14 April 2008


Last weekend was My Better Half's introduction to Fargo, North Dakota, the land where i grew up. We went to celebrate the birthiversary of my sister, who if i remember correctly just turned twenty-three (she's been twenty-three for a few years in a row, now).

MBH and i flew into Minneapolis on Friday, rented a car, and did our usual vaudeville act of driving through a snow storm. Once we got to Fargo, we headed straight for the old downtown area, checked in at the hotel, and met my sister at Dempsey's, where she and her pals compete at bar trivia every Friday night. (With a total of five members, The Fizz finished second for the night and won some free beer.)

On Saturday we all had breakfast at the Fryn' Pan, one of the many places i used to hang out drinking coffee as a disaffected youth. Then my sister gave us a driving tour of Fargo, which didn't take long since it's not that big. My old elementary school has been torn down and rebuilt; my old junior-high is now Fargo South High School "Campus II", despite being a half mile from what i guess is now "Campus I"; the mall now has a pimped-out food court. Somebody's been building expensive condos in downtown, but it sounds like nobody's buying. The Fargo Theatre is still there, thank goodness.

After hanging out with my sister's cat Harvey Wallbanger, we had dinner at the restaurant in our hotel, the unfortunately-named "HoDo" (for Hotel Donaldson). Like the hotel, the restaurant is well-appointed and stuffed with work by local artists (some of which is great and some of which is not, though the balance is better than one might expect). The food was quite good; we had bison, beef, and pork that would satisfy any big-city carnivore, and wrapped it up with too much dessert, all of which was top-notch.

We spent a lazy Sunday morning hanging out with Harvey and his human, then hopped in the rental and headed back to Minneapolis to fly home (no snow storm this time, strangely). MBH said Fargo was "OK".

10 April 2008

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

My Better Half and i are trying to sell our beautiful Brooklyn manse, so once in a while we vacate the house while the real estate agent shows someone around. Last Sunday morning was one such time, so we headed out to enjoy us some Brooklyn.

Our first stop was Flatbush Farm, for brunch. The Farm has good coffee, which of course is an essential when discussing brunch; tea-drinkers can have breakfast, but a real brunch requires good coffee. I had a beef-and-hominy hash with poached eggs that was 100% delicious; i even enjoyed the Hollandaise sauce, which i usually find heavy and dull. MBH went with her Flatbush Farm go-to, Toad in a Hole, which is consistently yummy.

Next was a short stroll to Pintchik, Brooklyn's premiere hardware store, to pick up some miscellany for the house. On the way we ran into John Turturro walking down Flatbush with a little boy. He saw us notice him, and gave us a "please don't talk to me, thanks" look (different from the "please don't talk to me, i might die!" look we got from Sufjan Stevens last year).

From Pintchik we strolled over to the Brooklyn Museum to see the Takashi Murakami show. (Admission was ten bucks, which seems like a bargain in New York these days.) The Murakami show was a lot of fun, and not even obnoxiously crowded. MBH and i couldn't resist grabbing a couple Murakami plushies in the gift store.

The museum also was featuring a smaller exhibit of Japanese ukiyo-e prints, which we always enjoy. Those guys did some amazing woodcuts and a lot of the colors they used, especially the deep blues, always enthrall me.

After relaxing in front of the Brooklyn Museum's awesome fountain for a few minutes, we headed back home. On every leg of our little tour there were lots of spring flowers, especially all sorts of daffodils; eventually MBH started rolling her eyes at my enthusiasm for daffodil varieties that i hadn't noticed before. I didn't have the good sense to take my camera, so here's someone else's picture of some daffodils: