From the Golden Leaf to The Abiders

On sun-washed, Saturday May 9, the good people of Minneapolis are discovering the emerging greens and gentle breezes of spring and the soft serves at Dairy Queen. Through late afternoon, scents of lilac and freshly mowed lawn and bird song greet folks out for a neighborhood walk or a spin around their chain of lakes. I, however, am hanging out in The Golden Leaf, a tobacco and cigar sampling store on Lake Street near Bryant Avenue. I’m perched on a bar stool near a large, walk-in humidor and have a decent view of the Twins/Indians game on a flat screen TV. A helpful attendant has selected a handmade Dominican cigar for me. Continue Reading

Minneapolis Taco Tour draws a crowd to Lake Street

East Lake Street hosted the Taco Tour, an event highlighting  the flavors of Latino food on Saturday, June 28. Fifteen restaurants along Lake Street — from Gorditas el Gordo near 35W to El Norteño, close to the Mississippi — participated in the event. Diana Flores, Event Production Manager, said, “We expected around 900 participants, but we got 2,500.”Taco Tour participants received two free taco tickets to specific restaurants, and they could walk, take a (bilingual) tour-guided bike ride, or hop on a school bus to collect their tacos. Taco Tour diners filled school buses at the K-Mart parking lot starting at 11 am, and the buses circulated up and down East Lake Street, making stops at the 15 restaurants on the route until 5 pm.The Latino Economic Development Center (LEDC) and the City of Minneapolis sponsored the Taco Tour as a way to celebrate the Latino district and its restaurants. Event organizers were overwhelmed by the response to the event. Continue Reading

COMMUNITY VOICES | My Friday night on Lake Street

I share a small tippy table with a bowl of vegetarian chili and a candle.  Other patrons, except for a nearby woman, sit in duos, trios and quartets behind us on risers with eating counters. I flee from Eden Prairie to the Bryant Lake Bowl Theater for the comfort of knowing that there’s a good chance that I’ll be in the company of sly and off-center storytellers, humorists and revues. The cabaret is linked to a small, bowling alley and saloon/café on Lake Street in Minneapolis. The woman next to me moves off to a table with an unobstructed view of the stage. Another woman, trim and purposeful, futzes around with a camcorder perched on an arthritic tripod.With no idle social chatter required, all I needed to do was let the performer, Jon Spayde, re-introduce me to some of his invented characters – the Polish Professor of Negativity, Zen Master Zero and a womanizer named Manuel.  They explained why after Harvard, Spayde fell through the grad school cracks at Stanford while backstroking through a boozy haze.  As Jon and his imaginary pals tell it, he was on a quest to earn kudos as an intellectual guerrilla from the likes of, say, his academic advisor and Grove Press.  Spayde’s ordeal was the murky, flitting-about journey of many a student scratching out a doctoral dissertation; of a sensative, liberal arts tourist from the east stuck in the exhausts of money-driven, California-blond, beautiful and bright colleagues. Even with a well intended but labored bit of audience participation, my hour with Jon and his characters and the chili was splendid.  But my personal muse was humming the Burt Bacharach/Hal David song “Knowing When to Leave.”  She and I like show tunes and this one from Promises Promises provides sound advice for both the love struck and cabaret rats of this world.  I parted the Bryant Lake Bowl coasting on the high of a sharp entertainment for think time at a cigar lounge across the street. Continue Reading

VISUAL ARTS | “Calle Lake”: Mexican-American photographer Xavier Tavera documents Lake Street’s Latino community

Minnesotan photographer Xavier Tavera has produced a large and diverse body of work since immigrating to the United States from Mexico. In Calle Lake, an exhibit opening on January 14 at Augsburg College’s Christensen Center Art Gallery, Tavera documents members of the Latino community on Lake Street in Minneapolis. These photographs were selected by Tavera from among those that will be on display.Coverage of issues and events affecting Central Corridor communities is funded in part by a grant from the Central Corridor Funders Collaborative. Continue Reading

THEATER REVIEW | New Native Theatre’s “2012: The Musical” imagines our future, examines our present

In 2012: The Musical, New Native Theatre (in collaboration with Bedlam Theatre) takes a look at our current society, and the state of Native American people, through the eyes of future generations. It’s an ambitious work that mixes broad physical humor, hope, sarcasm, and some great music. Written by Rhiana Yazzie with Inez DeCoteau and Andrea Fairbanks—and featuring original music by Marisa Carr—the play is directed by Yazzie and Maren Ward, with musical direction by Peter Morrow.

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FREE SPEECH ZONE | Lake Street

          Lake Street is a vibrant artery traveling from old to new, entwining a coalescence of culture. It represents modern progress bathed in rich tradition. Located in the heart of Southern Minneapolis, Lake Street is the epitome of modernity built upon diversity.

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Virtue triumphs, along with good food, at Gandhi Mahal on Lake Street

Sometimes you meet people who are so virtuous and well-meaning that you just want to smack them upside the head. No, you don’t! What am I saying! It’s more like, you want to smack yourself when you’re reminded of the virtuous things people are doing while you’re sitting on your fat ass watching X-Files reruns. The do-gooder in question here is Bangladeshi immigrant and restaurateur Ruhel Islam, who runs a pretty little place called Gandhi Mahal at Lake and Minnehaha with his brother Jamil. Continue Reading

Fight hunger: have a taste of Lake Street

If you were to seriously try to eat your way down Lake Street, from Lake Calhoun to the Mississippi River, you could spend a lifetime and never succeed in completing the task – the artery that runs through the heart of south Minneapolis is a gastronomic hot zone, where new restaurants are constantly being born and dying. A much more realistic goal would be to hit the Taste of Lake Street this Saturday, September 13, from 3 to 7 p.m. at the Minneapolis Exchange Commons, Lake Street at Elliot Ave. S., and just eat your way through all of the samplings that participating restaurants will be offering. Among the restaurants: Gandhi Mahal (innovative Indian), Los Andes (Colombian and Ecuadorian), Namaste Café (Nepalese), Maria’s Café, (Colombian), El Neuvo Laredo (Mexican) Hamdi (Somali), Amore Victoria (Italian), Blue Nile (Ethiopian), McMahon’s Pub (Irish), the Signature Café, the Town Talk Diner, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and many more. The $25 ticket price also includes wine and beer. Continue Reading