Longing for the suburbs (5×8 – 2/27/14)

It’s the type of thing that can keep a city slicker up at night. A former resident of Eden Prairie, now living the good life in New York, is pining for Eden Prairie.

Jen Kalaidis, writing on The Atlantic’s Cities blog, says it’s not hard to see why city cores are making a comeback. “What more could a young adult want?” she asks.

A lot, she says:

Another area where suburbs often trump cities is in the quality (or lack thereof) of their public schools. From the mass closing of public schools in Chicago to the “dizzying, byzantine system” eighth grade students and their parents go through to select a public high school in New York City, it is as hard as ever—if not harder—for parents to find quality public education for their children in large American cities. And this particular reality seems especially stubborn: students from suburban communities are more likely to graduate high school and go on to higher education than their urban counterparts, which of course in turn makes them more likely to get well-paying jobs as adults.

But the number one way the suburbs beat the city, especially for young people, is in affordability. After living in both Washington, D.C., and New York City, I can safely say that affording basic human necessities, such as shelter and sustenance—not to mention having a little fun here and there—is much cheaper outside of the city center. When paying $1,000 per month to share an apartment is a “good deal,” and when you don’t think twice about spending $14 for a single cocktail, what chance does a young city dweller have to actually save money? Not all cities are as insanely expensive as Washington and New York (Philly! Baltimore! Portland!), but when the mortgage on a spacious, four-bedroom home rivals the monthly rent of a cramped one-bedroom apartment, there really is no competition.

She will be on MPR’s Daily Circuit today and this is what we’re going to hear: We’ll hear city people kneecapping the suburbs, and a few suburban people flamethrowing the cities. This is how we discuss these sorts of things around here and few subjects are more emotional than where other people choose to live.

If people are choosing to live in the suburbs, who are city people to say they shouldn’t? And who are suburban people to say people in the city shouldn’t be living in the city?

Related: Minnesota Suburbs vs. Exurbs (A Day In The Life).

It’s all very hush-hush up north where a man’s trout has been confiscated by the DNR. Rob Scott, 65, of Crane Lake, caught the 52 pound trout earlier this month Lac La Croix. Nobody will say why.

“What I know to date is that on Monday the DNR came by to investigate my fishing on LLC (Lac La Croix) on Feb 8th and the possibility of an over-limit catch,” Scott wrote in an e-mail to the Duluth News Tribune on Wednesday.

But let this be a lesson to you, anglers. If you catch a big fish, don’t take a picture of it and send it to the newspaper. Apparently that’s how conservation officers found out about the unknown problem.

The Internet and snarky TV anchors are never as obnoxious as when they’re making fun of Marilyn Hagerty, the restaurant reviewer for the Grand Forks Herald who was mercilessly mocked a few years ago when she wrote a restaurant review of an Olive Garden.

Now she’s written a review of a Ruby Tuesday restaurant.

I like the cloth-like napkins that come wrapped around the silverware. I did find the carpet sweeper a little off-putting in the early afternoon. And I was disappointed in the ladies room, which needed attention even though it was on a busy day.

I found the fountain drinks are $2.49, which seems like a going rate in these times. Still, it keeps me on a water course.

I was interested in the tables that look square but have leaves on all four sides that can be turned up to create a round table. The restaurant has appealing art and is tastefully decorated.

Ruby Tuesday seems to me like one of the stars in the restaurant scene in Grand Forks.

Places like Gawker did their Gawker thing. Predictably.

God bless Sarah Harper who came to the defense of Hagerty in a Vita.mn column:

All the condescension, which is now reawakening to rear its ironic head once again, begs the question: Would we rather our food critics describe food we can’t afford with words we don’t know? My answer to this is generally “no,” which is why I like Hagerty’s style. If you’d rather read about bourgie donut shops and fancy breakfast spots, she isn’t writing for you anyway (… Vita.mn is). As Hagerty said in an illuminating interview with NPR, “I live in a city of 55,000 people, and if you want to describe what you can eat in Grand Forks, North Dakota or any town about this size, you almost have to go to McDonald’s, and the drive-ins and the truck stops.”

But what have you done for the Minnesota Vikings lately, Minnesota Vikings fans?

Sure, you’ve forked over thousands of dollars to questionable ownership for generations while often watching a substandard product, but what have you done for them lately?

KARE 11 reports on the plight of a family that has had season tickets since 1960, and are now being shaken down by the team for personal seat licenses at the team’s new stadium.

Four of the Parmeter’s seats will cost $9,500 each and two others will close $3,700 each. Their seat license grand total comes to $45,400 which is in addition to the ticket prices which will cost $19,200 per season.

“To have tickets cost this much, it’s heartbreaking because we can’t afford that amount of money,” says Shannon Parmeter.

Joe Kenning of Mankato died a week before a benefit was to be held to help defray the expenses of fighting Stage IV cancer, the Mankato Free Press reports. That left his family with a decision to make: Do you go on with the benefit or cancel it? The benefit went on.

Related: The art of the obituary (continued):

Dirck dealt with the challenges of fairly severe dyslexia in his youth. He tells a story of holding a book upside down in front of him when his father came into the room. His father assumed that young Dirck had hastily picked up the book to cover up something he shouldn’t have been doing, so he asked him to read it to him. Dirck proceeded to read the book to him without apparent problem, he didn’t even know that he was holding the book upside down.

(h/t: Nikki Armstead)

Bonus I: The commercial, appearing to define Americans, dominated the Olympics. Yay, us! We work instead of taking vacations:

“There are plenty of things to celebrate about being American,”Carolyn Gregoire writes on Huffington Post, “but being possessed by a blind mania for working yourself into the ground, buying more stuff and mocking people in other countries just isn’t one of them.”
(h/t: Katherine Lanpher)

Bonus II: Spring is here. You just can’t see it through your tears. .

Should e-cigs be treated as standard smokes?


Daily Circuit (9-12 p.m.) – First hour: Air traveler delays.

Second hour: Personal finance with Ruth Hayden.

Third hour: Why a city-living writer in New York misses the suburbs of Minnesota.

MPR News Presents (12-1 pm) – American RadioWorks documentary, “Say it Plain.”

The Takeaway (1-2 p.m.) – The Veterans Administration’s painkiller problem.

All Things Considered (3-6:30 p.m.) – This morning the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency released preliminary recommendations on whether a 40-year-old state rule limiting sulfate discharges into wild rice waters should be changed. Last month the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency wrapped up a two year long study that examined the impact of sulfate pollution on wild rice. The mining industry and business groups have questioned whether the science behind the standard is sound, while tribes and environmental groups have argued that sulfate discharges have already destroyed wild rice stands. MPR’s Dan Kraker will have the story.

A new study finds that nearly one third of full-time employees in America are teleworking. If you picture most of those people working away from the office as women, parents, or even millennials, you’re going to be surprised. NPR takes a look at who’s doing today’s telework.

MPR’s Alex Friedrich says student research at Minnesota’s community colleges has boomed in the last five years. Once known as places that taught only introductory science courses, they’re now pumping out projects that go beyond the Biology 101 texts. How about Random Transposon Mutagenesis Reveals Gene Functions in Chromobacterium violaceum? It’s a trend that’s happening nationwide as well, fueled by recent government funding, more highly qualified faculty, and a realization that science-oriented community college students won’t stand a chance when they transfer to a university unless they have lab experience.

  • Paul Weimer

    I think the Hagerty snobbery comes from mismatched expectations. We “expect” a restaurant reviewer to review The Bachelor Farmer, not the Chipotle down the block. Given where Hagerty lives and works, her choices are limited.

    Maybe its her earnest and forthright style that gets the snobbery? I don’t know.

  • Kassie

    1) I hope she just doesn’t come on the radio here and tell your listeners that the schools are better in the suburbs and it costs $14 for a cocktail in the city. While some schools are bad in the city, and some schools are good in the suburbs, some of the best schools in the State are city public schools (SouthWest High) and some of the worst are in the suburbs (Park Center High). And I’ve found drinks cost the same in the suburbs as they do in the city, though there is a higher sales tax on things. As for homes, you can get cheap homes in both the city and the suburbs here in Minnesota.

    In other words, I hope she doesn’t come here comparing us to NYC, it is just not a fair comparison.

  • Chuck

    Bonus 1: Car commercial about being proud of being overworked. Thank you for that comment. That is one of the worst commercials to come along in quite some time with its message of “work yourself to death so your spouse has a nice car after your funeral.” The actor criticizes Europeans who take off August. Well, who wouldn’t want to take off a month if they could feel assured they’d still have a job when they returned to work?

    • John Peschken

      Man, I hate the guy in that commercial. If that’s what America is, I’m immigrating.

      • John

        emigrating, but sign me up.

  • MrE85

    1) Man, if that doesn’t sound like an old MNSpeak thread.
    4) There is more to life than football. There really is.
    B1) Interesting that all the talk is about vacations, and not that Detroit has come out with another plug-in hybrid. Did anyone even notice the charging cord?
    TQ: You’re kidding, right?

    • I think, Johnny One Note, that the reason the talk is about vacations is because THAT’S WHAT THE AD TALKED ABOUT!!! The ultimate goal is to make hybrids appeal to the wealthy and elite and apparently this is the method they’ve chosen. The wealthy and elite don’t want to hear about your silly little healthy lung nonsense; they want absolution for the way they’ve chosen to live. Dry your tears about MNSpeak and take a deep breath (OK, a little breath because I’m polluting with my combustion engine, 87 octane Chevy Cavalier while sucking on a heater) and think about it. :*)

      Oh, by the way, half the Cadillac dealers aren’t ordering this model. I guess people don’t want a $76,000 car that has to be plugged in.

      • MrE85

        Well, the whole vacation thing didn’t push any buttons for me. My first impression was “Hey, that’s the guy (actor Neal McDonough) who played Tom Cruse’s buddy in ‘Minority Report'”
        I’m neither rich nor a Caddie fan, so the car’s appeal was lost on me, too.

    • andy

      B1) When I see that stupid commercial, all I see is a $75,000 Chevy Volt with 2 less doors and a fancy grill. Much like Cadillac’s Cimerron from the 80’s (based on a Chevy Cavalier) and their Catera from the 90’s (based on an Opel Omega), this model too will soon disappear due to lack of sales.

      I need a vacation.

  • John

    1) Ugh. Just Ugh.
    B1) I hate that commercial. What a load of crap coming from a company that most certainly hasn’t made it without Gov’t help and has really worked at driving Detroit into the ground. Also – I wish they made better cars that could compete on quality and price with Japan.

  • Suzanne

    Bonus II: Thanks for posting that sweet clip!

    Hope springs eternal!

  • Paul

    #4 – That seems like a lot of money. I’d be interested to know what the season tickets cost them before the new stadium.

  • Jim G

    Bonus#1. The commercial is aimed at a specific type A personality that expects everyone to be just as driven and addicted to work as they are. I’m not that type of person. I’ll never drive a Cadillac because you can’t drive them through farm fields to retrieve a downed deer. My 10 year old pick-up works just fine thank you. It works so I don’t have too anymore.
    #3 Marilyn Hagerty writes for the people who can’t afford to eat out every other night, but who like a treat out once in awhile. She’s doing her job the way a true midwesterner would, without pretension.

  • 1) FWIW: I look at Eden Prairie as more of an exurb than as a suburb.

    What’s lost in this city vs suburb discussion is a nice balance I found growing up in a first ring suburb in Minneapolis (BC and Robbinsdale). They are close enough to enjoy the city, yet generally a lot cheaper so far as living expenses go. I raised my kids in a first ring suburb as well and now live in South Minneapolis. I find these areas are about the same (although not in the “city”) save for the larger yards I found in the suburbs.

    Bonus 1) I laugh when I hear the line about “leaving the keys” in the moon buggy, and think to myself “what’s wrong with having all of August off?”

    It reminds me of the theme song of “Team America” – “America: F*ck yeah!”

    Mmmmm, sweet, sweet nationalism.

  • Jamison S.

    I’m a city-boy stuck in the suburbs right now. I don’t fault people for living where they want to live. That’s their choice, but let’s recognize that people prefer different lifestyles and one size doesn’t fit all. I also don’t think you can limit it to things like discussions of school performance as to which area is better. If all of the people who are suffering in poverty, with kids distracted about where their next meal is coming from, were living in the suburbs, then those schools would have the same problems.

    I personally prefer the city because I like the ability to walk places I want to go. I prefer to have neighbors closer to me and more of them. I also like the higher number of independent businesses that seem to appear in the city. Interestingly I think there’s also a larger number of independent businesses in the exurbs and further out… The suburbs seem to be the place for all the ‘chains’.

    • John Peschken

      I feel a bit like you. A city boy stuck in the suburbs. I would prefer to live in the city, and we rented there for a couple of years. However 32 years ago when I went to buy a house I found that for the price of a pretty normal north side house I could get a newly built similar size house in Maple Grove for the same price, with a new furnace, roof, siding, a bigger yard, better schools, and lower taxes. Frankly, I would not want to live in the neighborhood I used to live in. Too many shootings and knifeings where I used to walk the dog. On top of that, my work is in manufacturing. I have had 3 jobs since then, in St Louis Park, Shoreview, and now Hamel. So, I would be commuting out to the suburbs for work every day. We find all of our fun at theaters, restaurants, museums, and other places in the city, and all of that is just a 20 minute drive down I-94 from Maple Grove. Most of me thinks I have the best of both worlds, but part of me still wishes I was in the city. Now, as empty nesters we would be considering moving to town, but it just doesn’t make sense. We can live cheap in our paid-for house. This is what makes retirement possible for us. the price to move where we would actually want to live in the city would mean a mortgage again. No thanks. I’ll just pay the neighbor kid to mow the lawn and shovel my driveway. The financial incentives make that the only reasonable choice for us. Until that changes, here I’ll be in the ‘burbs.

  • John Peschken

    #5 I have that ability. Reading upside down books is easy for me, but so is normal orientation. Apparently reading upside down or backwards is a problem for most people. I can’t decide if I am half-dyslexic or some sort of super un-dyslexic. The brain is a mysterious thing.

  • 20 year return plan

    There are some inherent difficulties in comparing New York City
    to Minneapolis and St Paul, and those that listen to the segment by Jen
    Kalaidis should certainly understand that the Twin Cities are no Big Apple
    (thankfully). I wish I could hear her
    segment, because I left St Paul for Eden Prairie because of work location and
    schools. My wife and I both work in the
    west metro, and we were spending too much time commuting between home and work,
    and were concerned about the quality of education and environment in the St
    Paul public schools. However, I still
    love St Paul, and after moving to Eden Prairie, have become quite fond on
    Minneapolis as well. Eden Prairie is
    almost completely devoid of any personality in the shops, restaurants, and even
    most of the homes. I feel a sense of
    relief when I drive over the river into St Paul and I’m sorry to go when it’s
    time to head for home. There are quite a
    few nice things about Eden Prairie; it’s quiet (the fireworks season doesn’t
    begin on June 1st and end in September, like it does on the Greater
    East Side), the schools are very good, the snowplows run AND do a good job, but
    it’s basically bankrupt when it comes to personality. I’ve found that it’s actually less expensive
    to go out to eat in St Paul, and there are a lot more options. Fortunately, those in the Twin Cities metro
    have option to make the choice between cities and suburbs, provided they have
    the means to do so (not that everyone does).

  • Rebecca

    I really dislike that Cadillac commercial but at least I get to laugh at it as well, because I associate the actor with the part he played on Justified. He had the same voice and inflection, and even a sort of similar philosophy, except his character was a drug-addicted mob kingpin who liked to kidnap and torture hustlers…and the other characters referred to him as big-head baby. I’m guessing that’s not what I’m supposed to be thinking about when I see that commercial.

  • I’m not surprised NewsCut readers don’t like the Cadillac commercial’s message. We’re the kind of people who post comments on blogs during working hours. 😉