My grandmother Irene was a pitiful, crazy person. Not all the time, unfortunately, or she’d have been packed into some coarse New England institution for experiments with electrons and lithium derivatives much earlier. As it was, because she alternated her violent and impulsive behavior with periods of serenity and excellent baking, she was allowed to quietly produce one, two, three, four and finally five wards of the state, one right after the other, before she was wrangled by the authorities and medicated to death.
Her youngest boy, Fred, who she kept along with three more kids, believed that shock therapy, medication, and age had actually healed Irene just enough that she could think rationally about what she’d done. So she overdosed herself on lithium.
We met her once, about a year before she died. She looked like a watercolor version of our mother, all smeared and indistinct in comparison. We had no idea she was our grandmother. Our mother introduced her as “Irene,” no more information.
Outgoing Duluth Mayor Don Ness announced at a news conference today he will launch a new business called Hillside Ventures. The Duluth News Tribune reports Ness will offer his services to assist clients with economic development and “public-sector strategy work, working with other communities in the region, especially on the problem-solving and visioning piece.”
As the quantity and quality of videos posted on PDD continues to increase, it gets harder and harder to narrow down the standouts from the past year. But here’s what we’ve come up with. It’s a little heavy on music videos, but there’s a touch of everything else in there. Let us know what we may have missed by adding your own favorites in the comments.
I was noting the new self-checkout at Target. I don’t like it. It feels like Wal-Mart, which is enough to make me never use it. But beyond that irrational knee-jerk, it feels like Target would like to create a shopping experience in which I interact with no one whatsoever. If I wanted that, I would shop at target.com. Which I do for things not carried at the Duluth Target. (I still can’t believe there will be only one Target in our area soon. Aldi will still draw me to Souptown, I guess.)
So I was really happy when I decided to try it today, and the coupon system stymied me, and a cashier walked over and hung out until I was happily rung through. Human touch.
What won’t you change in the new year? What remains a fixture in our lives? That was this week’s challenge; to find the things that ground us in a world of whirring flux. Easier said than done in a region whose predominant feature is an endlessly shifting inland sea. I would like to have seen some people as “constants” (as they’ve always been in my life), but hey, I only edit this thing.
Christopher Halverson performs “Rockcreek/Grantsville” at R.T. Quinlan’s Saloon during an open mic on Sept. 16, 1995. The video closes with a clip of Frank Nichols blowing his
jaw blues harp.
There were a lot of potential nominees, so we used a runoff ballot. The options with the fewest votes slowly dropped out of the poll as the days went by, until it got down to the final four.
What was the best local album of 2015?
This poll is now closed. The results were:
Low’s Ones and Sixes – 34 percent
The Social Disaster’s Dark Side of the Roller Rink – 31 percent
Charlie Parr’s Stumpjumper – 19 percent
Mary Bue’s Holy Bones – 16 percent
Here’s a bit of what you’ll find in this week’s PDD Calendar:
Learn why resolutions don’t work at Tycoons, bring the kids to see the Monkey Mind Pirates, Marc Gartman plays his Ween, the DSSO tackles Sinatra, Beaner’s Central throws a daylong New Year’s bash and the Red Herring has bands and DJs.
Zeitgeist Arts is throwing a laid-back New Year’s party, the Barrel Room has DJs, masked revelers converge on Barker’s Island, pianos are set to duel at Dubh Linn, Superior Ballroom Dance Studio holds a dance-floor party and the first day of 2016 is marked with a nine-location hike.
Ten years ago Duluth landed in the New York Times over a controversial sign in a campaign office window. Scott Cameron, a combat-wounded Vietnam War vet, made a sign tallying the dead and wounded in the Iraq war. While volunteering for Minnesota gubernatorial candidate Steve Kelley, Cameron placed the sign in the campaign office window, next to a U.S. Army recruiting office. The seven recruiters working there, six of whom had served in Iraq, found the sign disheartening and wanted it removed. Cameron said he did not wish to prevent recruits from signing up for the Army, but only wanted to honor those who made sacrifices.
Over the past 12.5 years of Perfect Duluth Day’s existence, there haven’t been many posts that would be considered “essays.” The term is a little vague, but it’s probably understood by most that an essay is something more artistically crafted and of more substantial length than the average PDD post. Examples that come to mind from the past that would be considered essays are Laurie Viets’ “Last Place on Earth — 1983” and my own “Trespassing at UMD’s Old Main in 1992.” There are probably a dozen other examples eluding my memory, but the point in general is that there have been some essays on PDD, but not enough.
To encourage more, we’re launching a new feature called the “Saturday Essay” next week. In each installment, a local writer will share an anecdote, go on a political rant, dissect some event in popular culture or for whatever other purpose string together a healthy amount of words on some subject. Basically the hope is to do for essay writing what “Selective Focus” has done in the past year for photography on PDD.