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November 13, 2012

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Letter from the editorial director As the MPLSzine crew began putting together our second issue, “Broke,” I realized that this theme we’d chosen was knottier and heavier than we’d considered at first. Broke is embarrassing. We can roll our eyes to our friends and sigh, “I really should stay in tonight; I’m so broke,” all we want, but when it comes down to looking for odd jobs to make ends meet, taking a semester or more off of school, or even just forgoing a second cocktail while everyone else unthinkingly orders another, there can be genuine shame in not being able to afford what your peers can. Maybe that’s because consumption is usually so conspicuous: Doomtree’s Cecil Otter gets at that idea with his line, “In the land of milk and honey, too shy to say we’re thirsty.” In this issue, Sally Franson’s personal essay about traveling to Minneapolis’ milk-and-honey land (Edina) gives us a firsthand-and funny--tale of bravado in the face of that shame. Broke invites judgment. As we all know if we’ve been watching social media since the election, plenty of people are happy to not only blame but to demonize anyone who’s broke enough to need help. One of the reasons I love Tom Johnson’s interview with a bankruptcy lawyer in this issue is her insistence that most people who find themselves in dire financial situations aren’t bad with money: Sudden health crises or weather disasters can throw anyone for a loop. Filing for bankruptcy isn’t as bleak as it sounds, but people will still make assumptions about your choices--just as they will if you have an EBT card, or if you go to Planned Parenthood for birth control. And broke is relative. To some people, maybe it’s not being able to afford concerts or movies every weekend, or not having the funds to stay fit with a costly gym membership. If that group includes you, Christiaan “Bacon” Tarbox and Allison Fingerett have helpful advice in this issue. But for others, or even for the same people behind closed doors, broke is more intense than that, and more lasting. Sometimes not having enough money turns into a self-sustaining cycle with no end in sight: A piece of graffiti in one of Andrew Casey’s photos reads, “IT NEVER ENDS.” There’s a point at which broke becomes broken. It doesn’t take much of a leap to conclude that being broke has wildly different meanings and consequences for some Minneapolitans than it does for others. I hope we’ve at least hinted at that variety of experiences in this “Broke” issue, but I want to represent Minneapolis’ diversity in every installment of MPLSzine. Our best chance at that is getting more of you to exercise your creativity and submit your stuff--so enjoy what we’ve put together here, and then get to work. Sincerely, Colleen

Contributors Andrew Casey is a photographer residing in Minneapolis. He migrates towards shooting stationary objects and street scenes. He has had a long-held passion and appreciation for street art and graffiti, which led to a history of documenting the artwork under the alias Urban Camper. Chris Cloud is the Publication Director of MPLSzine. He wants to overly state that this project would not be possible without all of these contributors. Much thanks goes to them and he hopes you enjoy their creative work. Kyle Coughlin is a designer and illustrator living in Minneapolis. He enjoys drawing, screen printing, and being awesome. See his work at Jesse Draxler is a mixed media artist who lives and works in Minneapolis. He has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the College of Visual Arts. His work can be found at Allison Fingerett is a writer from Minneapolis who believes in the power of airing hideous personal truths. She spends her days at work or in traffic, pondering whether or not she should stop at the liquor store. Sally Franson is an MFA candidate at the University of Minnesota. Her work has been featured or is forthcoming in elimae, Witness, Room, and Bartleby Snopes, among others. Follow her on twitter @sallyjf and on her website, Clarissa Hamilton is a graduate from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. She is a designer living and working in Minneapolis and has an obsession with making zines. Visit her website: Brian Matthew Hart is a Minneapolis-based artist. His eyes are always hungry. He hopes yours are, too. Google: brianmatthewhart. Tom Johnson is a magazine reporter and editor. He works on Stubble, Crab and Egret, and GudBar in his spare time. Follow him on Twitter: @tomqj. Colleen Powers is from Rockford, Illinois and lives in Northeast Minneapolis. You can usually find her at dance parties, libraries, or rap shows. Blackstreet’s “No Diggity” is her one weakness. Christiaan Tarbox--better known to the world as Bacon--is a journalism major at the University of Minnesota, a freelance graphic designer, a film review blogger, undisputed Minneapolis karaoke champion, and a professional nerd. Follow him on Twitter: @thatbaconguy. MPLSzine is powered by MPLS Collective



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Broke Issue - November 13, 2012


SCRATCH YOUR NICHE Want to go out, but you’re broke? Here are a few ideas for free Minneapolis fun.


TOUR DE GYM Stay fit and save money by playing the free gym trial system.




A FRESH START Tom Johnson interviews lawyer Ann Johnson about how bankruptcy works.


PAVED PARADISE Sally Franson learns what it’s like to be broke in Paradise: the Galleria in Edina. COVER ILLUSTRATION BY BRIAN HART LAYOUT BY CLARISSA HAMILTON



It's no secret that having a social life in Minneapolis is rarely cheap. It's nighttime, your friends are at the club, but your empty piggy bank prevents you from even paying those damn cover charges, let alone a $7 tallboy. But I’m here to keep you from going stir-crazy in the homestead, as this round of “Scratch Your Niche” presents you with a small sampling of fun ways to enjoy the unique wonders of Minneapolis without even dropping a dime.

MUSIC Usually, the premier Minneapolis hotspot for soaking in great tunes would be First Avenue, but with those ticket prices? So here’s where you improvise: don’t listen to music, MAKE music! Most (if not all) karaoke bars in the city don’t require any covers or drink minimums, and as Minneapolis’ Undisputed Karaoke Champion™, I can personally attest that you don’t need a dime to be a Rock God for a night. Check out Blarney Pub in Dinkytown on Thursday nights, the Chatterbox Pub in Midtown on Mondays, or the U Otter Stop Inn in Northeast every night. But if you’re just down for music without being the center of attention, you can get great tunes for free on a regular basis at venues such as the 331 Club or Nye’s Polonaise in Northeast, Palmer’s in Cedar Riverside, and the Hexagon in Seward.

ART Maybe you’re feeling low-key and prefer to indulge your artsy-fartsy side. The Walker Art Center has free admission every Thursday night, and both the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and the Weisman Art Museum at the U of M are free to check out from Tuesdays through Sundays. If you’re into smaller, community-based galleries, the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District is the place to go, with tons of events regularly taking place at Altered Esthetics, the Solar Arts Building, and the Northrup King Building, among others.

TRIVIA AND GAMES When it’s not being destroyed by alcohol, our brain can be our best ally, so why not put it to good use and win sweet prizes, too (like, I dunno, more BEER!)? Those wonderful folks at Trivia Mafia hold trivia contests all the time across the Twin Cities, so now you and your buddies finally have a reason for retaining all that useless knowledge about ‘90s TV shows, Oscar winners, and who exactly the Hawaiian goddess of fertility and childbirth was (it was Haumea, BTW). Like bingo? Grumpy’s in downtown hosts it every Sunday night, and the 331 has “Blingo” every Tuesday. Once again: you could win free beer. C’mon, your brain totally earned it.

AND MORE! Sometimes, you just gotta march to your own beat, and if karaoke, art museums, or trivia contests aren’t your bag, then think outside the box! Like relaxing with a book while being surrounded by chickens and kitty cats? Wild Rumpus in Linden Hills is the place to be. Like volunteering? You can always become a member of places like the Cedar Cultural Center and get free show passes by helping them out. Enjoy people-watching and photo ops? Dude, go ANYwhere in Minneapolis and you’ve got Instagram gold. Whatever you do, get weird, get creative, and tell the Big Bad Economy that you are in Minneapolis, and damn it, you’re gonna have fun tonight. Written By Christiaan Tarbox BROKE // MPLSzine



I’m broke and fat. It’s an unfortunate combination. Losing weight is attainable with structure and motivation, both of which seem to be things that money can buy. I got my first “big girl job” this summer (no pun intended), and went full-time/salaried about a month ago. The first thing I did was make an Excel spreadsheet of my budget, which immediately kiboshed my joy. My monthly credit card payment, alone, precludes my ability to join a gym. I’m in a physical and economic black hole of shame, and winter is coming. As the weather turns to shit, free workouts are harder to come by. The lakes are no longer delightful tracks for intermittent “running” and a free tan. Only the strong-willed maintain their exercise regimens when the snow falls, most often with the use of a membership somewhere. But if you’re savvy enough, you can ride the wave of athletic Free Trials all winter long. My tour of free fitness trials lasted only two facilities before the cyclical lure of a sedentary lifestyle took hold, but I did some research on a gung-ho day and found that almost every gym in the city offers a free trial of some sort. 8 MPLSzine // BROKE

YMCA: Free 5-day pass with registration online. After a brief tour, your pass grants you access to everything the YMCA has to offer – from swimming and saunas to Zumba and other classes. YWCA: As the two types of Ys were the only gyms I took advantage of, I took time to ponder the difference between the W and M. The main difference being that the W’s free trial is all of one day. Consequently, it felt a little more… exclusive. The Firm: I have heard nothing but good things about The Firm, which was confirmed when they let me crash their beautiful facilities for a photo shoot. They expressed a genuine desire to help me embark on lifelong fitness goals and were thoughtful enough to stress the phrase, “When you’re ready.” Their spin class has black lights and a disco ball, and they offer a free week to experience such fun and warmth for yourself. Lifetime Fitness: Free 7-day pass after online registration and, presumably, a tour. LA Fitness: Free 3-day pass after extremely brief online registration. The fine print on the pass says: “limit one pass per person every six months.” Fuck yeah. SNAP Fitness: They used to offer a free 7-day pass, but that seems to have been replaced very recently by a 30-day “trial” for only $8.95. Still a good deal if you’re on a budget and looking to ease into a workout regimen, and you might be able to negotiate your way into the free 7-day pass if you play up your disappointment. The Movement Minneapolis: I discovered this hidden gym one day while dropping off my dry cleaning at the great Chi Tailors on Lyndale near Franklin. They offer one free week of classes with a brief online registration and, for what it’s worth, they look pretty hardcore. Anytime Fitness: Free 7-day trial pass with no obligation, or so it says online. Core Power Yoga: Free week of yoga with printed online coupon. You get the idea. You could theoretically do this for months without paying a dime (do as I say, not as I do.) Free workouts are especially satisfying if you’re unemployed and feel like a sack of shit after composing cover letters all day. Take a break and hit the gym at an off time before the working world gets in your way (for an average of $40-$60 per month…fools). Written by Allison Fingerett.





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What does bankruptcy actually mean? A lawyer explains... Ann Johnson is an attorney practicing in Minneapolis. For three years, Ann handled personal and business bankruptcies and now works as in-house counsel for a company in town. MPLSzine: What does being broke mean to you? ANN: Being broke means to be in a state of financial uncertainty. It’s when you say, “I need this much to live every month and I don’t know how I’m going to get it.” That may be more dire than some people’s definition--who may consider themselves “broke” when they can’t buy a shirt at the mall or go to Starbucks--but to me, it’s truly is a precarious financial position. MPLSzine: So what does bankruptcy legally mean?

ANN: To file for bankruptcy is either when you liquidate your debts or you reorganize them in such a manner that they are no longer overwhelming you. It’s basically a tool for people to handle their debt by saying that they can’t handle their creditors on their own, but with a little bit of help they might be able to. There isn’t necessarily a definition of “a bankrupt person” but there is a bankruptcy code with multiple chapters that determine who qualifies for which type of relief. Chapter 7 is the one most people are familiar with, which is liquidation, but then there’s also Chapter 13, which is a reorganization for individuals. There’s also Chapter 11, mostly for businesses, and chapter 9 for municipalities, because believe it or not, cities can actually go bankrupt, too. 14 MPLSzine // BROKE

MPLSzine: When I think of “bankruptcy,” pretty negative examples can come to mind, like hobos and street people and out of control spenders--is that the case in your experience? ANN: It’s not the case at all. In fact, it’s kind of opposite. Some of this is anecdotal, but you see all walks of life filing for bankruptcy in all different chapters. If you’re talking about a business, there’re many successful, huge businesses that file a Chapter 11, and after they file they’re actually more successful financially than they could have been without it. Bankruptcy is actually a tool for people to use to get out from under the debt that they have and move forward much stronger than they were before. People who file are often just normal working people in dire financial situations precipitated directly by life events such as a divorce or losing a job. If you get sick and all of a sudden owe $100,000 in medical bills, there’s very few people can afford to pay that back. Usually it’s a person who was going about life just fine--they had a car and a house they have a job--and something happens where they couldn’t quite make ends meet anymore. MPLSzine: You mention bankruptcy as a tool, as the first step towards recovery. What does that recovery look like?




ANN: A lot of people term bankruptcy as a “fresh start”-especially bankruptcy law firms--and to be honest, it may sound corny, but that’s what it is. If you file for the most common type, a Chapter 7, it’s called a “liquidation,” which means in essence you protect certain assets, the trustee sells others and pays your creditors with the proceeds, and at the end of this proceeding, the debt that’s dischargeable is gone. It just goes to zero. If you take somebody who lost a home from foreclosure, for example, with a second mortgage for $100,000 with the bank coming after them--suing them and garnishing their wages--once the Chapter 7 is over and they discharge that debt, they get the money back in their wages and they basically don’t owe $100,000 more. Things kind of go back to normal, to before the creditor was harassing them and trying to collect. Bankruptcy can be a very beneficial thing to declare.

something other than what you need, you may want to think twice. To be honest, though, most people who file didn’t really make a mistake. It wasn’t one thing you can point to in hindsight. The best way I’ve ever heard it characterized is that bankruptcy is a slow slide. You don’t wake up and suddenly have no money--it’ll be a combination of things like you’re not getting overtime anymore and then you have a kid, or all of a sudden the price of gas goes up and your car breaks down. Next, instead of buying your groceries on your check card, you have to use your credit card one month, which means your card payment is a little higher, and this creates a cycle.

MPLSzine: Based on your experience, what would be the most important piece of advice for people trying to avoid bankruptcy?

MPLSzine: What sort of positive role does bankruptcy have in society?

ANN: Lemme see … I think the best thing someone can do is to understand the predatory lending practice that many, if not all, companies use. The thing is, when you’re using a credit card you really have to be careful. Most people in the U.S. can’t distinguish between wants and needs, but if you can really determine what you need versus what you want, you should be fine. There’s nothing wrong with having a credit card and keeping a little bit of debt, but if you’re using that debt for 16 MPLSzine // BROKE

It’s difficult to give one piece of advice because every case is so different and most bankrupt people aren’t bad people; most aren’t even bad with money--it’s just they overextended themselves because of an unforeseen life circumstance.

ANN: A lot of debt is actually entrepreneurial debt. A common situation is that someone tries to open a business and it fails, which to some extent should be encouraged. Bankruptcy allows people to take risks. Otherwise, who would ever try to open a business if you faced permanent personal ruin if it fails? There’s a belief that people who file for bankruptcy are personally irresponsible, but usually that’s not the case at all. It’s the biggest myth of bankruptcy. Interview by Tom Johnson

Last summer I found myself in the unfortunate predicament of having to take the bus to the Galleria in Edina in order to meet with some fancy important people (whom I had never met before) about a fancy important thing. It was the social equivalent of Cinderella being invited to the prince’s ball – a class coup, an American fairy tale realized, a sayonara to an entire decade spent downwardly mobile – except that instead of riding in the proverbial carriage she had to hop on the back of a hog cart. As a grad student with a yearly income just over the poverty line, I sold my beat-up Honda when I moved to Minneapolis two and a half years ago in order to cover relocation costs. I ride the bus to school in the winter and take my bicycle everywhere in the summer, but in June I had been in an accident that had busted up my right elbow and left my old Peugeot beyond repair. I had a car share subscription for emergency purposes, but I didn’t have enough in my checking account the day of the meeting to cover a few hours of use.1 The grant money I had planned on lasting the whole summer had burned through my profligate hands by July, and I was – there was no way around it – flat broke. “I’m so poor!” I wailed to a friend one day over (extremely fiscally irresponsible) lattes. She rolled her eyes. “You’re not poor,” she said, “you just have no money. There’s a difference.” It didn’t feel like there was a difference when I boarded the number six to Edina in the middle of a Wednesday afternoon, a usually genteel route given the number of commuters to and from uptown, downtown, and South Minneapolis.2 But since it was between rush hours, we were more of a down-on-our-luck bunch, with sadder eyes and slimmer wallets and a preponderance of denim-on-denim. I clutched my leather handbag to my chest and scrolled through my smartphone, so eager was I to confirm, falsely (to whom?), that I belonged elsewhere. “Do you stop at the Galleria?” I asked the driver in my very best sophisticated baroness voice. He shook his head. “Just Southdale.” I sighed and thanked him. Figured. N.B. I have a wonderful, generous Fiancé with a very grown-up job and a very grown-up car, but since he has to drive said grown-up car to said grown-up job in St. Paul every day I was still transportationally screwed. 2 I use the word ‘genteel’ particularly vis-à-vis the number two, on which I have seen one person vomit and two fall on their faces from drunkenness. 1




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Why would the upper echelons of Edina society want us plebeians to have such easy access to their designer wares? To contaminate their Pendleton and Eileen Fisher with our grubby, unmanicured hands? Being broke in Edina felt like this recurring dream I have about showing up naked to my high school prom; the crushing humiliation emerged both as a result of my own idiocy as well as the promise of ridicule from the beautiful, popular, frosted-hair elites. The bus finally stopped in the back of Southdale, by JC Penney, an area I imagine now as littered with tumbleweeds and garbage but that I’m sure is perfectly adequate. There were only two other people on the bus by then. We were at the end of the line. One woman was counting coupons; the other had her phone glued to her ear, lost in a heated argument. “I told you,” she shouted in the receiver, “I ain’t coming back till later!” The driver asked me if I knew where I was going, and I nodded, haughtily. “Yes, of course,” I said, even though I didn’t. It seemed important for me to let him know that, of the three women left on the bus, I was the one with the gold medal for Having One’s Shit Together. I gathered all the dignity I had and made my way to York Avenue, hugging the lip of the curb once I got there since there was no sidewalk on my side of the street. Legions of high-end vehicles, mostly SUVs, zoomed past me, driven (I imagined) by those aggressive, skeletal ladies who use “blowout” as a verb.3 I was the only pedestrian in sight on both York and 69th, and the lack of proper footpaths made me feel like I was embarking on some weird, peasantish walk of shame. I pulled out my phone4 again and tried to give off the aura of someone who had parked in another parking lot, someone who had asked her driver to drop her off a few blocks away so she could ‘get some fresh air,’ someone who belonged in this poorly planned,5 upper class neighborhood solely by its stucco monstrosities. But I didn’t belong. Half of me desperately wanted to, but the other half was disgusted by this wanting. When I arrived, late to the meeting, at one of the Galleria’s upscale cafés, I slid breathlessly into a chair next to a woman who looked like she worked a corporate job and straightened her hair every morning and read Minnesota Monthly in her spare time. “Traffic was horrible, wasn’t it?” she whispered sympathetically. I nodded, cringing a little, afraid she would quiz me on the route I took. The table had already ordered a round: mostly white wine. “For you, miss?” the server said to me. I closed the menu and put my hands on my lap. “You know,” I said, “I think I’ll just have water.” The woman looked at me curiously. “I don’t drink,” I said, because I could bear her thinking of me as a teetotaler or addict, but I could not bear informing her that a five dollar Pinot Gris was well out of my league. Written by Sally Franson. i.e. “Andre blew me out this morning and convinced me to try this amazing keratin treatment.” aka the Gen Y pacifier 5 York Avenue is, truly, an urban planner’s nightmare. 3 4



BE PART OF MPLSzine! We’re looking for interviews, reviews, reported articles, essays, humor pieces, lists, infographics, comics, photos, and illustrations related to Minneapolis. (That relation can be loose--if the only connection is that you live here, that’s cool with us.) For now, we are not accepting fiction or poetry submissions--we know we can’t compete with the awesome literary magazines this town already has. We want to explore overlooked places and subcultures; make new connections and observations; share your heartbreaking, guffaw-worthy, and inspirational personal stories; and champion the people who make Minneapolis what it is. But we can’t do that without creative types sending us their stuff. To get you started, our themes for the next two issues are MYSTERY publishes November 27 submissions due November 16 FAMILY publishes December 11 submissions due November 30 If you can’t contribute right away but want to learn more, email us anyway. We’d love to have you join us.

MPLSzine - The Broke Issue (Nov. 13th, 2012)  

MPLSzine, a submissions-based collaborative digital publication, is the latest project powered by the forces of MPLS Collective, a cornersto...

MPLSzine - The Broke Issue (Nov. 13th, 2012)  

MPLSzine, a submissions-based collaborative digital publication, is the latest project powered by the forces of MPLS Collective, a cornersto...