Stories from Emerson School Apartments

The “Beloved Character” thread made me curious about people’s experiences at Emerson School. Any stories?

(+trivia question: What best-selling author went to school at Emerson as a boy?)

35 Comments

Dave Sorensen

about 11 years ago

One time an enormous domestic turkey wandered into the garden at Emerson. It's back was almost waist high. The zoo couldn't come over right away so we herded it into an almost empty room that Bruce R. was about to move into. That was the night Bruce chose to sleep in his new room for the first time. Now Bruce is a very stoic guy, so when he went in to find a huge unidentified turkey in his one-room apartment, HE DIDN'T SAY ANYTHING TO ANYONE! He just went to sleep on the couch!

vicarious

about 11 years ago

The ancient old boiler died in October, and we were heatless well into December. It was coooooold in there.

Finally, around Christmas, we had the new sleek boiler installed. A lot of Emerson residents had left for the holiday. Turns out that when you install a new boiler you have to let it run full bore for a week or so. When the residents returned, plants were wilted and dead, plastic surfaces were melted or wavy. Apparently it was 90 or more degrees inside. 

Not a super exciting story...I'll think of some more.

jheyesen

about 11 years ago

I have fond memories of watching Jes Durfee blow glass with Burning Spear rolling in the background, basketball games with tattooed bikers and drum circles in the old library. A magical little place....

Tim K

about 11 years ago

I remember when Chris LaForge (affectionately know in the building at the time as the "Hippie Nazi") decided to dig up the asphalt on the north side and put in a flower garden. He uncovered an underground cable that was attached to the flag pole and just decided to chop it off. Unfortunately, this was the lightning arrestor for the building and the next time a big storm blew through, almost every one in the building suffered some kind of electronic damage- TVs, answering machines, clock radios, etc. I'm going to guess this was around 1985...

hbh1

about 11 years ago

well, there was the time that Rupert decided to go on the roof with a rifle. but i can't report much, because my cohort and i were maxed out on weirdness from dealing all day with the "interesting Duluth character" of Bossman Bob Carlson to do anything but shut our door, sighing, "Tell us tomorrow how it turns out."

hbh1

about 11 years ago

and that would have been circa 1997.

sparhawk

about 11 years ago

Around '89 or '90, nation of ulysses (DC) and trenchmouth (chicago) played a show in the upstairs commons.  nation' was mindblowing - singer had a broken foot, but didn't let it stop him.  the drummer for trenchmouth was fred armissen, now of the current cast on SNL.  a few years later, i watched the benzene cloud float over duluth from the room mim and i were living in.  we wrote most of the first two low records there...  didn't someone have a half-pipe built in there at some point?

vicarious

about 11 years ago

Our former room in the basement apparently had a half-pipe in it at some point.

Gwanto

about 11 years ago

Not really stories... more like nice moments, and not necessarily in any order of importance: 

1. Watching the fireworks from the roof in 1994. 

2. Parties at Jules Hart & Tara's apartment (1991 or 1992?) where I met and remain friends with many of you older freaks. 

3. Accidentally overhearing Low practice (before their first album was released) while rescuing an abused cat from a friend's ex-boyfriend. Imagine trying to capture and calm a frightened, abused cat to Low's first album when you've never heard that kind of music before. Just a tad bit surreal of an experience.

andy

about 11 years ago

1) Hauling the wood bar out of the creepy basement room with Scott, Kurt and Frank.

2) Writing Nothing For Abbott! above the front door

3) Having the aspiring alcoholics, Brad and Jeff, as neighbors on the kindergarden floor.

jamie

about 11 years ago

It seemed like a few years ago when I lived at Emerson you couldn't go anywhere in the building without hearing some jamaican music.  Either dancehall records, or the Concious Party rehearsing.  ya mon.  that's what I think of when I think about Emerson.  Partying in the Torr and Adio Zone, and all of Adio's paintings everywhere.  Reading the paper with Mike Solon in the morning.  Picking Norby's brain about tube guitar amps, that was realy the best. I miss it!

vicarious

about 11 years ago

I miss Emerson, too. It's a special place.

baci

about 11 years ago

Hey I lived in the half-pipe room in the basement too! THe half pipe was called "The Rat Rut". It eventually became a venerable feature in a skate park in Mpls.

vicarious

about 11 years ago

Baci, in the southwest corner? We were told the holes in the ceiling tiles were from skaters.

c-freak

about 11 years ago

i am the beloved boiler operator character.

xkabukislaybaler

about 11 years ago

The ramp was in Stender's room, NW corner.
I remember LaForge taking down Stender and Tierney's snack wheel wall as soon as he moved in;I think that's when we started calling him the Hippie Nazi. Iron Youth had their debut at Emerson, playing in the middle basement room on Jan 1,1984 around 2am.I remember alot of great art-one of my favorite pieces was Howard's rotting cube steak w/embedded toy soliers in the boiler room. We used to practice in that little room off to the side. Howard's work got pretty rank before Larry made him throw it out. To all of my fellow Emerson inhabitants from that time period, I'd like to say thank you for not calling the police and/or the men in the white suits.
JdB

Dave Sorensen

about 11 years ago

Is JdB (xkabukislaybaler ) Bergie of Iron Youth?

Tim K

about 11 years ago

Bergie = the King of Feedback Guitar!

xkabukislaybaler

about 11 years ago

Bergie is me. Hi, Red. Thanks for the compliment, Tim. I always just thought of myself as an big, drunken attenuator.

Dave Sorensen

about 11 years ago

Bergie, there's a simple reason no one called the men in the white suits to take you away- Emerson was where the men in the white suits DROPPED YOU OFF IN THE FIRST PLACE!
    And not that anyone cares very much, but the answer to the trivia question - What best selling writer attended Emerson as a boy?
 Answer- Zen priest Steve Hagen, author of "Buddhism Plain and Simple", among other books. He came back to Emerson circa 1982 to teach some of us knuckleheads how to stare at the floor.

xkabukislaybaler

about 11 years ago

My guess was Charlie Sobsczak

http://www.indigopress.net/books.shtml

Pat Tierney

about 11 years ago

Ahh, the snackwheel wall was actually a ramen  wrapper wall.

baci

about 11 years ago

haha ... the foggy foggy past ... *cough* ... If you need me later for ball hockey, I'll be up in the doomlord's room playing D&D.

New Year's Eve partys, The chair stuck in Howard's wall. Tom Beaubaire. Colder By The Lake Rehearsals in the hallway. Pre-Wall stairwells for sax solos, Baci-in-the-middle.

I remember being the first person to actually sleep overnight there. Ringsred had purchased it and French Larry and Tom B. hadn't moved in yet. most rooms had some form of old classroom stuff in them like tiny wooden kitchen appliances or huge dominoes. All I had was a sleeping bag, four differently colored carpet squares and some really nice build-in cabinetry. I was REALLY friggan scared. Now I realize it wasn't about what HAD happened, it was about what WAS GOING to happen.

Jim

about 11 years ago

Things I Miss:
 Baci's Drag Birthday Party
 Hearing Low Practice
 Hammering out the Co-Op Bylaws
 Fixin Everyone's Phone Lines
 "Gardening"
 Hangin in the studio w/Oddio
 My Badass First Floor Corner Apartment.

Things I Dont Miss....
 Holier than thou social activists trying to make Emerson safe for Socialism....

Shane

about 11 years ago

Rat Rut?  What does that mean?  When I was in high school the phrase "Rat Rut Lives!" was scrawled in many places in Duluth.  I have always wondered what it meant...

baci

about 11 years ago

Rat Rut was the name of the half-pipe that was built in one of the rooms in emmerson and also the name of howard's band.. People so quickly forget but skateboarding/punk rock have been practiced in Duluth for many years.

Mike Stender

about 11 years ago

For the record:

 "Rat Rut" was the name of a band, but not the name of the half pipe that was in my room, it didn't really have a name, though there was graffiti on it and "Rat Rut" may have been on there. Howard Kempfer (sp?) lived in the room next door that Chris Laforge lived in eventually. Howard fronted Rat Rut a few times, so did I, and SO DID "Brad", a skater dude from the TC's who was going to UMD. I was the only "member" who lived at Emerson, others were Kurt Meyer, Chris Melby, and that useless little eunuch Tom Patterson on drums. We were all skaters and it was all about the banks at UMD or the awesome courtyard at St. Luke's until we built the ramp. Instrumentation was 2 crappy pawn shop guitars with only two strings on 'em plus drums. We maybe had originals but we were pretty improv, just thrashing and screaming, with "covers" of songs by Negative Approach, Circle Jerks,  SS Decontrol, Fang, and of course "Tooling for Anus" by the Meatmen. We played parties and that one all ages show with Iron Youth at the Odyssey and that was about it.

 At the time, there wasn't much indoors to skate in the twin cities so people would actually make the drive in the winter. I remember once having 4 guys up for the weekend, it was Friday night and we were sessioning pretty good, rockin' the Discharge and GBH loudly, when the dad of one of the kids from MPLS. showed up and dragged his son home 'cause he had skipped school (high school) to come skate! Must have been a quiet ride back...

 Low point (apologies to Sparhawk etc. - ha!) was probably when BMX'ers caught wind of it and wanted to ride, they'd just show up whenever and demand to get on it. Even lower was when someone stole (out of my unlocked room) my super-boss Foam and Kevlar Uncle Wiggly Tony Magnusson model with the extra choice yellow magnesium Trackers, one of my favorite boards ever, whoever took it I hope you rot (or have all ready rotted, or whatever).

 Fantastic memories for certain, I feel very lucky to have been part of the early days of Emerson. Glad I missed the Reggae and drum circle days, that would've driven me nuts. In a small melting pot like Duluth, I guess differing alternative-esque cultures need to get along, I wasn't very good at that so I left. Still, solid gold memories man...thanks (and sorry) to everyone who barely tolerated us, espescially Robin directly upstairs!

cannon crombie

about 11 years ago

I guess i wasn't pretentious or cool enough to live at the great Emerson School Apts!

aleasha

about 11 years ago

So many years there, wow, I moved into the aftermath of French Larry moving out.  I walked into my new room, all full of sunlight to find a man in a rainbow hat smoking a bong.

aleasha

about 11 years ago

Jamie, remember the guy who stole Anne's tips from her panty drawer and took Jessica's computer?  Norby cornered him in the second floor bathroom with the heroic use of a large brick.  The cops came, it must have been 4 in the morning by then.  Nearly the whole house stood around in pajamas and bathrobes.  We were all a little dazed and too amped to sleep, so out comes the whisky bottle...

aleasha

about 11 years ago

Hours chasing the pigeons around the attic...if you shine the light just to the side of them, they won't fly away as quick, so you can grab'em.

lived there my gosh

about 11 years ago

Man...this is ...well... 
lived in the Kindergarten ...basement... next to Kurt Mead.  One of the periods of my life that I truly miss.

Gene McKeever

about 10 years ago

Are there apartments available now?

Binghi

about 9 years ago

That was me Norby and Kevin Craig bumping those dancehall records.....BOOM!

Christina Harrison

about 5 years ago

I went to school at Emerson from kindergarten half way thru 3rd Grade (75-79). When I have come back to Duluth I have made it a point to visit the school.  And have been happy to see that it is still standing and not demolished. We had one tragedy but otherwise many happy memories from those four short years.

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