Pining For The Hipster Fjords

I do “get” nostalgia.

My first radio station – KEYJ, which became KQDJ during my senior year of high school – was one of the formative experiences of my life. 

But sometime around 2000, it changed from a local middle-of-the-road station to a “computer in a closet” station relaying ESPN Sportsradio and the occasional high school sports event.  They moved the studio from above the drugstore on mainstreet to a nondescript suite in a strip mall downwind from a Walmart.  I don’t drop by to visit, because it’s not the station it was when I was 16.  It’s not a radio station anyone in 1980 would have recognized at all. 

The past is a keen, formative memory.  The present is a 10 year old PC passing along people jabbering about the NBA.   

If it disappeared tomorrow, the memory would remain.  The present wouldn’t be lamented at all. 

The CIty Pages – which was the last survivor of an endless stream of “alternative” weekly tabloids (Twin Cities Reader, Nightbeat, Cake, Buzz, and no doubt others) that used to sit in bins outside record stores, co-ops and cafes all over town – has closed, effective whoah, that was fast:

“Since City Pages revenue is 100% driven by advertisers and events—and those investments have dropped precipitously—there’s no reasonable financial scenario that would enable us to continue operations in the face of this pandemic,” Star Tribune Chief Revenue Office Paul Kasbohm said in a statement. “Unfortunately, we foresee no meaningful recovery of these sectors or their advertising investments in the near future, leaving us no other options than to close City Pages.”

City Pages will stop publishing in print and online immediately, according to a news release. The last print edition of City Pages will be distributed this week.
The closure eliminates all City Pages positions.

I come not to praise the City Pages, but to bury it. But fairness demands a little clarity.

The City Pages were the last survivor of what used to be a bumper crop of freebie tabloids that popped up in bins outside restaurants, co-ops, record stores and bars. There were a bunch – Nightbeat in the eighties, Twin Cities Reader in the eighties and nineties, joined by Cake and Buzz and a few others in the nineties. The field winnowed down to just the City Pages by about 2000.

In the eighties, it was where writers like David Brauer, Brian Lambert and James Lileks got their starts – indeed, it was where Lileks gave me my first legit-media plug, 33 years ago.

And for a few years, in the ’90s and early 2000s, City Pages did some great journalism. They did more, better long-form and investigative reporting than the Strib or PiPress, at their best, under editor Steve “Don’t even think about singing ‘Oh Sherry’ around me” Perry. It was biased to the left to a fault. But beneath all that, the reporting was otherwise generally solid. And Perry could go off the reservation; in about 1997, Perry was the first journo in the Twin Cities to write that the swelling push for carry permit reform in Minnesota hadn’t brought blood to the streets of a couple dozen other states, wasn’t going to bring it to Minnesota, either.

When Perry left in 2005-ish (to return as editor of the Soros-funded attack-PR site Minnesota Monitor, which became the Minnesota Independent, and distinguished itself in journalistic glory under neither guise), the City Pages slid and slid hard. For most of the past 10-15 years, the paper’s “journalism” has been at best risible hackery, or incompetent hackery, self-parodying hackery, or sloppy gurgitations of DFL chanting points or, when female conservative politicians were involved, creepy panty-sniffing.

If the City Pages had been its 1998 self, its collapse would have been something to mourn, maybe, for some reason other than the nostalgia local establishment journos have been venting about.

But the City Pages of the 21st Century has been not a shadow, but a mockery, of anything of real value that it may once have been.

8 thoughts on “Pining For The Hipster Fjords

  1. Driving into downtown Mpls from the northern (ex-)suburbs is very easy. More than once I measured the time from closing the door at home to sitting in, for example, Pizza Luce at less than an hour. Finding places to go downtown was facilitated with the advertising/reviews in City Pages and TCR. Even paid for a subscription for a year to CP. So, yeah, a bit of nostalgia. Now I don’t have much interest anymore.

  2. City Pages was killed by the pandemic. Really? All those staffers dropped dead in the street? You couldn’t find anybody to replace them?

    No. City Pages was killed by Governor Walz. He suspended the Constitution so fundamental rights were no longer protected from government action, including worship, political assembly, jury trial, and he robbed businesses of income without due process and without compensation.

    Speak Truth to Power . . . Tim Walz killed City Pages.

  3. JD, you are missing the point. Red Star and Pipsqueeks are all licking Srg Schulze’s boots. So the only publication left to potentially shine the spotlight on the hoax had closed. And if nobody reports on it, it does not exist. Yet another intended consequence.

  4. Rob Doar was on the KTLK morning show and mentioned that he was sad that there wasn’t a grave for the CP that he could dance on. He cited the many lies about firearms that CP writers have perpetuated on their readers.

    I, for one, never like to see people lose their jobs, but the CP staff was responsible for their own demise.

  5. A large chunk of CP’s advertising came from events and music clubs. No gatherings due to government edict, no advertising to be placed. Thank Governor Wiltz.

  6. Lileks and Charles used to do a Fridays from Lake Phalen show on AM1500.

    Live music from The Clams and Church’s fried chicken.

    My boss never let me have a Friday off. I finally begged him enough that he agreed. Days later, the gave Charles the boot.

    Still follow Lileks today.

    My wife and I were talking about Don Vogel the other day so we listened to his CD. Mitch and Don “shooting” Don’s characters was a great bit.

  7. Pingback: In The Mailbox: 10.30.20 (Morning Edition) : The Other McCain

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