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City VIP Blogger Meet Minneapolis

Welcome to the Insider blog. The City VIP section will feature posts straight from the minds of Minneapolis celebrities, as well as some cool inside information from us. Also, the Insider Post area will spotlight a random member of the Minneapolis community, allowing them to share their unique perspective on the city. Read on and become an Insider.

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Thursday August 01, 2013

A Walk Through History: Minneapolis Northeast Tour


East Hennepin.

The Northeast Neighborhood.

“Nordeast,” as the locals call it.

Regardless of what you call it, what you need to know is simply this: it’s Minneapolis’ first neighborhood.

The history that radiates from this area is palpable. Everywhere you go, each building you see, there’s a story behind it. These stories are stooped in rich tradition with tales of how Minneapolis grew to the city it is today.

The coolest part about this neighborhood? There’s a walking tour dedicated to giving you the complete behind-the-scenes tour of this historic locale. The tour highlights 18 different places in Nordeast, all important to the vitality and growth of Minneapolis. You can find out more about the walking tour here, but we’re going to give you a sneak peek of four of the places you’ll see when you take this highly-recommended tour.

1) Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church

Our Lady of Lourdes Church is the oldest continuously-used house of worship in Minneapolis. The original structure was built in 1857 when the east side of the Mississippi was still the village of St. Anthony Falls. At that time, it held nearly 500 people – which was 1/10th of St. Anthony’s population. The church still holds mass to this day.

2) Nye’s Polonaise Room

Home to the “World’s Most Dangerous Polka Band,” Nye’s is a throwback to the Eastern European culture that was prevalent in Nordeast at the time of its founding. Al Nye bought the establishment in 1940, and by 1964 his success at running the bar enabled him to buy the building next door for a dining room addition, called the “Polonaise Room.” You’re guaranteed to have a crazy night when you step through the doors of Nye’s.

3) Kramarczuk’s Sausage

In the late 1940’s, Wasyl Kramarczuk and his wife Anna emigrated from their homeland of Ukraine to the United States. In 1954, after years of hard work, they founded Kramarczuk’s. Still family owned and operated to this day (like many of the Nordeast businesses), Kramarczuk’s has grown to become the official sausage provider of the Minnesota Twins, and just recently won a James Beard American Classic award.

4) Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese Shop

In business since 1934, and run by four generations of the Surdyk family, this single store has become the largest provider of wine in the entire Midwest. The store started up at the end of Prohibition, with the original owner, Joseph Surdyk, selling groceries and liquor would bolster the family’s income. So, $200 of borrowed money, a liquor license and 79 years later, Surdyk’s has become a cornerstone of Nordeast.

If you're ready to experience the full tour yourself, reserve a tour here.

Insider Blog Post
Friday January 18, 2013

Prince's Princess: A Brush With Greatness

As you all have surely heard by now, Prince had been rocking the 612 over at the Dakota Jazz Club last week. Most accounts of this legendary event have only been seen on Twitter.

Until now.

We tracked down a concert goer that had a truely one-of-a-kind experience with the exhaluted purple one. Getting complimented by Prince AND snagging some rare memorabilia? That. Happened. Check it out:

Meet Minneapolis:First off, we have to ask….HOW did you manage to get tickets to this once-in-a-lifetime event?

Gina Reis:I was actually at work when I heard about the Prince concert, and was immediately in a fluster trying to figure if I'd be able to squeeze in online and buy a ticket. I immediately text my friend Paul, a Prince fanatic, because I knew he'd be in to go. He got online and snagged two tickets for us right at noon. He must've been one of the first to get them, since we got front row center seats!

MM: Wow, front row center. That's crazy. So, how was the concert?

GR:I don't know if I can find the words to accurately describe the show. I went in with low expectations--everyone was telling me that Prince was most likely not going to come out until 1:30 am and would only sing a couple of songs. He does have an infamous reputation for this type of behavior. So, when he came out, strutting his stuff behind a parade of trumpets, saxophones and trombone players right at 11 pm, I was floored!

When he got on stage, I was honestly a foot away from him--up close and personal to lose myself in his guitar and piano playing, as well as the amazing improv solos by the rest of the band. Although he barely sang a note during the night, everyone had an amazing time. Prince is an amazing musician, and he was really in his element, reacting to the other musicians' ridiculously intricate solos by throwing up the hood on his heavy white sweater or even stopping his piano playing to stare and smirk in amazement.

The concert was a fusion of funk, jazz and blues beats that were so raw and hypnotizing! Prince was so genuinely caught in the music that I felt like I was spying in on a private studio jam session.

MM: Sounds intense. Now, something else about your story caught our ears. We hear Prince called out your shoes. For real?

GR:This was, without a doubt, the best moment of my life. I'm going to be an old, wrinkly lady, telling all my little grandchildren about this moment, and their jaws will drop in amazement and awe at what happened to their grandmother so many years ago.

It was the beginning of his set, and throughout the whole concert, Prince went back and forth between playing the guitar and the keys. As one song ended, he set the guitar down and, as he took the few steps across the small stage to the keyboard, he breezed passed me and said "Nice shoes".

Yeah. Take that in for a second.

In a concert where he sang about one line, said nothing in between tunes, he felt the need to compliment me on my leopard print booties from Marshalls. Best $16 I've ever spent! I'm never taking these puppies off. And, they obviously did not even compare to his shoes--one sparkling gold, the other sparkling silver, with matching clear light up heels that flashed red whenever he stomped to the beat. Leave it to Prince to make light up shoes cool for adults!

MM: And leave it to him to have more fabulous shoes than most women. Plus, if that weren't enough, you snagged a guitar pick from him. Be honest, how long did you spend feng-shuing your house to get the level of universal karma necessary to get that pick?

GR:Prince marched off stage with his band after the amazing encore and I spotted two picks: one on the ground by the mic, the other resting on the keyboard. I wanted to grab one of them but was afraid of security descending upon me if I tried.

So, I waited a little bit until the bass player came out to pack up his gear. The woman next to me and I were determined to get these picks, so we got the attention of the bass player and asked him if it'd be okay to take them. He gave us the green light by pretending to look away. I wanted to snag the one on the keyboard--a white pick, with the iconic Prince symbol on it, but the woman got it before me.

I ended up getting the one by the mic. Unfortunately, this one is just a plain orange pick, but still--Prince touched it. He played beautiful, beautiful guitar with it. I’m most definitely drilling a hole in this and turning it into a necklace to wear permanently around my neck.

MM: Did you feel yourself transcend into a higher plane of existance?

GR:I became the person formally known as Gina and melted into a puddle on the spot.

MM: That's an appropriate response. So, what were some of the coolest moments of the concert?

GR:At one point in the night, he picked up his guitar, started to play the opening measure of "When You Were Mine" before stopping, looking up coyly at the audience and simply mumbling into the mic: "Psych!" What a tease!

It was captivating seeing Prince command the stage--signaling to different musicians for improvised solos and his demure reactions to their standout performances. It was great to see him smile and dance along to the funky beats. It made it impossible for me to sit still.

Throughout the night, Prince directed the audience to join in on the fun--clapping hands, snapping fingers and, near the end, directing us to stand up and join in on the boogy-ing. If Prince tells you to get up and dance, you get up and DANCE!

MM: That's crazy. Alright, leave us with a two-word phrase that described the experience.

GR: Hypnotic boogie!

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