Sunday, November 19, 2006

Moving Out

1146 North Fifth Street

After a protracted adolescence, it was time to move out. A neighborhood friend stopped in one day and said, "Why don't you look in the want ads?" There, in the houses for rent unfurnished, was an ad that read: 2 bedroom house, $80 a month + utilities. Not very much money for a place, even in 1971.

It was not much of a house either, as it was situated only a few blocks away from a sleazy strip of run-down bars. A few more blocks away was the street where several businesses had been burned down in the riot after Dr. Martin Luther King was shot. Still, it was something. Tiny rooms, in an odd concrete structure, but a place of our own. That house, and eventually the one next door (pictured above), and then three more on the next block, would become a de facto center for various cultural activities: a dozen or more musicians, a writer, a potter, a weaver and other artists would all emerge- living, loving, starting up families. It couldn't last forever- twenty years later it would all be torn down by the city for some ill-defined project.

No one who ever lived there would want to return to that existence, yet it is hard to imagine a more vital time, a Bloomsbury in Minneapolis, a Café Society without the café. There are zoning laws against this kind of thing now.

By Professor Batty


Anonymous Jim G. said...

Professor -
I remember well this small disorganized community of artists from my own season as a long-term guest. You and your friends gave me permission to "be" there, in ways my homogenous hometown didnt allow - ways I am still "being" today as I celebrate my 50th birthday. In gratitude to this hip hidden corner of the city of my formative years - Thank you! - JG.

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