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  • Prince was a hometown boy who chose Minneapolis over LA or New York. He was a member of our community. And, at the same time, he was a legend and a superstar.

    We have been telling each other stories over the last few days. It's like an ongoing wake.

    As one friend wrote on FB: I think when someone famous dies--and for Minnesotans, a fellow Minnesotan--we certainly grieve their passing, but more than that, our memories tied into the one who has left. I would sneak into First Avenue to watch him perform...and so for me, Prince is tied into memories of myself in wilder, purpler times...

    Another friend spoke of going to some of his informal and spontaneous parties at Paisley Park...initiated just for local fans who learned about the parties informally from each other. Like the Saturday night before he died.

    Yet another friend spoke of exploring Jehovah's Witnesses some years ago. Several times she visited the same services that Prince regularly attended. She described him as being quiet, sincere, and humble; not wanting attention.

    As for myself, I had just returned from a year working in Somalia. In those days we didn't have immediate access to US or global pop culture so I hadn't heard of Prince yet. I vividly remember a friend introducing me to him and his genius when she insisted I go with her to see Purple Rain in 1984. She was totally gaga. Not only do I remember the movie but I also remember the theater (no longer there). This says something because the only other theaters I remember exactly in time and place are from when I saw Ben Hur in 1959, The King and I in 1962, and Star Wars: A New Hope in 1977.

    We will most definitely miss Prince's music and his musical genius. Someone asked Eric Clapton what it felt like to be the greatest guitarist in the world. He responded, "I don't know. You'd have to ask Prince."

    But that's not all. We will also miss his uncommon trust in himself, his willingness to make his own choices, his integrity, his courage, his kindness to others.

    Here's a story John Batiste told on The Late Show the day Prince died. He had a huge aura. His energy and presence in a room just kinda' filled everybody's hearts. Ya know, he had a certain kinda' way of knowing what was going on. I remember one time we were backstage and I was talking to him and without even looking in the direction, just pointing his finger, he says, 'Courtesy.' And then you look over there and there are five people over there, you don't know what he's talking about. And then you turn, and there's a cat over there filming our conversation. And he figured out throughout all that was going on backstage, musicians playing, everything happening. 'Courtesy. Put the phone away.' And then he said, 'Down.' The cat put it down. 'In your pocket.' He put it in his pocket. 'Thank you. So John how are you?'

    [Photo of a new mural painted on a building in Uptown, Minneapolsi]
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