Friday, April 24, 2009

Visiting Minneapolis

This week found me in Minneapolis for the second stop along the eight-city Autodesk Imagine 2010 product launch tour. Minneapolis is the only stop I'll make on the tour. It's an interesting city--a midwestern sensibility and friendliness with a lively energy, and unique history and demographic. For example, The Artist Formerly (or Currently?) Known as Prince is from Minneapolis. Another example: Minnesota has a long history of Nordic immigrants; however, one of my cab drivers was a lovely, warm, friendly man from Somalia and informed me that there is a huge Somalian community in the Twin Cities area (Minneapolis and St. Paul are just across each other from the mighty Mississippi River)--more than 100,000 Somalians call the Twin Cities home.

When I arrived, I met my rather famous Autodesk colleague, Eddie Perlberg, for a delightful dinner of Spanish tapas at Solera. Eddie and I deliver architectural design visualization webcasts together for Autodesk. As usual during my travels, I spared no expense (neither monetary nor caloric!), and we indulged in such delicacies as poached salmon with apple-celeryroot puree, deviled eggs with blue crab and cumin, and chorizo-stuffed dates with smoked bacon, all paired with lovely Spanish wines.

Despite the overall friendliness of the city, I was accosted a few times by rather vocal and energetic homeless people. One couple stopped me in a skyway and approached me a little too closely, asking for money for a bus fare to Milwaukee (see photo above--24-hour skyways connect many buildings downtown to protect pedestrians from wind and harsh weather during long winters). I suppose since I've recently colored my hair quite brightly red, another homeless man on a bike stopped me on the street and demanded to know--several times, and loudly--whether I was a real red-head.

At 3:30pm on Thursday afternoon, after the Autodesk launch tour sessions wrapped up and before I had to catch my 7pm flight back home to Albuquerque through Denver, I took one of my customary, big-city solo walks along Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis. A concierge directed me to the avenue for its lively sidewalk bars, cafes, breweries, boutique shops, and mega-stores (Target headquarters is on Nicollet Mall, and stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Gap have huge flagships along the well-populated pedestrian avenue), and I got lost in more than a few of the enchanting boutique stores and fresh produce stands that lined the street.

Nicollet leads directly to the Mississippi riverfront. The sidewalks were so thick with happy-hour imbibers in suits and skirts, I wondered whether anyone works in Minneapolis. But I've also heard Nicollet is famous for its Mary Tyler Moore statue, honoring the star frozen in her hat-tossing 70s TV show iconic opening scene, just during the climax of the show's feminist anthem: "You're gonna make it after all!" People who know me well know that I HAD TO FIND AND SEE THIS STATUE FIRSTHAND. After all, I was often compared to Moore in my early twenties, perhaps for my choice of dress, my toothy smile, or my naive "can do" attitude. Whatever--it was flattering nonetheless! Unfortunately, I never found the statue and had to rush back to my hotel to grab my bags and hail a cab in time for my flight.

I only spent two days in the City of Lakes, but it reached out and shook my hand in a warm greeting that eagerly welcomed me back someday.

No comments: