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Tender Nads

Chris Godsey Saturday Essay

For one long moment after I unintentionally swooned over a young man’s testicles, all 70 students in the UMD class I was teaching stayed mostly silent.

The incident happened in 2003, during an otherwise average session of Introduction to Cultural Studies. UMD’s course guide says the class, “Examines how cultural practices relate to everyday life by introducing students to each of the four core areas of the Cultural Studies minor: Identity Politics, Media Cultures, Cultures of Space & Place, and Cultures of Science, Technology, & Medicine.” My teaching contract was in Writing Studies, but the Sociology/Anthropology department faculty member in charge of Cultural Studies heard I might be into teaching something different, and my department head was cool with the idea. It’s been one of my favorite experiences in 20 years of trying to help people learn things.

I seek opportunities to participate in conversations with students and anyone else about how belief, intent, socialization, and other forces intersect to influence our actions. I approached Intro to Cultural Studies as an extended problem-posing conversation. I’d start most days by naming an example of something most of us in the room take for granted or don’t notice, then I’d ask a bunch of questions like, “Why do we do it that way? What happens if we try to do or see it differently. What if we did it for reasons different from the generally accepted ones? Who gets to decide?”

Selective Focus: Jordan Sundberg

SF-TeaserJordanS

This week’s Selective Focus profile subject is Jordan Sundberg, an illustrator and designer with a deceptively simple style. She tells her story below.

Sketch Bomb with John Hoban at UMD

Local artist John Hoban organized a Sketch Bomb at UMD.

Local artist John Hoban organized a Sketch Bomb at UMD.

John Hoban, creator of Captain Artichoke, Apocalypse City, and Night of the Smurfing Dead, lead a Sketch Bomb at UMD on Monday. The event was planned by Pat Maus of the Archives and Special Collections area of UMD’s Martin Library.

Homegrown Banner Submissions

We’re looking for Homegrown-related banners for that funky horizontal space at the top of the page. The image must be 1135 pixels wide by 197 pixels high.

To submit a banner photo, e-mail your JPEG file to: banners @ perfectduluthday.com

We’ll run the banners during the Homegrown Festival next week.

Duluth Book Releases in 2016

In and Out of Context by Tim WhiteIn and Out of Context
Photography by Tim White
With excerpts from 21 northland writers
inandoutofcontextbook.blogspot.com
(Jan. 21)

The Duluth Grill Cookbook IIThe Duluth Grill Cookbook II
Written by Robert Lillegard
Photography by Rolf Hagberg
duluthgrill.com/cookbooks
(Feb. 29)

Barbarian

DavidBeard_SEMy friend John and his wife Chieko left John’s son from his first marriage behind at Stone Farm. Stone Farm, Suffolk, is all I need to write as an address on the letters and postcards I send to him twice a year in the United Kingdom. The family home (occupied by John, Chieko, John Jr., and John’s mother) is older than the United States. When the bowing timbers used to frame the home were cut, the colonies were still colonies.

John spent a week in Duluth. He was to give lectures at the Alworth Institute about energy policy in the U.K. And of course, ostensibly, he was here to visit his friend, David. But John was a fisherman. You don’t cross the Atlantic to talk about U.K. dependence on natural gas to Minnesotans. You come to fish.

We visited Gooseberry, and John took romantic photos under the falls. We ate smoked fish and lobster — John ate at Red Lobster so many times because the exchange rate between the pound and the dollar was so favorable.

Selective Focus: Marian Lansky

Works by Marian Lansky

Marian Lansky is part of the team the operates the Kenspeckle Letterpress, one of the most interesting, fun studio/shops in town. It combines centuries-old art processes with modern technology to create loads of great work. There will be an Earth Day open studio and shop on Saturday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the second floor of the DeWitt-Seitz Marketplace, an opportunitity to stop in and see the work and meet the artist. Marian and her husband, Rick Allen, will also be a part of Siivii’s Earth Day show, just across the alley from DeWitt-Seitz.

Below, Marian explains her work and process in her own words.

Nick Robin – “Little Red Squirrel”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhLusJXCqho

Music written and produced by Sean Elmquist and Nick Robin. Video by Nick Sunsdahl.

The Day I Jumped Out a Window

Anna Tennis Saturday EssayWhen I was 11, my best friend was Eddie Griffenbacher.* He lived with his grandma, for reasons he never detailed. (*No, it wasn’t. But even I don’t want to talk shit about someone. It’s not because I have class. Eddie would kick my ass.)

He was very, very, impressively naughty.

He came by this honestly: his grandmother was like a David Lynch character. She was short, round, and, I think, chronically intoxicated. She curmdugeoned around her house in a beige sweater-vest over a plaid shirt, khakis and fluffy white sneakers that resembled King’s Hawaiian rolls. Her hair was old-lady-did into fully-formed curl banks, but the back left corner of her head was all matted down and disarranged, like gray-hair crop circles amidst the otherwise puffy rows. She smoked endless Benson and Hedges cigarettes; they dangled eternally from her yellow fingers, the nails of which she kept painted the same bronzey-brown color for as long as I knew her. She was always drinking some ice-cubey alcohol cocktail from an amber-glass tumbler: between the yellow of her fingers, her nail polish, and the yellow tint of her glass, it seemed like everything around her was saturated completely with tar. Somehow, her entire microcosm had become the color of an old fly strip.

Selective Focus: One River, Many Prints

IMG_6969

Starting this week, Selective Focus is changing direction. Instead of variations on a weekly theme as before, we will be posting brief profiles of visual artists and happenings around the area. We start it off with a collaborative project between UMD students and elementary students.

Dispersion

https://vimeo.com/153393512

Adam Dargan, an animator from Duluth who now lives in Minneapolis, “captures the process of emulsion on 35mm film being dissolved in three-dimensional space” in this video. “It explores the feeling of nature and visual landscapes that are created from unconventional sources.”

I Did Love the Place Then

Eric Chandler - Saturday EssayAfter several hours of splashing around, I pulled myself up to the dock. I held onto the edge and floated. My daughter said, “Your wedding ring is gone.”

What kind of kid notices that? I thought she was kidding. Then, I looked at my left hand. No ring.

I spent the next hour swimming with a scuba mask trying to pull off a miracle. The lake water looks like tea because of the tannins. Or maybe even darker like root beer. As I swam down, I could barely see. I hoped to see a little glint in the gravel. It never happened.

So, now I wear a replacement ring. The ring I put on twenty years ago sits at the bottom of the Whiteface Reservoir, a permanent part of the St. Louis River watershed. I sit like Gollum on the dock, sip my gin and tonic, gaze out over the water, and wonder about my precious. My precious.

When I was a kid, I didn’t notice things like rings on my dad’s hand. But I noticed his finger and where it pointed on the topo map. It was deer season in Plymouth, New Hampshire. I was in high school and an important part of the game plan to fill the freezer with venison.

“I’m going to sit here at the top of this drainage,” my dad said. “You walk down the road on this side of the ridge to here. Come over the ridge and walk up the drainage toward me. If you hear a shot, sit down for five minutes. Then, when you hear two shots, it means I found the deer and you can walk to me.” He said drainage so much during the huddle, I thought he was talking about nasal passages instead of a small mountain valley.

Selective Focus: The St. Louis River, Recreation

Hansi Johnson

Hansi Johnson, untitled

OneRiverMN-Logo-FC-BadgeSomehow this seems both an apt and inapt way to close my editorship of this feature. There are plenty of sites to pore over images of our region’s abundant natural beauty, but few that foreground the real people who live, work, and play here. That was my fundamental ambition; to recognize the vast human capital here, to weekly call for snapshots, pictures of domestic ordinariness, matters not needlessly prettified. Reality, even when it’s harsh is sufficiently beautiful to me.

In Defense of Duluth Poets

Holy CowThe arts and culture review website Partisan namedrops Holy Cow! Press of Duluth in an article by Harvard English Professor Stephen Burt titled “In Defence of Minor Poets,” published today. The namedrop occurs without actually mentioning Holy Cow! by name, but instead referencing Duluth with a hyperlink to Consortium Book Sales & Distribution’s page about the Duluth publishing company.

Romance on the St. Louis River

Wooed Near Perch Lake

From The St. Louis River: Diverse Connections at the Duluth Art Institute. #onerivermn