Spark It Up!

As activists on the West Side get the shake down from the cops, and St. Paul frets and fusses over last minute preparations at RNC ground zero; Downtown Minneapolis geared up to show its artistic flair at Spark24!

What is Spark24 you ask? Well, if you haven’t been living under a rock for the past month, you probably already know. This 24-hour extravaganza incorporated music, performance, art, dance, and partying of all varieties. If you missed it, you missed out – the spark was definitely electric!

6pm: Arriving at the IDS

The thoughtful peeps of Spark24 have set up an awesome media hub for journalists to not only work from, but also to party from. The ground level is sectioned off, VIP style (that’s right, you’re not invited) with gallons of fancy booze to pour down our throats and fresh fruit and Vitamin Water to get us through the night. The cute and cordial head honcho, Nicolle, flits around putting finishing touches on the space and tactfully bossing around volunteers, who wear matching t-shirts emblazoned with the slogan, "I Got Lit."

The wi-fi center is set up in the old Williams-Sonoma space on the skyway level, where computers wait for journalists and bloggers to use freely. I’ve brought my trusty laptop and camera and will continue to check in all night long, recappin’ and posting pictures, as I slowly deteriorate into a sleep deprived mess – which you’ll probably be able to detect by the level of inappropriateness and lack of proper English in my posts as the night wears on.

My first stop tonight will be the super-ultra VIP Media party at Mill City (again, you’re not invited!) where I hope to snap some pics of newsy celebs, or at the very least, Jeff Passolt. Check back later to see what kind of shenanigans I get into to as well as lots of pictures by me and my bff/photographer Stephen Stephens (yes, that’s really his name) who will be my party poppin’ right hand man all night!


8pm RNC Media Party @ Mill City Museum/Guthrie

Upon approaching the Mill City in Stephen’s beat up 1990
Toyota, police and party volunteers barricaded the streets, only letting
credentialed press through to attend the party. Mostly surrounded by black SUVs
and the like, we eventually got through, parked, and met Rake editor Jill
Yablonski, who gushed, "There’s so much free food and booze I think I am
going to die."

Unexpected "guest star," as Veep nominee.

The party was awesome. Some of the first familiar faces I
saw were my pals Greg Jansen and Paul Durham, who were there shooting photos
for Twin Cities Luxury and Fashion. "Can you believe this shit?"
Jansen asked. And no, I couldn’t really believe it. Spanning from the Guthrie’s
patio, through the Mill City Farmers Market and Museum, and even out to River
Road where the closed off street was tented for a good city block and lined
with food vendors and bars – all free of course – I can only liken the party to
a "fancy State Fair." I overheard someone saying that 7 million
dollars was spent on the party, if that tells you anything. Who paid for it,
I’m not altogether sure – but they definitely know how to throw a party.

While the booze flowed and hundreds of media-types from all
over the country mingled and whooped it up, Stephen snapped pictures and Jill
and I stuffed our faces and drank mojitos, keeping our eyes peeled for the
likes of John Stewart, Anderson Cooper and other celebs – who never
materialized. We did get Passholt though (see first post). And R.T. Rybak. And even an
all-American Lady Liberty sucking on a Marlboro and texting.

11pm Northern Exposure Art Show

Stephen and I met up with Jill again, this time with her
boyfriend Tim in tow. Our disorganized itinerary was supposed to kick off at
the Chambers, but we made a pit stop at Steve Sugarman’s latest "pop-up"
gallery – a short-run show held in an empty commercial space just off 8th
& LaSalle entitled Northern Exposure.
The reception technically ended at 10pm, and there were only a couple randoms
milling around so we made a quick swoop through the exhibit, which included
work by such local art characters as Scott Seekins and Brant Kingman, among probably 30
others. Stop in before September 7th to check it out – it’s a pretty
awesome show.

11:30pm Chambers Hotel

We ran into our friend Kristoffer
at the Chambers and kicked it in the courtyard sipping $10 vodka tonics while
admiring the extreme douchebaggery of the clientele. Made up of predominately
Abercrombie-esque young professionals and leggy blondes in mini-dresses trying
to catch the eyes of deep pocket hotel guests, the crowd seemed oblivious to
Spark24, the RNC and even life as we know it outside of the swanky bubble of
the hotel.

We popped into the 5th floor "Red, White and Fucking Blue
Bar" where the action was almost cringe-worthy. A DJ played predictable drunken
crowd-pleasers such as Bobby Brown’s My Prerogative while red-faced
delegates in hot pink feather boas did dorky jigs and cat-like euro-babes posed
on expensive furniture that peppered the space. We stood on the balcony patio for about 10 minutes
and made the decision that we needed to leave as soon as possible, but not
before taking a spin down the stairwell that is filled with colorful graffiti from top to bottom. All in all, while tonight’s crowd left something to be
desired, the Chambers is still a beautiful spot, with cool art at every turn. Try checking out an art opening in the adjacent Burnet Gallery some
time – the crowd is always chic, the wine flows like water and the exhibits are quite impressive.

12:30am First Avenue: Too Much Love

Jill, Tim and Kristoffer all ditched us after Chambers, but
luckily we hooked up with our cute friends Jahna
and Danielle outside the Ave
for some Too Much Love action.
Filled with hundreds of bandana-clad hipsters/college kids, as per usual, TML,
a huge weekly dance party, always succeeds in making me feel old and
uncoordinated. Hundreds of fashioned-out 20-somethings dance the night away,
pressed up against each other in a throng, that to me, looks almost dangerous.
Once last year I actually got drunk enough to dance (I’m usually a stalwart
observer) and ended up in an uninvited "man sandwich" with a couple of sweaty
Belgians – hence the end to my TML dancing days.

Stephen and I downed a couple of vodka Redbulls, chatted
some of our dance party-prone friends up and watched breakdancers battle it out
on the stage. Too Much Love seemed to be the typical weekly crowd,
though I did see a troupe of unmistakable delegates party-train through the
club with drinks held high, hooting and hollering and still wearing their power
suits at 1 am.

1:30am The Fine Line: Myspace Most Beautiful People Party

Our first inkling after leaving First Avenue was to hit up
Club 3 Degrees – an all-Christian nightclub right off of 5th &
Hennepin. Sadly it was closed, with no young republican bible-bangers in sight.
Considering the club doesn’t serve alcohol, and good Christians probably go to
bed at a decent hour, it probably makes sense, though to me it doesn’t quite
compute. No alcohol? Weird.

Anyhoo, Kristoffer sent me a text on his way home with a
message pertaining to the scene outside of the Fine Line, it read, "Regular
yahoos x 100. Not Pretty." So of course we had to check it out. We talked our
way in and surveyed the scene – pretty much everyone was drunk as hell, booze
was spilled everywhere on the floor and no one looked particularly "beautiful,"
mostly just glazed over and a little snakey. Some drunk chick rammed into me,
and said "excuse you, bitch," and alternately, a big, muscle-bound black man
sensually, and randomly, caressed my back as I walked by. The highlight was a
raging drunk yokel with chest tats, who could only point at another guy and
repeat over and over "that’s my brother, that’s my bro." No obvious republicans
in sight here, unfortunately.

2am: The IDS

Upon return the media center, we found the doors locked –
with all our gear inside. No security guard or Spark volunteer in sight. We
rattled around and finally found a nest of teenage thespians holed up in a back
office in their pajamas, working on a 24-hour play, (which will be performed
tomorrow at 4pm in front of the IDS, so check it out). They perked up at our
arrival, feeding us Doritos, donut holes, carrots and Rockstar Energy drinks,
and seemed genuinely concerned for our situation. We meandered around a bit,
then decided to just head to Orchestra Hall where Spark24 was in full swing,
despite our intention to give you a 2am update.

2:45am: Orchestra Hall/Peavey Plaza

We strolled from the IDS to Orchestra Hall, bitching all the
way about how our feet hurt and how our legs were going to be sore tomorrow. On
arrival at Peavey Plaza we were greeted by a lively and diverse crowd, ranging
from glammed-out fashionistas, mangy hippies, scruffy rockers, and even an
elderly couple. Young flower-child looking chicks twirled sparklers and danced
around the plaza, drunk jocks stumbled about swearing liberally, and hungry people of all styles
lined up to pay an enterprising food vendor $5 for a single hot dog.

We got inside in time to catch the much buzzed-about Cloud
Cult, and stuck around for Chris Koza, both of whom sounded simply amazing in
the acoustically dreamy Orchestra Hall auditorium. Two artists painted live as the music played. Stephen snapped pictures
while I sat sullenly in a seat in the back of the hall, eating a $5 bag of
mini-donuts and worrying about when I’d be able to get at my laptop, which was still left in the now-locked up media center. Eventually, I ran into Nicolle, who
assured me I had full access and just needed to find the security guard to let
me in, which I hadn’t really occurred to me, of course.

5am: Peavey Plaza

Stephen had randomly met Rake music writer Erin Roof in the fray, and
reported back to me that her favorite actor is R2D2. Good to know. We also ran
into our friends Johann and Enrique
and chatted it up for a spell, complaining about how cracked-out we were on
Vitamin Energy drinks, and again, how our feet hurt. Ironically, a few minutes
later some drunk jackass wobbled by, stomped on both of my feet,
muttered something, and then fell up some stairs without looking back. That
was my cue to leave, so Stephen and I slowly trekked back to the IDS where we did
eventually find the security guard to let us in – and here we are.

It’s 7:30am and I might
snooze on a chair for a bit before heading back out. I plan on keepin’ my
promise (sort of anyway, despite my pending nap) to keep you abreast of the
sitch down here. Keep your eyes peeled for reports on performance at Peavey
Plaza and the Liberty Parade – coming soon!

9:30am: IDS

After a fitful one hour half-snooze on a particle board slab in the backroom of the media center, with an empty messenger bag as my pillow, I decided to say "screw it" and get up. Strangely rejuvenated, although I didn’t actually fall asleep, I perked up at the thought of hot coffee and possibly something egg related.

Stephen was still sprawled on the little bank of mismatched chairs I’d left him on before I cuddled up on my slab. He looked super comfy.

We’re going to get breakfast, then venture out into the wild once more. I think we look like crazy people though; we definitely feel a little crazy.


10:30am: Peavey Plaza

After fueling up on $16 platters of eggs and plenty of
coffee at the Marquette Hotel’s restaurant, we set out for Peavey Plaza. The
crowd was comfortably scattered through out the area, enjoying the smooth jazz
stylings of a guy with a mohawk and his band. We found a shady patch of steps
to perch on and settled in to check out the show. Seeing as neither of us had
slept, our A.D.D. was in full effect.

Honestly, I really can’t tell you all that much about the
performers as I was busy doing things like counting hobos and gossiping with
Stephen in my surreal state of conciousness. We did deduce, however, that at least 8% of the audience was homeless.
I gave someone a dollar, then got into a very one-sided 20 minute conversation
with a guy who called himself "Captain Kirk" and claimed to be on methadone. He
chatted me up about a substance abuse center called Access Works that gives out
free needles, and also pizza gift certificates to meth-heads who show up to
Tuesday meetings, lovingly dubbed "Crystal Tuesdays." We also saw a darling
family with two storybook-cute toddlers wearing "Obama Rocks" shirts, and
everyone in the immediate vicinity was fawning over them – including Captain
Kirk who, despite his druggy glow, seemed like quite a decent fellow.

Other highlights included the Mu Taiko drummers who jumped,
stomped and beat their way to an exuberant round of applause. Next up came a
weird modern dance troupe who were literally dressed like they were on their
lunch break from the Wells Fargo phone bank and had just decided to do an impromptu
dance routine on their way back from Panera. They were definitely graceful and
talented, but the whole clothing thing really confused and distracted me, but
maybe I’m missing some deep point. If that’s the case, Wells Fargo dancers,
please explain.

1:30pm Nicollet & 8th

The Liberty Parade has trumped Pride as my favorite parade
ever. It kind of reminded me of a traveling politically themed science fiction
convention – lots of weird shit and an endless stream of bonafied eccentrics
with their zany meters set to maximum – in other words, awesome. A red,
white and blue float complete with a sassy broad straddling a huge silver
rocket and five or six equally bawdy babes with strap-on missile dicks singing,
dancing, gyrating and talking smack about McCain. A gaggle of moaning zombies
ambled by, followed by a car sporting a sign that simply said "Brains." A
charming and cute safe-sex fairy skipped merrily by, covered with
color-coordinated condoms and waving a magic wand. A gang of nonsensical Ren Fest
types danced down the street to the theme song from the show, The Fresh
Prince of Bel Air,
while flanked by faux secret service.

My fave part, however, was when my other
bestie Clement rolled up (in a sense) on his "Humping Bike," later dubbed "Tour
De My Pants" – an exercise machine converted into a bike that requires
its rider to pump and thrust his body in a "humping" motion to propel the
bike. Clement only busts out the Humping Bike for special occasions like
parades or bike fests, and he’s got a whole list of hilarious lines he loves to
yell out to spectators like, "Are my undies showing? No? Do you want them to
be?" or "Save a horse, ride a cowboy!" among naughty others. Not sure what
the Humping Bike actually has to do with liberty, but it sure makes me giggle.

2:30pm: Loring Park

Stephen and I are running on empty, laughing maniacally at
each other’s bad jokes while parked at a picnic table on the fringe of the
action. All the parade participants have ended up here to celebrate and to set
up shop for whatever word-spreading, performing or socializing suits their
fancy. This event, while flanked generously with police in full gear,
definitely seemed more Mayday Festival than political uprising. Everyone seemed
to be in high spirits, and parade-goers even chatted up the po-po, who milled
around the park in packs.

We ran into tons of our friends, including Vicious Circle
writer Andy Sturdevant who happily manned the entrance to the Summit beer
garden in full summer beard. Bands and DJs played, wacky activists hammed for
their respective causes with humor and creativity, and people of all political
stripes enjoyed the breezy summer afternoon in Loring Park.

4:30pm: IDS

We eventually lugged ourselves out of the park, bedraggled
and confused, to start the trudge back to the IDS Center, with Clement humping
alongside us. I swear I felt blisters on my feet pop, as we’d been walking all
over downtown since about 6:30pm Saturday, and Stephen complained that he felt
like he might literally keel over at any moment. By the time we hit the media
center to upload the pictures from the today’s excursion we were crabby and
snapping at each other, but in a satisfied, "we did it" sort of way. All in all, a fun and crazy 24 hours, and a
fitting kick-off to this week’s upcoming insanity – which we hope is as
peaceful and positive as this weekend’s comeraderie insinuates. Thanks to the awesome Spark24 crew who was there with us each step of the way in sleep deprivation.

Check for more
pics! We’ll have even more from our Spark24 shenanigans to share within the next couple days.

Thanks for reading, I’m going to bed!