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Hennepin Avenue Bridge: Golden or Garbage?

Plus another local 'Barbie' connection, chef Vang's new spot, and slow St. Paul park progress in today's Flyover news roundup.

Welcome back to The Flyover, your daily digest of what local media outlets and Twitter-ers are gabbing about.

Bridge Fight!!!

Bill Lindeke's latest Cityscape column for MinnPost begins with a common-sense observation—that city leaders stupidly closed the Stone Arch Bridge amid “something must be done” pre-Fourth of July panic—before getting into the real drama: a local bridge hot take feud! Earlier this week, longtime Star Tribune columnist James Lileks rattled off his five favorite Twin Cities bridges, and the Hennepin Avenue Bridge captured “Best in Show.” Writes Lileks: “This suspension is simply the most attractive bridge in the city, if you measure by grandeur and classical styling. A drive across at twilight, with the lights blazing and the Grain Belt sign catching the sunset, is one of those iconic (meaning cliched but still marvelous) Minneapolis views.” But Lindeke, who expresses his general respect for Lileks, is having none of that, likening the bridge to a damn Chrysler PT Cruiser, the much-maligned ‘00s hatchback.

Writes Lindeke: “Declaring the Hennepin Avenue Bridge to be the ‘best in show’ is a stick in the eye. On the contrary, other than the interstates, the Hennepin Avenue Bridge is the worst bridge in Minneapolis.” Goddamn! Lindeke faults the bridge for being too wide, having insufficient bike lanes, and utilizing costume suspension cables that serve no architectural purpose. Possibly in a show of St. Paul homerism, he concludes by chastising Lileks for snubbing St. Paul’s Smith Avenue High Bridge. (He also cops to earning two speeding tickets along the Hennepin Avenue Bridge, possibly an additional source of bias.) Where do we stand? Even with the shocking insight into HAB's phony cables, we simply can't deny this song-honored Minneapolis marvel, even if its current iteration was constructed during George H. W. Bush administration. Sound off in the comments: Which bridge debater is off their rocker?

Is 'Barbie' Diablo Cody’s White Whale?

Before a movie makes it to the big screen, especially one where brand integrity is a factor, it usually goes through a variety of forms. Take this summer's upcoming ultra-pink blockbuster Barbie, for example. Back in the ‘10s, comedian Amy Schumer was attached to star and (noted former Minnesota resident) Diablo Cody was tasked with writing the script. It didn’t work out, and Cody reflects on why in this new Variety article.

“I think I know why I shit the bed,” says the City Pages writer turned Hollywood power player. “When I was first hired for this, I don’t think the culture had not embraced the femme or the bimbo as valid feminist archetypes yet…in 2014, taking this skinny blonde white doll and making her into a heroine was a tall order.” Ultimately, bringing Barbie to life at a time when feminists weren’t really feeling pink princesses and girly girls proved to be too much. “I didn’t really have the freedom then to write something that was faithful to the iconography,” Cody says of leaving the project in 2018. “They wanted a girl-boss feminist twist on Barbie, and I couldn’t figure it out because that’s not what Barbie is.”

Yia Vang's Pop-Up Carousel Arrives at Permanent Concept

Throughout the year chef Yia Vang has curated a pop-up restaurant playground at 901 W. Lake St., first with Slurp (which we loved), then with Mee-Ka, and, just weeks ago, with Mov. This afternoon we learned his Hilltribe group will be installing a permanent concept at that Uptown address: location No. 2 of his celebrated Union Hmong Kitchen (the first one exists inside North Loop’s Graze food hall). “These three menus, Slurp, Mee-Ka, and Mov were awesome and we learned a lot from them,” Vang says via press release. “But really, the demand for Union Hmong Kitchen keeps growing, and we loved the idea of bringing it to south Minneapolis.” Mov is scheduled to shut down after service this coming Sunday, while UHK 2.0 is scheduled to open, remarkably, by next Wednesday. “Obviously, this is an incredibly tight turn around,” the publicist admits. Click here to revisit our conversation with Vang following his triumphant Minnesota State Fair debut.   

Ramsey County Park We Almost Forgot About Gets State $$

Remember Riversedge, the planned nine-acre park that would connect downtown St. Paul with the Mississippi? Honestly, we’d forgotten about it until we ran across this story in Finance & Commerce about the legislature earmarking $6.2 million for the project. The last time we mentioned the $80 million project was in December 2022, when the county signed a development agreement with AECOM and committed $26 million to the project. Despite the occasional radio silence, folks in charge want you to know that the effort is chugging along. “We’re in good shape,” Ramsey County Commissioner Rafael Ortega told Finance & Commerce. “It’s not like we’ve been standing still. This stuff is tedious and takes a long time.”

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