L.A. Nik sounds like a candidate for office.
He speaks so passionately about downtown Minneapolis — and he seems to know an awful lot about the unseemly side — that you’d think he’s running for something. He didn’t rule it out in this Q&A where he stressed that Minneapolis residents and officials don’t like to talk about what he believes are real problems that need to be discussed. And the issues would be talked about seriously, by this man who gave his book a title as cheery as his countenance, “Life is Short, Then You’re Dead Forever,” and laughed exactly once during this interview. He’s very engaging and just a little intense. Read on to find out if it was the question about eye makeup or a skunk that got this local personality to lighten up.
Q: At what point should Minnesotans be offended that the self-proclaimed Mayor of Minneapolis After Dark is still calling himself L.A. Nik?
A: First off, the name L.A. Nik, I didn’t make up. I came here and [told] people “I just moved here from LA.” I remember the first day it ever happened, the door guy at Barrio called me L.A. Nik. From then on everybody started calling me L.A. Nik. Once I started getting press, I couldn’t kick it. I tried to get rid of it.
Q: You consider yourself downtown Minneapolis’ cheerleader. What’s something that isn’t being touted?
A: The biggest problem in downtown Minneapolis is the denial of the people. The people who live here need to swallow their pride and talk about the problems. Minneapolis keeps lowering the bar and making our worst citizens acceptable; making our worst citizens the standard. We need to help these people, raise the bar and help them grab on to it. My main goal is to get people to talk and find solutions. Why do our kids have nothing to do? Why is there no hope? Why aren’t there programs for kids in the city of Minneapolis? Yet they are going to spend millions and millions and millions of dollars on bike paths that only 4 percent of the population uses. Where is our future in that? There’s no future in bike paths. We need to concentrate on our youth and the problems, but yet if you talk about them people get mad at you and hate you.
Q: What kind of programs should be available in downtown Minneapolis for kids?
A: There are so many. A basketball tournament. A music center. Let’s start a music program. Most inner-city kids don’t know how to play any instrument because they can’t afford it. Let’s get some funds going, let’s get instruments.
Q: Do you see yourself running for office?
A: I’m not going to say no. I’m 51 years old. I’m passionate enough and I think I have enough knowledge.
Q: Tell me about Minneapolis’ drug problem.
A: This city is in denial.
Q: How many hookers do you know?
A: I personally only know three hookers who are prominent in downtown Minneapolis, who I see on a daily basis. But I know there are a lot more and they are all very young girls. I know dozens of drug dealers.
Q: What does your W-2 form say you do for a living?
A: I am an author.
Q: This is a wildlife question. Sometimes I smell the pungent odor of a skunk, as if I’m walking on a country road and not on 9th Street, say, near Haskell’s. How in the world could a skunk have a habitat in downtown Minneapolis, I wondered several nights before concluding that I’m actually smelling some new variety of marijuana.
A: You know what? We saw a skunk last night. I swear to God.
Q: Will you have eyeliner on when you take your last breath?
A: [Laughter, finally] That cracks me up. I’ve been dyeing my hair black and wearing eyeliner since I was 14 years old. I would probably say, most definitely.
A longer version of this edited interview is online. To contact C.J. try firstname.lastname@example.org, and to see her check out the Fox 9 “Buzz.”