Sunday, January 14, 2007

Tyrone--and LeRoy in the Tundra

"Welcome to paradise" the pilot from Midwest Airlines (home of freshly-baked chocolate chip cookies)quipped as we landed on the runway of the Twin Cities airport. As soon as we stepped outside the airport and were assaulted by the 6-degree air (minus-15 with the wind chill) The Natalies thought, hmmmmm...maybe not so much. This was Natalie H.'s first time to the tundra and she had to harken back to her childhood days in Edmonton, Alberta.
The weather was literally the ONLY thing we could complain about this stop on the book tour. Our Minneapolis reading at Amazon Feminist Bookstore was by far our most diverse. There were academics, neighborhood folks, students, journalists; white, black, Indian, Native American; old and young. The good people of the Minneapolis Star Tribune gave Tyrone the hook up in the newspaper -- 3/4 of the features section front before jumping inside. About 70 people crammed the basement to listen to the Natalies wax about media images and media agency. Minnesota Public Radio taped the two-hour talk/q&a. (We sure hope that Gary Eichten uses our material.) One black woman from the South talked about whether LeRoy, from back in the day, was the same archetype as Tyrone. We met the filmmaker Rachel Raimist and a Howard alum brother who offered us $50 bucks for our personal dog-eared copies when he learned the books were sold out ("Those are worth even more!") After the sell-out reading, we headed over to the home of "LiquorMan" Steve, an old pal of Natalie M. from her Twin Cities days. He graciously gave us an after party. Toward the end of the night, Steve started remembering his days as lead singer of his band Banther, which was part of the Minneapolis Sound . He even knew a guy named Romeo Blue. This is Steve in the picture from the early 1980s.
And then we met Mary. Mary is Steve's former vocal coach. Minutes after meeting us, Mary offered to serenade us with a song about "making dreams come true."

This must be what folks are talking about when they talk about the thing called "Minnesota Nice" This is the state that just elected Keith Ellison, a black man and the nation's first Islamic U.S. Congressman. He took his oath of office using Thomas Jefferson's Koran, which we learned from a local politico at Steve's party, was done at the excellent suggestion of a lovely librarian who happened to be from Minnesota. Nice.
A middle aged white guy who came up to The Natalies after the signing. "I saw the article in the paper. I said to myself, 'I live in the neighborhood, I should check it out'...I'm so glad I did."
So are we. So are we.
Thanks to Aida, Chris and Gia; Nancy; Gita and Nancy Nova; T.C. for being our limo service; Duchesne Drew; Brock and LaDawn; Erin and the boys; and Chuck.

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