Who Can Turn the World on With Her Smile?

The great actress and comedienne Mary Tyler Moore died on Wednesday. She got her start on television playing Laura on The Dick Van Dyke Show, and later starred in her own show, simply named, The Mary Tyler Moore Show.

When my family moved to the Twin Cities in 1973 from Pakistan, the show was already a hit. Having lived outside of the US nearly all of my life, I knew little about life and culture here. Sitting down to watch the show with my family every weekend was an important piece of my “re-enculturation.” It was especially exciting to see my new hometown featured in the opening credits. It remains one of my favorite shows to catch on DVD.

Because the show was set in Minneapolis, it has always had a special place in the hearts of Minnesotans. Here’s what the Minneapolis StarTribune notes had to say:

In the process of creating a pop-culture icon, Moore and the show sold the Twin Cities as a progressive metropolis.

To this day, tourists cruise through the Kenwood neighborhood to catch a glimpse of the Victorian house where Richards resided during the show’s early seasons. In 2002, the city of Minneapolis and TV Land teamed up to erect a statue on the Nicollet Mall, commemorating the moment in the opening credits in which Richards hurls her tam in the air after a satisfying day of shopping.

In 1999, Entertainment Weekly named the shot as the second-greatest moment in TV history, behind only John Kennedy’s assassination and funeral.

StarTribune columnist James Lileks produced a short video on the impact the show had on our city. You can see it here.

Minnesota Public Radio also did a nice story yesterday on how Mary Tyler Moore made Minneapolis a star.

And just for memories, here is a clip of a scene that is often ranked as one of the greatest TV scenes of all time, from “Chuckles the Clown’s Funeral.” (email readers, go here to see the video)

Farewell, Mary! Thanks for the laughs, and for helping me adjust to live in America!

Friday Photo: Minneapolis

In December, we did a family outing to the museum and observation deck of the Foshay Tower, Minneapolis’ first skyscraper. Completed in 1929, and modeled after the Washington Monument, the art deco building was the tallest building in the city until 1972. Today it is a hotel. You can see the reflection of the Foshay in the neighboring glass building. If the weather is great, as it was when we visited, the observation deck offers a great view of the Twin Cities.


If you’re in Minneapolis or have plans to visit, and the weather is decent, this is definitely worth a visit.

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Ode to St. Albert’s Fish Fry

Last night, a bunch of us trudged through the newly fallen snow to partake in a great Minnesota tradition, the Friday Night Fish Fry. Sponsored every year by local Catholic churches, clubs, and bars, they are the community event of choice during the Lenten Season.

For the past few years, my family and friends have gathered at a VFW post in St. Paul, but this year we decided to branch out and try one of the dinners hosted at a Catholic Church.

An online search led us to a Mpls. St. Paul Magazine article which proclaimed that St. Albert the Great Catholic Church in Minneapolis serves the best fish dinner in town: 

St. Albert the Great is the big dog, feeding a ton of tilapia to some 800 people on Friday nights without breaking a sweat (two lines, people). Plus classic bingo twice nightly, cash raffles, and real homemade church-lady desserts. Extra parking one block to the north with a looping shuttle.

With a recommendation like that, who could resist? The fish, mashed potatoes, spaghetti, coleslaw, and yummy homemade desserts did NOT disappoint, and everyone was so friendly. A good time was had by all. 

St. Alberts Fish Dinner

In honor of the occasion, my brother-in-law set the evening to verse:

Ode to St. Albert’s Fish Fry, by Jeff W.


A few said, “We’ve had enough, that’s all!

Not another visit to South St. Paul!”

From the city of sin they heard the call,

Should we try St. Albert?


At the VFW the fish was fine,

And sure you could order both beer and wine,

“The macaroni is awful” was a common whine,

And tipped the scale toward St. Albert.


The new place was rated on a pescatarian blog,

Endorsed by Clifford the Big Red Dog,

The dear Saint’s statue cradles a frog,

On the corner near St. Albert.


A German theologian honored by Rome,

An odd combination under St. Peter’s dome,

They all should have returned to their Orthodox home,

Not that stubborn Kraut St. Albert.


Within the walls of the church was a smoking ban,

The fish isn‘t smoked, it is cooked in a pan,

They even locked the pipe smoking Prince in the can!

Such is the way of St. Albert.


Fish baked or fried, spaghetti too,

Leave room for dessert when the main course is through,

You may want a chocolate chip cookie or two,

Sweets for the sweet at St. Albert.


Dress is casual, you can wear jeans,

All types of folks, oldsters and teens,

They pack ‘em all in like a bunch of sardines,

Ten bucks per plate at St. Albert.


A whole bunch of friends and a table of food,

Piano music playing to set the mood,

They even serve Baptists, they don’t exclude,

Thanks be to God, and St. Albert.

Related Post: Friday Fish Fry