Fear and Loving in South Minneapolis


Jim Walsh
Foreword by Tommy Mischke

A veteran Twin Cities journalist and raconteur summons the life of the city after reporting and recording its stories for more than thirty years

Columnist, freelance writer, and genuinely curious reporter Jim Walsh collects the encounters and adventures and lives that make a city hum—and make South Minneapolis what it is. The Minneapolis that he maps is a matter of heart, of urban life built on human connections: the everyday interactions, ordinary people, and quiet moments create an extraordinary picture of a city’s life.

As fine a writer as the Twin Cities has ever spawned.

Bob Collins, Minnesota Public Radio

Two or three times a week, as a columnist, hustling freelance writer, and genuinely curious reporter, Jim Walsh would hang out in a coffee shop or a bar, or wander in a club or on a side street, and invariably a story would unfold—one more chapter in the story of Minneapolis, the city that was his home and his beat for more than thirty years. Fear and Loving in South Minneapolis tells that story, collecting the encounters and adventures and lives that make a city hum—and make South Minneapolis what it is.

Here is a man who drives around Minneapolis in a van that sports a neon sign and keeps a running tally of the soldiers killed in Iraq. Here is another, haunted by the woman he fell in love with, and lost, many years ago at the Minnesota Music Café on St. Paul’s East Side. Here are strangers on a cold night on the corner of Forty-sixth and Nicollet, finding comfort in each other’s company in the wake of the shootings in Paris. And here are Walsh’s own memories catching up with him: the woman who joined him in representing “junior royalty” for the Minneapolis Aquatennial when they were both seven years old; the lost friend, Soul Asylum’s Karl Mueller, recalled while sitting on his memorial bench at Walsh’s go-to refuge, the Rose Gardens near Lake Harriet. These everyday interactions, ordinary people, and quiet moments in Jim Walsh’s writing create an extraordinary picture of a city’s life.

James Joyce famously bragged that if Dublin were ever destroyed, it could be rebuilt in its entirety from his written works. The Minneapolis that Jim Walsh maps is more a matter of heart, of urban life built on human connections, than of streets intersecting and literal landmarks: it is that lived city, documented in measures large and small, that his book brings so vividly to mind, drafting a blueprint of a community’s soul and inviting a reader into the boundless, enduring experience of Fear and Loving in South Minneapolis.

Jim Walsh is a writer, journalist, columnist, and songwriter. He is author of The Replacements: All Over but the Shouting and, with Dennis Pernu, The Replacements: Waxed-Up Hair and Painted Shoes. The Photographic History. His most recent books are Bar Yarns and Manic-Depressive Mixtapes and Gold Experience: Following Prince in the ’90s (both from Minnesota). A former music editor at City Pages and pop music columnist at the St. Paul Pioneer Press, he has published in Rolling Stone, SPIN, Village Voice, LA Weekly, Melody Maker, Billboard, and Utne Reader.

Tommy Mischke is a writer, musician, podcaster, and former radio talk show host from Minnesota. A former columnist for City Pages, he hosts the podcast The Mischke Roadshow.

As fine a writer as the Twin Cities has ever spawned.

Bob Collins, Minnesota Public Radio

Throughout this generous, sprawling, and haunted (yes, it is) volume, characters rise and descend, slip into still lake waters on dark summer nights and emerge luminous; they wail and sing, and we don’t need to know the difference between; for in Jim Walsh’s telling (and as his Irish ancestors knew too well) sorrow invariably moves into bright song, and song—no matter how buoyantly intoned—is forever laced with melancholy and loss. This is what it means to love profoundly and without condition, as Jim seems to love not only his town but us as well. The place he describes feels to be both lost to the past, and yet somehow still in the process of becoming. Jim is the most faithful of narrators, and as such, be prepared: the story he tells might just be your own.

Joe Henry, Grammy Award–winning producer/singer/songwriter/author

Jim Walsh gives us genuine affection in revealing the soul of growing up in South Minneapolis. Home to so many of us, born and bred. The treatment bound, the ain’t never gonna leave’s. Lapsed midwesterners, returning prodigal daughters and sons. Death, drunks, democrats. Dads and dogs. Brother Walsh is the ride or die guardian angel of all teenage prayers.

Mary Lucia, host on The Current

To some, Jim Walsh is a modern-day troubadour. To others, he's simply ‘The Dude.’ Whichever is the case, in this volume that is at times rollicking, irreverent, always poignant and even sentimental, though never maudlin, he writes beautifully about Minneapolis, the city he deeply loves. One can't help but see that love with each page and each vignette crafted by a master who knows that to best feel the soul of the city, one must spend time with its individuals, and to know them truthfully, one must ‘hear’ the stories they inhabit. In Fear and Loving in South Minneapolis, Jim shares with us his eyes and ears, along with his own soul that brings them all together.

William D. Green, author of The Children of Lincoln: White Paternalism and the Limits of Black Opportunity in Minnesota, 1860-1876

The essays and columns by Jim Walsh that resonate with me most in Fear and Loving in South Minneapolis center around his observations of the beautiful natural spaces in our city. Now more than ever, we are turning to our parks and lakes to find solace in these tremendously tumultuous and challenging times. We should all take time to savor these beautiful places like Jim does and renew our spirits.

Sarah McKenzie, former editor of the Southwest & Downtown Journals

He writes lovingly about how the light changes over the lakes, the human parade in public places, and his need to connect with the human condition.

St. Paul Pioneer Press

Readers will come to know and love the people and places of the author’s Lake Harriet neighborhood.

Star Tribune

Readers will come to know and love the people and places of the author's Lake Harriet neighborhood.

Minnesota Alumni Magazine



Tommy Mischke


1. Stay Warm

Just Read the Newspaper

“It Feels Like a Brighter Day”

Citizen Berquist: The Man with the Van

Misanthropes for $500, Alex

Confessions of a Commodore

The Santa Claus Diaries, 1989

2. Nature City

Stop and Smell the Rose Gardens

Lucky Us

Summer of the Super Sunsets

Seize the Light

Loving Lake Harriet

Harriet Lovejoy was Here


3. Family Ties

From Colombia, with Love

Thanks Given

Finding Henry

Police Off My Kid’s Back

Fire Alarm Fluffy

An Ambulance Chaser Is Born

Letter to a Young Soccer Parent

4. I’m Only One

Thanks for The Skerch, Dad

My Hobby Is Lonely

Why Sylvia? Why Now?

Gold Experience at First Avenue

The Tao of Spring Forest Qigong

Krista Tippett and the Wisdom of ‘On Being’

Fear and Loving in South Minneapolis

Walking the Path

Being the Buddha at Mile 8

5. Hootenanny

Peace, Love, and Bobby Sherman

Mad Ripple

Rings of Fire (Brothers United)

Sing Out!

Minneapolis to Montana

The First Dad Rock Column in the History of Rock Criticism


This Week’s Best Bet: Shhh . . .

Crossroads Again

Dan Israel and the Struggle


That Thing You Do!


Inside the Hollow Square: Shape-Note Singing from the Heart

Gather ’Round Children, And Ye Shall Hear A Tale of Standing in Actual Physical Line for Tickets

In Praise of Great Expectations

6. Famous Lasting Words

A Lesson before Dying

Famous Lasting Words

Working Stiffs

Tears in Heaven

Family Man

Notes from Karl’s Bench

The Day David Bowie Died

The Funeral Singer

7. Falling in Love with Everything I Have

Two Hearts are Better than One

Brilliant Disguise

Because the Night

I Wanna Be where the Bands Are (The Autograph Man)

She’s the One

Reason to Believe

Drive All Night (Desperately Seeking Denise)

Glory Days

Back to Minneapolis

Publication History