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Weekend happenings: happy hour at Sea Change, German baroque, 'Repo Man,' and heavy 'Gravity'

Cocktails at Sea Change
MinnPost photo by Max Sparber
Cocktails at Sea Change

March is right around the corner, waiting in its lion's garb to enter and then engage in its long, frustrating, month-long bump and grind out of its leonine costume to reveal the lamb underneath. But it's still February, and February is the worst. It comes in like a bag of hammers and leaves like a bag of hammers that has been used to repeatedly beat you.

And some of you have been bivouacking all winter, leaving your homes just long enough to flee through the murderous cold to the safety of your car, but only for as long as it takes to go to work, or go to the grocery store, or go to your aunt's for the dinner you couldn't get out of. And, while understandable, it's a pity, as so much happens in Minnesota during the winter that's worth going to, even if it means your fingertips and toes and ears and nose will blacken and need to be surgically removed. It's the least we can give up for art.

So here they are, my suggestion of a few things to do this weekend, the last weekend of February:

I've been meaning to pass this along for a while, but Sea Change, the popular sea food restaurant in the Guthrie, has quite a lot afoot. Firstly, their chef, Erik Anderson, is a semifinalist in the James Beard Foundation's list of Best Chefs. Additionally, he is a nominee for Best New Chef from Food & Wine Magazine. These are auspicious nominations, albeit ones I can't comment on, as I have the dietary restrictions of a dissolute society swell from the 20s who has spent the past year in an opium den and, as a result, can only eat a paste made from mushy peas. Sea food is verboten for me, although I have watched the cooking staff at Sea Change prepare octopus and it looked and smelled sumptuous.

But there's one thing I can enjoy, and that is alcohol. And, as it turns out, Sea Change has a new happy hour, from 8 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, so if you've been looking for a chance to break out that harpoon, well, this is the moment when I gesture vaguely in the direction of the Guthrie. Sea Change offered a preview of its new happy hour menu, which I couldn't eat, of course, but I drank whatever they put in front of me. They have an admirable sense of restraint when it comes to naming their cocktails, and so their bourbon drink is simply called “bourbon drink" and their vodka drink is likewise called “vodka drink." Both are the sort of fiddled-with versions of classic recipes that I am usually not too keen on — as I recall, the bourbon cocktail had peach and paprika and ginger beer in it, while the vodka drink included Limonada and, I think, tea. But, you know, I found both drinks quite tolerable — the restaurant uses good, fresh ingredients, and mixed them with care, and you can always count on fresh ingredients.

I also discovered that Sea Change is the place to go late at night after the Guthrie's shows end, as the cast and various theater staffers descend on the restaurant like krill pours into a blue whale's mouth. I suppose I should have known this — I have been in the world of theater for long enough that I know the best place to look for an actor is whatever bar happens to be nearby. I have enjoyed two separate night of cocktails with cast members from “Ma Rainey's Black Bottom" in the past week, and just as a good cast can make a show better, they also make a bar better.

If you're in the mood for something less drinky and more baroque-y, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra actually has something of a specialist on hand: They will be joined tonight by Ton Koopman, who has, in his long career, founded two baroque organizations, the Amsterdam Baroque Orchestra and the Amsterdam Baroque Choir, which have since joined forces, like superheroes. The SPCO is going to offer up a selection of German music from the Baroque period, including two Bachs, Carl Philipp Emanuel and Johann Sebastian, and a Telemann.

"Repo Man" at the Uptown Theater
Courtesy of Universal Pictures
"Repo Man" at the Uptown Theater

Sometimes, though, we want less ornament in our music. As little as possible, really, just three chords and a lot of distortion. Tonight, the Uptown Theater is offering a midnight screening of the film that, for my tastes, most represents punk, Alex Cox's 1984 film "Repo Man." Sure, Cox also made a biopic of Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen, and it has a lot of great moments, including the doomed couple engaged in passionate embraces next to a dumpster as garbage falls around them. But if you're looking for something that captures the mood of suburban Los Angeles at the moment hardcore hit, "Repo Man" is it.

Emilio Estevez stepped out of bit roles in S.E. Hinton films to his first starring role as Otto, giving him enormous street credibility that he would almost instantaneously squander. The plot follows him as he joins a group of repossession agents, mostly out of boredom, and they scour an L.A. of strip malls and industrial structures for a 1964 Chevrolet Malibu of possibly extraterrestrial origin. The film is steeped in a theatrical nihilism and bleak irony, and has an epochal soundtrack, made up of artists such as Iggy Pop, Black Flag and Fear. The film also features "Institutionalized" by Suicidal Tendencies, a breathless run-on sentence that goes for nearly four minutes and was a sort of punk megahit, sounding its barbaric yawp over the rooftops of the world.

Speaking of movies, you really should bundle up and head over to the Walker Art Center on Saturday Night for their showing of "Gravity Was Everywhere Back Then." It's a terrifically sad true story, telling of a man who tries to save his wife from cancer by turning his house into what director Brent Green describes as a "healing machine," and it is a film of extraordinary visual inventiveness, making extensive use of a sort of on-the-fly stop-motion animation to animate sets, props and actors. Green himself will be on hand, leading a group of musicians in creating a live soundtrack to the film that sounds like some half-remembered, fiddle-based folk dirge. It's actually a sort of ideal companion to "Repo Man" — both a strange stories strangely told about the oddness of human connection and the unexpected interference of the supernatural, and both are likely to stick with you long after the film had ended — years, really, or decades, or forever.

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Comments (1)

Harry Dean Stanton is the John Wayne of the automotive repossession film oeuvre.