Welcome to DISPATCH

Times change. The Arts & Culture scene here in Minneapolis and St. Paul sure has changed, too.

For years Secrets of the City has delivered the best in Arts & Culture events and coverage. The newsletter—once daily, and then a few times a week, and then not for awhile during pandemic, and then again when it made sense—has literally sent thousands of people to events around the area since it spun off from The Rake magazine waaay back in 2008.

Long story short, welcome to the new and improved DISPATCH. Same great curated events, same insightful and irreverent commentary, same over-educated, disaffected and highly active readers—but with a few important changes.

Everyone we talk to these days says, “Hey, you should really have a website and do some print!”

Ok, done! Along with this new throwback old school website, we’ll be launching our first print edition with the April issue—and we’re hoping to make it a regular thing, since May is already in the works, too.

Why print? Our readers deserve it, our scene deserves it. In honestly, we never knew how good we had it. When Secrets first came online there was a glut of Arts & Culture media here in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Free publications, zines, blogs, all of it. Even two alt-weeklies!

We hope to provide the kind of support that will support the scene, including the people who make it happen. Minneapolis-St. Paul is currently in the golden era of music, of film, of art, of food, of so much that it’s hard to even keep up, much less celebrate.

The guiding light for DISPATCH will still be the same as it ever was, bon vivant Andy Sturdevant’s essay from 2010, Feeling Minnesota: Art in an Outpost. Two graphs in particular have stuck with us and anchored our direction:

This region is an outpost in the art world. It’s clean and it’s well-read and it’s a great place to live, but it’s still an outpost. It’s not New York; it’s not even Chicago. And when you are an artist that has chosen to live and work in an outpost, it’s because you’re either somehow trapped by circumstances, or (more likely) you’ve made a conscious decision to do so. Artists choose to live here not because they want to get rich or successful or famous or to hang out with art stars, but because they have something here — some understanding of the place, or some attachment or obligation to it — that they feel compelled to honor in their own work.

and also

Four years later, in 1938, a WPA writer said of the Minnesota artists of the period: “[They] were through with mere prettiness. Shocked comment and sharp criticism did not deter them. True, they made few sales, but they were used to that, and they were thoroughly enjoying themselves as they plunged into a succession of lively experiments…[these] artists have been unsparing with their social comments.” And in that observation we see before us a still-recognizable mythical archetype of the Minnesota artist: independent, socially engaged, unsullied by crass commercial considerations and unbothered by the repressive, frozen disapproval of the humorless Lutheran majority. You can probably think of a dozen well-known Minnesota artists to whom this description would apply (you could probably come up with a dozen more who’d happily apply it to themselves).

~Andy Sturdevant, Feeling Minnesota: “Art in an Outpost

The artists of Minneapolis-St. Paul—the writers, the musicians, the actors, the poets, the filmmakers, the comedians, the indie wrestlers, the bookers—deserve some celebration and some chronicling.

For those who might not remember—or weren’t around back then—Secrets of the City started out as a “front of book” section in the excellent, free monthly publication The Rake. If you want to feel how long ago that was, just check out the website. The Rake was launched as a monthly magazine in March 2002 and in March 2008, it went to online only, spinning off both Secrets of the City and joining up with a weird little blog called MNSpeak. “Whether you admire or abhor it, few forums in the Twin Cities have had the staying power and influence of MnSpeak.com,” is how Minnpost described it at the time. When it came to Secrets, the Star Tribune threw out, “In the end, a crunchy mess”.

Here’s to the next several years of staying power, messy or not.

Pictured: A shot of the wall from the old Triple Rock Social Club (1998-2017) as a reminder of things past and their influence on our re-emerging present

Thanks to the heavy hitters at Seiche.works for their support in our relaunch!

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