North American Bear Center

The North American Bear Center in Ely, Minnesota is an ursine Eden, two and a half acres full of everything that black bears like. They’ve trees to climb, clover to loll on, and a pond to go sploosh in. There are bunchberries, chokecherries, and hazelnuts, and plenty more exotic snacks doled out by the caretakers. There are even other bears. To see the bear getting along exactly how it would most like to, you couldn’t visit any place better.

Blue Sun Soda Shop

Mark Lazarchic is a serial entrepreneur. He owns Renaissance Fireworks, the pop-up tents of which manifest themselves in every other parking lot throughout the Twin Cities by about late June. He makes his biggest killing in wedding sparklers, as his company Wedding Day Sparklers is the country’s greatest provider of them. His Blue Sun Soda Shop in Spring Lake Park is decidedly not one of his more lucrative endeavors. “It doesn’t make any money because I keep investing in new $#!&,” explained Mark. “But if you’re doing something just for the money…well, then you should just get a job.”


Conservatives in the literary world may claim to prefer their plays unadulterated, but without the occasional update to a classic work we would be missing so much. One would shudder to imagine theater without West Side Story, an adaptation of Romeo and Juliet, and we’d all be much poorer off without The Muppet Christmas Carol. Rent, an adaptation of Giacomo Puccini’s La Boheme by Jonathan Larson, is in that same boat, and it’s one of the glowingest examples of how setting a classic in the modern era can so greatly improve upon it. (Let’s keep Madama Butterfly intact forever, though.)