"The Incredible Truth About Minneapolis"

2006
May
16

I’m finally getting around to re-weblishing the lost content from past incarnations of the blog. In order to give the impression that I am actively creating when I’m not, I’ll show these oldies on the front page for a week or so before putting them in their proper chronological order (which, happily, will not effect their ‘permalink’ location in the least). Cool, eh? OK, this was originally published at epinions.com when I was trying to sabotage its business plan of being a “user-generated product review site”. Actually, others were more outragious in their rebel content, but the concept for this goes back to an argument I had with an ex-semi-girlfriend in 1984, where she was getting all snotty about how culturally superior her home town of Minneapolis was to Los Angeles, and I came up with the response that the City of Minneapolis was just a myth perpetrated by people who’d moved out of Minnesota and didn’t want to admit there was nothing there…

It started when I attended an event at Hollywood’s Museum of Broadcasting saluting “The Mary Tyler Moore Show”. The emcee, Gavin McLeod, announced that all of the show’s original writers were present “except for Allen Burns, who, as you probably know, is so busy with the Minneapolis Project.”
There was a general murmur of approval from the audience, and I, puzzled, asked the sunglasses-wearing-indoors person next to me what the writer/producer was doing in Minneapolis.
“No, man, he’s not doing anything IN Minneapolis, he is DOING Minneapolis.”
And he went on to explain that the metropolitan area of Minneapolis/St. Paul was the totally fictional creation of Hollywood writers, devised to provide a location for the popular ’70s sitcom.
“Now wait a minute, I know there was a Minneapolis before that. Didn’t the Lakers basketball team start there?”
“Yeah, that’s where the name Minneapolis got started. It was some deal between the NBA and Hubert Humphrey Sr. to avoid admitting that the state didn’t have a single city with a population larger than 20,000. The MTM Show people picked up on that, and, of course, Allen Burns was the perfect guy to put in charge.”
“Why was that?”
“Hey, he did the same thing before when he wrote for ‘Bullwinkle’. You know… Frostbite Falls.”
My mind was reeling as he explained how, after the series ended, Burns was hired by the State of Minnesota to “produce” the city. Their most successful project was the “hometown entertainers project” which helped give breaks to performers in exchange for their claiming to be from Minneapolis.
“I mean, think about it, do you really think a character like Prince could have come from anywhere in the midwest?”
“Yeah, that one’s a stretch, but what about Garrison Keillor?”
“Oh, now that was genius. A perfect example of what magicians call misdirection. Everybody thinks Lake Wobegon is a fictional town…”
“It’s real?”
“Yep, just before the 1980 census, the state house passed a law re-allocating a percentage of the population in all the towns to go toward Minneapolis. Trouble was, a few of them lost enough numbers to fall off the map. Keillor picked one with a good name, and the rest is media hype history.”
“But his Prairie Home show…”
“Done in New York City from day one. I think he’s renting the Ed Sullivan theater on weekends these days…”
“And what about the Mall of America?”
“Oh, that’s for real, and another great bit of misdirection. I mean, after you’ve been in that mall, you just forget whether you’ve seen any part of a real city…”
The story was amazing, but as I thought about it I realized, I knew people who moved to L.A. from rural Minnesota, but nobody from Minneapolis. Therefore, either it’s such a great place to live nobody ever moves away, or it really doesn’t exist!
I found the City of Minneapolis office in a North Hollywood strip mall, next to a “99-Cents Only Store”. The office manager refused to speak on the record, but declared that they had nothing to hide.
“We’re awfully busy right now trying to fix some problems with the population reallocation.”
“What kind of problems?”
“Well, somehow, it got Jesse Ventura elected governor.”
“I’d better let you get back to work.”
“Hey, at least we’re doing better than the Arkansas Project.”
The Arkansas Project?

2 Comments (so far) about

"The Incredible Truth About Minneapolis"

  1. path from MoFi Says:

    Haven’t visited here for a while, and I’m blown away by what you’ve been doing – especially this revealing look at the secret Hollywood methods of redistricting. Yeah!

    And, yes, I am going to go see the new site.

  2. Nicholas Bernabe Says:

    Great work!

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