Where in Duluth?

This week: pylons, quirky history, silent films and beer

You know what they say about there being two seasons in Minnesota. And if winter is over, it must be road construction season. The I-35 Mega Project returns and the city is doing work on Kenwood Avenue and 46th Avenue West. Start remembering all of your alternate routes.

Sarah Vowell (writer, radio personality, and voice of Violet from The Incredibles) is speaking at Mitchell Auditorium.

Also at St. Scholastica is a free silent movie film fest showing Nosferatu, The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari and Metropolis.

The noir play, A Steady Rain, opens at the Teatro Zuccone featuring the very talented Zachary Stofer and Scott Mallace.

And, oh yeah, beer. The Gitchee Gumee Brewfest is back at Wessman Arena.

So what are you doing this week? Can we tag along? Any upcoming events that you want to promote? Let us know!

Duluth and Isle Royale, c. 1928

A film of Duluth and a trip to Isle Royale by my Grandpa Henry.


It’s interesting, but is it art?

Art history has taken us into some very interesting and sometimes strange terrains and spaces these past 150 years. What’s amazing is how much pop culture has been influenced by fringe and almost unknown artists in terms of the wider public, just as our clothing fashions are influenced by events that took place last year on a runway in Paris.

Thanks to the Duluth Art Institute we had an opportunity to re-visit the 1980 Robert Hughes eight-part documentary called “Shock of the New” which is a helpful overview of what occurred in the arts from the late 1900s to Pop art and Happenings. In a surprise follow-up DAI curator Annie Dugan gave us a 2005 sequel/addendum in which Hughes looks back and makes some additional observations.

Portrait of Joyce (Blue View)

There are reasons the wider public struggles to grasp what the fringe players are up to, but Hughes and art critic Greg Volk (who spoke at UMD a few weeks back) help bring insight and perspective to many basic issues regarding modern and post-modern art. My personal observations are assembled here for consideration and discussion.

Kozy Fire III: The Building That Refused to Burn (Down).

What’s up with people trying to burn down the Kozy? Anyway, I wasn’t all that surprised to come upon the eerily familiar site of firetrucks flanking the decrepit shell of our beloved Kozy last night. In retrospect: WTF??? Does anyone else think that restoring the property (NOT to its 2010 condition, silly!!), and making it a hub for the new/improved, swinging (yet still fringe) First St. business district is a good idea? Bring on the snide remarks (Constructive comments are also welcome.).

The Fractals — “Car Farmer”

Live on the PlayList, April 5.

Zoo Animal on the Local on KUMD

Zoo Animal was on the Local this past Wednesday, performing some tunes and talking with DJ E about preparing for their performance providing the score for The Passion of Joan of Arc at Zinema 2 (second show is tonight at 7). Listen to the podcast here.

So it begins … again

The Homegrown Field Guide arrived today! They will be distributed over the next week to all of your favorite venues and local businesses. An online copy will be available shortly.

The DAI needs your beans

Does anyone have beanbag chairs they want to loan the Duluth Art Institute for a couple months? We’re serious, even though this photo makes it look like we are not.

(FYI, image Google search “bean bag chairs” and you will find some delightful internet memes waiting to happen)

Is this Heaven?

Eight months or so ago I woke from my first nights stay in Duluth and slipped quietly down to the sand beach of Minnesota Point. Coffee in hand, sun gently coming up, and that now-familiar hum of the city in the background, I was excited to begin learning about my new hometown. And there in the wet sand, was etched “Is this Heaven?”

As a matter of fact I do earnestly believe in divine intervention and communication, and I took this message to me as a personal directive to find the answer to that question.

Eight months later I am still working on it. My heaven is not perfect, but it is generally a kind and gentle place. It is concerned for the weakest of inhabitants, and also for the Earth that we all share. For the most part it is clean and respectful and welcomes all.

I continue my quest to answer that question by joining the PDD community for what I believe to be some of the most important research of Duluth to date. Thanks for having me.

Why can’t this happen at Bayfront?

New St. Paul fest starting out big

Two bands that have packed Xcel Energy Center in the past will stretch out on St. Paul’s Harriet Island this summer as headliners for the River’s Edge Music Festival, an inaugural two-day event whose organizers hope will draw 40,000 people daily.

Arty metal kings Tool and bohemian jazz-rockers the Dave Matthews Band — mainstays of the summer concert circuit — will top out the June 23 and 24 lineups, respectively. Some of the other 30 or so (mostly rock) acts assembled by concert promoter Live Nation include the Flaming Lips, Mutemath, Coheed and Cambria, Brand New, Diplo, Scissor Sisters and local bands Poliça and Motion City Soundtrack.

Writing Life

I just finished a two-hour long open house in the Department of Writing Studies (where I work at UMD).

So long, Southgate Bowl

Since the Southgate Bowl in Cloquet is shutting down to make way for a Walgreens, it seems fitting to pay tribute. Best wishes to Gerry and Rose Pollard, who opened the place in the 1970s.

Time-lapse video of Superior’s North Shore

Below is a pretty cool compilation of time-lapse videos taken over the past few weeks along the North Shore. Definitely an early spring on the shore. I’m still trying to figure out what that lightning flash thing is at 1:07 during the Aurora activity, some kinda gamma ray flash or something. Pretty sweet.

The Boundary Waters

Two videos by Alex Horner — shot Sept. 24, 2010 — with music by Duluth’s Steve Horner.