I don’t know about you, but when I think of childhood in America, one thing comes to mind immediately: handheld gaming. Pokemon, where did that even come from? I mean, Japan, but how was it suddenly so popular in summer 2000? Trends are tricky–living abroad on a military base in Europe at the time, we were perhaps behind-the-times. As a relatively masc Scorpio, I was of course a Pokemon Blue player and, generally, a Bulbasaur guy–all probably foreshadowing, sorry mom & dad.
As you’ll remember, the top feature of the Game Boy Color was that thing where your friend could trade you his Mew and you did that trick and actually it cloned the Mew!! The second most important and first most underrated feature of the Game Boy Color was its color inversion capability. If you held right + B and turned it on, it would turn on and the colors would be inverted! The background would be black, like so:
Above is the best picture of this on the entire Internet. Color inversion was helpful when playing games in difficult lighting conditions, but it also allowed players to see their games in a totally new light.
Recently, while playing around on my Game Boy Color, I found myself on a couple local news websites reading about “parking” “issues” in the Twin Cities. Many people all across America drive their cars to locations like Uptown Minneapolis or a St. Paul Saints game and find that they did not get parking as easily as they would have liked.
I did a bit of my own research on the topic, finding that, for example, parking is not hard. But seeking to expand my understanding of these complaints further, it occurred to me that I could do the same thing I did when playing Pokemon Blue version but wanted to get crazy about it.
I could invert the story.
This Tuesday evening, I held right + B, turned on my Game Boy Color (teal) and navigated to the Pioneer Press website to reread this story about parking, and—-
Preparations commence. For years, the downtown retail submarket has struggled, and face paint is hard to come by on short notice–a Party City exists to the north, n’er the Quarry across the great river. Time, however, is not on our side. Crayola fabric markers would have to make do for warpaint. Beads are grabbed from the bottom of a drawer, detritus of college football games passed. A jet-black MRRSVLD bandana is donned.
I retrieve my bicycle, a sad mountain bike purchased from the Roseville Target right before Welcome Week at the Academy, a once powerful institution now in the thrall of various peddlers of dubious remedies and banking options. The rendezvous point is a mere two blocks from my home.
I see that Lindeke, a powerful mage from St. Paul, has already arrived at the rendezvous point.
One by one, the warriors arrived, and we began amassing at the corner of 15th & Willow in Loring Park, a den of sin if one ever existed. We are told, if indirectly, that Loring Park circa 1986 is the model is for the new Downtown East Commons. History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme.
From far across the land they came, as far south as 36th Street, all dreaming of the spoils of war.
— Ben Somogyi (@brsomogyi) June 30, 2015
The first sacrifice of the evening is made–one rider is coming late, and would have to catch up. Having made 6:30 PM reservations, time is of the essence. Google Maps says 22 minutes to our destination, who knows what we will encounter on our journey.
We depart the park.
Phil, the Quartermaster, his bike equipped with speakers, begins playing the Classic Italian Pandora station.
Guy from work also biking down 15th Street sees me with my face painted and beads and cut up shirt. Damn. Will need to explain that later.
Here be dragons: We navigate across the treacherous Ye Olde Hennepin/Lyndale Bottlenecke, to the Cedar Lake Trail. We head west, following the falling sun.
Passing under the city gates and heading towards St. Louis Park, we can feel the sorrow of the gentry to our south–Kenilworth.
Man, what a beautiful evening. The past two months have been just great–either 75 degrees and blue skies or pouring rain.
We leave the safety of the Cedar Lake Trail, fording the trail near the Sabes JCC parking lot and finding our way up to residential streets.
They have erected a maze of frontage roads and on/offramps. But there it is, over the horizon. Olive Garden. We have found it. Their engineers think they are clever, building this wall.
The battle begins.
We ride under it.
The battle is won.
We park. Our bikes, numbering 14, easily fit into one parking space. A truck immediately next to us takes up two spaces.
We are seated at the St. Louis Park Olive Garden, ready to collect tribute. Never missing an opportunity to make an “A Beautiful Mind” joke later, I run in and grab a seat at the head of the table–a throne of sorts.
After a short skirmish, an emissary–Danielle–is sent from the kitchen to negotiate the terms of peace–sangritas and regular sangria and a type of mead known as “Blue Moon” followed freely as we waited for our breadsticks and salad. I need not remind you of the limits to these breadsticks.
Most opt for salad, but a few go with soup–of which there are four options: Chicken & Gnocchi, Pasta e F*gioli, Minestrone, and Zuppa Tuscana.
Danielle gets takes our orders–I go with Seafood Alfredo, in an effort to get in touch with my roots, which are one quarter Sicilian. Alfredoes appear to be a popular choice–the calorie-dense concoction feels justified after biking to a whole new city. The mage Lindeke and Melody go all in, ordering the 2 for $25 Tuscan dinner, which Bill describes as the “hot date dinner.” Alex of Fremont seeks the rumored “breadstick sandwich,” but alas, that was a limited time offer.
Quartermaster Phil attempts to conquer all four soups, known in some circles as “Il Quattro.”
— Nick Magrino (@nickmagrino) July 1, 2015
He succeeds, and Danielle remarks that this is uncommon.
We eat our pastas and lasagnas and equivalent.
Desserts and cappuccino. Bills. It would appear that the Andes mints are no longer a thing.
Our bikes are still there. The truck is gone.
We roll out.
— UrbanMSP (@UrbanMSP) July 1, 2015
I eat a piece of cold pizza out of the refrigerator. Jesus.
P.S. Our server was a very good sport, someone give her a raise.
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