Around the end of August in the Twin Cities one can see a lot of moving trucks pull up. And a lot of these trucks come with the optimism of new grad students, new teachers, new students, new gigs and new opportunities. Folks arrive and their new bosses or resident advisors tell them about the State Fair, or about Minnehaha Falls or dancing at First Avenue. These experiences are some of the very best that the Twin Cities have to offer. But, you can hear about them anywhere, and if your boss didn’t tell you then 15 Web sites about the Twin Cities will. In this blog entry I am going to attempt to give you my highly opinionated list of the best ten things to do in the first six months you live in the Twin Cities that the average Web site won’t mention.
|in new slang, sean mcpherson shoots the digital breeze about current events, decoding hip-hop songs, chicken wings, contentious trivia questions, and daily life.|
1. Move to Minneapolis. Maybe you found a cheaper place in Bloomington, maybe your job is in St. Paul. Maybe you moved to Fridley because you liked how it was spelled. Congratulations. I live in St. Paul. It’s the better, more fun Twin City in my opinion…but not for a newcomer. St. Paul closes early and has many fewer transplants. The night spots are further apart so you have to know where to go and they’ll be many fewer newcomers milling around trying to discover the same stuff as you. I’m going to take a ton of grief for this from my St. Paul people, but Minneapolis is the proper introduction to the Twin Cities. Once you get your group of friends together and find the right night spots for you across the Twin Cities, go live wherever you want (which I’m betting will be St. Paul), but get started within three miles of downtown Minneapolis and go out a lot and make your life thick with connections to new folks. Note: I started writing this piece in August, and then September got the best of me. I’m now ready to say that Lowertown in St. Paul might work just fine. My band Heiruspecs played at Concrete and Grass and we sat at Barrio drinking a margarita and there were all sorts of folks hanging and walking around and I started to feel real good about St. Paul, even for a stranger.
2. Don’t rent from Netflix. Netflix is great but if you are moving to a new place for the first time you need to make as many things social as possible so that you can open new connections. Go to Nicollet Village Video and enjoy the absolute assholes who work there. There is the dude with a Bluetooth headset in 24 hours a day who won’t help you with anything and will pretend he didn’t hear you (maybe there are asshole instructions being beamed into his headset). But all these jerks create interesting stories, and you can bond with the people outside of the store after you get dressed down for asking for CSI:Miami Season 3. Also, their selection is absolutely the best. It makes the asshole treatment just a little more acceptable. And this spot gets flyered by most of the major nightlife promoters in downtown, so grab a couple flyers/free tickets on the way out.
3. Get a dog or start smoking cigarettes. These seem to be about the only activities that create new friends for adults. And smoking cigarettes is the biggest mistake you can make in life—besides getting your dog addicted to smoking cigarettes—so get a dog, go to the dog park, talk to members of your preferred gender for partying with about your dog. Give it a cool name that is a conversation starter. Here are some ideas: Stalin, Coltrane, Benadryl, Basquiat, Fridley, et cetera. Something that will keep the conversation going.
4. Pick a coffeeshop. I guess one could argue against getting stuck into a routine. But I think that as a new resident of the Twin Cities it’s important to become fixture at a place so someone might be apt to say “hey, can you watch my computer while I go have a smoke” or “do you know the new girl working here, she can’t make a latte to save her life.” Sentences like that are much more likely to happen once you establish “regular” qualities.
5. To excel in a new environment it is important to gain skills that few people in this new environment possess. If one early on in their residency was able to gain an absolute mastery over the Minneapolis street system, the Metro Transit bus system, where one can get a new license in Hennepin County, or other similar things that most people who have lived here for decades still don’t know, you will endear yourself to the locals. You will become a go-to person. And that helps in making friends.
6. Put a little extra money in your budget to buy a drink for your bartender. If you tip good and offer to pay for a shot with your bartender towards the end of his/her shift it will pay itself back in smoking bowls in their Jeep, stronger drinks, guest list spots, a free food item if the cook messes up, et cetera. Just pay it forward.
7. Start going to a trivia night. I might stand to profit from this one. I run a trivia company that runs 15 trivia nights a week in the Twin Cities a week. But forget about that. Our competition is great as well, so I’m just pro trivia. I have been playing music for 10+ years in nightclubs and I’ve seen more friendships forged among attendees of trivia nights in the three years I’ve been running trivia. It gives you something to talk over. It helps you connect. I made a lot of friends playing trivia. At a rap show, the guy on stage is the star. At a trivia night the host is the enemy, he’s the guy with the answers you don’t believe and the prizes you’re mad you didn’t get. So the bond and the star is much more the folks on the teams.
8. Remember everyone’s birthdays. People love having their birthdays remembered. So, if you start taking down little notes and setting it up, you’ll start having everyone think you’re great. And if you’ve read this far I think you’re great too.
9. Don’t go to a national chain for the first six months you live here. Need a stereo? Find a local place (and no, Best Buy doesn’t count). Need a record? Well, good, there are only local record stores and Best Buy left anyway. Dinner. Forget about McDonald’s, Ruby Tuesday, and all that. Go to some local place.
10. And here are the handful of words you need to know how to pronounce to not look like an ass in the Twin Cities: Hmong, Larpenteur, Heiruspecs, Surdyk’s, Mictlan. There are three more if you are a musician because apparently you can’t be an editor of a local music section without having a hard to spell/pronounce/remember last name: Riemenschneider, Swensson, and Raihala.