I would like to say a few more things about trains. 

The other day, I got stuck at train crossings three times as I drove in and out of downtown or to and from Moorhead.  For some reason, I’ve become used to stop and go traffic on 394, yet become incredibly annoyed by train crossings.

During my freshman year of college, I enrolled in a May term in which we stayed at a men’s homeless shelter in San Bernardino, CA.

We drove LA’s freeways in the mission’s minivan.  We observed an ELCA Synod Meeting in which members criticized the mission for ordaining a lesbian pastor.  We participated in a spoken word event at a coffee shop, sitting cross legged on the cold concrete floors of an unfinished basement, puzzled, when a man recited a poem about raping the floor.  We learned the business basics of drug dealing, noticed the inaccessibility of community resources, and tried to stupidly jog around a local school’s track while the wildfires blazed in the horizon (the student who attempted this while high was stupider).  We watched young children carefully wrap half their dinners in napkins to share with their families, and avoided the advances of the predatory man who cooked our food.

We also made friends who visited our college throughout the remainder of my undergraduate years.

One year, staff from the mission came to stay with faculty from the University of Northern Iowa and we met them at a bonfire hosted by Campus Ministry.  Some of the visitors were uneasy in the quiet, starry sky and wide open spaces.  With wide eyes, they kept looking over their shoulders for coyotes which they were convinced could ambush our gathering at any time.

I feel the same unease at empty, rural railroad tracks.  I’ve walked solo to sketchy parking ramps at night in Downtown Minneapolis and lived and worked on the Northside.  Yet, place me, alone, near dusty railroad tracks surrounded by warehouse or industrial buildings and I want to crap my pants.

Hodo Lounge
101 Broadway N.
Fargo, ND 58102

Recently we’ve had the opportunity to try food at a couple of local restaurants.

One evening, we met friends at the Hodo Lounge, located in the Hotel Donaldson.

We shared the Sesame Crusted Ahi Tuna appetizer, $15, garnished with “crab salad and spicy avocado sauce.”

The high point of this appetizer was the silky slices of seared tuna, raw on the inside.  I also enjoyed the spicy component lent by the sauce.  I was not as crazy about the plentiful seaweed salad beneath the tuna, which struck me as sweet.  Sweet, like the seaweed salad at Masu in Minneapolis, MN.  Feel free to educate me about Japanese-style seaweed salad.  Is it supposed to be this sweet?

The crab salad that garnished the top was mysterious.  I’m not sure I liked this crab salad component of julienned carrot and some kind of white, fishy substance.  The crab and carrot’s taste and texture was similar to fake crab or fish cake, but the texture was soft and chewy, as was the tuna, and the seaweed salad.  A crunchy texture would have lent some variety.

I ordered the special, hand tossed pizza of the day for $20.  Our waitress described it as being dressed with a creamy sauce that may have contained truffle, bacon, red pepper, and spinach.

What arrived was a large, cracker crust pizza.  The creamy sauce, bacon, and cheese made this pizza rich and I was full after a couple pieces.  The pizza could have been balanced with an acid component like drizzle of reduced balsamic or spritz of lemon and it tasted much better the next morning.  The pizza was tasty, but I would knock the price down about $5.

I stole a bite of Jake’s bison burger, $11, and it was divine.

The meat was loosely packed, richly flavored, and medium rare.  The locally-sourced bison tasted similar to beef, except more earthy and irony and I could discern the sweetness from the caramelized onion.  The accompanying fries looked and tasted house-made and were nicely sea-salted.

Usher’s House
700 1st Avenue N.
Moorhead, MN 56560

During the week, I met with a group over beer to discuss an incident where an Assistant Principle called a student “Buckwheat” and made him cover the rosary he had been wearing.  This article states the police department advised the school to create a policy banning rosaries because “they are used in some parts of the country as an identifier of gang affiliation.”  Do “some parts of the country” necessarily equal Fargo-Moorhead?  The article also includes a side note explaining the significance of Buckwheat because this racial slur is so archaic.  I live in the land of archaic racial slurs, people.

One attendee shared a copy of an online Facebook discussion in which a woman, whom I shall call Susan, vehemently denied the incident contained racist overtones and said the young student should have been flattered when referenced as “Buckwheat.”  That it was a compliment.  Just like I should be flattered by Applebee’s “Oriental Chicken Salad.”

FYI: Oriental is out. Asian is in.  In case you didn’t get the memo, the term “Oriental” is actually an offensive, archaic term.  So much so, that Seattle has banned the use of the term in state and local legislation.  This article written by Lee and published by New York University discusses the term “oriental” below:

“In a July 1, 2002 Seattle Times article, Shin, a Korean war orphan explained that the word ‘Oriental’ was offensive because it was first used to signify everything east of London and later on to characterize people with flat noses, small eyes, black hair and mysterious ways.”

So, my dear Susan, you may notice us minority folk gawking in disbelief.  In the words of my third favorite Caucasian male, Larry David, “We talk, Susan.  We talk.”

I ordered the Chicken Wrap, $10.  The online description does not accurately describe what I received, so I’m guessing the actual, restaurant, paper menu may have been more up to date.

The wrap was nicely grilled and toasty.  The inside contained chunks of chicken breast, romaine lettuce, plenty of bacon, cheese, some kind of mild corn salsa, blue cheese and vinaigrette.  The chicken breast was a little dry and blue cheese overwhelming, but it was edible.  The sandwich came with sweet potato fries which were delicious and perfectly salted.  The whole sandwich came with a small cup of sweet chili sauce which made a pleasant dip for the fries.  The wrap was large and, with the fries, was a good value for $10.

The venue was also a conducive for a group discussion and the service was stellar.