I drew this conceptual map of Duluth’s arts-and-music-scene in 2004. The details may only interest old-school scenester hipsters, but the broad strokes reflect my thinking on what makes Duluth cool, and the nature of scenes as social units. The word “psychogeographical” refers here to the artistic arrangement of my little sociological analysis.
Local rocker Nat Harvie once observed to me that old-school Duluthians gush about these bygone days with little provocation. True. I moved to Duluth in 1998 in what is widely regarded as its heyday, its coming-to-awareness-of-itself as a music-and-arts scene. This can be roughly correlated with the formation of the Ripsaw News, now long defunct. That storied rag began in opposition to the Reader as the premier alternative newsweekly and we were off to the races. I remember an early Ripsaw meeting with Brad Nelson and Cord Dada and a room of creatives, and the question was, “Who can do what?” I said, “I am a writer and cartoonist,” and I was in.
Duluth had everything I wanted in its vital percolations. I graphed the scene as I saw it, below: