Tag Archives: South Minneapolis

All Decked Out


springyardThe dog kennel is de-pooped, for now. Those maple tree helicopter things are still hovering down. Chris has been valiantly blowing them off the deck where they are not wanted, then sweeping and carrying them off into the new spring compost bin. The mushy leaves which we use to cover the hosta jungle on the shady side of the yard have been raked up and also added into the compost oven. Hey, we’re not scholars from the Rodale Institute or anything, but compost really rocks. And so do rocks – the back yard has been totally Fred Flintstoned. A pond-with-3-tiered-waterfall project became Chris’ answer to losing a huge tree in the back of the yard; instead of removing the huge tree trunk he just added huge boulders and began the waterfall. It’s his baby which needs tending to occasionally; the pond portion has little leaks from time-to-time but generally we’ve been pretty happy with it. The birds, especially cardinals, seem to love to take little showers in the waterfall; they hang out there for hours sometimes. In early spring a couple of mallards stop and visit as though they’re looking at real estate – “honey, I know it’s just a one-bedroom but we wouldn’t have those damned Drakes next door causing all that racket.” (That’s me, anthropromorpholizing our duck visitors.) Then they see that we have two big dogs, and the sale goes south in a quick hurry.

We hardly travel for a variety of reasons; it’s expensive, we never have enough time, we’re not good planners, we’ve got two big dogs. So for us, our little plot of South Minneapolis is our retreat. Sure, there are the sounds of cars,  trucks and motorcycles whooshing by down on the street, but we pretend it’s the sound of waves crashing on the Northern Pacific shoreline somewhere (ok, I do that, Chris isn’t quite there yet). There are the occasional shouts, firecrackers, those crotch rocket things that I don’t even like to call motorcycles, and sometimes dogs who have been left in their yards who won’t stop barking, but it all comes with the territory. We have plants that attract butterflies and even hummingbirds; squirrels, rabbits, raccoons and even possums like to hang out in our sanctuary.

We’re city folk at heart, I guess. Summertime, and the living is easy. So here’s a slooomooo moment. It’s one of those reminders to live in the present.




It means “women who can take care of themselves,” and it’s the name of the organization for whom I will be interning beginning next week! Isuroon (isuroon.org) is a three-year-old nonprofit which advocates for Somalian women’s healthcare issues, but also educational, societal, and cultural issues unique to Somalian women in our community. The organization is well-known throughout our large Somalian population here in the Twin Cities; I will be focused on helping to get the word out to other parts of our society and ensure that Isuroon becomes familiar to all.

I’m super excited to get started on this new venture. Bonus – their office is only a few blocks from my house – I can walk or ride my bicycle to work.

Excessive Romance Alert


“I am NOT going to be Patti Smith for the rest of my life!” “Well, alright, then, the hell with ya,” Mr. Smith said.

And so it went on like that for 7 or 8 years. Then, suddenly, during dinner on a V-day, question popped, proposition accepted. Lufrano’s restaurant in South Minneapolis, (it’s gone now.) “Let’s make your mom happy,” he said, pulling out a modest, unassuming silver ring. “I’m still not gonna be a Smith!” “All right, ok….” “Ok, then.”

I think we went to see the Cows at the Entry that night.

We decided to just go downtown and do the deed a couple weeks later. We weren’t into doing a big wedding or anything – hey – we had just bought a house the year before! We didn’t tell his family who live in town here about our plans. Chris’ brother, Andy, was tapped to be our “best man” and was tricked into coming to the courthouse under the pretense of having to sign something on their mom’s probate papers. Cathy Camper was my maid of honor – I didn’t trick her; that would have been mean.

We were all waiting for Andy to get off the elevator at the courthouse and when he stepped out, he looked at us all very quizzically, saying, “Why are you guys all dressed up?” Chris handed him a corsage to pin to his lapel, and said, “Oh hey, would you be my best man, man?” Andy freaked! He kept laughing and unfortunately we had him serve as our photographer – the shots all cut our heads off. He just kept laughing and laughing, going, “Oh my God I don’t believe you guys are doing this!!!”

We went out to eat Thai food immediately after the judge hitched us, then we went home. We had to sleep because we had to do our radio show that night. And it was pledge drive. Exciting and touching, aye? I know, I know! Stop crying!

Tiny Tim, Eternal Optimist


I purchased Tiny Tim’s first album, “God Bless Tiny Tim” from my friend Drew yesterday at a big record show, and I’m pretty blissed out about it. Another record seller, my buddy Bill, saw the album and told me that he knows the guy who bought Tiny Tim and Miss Sue’s house near Minnehaha Creek on 50-somethingth Street in South Minneapolis. Nice house, but Tim had all the woodwork taken off and installed metal trim instead. T’Tim was an absolute germaphobe, and metal can be sterilized. I love stories like that! I think our friend should go behind the walls of the house to see if there are any treasures to be found within. tiny

I remember my Mom, Dad, Nana & Pop-pop Kennedy just freaking out the first time we saw Tiny Tim perform. “OH THIS GUY IS COMPLETELY OUT OF HIS MIND! PULL HIM OFF THE STAGE! THIS IS A TRAVESTY! AND LOOK AT HIS HAIR!!!” Pop-pop screamed at the t.v., and had a few other choice words which we kids weren’t supposed to hear. “BOB, the kids!!!” Nana bitched at him. Pop-pop seriously looked like he was going to have a stroke, and I think he left the room to go have a scotch and soda.

Us kids were pretty unaffected by pop-pop’s rage (due to conditioning), and thought T’Tim was funny and cool. I wondered how a guy that big could get his voice to go that high. I also sort of remember thinking that he was some kind of giant because I thought he was playing a regular guitar – hey, I was like nine or ten – I hadn’t seen a ukulele before.

So Tiny Tim died and was buried here in Minneapolis, and people can visit his gravesite – I think I will make the pilgrimage (it’s 4-5 blocks from my house) this spring, when the tulips are in bloom. It’s actually a tourist attraction on Roadside America.com:

Minneapolis, Minnesota: Tiny Tim’s Tomb

Herbert Buckingham Khaury, the ukulele playing, falsetto-voiced entertainer known as Tiny Tim, rests eternally, and reportedly with a ukulele in his hand.

David Chung, Pimp Daddy


Mr. Chung wearing a festive shirt – must have been a special occasion.

Ok, so he’s not really a pimp, actually, he’s not even anyone’s daddy, but he’s the one and only David Chung, King of the Alleyway between the 3600 block of Pleasant and Pillsbury Avenues in South Minneapolis. Born in Guyana to parents of African and Chinese lineage, David is one bad mother-shut-your-mouth. He fights crime, occasionally wielding real jungle-gnashing machetes to scare off any would-be graffiti taggers or the crazy person who would dare think of breaking into a garage around our ‘hood. But let me get back to the pimp daddy thing.  When David meets new people he loves to tell them, in his very heavy Caribbean accent, that he pimps out his bitch, Suki. He does this to see if he can shock them — Suki is his little Yorkshire Terrier. Then he goes into a strange spiel about how he’s the president of the Tri-Sexual Nation, which has something to do with dogs. That’s when we tell him to shut up, and that he’s getting too weird. Then he’ll just start laughing and talk about how he’s cousins with Dick Cheney and George W. Bush, and brothers with Howard Stern. This makes some kind of sense to him. My husband and I have stopped asking him to explain what he’s talking about – we’ve lived behind him now for 21 years and it’s just no use – it’s sort of like talking to the White Rabbit in Alice in Wonderland. But Mr. Chung has a 14-karat heart of gold and would give us the shirt off his back, that is, if he ever wore a shirt. He is usually only clad in ripped up overalls which he purchased at Kaplan Brothers in 1979. David and his wife, Barbara (“Baaa baah raaa” in Guyanan), own 3 or 4 properties and are both retired, they have plenty of funds and resources, but he is just as stubborn as a toddler about wearing any of the new clothes that Barbara is always trying to get him to wear. “I am just getting these overalls broken in!” or “In the jungle we didn’t need so many clothes!” are some of his protests. Here is David’s idea of shopping: he and Suki patrol the alley every night looking for treasures that people throw out – things like broken lamps and busted computers. David takes everything back to his garage – we call him the Fred Sanford of South Minneapolis. “People throw out perfectly good stuff!” David will exclaim. “I started the whole recycling thing” is another of his frequent quotes. Who knows? Maybe he did! We love David and are so very lucky to have landed in his neighborhood, machetes and all.