This is small news, but I’m a small man: The Minneapolis neighborhood formerly known as CARAG has changed its name. To what? Well, first some history.
To be honest, CARAG was an awful name. If you don’t have your glasses on, CARAG looks like someone misspelled where you put the car at night. It’s named after the first settler, Alexander Fustian McCarag, who always yelled everything. Hence the all-caps. (That may not be a true story, but it’s still a good one.)
He arrived from Scotland in 1876, and started a newspaper, the Daily Weekly. It failed after salesmen had a hard time explaining to advertisers how often their ads would run.
He went into timber, writing in his journal that “the wood can be found lying on the ground, neatly ordered, having grown to a useful dimension. All one need do is remove the iron rails that hold it down.” After he was sued by the railroad, he went into politics, where he spent 40 years and everyone else’s money.
Recent scholarship has revealed his conviction that loons were “the clarions of hell, set on Earth to disturb the mind with their disordered babbling.” And he shot and wounded a neighbor who “would not desist from bringing me that damnable zucchini in the fall.” So perhaps the name change is good.
It’s now ... South Uptown. This is a problem. For one thing, it’s east of Uptown. Two, it means there will have to be a North Uptown now, which will lead to people saying “North Uptown is south of downtown,” which is technically true but makes us sound like we’re all holding maps the wrong way.
The most unfortunate aspect, though, is this: If you call yourself Uptown, you have to deal with the eternal complaint that “Uptown is so over.” When I lived in Uptown in the late ’80s, old-timers who’d moved in during the mid-’80s delighted in telling me that Uptown was “nothing like it used to be.”
This tradition goes back to the founding of Uptown in 1907, when the intersection of Lake and Hennepin was laid out, and city fathers expressed dismay when someone from another part of town drove through looking for a ginger beer. “Uptown Created,” said the headline in the paper the next day, with “Great Dismay Over Its Popularity” below in smaller letters. “Neighborhood was better six hours ago, say many.”
OK, here’s the truth about the name change: Following the Bde Maka Ska name change, CARAG residents voted to replace their Calhoun-linked acronym Tuesday, narrowly picking South Uptown over Bryant Square.
Perhaps they should’ve gone with Bryant Square Park. It’s named after a New Yorker who never set foot there.
He’s the patron saint of bad landlords, some say.