Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sketchy Ethnography

:: exploring the Twin Cities of Minneapolis / St. Paul ::

City planning was a big part of the conversation while I was here, with some mention of my dad and our family's concern with Libya's future, some 50 years ago minus a few. The plans dad did were for about 50 years forward, so even if they were followed (as some say they were), they'd be about at their horizon limit by now. Other planners would have had to be doing some homework in the meantime.

Minneapolis has light rail to the airport, like PDX. It also goes to Mall of America, which I had no reason to visit on this trip. My trips were by gasoline powered vehicle, small convertible and van. We did some walking to the Museum of Imperial Russian Art, just off the nearby exit from I-35 W. That was an engrossing exhibit, about the marching towards populism known as Socialist Realism, a type of art Stalin favored, and that has since turned to self parody and self reflection, via Shepard Fairey and others (Dead Kennedys parodied Nazism, fast forward to South Park), verging on psychedelic in some schools of art.

I'm somewhat the emissary from Portland on Pirate Party business one might say, helping to organize some campaigns. David is thinking of taking on the 59ers, those who apply Miller's Rules to get the 59 stellates of the icosahedron, a classic topic by now, right up there with uniform polyhedra. The rules might come across as somewhat capricious to some, as they admit some rather goofy monsters into the mix. Couldn't we pare down? Koski's critique of the Archimedean honeycomb duals seemed to get at least steelpillow's attention (using an Internet alias -- some of you know who I mean). The Pirate Party courts Esozone, Subgenius etc. and so these geometrical esoterica are a natural fit. Speaking of which, we watched John Brawley's new video of his Icosahedron in a Grotto (Portland has a Grotto too).

What does a smart diplomat do in such circumstances? If you're a real pro, you go to a neighborhood block party in Tangletown (its doors you admire). Then you join Omar Ansari's Surly Brewery in its festivities, now that the law has been changed, permitting destination factory towns, more like Disneyland but with more alcohol. Oregon has these already and does a great job with them (witness Edgefield). And you tour a neighborhood hard hit by the tornado three weeks ago. There's an urban legend that hotter urban CBDs and surroundings repel tornadoes. Comforting, but no deterrent to the one that put down here recently, ripping through a swatch of residences.

Characteristically, there was no overt government presence, as emergency services to residents are increasingly verboten in Private America, as evidenced by Orlando's banning citizens sharing free food in public parks with hungry neighbors. Any such "short circuiting" of the money economy is regarded as "underground" even though it's the background from which the monied emerged.

The Pirate Party questions privatization, starting with Ludwig Wittgenstein's "theories", which Dr. Cornish calls a "no ownership" metaphysics. That might sound Communistic to some (more like a not-for-sale military), and indeed there's a sense in which Grunch of Giants (a party favorite) was more subversive than anything dreamed of since Karl Marx (says so right on the back). This is not a party that seeks majority status however. Perhaps thanks to Quaker influence, it stays deliberately tiny and elitist, and fields few candidates.

So yes, the weather is rather dramatic compared to Portland's. The tornado was severe, the lightning and thunder storms are higher powered. The heat spikes and the cold spikes are both more exaggerated. The roads take a real pounding in the winter, meaning many more potholes and wear and tear on motor vehicles. They gave up using DEQ-style emissions testing to keep the rolling stock on the newer side (more efficient) because falling-apart older cars simply fall apart under the stress of cold winters and all the sand and salt in the streets. The Elm trees have been dying. Perhaps Ginko, an older species, will do better in the Early Plasticene (or is it Late already?).