Sunday, February 4, 2018

A few thoughts on a Twin Cities Super Bowl, and the trip there

Spent much of Thursday through Saturday traveling to and from the Twin Cities to see a good friend and check out the Super Bowl festivities. A few reactions.

1. The Super Bowl has a Vegas sort of quality for me- It allows for everyday folks from across the country to meet up with each other in another city, with lots of partying and people in a good mood. A difference is that the Super Bowl also has plenty of "daytime, family" type events, and many more gear stores, but at night the idea is largely the same. The Super Bowl scene also allows you to bump into various sports/entertainment celebrities on the street or at one of the event sites (my largest "random encounter", former Eagles QB Ron Jaworski on Nicolet Mall and ESPN analyst/ ex-Patriot Tedy Bruschi coming up an escalator before a broadcast). It also enables you to get to watch the backstage parts of shows live, which isn't something we typically are able to do in the Midwest (watching free agent QB Kirk Cousins and ESPN's Adam Schefter discuss things for 2 minutes before going on made you wonder what they were REALLY discussing).

At the same time, it also reminds you of how absurdly rich some people in this country are, and how you are NOT on that level. I was gazing through a list of nighttime Super Bowl parties for Thursday, just to see what it would cost and if it was worth it to give a look/try. Most are at least $250-$450 just to get in. Yeah, that wasn't happening. It also jacks up drink prices to $8 a beer at a typical downtown bar. We hung around one bar after the TWolves-Bucks game Thursday night, and while it was swinging, it also made me feel a bit old at 43. The nighttime stuff definitely seemed to be a young person's game.

Oh, and this comment from ESPN's Darren Rovell is yet another reason to hate corporate America and the business side of the NFL.

"Sponsors needing to activate effectively"? WTF does that even mean?

2. I know building Target Field and the new Vikings Stadium resulted in bringing events like the Super Bowl and the 2019 Final Four into town, but a 10.275% sales tax on food and a 13.275% sales tax on booze to help pay for it? That makes you take a step back when you get the bill. I guess that's how it had to be done to get outstate legislators to look the other way in order for those stadium bills to pass, but DAMN! Then again, all the people in downtown Minneapolis are paying for it/expensing it this weekend, so maybe it eventually pays for itself.

3. Swung by Surly Brewing on Friday afternoon around 330. Jam-packed with many out-of-towners, and a very good time with high-quality beer. Only drawback? I couldn't get a growler or any other ability to take out beer from the brewery because it's too successful, as Minnesota law says that brewers who make more than 20,000 barrels cannot allow growler and other carry-out on-site. Apparently the idea is to help small brewers compete and/or is related to old "tied house" laws, but this seems backwards and a limiter to successful craft brewers. Instead, I had to run to a liquor store on Saturday morning, and the selection wasn't nearly as good or interesting to bring back.

Good place, but you can't take it with you.

4. Driving up on I-94 in Western Wisconsin, I noticed a whole lot of vacant billboards looking for a sponsor. If I were Wisconsin Dems, I'd be strongly considering a few of those as a low-cost method of breaking through the Bubbles of BS that Republican media keeps trying to push through (and boy, are the GOP trying to bury people in BS these days). The anti-choice fundies sure make a lot of use of them, the least we can do is have people who aren't selfish dickheads respond and tell people with decency that they are not alone.

5. Also driving up I-94, saw a number of trees getting their branches cut down and turned into logs by cranes on the side of the road. Kind of interesting to see it as it happens, especially when covered in snow, and the way it was being done seemed pretty responsible (cut the branches but keep the tree, reuse for later cuttings). It's stuff you don't see down in the big city.

6. Even on a late Thursday afternoon, it seemed quite absurd that there were only 2 lanes on I-94 until you got to the outskirts of Hudson. Traffic got a bit congested in spots and it reminded me that Governor Walker vetoed the enumeration of a project that would add a 3rd lane to both sides of the Interstate here (number E-92 in this list), setting any work on the highway back another few years. Which makes for yet another need that has to be taken care of in the near future.

7. Speaking of I-94 in Western Wisconsin, I drove back on it in the snow yesterday, and for some reason, it seemed to catch the plow maintenance folks off-guard. It wasn't done much and salt hadn't been dropped as of 10am, which led conditions to be more difficult than it had to be. Once a slick spot popped up for no good reason and people in front started slowing down from 55 mph.....Well, let's just say I wanted to give a shout-out to Bob Adams' Towing in Eau Claire (don't worry, no damage to the car or to me).

8. Good trip in all, but glad to be back and settled in for the upcoming week. And yes, I did notice the DOW dropping 666 points on Friday as bond yields spiked, capping off a weekly drop of more than 1,000 points, and I'll have more to speak about that and a decent January jobs report in coming days.

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