Saturday, April 23, 2011

Midwest Adventure: Getting There is Half the Battle

(Minneapolis in the mist.)

On the road again, this time in LGA going to MSP for a few days, then to Duluth, that hillside gem embedded on the crystalline shores of Kitchee Gummi (Gitche Gumee?)
Airports bring out a kind of reading madness: I buy a novel on WW2 and an autobigraphy of Patti Smith. In the magazine section I pass over “Lindsay Wasted Again” in Star, “75 Sex Moves Men Crave” in COSMO and notes on Charlie Sheen in VANITY FAIR in favor of “Is Hell Dead?”

TIME is skinnier now than when I got it weekly (annual b-day gift from Grandma Lil); grown smaller as has the NYTIMES and many other periodicals – the way of all papers? The Hell article draws me in - from Bosch to Homer Simpson and Seymour Chwast. Where would artists be without hell? What would the exotic fruits and frolics of El Bosco’s “Garden of Delights” be without the tempering tortures of fiery darkness? Another ordinary day in the life of Lindsay or Charley?

LaGuardia has….
…eeek! Why is this guy stooping down next to me and riffing on about Macs vs. Dells and what do I think? What do I think? I think: GO AWAY! Can't you see I'm writing on my beloved Macbook Pro? I also think: DELLS SUCK! But what I SAY is how Macs are good for art, blah, blah, blah, our words echoing annoyingly in my head. He’s one of those chatty-Cathys you don't want is sitting next to you in the plane. Or anywhere else. Earlier he was chatting up the woman across from me and I overheard that he’s going to Fort Myers, small favors. I look back later and he is the picture of existential loneliness.

(Munch, "Separation" detail)
Was I too abrupt?

Anyway, back to my original thought, which is, LaGuardia has a new attractive-looking wine bar/bistro
here in the Delta wing, oddly out of place with the Dunkin’ stand and crush of milling people. There is a young woman smiling desperately at us, a kind of yellow-mini-dressed barker trying to lure in a few bistro-starved travelers. This is where Mr. Lonelyheart should take his chattees…ply them with wine and words. Best he stop yammering on about Dells, however.
(Munch, "Self-Portrait")
At last, my flight.
We take off right next to the water, right over it, actually, from a long pier. Rather unnerving…
Here’s a quote from the Hell article by Albert Mohler of the Baptist Theological Seminary: “When you…erase the disctinction between the church and the world…then you don’t need the church, and you don’t need Christ, and you don’t need the cross…”

…why is the plane shaking? I hate the shaking. Please remind my loved ones that should I go down, they should remember my credit card accident insurance…I know they’ll forget about the credit card insurance…

Shaking momentarily lessens as the plane climbs even higher to get out of the turbulence. Is this all some kind of eerie metaphor? Did I mention it is Good Friday? Anyway, that quote was referring to Pastor Rob Bell’s contention that Jesus meant heaven to be open to all people, not just Christians. This makes sense to me. If religion can be said to make sense. When I was little I agonized over what would happen to those not fortunate enough to be born Lutheran, specifically ELCA Lutheran, which I was told was the spot-on center of the spiritual universe. It all seemed so odd to me, why I'd been so gosh-darned lucky... Lutheranism kind of cooked out in the turbulent philosophical stew of the "counter-culture" era I lived through - I left the table a believer in many lives and in our own responsibility to set ourselves up for a better next one.
Hmmm, I really should have been nicer to that guy in the airport...

Oh, guess what power-percentage is left on my computer battery: 66!

….ooooh, more shaking. Best get back to my reading. Or maybe not. Next to me a young woman pulls out a rag-mag and I see a wild-haired Charley Sheen leering up from the pages. I am envious. Charley could tell me a lot about hell.

In spite of everything, the plane lands safely. I began in the mists:

And ended there:Minneapolis is such a minne-city!
I am once again shocked, SHOCKED by the friendliness of the Minneapolis folk. The woman at the chocolate counter could easily ramble on for hours, the woman at baggage info volunteers(!) information before I ask, the Starbucks dude is madly, wildly effusive, his mouth moving up and down like Charley McCarthy on speed. Suffering from too much of his product? We discuss at length the kind of decaf mint teas they offer, yet he proceeds to give me green tea which I have to return. I worry about his future.

Here are Andrew and Jennifer to pick me up! Yay! They are coincidentally in Minneapolis to go to MINICON, Minnesota's longest-running science fiction convention that Andrew last went to in 8th grade. I recognize their car in the milling mess

because it’s the only one with the bumper sticker that says:

Here is the view from their hotel room in Bloomington, home of the infamous Mall of America:

Note the incredibly high and vertiginous ski run in the distance - what a wild city this is!

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