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Open letter to Oprah: Come to the Twin Cities and feel the love

Even though it was often sappy and shallow, you were once a beacon for storytellers, seekers, and students of all stripes.
REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
Even though it was often sappy and shallow, you were once a beacon for storytellers, seekers, and students of all stripes.

Dear Oprah,

Tough times all around, huh? I hear OWN is tanking, which was more than apparent when I caught a glimpse of your face on the flat-screen in Fantastic Sam’s lobby the other day. I must say you did not look good, or happy, or mega-watt fulfilled and elevated the way you did when you were giving away cars and grilling authors for the “truth” every day at 4 p.m. CST.

Baby, your love light was not shining.

Then again, the salon’s digital TV kept breaking up, making it look like you were broadcasting from inside a shattered mirror. Still, anyone could see you were deflated. Or, terribly serious: Right there in Woodbury, Minnesota, as my kid and her BFF got back-to-school rainbow hair extensions, there you were, sitting in a room that reeked of therapy and penance. You were interviewing child molesters and trying to understand. There was an aquarium behind you. I’m glad the sound was down.

I don’t want to tell you how to do your job, or what you put your good energy into, but the combination of seeing your face with the mere existence of your and my wife’s favorite new soap opera-car crash “Ryan and Tatum: The O’Neals” (brought to you by OWN, which in the case of this Hollywood freak show stands for Old Whining Narcissists) convinces me that you’re fresh out of fresh ideas.

Worse, even though it was often sappy and shallow, you were once a beacon for storytellers, seekers, and students of all stripes. Now, seemingly overnight, you’ve become a main contributor to the cultural crapstorm that most discerning homo sapiens are – trend alert! – starting to ignore.  As you may have gathered from your ebony and ivory tower, America has become the land of fast-breeding mouthbreathers. And the wise ones among us are tuning out. Which does not bode well for mass media outlets built on soap operas and drama royalty but lack, as they say in the start-up game, content.

Luckily, there’s a fix.

I live in the Twin Cities, where there are more weird, interesting, crazy, creative and free-thinking spiritual and political people than any other place on the map. You can look it up or ask your buddy Prince (Remember how he made you feel and what you did after his concert? Good times.), but you need to know that there is so much good work being done here, so much quality music, art, and theater, so many quick business and advertising minds, and so much restless creative youth fermenting and fomenting in every possible pocket it feels like the Renaissance festival of the future, a place where hope and possibility flows like the water of the rivers, creeks and lakes.

No, I don’t work for the Chamber Of Commerce. Yes, here’s my proposition:

Come to Minneapolis. SERIOUSLY. I’ll show you around, and I promise you will be inspired by the people you meet, the pervasive feeling of good things incubating, and the ideas you come away with. We’ll go hear live music and talk to interesting people. Let’s make a scene. Let’s put that big O engine to great use. In the meantime, a few homegrown ideas for the fall season that could save OWN:

* Patches & Gretchen’s “Headquarters and Dimes.

Gretchen Seichrist is the poet/painter/artist/rocker/single mother of two whose work ethic and passion for expression you and America would fall in love with. She’s got two new CDs out, and her Internet variety show “Headquarters and Dimes” made its Loring Theater debut Saturday night.

It’s equal parts Pee-Wee’s Playhouse, Hank William’s Mother Best Flour Show and Andy Warhol’s Factory.  She’s wry, brilliant, and bossy; you’d hit it off famously.

* Tim Morin, “Love, Your Mother

(OWN’s book of the month). A quick read (subhead: “A Little Love Story”) by first-time author and blogger Morin, writing about the death of his mother, an introverted but extremely spiritual woman whose phrase “it’s good, and it’s going to be good,” reminds me of the eternally optimistic outlook of my own mother, who lent me this book. There’s some beautiful spiritual writing and raw emotion here, and plenty of wisdom for anyone who has lost or is preparing to lose their mother. Thanks, mom.

* Music with Malamanya and friends.

This joyful Cuban son group just released their first CD, and its back-to-basics homegrown sound feels like an extension of all things good and green that would translate to a world audience. Maybe this cat could join ’em for a cameo.

Courtesy of Malamanya

* Dr. Chuck and Dr. Mary Mead Lofy and Pete Christensen.

You can have Dr. Phil, I’ll take this married couple – a former Jesuit priest and a former nun – who have the spiritual wherewithal and chops to dig deeper than the average reality shrink, and my alterna-therapy guru Christensen, who operates from love and compassion toward true inner calm and wisdom. The real deals.  
* The Amsterdam Bar & Hall.

The newest club to hit downtown St. Paul is run by original local music lovers, the kind the world needs more of. Dear Oprah: Have your people call mine and let’s get rolling. SERIOUSLY.

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