Rick Nelson and Claude Peck dispense unasked-for advice about clothing, etiquette, culture, relationships, grooming and more.
RN: Central Munich -- beautiful, energetic, compact, car-free central Munich -- boasts four great department stores, and gotta- browse shops for days. So like Minneapolis. Not.
CP: Who knew Germans were so fond of shopping? Of course, Germany's third-largest city does have almost three times the population of the city of Minneapolis. And the City of Lakes does have Macy's, Neiman Marcus and a discount Saks. What would turn Mr. Grumble's frown upside down?
RN: Munich's metro-area population is comparable to ours, yet the city has so dang much urbane critical mass. Not to go all Barbara Flanagan on you, but Nicollet Mall once did, too.
CP: I don't see that proud retail heritage returning anytime soon. While we're commending cities elsewhere, what else?
RN: Here's what I loved in Portland, the one in Oregon: user- friendly light-rail and streetcar networks. Design-savvy new parks, surrounded by design- savvy new neighborhoods. Progressive liquor laws that have led to an explosion of microbreweries and distilleries. A street food scene that doesn't stop.
CP: Other enviable Portland features: downtown streets half- devoted to bikes; underused surface parking transformed into "pods" of 10 or so food trucks that become easy, fast and delicious places to eat, even well after dark; a huge downtown indie bookstore with late-night hours.
RN: Now I'm getting seriously depressed.
CP: One thing I saw in Chicago's River North district that would make sense here: Instead of lining new developments along the river like beads on a string, they create a pocket park and then build four or five medium-rise residential and mixed-use towers around the green space. Insta-community, all with a view. I guess Gold Medal Park in Minneapolis seeks to do that.
RN: It's pretty, but there's so little to do there. How about a beer garden, or a food truck cul de sac or an ice cream stand in the form of a giant box of Bisquick?
CP: Well, Seattle's Olympic Sculpture Park beautifully pushes public art to the edge of Puget Sound. I love me some Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, but what about one on the river somewhere?
RN: Or better yet, downtown? For all of the huzzahs the Minneapolis park system generates, the vast majority of open spaces in the city's center are parking lots. So attractive.
CP: How about a Wow Bao here? It's a fast-food Asian outlet for steamed dumplings and pot stickers that is a great addition to Chicago's Loop. With Yogurt Lab coming to the Minneapolis skyway, let's get Wow Bao, now.
RN: The Wow-ser is part of the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant empire, which once peddled those fab dumplings in their Twin Cities Big Bowl outlets. I'm not sure why they bagged them, but I wore black for a week when they did.
CP: Don't take our pot stickers away.