Aug 6, 2018

Searching for Beefcake in the 10 Worst Suburbs of Minneapolis

Minneapolis is my second-least favorite city in the United States (my first is Houston, for obvious reasons).  It's cold, cramped, surprisingly run-down, and everything is frightfully expensive.  $23 for a breakfast in a diner with a drugged-out guy snoring in the next booth?

Plus the traffic is awful.  Whoever heard of driving all the way through downtown to get to the airport?

Plus it goes on forever.  70% of Minnesota's 5.7 million residents live the Minneapolis-St. Paul-Bloomington Metropolitan Statistical Area, which extends from St. Cloud to Redwing, a distance of 120 miles, crammed with tiny towns and suburbs that locals expect you to be intimately familiar with.

"Are you from Minneapolis?"

"No, I'm from Arden Hills.  And you know what they say about Ardens Hills boys!"

Here are my least favorite Minneapolis suburbs.

1. Shakopee, site of the Valleyfair Amusement Park, the annual Minnesota Renaissance Fair, and the Shakopee Women's Prison  (in a residential neighborhood a few blocks from downtown).

The high school offers swimming, wrestling, track, and powerlifting (the Shakopee player is the one on the ground).

2. Edina, which sounds like the name of a sea urchin.  A ritzy suburb full of $300,000 houses, near that stupid Mall of America (it's just a shopping mall with its own exit ramp).  An old sundown town (it was illegal for black people to live there, or to be on the streets after sundown). 
Now the population is 3% black.

It does have a Crossfit.

3. Orono.  Minneapolis has the habit of naming its suburbs after existing places, in this case Orono, Maine.  It's even ritzier than Edina, with a mean family income of $100,000 (twice the national average), but since it's right on Lake Minnetonka, there's a rustic feel.

4. Wayzata

Next door to Orono, more mansions, more country clubs per capita than any other town in the U.S.  Its unusual name makes it popular with Hollywood writers who want "standard Midwest," not realizing that it's the Beverly Hills of Minneapolis.

Here's the Wayzata High cross-country team.

More after the break.

5. Shoreview, about ten miles northeast of Minneapolis, is on the border of Lake Owasso, and has three other lakes in town.  That's four lakes too many.  It ranked #4 on the Family Circle list of "family towns."  "Family" is often code for "homophobic," which makes one wonder about this buffed bodybuilder used to advertise the Shoreview Press Gym.

6. Coon Rapids,  on the Mississippi River about 15 miles north of downtown.

First there's the name.  I know it means "raccoon," but shouldn't they have at least considered changing it to something less disturbing?

Then there's the river: nothing like the low, slow, easy-going Mississippi I knew growing up in Rock Island.  It's fast, brash, and noisy.

With all that money, you'd think there would be a decent used bookstore, museum, or theater.  But everyone drives into Minneapolis for that, leaving nothing to do but look at the river and go to Lilli Putt (a miniature golf range).

7.  Maple Grove, across the river from Coon Rapids.  An extremely boring name coupled with horrific population growth (from 6,000 in 1970 to 60,000 in 2010) makes for an uncomfortable suburban experience.

8. Brooklyn Park, just east of Coon Rapids.  You think you're getting something with a New York feel, but instead you're getting suburban sprawl, with a Menard's, a Target, a Wal-Mart, a lot of fast-food places, and a charter school called the Athlos Leadership Academy.

This is a personal trainer who works at Anytime Fitness.

9. Lakeland, on the east side, across the river from Wisconsin.  It sounds like a butter company, and it's the title of a series of young adult romances: "Ruby Miller is perfectly aware that Luke Sinclair has that whole secret superman thing going on. Black glasses, wide shoulders, straight ‘A’s, a killer smile, and a heart the size of Mt. Rainier.

10. Lake Elmo, just west of Lakeland. Has Elmo ever been a majestic, dignified name?  The city was named after the lake, which was named after the 1866 novel St. Elmo (a bestselling romance novel about a girl who teaches a cynical man to love again).

By the way, the song "Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer," a Christmas favorite, is sung by Elmo Shropshire.

Here's a Lake Elmo Pony giving his opponent the Heimlich Maneuver.


  1. It's run down because, well, friends don't let friends Greenspan. Same as much of the Midwest. (Anyone who follows Ayn Rand is intellectually lazy. She basically took Marxism and said "NO! U!" You know? Friends don't let friends Ayn Rand in general.)

    Edina makes me think of edema. Which is just great. Also, yeah, racism was never unique to the South, though the South is still plenty racist.

    Don't be surprised. Yeah, there's rural poverty, but also rural millionaires. Same story as anywhere.

    Also, Wayzata is probably a Dakota name, albeit corrupted slightly. I know that in the Teton (l) dialect, waziyata means north. So it was fuggin cold even back then.

    "Family" is code, but it depends on where. I mean, a lot of Indian LGBT events are whole (extended) family affairs. But back in White World, yes, it is. (Check out how YouTube reacted to Butch Hartman's OAXIS project some time because of the potential for homophobia once they found out it was a "Christian network", not to mention nobody knew what kind of network he was crowdfunding. PIEGUYRULZ is probably the most exhaustive source.)

    I guess there's St Elmo's fire? But all I can think of is Muppets.

    1. "St. Elmo's Fire," the movie, is named after a nautical phenomenon (a ball of light appears during a thunderstorm), which in turn is named for St. Elmo or St. Erasmus, the patron saint of sailors. Elmo is also the annoying kid-next-door in the "Blondie" comic strip.


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