A review of stuff I hate vs. stuff I love...
The Suck It List
Stella’s Fish Café
I can’t get past the name. I don’t know who Stella is, but I know that the words “Fish” and “Café” don’t belong together. It brings to mind fish-flavored coffee, which, ew. Plus, it’s not even a café, just another restaurant/bar, like a pretentious Old Chicago. With fish.
I refuse to be swayed by the cheeky billboard ads and the glittery sign. Too loud, too yuppified, and the food is crap.
Paisano’s Pizzaria (St. Paul)
This place is utter crap. Mediocre food, messy dining room, excruciatingly horrible service. You’re better off staying home, heating up a frozen grocery store pizza and eating in front of the teevee.
Two words: food poisoning. Five more: dine at your own risk.
The Salon For You
I used to live above this place when I lived in St. Paul. I decided to check it out, and left with a fabulous haircut that I was extremely happy with, along with some funky reddish/pink highlights. Two months later I went back looking for the same stylist. She no longer worked there, they told me, but the owner of the salon was available to do my hair. I felt like I was in good hands—after all, if she’s the owner, she has to know what she’s doing, right? Wrong. She refused to do highlights because some weeks before I had experimented with a temporary color rinse and she said she wouldn’t color over that “as a matter of principle.” (?) Then, she proceeded to give me the worst haircut I’ve ever had in my life, and that’s saying something (I came up in the eighties, remember?) She just took the scissors, gave me a blunt cut straight across the ends, and she was done. It looked so horrible that I had to scrape together some more money and go find somewhere to get it fixed. Happily, I ended up with Mackenzie at Hair Police (see below). Her take on my botched ‘do? “Holy crap, this looks like it was done by someone who’s never cut hair before!” Thank God for Hair Police.
I understand that they’re famous for making their clothes in the USA by non-sweatshop labor, so good for them. But do their all-American, non-sweatshop workers have to make such fugly clothing? I mean, I don’t want my clothes made in Laos by a barefoot 9-year-old, but I do want clothes that are attractive and wearable. (Seriously, who buys this crap?)
Skintight shiny spandex? Really?
There was a time when nearly every scrap of my wardrobe came from Ragstock. Their clothing and accessories were quirky, functional, and reasonably-priced. Unfortunately, they have since gone straight down the crapper. I think they changed clothing suppliers or something, because they’re stuff has taken a sharp nosedive quality-wise; cheap-looking clothes that are more expensive than the lines they used to carry. And most of the clothing doesn’t even come in larger sizes—if you’re above a size 8, you’re shit out of luck. Also? Rude, unhelpful staff. (Oh Ragstock, why hast thou forsaken me?)
Live bluegrass every Saturday night, plus damn good pizza. You can’t go wrong. Bring a date here and they’ll think you’re offbeat and original for discovering it. You’re welcome.
Nina’s Coffee Café (St. Paul)
My original St. Paul hangout, located directly across the street from my first Twin Cities apartment. Great coffee, great atmosphere, and a fabulous place to hunker down and get some writing done. I’ve seen Garrison Keillor there twice! (He owns the bookstore down below Nina’s—Common Good Books.)
Since Ragstock has fallen out of favor, Buffalo Exchange has picked up the slack. I love this store. Fantastic clothes, shoes, and accessories, all reasonably priced. It’s all thrift/resale, but the staff are fairly picky about what they buy and they always have a good selection of clothes that tend towards the “gently-used” rather than simply “used.”
Eye of Horus
Yeah, I’m a bit of a hippie—you got a problem with that? Didn’t think so. Even for a non-hippie, this is a cool store. It has a wide selection of candles, essential oils, and incense—stuff anyone could use, right?—along with tarot cards, crystals, runes, and mojo bags, for those of us with more esoteric needs. All this, plus a friendly and knowledgeable staff.
Nicollett Village Video
Who needs a Netflix subscription? I’d rather support independently-owned video stores like this one. Village Video has nearly every movie category imaginable, including a wide range of foreign and cult films you can’t find anywhere else. They also have a huge “Brit Vid” section, featuring shows like Spaced, The Tomorrow People (remember that one, fellow Gen-Xers?) and Not the Nine-o’Clock News. It rocks. Hard.
As long as I live in the Twin Cities, I will never go anywhere else to have my hair done.