesome story, a stepmother feeds her stepson to her husband so that her daughter may be the only heir. And then, of course, a magical bird drops a millstone on the evil stepmother and the son is returned to the father, happy and whole.

Moral of the story: don’t try to live in a fairy tale unless you’re really good at communicating with birds. Emily Maynard, start working on your songs.

Know your songs

1 Comment

Here’s a handy guide to a few common birds and their songs:

Which one is your favorite?

The grand square

1 Comment

Easier than it looks. Also harder than it looks.

In the 1930s, educator Dr. Lloyd “Pappy” Shaw realized that America would soon lose one of her greatest traditions, a tradition whose proponents were quickly dying off. Pappy took it upon himself to travel the country and document all the square dance versions he could find. He then began to teach students and teachers this new collection of steps. Pappy published “Cowboy Dances” in the 1950s right when returning WWII veterans were starting to pair up, and a boom was born (coincidence that the square dancing boom overlapped with the baby boom? I think not).

It’s because of ol’ Pappy that square dancing was a unit in my gym class from 1st-3rd grade. One time I got paired up with my crush, Noah, and it was only during a promenade that I realized Noah had peed himself. End of crush. Thanks, Pappy.

Last night at the Rustic Pine Tavern we filed into a dim, sweaty room for the weekly square dance. While most of the attendees were under 12 or over 50, there were a few cowboys in full getup along the wall. At 17 I would have desperately wanted one of these boys to ask me to dance the first square with him.

As it happened, though, I’d come with 7 family members which meant we formed a full square by ourselves. All capable of discerning right from left, we didn’t need any extra help from the caller. The same caller, I’ll note, was leading these dances 9 years ago when I lived on the ranch just up the road. The songs haven’t changed since 2003–or, I’d guess, 1973–either.

While we were quite competent, I did notice that the cowboys added a lot more flourishes to their dancing. If you want to impress that lady, you better twirl her more times than she’s ever been twirled. You also better not pee your pants.

 

Curator of the soul

1 Comment

To curate:

1. Select, organize, and look after items in a collection or exhibition.

2. Select acts to perform at a music festival.

See, now, I didn’t know that second definition until last December when a local hip-hop group, Doomtree, had a seven-night “blow-out” at Minneapolis’s famed First Ave. The first five nights, Sunday to Thursday, were devoted to one specific member of the group and his or her guests; the final two nights displayed Doomtree all together. I’m a Facebook fan of Doomtree’s sole female, Dessa, and thus was especially excited to see her announcement of which guests she was bringing in on Tuesday, the night she would be curating. Since Dessa is an extremely intelligent woman with highly creative diction, I thought her usage of the world was wonderfully fitting and inventive. Fitting yes, inventive no.

The origin of the word curator comes from the Latin curare, which means “to care for,” especially in the spiritual sense. I love this etymological clue as to the job of the curator: ushering forth art and music which is both of the spirit and to care for the spirit. In this sense, what else could a curator do? Perhaps curate ingredients in an exquisite dish? (A curry, of course). Curate a highly engaging lecture?

I’ll give Dessa the last word on this one:

Pas de deux

Leave a comment

Let’s end on this note, shall we?

Goodnight.

Older Entries