OCTOBER 10, 2015
4:35 p.m.: Bad Weather Brewing
Joe Giambruno is everywhere.
In the time it takes me to get into my chair, the Bad Weather Brewing co-founder wipes off a table, zooms into a cooler and out, grabs a remote and turns a TV channel, takes two orders, and shatters a glass. Fun fact: I just misspelled his last name, and the first word I was given to fix it was ‘Lamborghini.’
Established in 2013, Bad Weather Brewing sharpened their craft in Lucid’s brewing space before finally opening a taproom Oct. 9, 2015.
Lamborghini’s partner, Zac Carpenter, says the first question he’d hear at beer festivals was “Where’s your taproom?” While he admits that was always an awkward response, he’s happy it played out this way.
“We could really get our feet wet without having to completely empty the bank,” says Carpenter. “When we were looking for investors and raising money to open this place, we were able to show a sales history and serve people a product that was already on the market.”
Giambruno chats up drinkers and washes up glasses, his whole body moving as if in fast forward. Even something as mundane as a head turn churns up suspense. His hat nearly spins off.
A STORY FOR ANOTHER TIME: You should hear the lengths to which he went to get the patio approved for this place.
Giambruno raved about his taproom staff’s handling of a raucous Day One, and it’s all hands on deck again for Day Two. Shiny-new-thing syndrome hasn’t passed through our collective system, not even close, and today’s mix gets a Wild game thrown in.
The biggest problem, according to the guys, was keeping $1 and $5 bills in steady supply.
“Having not run a restaurant or a bar before, I didn’t realize how quickly small denominations run out of the drawer,” says Carpenter. “I had like a couple hundred dollars in ones [on opening day], which we blew through in zero time.”
Carpenter recalled wheelin’ and dealin’ at Tom Reid’s Hockey City Pub down the street for small bills, while Giambruno ran to a checks/cash place.
“The woman was like, ‘Oh, you’re going to the strip club?'” says Giambruno. “I didn’t get it at first because I was a little dazed … but I was like no, no, I’m working at a bar right now.”
The next time I look up from my drink, Giambruno is hanging a sign behind the bar … and where did he get gloves from?
5:45 p.m. 7th Street, St. Paul
Nobody’s wearing Charlie Coyle.
The closer you get to the XCel Energy Center, the greener and redder it gets. Tonight, the 2015-16 Minnesota Wild are playing in front of the hometown crowd for the first time. Wild center Zach Parise scored a hat trick two days ago, as the Wild went out to Colorado and started their season by zapping the Avalanche. Down by three goals entering the third period, Minnesota scored four in five minutes. Bzzzzt!
For one block, we follow a group of stout men, two wearing Parise, one wearing Mikael Granlund. Later, a couple walk arm-in-arm. She’s wearing Parise, he’s wearing Nino Neiterritter. We walk into Cossetta behind a wide, short man wearing Devan Dubnyk. The pizza compound is a Christmasy-colored lava flow of jersey fabric and hand hair. Nobody’s wearing Charlie Coyle.
Evidently, nobody can decide what they want, either. We abandon the pizza dream and settle for whatever winds up in front of us at Mickey’s Dining Car.
While Bad Weather’s breaking in shiny new surfaces, a historic place down the street handles a different kind of traffic.
Mickey’s Dining Car was built in New Jersey, so it makes perfect sense that it’s sitting on the corner of Seventh and St. Peter in the state’s Capitol.
It’s been there since 1939, and it’s open 24-7-365.
The crowd in the car is diverse. Minnesota Wild jerseys are worn. Minnesota Rollergirls T-shirts are worn. The car is worn.
I mean the car is worn.
A clock hanging behind the cash register has been frozen for who-knows-how-long. The stool cushions are tattered and the windows have a shower-door level of translucency. The cooking sector is an adventure of stains: What caused that? Why can’t they get it off? How long has it been there?
Yet, you trust these surfaces more than you trust the fancy new joint. We have for years. We’ve trusted the cooks for years.
Speaking of which:
“I don’t know what the hell I’m doing,” announces the cook. “Everything’s free! Just don’t try to sue us for your hospital stay!”
This man has two arms like the rest of us. Difference is, this man is buttering toast, cooking burgers, scrambling eggs, frying potatoes, flipping pancakes, and making a royal mess on the grill. To watch him work is like watching a ballet dancer dodging Gatling gun fire, but with better commentary.
“I need a lobotomy!”
“I’m thinking too much!”
“I might not be here, I’m getting hungry.”
Two pancakes appear for a ticket that doesn’t exist. The cook ask for someone, anyone, to just take the f*cking things. My head snaps up. Sure, we’ll take ’em.
We haven’t gotten silverware yet, but we don’t wait. We slather butter on the tops of the cakes, and pour syrup in a line down the middle. We fold them up like tacos and eat them.
“I need a new job,” bellows the chef, “to go!”
The Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium, 7:05 p.m.
The most popular pokemon monster is Pikachu, right? He’s the one who yelps “Pika!” and shoots lightning. That isn’t his final form, though, did you know that? He evolves and becomes Raichu, an orange mouse that can emit 100,000 volts of electricity. In case you’re curious, here are some examples of what 100,000 volts could do to a human in real life.
The floor of “The Roy” has been turned into a derby track. Tonight, the four teams that make up the Minnesota Rollergirls are kicking off Season 12 with a mini-tournament. About 25 minutes from now, a rookie named Riotchu is about to take her first jam for the Atomic Bombshells — the orange team.
Riotchu, also, had an evolution of sorts.
Her mother got her into the sport, and still skates today for a team in Milwaukee. Riotchu credits her mother’s badgering for getting her into the sport to begin with.
“I know I would have never put on skates otherwise,” says Riotchu.
Riotchu had been skating for Eau Claire’s Chippewa Valley Rollergirls for three years previously, and took a longtime interest of Pokemon — and her nickname, “Chu” — onto the rink. Her fast and jumpy style, she says, made the name Riotchu a natural fit.
Tonight, the Bombshells are facing the Garda Belts: last season’s runner up, the team with the Macalester Pipe Band leading them out and a giant beer mug as their mascot, the team with a representative on the US national derby team.
The first jam gets underway at around 7:30 p.m., and Riotchu starts right in with those 100,000 volts.
:49, First Period, XCel Energy Center
Charlie Coyle scored all of 11 goals in 2014-15. Tack on his 24 assists, and he landed at number seven on the Wild in overall scoring. A closer look at the stats (or, rather, an accidental mis-click of the stat filter) reveals that Coyle was one of only two Minnesota players to see time in all 82 regular-season games and all 10 post-season games (source).
This Saturday night, the Wild are playing the St. Louis Blues.
Less than one minute into the game, Coyle steals a pass on defense and streaks up the ice. He splits two St. Louis defenders, races up to meet Blues goaltender Jake Allen, and lets a wrister fly.
Allen glove-stones him cold.
End of Bout 1, Legendary Roy Wilkins Auditorium
The Garda Belts look lost in Riotchu’s presence. Her first-ever jam rings up 25 points for the Bombshells, while fans in the audience chant “I CHOOSE YOU!!”
“I was really zoned in on looking for my bench coach and staying focused for the next pass,” says Riotchu. “The longer a jam goes on, the more chances for me to make a mistake. I don’t think the excitement hit me until after the jam ended and I saw the scoreboard.”
Riotchu zooms, twists, and hops toward more points while the Atomic defense bags the Garda Belts up and zips the top shut. By the end of the first bout, the Garda Belts’ US derby star is laughing with the mascot mug and their bench coach looks ready to kill someone (she always does, though, to be fair). The Bombshells move on with a 104-31 victory.
19:46, First Period, XCel Energy Center
The game is still scoreless when the teams line up for a face-off in the shadow of Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk. Sixteen seconds remain of the first period. Minnesota wins the face-off and the puck goes to Coyle.
In seven seconds, Coyle bounces the puck off the right wall, squirms through two St. Louis defenders, plays a weird game of solitary/hot potato, makes like a toy train toward the Blues goalie, and backhands the puck past him.
It’s not so much a highlight as an Easter egg you have to watch over and over to make sense of. The camera’s on it the whole time, but the novice viewer can feel like he or she’s missing something. It’s beautiful, fast, and a little bit clownish.
The Wild are up 1-0.
15:36, Second Period, XCel Energy Center
The Wild are up 2-1 after Zach Parise, the Wild’s big-money man, who led the team in scoring last season, just scored.
The announcers are fawning over how Parise’s 33 goals from last year are the fourth-most in the team’s history when Coyle sneaks into the St. Louis goal crease. He’s standing where the goalie … where the goalie really ought to be standing. The St. Louis goalie, instead, is out postcard shopping in Lilydale. The scenery is gorgeous this time of year.
Once he’s where the goalie ought to be standing, Coyle receives a fun gift: the puck, passed to him from teammate and fellow big-money man Thomas Vanek. Coyle somethings it into the net.
The goal is given to Vanek at first, then challenged by the St. Louis bench. The Blues challenge that Coyle was interfering with the goalie. In reality, Coyle was awarded the goal and was probably quite pleased at the goalie’s choices of postcards.
The Wild win, 3-2.
Start of Bout 4, Legendary Roy Wilins Auditorium
“A lot of people call me a hoppy bunny jammer,” says Riotchu. “I like to juke around and cause blockers to over-commit, then bolt through the space they open up … I look for which blockers are twitchy. ‘Who wants to hit me and will fall for a juke? Who do I know I’m faster than?'”
The Rockits topple last season’s champs, the Dagger Dolls, in the other opening bout; after a long break, the Bombshells and Rockits are now swinging elbows for the opening-night trophy.
The sledding isn’t nearly as easy for Riotchu.
“I think, at that time, the Rockits were playing much more as a team then we were prepared for coming off our game with the Gardas,” says Chu.
The referees also choose Riotchu, and not in a good way. Chu fouls out during the Bombshells’ bout against the Rockits, a bout they’d eventually lose by an 86-56 score.