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The Ripsaw News has officially announced its demise.

RSN Publisher Brad Nelson sent out a vague, nostalgic e-mail yesterday to Ripsaw contributors, explaining little except that "the tightrope has finally snapped." It is not a secret that the Ripsaw has always struggled financially.

I joined the Ripsaw staff in April of 1999, along with Paul Lundgren, Chris Monroe, and Slim Goodbuzz. Back then, it was little more than a zine, a few pages on cruddy newsprint struggling -- and in most cases failing -- to be more than "the clubhouse reporting on itself." I remember those first meetings in Brad Nelson's living room, and later his attic. Most of these meetings were held around a case of Leinie's original or Huber bock. Everyone would talk about what they wanted the paper to be. I didn't care -- I just wanted to write and draw. Jeff Cork's comic, "Train Truction" got its name from an exquisitely botched article he'd written. Slim's first article for the 'Saw was about the VFW three doors down from the house I grew up in.

It didn't take long for all of the talent to gel and for everything to become legitimate and real. I was only a small part of it, but there was definitely a time when that paper was great, even if it didn't make any money. It helped that Duluth was great at the time, too. Or at least we all thought so. I'll never forget the scathing letter to the editor that quoted the Dylan line, "Everybody's drinking, thinking that they've got it made."

The Ripsaw always sufferred from one particular problem, in my opinion. It tried simulataneously to be a for-profit business, while exploiting the talents of a generous community that wanted to establish itself. Name another for-profit business that has a staff of 40 volunteers. That's a ticking time bomb -- there is bound to be conflict, infighting, and resentment. As for me, I didn't care. As I said, I just wanted to write and draw.

That said, I met hundreds of people because of the Ripsaw. The Ripsaw played a part in some of the best friendships of my life. If that isn't what an alt-weekly is all about, I don't know what is.

I'll miss the Ripsaw, but it's a good thing that it's laid to rest. It's at peace now.

Now ... what's next on the horizon?

Brad Nelson's E-mail

Comrades, The Ripsaw is officially dead.

It was a good run. We managed to spin the blade for six-and-a-half years
against a long list of odds. A&L Development tried to sue us. Much of the
business community blacklisted it. Mayor Doty said he "didn't read that
tabloid." And 11,000 people picked it up every week with Christian-right
zeal (20,000 monthly). We did well.

But it's no secret that keeping it going was a perpetually tenuous act. The
tightrope finally snapped.

Thank you for throwing in on it with me. It was quite a ride. The Ripsaw
wrote about and influenced the art and music scenes; local elections; the
Spirit Mountain golf course debate; the Clayton, Jackson, McGhee Memorial;
the Soft Center debacle and DEDA funding; eminent domain use; historic
preservation; the crusade to end homelessness; GLBT rights; the buy-local
movement; and many many more issues and things. The Ripsaw helped create a
new state of mind for Duluth. It gave amazing local designers, cartoonists,
artists, and columnists needed exposure. It covered outdoor adventure,
dining, film, theater, visual art, science, and sex. It published a calendar
and the High Five so people knew what to go see. The Sawyer Awards became
the best Best Of issue around. It grew the HomeGrown Music Fest,
Undergroundhog Day and Green Man with local CD reviews, band features, and a
special issue for each. The Ripsaw did a lot for this rusty town. No wonder
we're tired.

For now, I'll be beering, skiing, and drumming. If you are interested in any
of those three areas, then chances are I'll see you soon.

See you soon.
Power to the People,


should we have a quorum of Saw alumni to say goodbye then?

Maybe tip some 40s in front of the NorShor for our dead homies?

Condolences. It's a sad, sad day. A little piece of Duluth has died today.

And it's really too bad because it was the rebel piece. The piece that refused to give up, give in and give out - not until the last dying breath was exhausted. It was the piece of Duluth for which everyone had a special affection. No matter whether you read it religiously as a member of the Duluth “alt” scene; occasionally while chewing on your next slice of Mashed Potato at Luce, or angrily, while sitting behind your big oak desk in a Works Progress building, you had to admire this little rag. This rag that rose from the historical obscurity of a long dead local watch-dog, to become an important and significant piece of Duluth that spawned more than its share of water-cooler discussions.

I know what I’m drinking to tonight.

The times I visited Duluth, I read Ripsaw. It was everything The City Pages didn't want to be, but that I wanted it to be. I will miss it.

From its ashes, what will rise? I think Duluth needs something like Ripsaw. Any reason the group of passionate volunteers couldn't begin brainstorming of ways to create something new, but with a structure that won't constantly be on the verge of imploding?

Good luck...D'luth needs it, if only so the people of this town have somewhere to go without having to turn to Potter!

Bleh, stuck with The Reader as my free mag! I think I'll pick up the Budgeteer instead...

It's nice to see Bob Boone gloating (http://www.duluthsuperior.com/mld/duluthsuperior/business/13347544.htm) over the Ripsaw's demise. I'd expect nothing less from that liar.

Maybe the best we all deserve is The Reader?

Gee, no more public blowjobs for you. So whats your little sanctimonious Hot-Dish Mafia going to do now?

Happy Pearl Harbor Day, you rubs!

I’ll offer the following in response to Michael’s “Any reason the group of passionate volunteers couldn’t begin brainstorming ways to create something new …?”

Assuming there’s no one about to step up with three year’s worth of operating capital for an alt-weekly to get a profitable foothold in town, perhaps we should team-blog our way to comprehensive news-arts-culture coverage. I’m thinking something akin to MnSpeak, but with the goal of trying to get on-screen what’s important in this town, since no one else is doing it that well.

Basically … links, with commentary, to stories from the DNT, Reader, Budgeteer, Local TV… links to local bloggers/advocates/nutcases … a bit of newsgathering ourselves when the established media are missing something … a “Don’t Miss” entertainment pick each weekend … regular 7QQ-like interviews … a Duluth Citizen’s Blog “quote-of-the-week” … reader responses, of course … our comments on the news or the media reporting it … etc. etc. etc.

Keep the items short, make our comments sharp, and keep the overhead cheap.

I’ll volunteer to watch the outdoors/environment beat and do five Q&As before the first day of spring.



I would like to be a part of that, too. I see something similar to PDD, but with a clear direction and purpose as opposed to free-form blogging that invites anyone and everyone to post. Or as you said, something like MNSpeak.

Making this work would require a substantial number of dedicated people. A blog is a daily thing after all, which requires a lot more content than a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly.

I agree, Barrett, about the dedicated folks something like this would need. I don't know if a critical mass like that exists anymore.

I agree to about the daily-ness of the project. One hope, though, is that short, reactive items might be easier for people to commit to than 2000 word stories requiring interviews and actual reporting.

I guess we'd need to see if anyone but the two of us thinks this could float.

Anybody else?

Reader Weekly ... Yeah, I like poorly edited local writing mixed with stuff stolen off the wire too ...

OK: At least there's still a sense of "let's just DO this ..." floating around Dullyouth. I worked for the Ripsaw from day one, for little to no money. The one thing I really take away from the experience is that if you think you can do something, dive right in. Talk is cheap. (Actually, make that three things: 1) Just do whatever it is you think is cool and good, 2) AP style, 3) It's possible to write and edit while completely hammered. Maybe even easier.)

More elaboration on the "Train Truction" thing: My brother moved to Duluth from Fairbanks with a degree in journalism, and about five minutes after he got here he was roped into doing stuff for the 'Saw. (The ad for the Pavement show -- all Jeff Cork; Cord asked him if he'd do it, and Jeff was so hammered he was afraid he wouldn't be able to draw a straight line -- but on the other hand, afraid that if he said no, he wouldn't get to draw the ad. Sucker.)

Anyways, Jeff writes this review for the Jesse Ventura book, and Cord and Brad, in a late-night design flurry, cut half the article at the jump. Jeff later asks why they didn't notice the mistake, especially since the review contained the word "traintruction," and the unforgettable response: "We just thought it was a word we didn't know."


Still sometimes lurking here from my "other" life...
Ah, the Ripsaw. My first published work appeared in that paper, and I was SO excited. I became a "writer". (Note to editor-HA! I'll never learn!) Even contributed from Kansas while in self-imposed exile, was kept alive with that vital link.
Played memory lane with old online 'Saw archives just yesterday. Long may they live!

I think a weekly podcast could go well with Charlies idea.

Sad news, indeed. When I started picking up the Ripsaw during my years at UMD, it gave me a whole new perspective on Duluth, and made me a lot more excited to be there. And after I moved away, getting the copies my brother would mail to me out in Montana made me miss Duluth a whole lot more. Duluth'll be a little less vivid without it.

Here's hoping a phoenix finds its way out of the ashes...

I think Brad and several others deserve a pat on the back or a free beer or something for getting the Ripsaw going and keeping it going for as long as they did. I'll miss it. I was proud to be an occasional contributor, and I think the paper definitely had an impact on Duluth.

I'd be willing to contribute to some kind of online thing. I ain't so good with the writin' and reportin' wordy things, but I could offer some drawin' and photographin'.

Print is dead.
Well, not really, but it's just too damn expensive and time-consuming.

I'll miss the ripsaw, it was perfect for my reads between class and so i knew what show to go to that weekend. I would love to help with some sort of online rag, i'm not much of a writer but i'll help with whatever i can.

I got into the Ripsaw about a year ago, right after a lot of people had already left. It seemed to pretty much be heading down with each issue we put out. Sad that it couldn't keep going, but we all knew it would be ending at some point.

As far as keeping some alt community alive on the web, I'd be interested in helping out. Unfortunaltely I'm not in Duluth anymore, but I'd be more than happy to contribute my website design and programing skill for the cause.

Barrett or Charlie, or whom ever, feel free to contact me if you'd like.

btw, Zac is so right. Bob Boone is a filthy liar. I met him once (didn't like him) he told be that he didn't start making a 'profit' until the Ripsaw started to struggle. He seemed pretty happy about it.

Why the hell was half of that story Bob Boone quote anyways. Can't they talk to someone besides the fucking competition, like maybe . . . someone from the Ripsaw?! What a terrible story.

Bob Boone is the last man standing. That does make for a terrible story, but it's not the News Tribune's fault.

I could contribute a few thoughts on food, gluttony, debauchery, the like.

I could do some minor writing as well, in order of competence, music, books, food, politics, art.

It would be something not more then 1x a week.

(I also have some moderate web skills if needed)

I'd like to help too.
I like to make stuff and take pictures.

Will I regret this?

If you think you're interested in getting involved in this next thing we're discussing, send me an e-mail at:

[email protected]

I don't know what, if anything, will come of it, but we might as well talk.

I wouldn't mind writing something on an occasional basis...

whatever is in the works, i'd like to help out.
i don't write real well, but i'm helpful... with... stuff...

Spaeking as undead, I can tell you that we have alot more fun. I've got a nice rent controlled crypt and the lich of regan just moved in next door.
Really I'd finally re emerge for more apochalyptic scenarios if there was a hint of dirty work afoot.

Jesus Christ on a cracker--if Dr. Tomorrow's back, DotyGate v2.0.1 vs. Rob Linkasaurus can't be far behind him!

To the HuberBunker!

Only the good dye young.

PSYCHE!!! Good riddance to that shit.

It's D-I-E hater.

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