Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Minneapolis to Pattison State Park, Wisconsin

Inside Minneapolis' "Mall of America," a large "Camp Snoopy" theme park. The largest mall in the country, with hundreds of shops, the 13-year-old complex is starting to wear around the edges. And the air inside is stale; which is unfortunate, given the remarkably fresh air quality outside.

11:00 p.m.

Camping in this park, just south of Duluth, is $22 for "non-residents" (us aliens.) Expensive!


This morning, I asked to extend my stay at the Fairfield in Minneapolis until 1:00 p.m., just to finish up some blogging and other business.

Was about to send samples of my blotchy photos to Canon, when I found the answer to my problem on their website: a dirty sensor. Following their cleaning instructions, blew it off, and afterward the images looked better.

Called local BMW shops to ask about repairing my top case. They were not much help. "There's no bulletin and we haven't received any other complaints..." Wrote to Larry and Issa in San Francisco seeking their advice.

Shocked to see all the rusted-out cars back here. The salting of roadways exacts and enormous price!

Left the motel 1:00 p.m. My one goal today: visit the Walker Art Center. When paying the $8 entry fee, the cashier returned $2.

“I gave you a $20.” (I remembered this common scam from my retail days, but I was serious! I could have sworn I gave her a $20.)

She held her ground. "I'm sorry, sir. I didn't have this $10 bill before," she said, holding up the bill.

"Do you balance your drawer at the end of the day?"


"If you come out $10 over, will you hold it aside for me?"

She did better. She counted her cash and balanced her drawer on the spot as I watched. I was now more concerned about my sanity than the $10.

“I balance,” she said with some relief.

“I’m sorry to trouble you. My mind is playing tricks on me.”

A fascinating exhibit, particularly a video display of clips taken on the streets of Russia, projected on 20 separate TV screens. The camera just pans by lines of people, pedestrians, children at play. Slowly and silently. Without comment. Later, I read this display was entitled Bordering on Fiction: Chantal Akerman’s "D’Est" 1993/1995 (From the East).

In a neighboring room, on a projector screen, the full length film was being shown, and in a small adjacent space, a more abstract perspective on the same subject. The scenes were collected during her travels in Germany, Poland and Russia. It was like catching up with an old friend. Ten or more years ago, I was introduced to the films of Chantal Ackerman, finding them powerful and instinctively beautiful. But for years I had seen nor heard anything from the filmmaker.

Another fascinating film comes from Shirin Neshat, an Iranian filmmaker. Her 1999 work Soliloquy involves two simultaneous projections showing culture clash between old and new, east and west, Christianity and Moslem. She comments “once you leave your place of birth, there’s never a complete sense of center; you’re always in the state of in between and nowhere feels completely like home." There is something familiar in her statement.

I also enjoyed Doug Aitken’s visually-stunning 1997 film Diamond Sea, with images of some unknown desert bordering the sea, with abandoned buildings and industrial complexes.

"Beautiful people" wandering the museum galleries.

I have no particular plan for what's next. Decided to forgo Chicago (over 400 miles southeast) and instead turned towards Duluth. Stopped in Wyoming, MN and had some dinner at “The Cornerstone”. Popular for its prime rib, I ordered the special. BIG people people here.

A short distance away, a man was constantly disciplining his son, telling him to sit down, at least every 5 minutes. It appeared to be a subconscious game they both played, and somehow derived identity from. To me, it was just annoying!

Evoked by signs along the way referring to the Chippewa and Lake Superior, the internal song has now shifted to Gordon Lightfoot's “The Wreck of the Edmond Fitzgerald” (in my opinion, one of the more powerful ballads of the past 50 years.)

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