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Archive for July, 2011

I teach social media. I use social media everyday. Yet every couple of weeks I’m surprised what I find.

I mean really surprised.

Yesterday I wrote about seeing U2 in Dublin in ’89, but until–yesterday–I never thought to check YouTube for bootleg videos. Here’s one from Saturday night:

I should so know better, but I don’t. Is it my age? My generation? Haven’t I grown up with YouTube, too? I watched it’s birth and rise.

So why am I surprised at what I can find online?

Anyone have an answer?

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As I mentioned last week, I walk to work under gracious old trees. Depending on my route, I can stop at one of any 10 coffee shops.

Given that the dew point hit 82 last week, hot coffee hasn’t been too appealing.

However, one of my neighborhood coffee shops, Espresso Royale has the ultimate hot weather drink:  the Polar Cap Lite (or Regular). They hand blend–from scratch– cold coffee, ice cubes, and milk into the ultimate, adult slushy without any sugar.

Cheap, it’s not. Refreshingly dynamite, it is.

But like much of the state, summer in the Saintly City means road construction. I know the new sidewalks, curbs, and paving will be lovely, but there are hardly any streets on my route that aren’t torn up.

Along side of Espresso Royale where Fairview Avenue usually hums with traffic is a trench — the entire road bed is dug out to about 5 or 6 feet below “road level.” In other words, a major city artery is closed. All those thirsty drivers are buying coffee somewhere else.

To reward their loyal customers, Espresso Royale is offering double punches on their popular Buy-10-Get-1-Free Reward cards for purchases before 10 am during “construction season” (e.g. now until the snow flies).

If only I were a morning person.

So get up early and go support yet another St. Paul business hit hard by road construction.

And tell your friends about it!

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Almost 22 years ago I was here:

That’s me in the front row with the camera at the beginning of the video.

Last night I saw them again. It was a big decision to go, actually.

How could I ever top New Year’s Eve 1989?

It was 6 weeks after the Berlin wall fell. Europe was euphoric. The show was broadcast via radio all over the world. And I was there. In the front row. With my camera, (which got broken).

So we biked to the TCF Bank Stadium at the U of Minnesota, where I was a student in 1989. It was a gorgeous evening. 58,000 Minnesotans and their friends all there to celebrate U2.

We met some really nice ticket scalpers, but elected to simply sit on the grass of at the corner of University and Oak and watch the show for free.

We stayed until the rain soaked us and we biked back to St. Paul.

It was deafening, it was glorious, it was the most fun I’ve had in a long time. And I’m so glad I didn’t buy a ticket, because really, how could anything top seeing them in their heydey in 1989, in a small theatre for 8,500 people?

Have you ever seen U2? What did you think? I’d love to hear about it.

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From home to work is usually a lovely walk. Flat city sidewalks shaded by old elms, maples, oaks, cottonwoods, basswoods, and the occasional Ginkgo.

The trees are so lovely in the Saintly City, we even have a Landmark Tree program. Anyone can nominate their favorite tree. Click here to see last year’s trees, photographed by St. Paul realtor and photographer extraordinaire, Teresa Boardman.

The tree to the right is in Coral Gables, Florida where my parents met an eon ago. The tree is growing around the road and the house’s driveway. These are pretty common in the Miami area, I just can’t remember what they are called and my dad’s not answering his phone.

So what does this have to do with marketing?

My Saintly City, St. Paul, Minnesota does a nice job of emphasizing what they do well – sidewalk poetry, parks, community education, and even trees–all searchable on their website.

Walking home today, I basked in the shadows of these tall lovelies.

And then I was curious. Oaks, Maples, and Ginkgos I can recognize, but what were the others? Are there any Elms left? What about those nasty, green tree-killing-bugs?

I Googled St. Paul trees.

Now I know every species the city plants, the trimming schedule, the bug problem and more importantly that the Saintly City knows what her citizens are searching for and provides that information. Coral Gables, well it’s a lovely city, but their website doesn’t tell me a whole lot about what’s planted. Hence I’m crowdsourcing on Twitter and Facebook to find out what’s planted on that odd street in the photo above.

Brava St. Paul.

So click on over to the Landmark Tree site and nominate your favorite tree.

Or just tell me about it in the comments.

P.S. I intended to write about Espresso Royale and road construction, but the journey grabbed me first.

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The food was sooooo good I forget to take pictures. And it was beautiful.

Thai food always has a visual aesthetic, but even our mixed up salads were gorgeous — imagine little squid tentacles bathed in lime juice and chili with lots of cilantro.

17 people on Yelp agree with me, granting On’s a 4 star average rating. It’s the best Thai food I’ve had outside of Thailand.

I have to go back soon. I have to try everything on the menu. It’s my new favorite place even if I have to wiggle my way through Light Rail Construction.

Here are a some tips so you can help On’s survive street destruction:

  • Order your food “mild.” We’re Minnesotans, we may think we like spicy food, but unless you’ve eaten in Thailand, don’t risk burning your lips.
  • On’s is on the North side of University between Fry Street (on the West) and Snelling Avenue (on the East).
  • It’s a couple of doors down from AxMan Surplus, so you can go to two cool places on one trip.
  • Directions:
    • If you are coming from the South, for now, the easiest way to get there is via Fry Street.
    • Take Snelling Avenue North and turn left (West) as if you were going to take 94 West.
    • Instead get on the frontage road (aka St. Anthony Avenue) and take a quick right onto Fry Street.
    • Take Fry over University and turn right into the alley behind AxMan Surplus
    • There is a lot between On’s and the old Frumo’s hair salon
    • From the North, you can boogy down Snelling, turn right onto University and right into the lot
  • When the North side of University Avenue is torn up, the only way to get to On’s will be via the alley. Keep that in mind and don’t let it scare you off.

My Point?

I want these funky places to benefit from Light Rail and not turn into suburban style strip malls full of national retailers and boring food.

Take the Step. Make the Commitment. Give yourself some extra time. Head to University Avenue.

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My 8 year old loves Tandori chicken. His brother hates Indian food, the rest of us love it, or at least tolerate it. The “hater” was off eating pizza with friends, so the rest of us visited Restaurant.com and landed on India House (758 Grand Avenue, St Paul, MN 55105).

Bland and greasy. I didn’t even know it was possible to do that to a curry.

I’m never going back.

If we’d had more time, we’d have gone to India Palace in Roseville (2570 Cleveland Avenue North).

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It must be the heat, but no one felt like cooking and everyone wanted a cold, spicy Thai salad. We ventured outside of the round-square, aka The One Mile Project and headed to University Avenue.

If you live in Minnesota you really know that there are truly only two seasons, winter and road construction. It’s difficult to get anywhere during the latter. We’re all especially challenged this summer as the Saintly City prepares for Light Rail. If you somehow missed that piece of news, just click here.

I touched on the economic effect of Light Rail construction on University Avenue businesses in an earlier post about Big Top Liquors. I make a point of winding my way through road closures and Tweeting my friends for quick new routes from here to there to support those shops and restaurants.

Tonight, I thought I’d take this problem on and invite my friends to see how many University Avenue small businesses they can visit between now and Labor Day. (Target does not count!)

So fellow St. Paulites & Minneapolitans, I’m challenging YOU! How many places on University Avenue can you visit?

Here’s my summer list so far. It’s paltry.

Menard’s, Target, Cub Foods, Rainbow Foods = too big to count

AxMan Surplus (many times) Did I tell you about the orange school lockers I bought for my garage?

On’s Thai Kitchen — trust me that will get it’s own post.

Big Top Liquors

Sharett’s Liquors

On my list to visit soon:

Asian Deli on Western and (I hope) University Avenues

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