Last year, during the January in Duluth project, I wandered into Doug Moen’s antique store with photographer Kip Praslowicz. Doug was very generous with Kip and me, two oddballs who wandered off the street to take up some of his time. And from what I’ve gathered, that seemed to be his M.O. During our short time together, he was warm, funny, honest, and so perfectly at home in his store, with his junk.
Doug and I recorded a short conversation while Kip took the photograph in a previous post. I never ended up making an audio piece from the recording, as I’d hoped, but I did make a transcription of the interview. Kip encouraged me to post it here for anybody who might be interested.
I was in a cathedral, standing in the nave. The pews were empty, the building dark. It must have been night. Without warning, a choir’s song sliced through the hushed darkness, their voices intertwining to illuminate the room — a bright, pure light. I could see their faces, one thousand beautiful children, dressed in white. I stood there motionless, enraptured by their song, their words washing over me. The tune was bracingly enigmatic, yet hauntingly familiar — they sung a single phrase over and over:
Vincent Gargiulo is horrible.
It might be hard to believe, but it all happened in the dream!
Even odder, I’d never even heard the name before! It just came to me, seemingly from the ether. When I woke up, I immediately looked it up online, and as things go, “Vincent Gargiulo” is an actual person. Who knew? I bet he has a life and personality and family and probably a personal history too! Of course, that’s just conjecture, as I didn’t dig any deeper than a Google image search.
And you know what the honest to gracious truth is? He doesn’t look all that horrible at all!
But those words — those being-piercing, life-altering words. They must have an important meaning for my life. How can I pass?
So, I’d like to announce my next project — Vincent Gargiulo is horrible. It’s not about Vincent Gargiulo’s horribleness, or anything like that. Really, the title just seems to be the perfect vessel for an auto-biographical venture — it really captures a feeling I’m looking for. Vincent Gargiulo is horrible may sound as if it were about Vincent Gargiulo, but it would be about me. Get it? He’s the backdrop for my story.
Admittedly, the name gives me a moment of pause. I’ve considered something less polemic like Vincent Gargiulo is probably pretty okay in all likelihood or Vincent Gargiulo might deserve the benefit of the doubt or Vincent Gargiulo chooses Duluth for a project that the city would be really psyched about except for its name. But come on — would a choir of cherubim illumine my soul and crowd-sourced fund raising campaign with dull words like that? Highly doubt it.
I’ll be rolling out a Kickstarter in the next couple of days — I’m thinking I’ll need around 10k to execute the project properly — so get your Amazon Payments Account ready.
Last day of January and I have a few sackfuls of questions with incomplete/partial answers. With time running out, maybe you can give me a few hints on my homework? Below, I’ve boiled down a list of [A] v. [B]s, isolating dichotomies about life here in Duluth — if you have a few extra intro/outrospective minutes to kill today, I’d love to hear how you’d weigh in on any or all of these. Of course, in each matchup there’s no need to declare a clearcut winner (balance in all things), so your answers can take the form of one word or a phrase or a few thoughts or an essay if you’re exceptionally motivated:
(1) Isolation v. Community.
(2) Passion v. Responsibility.
(3) Nostalgia v. Trailblazing.
(4) Cynicism v. Optimism.
(5) Underdog Mindset v. Inferiority Complex.
(6) Willing Confrontation v. Passive Aggression.
(7) Coffee v. Beer.
(8) East v. West? How deep is the division?
(9) “Come enjoy our wonderful city!” v. “Stay the hell out.”
(10) If Duluth were un-propered into a regular vocabulary word, “duluth,” what part of speech would it be (to duluth, a duluth day, look at that duluth) and what would its definition be?
So tomorrow is the last day of January in Duluth (and everywhere else too). I’m going to be writing a post in the morning asking some bigger picture questions I’ve been thinking about, but haven’t answered definitively. Look out for that (also, if you’ve been following and holding back, you can tell me what youreally think about the project — but wait for tomorrow to do that).
For today, I have a morbid question. If you knew tomorrow were your last day on earth, and you were to spend it entirely within Duluth/immediate surrounding area, what would you do? A last day, in Duluth.
The January Days are dwindling and the need to gorge on as much Duluth as possible is rising. I spent an hour with Mayor Ness today — he’s a wonderful guy. Also, I had an odd idea I might try to execute this weekend if anybody is interested.
Is anybody out there a film person? I have a very short film I’d like to make — named “100 Seconds of Solitude” — that’s reasonably simple in concept/shooting but might be a little tricky to edit. If anybody wants to spend some time this weekend on a fun project, I’ll bring the beer!
Anybody out there have a specific story they’d like to share? Particularly if it in some way ties into your experiences living here? (If you’ve ever had This American Life aspirations, this might be a good time to give it a shot) I’d love to do the recording and producing, and perhaps Kip might be interested in also doing a portrait. Also, if it’s not a specific story, we could just sit down and chat about your experiences here.
(Also, the clock’s ticking on January, so if this idea at all interests you, get in touch soon!)
I have an invitation to offer — I’m looking for Wisconsinites and other Midwesterners who have relocated to Duluth to talk about their process of adjustment, assimilation, and Duluthification. I was looking to record parts of this conversation, this Saturday, at Anchor Bar in Superior. Any immigrants interested in a drink and chat?
The other day, I heard somebody refer to Duluth in passing as “the back of beyond.” Nothing official, or even a phrase restricted to Duluth for that matter, but I really liked it. What are some other official and unofficial ways you use to describe the Duluth? Little turns of phrase, short descriptions, or casual nicknames are great. As far as I’m concerned, the more personal the better.
Finding 101 things to do in Duluth through anonymous means is not hard — of my ninety-nine problems, Google running out of suggestions isn’t one. So, the generous feedback on PDD has been wonderful (thank you so much, by the way), if not a touch overwhelming. Forget January — all these personal recommendations could fuel an entire lifetime in Duluth. For the rest of the month, I’ll continue to chase after as many Duluth experiences as I can, but on PDD I’d like to pivot my questions slightly.
To really wrap my head around Duluth, I’m going to need conversations and people, and I think this is the right place to seek those. Recommendations and maybe some invitations? Here are a few questions to start:
(1) Who is the best storyteller you know in Duluth? And I don’t mean that in a “who is the most polished stage performer” kind of way — I mean, of the people you know, when you’re at the kitchen table after dinner, who tells the stories that make you laugh/think/react the deepest?
(2) What are some sayings/maxims/cliches/proverbs/aphorisms/truisms/localisms/apophthegems about Duluth and the people who live here in particular? I’d love to hear extant wisdom, or if you’re feeling motivated/creative, you can make up your own originals (it might be fun!). If an apple a day wards off doctors, what keeps Duluthians away? If Duluthians were horses, what would beggars do? When in Duluth, do as …
(3) Finally, what is the best single standup arcade game in Duluth? I’d really like to test out some hypotheses.
P.S. I’ve started a Facebook page where I’m going to start asking a steady stream of questions. If you fancy yourself an ace Duluthian and generous sharer, think about giving that page a follow.
I arrived in Duluth on Sunday night and I’ll be living in town for the next 31 days, trying to learn/produce as much as possible about Duluth through a project named January in Duluth. As a central part of this, I’ve started a blog at januaryinduluth.wordpress.com where I’ll be collecting thoughts, photos, audio pieces, etc. Also, you can expect a steady string of posts/questions from me on PDD until the end of the month.
Unfortunately, whatever minor illness my family was incubating over the holidays is now hitting me full-on. I’m currently nursing a tea and box of Fisherman’s Friends, hoping that my throat/head will clear up soon. In the meantime, I have three questions you might be able to help with:
(1) Where is the best publicly-accessible place to plunk down and do laptop work in Duluth? (hopefully coffee, comfortable seating, friendly people, etc.)
(2) I’m looking to cook a hearty soup that might be a slow-acting medicine/panacea/lunch. Any suggestions? Home recipes?
(3) What should I do in Duluth? Any and all suggestions are welcome. (I’ll be much more specific in the future, but I thought I’d start as broad as possible)
January in Duluth is fast approaching (a refresher on what that project will be)! As always, twenty-four short hours at a time. During the month, I’ll be posting on PDD regularly to ask for suggestions/recommendations/answers, as this seems like the exact right place for Duluth-related ideas. In fact, I’d like to start the project with your input.
I’ll be driving to Duluth on Jan. 1 and 1/2/12 will be my first full day in town. So, rather than begin with an obvious orientation hitting the most major landmarks/places/people, on that day, I’m hoping to start the project a little backward — with experiences that are hidden/concealed/secret/obscured. Experiences you recommend.
Whatever your favorite Duluth-minutia happens to be, I want in (whatever you’re willing to share, of course). Whether it be a quiet conversation with a person that represents Duluth perfectly or a favorite car dealership jingle or a quiet, tucked away street with familiar houses or a hilarious joke scratched in a restaurant’s bathroom stall. Be an expert of your own trivia. I just have one request — I don’t mind climbing fences, chatting my way into a back room, or any of that, but I’d prefer that I can reach your suggestion without trespassing (too blatantly).
I’ll do my best to try out as many suggestions as possible on 1/2/12 and record the results. Thanks in advance!
(You can also just e-mail me anytime at <januaryinduluth @ gmail.com> with any suggestions on anything else I should be checking out while I’m around. The website will be coming very shortly too!)
I’m from Milwaukee, and when I travel, there are usually some brands/products from my region around to remind me of home. If there are motorcycles, there’s a good chance there’s Harley. If people are drinking shabby beer, there’s probably Miller. If there are toilets, there’s probably Kohler (from Sheboygan). And of course, there are a lot of smaller ones too.
What are some Duluth brands, large/small/in between, that I could expect to find around the country/world? I’m looking for anything from the obvious to the obscure.
A couple days back, when I asked for get-me-up-to-speed-on-Duluth book recommendations, I was regaled with the collected consciousness of PDDers — I’ve bought a couple to read pre-arrival and will buy more when I arrive (Book Store at Fitger’s, right?).
Next question — music by artists from Duluth. What should I listen to as I prepare? Any/all genres. Contemporary, classic, anything in between. Also, if there are lists/resources that collect this information already, please point me in those directions too. Thanks!
So, I’m definitely going to be doing the parachute/suitcase project I mentioned on PDD last week (thanks for all the feedback by the way!). I have slightly more than a couple weeks before plunging into 31 days of Duluth, and I figure I’ll have time to read a few books before arriving. Any suggestions on books that might help me prepare? Non-fiction, fiction, collections of essays, or anything that will help me get my head wrapped around the city. (Also, ideally the book will be available on Amazon.)