“We are in a low margin, high touch industry,” Orman wrote to customers today. “As busy as we were, it was really hard to make money.”
Meanwhile, the West Duluth Business Club announced there will be a new farmers market in West Duluth on the lot of the former Westminster Church. Beginning this week it will operate every Thursday into October, from 3 to 7 p.m., on the corner of 45th Avenue West and Grand Avenue.
“In the beginning it will host between 6 and 10 vendors,” West Duluth Business Club President Charlie Stauduhar wrote to club members. “Please, if you can, show up on Thursday and thank the vendors with your support.”]]>
About a half-hour drive northwest of Duluth, in the unincorporated community of Saginaw, Swamp Sisters summer restaurant kicks out breakfast and lunch grub to fleets of mostly white-haired patrons who fill the gravel driveway with their cars and assisted-living-community shuttle vans. It’s open for about two months each year, on Fridays and Saturdays only, from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m., on the swampy old Armstrong farmstead. And all of that, of course, makes this place awesome.
The point was made abundantly clear on this website years ago that the elderly dominate breakfast restaurants, as they should. Why would anyone want to deal with a young person until after the first meal of the day has settled, right?
The featured Swamp Sisters menu item is Bonny’s Swamp Skillet with buffalo sausage raised by sister Suzi and her husband on their farm two miles away. It’s good eatin’, but the food is a bit secondary to the experience of it all. An old codger might fumble up to your table spilling cups of water while trying to serve them, and the thought that maybe he was just thrown into duty without warning because the place is swamped is confirmed when he tells you, “I’m trying not to do a good job so they won’t ask me to this again. I’m supposed to be fishing right now.”
It’s that kind of relaxed chaos that turns breakfast at the Swamp Sisters into an event. You can’t swing by the place on your way to work and grab a short order. You have to take the morning off and go on a trip to the country, then roam the grounds and wait for a table to open up. It’s the kind of thing that has too much personality to ever be franchised.
Closing weekend is already upon us: Saturday, July 26, is the last day to visit the sisters in 2014. Call ahead to get dibs on a caramel roll with pecans harvested by sister Jean in Alabama. They sell out pretty much every day.
Here’s the menu:
Even if you don’t have dogs (or are a responsible owner and already know that you shouldn’t leave your dog in the car), please be aware of other cars in parking lots. If you see a dog in distress, you can call the police/animal control, or contact the store to have the vehicle owner paged. Please do not assume the owner will be out in time – death can occur within minutes!
And true, the thoughtful dog owner may thank you for your concern for their animal by denying the danger of hot cars and flicking you off, but at least you may have helped the save the dog’s life by getting their ungrateful asshole owner called out of the store.
How Hot Does it Get in a Parked Car Dr Ernie Ward]]>
I spent part of the weekend at a reading of “William Shakespeare’s Star Wars: Verily, a New Hope,” a merger of theatre nerds and science fiction nerds. The reading took six hours, including time to eat. But maybe Star Wars is better with soliloquies. Maybe. With friends.
I was lucky to be at CON-vergence, a nerd convention in Bloomington, over the 4th weekend, but maybe more to the point, CON-vergence was lucky to have Duluthians. Volunteers from Duluth largely ran the overnite shift on the Coffee Shop for the Con, keeping nerds caffeinated. And Duluth nerds brought Tea Dueling, a sport that made its Minnesota debut at Berserkon 2014, to CON-vergence. (Hat tip to Claire, Lisa, Jason and Katherine for pioneering this sport.)
Summer is Comicon season. (Duluth is home to some great comic artists, including Clint Hillinski and John Hoban.)
While San Diego warms up, Barnes and Noble is doing some parallel events nationwide. Ann Hoak (Community Relations Manager at the Miller Hill Mall store) arranged for nearly a dozen sample chapters of forthcoming books to be available for free for the kickoff weekend, and more events (including a Batman event) are coming.
I usually cough and spit about corporate stores, but I like Barnes and Noble for three reasons: 1. Any resistance to Amazon is good resistance. 2. I love that this location has a full-time community relations manager, working to plan events and partnerships for authors, local schools, and more. 3. Sentiment. I used to work at a B&N, and probably, I internalized some of the store rhetoric. I still get sentimental when I remember how school groups used to do a day in the store, in which they arrived through the shipping entrance, were “unboxed” and received, sorted and shelved as if they were books.
That said, Comicon week is a good time to visit other local shops, like Collector’s Connection and Rogue Robot. Rogue Robot hosts a Monday Tabletop Gaming group, planned by Kate VTB, that is a lot of fun.
Next week will be the apex of Nerdliness in Duluth: Nerd Nite.
Clay Helberg is presenting on Mobile Magic: How to do Amazing Things with your Mobile Device
Matthew Beckwell is presenting on Internet Radio: Running a station for fun (but definitely not profit)
Steve Farnham is presenting on Oz (L. Frank Baum and His Weird World)
Nerdliness intersects with all sorts of other subcultures in Duluth. Theatre, of course (Lawrence Lee is one of the lynchpins there, and I am hoping that Zenith City Browncoats will be out in force at Nerd Nite). Music and Literature, too (authors AF Bat, Lucie Amundsen, and Chris Etheridge have been seen playing board games at Rogue Robot, while musician Emily Jayne has played some cruel Munchkin).
So maybe celebrating nerd culture is really just celebrating Duluth.]]>
Pretty much everything happening this time of year is part of a festival or concert series, so as we highlight items this week from the PDD Calendar, we’ll just pretend everything is part of a festival, even if it isn’t.
The Bayside Sounds concert series continues on Wednesday with
North Shore Sounds and Superior Singers performing at Billings Park in Superior. Earlier in the day, the Brothers Burn Mountain play a lunchtime gig as part of Lake Place Summer Sounds in Duluth. The Wednesday Night at the Races events for the kiddos begin on Wednesday as well.
On Friday there’s the Free Range Film Festival, Movies in the Park, the Current broadcasting live from the opening of Endion Station Public House and hosting a concert featuring Low at the Red Herring Lounge as part of CurrentFest, and the bars on North Tower Avenue host a Grand Reopening Celebration as part of the Superior’s Downtown Strip Isn’t Under Construction Anymore Festival.
Saturday events include the All Pints North Summer Brew Fest, the Board Across the Bay Race and Festival, Carlton Daze and the Mudman Race as part of Extreme Obstacle Course Daze.
And calendar editor Lawrence Lee should be back on the job at any moment, beginning PDD’s Back to Normal Fest.]]>
There once was a satirical website at duluthtourism.com that was far more sophomoric than funny, but famously raised the ire of Duluth’s then-mayor Herb Bergson, who asked the city attorney to look into the legal means to have the site shut down.
The site mostly featured altered images with dim gags like Bergson inserted in front of the NorShor Theatre with the marquee reading “Gay Porn Nite.” Once the mayor had a fit, the creator of the site took the offending posts down. Nothing remains there now except a parked page from GoDaddy, attempting to sell the domain at an inflated price.
In the meantime–releases! We released 3 robins a few days ago, including the one who had funky butt bumps from parasitic flukes. The bumps disappeared after treatment with antiparasitics and he and his buddies were good to go! Yesterday, the little chipping sparrow who came in with an injured wing was released, and today, one of the flickers graduated. And all of the mice are grown and gone. Yay! 2 more robins are almost ready. We are going through scads of earthworms and mealworms.
The little squirrel in the picture is a young Franklin’s ground squirrel. We love these little guys! They whistle like birds, live in colonies, and spend a lot of their life underground and hibernating. They are omnivorous, and eat not only greens and other veggies, but also love insects and grubs. Plus, they have the coolest mutton chop whiskers. Read more about them here.
We also have a baby chipmunk, 6 little eyes-closed red squirrels, 3 young voles, bunches of young cottontails, and 9 young raccoons.
We got a young Cooper’s hawk from Robin yesterday. And of course, we have lots and lots of recuperating pigeons!
And I think that’s everyone!
For answers, editors suggested we listen to scientists. This was sound advice, but it raised a question: Which scientists? It was scientific analysis that led to the cancellation of the Yucca Mountain, Nev., dump site plan — that and the staggering 2008 cost estimate of $90 billion, which was up from $58 billion in 2001, according to the New York Times. Yucca Mountain was chosen by Congress in 1987 and was vigorously pursued to the tune of $9 billion for decades. But then a long string of scientific show stoppers proved the site unsuitable, and the Obama White House and Energy Department gave it the ax.
A look at the record shows that most of the frightening risks and daunting technical problems that disqualified Yucca Mountain apply to this region’s stable but water-logged granite bedrock.
For example, in August 1999, proof that the inside of Yucca Mountain occasionally flooded came in the form of zircon crystals found deep inside. “Crystals do not form without complete immersion in water,” said Jerry Szymanski, formerly the Energy Department’s top geologist at Yucca. Szymanski said, “That would mean hot underground water has invaded the mountain and might again in the time when radioactive waste would still be extremely dangerous. The results would be catastrophic.”
In 1997, Energy Department scientists announced that rain water had seeped 800 feet from the top of Yucca Mountain and down into the repository in only 40 years. Government scientists said earlier it would take hundreds or thousands of years to reach the caverns, according to a 2007 New York Times report.
In 1995, government physicists at Los Alamos National Laboratory dropped a bomb on the Yucca plan, charging that wastes buried there might erupt in a radioactive explosion and scatter deadly fallout to the winds or into groundwater or both, as the Washington Post reported in 1998. Drs. Charles Bowman and Francesco Venneri found that catastrophic dangers would arise thousands of years from now — after steel waste casks dissolved and plutonium began to disperse into surrounding rock.
In 2001, after 14 years of work, the General Accounting Office reported that Bechtell, the Yucca project’s managing contractor, admitted there were 293 unresolved technical problems with geology and with waste cask design that would require years of study.
In 1990, in the Milwaukee Journal, the National Research Council said the Yucca Mountain plan was “bound to fail” because it demanded a level of safety that science could not guarantee. This condemnation didn’t even mention the risks of moving highly radioactive material around the country on barges, trains and trucks, passing through 40 states and 100 major cities for 25 years. The specter of a transport accident near the Great Lakes or anywhere has been justly dubbed “Mobile Chernobyl.”
Replace the earthquake problems at Yucca Mountain with the dauntingly vast amounts of water here — not the least of which is the world’s largest body of fresh water, Lake Superior — and consideration of the region for the storage of nuclear waste seems laughable. Federal guidelines say the presence of fast-flowing water disqualifies any potential radioactive waste site.
It was telling that “water” did not appear anywhere in the News Tribune’s editorial. Keeping water away from radioactive waste is the principle object of any long-term storage because water corrodes waste canisters and could carry radiation into the surrounding ecosphere and food chain. Current law requires any repository prevent such dispersal for 1 million years.
The Land of 10,000 Lakes at the head of the Great Lakes is far less suitable for waste storage than even a desert mountain.
John LaForge, a native of Duluth, has worked on the staff of the nuclear watchdog group Nukewatch, based near Luck, Wis., since 1992. This commentary was originally used in the Duluth News Tribune, Jan. 25, 2012.]]>
A Dozen Excuses opened on Wednesday, serving donuts, coffee, sandwiches, coney dogs, etc. at 1112 Tower Ave., in the Still-point Building next to the Palace Bar in Superior. It’s the former location of Northwoods Guitar.
The genesis of this group was to bundle the active Community Clubs in the western Duluth neighborhoods, and give them an active voice in the mayor’s vision for enhancing the St. Louis River Corridor. If you have an idea for enhancements for the neighborhoods come on out — RCC is still forming subcommittees so people are able to work on neighborhood issues they are passionate about, and have an active voice. The group has been meeting since February and meets every third Wednesday of the month — social time is at 6 p.m. with official business beginning at 6:30.
We feel that it is important that the ideas about the development of the Saint Louis River Corridor come from community members themselves. This coalition has members whose residency in the area ranges from just a year to over 30 years. Each neighborhood has representation, either from currently functioning community clubs, or citizens living in a neighborhood — from Lincoln Park to Fond du Lac. We have business interests represented and other area leaders. It is clear within this group that our members have a strong passion for this area and a commitment to improve it. All are welcome to attend and participate.
Like us on the River Corridor Coalition Facebook page to keep up to date.]]>
On this edition of WDSE-TV’s Almanac North:
1:30 – Tony Barrett, professor of economics at the College of St. Scholastica, and Ron Brochu, Business North publisher, discuss the latest unemployment figures in northeastern Minnesota and what industries are creating jobs.
13:00 – Twenty-five years ago this week: Independent Air, an international charter airline, brings business to the Duluth International Airport with its stops to refuel and change crews.
14:50 – Lisa Luokkala and Russell Habermann of the Healthy Duluth Area Coalition discuss the new signs that help visitors and locals walk their way to local attractions and better health.
24:50 – The week’s business news.
27:05 – Footage of World War II airplanes visiting Superior as part of the Wings of Freedom Tour.]]>
On the occasion of Duluth band Trampled by Turtles making a second appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman — tonight at 10:35 p.m. on KDLH-TV channel 3.1 — I looked back at notes from an interview with Banjo Dave Carroll from spring 2013. He told stories about being on the Letterman and Craig Ferguson shows that didn’t make it into the story I was working on at the time.
Here is Carroll sharing an anecdote about taking a break outside the Ed Sullivan Theater before the Letterman gig:
They have these barriers on the sidewalks that are kind of gated off for photographers to hang out and allow them to get a picture of celebrities — whoever’s coming in. … It happened to be Amy Phoeler. We were hanging out there, and there were all these photographers. Her black town car or whatever pulls up, the photographer looks at us and says, ‘hey are you guys in the band?’ We kind of looked at each other and said ‘yeah, yeah we’re in the band.’ And they just said, ‘hey, get out of the way!’” Amy Poehler was coming across the street and they didn’t want us to be in the background with her.
Carroll said the appearance on Letterman was a great opportunity for the band, and a “whirlwind experience” that was also a bit nerve wracking when compared to the more laid back experience of playing the Ferguson show.
New York and L.A. both have their stereotypes. We weren’t able to go into Manhattan with the bus. They had to come pick us up in New Jersey in these vans. We weren’t allowed to touch any of our gear once we got into there because they have these unions. We did the sound check and then they said, ‘all right, you gotta get out of here and come back later on.’
Then they said, ‘all right you guys, come out and get set up’ — during the commercial break and whatnot. David Letterman is talking to his producer; Paul Shaffer and the band are playing. Something was going on with (mandolin player Erik Berry’s) rig and they were having a problem with it. The sound engineer was kind of losing his temper at Erik’s pedals, apparently one of his things had broken. He was visibly losing his temper in front of us and it was making us extremely nervous. We didn’t know what was going on. Something is wrong, and we’re about to play our first deal on national television. This guy was freaking out. Finally they figured it out, fixed it, and they were like ‘go!’ We played it, and I feel like it was four seconds later we were done. And then we just immediately left.
In contrast to that, when we did the Craig Ferguson show in L.A. we pulled up in the bus and … they gave us a tour of the CBS studio, they showed us the big wheel where The Price is Right is filmed. … Then they showed us the regular smoking section and the Snoop Dogg smoking section.
They film the show in front of the audience, but they film the band first. They told us, ‘if you want to do it as many times as you want to do it, feel free. Feel free to stop and return.’ They just made it so incredibly relaxing and comfortable.
Both shows were really fun and great experiences, but it was a lot more laid back when we did the L.A. one.
Guy Fieri is back in town shooting for future episodes of the Food Network’s Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives. So far he’s been to Gannucci’s Italian Market and Pak’s Green Corner in West Duluth, and Shorty’s Pizza & Smoked Meats and the Kounty Quarthouse in Superior.
A system of unseasonably cool air is expected to roll in today, but the various summer festivals will be every bit as fun while you are wearing jackets and long pants. Here come the highlights from the PDD Calendar.
The week starts as every week should — with a hardcore heavy metal concert at a Christian indoor skate park. Colossus, Conveyer, Strengthen What Remains, Lessons and Heart’s Bane all perform at the Encounter on Monday. You can choose instead to hang out in a wood shop and make beds for the needy, so there are at least two places to wear a sleeveless shirt this week.
Tuesday night the Chester Creek Concert Series continues with a performance by the Formal Age. Later in the evening, at Tycoons Alehouse, the Adam Booker Group will be playing jazz versions of Trampled by Turtles songs. Why? For fun, that’s why. But also because the hometown heroes are releasing a new album and appearing on The Late Show with David Letterman again.
Wednesday is the 47th annual chance to tour and covet nice homes and gardens. Also, Dedric Clark and the Social Animals are releasing a new album at the Red Herring Lounge.
Thursday is day two of Hermantown’s Summerfest, featuring a performance by the Fractals at the Fichtner Soccer Field. Bring your own lawnchairs. Or, take in some theater instead. The Duluth Playhouse is staging Les Misérables at Symphony Hall, and a ragtag troupe of medieval players will perform Pippin at the Harbor City International School Theater.
Friday is a night of new and old local rock stars. Up-and-comers Vivielle, hot off the release of the single “The Start and the End,” perform at Fitger’s Brewhouse. On the west side of town, a group of 1984 Denfeld and Hermantown grads reunite their band, White Hydra, for a night of classic rock at Spirit Mountain’s Riverside Bar and Grill.
Saturday is the ninth annual Bayfront Reggae and World Music Festival. Kevin Lyttle and Morgan Heritage are the headliners. If you are not into outdoor celebrations of love, respect, anti-materialism and legalizing cannabis, perhaps you’ll prefer an indoor experiment featuring a wide range of drone, ambient, improv, electro, outsider and left-field sounds — such as the Zeitgeist Experiments at Teatro Zuccone.
Update: The Sunday performance at Bridgeman’s in Gary-New Duluth featuring Todd Eckart has been cancelled. (See note in the comments.)
Our beloved PDD Calendar Editor Lawrence Lee is off this week, but the junior varsity calendar team won’t let you down. If we’re missing an event, let us know.]]>
Did those asbestos shingles last a century? Is the Luther Mendenhall residence still standing? Where is it, or where was it?
The trusty old internet provides a reasonable amount of info on Mr. Mendenhall’s life:
The shingles on the residence, by the way, came from Keasbey & Mattison Co. of Ambler, Penn., which featured Biwabik High School on the cover of one of its promotional brochures.
For over 46 years, the Museum has provided high-quality educational experiences to people of all ages in the Cable area. The CNHM received almost 8,000 visitors in 2012. Over the course of a year, the museum provides almost 200 educational programs for local residents, seasonal visitors, and community groups. Each year, museum staff and volunteers design an exhibit for the exhibition hall. Specimens from the museum’s collections form the centerpiece of the exhibit. The exhibition hall also holds the Curiosity Center, a permanent exhibit designed especially for children.
The Cable community is a delightful mix of families, second-home owners, and outdoor-enthusiasts. A cadre of cheerful and talented volunteers augments the small and committed staff at the Cable Natural History Museum.
Outdoor recreation opportunities abound in the Cable community and surrounding Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Throughout the winter, snowshoe trails, bike trails, ice fishing, and ski trails lure visitors looking for beauty and adventure. The American Birkebeiner—a world-class, 50k cross-country ski race—starts in Cable. The highly regarded “Birkie” trail network is accessible year round. The nearby towns of Hayward, Ashland and Duluth offer additional opportunities for shopping and recreation.
The museum’s staff house sits on the south shore of Lake Namakagon, and is surrounded by the Chequamegon National Forest. The four-bedroom house has private baths, comfortable common areas, picture windows, and beautiful wood floors. Full or part-time residence in this house is one more benefit of the position.
Position Summary: Develop your exhibit design skills within a dynamic, supportive, and quality-driven community. The assistant exhibit designer will work collaboratively with the Naturalist/Educator and an Exhibit Committee composed of Museum staff, board members, and volunteers to create a stimulating, interactive, and immersive three-dimensional exhibit on the topic of northern Wisconsin lakes. Engaging exhibit components and support materials will effectively engage museum visitors and convey information to visitors while meeting exhibit content and learning objectives.
Responsibilities: Responsible, with the exhibit committee, for the successful completion of a 700-square-foot educational exhibit on the topic of lake ecology and limnology, including:
Application Procedure: Applications should include the following:
Names of three references and contact information
One page writing sample
Send or e-mail materials to:
Cable Natural History Museum
P.O Box 416
Cable, WI 54821
I spent the morning with the Minnesota State Arts Board at the Depot. Mary Murphy addressed the Board. It’s always nice when statewide agencies visit the greater Minnesota region.
Among my objectives in talking with the folks present was to question the value of their new program for outreach to underserved, diverse populations. The plan, as I understand it, is to spread four $5,000 stipends to folks who will work to encourage diverse communities to apply for grants in the MSAB programs. The gesture is so small, and so inadequate to the task, I was left wondering how it passed. And then I remembered: in the Twin Cities, the drive from Roseville to Lake Minnetonka is imagined as a long way. It’s impossible for some members of the MSAB to visualize the distances outstate — that distance from Duluth to Grand Portage is further than the distance from Minneapolis to Duluth, and that’s a skip and a jump compared to Ely and I-Falls. If you can’t visualize exactly how immense Minnesota is, you can’t design a good outreach program for it.
Then, lunch with painter Rob Adams. Rob is awesome, and his work includes a piece using recrafted and repurposed “Battleship” game board pieces that I love.
Then, gallery opening at Prove. This opening included work by:
My colleague Jennifer Schultz was present, as well. While I have seen her at Prove openings before, this time, she was listening as well as observing. A number of folks wanted to talk about other about issues important to them in the next election, including a young lady opening a tea shop near Chester Creek Cafe. I hope that there will be more info about the tea shop closer to opening. She says they will also locally brew kombucha eventually.
The Ennyman was there. So was Adeline of Adeline, Inc. (a salon that also hosts cultural events) and an engine in the Jefferson Peoples House, too. Why do I drop all these names? Because before Prove, Duluth’s art community was entirely different from what it is now. Now, there is an arts ecology, which reels in alternative businesses of all types and creative spaces of multiple kinds, including the university I call home.
Glad to be part of it.]]>
In a series for the New York Times, Damien Cave and Todd Heisler travel up Interstate 35, from Laredo, Tex., to Duluth, chronicling how the middle of America is being changed by immigration. They spend day 37 in Duluth.]]>
The Chester Bowl Improvement Club is seeking a full-time Program/Operations Manager, responsible for management, planning and operational oversight for CBIC programming and park operations under the direction of the Executive Director and Board of Directors, Specifically, the Program/Operations Manager will manage and provide oversight of CBIC’s programming and events, including supervising seasonal hourly staff, Incredible Exchange youth, and volunteers. Full posting and job description is at chesterbowl.org.]]>