Lileks: Who are these new citizens of Minneapolis?

  • Article by: JAMES LILEKS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 22, 2014 - 9:39 PM

The population of Minneapolis finally cracked 400,000, which means it’s time to put up new signs at the border. I remember driving home from the hospital with our newborn, looking at the sign that said MINNEAPOLIS Pop 394,932, and thinking “well, that’s wrong now.” If MnDOT could get crews out there with stickers that said 400K AND CHANGE, that’d be great.

The last time the population was this big, Mary Tyler Moore was on the air. Apparently when the show ended, people turned off the TV and said “well, that’s that; I’m outta here.” The city saw its fortunes sag for decades, but now more people want to live in Minneapolis — specifically, downtown proper. (Downtown improper, by SexWorld, is still awaiting gentrification.)

This is good. You have to be a true churl to wish ill on the core cities; it’s not as if shock troops wearing plastic Mayor Hodges masks are bursting into Eden Prairie homes and forcing people to live downtown. The more everything grows, the better. Just one question:

Who was Citizen #400,000? Here are some possibilities.

Minneapolis’ magic 400K resident is Peter Jorgenson, who moved here in March to take a job with Thrive, a thriving ad agency in the thriving tech sector of the Warehouse district. “I was originally from Portland,” Jorgenson said, “but here you get the sense of a town that’s poised on the cusp of a craft beer explosion instead of enjoying a fully mature beer scene, and I want to see that happen.” He also cited the city’s commitment to art and culture, its recreational opportunities and walkable neighborhoods, adding “I’m not going to be one of those people who moves to Burnsville when we have kids. I love Minneapolis. So I’m thinking, maybe Edina, because it’s close.”

Or:

The couple that pushed Minneapolis over the mark came from Chicago, where they were both models for apartment-building brochures. “That couple you see standing on the balcony, laughing, drinking wine? That’s us,” chuckled Chuck Zhugles, a retired slide-rule repairman. “Between my steel-gray hair, which communicated both stature and vitality, and my wife’s timeless sophistication, we must have done 100 brochures. They flew us out to do one for Minneapolis, and we fell in love with the place.” The Zhugleses live in south Minneapolis in a one-story house, but commute to work downtown for balcony photo shoots.

Or:

The city’s most important new arrival, the one who finally raised us up from the demographic doldrums, did not consent to an interview, asking repeatedly, “How did you find me? Who gave you this number? What do you mean you’re from the newspaper?” Subsequent phone calls from the Witness Protection Program asked that we not inquire further into the story, but let’s just say that New Jersey’s loss is our gain, and welcome Tommy “The Gaspipe” to his cozy Linden Hills neighborhood.

Or:

“I met a girl online, OK, and I came up here to see if we could take it to the next level. Anyway, it didn’t work out and she says she loaned me money for a car, so we’re going on ‘Judge Judy.’ I’m countersuing her for the damage deposit. What’s that? Oh, yeah, great city. I lived in Indianapolis for a while and this is definitely one of your better cities with ‘polis’ in the name.”

Or:

“All my life I’ve wanted to work for Target. The smart, hip marketing, the responsive corporate culture, the attention to every detail of the guest experience — well, that’s why I got this red circle tattoo over my eye, just like the dog in the ads, except he’s just on the gift cards nowadays. Annyhooo, I start my job next week. You know when you hear the robot voice on the intercom say ‘customer request in aisle 24.’ Who is responding? Me! I’ll be responding.”

Or:

“I got transferred. I’m sure it’ll be fine. So the Whole Foods is north and the Chipotle’s south instead of the other way around. I’ll figure it out. Few years back a move like this was hard, because you had to reprogram your radio when you moved, but now it’s all satellite and that doesn’t change.”

Maybe it was none of the above. Maybe it was a baby. Maybe it was an old man who moved into a nursing home. What matters is that there are more Minneapolitans than there have been in decades, and it’s good to see the numbers rise. But perhaps a survey could determine just when people showed up here, and assign numbers, just in case Mr. Spandex Biker slows you down on the parkway when you’re trying to get somewhere.

“I’M IN THE LOW TWO HUNDRED THOUSANDS,” you could shout. “HAVE A LITTLE RESPECT.” Wouldn’t be surprised if he ignored you.

Those 400s. Think they own the place.

jlileks@startribune.com • 612-673-7858

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