A Postcard from Tour: Minneapolis
Ritual never dies
When in Rome…
When you tour through Minneapolis, the local publicist always1 drives you through the downtown. Along Seventh Street they always point out the spot. It’s here Mary Tyler Moore throws her tam hat into the air in the opening sequence of the iconic television show. Fifty-four years ago!
Since 1970 every tourist in the Mini Apple goes there and has to throw a tam in the air. Souvenir vendors will even sell you a tam o’shanter to throw. People wait in line—to pause mid crosswalk and throw their hats. Women, men. Crowds of people, they each wait their turn for a moment alone to throw a hat. There are even stray hats left behind in the gutters. Even before selfies and social media, the hat toss was a ritual people had to recreate. Now it’s a major industry.
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It's America's version of visiting Lourdes or kissing the Blarney Stone. Weird and mystic. And I love it.
On book tours in Albuquerque the local publicist always drives you past the small house where an elderly couple have built a huge sign in their yard. It says, “PLEASE DO NOT THROW PIZZAS ON OUR ROOF! PLEASE!” Since Breaking Bad every tourist to New Mexico has to buy a pizza and toss it on this roof. Again, people wait in line to fling pizzas. Pizza makers sell unsliced pizzas specifically for this purpose. The owners must constantly rake pizzas off their roof.
Wouldn’t you love to put a ritual throwing gesture like that into the culture? Such is the dream.
And I do mean ALWAYS. Even if you say, “I’ve seen this seven times,” they have to show you the spot.