Racist Art Song's chicken wings sign uncovered off Nicollet Ave. in SW Minneapolis [PHOTO]

art song wings sign crop.jpg
David Brauer
Thirty years ago, Minneapolis businesses could get away with this.
Legendary but now-closed chicken wings joint Shorty & Wags used to be located at 3753 Nicollet Ave. S. in Southwest Minneapolis. With Shorty retired and living in northern Minnesota, the commercial building is now in the market for a new tenant and being renovated.

The renovations recently revealed an interesting piece of Minneapolis history -- the racist signage for Art Song's, another legendary wings joint that used to serve greasy fare from that very same storefront. The sign, covered up when Wags took over the property sometime around the end of the Carter Administration, hadn't been visible for roughly three decades.

Journalist of all trades and longtime Southwest resident David Brauer spotted the sign while waiting to get a flat tire fixed yesterday, then snapped a photo and shared it on his Twitter account. We reached Brauer to ask him about his recollections of Song's and its racist sign.

Here's the photo in its full glory:
art song wings sign.jpg
Brauer said he recalls enjoying Song's wings while living in The Wedge during the early '80s but can't remember anyone fussing over the joint's obviously racially insensitive imagery.

"I don't know if we were all not as sensitive in the early '80s, or whatever," he said. "I don't remember any controversy over it and my guess would be that a lot of that stuff was taken for granted back then."

Brauer said he called the owner of the second, still-existing Art Song's location in St. Paul to learn more about the history of the business but hadn't yet heard back. For what it's worth, a Yelp reviewer characterized Song's St. Paul location as "EFFIN DELICIOUS" and "the greatest place to eat in the Twin Cities."

"What I do know," Brauer said, "is that the chicken wings were fabulous, and the best when you had a belly full of liquor." And after all, who's going to fuss about a racial caricature when you're young, buzzing, and enjoying some of the best chicken wings under the sun?

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51 comments
ronnievanzant13
ronnievanzant13

My name is Rita Song..you people that call my dad a racist make me sick. The guy in the St Paul is a rip off ! He has no real spice on his his wings. They are small,over cooked and way too expensive..This is enough to make my dad,Art Song,roll over in his Grave. There are no "Real Art Song's Wings" being served anywhere!

This is the only place you can buy the Real Seasoning on my Brother's web sight 
on this http://www.miracleseasoning.com/index.htm

Ymimms
Ymimms

A. Rupar, it seems you should have done more research into who Art Song was before writing this article. Y. Mimms in North Mpls

Gay Ted
Gay Ted

Hypersensitive,redundant,whiny PC  white-guilt Liberals search high & low to find some offense..Then they point & scream racism..What a tiresome bunch.

Steve Adams
Steve Adams

It is a stretch to call this racist, except for the graffiti additions of the crossed eyes and the gapped tooth. Here's a repost of my comment a month ago:  "I delivered Asian food supplies to Art Song in the early '70s when he ran "Art Song's Teahouse" in downtown Hopkins.  This picture is a caricature of Art Song himself.  He was one of the first Vietnamese to settle in Minnesota, was very Americanized, and had a pencil-thin mustache.  It was always fun delivering to Art because he was a very outgoing and sociable guy. He probably had this done as a self-deprecating joke.  After the teahouse went out of business, he had a string of chicken wing and rib shops, some of which have continued in business even after Art's death."

Mike
Mike

Anyone who would call Art Song a racist is a fool.

Mike
Mike

Mr. Song, who I knew personally was a bi-racial, multi-racial, African -American person.  He was no racist that's for sure, his soul food joint was one of the only places then or now that had customers of all backgrounds.  He was a mellow guy the everyone loved and respected.  I think the sign is pretty fun and cool.  

Steven Adams
Steven Adams

I delivered Asian food supplies to Art Song in the early '70s when he ran "Art Song's Teahouse" in downtown Hopkins.  This picture is a caricature of Art Song himself.  He was one of the first Vietnamese to settle in Minnesota, was very Americanized, and had a pencil-thin mustache.  If was always fun delivering to Art because he was a very outgoing and sociable guy. He probably had this done as a self-deprecating joke.  After the teahouse went out of business, he had a string of chicken wing and rib shops, some of which have continued in business even after Art's death.

Mike W.
Mike W.

I hope someone takes the right step and gets the sign donated to a museum for preservation.  Pieces like these are great teaching tools about our cultural norms and perceptions, as the many comments on here have certainly demonstrated.

Ultracobalt
Ultracobalt

I have to laugh at City Pages on this one. This article mentions the word racist 3x, but at the right is an ad for a Gentleman's Club sporting two chicks with big breasts in silhouette. I guess your business model must be to write non-articles with implied racism as a way to get advertising dollars with overt sexism. Cut up your PC cards now they are expired.

Kgbrezny
Kgbrezny

in a world where people force being PC and where people get trophies fo being 7th place people have got toooo sensative... thats just my opinion ... you cant say or do anything now a days without someone outraged and condemming the person and putting them on the same level as various different hate groups. Personally ...... people need to lighten up...

Northsider
Northsider

Why no mention of what I think is the original location of Art Song's Wings? In the late 70's I used to get the best wings on earth in N. Mpls on West Broadway.

Guest
Guest

Dear City Pages - please get Rupar off your site. This is absurd.

Oscar
Oscar

How on earth is this racist. One of the people defending this please explain. If i had a cartoon of myself (white male) and it said would this be racist somehow??

I'm completely honest by saying i dont get it.

John
John

Ghost World. 

Francescobernadone
Francescobernadone

Art Song's is still in business in the Midway. Why don't you journalists call him and ask him if it's racist?

Mathieu Mudeki
Mathieu Mudeki

Yeah, seriously..this is only racist if you make it racist. There is absolutely nothing about this sign that tries to express that one race is inferior to another. It is what it is, you don't have to read so much into so little, especially when all of it is assumptions since nobody here even has factual evidence to support the idea that this is racist. Nobody here even knows the history of it.

Kgbrezny
Kgbrezny

Atleast it doesn't say chicken rings ... now that would be racist

TheBlob
TheBlob

McDonald's offends me because they suggest that all white people are clowns.

Jay Boller
Jay Boller

I just saw the Minnesota Twins play a team called the Cleveland Indians who have a mascot named Chief Wahoo. Just saying. 

Francescobernadone
Francescobernadone

Wasn't Art Song an Asian?

Isn't this self-parody rather than racism?

effeminate dad
effeminate dad

It's only racist if you make it racist. Way to manufacture controversey in the name of more clicks, Rupar.

cjbursch
cjbursch

Been trying to find chicken George for my dad for years. Can u tell me the history behind your Dads chicken bussiness? Please help. So many people in my family loved this man and his food. My dad is aging and I want him to atleast know the ending to the Chicken George story. Fyi I do know some of the history so I will know if your for real.

docsongs
docsongs

My father Art Song was not Vietnamese he was Siamese, my name is Danny Song I was the head chef at Art Songs Tea House incidently my father and me invented the chicken wing spice at the Tea House...docsongs@gmail.com

docsongs
docsongs

@Steven Adams hey Steve, basically true but my dad was Siamese or Thai as its know now.. I was the chef at the teahouse so maybe I had met you...thanks for the memories...Stay Real and Love Strong...Danny Song

Vander Vander
Vander Vander

I guess it's not sexist to call women chicks.

Jojo44
Jojo44

Half you people don't know what you are talking about. Art passed away years ago and Wags and Shorty were partners in the wing ding. And the picture was done by Art himself so get a life people.   

h.s
h.s

It's... complicated. 

wingwong
wingwong

That would be Hilawious!:-P

Chris Farmer-Lies
Chris Farmer-Lies

 That just means there are at least two racist things in the world. Let us know if you find any more.

Duh
Duh

Also racist.

amiller92
amiller92

That would be rather important context.

Scott
Scott

Of course its racist, wtf else would Rupar print it?   Sarcasm off...  Every godamned thing in this country has to be racist or anti semetic, it is really tiring to those of us who could fucking care LESS. Get over it. Move on. Get a life... Man you must be one super sensitive pansy Rupar.

Guest
Guest

It's only not racist if you're ignorant. 

Jeff Fecke
Jeff Fecke

I think it's pretty impossible not to see that as racist if you're being honest. What "make[s] it racist" is the fact that it is.

nachtw3
nachtw3

I knew that, your Brother Rodney took me there in Hopkins, and at your house in mka. He Always said he was a siamese cat! Funny I had two øf them.__Joanie, where is he now?

docsongs
docsongs

@Jojo44 Its true my dad passed in 87, I was the one that established the wing business with Shorty, Wags my dad and myself, it all started on the corner of Hennepin and Lake at a joint called "Slips" next door to "One Potato, Two Potato" Shorty and Wags had a joint called "South of the Border" Little TJ's that they closed to sell wings exclusively and the rest is history...Danny Song

Jflynn01
Jflynn01

I think what Scott meant to say was "anti-semantic" which presupposes the ineffective use of language along with a fucking careless use of the little gray cells.  

TheBlob
TheBlob

How is it ignorant to simply look at an image at face value rather than injecting it with ideas of "racial sensitivity"?  Please go find an Asian person who is offended by that image.  I'm willing to bet that you can't.  But you can find all sorts of righteously offended white people.

Decievious Leroy Johnston Jr.
Decievious Leroy Johnston Jr.

And please explain to us in detail how this photo is racist?  What does it make assumptions of or innuendos about?

effeminate dad
effeminate dad

How many funny looking white cartoon characters are out there? I bet you've never bitched about the Fighting Irish logo. This cartoon doesn't even have "chink eyes". You don't have to buy what they sell, you know.

docsongs
docsongs

@nachtw3 my brother lives in Kingman AZ but still travels around the country as a salesman, nice to here from you...Stay real and love strong...Danny Song

HurdyGurdy
HurdyGurdy

Poirot reference? Consider me delighted.

guest
guest

I walked by this sign a couple of days ago, and bottom part of the eyes and the missing tooth are actually drawn on in marker, the original only had slit eyes.  So the graffiti'd version actually makes it looks slightly less racist than the original.

Reierje
Reierje

Actually lots of people have complained about the fighting irish logo... so yeah... 

Guest
Guest

The fact that you used that word makes your argument invalid

effeminate dad
effeminate dad

After looking at it closer, he looks more like a mustached, gap toothed Italian dude in a Chinese field hat.

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