In the promotional materials for Minneapolis writer Kate DiCamillo’s new book, “The Illuminated Adventures of Flora & Ulysses,” is an adorable photograph of DiCamillo hamming it up next to a giant statue of a squirrel. The photo is not just cute, it’s apt — the book is about a girl (Flora) who saves a squirrel (Ulysses) from a vacuum cleaner (wielded by a neighbor, who is vacuuming her yard). It’s a charming, funny story, told in DiCamillo’s spare, direct style. (“Not much goes on in the mind of a squirrel,” opens Chapter 2, which is called “The Mind of a Squirrel.”) The book is illustrated by K.G. Campbell, who contributes both traditional drawings and little segments of graphic-novel panels. It publishes in late September. And, good news for the slightly younger reader: The third Bink & Gollie book, DiCamillo’s collaboration with Minneapolis writer Alison McGhee, will be out this month. Like the previous Bink & Gollie books, it contains three short stories and is illustrated by Tony Fucile. “Bink & Gollie: Best Friends Forever” is the title. But we have read the first two books, and we already knew that: best friends, for sure.
Bling-ding of an opener
If you see a faint glow in the sky over northeast Minneapolis on Saturday night, it’ll be emanating from the high concentration of super-blingy art on display at Public Functionary, the sprawling new 2,800-square-foot exhibition space at 1400 12th Av. NE. that aims to be more of a community nexus than plain old gallery. PF’s inaugural show features the very shiny work of Chicago artist Dzine, including a giant chandelier made of glass, mirrors, crystals and gold costume jewelry. If you’re one of the folks who contributed to the space’s successful $30K Kickstarter campaign, here’s your chance to see what your dollars have wrought. Just maybe don’t stand right under that chandelier.
In its coverage of Saturday’s Record Store Day, this week’s Billboard magazine gives a shout out to the Electric Fetus as one of 13 top indie shops for vinyl (no ranking order). Says Billboard: “Bon Iver, Gayngs, Astronautalis, Poliça — Minneapolis has time and again proved to be a hotbed for artists, musical collectives and producers that redefine the meaning of ‘indie’ on a song-by-song basis.” Then the local acts performing at the Fetus on Saturday are mentioned. (See page E3 for details.) Fitting words for the Fetus. Just don’t call us Indie-apolis.
Prof was uncharacteristically humorless at First Avenue last weekend, having sold out the club two nights in a row and looking visibly stunned by the rabid response. “For a week I’ve been thinking about what I’m gonna say to you guys,” the hometown rapper said at the first show. “All I can say is this is just spiritual.” He did have some fun rolling around atop the crowd inside a giant inflatable ball, à la Wayne Coyne of the Flaming Lips. It was Kansas opener Mac Lethal who cracked the best jokes, particularly while mocking two other similarly named (and now way-more famous) rappers. “Hello, I’m Macklemore, maybe you’ve heard me on the radio,” he quipped, then went into a story about being intimately approached by a young woman before the show. When Mr. Lethal curiously asked about her interest, she reportedly told him, “I want to be able to tell my friends I made out with Mac Miller.”
And the winner is ...
Lorna Landvik, for being such a lively and engaging emcee! At last weekend’s Minnesota Book Awards, Landvik told the crowd of 800 people that she had agreed to host the event only if the Friends of the St. Paul Library waived all of her library fines, and if the Highland Park branch library expunged from her record the fact that she had once checked out “Fifty Shades of Grey.” She proposed a drinking game, in which every time someone at the podium said the word “book,” everyone in the audience had to take a drink. She had a supply of party favors on hand, which showered forth little bursts of confetti when she pulled a string. Landvik’s cheery good nature and sassy jokes won over the room. This was the Minnesota Book Awards’ 25th anniversary, and from the opening film featuring illustrious past winners to the whooping cheers when the final winner was announced (Atina Diffley for “Turn Here Sweet Corn”), it was a sweet and memorable evening, guided easily by the funny emcee. Her novels aren’t bad, either.
After many performances in Minneapolis (where he once lived for a bit), Rufus Wainwright said his gig Saturday at the Fitzgerald Theater was his first show ever in St. Paul. “I’ve always liked Minneapolis,” he said, sitting at the grand piano. “I really like St. Paul for some reason. There is something about St. Paul. There’s a kind of nothingness about it. They don’t try to hide. They don’t have to.” Before he put his foot in his mouth, he also praised Hymie’s Haberdashery, the downtown St. Paul shop where he bought the new shoes he was wearing.
Napster and U
Remember Napster? That file-sharing service that caused a stir with musicians (see Metallica), record labels and others? Best Buy bought it, and Napster eventually merged with Rhapsody, but the debate continues. Veteran rocker David Lowery, frontman for Camper Van Beethoven and Cracker and a regular lecturer at the University of Georgia’s music-biz program, will debate Napster — was it the best or worst thing to happen to the music business? — with University of Minnesota economics professor Joel Waldfogel Friday at the U. The U will share a recording of the debate — via YouTube — in a couple of weeks.