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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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Monday July 22, 2013

An Artistic Swing: Putt-Putt at the Walker Art Center

As I watched my ball roll hopelessly down the ramp for the 3rd consecutive shot, I knew then that I was up against no ordinary giant watering can.

I suppose that sentence needs a little bit of explaining. First, what you need to know is this journey started at the Walker Art Center. Why? It’s their 25-year anniversary this year. That’s 25 years of bringing some of the rarest and most thought-provoking art to Minneapolis. They’re doing a lot of cool stuff throughout the year, and one of them happens to be the reason I was invited out on a warm July day.

Usually, art and athletics don’t overlap. However, the Walker Art Center and 15 artists have created something special that brings these worlds together. The new Walker on the Green, an artist-designed mini-golf course on the grounds of the Walker Art Center, is flat-out awesome.  If you’re looking for a date idea, a place to take the kids or just something to do that’s out of the ordinary, this is it. The course is 16 unique holes (split into Course A and B) that will definitely challenge you and make you laugh at the same time. Did I mention you can even drink on this course? They’ve definitely nailed the essence of golfing.

Granted, I didn’t know any of this when I started. Eager to test my rusty mini-golf skills, I picked up my putter, my bright orange golf ball and my camera, and stared down the largest watering can I’ve ever seen.

FOR INFORMATION ON HOLE INSPIRATIONS, PRICES AND ADDITIONAL FACTS ON THE COURSE, DOWNLOAD THIS PDF.

Click the picture for larger view.

HOLE 1: CAN YOU HANDLE THIS?

Spoiler alert: No I could not. This hole broke my spirit right away, and I looked like Happy Gilmore when he was learning to putt at that mini golf course (thankfully, no clowns were punched). Shaped like a giant watering can, you have the option of putting up the long, thin ramp and dropping down right next to the hole, or putting to the side and dropping a ways away from the hole on the second tier. I won’t tell you which path I took, but one will definitely make you feel like a fool in front of your group. This was a difficult hole, but it encapsulated everything a good hole has: ramps, two tiers, a ramp and a comically-oversized something-or-other.

Par:   


Score: 
     


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HOLE 2: MOVE YOUR HOLE!

This hole is very similar to the show Survivor. By that, I mean you’ll figure out who in your group wants to help you cross the finish line and who wants to see your torch extinguished as they laugh maniacally. See all those boards in the picture? They’re not just for rebounding off of. At the sacrifice of one stroke, a member of your group can switch the hole location by removing one of those boards and placing it in the existing hole, thus creating a new hole. While I got under par on the hole (perks for solo reviewing), I heard someone got a 15. Keys to this hole: Concentration, steady form and unabashed blackmail.

Par:     


Score: 
 


Click the picture for larger view.

HOLE 3: GOPHER HOLE

Time for a little luck. The hole starts by dropping your ball in a big funnel, and from there karma/rotation of the Earth/the hopes and dreams of a nation will guide your ball to either A) A choice placement next to the hole or B) A terrible location where par isn’t an option. Thankfully, fortune smiled upon me after getting rocked on the first hole.

Par:  


Score: 
 


Click the picture for larger view.

HOLE 4: LA BAGATELLE DE BAGATELLE

Upon getting to this hole, I shouted in my best Derek Zoolander voice, “What is this, a hole for ants?!” This hole is a combination of a miniature house model and Plinko from The Price is Right. Once you putt the ball up the ramp, it falls through the house and navigates its way through the many pegs on the board. Your ball then drops into a slot with a number on it. That, dear readers, is what your score then becomes. It can range anywhere from 1-4.

Par:  


Score: 
 


Click the picture for larger view.

HOLE 5: EARTH ADVENTURES

And ohhhh what an adventure this was. Don’t let the giant anthill the ball eventually passes through distract you. The real challenge of this hole is a ramp so high and long that a Tour de France cyclist might not be able to make it up. There are two holes at the top of the ramp, and one places you in a slightly better position on the second tier. Rumor is, if you can get the ball in one of these holes in one shot, you automatically become King of the Brits. Tough hole, but very cool-looking and ridiculously creative.

Par:    


Score: 
   


Click the picture for larger view.

HOLE 6: AMES ROOM

Holy optical illusion, Batman. This hole takes advantage of forced perspective and the illusion of depth, which is kind of tricky when putting a ball requires….well….depth perception. Thankfully, if you miss the hole in the top right location (or is it top left? ILLUSIONS!), your ball caroms down to the bottom of the house where another hole is waiting for you.

Par:  


Score: 
 


Click the picture for larger view.

HOLE 7: SWARM

I’ll let the description the artists came up with take over:

“Swarm by Baguss and Hiltner explores a failed agrarian culture, inspired by aerial views of pivot irrigation, the landscape now arid and repurposed by new inhabitants whose only visual imprint is their architecture. Fallen civilizations leave remnants of their existence behind, reclaimed and intermingled with the naturally occurring landscape transformed into a garden of long lost potential. Players are challenged to work their way through the landscape as an ominous hum echoes through the chambers of the structure, leaving one with a sense of unease as to what resides within.”

That’s some ominous stuff. I got a 2.

Par:  


Score: 
 


Click the picture for larger view.

HOLE 8: 18 HOLES IN ONE

As a grown man, letting out an audible squeal is generally taboo. But hey, that’s what I did when I reached this hole. It appealed to everything golf-centric in me. The hole is framed like a four-leaf clover, and the surface is a physical manifestation of an overlay of ALL 18 LEGENDARY GREENS AS AUGUSTA NATIONAL GOLF COURSE! It’s a golf course within a golf course! Cue up the Inception music! Anyways, there’s 18 different holes to choose from, so you should be able to manage par.

Par:   


Score: 
  

Par for Course A: 23
Score on Course A: 23

To see what Course B looks like, check out Part 2 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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