This series features awesome NON-Jews of the Twin Cities. They might not be members of the Tribe, but hey, nobody’s perfect. Plus, we’re all about inclusivity here at TCJ. A mensch is a mensch!
This month’s Honorable Menschion is Tom Weber, host of “MPR News with Tom Weber” which airs weekdays at 11am on Minnesota Public Radio. A Chicago native, Tom has been with MPR since 2008, most notably as co-host of The Daily Circuit morning show. He is the author of “100 Things to Do in the Twin Cities Before You Die”, part of an anthology of “to-do’s” in cities around the country. I recently met with him at the Phoenix Theater in Uptown Minneapolis, where you can regularly see both of us perform improv comedy.
Max Leibowitz: Tom Weber, congratulations on being TC Jewfolk’s Honorable Menschion this month!
Tom Weber: It’s an honor.
ML: Your new book is awesome! But one thing I initially reacted to was that the word “DIE” is so prominently featured on the cover, yet the book is a light and enjoyable read. Any thoughts?
TW: I had absolutely no say over the name and design, but yes, it is a bit jarring.
ML: It seems to me that the title assumes I’m going to die here in the Twin Cities.
TW: There are a few ways of looking at it. One assumption is that if you do all 100 things, you will die. I don’t think that’s the case. Another perspective is that before you leave the Twin Cities, you should do these 100 things. But the sad truth, Max, is that we’re all going to die. Actually, it’s not a sad truth. It’s a beautiful, natural part of life. So let’s celebrate that by making a list of 100 things to do before that happens.
ML: You’ve been a radio host for a long time, but is this your first writing gig?
TW: I’ve written a few things here and there, and obviously there’s a lot of writing I do for MPR. But this is my first LCCN.
ML: What’s that?
TW: Library of Congress Control Number. That means the book is officially listed in the Library of Congress, so it’s a real book!
ML: Is there a physical copy in the actual library?
TW: I’m not sure. I don’t believe so.
ML: Then it’s not real yet, Tom.
ML: Have you actually done all 100 things in the book?
TW: Almost, but not all! And here’s why: There’s something on the list that NOBODY has done, that nobody COULD do before the book was written. I basically invented it: Now that the new St. Paul Saints stadium is open, you can actually take the Green Line light rail from a Twins game to a Saints game on the same day.
ML: That’s so cool! Have you tried it yet now that it’s baseball season?
TW: Not yet. It can only happen a couple of times per year. Basically, you need one of the teams to have a day game, and one to have a night game, both at home. But I’ve looked at the schedule and there are a couple of dates. I was inspired by Chicago and New York, where you can actually do this with White Sox/Cubs games and Mets/Yankees games.
ML: Are you worried that people may try some of the things on the list, and be unimpressed?
TW: No. Try as I did, this is not an authoritative list. There will be many people who feel I’ve left out some things, or included some things I shouldn’t have, and I’d love to hear from them.
ML: Well, on behalf of TC Jews, Mazel Tov on your first book. To what extent are there Jewish to-dos?
TW: You know, I didn’t really have religion in mind when I was writing this. There is a tangential mention of the Twin Cities Jewish Film Festival, which actually speaks to the amazing series of film festivals we have here.
ML: Since you’re this month’s Honorable Menschion, I wanted to ask about your experiences with Jews. Have any good stories? Dated a Jewish girl? Found yourself surrounded by Jews in an elevator, maybe?
TW: The one tepid connection I have is that my father is a jeweler, so a lot of people stereotyped us as Jewish. I also have memories of going with my Dad to Jeweler’s Row in downtown Chicago, where I first encountered the people with…um…what is it…dreidels? You know, the hair?
TW: I’m bad at this.
ML: Dreidels are toys you spin during Hannukah celebrations…
TW: I know, I know! But seriously, a big part of my job is to be curious about different aspects of Minnesota culture. So I would love more information about the community here. I’d invite anyone to email me with interesting stories and facts! [email protected]
ML: Well, congratulations again on the book and for being this month’s Honorable Menschion!
TW: It’s certainly something I’m glad I did before I DIE!
Want to chat with Tom in person or buy the book? He’ll be speaking and signing books across the city:
Thursday, June 11, –6pm – Barnes & Noble Eagan
Saturday, June 13 — 1pm – Barnes & Noble Minnetonka
Monday, June 22 — 7pm – Barnes & Noble Roseville
Wednesday, July 8 — 7pm – the Bookhouse in Dinkytown