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April 29, 2007

Homegrown 2007

First night of Homegrown. It was nice to see so many people out. Here is a photo of Southwire. So what is the flickr tag going to be Barrett?

Hi Ho, The Derry-O


What: PDD Game Night
When: Monday, April 30, 2007 at 6pm-ish
Where: Robin Goodfellow's

Come play games with your fellow PDD Gamers. Food will be ordered. Fun, as always, will be had. Some of the games played recently include: Carcassonne, Ticket To Ride: European Version and Munchkin Fu. See you there!

Just for the record, Hi-ho Cherry-O was one of my favorite games when I was a little kid. What was yours?

Superior Hiking Trail, Day One


If you're going to spend eight straight nights in smokey clubs during Homegrown, you should probably spend some of those days in the fresh air, right? Maybe? At least Sunday anyway?

Today: Mission Creek Trail to Grand Portage Trail via the good ol' Superior Hiking Trail.






Homegrown Music Festival, Day One


And so it begins.

April 28, 2007



Stephen Hawking gets a taste of microgravity.


Retribution's second tour EP rawks...

on that note...i'm tryin to get my mitts on the first (sold out) tour EP...anyone have an extra?

April 27, 2007

Duluth gets kicked in the teeth


Low was mentioned in Rolling Stone this week. They have a little section devoted to the top 15 college albums, and Low is at #8. Unfourtunately the extended entry leaves a little to be desired. "The eighth disc from Minneapolis' Low is something of a remix record........"
What's up with that? Minneapolis? Is this an honest mistake or did they just figure that nobody would know what the hell they were talking about if they said Duluth?

New York Times Article on Theo Wirth Mountain Bike Trails

Looks like the bigger cities are starting to understand the importance of trail systems and how they improve people quality of life. Certainly we here in Duluth could have some of the best trail systems in the country, and hopefully will. I vote for that. Yeah, Quality....

April 26, 2007

Rain Gardens Make Me Wet - by Frida Storm

raingarden 001.jpg

Psst, Hey I have a confession to make! But don’t tell anyone, k? Rain gardens make me wet.

I just love the way parking lot runoff slides from the pavement into the catchment, flows through the tunnel, and then slowly penetrates the soil, caressing its way past each particle. I could totally just watch that for hours!

And I adore how young fresh plants force their succulent shoots into the ground, their bulbous rhizomes engorged with tasty nutrients. Whew, I’m starting to get flushed just thinking about it!

Once, during a super hard driving rainfall one evening last summer - bolts of lightning zig-zagging across the sky and thunder crashing over my head - I stripped down and swam naked in the rain garden. I became covered from head to toe in a thin film of hydraulic oil and other petroleum lubricants. I have to say that got me global-warmingly hot!

So yeah, rain gardens get me wet, ok? But make sure not to tell anyone, I don’t want to get a bad rep around town.

Love, Frida

Bought and sold

PDD is now Product.

What does it all mean?


Now that the schedule is at least semi permanently set, what are you excited about seeing, beyond the greatness that is the return offenders, and I noticed there are some long-timers missing, some I assume are touring but I'll miss my Cheerup Poems.

Cheerup Poems


for those looking for a perfect duluth AREA day...

April 19th, 11 AM
Meet at the Carlton County Historical Society - 406 Cloquet Ave, Cloquet

BIG DAY CLOQUET '07 will be a scavenger/treasure hunt featuring Cloquet landmarks and history sponsored by the Carlton County Historical Society. Teams of two will compete in a race designed to test mind, spirit, and ability to see beauty in a funky mill town. Participants will be asked to follow clues and complete challenges throughout the approximately 3 mile route.

The team to finish first will receive a prize. The coveted 'spirit award' will also be given to the team that
exhibits the most enthusiasm. There will be a party at the finish line where ALL participants can feast on pizza and enjoy live polka music on the accordion.

Appropriate for families, friends, and enemies over the age of six. During the day, teams can get around using
public transportation and their own two feet. No bikes, scooters, Segways, or cabs allowed.

$5 to enter but winning is priceless. Please register before Friday, May 4: call or email the Carlton County
Historical Society at 218-879-1938 or [email protected]

More in the Cloquet Pine Journal:

A Complete History of Duluth, Abridged

Fun Winter Driving in the Zenith City

The post below mentioned the fun we all have driving after some fresh fluffy stuff. My buddy Craig made this video during a snow storm a few years back. This is from the intersection on 19th Ave E and 8th st.

April 25, 2007


i was checking out youtube.com and found this guy, Andy Mckee. There's a ton of videos of him playing on there i suggest you check it out, i haven't seen guitar playing like this in in a long time. great stuff.

Hungry for Peace


Students for Peace at UMD and Amnesty International at College of St. Scholastica are teaming up to put on "Hungry for Peace," a five-day fast to end the war in Iraq, next week (April 30-May 4). Each day of the week will feature panel discussions, and some days will feature live music, film showings, and activist workshops. The week will culminate in a student walkout at 11 AM and rally at 12 noon at the Civic Center in downtown Duluth.

The week's schedule is as follows:

Campus Panel Discussion
What: A panel that gives students the opportunity to share their feelings and to ask questions about the war in Iraq.
Who: Students representing various political groups from both campuses
Where: UMD Kirby Lounge
When: 4:00 – 6:00 pm

Al Franken
Where: Kirby Lounge
When: 8:00-10:00 pm

Veterans’ Discussion Panel
What: An opportunity for students to hear Veterans speak about their experiences and their thoughts on the war.
Where: CSS Science Building, room 3209
When: 4:00 – 6:00 pm

Film showing: Film TBA
Where: CSS Science Auditorium
When: 6:00 - 7:30 pm

The Costs of War: Environmental and Fiscal Consequences of the War in Iraq
What: Environmental and Social Justice Activists talk about the negative affects that are occurring in Iraq as a result of the war.
Where: UMD room Chemistry 200
When: 4:00 – 6:00 pm

Acoustic Concert and Open Mic
Where: CSS outside in front of the Science Building
When: 7:00 - 10:00 pm

The Culture and History of Iraq
Who: Dr. Sabah Alwan
Where: CSS, Somers Main Lounge
When: 4:30 – 6:00 pm

Candle Vigil
Where: In front of CSS’s Science Building
When: 7:30pm

Michael Pfau: Activist Workshop
What: A workshop to teach the importance and practices of effective activism
Where: CSS Somers Main Lounge
When: 6:00 – 7:00 pm

Student Walk-out and Rally
Where: In front of Civic Center in downtown Duluth
When: 11:00 am student walk-out, 12:00 pm Rally

so cultural


Has anyone seen this?

As someone who was born at St. Mary’s in Duluth but grew up mostly in Superior, I’ve often wondered why anyone would want to live on the side of a huge rock. Sure the view from the hill is nice, but so is the view of the hill. I mean you people can’t play sports without worrying about chasing the ball 2 miles down the hill into the lake if you miss it. And there’s the driving in winter thing. Anyways I am wondering what the steepest streets in Duluth are. Here’s a few to get started with, at 4thAve.E.&1st St. and 26th Ave.E.&Superior St.:

steep 001.jpgsteep 002.jpg

Cloquet State Forest up for ATV designation

If you are against Motorized use in our state lands you need to go to this site and read about how you can lend a voice to stop it. Ask for the Limited Use Designation and help stop the destruction of our forests.

I Once Was Lost, Now I'm Found!

About a year ago I submitted a funny note I found on the hillsides of Duluth to Found Magazine. On their homepage they have the find of the day and I thought my note would be perfect. Well I waited and waited and went to the site every day for a long time and figured my find didn't make the cut. Till today! You can check it out right here. Sometimes it is the simple things that can make your day.

If the note seems familiar it is because I posted it on PDD when I found it.

April 24, 2007

Last Week in Astronomy

Venus and the crescent Moon as seen from Minneapolis. Quite a beautiful sight in the sky.

good thing

dine out.gif
here you go.

April 23, 2007

Graphic Shenanigans


My friend, and favorite graphic designer is having his Senior Show Tuesday at The Tweed Museum. 4-6pm.

Cheese and Crackers will be provided.

As well as a bit of music.


usually i would never except something that hieko actually hands to me, but in this case, i had no choice.

April 22, 2007

PDD Game Night


What: Come play games with your fellow PDD members!

When: Monday, April 23 at 6pm-ish

Where: Robin Goodfellow's

Come play with your fellow PDD game players! Much fun will be had! Food will be ordered! Anyone is welcome! Learn a new game or play an old favorite! Bring a game you've been dying to play or wait and see what shows up! See you there!

April 20, 2007



Hello all
I would like to get my wife a hand held GPS for her birthday as she thinks that Geocaching would be fun. I was just curious if anybody here had any recommendations on brands they like or too avoid…thanks in advance

April 19, 2007

Uncle Loui's Burns!

Uncle Loui's Burns!

Circa 7pm today I noticed the smoke billowing out of Uncle Loui's Cafe on 4th Street, and luckily I had my trusty camera at my side. About a minute later the D.F.D. arrived, busted in though the glass and put out the smouldering blaze.

Guess we won't be having any gyro omelets anytime soon. Oh, well.

UPDATE: $75,000 in damages

No $#@*

So, um... .

...ATHSH! Issue 8 / Showcase

If you're interested in checking out some new music tonight, head down to Pizza Lucé at 10pm for the April ...And The Heroine Screams Help! showcase and Issue 8 release party. Music starts at 10pm. $3 cover. All Ages.


Free quizno's subs for the next 26 years!


Pac Man Competition.

some odd prizes....

the ole five and dime

Say, for those who may be interested, RedRabbitRiversmith is all new, much slicker.

April 18, 2007

Video+Animation+Games Symposium

atari2600.jpgThe Video, Animation & Games Symposium will be held at UMD on Friday April 27 from 10 am until 7 pm in the UMD Ballroom. This event is FREE and open to the public!

The main audience will be students and professional videographers, artists and programmers. Some of the people presenting from UMD/Duluth are running a vr lab (with helmet), a game usability testing lounge and an animation demonstration. Students will have the opportunity to try the x-box 360 and other games and video equipment. The Symposium will also have a video theatre featuring locally made videos.

Hands-on video production activities may include how to create family history films, TV commercials and learning digital storytelling techniques. Students will have a chance to meet industry professionals and university professors specializing in video, games and animation. There will be about five speakers throughout the day, as well as stations where students can try video, game-making and animation creation techniques.

HCIS Students will be there sharing the wonderful world of blender.

April 17, 2007

Desperate times call for desperate measures


So, what’s the weirdest cocktail you’ve thrown together? I’m not saying this is anywhere near number one, I’m just pointing out that right now I’m mixing Mount Gay Premium White Rum with Diet Pepsi Jazz Black Cherry/French Vanilla and the original version of The Wicker Man.

It’s pretty good. You know, in a bad way.

A Little Light Music

Local Trophy-Maker has Never Won an Award (4th alt. ending)


SUPERIOR, WI – Despite a career spanning more than eleven years in his family's trophy and plaque-making business, local businessman Gerry Irvin has himself never won any type of award. “I was never that much into sports, games, or other forms of competition I guess,” Irvin said. “I come from a pretty low-key, serene family. In fact, I think my dad was in a coma for six years. I have no idea what it's like to win one of these little plastic things I spend so much time working on.”
When asked whether he had ever even been nominated for an award - for something like his trophy-making skills for example - Mr. Irvin went to his workbench, pulled out a bottle of rum, lit a fattie, turned on Bob Marley's 'One Love', and went back to polishing a junior curling tournament trophy he was working on.

If you didn't already know....

Miss Haley Bonar and Mr. Chris Koza are playing at UMD in the rafters tonight at 10pm.

Free if you have a U-Card...5$ for general public.

If you haven't seen Chris Koza chances are he will blow you away.

Sorry, Engelbert, I gotta make room...

...for my new favorite band:


Explosions in the Sky

hell yeah. Where have these guys been all my life? Texas? Oh, okay, I guess they're from Texas. whodathunkit?

Everything I love about Godspeed!, but not quite as dark and brooding. Epic. Symphonic. Orchestral. Not a whole lot of words to muddle things up.

Oh yeah, the new Modest Mouse kicks some boo-tay too...

April 16, 2007

Burrito Union


I went to Burrito Union this last Friday with a friend and was pleasantly surprised. I ordered the Imperial Chicken and he ordered the Fat Capitalist. "It used to be called the Capitalist Pig," the person behind the counter said, "but some people were offended."

The decor was fun and eclectic. It reminded me of places I used to go to when I lived in the Evanston, Roger's Park area in Illinois. The mix and match chandeliers were a lot of fun and I appreciated the restoration of the orignal patterned ceiling. It sure doesn't look like the old co-op anymore.

The burritos themselves were huge and delicious. They cost a bit, $6.50 - $8.50 range, but you get a lot for that price. The burritos are also served with a complimentary side of chips.

Most intriguing to me is how the old Soviet Union is now nostalgic and can be used as a theme for a burrito restaurant of all things. Bozhe moi!

I give it four and a half red stars out of five.

So, how was it for you, comrade?

I Hate Cell Phones.


I am considering getting back into the Cell Phone carrying world and I would love to hear the PDD community rant and rave about their service. I hardly ever leave town so the unlimited Unicel service seems enticing but the roaming charges are super high. Let me know what you love and what you hate.

Thank you in advance and stay tuned for my big announcement.

Duluth Area Trails Association (DATA)

Hey Anybody interested in helping Duluths Trails should check out this site.

Hans Johnson on Rocketboom today



Fun! Interactive!


The Duluth News-Tribune ran this story about health code violations in Twin Ports area restaurants. But even better than that is this fun, interactive map on the DNT website, where you can click on your favorite restaurant and see what codes it has recently violated.

It's the most fun I've had all day.

April 15, 2007

Honeybees vanishing across planet

I just stumbled across this article, maybe it's old news to you all, but it's frightening enough to read again and keep it from becoming just old news.


The Press Release


Monday's the new Sunday

The Histrionics
One of the year's more rompous nights of Duluth's patented mix of rock 'n weird is going down this Monday at the Red Lion. There's something for everyone (and their misc. family member). The bands are: The Turds(young upstarts from Bemidji), Haus Meeting(that's us), Pelvic Hugs(a punker-house band from Mpls), Witch's Perm (from KC)features an aerobic dance routine, and The Histrionics (from Seattle) you should check out for yourself: www.myspace.com/thehistrionics -It's going to something awesome...
9pm - 2 bucks

RIP Tiny Bubbles

Don Ho

Don Ho

PDD Game Night


What: PDD Game Night
When: Monday, April 16 at 6pm-ish
Where: Robin Goodfellow's

Come and play games with your fellow PDD Gamer Geeks. The more the merrier! Food will be ordered! Fun will be had! First level Gully Dwarf Republicans will be destroyed! Bring a new game, bring your own games or just bring yourself! See you there!

The graphic is a hieroglyph of the first known board game, called 'senet.' I thought it was kinda cool.

April 14, 2007

i (heart) fatherhood...


April 13, 2007

You have to admire his determination


An intoxicated 39 year old man decided an early April evening would be a fine time to go out and climb the Cribs. Looks like Lundgren's infamous "Unidentified man" is at it again.

The story from the DNT



April 12, 2007

BREAKING NEWS: Amanda Congdon is a Tool

Okay so it's old news.

And she's been criticized for her lack of journalistic integrity and for being a corporate shill.

But hold on, it gets worse.

Amanda Congdon's Dupont "Infotainmercials" are also a video response. A sly, corporate video response to the Sierra Club's online video, Dupont, Dioxin and Duplicity. Of course, nobody from Dupont would ever admit this but humor me for a moment.

Some commenters have assumed that because Dupont hired Congdon, they were trying to reach the web-savvy-hipster demographic. But take a closer look at the content of the videos. Two of them are entitled "Protecting the Protectors." Congdon tells us about the police officers and the firemen whose "sense of duty and heroism" make it impossible for them to run away. "Car Artists" is about the paint used on custom cars. In "Glass Houses" Amanda talks about Dupont's amazing architectural miracles, such as "the most exciting seat in sports, the Nascar Monster Bridge over the Dover International Raceway." She ends the video with the tagline, "nothing is impossible so long as you keep the faith, aka Science." So science is just another one of the world's religions?

Dupont isn't targeting web savvy hipsters. They're targeting "dumb southerners". Watch the Sierra Club video and it all starts to make sense. One of those "dumb southerners" just won a $14 million dollar lawsuit, claiming his rare form of cancer was caused by eating dioxin laced oysters. And he's only the first. There are thousands of other people in Mississippi suffering from bizarre ailments and rare cancers.

The Sierra Club video ends with subtitles: "Hurricane Katrina flooded and damaged the Delisle Dupont plant. Dupont denies the release of any toxins." Of course, DuPont denies turning the Gulf Coast into a toxic waste dump. In the video "Shelter from the Storm", Congdon tells us about Dupont's SentryGlas and how it keeps houses from falling apart in hurricanes. So from now on, every time I hear the words "hurricane" and "DuPont", I'm going to think of the friendly corporation that saves lives with their "miracles of science".

Congdon reports that "Dupont is VERY happy". Why wouldn't they be happy? They've got a young woman who claims to "care deeply about the environment". Someone who was sponsored by an environmental organization to vlog her cross country trip in a hydroelectric car. Someone who interviewed Darryl Hannah (the host of the Sierra Club videos!) and was treated with huge respect. Someone who continues to deny that there's anything wrong with doing commercials for DuPont and says "I think what they do for the world . . . outweighs their big mistakes".

I'm sure Dupont can't believe it's extreme good luck and your credulousness, Amanda. Next time you cry crocodile tears for New Orleans, wipe your eyes on dollar bills.

Evolution Revolution!

Star Wars: The Muppets Strike Back

I found this here-5 Freaky Muppet Videos

April 11, 2007

Kurt Vonnegut

November 11 , 1922 – April 11 , 2007

Hobbits Unite!

Aaron Ashley showed this to me tonight. I never knew the Lord of the Rings could be so fun! The dancing is TOP NOTCH!

fartwell tour's last show as fartwell tour. high plains drifter issue release show

you might not like us, but you sure as hell better like mr. sides and high plains drifter.

this show's also the last time we're playing the farewell tour songs. they'll be retired after this. (yeah, we know that's a good thing...)

we're also giving away the rest of our farewell tour merchandise. namely cds and stickers. first come first serve.

Use Crisco. It's digestible!

enough with event announcements!!! (no not really) It's time for the joys of Americana

art guild silent auction


Acoustic Rock Monsters

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket

Muslims and the West in the Age of Globalization: TONIGHT

Alworth Institute's Annual Memorial Lecture 2007(our big event)

Presented by Dr. Ahmed Samatar
Wednesday, April 11, 2007
Kirby Student Center Ballroom
7:30 p.m.
Free and Open to the Public
Reception Following the Lecture

Dr. Ahmed Samatar, Dean of the Institute for Global Citizenship at Macalester College, St. Paul, is the keynote speaker for the Alworth Institute for International Studies’ Annual Memorial Lecture 2007.

Samatar’s lecture, entitled “Muslims and the West in the Age of Globalization”, examines Islam, the Western world and globalization. Samatar’s areas of expertise are global political economy, political and social thought, and African development. His current research focuses upon two topics: Leadership and the state in Somalia, and Globalization and the rise of Islamic consciousness.

Congressional hearings this weekend in Duluth


The New Congress

Friday & Saturday - April, 13 & 14th 2007 (10 pm)

Tap Room - Grand Opening!
(formerly 21 North above the D.A.C.)
21 West 4th Street, Duluth, Minnesota

With special guest on bass, Rick Kinchen from Mint Condition

April 10, 2007

Free Democracy Summit (April 13-15)

This weekend (April 13-15) is the 4th annual Free Democracy Summit - a weekend of art, education, and inspiration. It has been put on by students from the MPIRG (Minnesota Public Interest Research Group) chapter of UMD for the past four years, focusing on homelessness and housing, environmental issues, trade policies, discrimination, and much more through panel discussions, music, workshops, activities, and community gathering! I posted a schedule of what will be happening during the course of the weekend. It is a really great way to connect with people on the issues that really do affect all of us. The whole weekend is free, Becky Lourey will be speaking, and we have some great Native American music and art events happening Friday night. Check it out!


Friday, April 13th

American Indian Arts and Music Festival-Mitchell Auditorium College of St. Scholastica Mitchell Auditorium

• 3:00pm-9:00pm Art showing and tabling-Mitchell Foyer
• 3:30pm Anishinaabe Youth Chorus-Mitchell Auditorium
• 5:00pm-6:00pm Feast-Mitchell Foyer
• 6:00pm-Stage Show-Mitchell Auditorium
1. Women’s Hand Drum Group
2. Indian Electric featuring Pat Vegas from Redbone
3. John Trudell and Quiltman

RT Quinlan’s Show-10:00pm
Crew Jones
Freak the Lick
Sacred Soil
White or wheat

Saturday, April 14th

Free Democracy Summit Panel Discussions-Harbor City International School

• 9:30am-11:00am-Panel Session 1
Global Warming Solutions
Exporting Capitalism: Understanding the WTO, IMF, World Bank and NAFTA
Housing, Healthcare and Moving your Way out of Poverty

• 11:15am-12:45pm-Panel Session 2
Global Labor Movement
Student Housing in Duluth
The Bottom Line of the Meat Industry
Capitalism and the Commons


•1:30pm-3:00pm-Panel Session 3
The Fair Trade Movement
Discrimination, Gentrification and Housing
Media in America
The Proposed Polymet Mine
The Department of Peace

•Open Mic Stage, April 14, 2nd Floor Harbor City International School
Organized by Harbor City High School students & Art of Peace.
There will be a sign up sheet on the day for those who'd like to perform

•Art Exhibit, April 14, Harbor City School, displayed throughout building
Organized by Free Democracy Summit. Contact

•Community footprints banner, April 14, on-going, Skywalk at Harbor City
School, 2nd Fl.
Add your footprint and/or a word or phrase which represents the way in which
you make small or big steps on the path to peace to a large community
banner. Be inspired by messages passed down through the generations, and be
entertained by the antics of a band of "peace clowns." Contact: Art of Peace

•Community labrynth, April 14, on-going, location TBA.
Find a rock you can easily hold and carry, not too small, not to big. Paint
it on your own sometime before the event or bring it on Saturday to paint.
Paint a word/s, symbol/s, or image/s that you see as a "stepping stone" to
peace. The rocks will be arranged on Saturday to create a labrynth. Contact:
Art of Peace.

•Evening performance, April 14, 7pm, location TBA
Organized by Art of Peace and Harbor City International School students.
Planning still underway. Contact: Art of Peace

Trampled By Turtles-10:00pm Pizza Luce

Sunday, April 15th

Harbor City International School

• 10:00am-11:00am-Interfaith Service-Interfaith Church
• 11:00am-11:30am-Sarah Thomsen Sing Along
• 11:30am-1:00pm- the People’s Brunch with Becky Lourey
• 1:00pm-2:00pm
Non-Violent Direct Action
Worm Composting
Arguments for Activists
An effective Letter Writing Campaign
Organic Cooking on a low income budget

NPR Live Concert Series

NPR Live Concert Series
Live Tonight: Low with Loney, Dear

Full Concert Webcast on NPR.org from the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C.

The live webcast of both Low and Loney, Dear is part of NPR Music's live online concert series with All Songs Considered host Bob Boilen.

Starting at 8:30 EDT -- that is 7:30 Duluth Time!
NPR Live Concert

summer sport leagues

Does anyone know where you could sign up for summer sport leagues in Duluth? I haven't gotten passed the YMCA which doesn't offer much. I'm looking for Soccer, Softball, or Volleyball.

April 09, 2007

someone's in the kitchen with satan

......... "This boat belongs to him, and it sits just three miles from the site of what will -- on June 1, 2007 -- become the second Hell's Kitchen. A cavernous old antique mall on Canal Park, the jewel of tourism on Duluth's North Shore, the building will soon have massive red cathedral-domed doors and a 12-foot gate covered with chains and iron bric-a-brac. Inside, a kitchen nearly double the size of the one in Minneapolis will serve a 140-seat restaurant three meals a day. There will be an area set aside exclusively for the manufacture of Hell's now world-famous peanut butter. And this once depressed, lonely, obese, mentally ill and impoverished man will -- together with his woman at the wheel -- launch a restaurant empire."

I'm sure this has been blogged about here before but I read this article at work today .. when I should have been working .. because I saw a billboard on my way back to Duluth last night .. It said Hell's Kitchen - in Duluth's Canal Park. How out of the loop am I [and I work at a place where I should be squarly in the loop] that I nearly slammed on my breaks and said ... whhhhaaaa [in my best Moe impression].

I'm tingling with anticipation!!

happy monday PDD'ers


i realize you have to go through some ads to get to the article .. it's a good article so i thought i'd just post it


March 27, 2007 | On the southwest side of downtown Minneapolis sits an old, smoke-darkened brick building. It's home to an appliance mart, a nail salon, a violin repair shop, and a long alley-shaped restaurant identified only by a sign that reads: Hell's Kitchen. Just blocks from the city's busy convention center, somehow the corner manages to look deserted even on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

Inside Hell, however, it's another story.

The blood-red walls are hung with black fixtures and artwork by Ralph Steadman, whose leering skeletons and cartoon crows are like the "Bloom County" of the underworld. Behind the maitre d' station, handing out pagers, stands a tall, dark Elvira wearing Goth makeup -- whiteface, inch-thick eyeliner, some kind of bolt through her lip -- and a silk kimono with puffy Shrek slippers. She's scowling. The room is mobbed, she's running out of waiting space, and the post-church crowd is getting mean.

Meanwhile, a server in pink Winnie the Pooh pajamas hurries from the kitchen in back, her tray loaded with bison benedict, lemon-ricotta hotcakes, scrambled eggs with shrimp, and foie gras in black truffle sauce, plus a basket of bread and a glass pot of homemade peanut butter. She's headed for a table by the window. But as she tries to cross the entryway, a bulky guy with a mustache steps out and blocks her way.

"You're not getting through until I get my table," he says. Then, turning toward the maitre d' station. "Just seat me now, and your waitress can go deliver her food."

The server starts to cry and mascara runs in rivers down her cheeks. But the hostess is unfazed. She's seen this before: Customers who come to Hell's Kitchen never give up and go elsewhere; there's not another restaurant in the world that serves sweet sausage bread stuffed with buffalo meat, pecans, currants and black coffee.

She tells the customer she'll find the owner, who will see to him personally. The man smirks and steps aside; the server sniffles and delivers her meals. Everything is pacific for a moment.

And then a collossus in a chef coat comes lurching from the back of the restaurant. Six and a half feet tall in steel-toed cowboy boots, with thick white hair and tiny gold spectacles, he moves through the crowd headfirst, like a bullet, apologizing politely as he goes. His voice is loud and reedy, like a bassoon. "Excuse me, excuse me."

At the front of the restaurant, he stops and his face twists, a Steadman character come to life. "OK, where is this asshole?"

The server, returning with her empty tray, nods in the direction of the mustachioed man. Mitch Omer, Hell's Kitchen's owner and chef, pivots, reaches out. "No one fucking treats my people that way," he says calmly, yanking open the front door. Then, glowering down at the man, his volume rising. "Now get the hell out of my restaurant and do not come back again."

It's clear to everyone in the place -- including the ones who applaud -- that he means it.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
I first met Mitch Omer in late summer of 2004. I was a Minneapolis food editor with pages to fill when a woman called, telling me that her husband had auditioned for a new reality cooking series because his restaurant had the same name as the show: Hell's Kitchen.

It was a pretty slim hook for a story. But I was desperate and the restaurant was around the corner from my office, so I grabbed a notebook and walked over.

At 11 a.m., Hell's Kitchen was mostly empty. And the man I'd been sent to interview didn't seem at all happy to see me: His hair was wild, his face creased. He looked as if he'd been sleeping somewhere in the recesses of this blood-red cave. Still, he sat and offered me something to drink.

"I heard about this TV show called "Hell's Kitchen," he began. His voice echoed with energy. "I hate reality TV. And I have proprietary rights over the name Hell's Kitchen -- at least, I do here in Minnesota. So I started making phone calls." Then he discovered the show would offer a fully equipped high-end Los Angeles restaurant to the winner, and that tryouts were going to be held in Minneapolis. He went to the casting call, completed a videotaped interview, and filled out a 25-page application. But no one from the show "Hell's Kitchen" ever called.

Dead end, I recall thinking: He tried out, he failed. No story here.

But to be polite, I scribbled some notes and poured my tea. It was an umber Asian blend that tasted of lavender, thunder and earth. Omer leaned back in his chair, peering at me over his little glasses.

"They probably thought I was too old, which is shit," said Omer, who had just celebrated his 50th birthday. "But I think I had about a dozen other factors working against me, too, not the least of which is my foul language. And I probably shouldn't have told them I'm manic-depressive, or that I was treated for alcohol abuse last summer. I said that I own handguns. They asked if I'd spent time in jail and I said, 'Yes, I have, actually.' A studio executive sees someone with my profile, he might think I'm a risk."

I looked up to see if he was joking. His blue eyes were as clear as a baby's.

"Hey, you want something to eat?" he asked.

I shook my head. As a food critic, I'd found it was necessary to conserve, eating sparsely on my own time so I could go out and sample calorie-laden dishes all over town. That day, I'd already had my allotted apple for breakfast; lunch would be a cup of yogurt, after I ran a couple miles at the gym.

But Omer paid no attention. He stood, towering over me, and beckoned over a young man whose lips were studded with bolts. "Get her some Mahnomin porridge," he called out, then turned back to me. "You'll love this; it's my own recipe."

Not five minutes later, a bowl the circumference of a frisbee arrived and inside was a colorful, steaming stew of wild rice, roasted hazelnuts, dried blueberries and cranberries. I took a tentative spoonful and the taste was of nutty popcorn, sunlight, blueberry pie and chewy fruitcake -- all nestled inside a maple-spiked custard that had the mouth feel of gently whipped cream.

I ate while Omer talked.

He went to Iowa State on a football scholarship, but walked off the field one day when he realized he hated the sport. Then he hitchhiked around the country for a while, landing in Oklahoma and marrying at the age of 21. He and his 16-year-old bride moved to the Twin Cities, looking for work. He got a job as a prep cook and sent away for a clergy license from the back of Rolling Stone, becoming a minister with the Church of Mother Earth so he could perform wedding ceremonies on the side.

An explosive employee who was fired repeatedly, Omer partied hard and fought with his young wife. When they divorced in the late 1970s, he took a job as a security guard with traveling rock bands. The life suited him. He got to see the country, and the drugs were good. Somewhere along the line, he got married for a second time and had three children. But instead of settling down, Omer just got wilder.

Then came the Waylon Jennings tour of 1981. Omer found a concertgoer trying to steal some of the band's equipment. At roughly 300 pounds, Omer easily could have restrained him; instead, he kicked the kid nearly to death.

"That's when I knew I had to quit." I paused, spoon midway to my mouth. There were tears in this huge stranger's eyes and he reached out to touch my hand. "I was out of control. I was hurting people, and I didn't know why."

So Omer moved his family back to Minneapolis and went back to kitchen work because it was all he knew. But this time, he landed at the New French Café -- arguably the city's best restaurant at the time -- and the head chef there quickly realized Omer had talent. Suddenly, he said, he was "lit on fire to cook." And all was good for about a year. But then his behavior deteriorated again, his second marriage ended. Omer was fired from the only job he'd ever loved.

Lonely and broke, he began eating compulsively and gained 150 pounds. Morbidly obese, he moved to northern Minnesota, where he passed years working as a short-order cook and nighttime radio DJ. Mornings he would take saunas then run naked through the frozen forest, his long hair streaming behind him. Eventually, he quit at the request of law enforcement: skiers who spotted him kept reporting that they'd seen Sasquatch.

By then, my porridge was mostly gone and finally, I couldn't eat any more. But also, I was beginning to think this man might make a good story after all.

"So how did you get from there to here?" I asked.

"Two things," he boomed. "I went to a psychiatrist who diagnosed me as bipolar with obsessive-compulsive tendencies. And I had gastric bypass." Though the irony inherent in a starving chef was not lost on Omer, food -- more specifically, food in excess -- had been the constant through his loveliest highs and vilest lows. And so, in 1999 he underwent the procedure, and immediately lost 165 pounds. And once he was normal size again -- or what passes for it when you're a hair over 6-foot-4 -- and on a cocktail of drugs that successfully controlled his moods, he got a new chef job, a good one. Then he met Cynthia.

"You gotta talk to her! She's the best thing that's ever happened to me. And she's a monster of a businesswoman. It's because of her that I have...," he opened his arms wide, "this."
Click Here!

So I did. The following day I met Cynthia Gerdes, founder of Creative Kidstuff -- a $10 million Minneapolis toy company -- for a glass of wine. And she started telling the story where Omer had left off: In 2000, she was married with two children and a thriving business, but she wasn't happy.

"Oh, my first husband was a wonderful man." A small, round woman with curly, dark hair, Gerdes ate a green salad entirely with her fingers. "But we were so mismatched. I'm all crazy and tons of energy and totally ADHD, and he was just ... not."

She decided to divorce around the same time Omer posted a personal ad on AOL. Gerdes logged on, contacted him, and the two were engaged within months. "I said in my first note to him that I was looking for someone who was sane and insane at the same time." She rolled her eyes and laughed loudly. "Boy, did I ask for it!"

They married in 2001. Omer cleaned up and began slowly to repair his troubled relationships with his kids. Then, in 2002, he and Gerdes conceived and opened Hell's Kitchen, a unique spot that, ironically, played up all of Omer's old demons: rock 'n' roll, Goth culture, excess and rich food. And even as he settled down personally, Omer's manic past turned him into a raging commercial success. By the time I met them, the business was solidly in the black -- a rarity among new restaurants -- thanks to Omer's off-kilter gourmet recipes and Gerdes' careful management.

I went back to my office and the story practically wrote itself.

The truth: I'm not an unbiased source. I was, back then. But today, Mitch Omer and Cynthia Gerdes are my friends. Because when I met them, my life changed for the better in a multitude of ways, much as theirs did when they found each other. And I'm not the only one.

My article about Mitch Omer hit newsstands in November of 2004, and readers responded in droves. Business at the restaurant hit an all-time high, and letters poured into the magazine. "It's so wonderful to read about someone who figured out his life and found true love at 50," one person wrote. "This gives me hope."

It gave me hope, too. At 39, I was tiring of the restaurant beat. I loved the personal stories, like Omer's, but loathed the politics of the job. I'd never been a foodie, but my publisher was, and he sometimes tried to steer the course of my reviews. Worse, my three children spent most evenings in front of the TV, eating things they'd heated up in the microwave, because I was always out. My friends had given up on my ever being available for a Friday night movie. I hadn't had a real date in months.

And I had bigger worries. My older son, Andrew -- long autistic in a gentle, ethereal sort of way -- had become at 17 suddenly volatile and depressed. If I was lonely, he was isolated. But everything I tried to get him out into the world failed miserably: He was too inhibited for school groups, too stilted during interviews to land a part-time job.

None of this was in the front of my mind when I got a call from someone at National Public Radio, asking me to recommend some spots for Jane and Michael Stern -- the "Roadfood" duo -- to try when they visited Minneapolis. Then, I was thinking only of the heavenly Mahnomin porridge and Omer's sausage bread, smoky, sweet and so dense that a single slice could be used to tack down a stack of papers in a stiff wind.

But when the Sterns' review came out a couple months later, calling Hell's Kitchen "inspired and inspiring" and referring to "huevos rancheros of the gods" and "the best peanut butter we have ever sampled, anywhere," business went through the roof. And Cynthia called me.

"It's all your fault," she said. "People are calling from all over the world to get our peanut butter! We need to put together an assembly line, fast. What's Andrew doing this summer? Tell him he's got a job."

With anyone else, it might have seemed like quid pro quo. But that's just not how these people work. At Hell's Kitchen, where customers can get a free cinnamon roll if they come for breakfast still in their pajamas, my eccentric, mostly silent child somehow fit right in.

When I left the magazine in late 2005, publishing an exposé about the reviewer's life and taking a job in corporate marketing, most of the people in the food world promptly forgot my name. Mitch and Cynthia threw a holiday party in my honor, toasted my ethical stance, and offered to employ my other son, as well.

"I'm so glad you're out of that job," Cynthia said, hugging me. "Now it's time to get online and find you a man."

We'd been having this conversation for months: Internet personals had worked magic for them. "There's no way we would have met otherwise; our paths never would have crossed!" Cynthia argued. I maintained that their relationship was a fluke, bizarrely lucky in a way that could never be duplicated.

But one cold, dark winter night, I capitulated. Sitting in my office with a laptop and a glass of wine I logged on, dashed off a cuttingly honest profile and wrote to three appropriately aged men, mostly based upon their taste in music and books.

One of them answered: someone I never would have met otherwise, whose path I never would have crossed. Six weeks later, we were engaged.

- - - - - - - - - - - -
After a wrenching divorce and six years spent swearing I'd never marry again, I find myself one cool, bright day in fall, floating on a 48-foot cruiser off the shore of Lake Superior, holding the hand of a gentle, long-haired biker I've come to love. Cynthia is driving the boat. My three children look on, swaying in time with the waves. And Mitch looms over all of us, his white hair haloed by the early afternoon sun.

This boat belongs to him, and it sits just three miles from the site of what will -- on June 1, 2007 -- become the second Hell's Kitchen. A cavernous old antique mall on Canal Park, the jewel of tourism on Duluth's North Shore, the building will soon have massive red cathedral-domed doors and a 12-foot gate covered with chains and iron bric-a-brac. Inside, a kitchen nearly double the size of the one in Minneapolis will serve a 140-seat restaurant three meals a day. There will be an area set aside exclusively for the manufacture of Hell's now world-famous peanut butter. And this once depressed, lonely, obese, mentally ill and impoverished man will -- together with his woman at the wheel -- launch a restaurant empire.

Today, however, Omer's menu is simple: satin slices of beef tenderloin with sharp, creamy horseradish sauce; garlic crostini cooked golden to their tips; grilled shrimp, lined up like bass clefs on a doily-covered platter; strawberries dipped in bittersweet chocolate and dusted with powdered sugar. We all hold glasses of Korbel, even the 12-year-old, and Mitch raises his so it sparkles in the dazzle of water and sky and light.

"I'm honored by the opportunity to unite these two beautiful souls," he begins. Then his voice cracks and he takes a step back, tilting us northward, to wipe furiously at his eyes. "Ah, fuck ... I promised myself I wouldn't do this. Give me a minute, OK?"

And we wait, while the boat rocks and slows and settles, for him to go on.

April 08, 2007

Tangier 57 - Red Star - 4/19


Peep Jousting

I've seen "Peep Jousting" before, but this video cracks me up (with the dramatic music & subtitles).
Happy Easter (I'll be spending it alone with my sinus infection - yummy).

April 07, 2007

Let's just prove them right...

April 06, 2007


Is Crew Jones Playing tonight (Friday)? I heard it in passing and didn't notice any promo, if so when/where?

Putin, Politics and 2008


Alworth Institute International Lecture Series Presents:

“Putin, Politics and 2008”
Lecture by Dr. Sergey Sevastiyanov

Monday, April 9, 2007
UMD Library Fourth Floor Rotunda
7:30 p.m.
Free and Open to the Public
Reception Following the Lecture

With Russian President Vladimir Putin’s second term coming to the end, Sevastiyanov describes what kind of Russia Putin constructed and adds insight about what may happen to the political climate in Russia, as well as Russian-American relations, after his term ends.

Dr. Sergey Sevastiyanov is a visiting Fulbright professor at the University of Louisville and Director of the International Studies Center at Vladivostok State University, Russia.

April 05, 2007

My Alma Mater...


The Last Exit on Brooklyn ...my genesis...

I learned here, I grew up here, got drunk, got stoned, tripped my ass off here.

In reality, a more degenerate establishment never existed. "Foul Stanky" is what we called it.

But it was home. It was where we lived, where we loved. It was where we gathered before leaving town, and where we met on our return.

I could tell you stories, from my perspective, based on five years of "residence" in this place that could sometimes be regarded as indeed the "Center of the Universe," though residents of Fremont like to lay claim to that title as well.

And I do love to tell them, too...


April 04, 2007


Hey PDDers,

I recently began working as the program associate/ event planner for the Royal D. Alworth, Jr. Institute for International Studies. Basically the Alworth Institute runs a series of events for the community on international studies/international issues. Some of our events may be of interest to PDDers, some may not. Either way, you'll be hearing about them. Here's this week's event:


Alworth International Brown Bag Series

Presented by Susnana Pelayo-Woodward, Director of the Multicultural Center at UMD.
Thursday, April 5, 2007
12:00 p.m.
UMD Library 4th Floor Rotunda
Free and open to the public

In January 2007, several UMD students participated in a study abroad program in Mexico focusing on the impact of globalization and NAFTA on Mexican indigenous people. They traveled in Mexico City and Chiapas visiting historical sites and meeting with non-profit organizations dealing with human rights, immigration and agricultural issues. The students also stayed with families in a Tzosil indigenous community where they learned about Peace Communities in the highlands of Chaipas.


My video SUMMER STORM is included in the 2007 FLUX iPod Film Festival and if I get enough public votes I could win an iPod or maybe a cup of coffee. Go to the site, click on THE KITCHEN SINK link and on the SUMMER STORM links to view or vote. You have to register to vote, but it's easy to do so. I think you can even download all the films to your iPod if you want. Thanks!

April 03, 2007

A little comix remixing

So I was borered tonight and a little reading at the Comics Curmudgeon produced this

I thought I knew them ...

Dana Cunningham
David Livingston
Brad Nelson
Chris Monroe
Frank Nichols

Giljunko members:
Mark Lindquist
Chris Whittier
Rob May
Patrick Nelsburger

I'm stuck in a hotel room without cable, but with wireless. I'm bored.

I guess I don't even know myself:
Jason Cork

Transistor is back online

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at Photobucket


thanks Adam

Lone Space Gunman

jjohnson outed at pride fest!

what we knew all along to be true!

April 02, 2007

Only in Wisconsin !!

[I'll leave the rest up to you]




The Professor missed one of the greatest conspiracies ever: Frank Zappa's bid to take over the world.

April 01, 2007

Music Venue?

Hello music community of Duluth,
I’m pretty new (2 years) to Duluth and I was wondering where music loving people go to see shows? Is there a venue where people go to hear music instead of all that other bullshit (non-music related)? If so, I would like to hear about it. I would like every person’s opinion. If your old, young, middle, black, white (Chicano, hell if I know (hip-hop fans are you with me now?)), listen to any era, type, classification, of music, I WANT YOUR INPUT! If this place doesn’t exist, are there plans for a place like this? If not, I would like to talk to other people and share ideas about this topic. Peace everyone.

Your Friend,
Buffalo Skin

P.S. Go Don(ny) Ness!!!! You have my support and hopefully all of the music community’s. I think you have a level head, a love for Duluth, and a love for music… that’s all any town really needs. When you're mayor of this fine city, will you please not turn into a dirty politician. That’s all I ask.

Conspiracy Buffet [LATE ENTRY UPDATE]

Conspiracy: Yes or No?

1.) JFK
2.) 9/11
3.) Wellstone
4.) RFK
5.) MLK
6.) Space shuttle crash
7.) Marilyn Monroe
8.) Houdini
9.) Runup to Iraq War
10.) Gary Powers' U-2 plane shot down over Russia in 60s
11). Iran-Contra
12.) Watergate
13.) Bob Marley
14.) John Lennon
15.) Release of Aspartame on the market
16.) Release of LSD on Haight-Ashbury
17.) Release of genetically modified organisms in the open air
18.) Plame outing
19.) Leonard Peltier
20.) Karen Silkwood
21.) Enron
22.) Ken Lay
23.) O.J. Simpson
24.) Anna Nicole Smith & Son
25.) Flight 800
26.) Roswell
27.) Vince Foster
28.) Malcolm X
29.) Ronald Reagan (attempt on)
30.) Pearl Harbor
31.) Chappaquiddick
32.) All the plane crashes and tragic deaths of the Kennedy family
33.) De Gaulle
34.) River Phoenix

Extra Credit
35.) Release of crack into inner cities
36.) Cattle mutilations
37.) Bruce Lee & Son
38.) Casting choices of last 3 Star Wars films

LATE ENTRY UPDATE: 39.) The spectacular failure of Jimmy Carter's Iranian Hostage Rescue Chopper Mission, Allegedly Involving Ollie North??


You're Wired!


What: PDD Game Night
When: Monday, April 2 at 6pm-ish
Where: Robin Goodfellow's

Food is generally ordered. Fun is generally had. Intensity varies. Come and have fun with your fellow PDDers!

I may be a few minutes late, but I will be there!

Traditional High School Experience - For adults.

Cafe_Kids_Clean_240px.jpgAfter years of hearing , "I wish they had a school like this when I was in High School", HCIS staff is proud to announce High School for Adults. Un-like the actual HCIS experience this is without any of the educational content and focuses on the cultural aspect of high school. Un-comfortable meetings with parents, Lunch room cleaning, Restorative justice circles, In-School Suspension in the director's office and hats only on wed.

"This cuts to the heart of the experience of American high school...well, for this, we'll add a few things that HCIS doesn't really have like clicques and a football team" says Technology Teacher/Administrator Baci. Other PDD regulars, like HBH will serve as subsistute teachers. Like "real" HCIS, Registration is limited so sign up by posting a comment here on PDD.