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Spencer’s gifts

December 20, 2017

Because I live to serve none but you, the citizen, I have prepared a list of things that Spencer Cronk — the precious and perfect diamond of an executive star child that City Council spent lo these many millennia patiently searching the galaxy for — might pack up with him as he leaves Minneapolis to take the reins as Austin’s reigning city manager (also, some rain this week, huh?).

1. A globally recognized bicycling network

In 2015, the Danish outfit Copehagenize Design Company granted Minneapolis rarified status as the only U.S. city on its biennial Bicycle Friendly Cities Index. Yes, lists are generally a waste of everyone’s time, but you’re already reading this one so, look, you’ve already crossed that Rubicon. In any case, Minneapolis has made some wild investments in protected lanes and urban trails of late and, despite having the wintry inverse of Austin’s shitty summers, the city’s share of bicycling commuters is among the highest in the country.

2. Light rail that blasted out of the gate

Minneapolis’ Metro Transit opened its inaugural light rail route in 2004, the same year that Capital Metro put MetroRail on our local ballot. Ridership on the Blue Line, which charted a fairly arrow-straight path along one of the city’s busiest corridors, was gangbusters from the outset, allowing Metro Transit to start work on and eventually open up a second line connecting downtown Minneapolis with its twin city across the way, St. Paul (named for Minnesota’s proudest son, Paul Westerberg). Both the Blue and the Green lines provided just shy of 69,000 ultra-nice trips per day in 2015. While it might be an unfair apples-to-pineapples comparison to weigh urban light rail against suburban commuter rail, I will still insist on noting that MetroRail’s Red Line daily ridership is currently maxed out at roughly 3,000. But okay, shiny objects aside, let’s do an oranges-to-oranges (though please leave the Orange Line back home, Sr. Cronk) comparison: Metro Transit dished out 62 million bus rides in 2015 while Capital Metro, god bless ’em, provided just 31.6 million (maybe it’s the density?).

3. Jucy Lucys

Torchy’s is slop on a factory tortilla served with frat-boy fauxgression. The entire operation is a franchised temple of manufactured marketing grown in a test tube to be, like their food, TOTALLY IN YOUR FACE. Pray, Spencer, bring us the spirit of Minneapolis’ humblest hole-in-the-wall, Matt’s Bar and Grill, home of the original Jucy Lucy, that gross glop of cheese-injected burger ball that is as gratifying as it is unassuming. Instead of an entire exterior welded wall sign SHOUTING at you how DAMN GOOD its try-hard TACOS ARE, BRO, Matt’s servers simply and Minnesota-nicely warn you that the handheld hypertension you’re about to eat will melt your mouth and tongue and teeth if you bite into it too soon.

4. Cheapo Records

A fine, fine used CD and record store that once occupied the Downtown Goodwill (and original Whole Foods) at 10th and Lamar, Cheapo Records ended its Austin residency for good back in 2012. The story behind the Minnesota mini-chain’s establishment of a toe-hold this far from home is the sort of random stoner-shrug happenstance that defined most Austin activity in the 1990s. Of course, Cheapo is still plugging away up in Minneapolis but it’s a scandal to think of how many young Austin teens are currently living in a city without a reliable resale store where they can transform their stepfathers’ shitty Uriah Heap CDs into weed money. Bring it back home, Spence. I’ll work day shifts.

5. A Major League Soccer team

Does Austin need it? No. Are we going to get it anyway? Let me just ride this hot streak I’ve been on lately and say: Absolutely Not. BUT, for the sake of fantasy, if this city does end up with a pro leg-ball team on its hands in the next year or two or three, we could do a lot worse than Minneapolis. For starters, the Minnesota FC (by the way, if Austin goes the way of pretentious Euro team-naming convention, I hope we go all the way: Sporting AusTex FC Crew United SC FFC Grackle Arsenals FC FC FSC FXXXC FfffffCeeeee!!!) For starters, the Minnesota FC play adjacent to Downtown Minneapolis. In fact, they’re just across the river from it and investigators still have not connected that to Prince’s death. But in an innovation that none of our innovators around here seem to have yet innovated, the club or squad or whatever it is shares its stadium with the University of Minnesota football team, a fairly inspired stroke given that college football and pro soccer seasons don’t have a ton of overlap. Of course, a similar cooperative sitch could be a hard sell for the University of Texas, so supposing an MLS stadium ultimately ends up rising on some hunk of as-yet determined city land, I hope that our boy BadonkaCronk would be mindful enough to try to steer things in such a manner that minimizes stadium parking since, after all, most soccer players and spectators in America almost universally carpool to the games in their moms’ minivans.

So that’s it, S.C. Bring all of that good Minneapolis stuff to us. I am willing to offer, in exchange, every last inch of our part of I-35.

(photo made available by Jonathunder through a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Uported (CC BY-SA 3.0) license)

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