Friday, March 21, 2008

ninth & hennepin b/w god's bathroom floor

a city pages blogger just popped me between the eyes with this lively photo of block e in '73, guaranteed to bring sweet and sour memories for old minnesotans. back then, it was seedy, sexy, scary, showy, and skeezy. today? not so much.*

as a west st. paul kid, i recall wide-eyed and wonderful trips to this part of hennepin avenue. then, as an intern investigator with the public defender, i spent more time with the area's crime. though i saw too much trouble there to really romanticize the place, moby's big electric sign still brings a li'l electric charge.

tom waits wrote the block's official soundtrack in r-rated tributes such as ninth and hennepin and christmas card from a hooker in minneapolis. if i squint hard enough through today's spring snow, i can almost see the drunks, punks, and hustlers of old hennepin from my office window.

waits is great, but the scene puts me in mind of atmosphere's contemporary tales of junkie redemption and minneapolis pride.

*for further study, james lileks offers a fine historical photo essay.

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