Media’s GOP convention spotlight homing in on twins’ rivalry

As major media outlets judge the home of the Republican National Convention, they’re doling out plenty of medals, while DQ-ing a few contenders. 

The usual suspects are among the finalists. “Spoonbridge and Cherry” is large and in charge of an Aug. 18 New York Times travel piece. The Guthrie gets plenty of respect, billed as “one of the top regional-theater operations in the country,” by the Los Angeles Times, “a first-rate repertory theater,” by the NYT and “stunning” by the Daily Herald of suburban Chicago. Meanwhile, AP writer Brian Bakst proclaims the Summit and Grand Avenue neighborhoods “auspicious.” 

But the Wall Street Journal’s Raymond Sokolov this weekend took a blast at some Twin Cities culinary fare, particularly Cosmos at the Graves 601 Hotel. “Nasty little charred bits of wild rice topped big, rare pieces of dull tuna,” he writes. “Something is not right in this kitchen, which managed to serve me stone-cold eggs for breakfast in a deserted dining room.”

L.A. Times staff writer Christopher Reynolds yawns at the Mall of America, “with its staggering (and staggeringly generic) array of more than 520 stores …” Reynolds also grumbles about the commute. “Minneapolis and St. Paul might be called the Twin Cities, but Washington, D.C., and Arlington, Va., are closer neighbors. Plan on a 10-mile, 20-minute drive between downtown St. Paul and downtown Minneapolis, longer during rush hour. (Something like the trip from downtown Phoenix to Old Town Tempe …)”

And yet, more so than specific Twin Cities landmarks, it’s the relationship between the twins that has reporters intrigued. Most see Minneapolis as “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.” AP writer Patrick Condon portrays St. Paul as the slumped, eclipsed city. His Aug. 22 article opens:

The Republican National Convention should be St. Paul’s big moment. Too bad most everyone seems to think it’s being held in Minneapolis.

“It’s like nails on a chalkboard when I hear that,” said Mary Lethert Wingerd, a St. Paul native and historian of the city.

Happens all the time.

This is, after all, the city that comes after the hyphen in the urban conglomeration known as Minneapolis-St. Paul. It’s the city of Charles M. Schulz, whose endearing loser Charlie Brown could never catch a break.

Minnesota Nice is quickly shoved aside if you call St. Paul Minneapolis, multiple reporters are observing. Daily Herald correspondent Randy Mink recalls St. Paul’s initial yelps of neglect: “St. Paul boosters were annoyed when in 2006 a New York Times headline declared “GOP Picks Minneapolis as ’08 Site of Convention.”

Katie Couric paints a similar picture in a recent Digg.com message. “Don’t say Minneapolis, ’cause they get really mad about that in St. Paul — trust me, I heard from them,” she says.

Still, not everyone is heeding that warning. After praising the Heartland restaurant, the Wall Street Journal’s caption places the St. Paul eatery in Minneapolis. “I don’t know why they put Minneapolis,” its Sunday evening hostess says with a sigh.

Condon forces the twins to call a truce at the close of his article, sort of like two siblings who decide to join forces to make a family road trip more bearable. He credits the Minneapolis  mayor (go figure) for saying that neither city could have hosted the convention alone. “Together, ‘you’ll find the best combination of sophistication and friendliness of any community in America.’ ”

And if they can’t split that candy bar, neither gets it.

Quick hits

Meet your mate: Former Twin Citian David Carr, credits Third Avenue’s Monte Carlo for leading him to his wife.

Usurping Uptown: Carr also tracks the hipsters. “In Minneapolis,” he writes, “the indigenous tribe of artists, musicians and wannabes have forsaken Uptown for Northeast, where trendy restaurants and bars have taken root.”

Politeness radar: Carr compliments and ribs his former neighbors: “And please remember, when they ask you at the coffee shop, ‘How you doing, today?’ they really want to know.”

Religious makeup: The L.A. Times quips that “the Twin Cities aren’t just wall-to-wall Lutherans,” while the Associated Press notes the capital’s Catholicity: “Local Catholic leaders soon saw to it that the city was renamed St. Paul, cementing a relationship between the Catholic Church and the city’s ruling class that exists to this day.”

Political makeup: Media outlets are accurately reporting the Twin Cities’ leftward lean. Most clever summary goes to the L.A. Times’ Christopher Reynolds, who observes: “Two zoos, no elephants. What does that tell you?”

Comments (1)

  1. Submitted by Amanda Fretheim Gates on 08/25/2008 - 01:14 pm.

    I know this may just be proving their point or fueling the fire, but I don’t understand why reporters consider it humorous or a loss of Minnesota Nice when they confuse Minneapolis and St. Paul. They are REPORTERS. Their job is to get facts straight. As a fellow journalist, I think instead of reporting about how locals get upset about the confusion, I would be printing a retraction and apologizing for my lack of attention to detail. How embarrassing for them.

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