My Minneapolis Apartment, 1999-2001

In January, I posted about finding my notes from apartment hunting in Minneapolis. Since then, I’ve been thinking about some of the high(low) lights of living in the apartment that was the result of that search.

The apartment was located above an establishment called Bryant Lake Bowl. Establishing shot:

Bryant Lake Bowl in Minneapolis.
Usual reaction from people: “You lived above a bowling alley? Wow, that must have been noisy.” Yes! But not because of the obvious reason. There is a small theater space connected to the restaurant/bowling lanes and, when I lived there, the person who booked the space had a predilection for hip hop.

If it had been a matter of listening to muffled one-person shows about say, dating disasters or the pitfalls of dieting, it would have been OK.

But on any given night I could be besieged by a rap attack. By all rights, I should have become quite a hip hop scenester after listening to all these shows. I should be running Rhymesayers Entertainment with the iron fist of someone like Suge Knight right now.

What made it worse was my worry over the noise. I would go to bed and worry about not sleeping. Sometimes I would just listen to the show. At around 2 a.m. I would drift into sleep. But if it happened to be a Thursday, I would be awakened by the crash of a recycling truck picking up an enormous dumpster of glass bottles, lifting it high in the air and letting them come crashing down in apoplectic mayhem at 7 a.m.

Re: living above a bowling alley: One evening a woman I sort of knew through work called and left a message saying said that she and a bunch of friends were going bowling at Bryant Lake Bowl. At first, I thought this meant she wanted me to come down and go bowling with them. She proceeded to say that she knew I lived above BLB and would I be able to lend her a pair of socks? Because they wouldn’t let her bowl without socks and she wasn’t wearing any. I did not call her back.

Video Rental
I became a regular at the video store also located on the ground floor of my apartment building called Panorama Video. You can see it in this photo:

My apartment faced the back of the building.

Having that entire library of movies in my basement was a draw when I rented the apartment. Unfortunately, my laziness sometimes knows no bounds. I checked out piles of videos and “forgot” to return them.

It didn’t matter that I passed the entrance of the store every single time I left my apartment. It didn’t matter that they had a 24-hour drop slot. I just couldn’t seem to… pick up… that heavy stack… of videos… and return it.

So I had a $45 fine. Or was that my library fine? I can’t remember. Actually, I may have owed the video store even more, like $60 or $70. I definitely owed the library $45 at one point. And I paid it!

The video fine I didn’t feel I could pay (this is nothing against Panorama!). Luckily, they didn’t have the Draconian laws of, say, a Blockbuster where they put a collection agency on your ass or charged a credit card they kept on file. Or cut off your hands.

But I couldn’t rent any more videos there, which seemed fair. That put me in the position of having to go out to rent movies someplace else. I would go down my steps, pass the video store and drive to another video store.

When I lived in this apartment my job was located about 1 ½ blocks away. I would still, sometimes, be late for work. Maybe this was because my job involved sitting in a basement that smelled like natural gas but it also could have had something to do with a bad attitude.

This job was at a photography gallery which would, once a year, have an auction of photographs to raise money. The day before the event, a meth lab was busted in the gallery’s building. A guy pretending to have a business locating office furniture for other businesses (a pretty good front), was actually cooking meth.

I found out about this when I walked out of my apartment building, looked down my street and saw guys in hazmat suits. The block was cordoned off. I was kinda happy because it meant I didn’t have to go to work. I went back upstairs.

My boss was not so happy. He showed up at my apartment (which was amazing because I was never sure the guy remembered my last name) and buzzed me. I came down and found him and the other full-time employee standing there.

“Let’s get breakfast,” he said.

We ended up having a morose breakfast at Bryant Lake Bowl and watched the proceedings a block away. This is when it hit me that the fake office furniture provider/meth cooker could have hurt us by blowing up the building. I could have died in the basement, sitting at my pressed plywood desk and that’s not the way I would choose to go.

My boss was really bummed out. “Are we gonna be able to have the party?” he said. He wanted to raise money but he also wanted to have an excuse to drink and hit on women.

I would have been fine not having the party because, having planned it, I knew there were a lot of things left unplanned. But somehow the authorities were able to get the place cleaned up in time for the party and we were given the OK to return to the building.

The windows of my apartment above Bryant Lake Bowl.
My glorious windows - kitchen, living room.

 The Leak
At some point during my residence in this apartment, the roof started to leak. When I say leak, I mean “stream.” One night I returned in the wee hours of the morning, during a rainstorm, and found a steady stream of water raining down on my coffee table.

The table itself, (more pressed plywood, a recurring theme in my life during the late 90’s/early 00s) was OK except where it got stained with typewriter ink that ran out of the antique typewriter ribbon tins I’d displayed on the table. Sometimes being twee gets you nowhere good.

In a panic, I called my landlords. The husband part of the duo said to go out into the hall, get the enormous garbage bin located there and put it under the water stream.

Which I did.

That was the final word from them on the subject. Every time it rained I was putting the enormous garbage bin in my living room. It was a rainy period.

After a few weeks, I took to the Internet and discovered that there was a Procedure to follow to get action from landlords. Step one was to send a certified letter asking for action. I copied the letter, made it fit my situation and sent it off.

The very next day I got a tearful call from the wife.

“In all the years of owning the building, we’ve never received a letter like this,” she said. “How could you? Don’t you know my husband is sick? How is he supposed to deal with the stress of this?”

“But my living room…” I said. “My coffee table… My books… Ink…”

“This is awful,” she said. “You’re insensitive.”

I did not know her husband was sick. I must have missed that certified letter and the memo they posted by the mailboxes. After a few minutes of shaming me, she said someone would be hired to patch the roof. On their timeline, of course. I felt bad, so I didn’t do any more complaining.

They did fix the roof eventually. I think they piped about a ton of tar up there and hoped for the best.

Good Times
There were some good things about this apartment! Since I lived alone, I was free to do what I wanted, whenever I wanted. I discovered the joy of eating popcorn for dinner. I spent time with my cat, when she was not locked in the bathroom for going insane and jumping on everything. This was a very insane cat.

Here is an example of her badness – climbing into a partially open drawer and becoming entangled in string, plastic bags, etc.

My cat Ella in a kitchen drawer. Naughty!

Also, my husband and I had just started dating, so we spent a lot of time there. I watched the first season of Survivor and I watched J. Lo and Diddy get in that kerfluffle over the Christmas-time shooting in a New York club.

Even if it was less than ideal, it was special because it was the last place I lived alone. When I moved out, it was to co-habit with my boyfriend/now husband, leaving my single-gal life behind.