Coffee Klatsch, Oh Ja

The Purple Prince

I wasn’t sure about Prince when I was young.

But what a clever quirky Minnesotan he was.

Lest we forget.

I like the stories, songs, and glimpses of Prince emerging from Paisley Park, his once home and now state attraction in Audubon Road, Chanhassen.

I’d love to visit Paisley Park for The Beautiful Collection – Prince’s Custom Shoes, an exhibition of magical footwear rocked by the singer on special occasions.

Prince wore these black shoes with gold lamé stripes with Love Symbol #2 zipper pulls, along with a matching turtleneck, when he and his then-wife Mayte Garcia met Prince Charles (now King Charles) at the De Beers and Versace Diamonds are Forever charity fashion gala in West London in 1999. Who doesn’t want Love Symbol #2 zipper pulls? Who doesn’t want black shoes with gold lamé stripes? I have added both to the list of things I want but never knew I needed.

I like a flash shoe.

If you wear them in Minnesota or Christchurch, New Zealand the reaction is much like that of the matronly bystander watching Mary Tyler-Moore throw her blue tam’o’shanter skyward in downtown Minneapolis in the opening credits of her iconic 1960s TV show.

I once wore bright blue suede loafers in Christchurch that had this effect.

And cat face kitten heels complete with whiskers that attracted disbelieving sidelong glances even in Auckland, where little fazes the fashion conscious. I wore those shoes until the whiskers fell off.

Whenever I think of Prince I think of Wellington, New Zealand’s capital, and how both the singer and the city mysteriously inveigled themselves into my life and continue to do so, even though Pink is my girl and I dislike Wellington’s windy chilly climate and propensity for earthquakes.

Whenever New Zealanders ask where I’m from I say well I’m a Kiwi but I grew up in Minnesota. And they immediately exclaim “Prince!” Or “Paisley Park”! And ask if I’m partial to the color purple.

It doesn’t matter that Prince died at Paisley Park in April 2016, surrounded by his treasures and vaults of precious unreleased recordings.

New Zealanders adore Prince.

He held his first and last concert in Auckland just weeks before he died. My friend Yvonne said “I’m going, come with us” but I gagged at the $400 tickets, which sold out in minutes. I’ve regretted missing seeing Prince live ever since (Yvonne says the concert was worth every cent).

“Even when Prince goes minimalist, it’s seems, his shows still turn out to be brilliantly, jubilantly, spontaneously excessive. Funny too, with his entertaining array of smirks, and the occasional need to strut that stage with the red lights in his high heels flashing with every step.”

NZ Herald review, prince’s FIRST AND last concert in auckland, 2016

Prince lives on in Aotearoa, New Zealand, believe me, for his music, his unique persona, and his symbiotic link to Minnesota.

When I left The National Business Review years ago my colleagues generously gave me a gorgeous, enormous, purple handblown vase by New Zealand glass and neon artist Garry Nash.

Because it was purple. And because most of us knew Garry. And because it had that amusing connection to Prince and Paisley Park.

It didn’t matter that I had never been to Paisley Park, which was then still Prince’s private home, and seldom wore the color purple.

I was crushed when my cat knocked my Prince NBR vase to the cold, hard tiles, where it broke into a gazillion purple pieces.

I still miss that vase.

It would be worth a fortune now, for Garry Nash glass is highly collectible. But mostly I miss it because of its collegial provenance and the Princely thread that traces through my life, my memories.

And what of Wellington?

For many years, although I lived at the top of New Zealand’s North Island, and commuted to various journalism jobs based in Auckland, my publishing employers all hailed from Wellington.

When I moved from Minnesota to Honolulu, it took months to find a job I wanted. The company’s name was Wellington Financial.

Wellington is the seat of government in New Zealand, and for years my work in the charity sector has taken me there.

When my only child began talking of moving to Wellington it seemed my fate would be forever tied to that city. So far it hasn’t happened, and I’m glad. Choose Paris, Lily. Or Rome. Or Auckland.

Don’t tell anyone in New Zealand that I don’t love Wellington, but she and I both love Prince.

And Minnesota.

Set list, Prince concert, Auckland 2016

Join New Zealand for a retro virtual Prince concert, listening to the very songs he played here. After his performances in New Zealand and Australia, Prince returned home to Paisley Park, where he died several months later.

Prince, Auckland, February 2016. Copyright Radio NZ

Photos Paisley Park

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