Documenting life at 26th & Lyndale
I spent countless hours each week working in the spare room in my second-floor apartment, seated at a desk in front of a window that overlooks the intersection of 26th & Lyndale.
Sometimes the streets are quiet. I work. Sometimes they’re so active and vibrant I can’t get a thing done. I stop. I watch the city pass by. It used to be enough to simply watch. Now, driven by some half-understood desire to chronicle and share, I’ve decided to write what I see.
I began writing this month in a Southwest Journal-sponsored blog at www.26thandlyndale.com. It’s a place where I’ll tell the stories of the intersection in a variety of forms, from essays and observations to conversations and overheard dialogue. There will be some original reporting. But the overall tone and approach will focus more on the experience of an observer.
I’m active in my neighborhood as both a reporter and resident. But working as a journalist means writing stories that answer questions, and I’ve discovered that sometimes there’s more magic in simply asking a question and letting it linger.
I hope some of these stories will do that.
Any intersection in any neighborhood could rightfully be labeled a microcosm of Minneapolis. But there’s something different about this place, something that suggests each isolated scene staged at the confluence of these streets is part of a larger and more cohesive narrative.
Maybe it’s because this is one of the few neighborhoods in the city dense enough to breed a vague claustrophobia, where people take with them to the streets their love and anger and curiosity and irritation and intensity and anxiety and carefully tended indifference, regardless of the hour or day or weather or season.
Maybe because those people seem afflicted by a chronic restlessness that leads them to find and create and embrace change.
Maybe because life at this intersection exudes a vibrancy and immediacy I’ve not seen paralleled elsewhere.
Maybe none of the above.
Still, there’s something here.
It’s in the infants in strollers, the teenagers on skateboards, the old women with canes, the couples, hand in hand. The anarchists on bikes, the businessmen in black sedans, the bus riders checking their watches, the musicians and the painters, the bearded homeless men asking for change.
The bass-driven beats from overdriven car stereos, the impatient car horns, the low growls of truck engines. The idle chatter of passersby, the single side of cell phone banter. And, after bar close, nothing but the dispossessed and the intoxicated, laughing and shouting and howling in the assumed direction of the moon.
The fights and the make-ups and the break-ups. The hugs and the handshakes, the waves, the shoulder brushes, innocuous or otherwise.
The garbage and delivery trucks in the morning and the school buses in the afternoon, the surfeit of cars stopped at every light change, the fire trucks and ambulances at all hours, and, occasionally, the hearse, leading a solemn procession south to the cemetery.
The sidewalk chalk and the graffiti, the lawn sprinklers and the sagged front porches.
The stories, stopping and passing, at all times.
This blog is an attempt to share these stories, to connect them with each other and begin to define life in this neighborhood, in this city. I don’t claim to possess the singular talent capable of that, nor do I expect to approach perfection. I only hope to write what I see and make connections where I can. I count on you to take away what you will and create definitions of your own.
Here we go.
Freelance writer Brian Voerding is a frequent contributor to the Journals.
To check out Brian Voerding’s new blog, go to www.26thandlyndale.com