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Photo Show - Carlson Bookstore

The Duluth Photographers Guild is having a photography opening TONIGHT at Dominic's Downtown Tattoo. This photography show will feature various artists work related to the now closed "Carlson Bookstore".

Where: Dominic's Downtown Tattoo
Where: 132 E Superior St, Duluth, MN

When: TONIGHT (Friday 8/15/2008)
Time: 8-10pm




It was kind of a bummer to see this billed as the "Boardwalk Books" Duluth icon, instead of "R. O. Carlson Bookstore - Duluth's Finest Tourist Attraction."

Memories that predate Ben and Kevin's hard work. Memories of having an interview with the Old Man in creepy short shorts in his swank, many splendored, tapestried pad in the middle of the summer. Kicking people trying to sell AM/FM alarm clock radios to tourists out the door. Pervs too cheap to buy the internets. The lucky ones trying to sell 10 year-old text books, or magazines they'd swiped from dentist offices when the Old Man walked past (he bought everything. Dylan getting beat up by a pack of 11 year-old girls. The PCI headquarters. Getting to see every new art school girl in fancy glasses walk through the front door. Utterly flummoxed tourists. Half-hearted Chamber stop ins. Bob Boone spending an hour every week to hustle the Old Man out of an $80 ad he never wanted. The best practice space / recording studio spot in town ever, period. John Ziegler getting paid $700 cash a month to "review" used and unmarked VHS porn for "quality" assurance.

Fond, fond memories. And big love to all my coworkers.

*(Everything.) I had an argument against buying a 1992 Lotus 1-2-3 book for over an hour and lost.

Damn. I've been going there since the 80's- every time I've gone through Duluth. I was sad, but understanding, seeing the truncated version the last couple years- depressed when I came to town this spring only to discover it closed.

no photography can ever match the long term insanity this place has caused me.

(and i don't think i can stand looking.)

remember the mushrooms growing in the carpet in the "annex"? the fifty-year-old piles of soda bottles upstairs? the night we came in to work to find that the jerry-rigged, too-high shelving in the annex had fallen like dominoes? (i just turned on my heel and left that day, refusing to gaze upon all my hard work in a gigantic pile on the floor. even if it did include the romance section) the smoking Jerry-rigged electrical system that made customers and inspectors alike swoon like 18th century ladies? the evening some freak shit in the classics aisle and wiped his ass with a copy of Madame Bovary? Daniel, flat on his ass, muttering in Russian? the day Katastrophic Kari peed on the floor in the porn section, and passed out on the ramp with her tee-shirt up around her waist, no undies? the day we arrived at work to find the IRS blockading the door? the holes in the walls and gaps stuffed with porn where the creeps could hide and wank? the weirdos, the tweekers, the porn addicts, the japanese vinyl hunters, the dismayed and angry tourists, the aghast, the scroungers, the homeless, the drunks we knew and loved, the drunks we hated, the 86'd, the lurkers, the thieves (oh, the thieves!)? the endless cry for hand-outs, the gambler's hand in the till?

the endless insubordination that kept the doors open? the hiding of cash beneath the drawer so it wouldn't go drifting out the door?

Angela and Larry and their sick relationship playing out in marijuana tinged paranoia, Jerry the "electrician", his girlfriend Brenda (who died while no one was looking), Loud Kate (now safe and enjoying her retirement in AZ), Craig the sleezy magician, and Daniel the fallen Russian Aristocrat, Bob the album snob, and the amiable Lumpy G. Ernie, who never wore socks, even in winter. the short-timers like Leona and Dave, who apparently got their jobs because they slept with the de facto manager. the Supreme Evil that was Bud. Laurie, whose death was mysterious in its lack of surprise.

the Old Man--the mystery, the incomprehensible stubbornness that was the Old Man. an enigma, a source of inestimable frustration, kind to a fault, weak in his self-indulgence, but incredibly strong in his love for those who were wounded and unwanted. no one remembered that he was the man responsible for making the First Amendment count in Minnesota--that the bookstore was his last stand, the remains of an always wobbly empire. the day his son died, the ancient timbers of that building shook with his grief--a sound i'll never forget as long as i live.

damn. i'm all teary now. the fact is that i could barely stand to visit the place after the Carlson's sign was painted over. i had no money to spend anyway--but it was the change i couldn't bear to witness. it was like i could only walk through it with my eyes closed to keep it as it was in memory.it had to remain untarnished in my memory. but after Bud and Heather ripped off Ben and Kevin, i boycotted forever.

RIP, Duluth's Finest Tourist Attraction. your story is yet to be told. photos are only a tease.

BTW. the Old Man is not a "was"--he's obviously immortal.

(nix)it had to remain untarnished in my memory.(/nix)

Also, the name of the place was Carlson Book & Record, as stupid as that might sound. (that name nagged at me like nobody's business. what? did we have One Book, One Record? gah.)

Seems like enough material for a nice indie film. Now if someone would write a screenplay...

If you give me two bucks and buy this AM/FM alarm clock radio from me, I'll write your screenplay.

AM and FM? Done.


Your new family is proud of you Jimi Sides.


Where is all the stuff going? There were some pretty excellent posters in there if I remember correctly.

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