Mall of America supplement

While at the Mall of America I noticed a light rail line, with a station at the north entrance. A legacy from the Jesse Ventura years, I was told. Noting that it terminated in Minneapolis, and not appearing to be a very long line, I decided to see where it would take me, so I bought a two and a half hour pass for $1.50.

Theater District
Lumber Exchange
Hiawatha Light Rail
The Hiawatha Light Rail train ran right along Hwy. 55, along the east side of the Bloomington / Minneapolis corridor, with stops that had names right out of history, Minnehaha competing with Hubert Humphrey, of all things. The second to last stop, just before the Warehouse District, was at another mall; the Nicollet mall, spread out through several buildings, with enclosed walkways on the upper levels. it was one of those upscale jobbies one finds in many downtowns.

Not wanting to visit the same stores I had just left (just with higher prices), I wandered around in the weather. Though it was clear that most of the people on the streets were tourists like myself (the natives having more sense), there were several places along the block where lawn chairs had been set up on the curb. Some were occupied by people covered in blankets and quilts. I wondered if they were waiting through the cold dark night for a parade, but I never managed to ask one of them.

In the middle of one block I found the James and Mary Laurie Bookseller, which dealt in used and rare books. It was one of my favorite kinds of used bookstore, crowded with shelves, narrow aisles between them, made even narrower by stacks of books on the floor, everywhere. Crowded stairs led both up and down to even more rooms full of books, as well as many record albums and CDs.

The proprietor of James and Marie Laurie Bookseller was one of those who prefers the company of books to that of other people. He had set up a chair and ottoman between two stacks, where he sat with his stocking feet propped up. Every time someone passed his little alcove he would heave a heavy sigh, as if to say, "Who is this stranger intruding in my house? Why don't they leave me alone?" This was definitely not one of those establishments that has a cat or dog sleeping in a warm corner.

Stepping back out into the cold I wandered into what appeared to be the theater district, including the burlesque theater district if the brightly lighted sign for Augie's Girls was any indicator. There's something about colorful neon when reflected from ice and snow. It's particularly beautiful.

I was also fortunate enough to find the oldest skyscraper in Minneapolis and also the oldest building, outside New York City, with 12 or more floors, the Lumber Exchange building.

For a moment I was rather attracted to Minneapolis and thought I wouldn't mind if work ever took me there. Then I noticed that all the bus and train stops had heat lamps in them, operated manually with buttons by anyone waiting. I thought to myself, "There is no effing way that I'm going to live like a lizard in a terrarium just to get from one place to another! You can keep your arctic tundra, and your mooses in the pantry, and your swedish meatballs. I'm going back to San Francisco with its lovely fog and its damp and its delightfully chill summers."

I quickly re-boarded the light rail and headed back to the familar environs of the mall.