Monday, July 31, 2006

Five Amazing Twin Cities things, part 1: The Art Car Parade

There are good parades and bad parades. I saw one of each last week.

The bad parade: The Torchlight Parade for the Minneapolis Aquatennial. I’m still not sure what the Aquatennial is, but at this point, I’d prefer not to know. Coming out of a downtown restaurant Wednesday night, we heard music on Hennepin and walked down to see what was up. It was a parade, made up of an endless queue of queens and princesses from every Twin Cities suburb, waving in sync. I say waving, but mean doing Pat Morita’s immortal wax-on: three to the north side of the street, then turning and doing three to the south. This managed to be even more superficial-looking that the traditional elbow-elbow-wrist-wrist, used by Rose Queens, Queen Elizabeth II, and Michigan festival princesses. I’ve never seen so many tiaras in one place. There were easily thirty floats of princesses, punctuated by an occasional marching band or radio DJ in a speaker-topped conversion van. The message of the Aquatennial parade? If you aren’t 17 and wearing an evening gown, you don’t merit a ride on a float.

The good parade: the Art Car parade in Uptown, Minneapolis. The principle at work here is simple: put stuff on your ride, be in a parade. No tiara required. Cars covered with wine corks, bones, grass, plastic dinosaurs. A motorized couch. Jesus on a banana-shaped scooter. A woman in a Volvo wagon, talking on a cell phone with a baby in a car seat on the roof. A Delta 88 with a mural referencing Algernon Swinburne. Some cars throw candy to the kids, but one throws garlic. People hand out flyers for their bands, their candidates, the gallery openings, their plays, or their beliefs. Anyone with a creative bent and a set of wheels can get involved, and a little bit of anarchy is preferred over a lot of regimentation. Last year, a guy in an embellished pickup drove the parade route angrily screaming “I’m Happy!”, then got out and threw his shoes at a cop car. It was beautiful. The message of the Art Car Parade? No manifesto required. The definition of art is as long and as broad as the roads that belt the land.


Anonymous Matt Walsh said...

Art Car, now that is one parade I would love to see!!

How are you Julie? We've been thinking about you guys.

7:57 PM, August 08, 2006  

Post a Comment

<< Home