When Vita.mn’s first issue landed on Nov. 16, 2006 (blaring the cover headline “HEY BABY, YOU’RE ONLY TWO FEET AWAY FROM A GOOD TIME”), we had absolutely no expectation that we’d keep it going for this long. There was always the feeling that any issue could be our last — especially after a particularly steamy Alexis on the Sexes how-to.
And now, after 8½ years, 433 issues, six “Are You Local?” best-new-bands, two Vita.mn Six-Packs, two website launches, six epic “Mad Men” parties, umpteen Crush/Hotness finalists, four or five Dessa covers, about 400 Alexis advice columns, 1,732 street-fashion photos and literally thousands of reader-written top-10 lists, this week’s edition of Vita.mn is really the last.
The end finally came about last week when our parent company, the Star Tribune, announced that it had bought out our sorta-competitor, City Pages — and would be shutting down Vita.mn, the scrappy underdog. Although the move makes perfect sense in many ways, we’re saddened by Vita.mn’s passing. But we’re also proud of what we’ve done, and totally looking forward to what’s next.
We also remain proud of what the Twin Cities has been doing these past nine years. You might say Vita.mn has been the paper of record for the rise of the all-local movement — local food, local music, local fashion, local arts, local beer, local artisan toast, etc. Most of these things (except the artisan toast) have been strong in Minneapolis and St. Paul forever, but in the past decade they’ve reached a new threshold of mainstream popularity. And Vita.mn was there to cover it.
It wasn’t always civic-minded principles, though. If Vita.mn had one rule, it was if we weren’t having fun, we were doing it wrong. Fortunately, we (almost) always had fun.
We were the only local publication brave (or foolish?) enough to do an annual “Hotness” contest for Valentine’s Day (sorry/not sorry for that one; we met tons of awesomely attractive men and women). In addition to Ellen Lawson’s photos of four of the Twin Cities’ best-dressed citizens every week, in 2014 we explored the peculiar Minneapolis phenomenon of underdressed Warehouse District club-hoppers during one of the coldest winters on record. We sent intrepid gonzo reporter Kara Nesvig on the trail of d-bags, strip clubs and the Lake Minnetonka party scene. We dressed up R&B singer Har Mar Superstar as Baby New Year, nerdish pop-rocker Jeremy Messersmith as Luke Skywalker and rapper Prof as a brain-eating zombie.
We didn’t just celebrate local beer — we produced two Vita.mn Six-Packs of our favorite Minnesota brews, which you could actually buy in the store! Carlos Gonzalez shot magazine-caliber fashion spreads on yachts and in mansions. But we really should have thrown in the towel after the 2013 State Fair, where Internet-famous Grumpy Cat posed with her crop-art Vita.mn cover in the Ag-Hort building. (Yes, GC is a she.) There really was no new pinnacle we could rise to after that.
But if the Vita.mn era is over, we're genuinely looking forward to a new era at City Pages. The 35-year-old bastion of independent journalism is returning to local ownership (yes!) for the first time in 18 years. Better yet, their journalists will be unionized via the Newspaper Guild. Besides, if we do say so, since Vita.mn debuted City Pages has grown leaner, better designed and more colorful -- in short, more like Vita.mn.
We expect a piece of “the Vita.mn” (as many readers dubbed it) will live on, as a number of current Vita.men and Vita.women will fill open positions at City Pages’ North Loop office and at other media. Vita.mn assistant editor and Web/Twitter czar Jay Boller will be CP’s new music editor (aka “the Kingmaker”). Designer Caroline Royce will become the CP layout editor. Our longtime freelance writer and stylist Jahna Peloquin has also been Minnesota Monthly’s style editor since last year. Myself and stalwart general manager Tim Ikeman (Vita fixtures since Day 1) will both keep jobs at the Strib.
So in the nine-year “battle” for weekly supremacy in the Twin Cities, it feels like Vita.mn has won. No, City Pages won. Wait, who won?!
Simon Peter Groebner, Vita.mn Editor 2006-2015