Outstate Minnesotans follow what happens in the metro like Roman citizens watched events at the Coliseum. We do not yell and scream “finish him off” most of the time, but we enjoy and are titillated by the struggles on the sand in an arena without walls.
Most of them end somewhat inconclusively, with one group of haves looking bleary-eyed at another group of haves, worn out but still clinging to the narrow ledge of their self-interests. If this is not classic dysfunction, what is? At least in the Coliseum there was a definite ending.
The Southwest light-rail project is a perfect example of this rampaging dysfunction. A project that everyone agrees will benefit the region is opposed by, it seems, just about everybody along its route, but especially the haves in Kenwood. Has “Minnesota nice,” an outgrowth of smugness anyway, really become nothing more than a subterfuge for “not in my neighborhood?”
This reminds us that, when you get down to bedrock, the metro is a very conservative place for the most part, resistant to change, obsequious to money and receptive to the pathetic whining of the haves. Any person who has been to Europe and experienced the transit options over there must think: Where did we go wrong? Well, this project is an example par excellence of the where.
The Minnesota Orchestra fiasco also got our attention, although it went on for so long that some of us experienced burnout, like watching eight seasons of “Curb Your Enthusiasm” in one sitting. But what could be more interesting than a “winner-take-all” match between haves, sort of like an extended pro-wrestling match? It became pretty darn nasty, don’t you think? I mean, how close did it come to somebody getting hit in the groin with a French horn?
Then, after all was said and done, one group of haves, the bean counters, decided to exit stage left. They took their iPhones and went home to social media, their mansions and stacks of gold coins. Meanwhile, the have-nots were on a bus headed to their second or third jobs.
There is one thing — actually there are many — that really fascinate us about the metro. The people there, on average, seem much fitter than people out here in the Blubber Belt. And, as we all know, fitter equals sexier. What balances out the dysfunction of the metro is, in my opinion, the healthy attitude about sex that obviously exists there, bubbling just below the surface. In fact, I truly believe that there is much more sex going on in the metro than here, and that it occurs frequently, even between married people. This is very reassuring, and, after all, it is good for the species.
William L. French is an attorney in Rochester.