Chanhassen Residents Voice Concerns Over Prince Property Plans

Last night, the Chanhassen City Planning Commission met to review Lennar’s preliminary concepts for the 188-acre parcel which is being sold by Prince’s estate. It was a standing-room-only event at Chanhassen’s City Hall.

When asked if Lennar currently owns the land, Joe Jablonski, Lennar’s director of land, said Lennar has a contract to purchase the property.

Prince’s land is the former site of his Galpin Boulevard house (as well as the former site of Larry Graham’s home). The property includes wetlands, pristine forest and extensive shoreline along both Lake Ann and Lake Lucy, two of Chanhassen’s nine lakes. Lake Lucy is populated by private residences, but Lake Ann is home to a popular public park, beach, tennis courts and baseball and soccer fields and is treasured by Chanhassen residents.

The above map shows the proposed expansion of Lake Ann Park (in green, with the red laser pointer indicating the completion of the walking trail). The proposed preserved woodlands and wetlands are shaded in light blue, to the left of the walking trails. The remainder of Prince’s land is in white, to the left of the preservation area.

Lennar presented two concepts for public comment. The first concept showed homes built on all of the available property, including the Lake Ann shoreline across from the public park. The second plan set aside land along Lake Ann for public use. It provided for the completion of the walking path around Lake Ann (there is an existing path that ends partway around the lake), the creation of additional trails, and preservation of some of the property’s wetlands and wooded areas. Both plans seemed to show 200 homes in the development.

The tradeoff for the preservation of the land in the second plan is a more densely populated neighborhood on the south end of the property, with lots of 6,000 square feet, which is significantly smaller than the average Chanhassen lot size of 15,000 square feet. (On the north end of Prince’s property, where the homes would be larger and close to Lake Lucy’s shoreline, the lot sizes would be 15,000 square feet).

For more than an hour, residents took the podium to share their concerns. Residents along the East and North sides of Lake Lucy voiced concerns over runoff caused by previous developers who used clear-cutting on forests, and which has harmed the quality of the lake. There was also concern over proposed traffic patterns. Residents along the South side of the proposed development voiced concerns about water issues that might be caused by the elimination of some of the existing wetlands. In all, there was a great deal of discussion about preserving Chanhassen’s natural resources which was entered into the public record.

Chanhassen, like many Western suburbs of Minneapolis, is experiencing continued development. When Prince purchased property here in the mid-80s, Chanhassen was a small town with a rural feel. Last night, city officials said that Chanhassen will be fully developed by 2040.

The meeting was only the beginning of a long process of discussing the development. The discussion will continue on Aug. 13 at the next meeting of the City Council.

 

 

 

 

 

Let the Prince Property Games Begin

 

News from Lake Wobegon: Chanhassen’s planning commission meets on July 17 to review an initial concept from Lennar for Prince’s former property on Galpin Road.

Some 200 houses are going to be built on the 185 acres that Prince owned. An influx of that many people is going to change Chanhassen, that much is certain. According to the news story in the Chanhassen Villager, the development may enable the city to expand Lake Ann Park and complete the loop so that you can walk the entire circumference of the lake.

How do you feel about seeing Prince’s property developed? Good? Bad? Indifferent?

 

 

 

Why a Shared Interest Will Make You a Better Person

 

It has come to my attention that not everyone loves Prince as much as I do.

This realization first surfaced about a year ago, when, at a cocktail party, I was chatting happily about my latest writing project, which of course involved the Purple One. As “Purple Me” babbled on, “normal civilian me” watched that person’s expression go from expressing polite interest to somewhat dismayed. I could practically see the thought bubble over his head, and inside, it said: “This person I am speaking with who appears normal on the surface is actually a Prince-obsessed lunatic.”

Fortunately, a waiter passed by with a tray of prosciutto-wrapped asparagus. I took the opportunity to interrupt my purple monologue by suddenly declaring myself to be starving, and abruptly shifting the conversation to hors d’oeuvres — much to the visible relief of my conversation partner.

One of the best things about life is how people take interest in the most esoteric things. There are clubs and hobbies for every interest under the sun, whether that’s collecting ceramic Hummel figurines or studying French Revolution’s role in advancing the Age of Enlightenment.

I’ve never been a fan of anything, with the possible exception of the Green Bay Packers. What I didn’t realize until 2016 came along and turned my life upside down, was how having a shared interest would make me a better person. I’m more invested in life, I’m more interested, I’m more engaged and best of all, I’ve found instant kinship with new friends.

Over to you: Have you ever had a moment like I did at the cocktail party? If so, how did you gracefully navigate the situation?

 

How to See Prince in a New Light

Prince’s infatuation with the third eye could provide clues to his personality type. Artist: Erika Peterson; @erikastrada

 

Allow me to introduce myself … my name is Laura, and I am addicted to personality tests. I love them all, from The Enneagram to Strengthsfinder and the Newcastle Personality Assessor (because maybe I would have a more appealing personality in England?).

But the one that I love most of all is the Myers Briggs personality test. Years ago, I even tested my own kids and wrote an article about how to use the results to become a better parent to each individual child. The practical take away? I learned that our oldest son enjoys being spontaneous while the rest of us are plodding planners. Imagine his ongoing suffering! Ha! I came up with a plan for improving his life by building “planned spontaneity” into our day. When I knew we were going out for ice cream, I wouldn’t share it until the last minute, and then sprang the news on him. He was overjoyed! There was nothing he loved better than dropping everything and running out at a moment’s notice! And of course, I was thrilled to have secretly planned it.

But on this blog, all roads lead to Prince, and so does this post (eventually).

Myers Briggs types are indicated by four letters. Here’s a quick overview of their meanings:

E or I = extrovert or introvert (how you gain your energy)

S or N = sensing or intuitive (how you take in information)

T or F = thinking or feeling (how you make decisions)

J or P = judging or perceiving (your lifestyle preference — judgers like their world structured and planned; perceivers prefer their world to be open-ended).

Like many writers, I’m an INFJ. You’ll find us alone in a room, struggling with the complexities of life.

Over to Prince’s personality type. As with many aspects of Prince, this is a mystery. But that will not stop me from attempting to understand him better by assigning a type to him!

For the first letter, simply based on the fact that Paisley Park exists and is an introvert’s dream, I’m going with “I.”

I’m also feeling strongly about the last letter, given his propensity for epic levels of spontaneity. I’m giving him a “P,” although it’s slightly less solid than the “I.” I do wonder if his spontaneity was less something in his nature than a tactic he used to get the best out of musicians and others working for him. Hmmm. Still – “P.”

After “I–P,” things get murky. As an “NF,” I can imagine Prince falling into that category … driven by his heart, making decisions based on his emotions, holding firm to his beliefs … but then there’s the empathy part, which is normally strong in “NF’s” and seems to be (how shall I put this gently?) lacking in Prince. Still, I’m willing to chalk up that anomaly to his difficult childhood. Prince’s complexity, his oddball-ness, his intense spirituality and religiosity and the way he very intentionally uses primal desire as a lure to draw us into what he truly wants — a shared experience of God — all this seems distinctly “NF” to me.

You might be able to convince me that the “N” should be an “S,” but I’m going with INFP, with ISFP and INFJ as runners-up. Here’s a good description of INFPs. And here’s a link to a free, fast Myers Briggs test.

Over to you: Do you know your Myers-Briggs type? What do you think of my assessment of Prince’s personality type?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great Gazoo

This is one of the first artworks I recall seeing in the Riley Creek tunnels outside of Paisley Park. It’s a favorite of mine, partly due to the sentiment of “Ride On,” which feels exactly like what Prince must be doing in the afterlife, and also due to the depiction of Prince not as a global superstar, but rather as a dude on a bike.

In the drawing, Prince is most emphatically not wearing a helmet. Instead, the silhouette of his Afro appears to be a kind of helmet. Why Prince disliked helmets isn’t clear, but what is clear is that I have never seen a photo of him wearing one. Perhaps Prince refused to put safety ahead of personal style. Or perhaps the helmet aversion was simply part of Prince’s nature as a rebel who resisted complying with rules.

Then a thought occurred: The dislike of helmets might have stemmed from a childhood nickname.

The Great Gazoo, from The Flintstones, was a tiny, green, helmet-wearing alien. Gazoo had been exiled for inventing a doomsday machine on his home planet of Zetox. On Planet Earth, Gazoo causes constant problems for Fred and Barney, even when ostensibly trying to help the two men.

“Hello, dum-dums.” The Great Gazoo arrives on planet Earth.

Terry Jackson, Prince’s childhood friend and the fourth member to join Prince’s teenage band, Grand Central, said the nickname was coined one day as a few friends were walking down the sidewalk of their Northside neighborhood. The sun at their backs cast long shadows in front of them. Prince’s shadow was particularly dramatic, given his huge round Afro and small body. Laughing, one of the guys declared Prince to be “The Great Gazoo.” Gazoo was small and seemed to float on air. Gazoo considered Fred and Barney to be clumsy and slow, and called them “dum-dums.” Like many nicknames, “Gazoo” had an element of truth, and had the effect of distancing Prince from the rest of the guys — something that would have felt (for lack of a better word) alienating.

According to Terry, the nickname “Gazoo” annoyed Prince. There’s an obvious reference to his stature that would certainly have provoked that irritated response. But on a deeper level, the nickname expressed the unspoken feeling that Prince was somehow different from the others. It was a feeling shared, at least at times, by Prince himself. “There’s so many reasons why, I don’t belong here,” Prince would write in his landmark 2014 song “Way Back Home.” The sentiment persisted throughout his life, and was echoed during a panel discussion at Celebration 2018, when dancer and photographer Nandy McClean referred to Prince as “a little alien.”

Prince was indeed a different breed of cat. As he moved beyond those early years on the Northside, he would learn to embrace that, and in doing so, would inspire others to value their own uniqueness.

Welcome!

Paisley Park (credit: the now-defunct “Paisley Park After Dark” Facebook page)

 

Welcome to my blog. I’m Laura, and I’m the author of The Rise of Prince: 1958-1988, a biography of music icon Prince Rogers Nelson.

Two years ago, my family moved to Minnesota. After arriving, I joined a fitness center and began taking a class that started at 6 a.m. As luck would have it, my route to the club was Highway 5. Driving west on that highway each morning, I noticed a white building lit up purple in the early dawn hours. I nearly drove off the road looking at it, day after day. Finally, I realized: This was the legendary Paisley Park, and somehow, we had landed only three miles away from my idol, the musician I’d loved ever since my teenage years — Prince. I was so excited to imagine my new life, where I would be able to attend the parties that he’d been hosting and to be part of the whole Paisley Park community.

Then, something awful happened. Only a month after we’d arrived in Minnesota, Prince died. Like millions of others, I was crushed. I was despondent. I had arrived too late to see Prince at his legendary compound. (The cry of “but I just got here!” wasn’t my first reaction to his death — although it may have been my second). Despite the fact that I was in a desperately busy season of life as a wife and mom of two boys who had just moved to a new state, plus a full-time director of communications for a company in New York, I knew I had to do something. I was a writer. I had somehow landed in Chanhassen, Prince’s home since 1986. He was suddenly, inexplicably gone. “There must be a reason I’m here,” I thought.

Through the magic of the fan site Prince.org, I got lucky and managed to track down Alex Hahn, the author of Possessed, my favorite book about Prince. Together, we went on to write The Rise of Prince: 1958-1988We published the book in February 2017.

But, the story doesn’t end there. Prince stories kept coming to me. As I went about my day, I’d meet people who knew him, and who wanted to share their stories. It happened at the grocery store, at the Post Office, and even at the Verizon store, where the sales clerk who fixed my phone turned out to the adorable little boy from “The Most Beautiful Girl in the World” video.

I knew I needed a place to share these stories with Prince fans and music lovers from all over the world, so I created this blog. You can come here to find all the latest Prince stories, direct from Chanhassen.

 

Celebration 2018 – Finale

 

As Celebration continued into Friday, Saturday and the Sunday finale, I started to think of the experience as Purple Summer Camp.

The first day, you run on adrenalin and excitement. This is going to be the best experience EVER. Around the halfway mark of day two, your energy flags. You look at your itinerary and all the activities you booked, and you realize you were insanely ambitious. You question whether you will survive the late nights, early mornings, crowds and nonstop activity. Maybe you need to go home. At summer camp, you’d send a whiny, plaintive postcard to your parents. At Celebration, you want to text your husband, but you can’t, since Paisley Park has locked your phone in a pouch. That’s a good thing, since your husband is already shouldering all of your daily family-related duties and doesn’t need to hear whining from you.

Day three dawns, and you have the best day ever. You are high on the experience and never want it to end. And on the fourth and final day, you feel sadder than sad and cling to your new friends while making somewhat unrealistic promises to visit them, no matter how far-flung the location may be.

I heartily recommend the experience. Like camp, it’s character-building.

In closing, I wanted to share two of the moments that will stick with me forever, like snapshots from camp.

DEAR PRINCE: I’m in line at the merchandise counter, waiting to purchase my overpriced-but-worth-it $50 Lovesexy tour shirt, which is so perfectly 1988 in color and design that I’m beside myself with joy. My other purchase is a purple notebook embossed with a gold love symbol. The cashier looks at the notebook and says, “I have one of these too. I call it my `Dear Prince’ notebook.” I ask her, why “Dear Prince”? “Because I write to him at night when I get home,” she replies. “I write stuff to him like, `Dear Prince, I was at your house today …'”

THE RED SUIT: The only time I saw Prince in concert was the Musicology tour. Bash me all you want for not being a true fan, but I’ve had hearing problems all my life due to a bazillion ear infections as a baby, and avoided concerts to protect the hearing I had left. Still, I was determined that I wasn’t going to go through life without seeing Prince. In 2004, when I saw Musicology, I had a two-year-old and hadn’t slept through the night in two years (or so it felt). As a result, my one, singular memory of that night is Prince, standing and facing the section where I was seated, in a bright red suit. I remember telling myself, “So Laura, that’s Prince.”

Imagine my surprise when we walked into Studio A to find that life-size mannequins had been set up, modeling several of his Musicology costumes. On one end of the display was a mannequin wearing the red suit. Chills shot through me, and as the tour guide talked, I have to admit that I checked out mentally. I went and stood shoulder-to-shoulder with that mannequin, inches away. I imagined Prince standing on the stage in that suit, frozen forever in my memory.

That mannequin and I, we had a little chat, and I told him all the things in my heart about being able to see him that one time, wearing the red suit.

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Celebration 2018 – Day One Report

 

On April 19, I took off my journalist hat and put on my raspberry beret to join fans at Celebration 2018.

Sitting amidst a sea of purple on opening night, in the massive soundstage inside Prince’s creative sanctuary of Paisley Park, the lights dimmed and a young, light-on-his-feet Prince appeared on the giant screen. As the iconic opening notes of “Nothing Compares 2 U” echoed through the sound system, we watched as the newly released official video of Prince’s never-heard (at least not by me) studio recording was unveiled.

Prince, a rising star in 1984 when the footage was shot at a rehearsal in an Eden Prairie warehouse, danced with pure joy and clowned with his band, exhibiting his patented brand of Prince impishness. Watching him, my mind flashed to the emotions I felt, when, as a 22-year-old cub reporter in a small town in Wisconsin, I received a job offer in Manhattan. The world was opening up, opportunities abounded, and I had a sense that not only anything, but everything, was possible.

I’m not sure I breathed for the full five minutes of the video. I was afraid that if I exhaled, Prince might vaporize, back into the ether. The shared longing in the room was palpable: If a thousand souls could will a departed soul back into human form, it would have happened in the Paisley Park soundstage that evening.

Later that night, we viewed the second show of the Jan. 21, 2016, “Piano and a Microphone” concert, held in the same Paisley Park soundstage where we were seated. In stark contrast to the 1984 rehearsal, there was no more dancing, and no more band. But there was clowning, this time with the audience. And there were tears. From listening to the audio of the “Piano and a Microphone” shows months earlier, I knew that Prince had left the stage a few times, but until I saw the video, I didn’t realize that he was crying. After playing “Purple Rain,” he left the stage, and when he returned, he set a wad of Kleenex on the piano. It was tough to watch. Still, his voice was clear and strong. What I will hold in my heart is the knowledge that his voice never left him.

The live concert that closed out the night was Sheila E., who sensed the somber mood (in our defense, it had been a rather sobering concert video), and gave the crowd a pep talk, insisting that after two years, the time for being sad was over. Amen to that. Seeing Sheila E. bring out her niece and nephew to play keyboards made me realize: They are the New, New Power Generation.

Sheila E. did wonders in lifting the heaviness of Day One. As it turned out, the grief of that night had served a purpose: It was driving us to where we needed to be.

Next: Day Two Finds Us Ready to Celebrate

Prince Gets the Academic Treatment

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Photo: Andrea Swensson of The Current gets a laugh with Prince’s reaction to host Dick Clark’s declaration on American Bandstand that “this is not the kind of music that comes from Minneapolis.” (photo credit: Emma Balazs) 

Full disclosure: I’m not an academic. Still, I eagerly anticipated the “Prince from Minneapolis” symposium at the University of Minnesota, held last week. Prince meets academia? Count me in! The symposium promised a glimpse into the inner workings of academia, as scholars began to process their thoughts on Prince’s legacy.

If the symposium is any indication, it will take a village of experts in a wide range of disciplines to do Prince justice. Psychology, theology, geography, musicology (and its cousin, geomusicology) were represented in the three-day event. Although Star-Tribune music writer Jon Bream expressed mixed emotions about the event, I thoroughly enjoyed hearing academics apply terms like “eschatology” to Prince’s work. (And yes, only through the good graces of Google did I manage to figure out that “eschatology” was the part of theology concerned with the ultimate destiny of humanity, and thus linked to Prince’s line of reasoning that we might as well party like it’s 1999).

Each morning, it was great fun to enter the hallowed halls of the Hubert Humphrey School of Public Affairs to the sounds of Prince bootlegs echoing through the atrium. In an only-in-Minneapolis scene, symposium speakers and attendees decked out in purple hugged each other in greeting while starting the day with coffee and starfish-shaped cookies. After a keynote and two days of panel discussions ranging from “Spiritualities” to “Gender and Sexuality” and “Celebritydom,” my biggest take-away was simple: It’s a big happiness boost to share a mutual, meaningful interest with a like-minded group of people. In fact, the event was such a boost that I hope that one day, after everyone catches their breath and catches up on sleep, organizer and University of Minnesota associate professor Arun Saldanha and his committee will see fit to host a second symposium, so we can see how far academia has come in its study of Prince.

Below, a few favorite moments:

Chazz Smith, Prince’s cousin, shared stories of Prince at age eight, already acting as a bandleader by dictating which kid would play which instrument in their newly created band, even though none of them had any experience with those instruments. Because Prince said they could do it, they believed they could, too – and they did.

Steve McClellan, the former manager of First Avenue, recalled that he barely saw the Aug. 3, 1983 premier of the Purple Rain material, because he was “battling guest list problems” caused by a massive array of lists and people demanding to be allowed inside. Still, he remembered the gift Prince made to the Minnesota Dance Theater as “profound” and the largest he’d ever seen. On being involved in Prince’s early years, he said, “I was saying good-bye to Prince in ’83 and ’84, when most people were saying hello.”

Rashad Shabazz, a geomusicologist from Arizona State University, discussed the relationship of music to place, and shared information on T.P. Giddings, supervisor of music for Minneapolis Public Schools from 1910-1942, who was hired when Minneapolis decided to invest in music training. As a result, working-class children got a top-notch music education. (Peripherally, that training apparently gave rise to a top-notch Twin Cities polka scene). Polka music aside, the legacy of that program included Prince, who notably never played the accordion (although I wouldn’t put it past him).

Finally, Zach Hoskins (who runs the essential princesongs.org blog), speaking on the “Place” panel, reminded us where Prince himself believed he resided, and it wasn’t Minneapolis, or for that matter, Planet Earth. In 2007, actor Matt Damon met Prince at an event and in an effort to make small talk, asked Prince if he was still living in Minnesota. Prince’s response: “I live inside my own heart, Matt Damon.”

 

In a Puff of Purple Smoke, Celebration 2018 and Prince from Mpls Symposium Are Done

Greetings from Chanhassen, a place that feels slightly less funky today as members of the Purple Army make their way back to their respective home cities after Celebration 2018. For me as an author, attending the Prince from Minneapolis Symposium, followed by Celebration, the past week was an opportunity to share our book with those who somehow hadn’t heard about The Rise of Prince (imagine that!). As a fan, it was an experience of camaraderie, warmth and good humor. I found everyone to be not only friendly and kind, but exceedingly polite and considerate of each other, given that there were a lot of us inside Paisley at the same time. Doors were held for others, garbage was thrown away, bathrooms were kept clean. I wish my own sons would take note!

While Celebration isn’t cheap, if you can swing it, I’d recommend doing it once, simply to soak in every possible emotion you’ve ever had about Prince in a giant soundstage full of people feeling the same way. We experienced everything from the ugly cry after watching Prince’s second performance of January 21, 2016, to joyous jumping and singing along to the Funk Soldiers (an NPG-derived group who did double duty in performing at the Target Center on Friday and Paisley Park on Saturday).

This week, I’ll be posting about some of the notable panels and performances, including “Prince: Live on the Big Screen” (potentially coming soon to a city near you, according to Joel Weinshanker of Graceland Holdings).

For now, as I begin to reflect on a week that was by turns exhausting and exhilarating, the strongest emotion I have is awe. It’s not awe about what Prince did musically, although of course that is awe-inspiring. I’m in awe of the way that Prince reached across every possible line that divides us to build an enormously diverse fan base. In an age when it feels like our leaders are working to divide us, it was striking to see Prince’s fan base demonstrate that diversity and unity can co-exist. The second feeling is one of gratitude to many of Prince’s associates, who turned out and made themselves available to fans, and in doing so greatly enriched everyone’s experience. Stacia LangKim BerryDonna GregorySteve Parke, Ingrid Chavez, Nandy and Maya McLean and many more were simply walking around Paisley during our tours, or hanging out at events with the rest of us.

Did anyone else go to Celebration or the Symposium? Any initial thoughts?

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April snow persisted at Paisley Park

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Hoping some of the fairy dust rubs off on me