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The Explanation of the Name for Newcomers:
I was reading about cities. And I came across something regarding twin cities; that is small cities that grew until they were crammed together and somewhat indistinguishable. Cities like Bridgeport and New Haven in Connecticut, or Dallas and Fort Worth in Texas, or, where I live, Minneapolis and St. Paul, in Minnesota. The book said that once in Hungary there were twin cities, that is, two cities so close that they grew together. These twin cities were called Buda and Pest.
I think you could guess what happened.
Budapest happened. The two cities became one. And in that moment I realized:
I don’t like twin cities. I like cities.
I live in The Twin Cities of Minneapolis and Saint Paul.
I like our metro area, and think it’s a nice place to live. I love living here with my wife. I love the Mississippi River running through the heart of it all. I idly hope all our sports teams win even though they generally don’t. I support our excellent art museum. I like our coffeehouses and bars (well, I used to when one could actually go to them and not… kill people). I enjoy our giant mall and our State Fair and our Frank Gehry building leaning over the river. I even love our secret, hidden Mannerist Fountain imported from Italy that they put away for the Winter.
But I hate our Twin Cities.
I think they should be one city. And we should call it:
My new Budapest-like city will incorporate the inner ring suburbs, like Bloomington and Edina, West St. Paul and Roseville. And it will be only one city, large and vital and consistent enough to compete with the other notable, medium-big American Cities, like, I don’t know, Denver or Seattle.
I’m just saying enough with the meaningless local competition and regionalism, with its multiple library systems and shitty police forces and uncoordinated bike and walking paths that dead end at city boundaries that are completely irrelevant!
I don’t like Minneapolis.
I don’t like St. Paul.
But I am very fond of beautiful Saint Minneapolis.
So brace yourself; no longer will I refer to St. Minneapolis as The Twin Cities. I will not say I live in St. Paul or Minneapolis. And if it confuses people, my made up geography of St. Minneapolis, that’s a risk I must bear. But my hope is that the purity of my vision will alter the landscape until, little by little, the people of this part of the state will come together and make that which is already true underneath, official.
8/12/21: Weird experiment day!
Today I am going through every page I have in Life is a Fountain and adding something hopefully relevant to it from the annals of Clerkmanifesto. It’s my desperate attempt to freshen up everything after being away for a couple weeks. So here you go:
We have spent the entire day, a Saturday, shopping at the Mall of America, which this year turned 25 years old. At one of the 312 stores we went into, possibly Eddie Bauer, which used to be in a very different, larger space, the young, unperceptive salesperson asked my wife and I if this was our first time visiting the Mall.
Laughing lightly at the outlandish errancy of this question we said “No”, finding the question vaguely insulting in the bargain.
After all, could he have possibly been more wrong? Do we look like look like weekend tourists from (shudder) Chicago?
We practiced for The Mall of America before that salesperson or the Mall of America were even born, way back in the notable early seventies malls of major metropolitan suburbs. A quarter century ago, already seasoned, and with eyes wide open, we went to the very opening of Mall of America like it was our birthright. We have eaten at mall restaurants that are now long forgotten, visited more stores that no longer exist than an average mall can even count, and can chart a vast array of our life changes through various shopping trips to this mall. We defended The Mall of America before a panoply of confused friends and acquaintances who found our affection mysterious and strange and still wince in baffled horror at a simple statement like “We spent Saturday at The Mall of America.” We endured the quarter century agony of the mall’s continuing inability to have one decent coffee shop. And we still burn with the bitterness of the tragic, yes tragic, conversion of the central mall amusement park from the glorious, and appropriately local, Camp Snoopy theme, to the entirely bland and scattered “Nickelodeon” theme. We understand that however much any of us in the Twin Cities might like Claes Oldenburg’s Spoon and Cherry sculpture, or Mary Tyler Moore, or one of our crappy sports teams, to be the symbol of this city, it is all futile. Across the world we are the home of The Mall of America, symbol of both us, as a Metropolitan area, and also of all retail sales everywhere, and thus, of America itself. It is the shining, outlandish, tawdry fantasy beacon of Capitalism.
Yes, Capitalism itself is a fantasy that will consume us all. It is an ever devouring shark (which, coincidentally, we have in the Mall of America Aquarium, where one can walk through a tunnel of sharks!). This capitalist dream will disfigure and destroy everything we love and admire and hope for in the world. It is shorn of a heart. It is broken, mad, and unappeasable. Because of the runaway train, or, er, runaway shark, of capitalism Donald Trump was President, seas rise, and slaves toil. The rich get richer and there is no future for your children. You were mad to have them anyway. Everything will be eaten by Capitalism as it knows not the cessation of hunger, and one day, horrifyingly not long from now, one person alone will own everything there is to own in the whole world, but it will all be nothing other than poisoned water and ashes. That is the inevitable endgame of Capitalism.
But in the meantime, believe you me, The Mall of America can be a lot of fun.
I have been meaning to create a page on Life is a Fountain for my city, Saint Minneapolis. Though throughout Life is a Fountain I have intimated that I live in a rambling metaphorical mansion barely connected to time, or in a purgatorial library, or along the creeks, but I also live in the city of Saint Minneapolis, and it is an important part of Life is a Fountain.
But I hadn’t gotten around to making a page for it.
I needed a sign first.
When the Blimp flew by our window I knew that I had my sign.
Hey, how about more pictures of the city?