Quantcast

Remembering the Ripsaw’s Transition

RipsawCovers1-6

It’s been 10 years since the Ripsaw published the last of its monthly scandal sheets and converted to an “alternative newsweekly” format. Here’s a look back at the old monthly editions of Duluth’s most infamous rag.

Above are the covers of the first six issues of the modern Ripsaw (January to June, 1999). It should be noted that there was an even more notorious Ripsaw published by John L. Morrison from 1917 to 1926. A lengthy account can be found of the entire history of the Ripsaw on Wikipedia. Somebody even made a long list of headlines from the Morrison years.

Below are issues 7-12, from July to December of 1999. To this day we tease Cord Dada that his cover art was frequently homoerotic.

RipsawCovers7-12

The February 2000 issue was the last of this style. Two months later the Ripsaw became a weekly — and that’s a whole other story. Below is the cover of the last monthly issue. The lead story was about the controversial golf course planned for Spirit Mountain. It was written by Jim Richardson and was very well done. Trust me on that, I don’t have time to transcribe it.

RipsawCoverFeb2000

This issue was kind of transitional for the Ripsaw. Although the look of the paper was still old school, the Morrison style of journalism was gone. (Disclosure: It was my fault; I had just become managing editor.)

During the year the Ripsaw was a monthly it wasn’t unusual at all to take blatant potshots at local politicians, particularly Mayor Gary Doty.

HowdyDoty

Above is the “Howdy Doty” cutout from one of the early issues, complete with movable mouthpiece.

Below are a few advertisements from February 2000 that bring back some memories.

3MinuteHero2Surahoolies2

Remember 3-Minute Hero and Surahoolies? They were out-of-town bands that played several Duluth shows, all of which were a blast. (Here’s a little local music news scoop, by the way: Ballyhoo has been rehearsing for a possible reunion show at this year’s Homegrown. Get ready to party like it’s 1999, though not the way Prince intended.)

BackstageAd2RedLionLoungeAd

Rest in peace, Backstage and Red Lion. What was bizarre about Backstage is that there was always a velvet rope set up on the sidewalk out front and a thug working the door, as if throngs of people were supposed to line up and beg to get in, which never came close to happening.

R.I.P. to RoundAbout Records, too. The Ripsaw moved into an office in the Temple Opera Block in March 2000, right above RoundAbout.

RoundAboutAd2

The photo below is from March 11, 2000. Brad Nelson and Cord Dada, publishers of the Ripsaw, are sorting through the archive of old issues about three weeks before the first weekly issue came out.

BradNelsonCordDada2

37 Comments

Jim M

about 8 years ago

Will the Ripsaw ever come back? Those red Ripsaw distribution boxes are still on Superior Street.

davids

about 8 years ago

wow, thanks Paul! I moved to town just after the Ripsaw shifted to being a weekly--loved it in that format, and miss it deeply. Never had the chance to see it's monthly incarnation. Any copies available for perusal? Does the library have an archive of copies? Or what about the Northeast Minnesota Historical Center Archives located at UMD?

Bad Cat!

about 8 years ago

I miss the Ripsaw. The "Reader" is just not comparable (and by "comparable," I mean "barely readable").

Calk

about 8 years ago

I miss the monthly Ripsaw, it was fabulous, the investigative reporting was top-notch. I'd love to re-read some of those issues, there were some good reporters writing pieces.

Barrett

about 8 years ago

I'm pretty sure the library has copies of all the Ripsaws, though I'm not sure what the protocol for perusal is. Actually, I'm not all that sure, but I do remember when they were attempting to acquire them. I *think* they were successful.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

@Jim M. - Not likely the Ripsaw will ever be revived, but the old dispensers still get used from time to time for various publications, like the guide for the Homegrown Music Festival. @Davids - I'm sure the public library and historical center both have the monthly Ripsaws on microfilm. I'm not positive, but pretty damn sure.

john

about 8 years ago

3 Minute Hero was awesome. Shoulda been a contender. Their in-show boozing seemed to match their frenetic playing. I recall seeing one of their last gigs at the Cabooze and watched as one musician tipped over backwards off the stage. End of brief set II and entire show. Enter paramedics 20 minutes later. Bummer all around. Thanks for the look back on the Ripsaw. It is a testament to all involved that anyone would even care 10 years later. Can we have a Rev105 retrospective too (appealing to pop culture/MN historians)?

hbh

about 8 years ago

I don't know about microfilm, but I was in the Minnesota Room of the main public library a few days ago, and all the Ripsaws were there. (You need to ask to gain access to this room.) I do believe there's also a more public collection of hard copies. And yes, the historical society likewise has copies of all editions.

hbh

about 8 years ago

Also, I have a box with all the Ripsaws. It's hermetically sealed for post-apocalyptic reading, and guarded by Cerberus the Husky-dog.

Calk

about 8 years ago

hbh, as I recall, you wrote some of the most hard-hitting investigative reports for the late lamented Ripsaw. And I do like Barb Olsen's column in the Reader. Bob Boone, when he writes investigative reports for the Reader, always does a kick ass job too, the story he wrote about the Secret Service keeping 3 Duluthians out of the Bush rally was picked up by the national media and Salon or was it Slate did their own story on it.

dr. tomorrow

about 8 years ago

there is no never, there is no death, there is only always

Karasu

about 8 years ago

Some people wish they could go back to High School knowing what they know now; I wish I could go back and redo my time with the Ripsaw. I wish I'd had more self-confidence at the time.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

It bears mentioning that the Transistor is turning six years old this month. The Tranny can certainly be considered a spinoff of the Ripsaw. It's run by Adam Guggemos, the Ripsaw's Web jerk and general hustler. When the Tranny started, all of its contributors were from the Ripsaw. Some of them are still there, including me. Chris Monroe's "Violet Days" is in the Duluth News Tribune. "Gonzo Science" is in the Zenith City Semi-Weekly. Perfect Duluth Day was founded by Barrett Chase and Scott Lunt. Barrett was a cartoonist and copy editor at Ripsaw. Starfire put together Ripsaw's arts calender for a brief spell and later helped with distribution. PDD seems to keep track of the arts scene with the same passion of the Ripsaw, but not in the same style. The main thing that seems truly lost (other than getting everything in one product without needing a computer) is the one long-form, in-depth news story each week. I think Zenith City Semi-Weekly manages to pull that off on occasion, but it's semi-weekly and those articles can be hit and miss. (Granted, the weekly Ripsaw pulled stories from Alternet about 50 percent of the time. But when it did local cover stories, they were almost always compelling.)

Michelle

about 8 years ago

I too enjoyed the Saw!

Camila

about 8 years ago

In a related story, it looks like Business North will changing hands in April. Change is good.

wildgoose

about 8 years ago

I advertised in both the weekly and monthly versions of the ripsaw. I liked the weekly version much better from that standpoint. I also liked it better for arts, news and personalities. I forgot about the in-depth pieces that Claire remembered, those were good in the monthly "magazine" version. I can't remember if you said that was your decision or not, Paul, but I think it was a strategic blunder. IN RETROSPECT anyway it was. Must've been hard to see at the time that in spite of an apparent gap in service or an opportunity to build a new niche, there isn't a glossy local magazine in this town for a reason - not enough people care to advertise in one. And for the ones that do they (now) have Area Woman or whatever it's called. And possible "Oevre" or is that just an online publication? I agree that the Business North Change is interesting, I wonder what direction that they will try to take that?

wildgoose

about 8 years ago

http://www.citypages.com/2005-02-09/news/a-new-low/ Due to this City Pages article (published almost exactly 5 years ago and written by Duluth-booster Chris Godsey), I have often felt like the demise of the Ripsaw and my own crash & burn experience are closely linked. If only the timing had worked a little differently ... we might have been good for each other.

wetclimber

about 8 years ago

What ever happened to the Taxi 2000 idea?

Tony D.

about 8 years ago

The "glossy monthly" Ripsaw was the brainchild of owner's Brad and Tim Nelson. The Weekly Ripsaw was drowning in debt, in a large part because the majority of their advertisers flaked out on bills and they had trouble opening new accounts. They wanted something that looked and felt like The Rake (which was fresh and new at the time) and something that would attract an advertising base that actually paid its bills. It had two major problems: trying to keep one foot in the old camp of Ripper fans from the Rick Boo Nor Shor days yet attract an older audience that would appeal to advertising buyers from the hospitals, MN Power, etc., and perhaps make a profit or at least break even. The new look was highly criticize by its old fans and quite well received by new, older readers. Unfortunately, there was also some business baggage with the ownership, which made it almost impossible for Rick Boo, who had come on to sell ads, to sell ads. After some personality conflicts that occurred during the first issue, I was asked to take on the editor role. The instructions I followed from above, including editorial policies designed to appeal to a wider audience--yeah, we dispensed of unnecessary f-bombs and the like and actually expected writers to use complete sentences and not mention so much how cool they and their friends are--made me quite the unpopular fellow that summer! But it had one great thing going for it: the design advice (and often work) of Mr. Brian Barber, designer/illustrator extraordinaire! After I left another editor was hired but the Ripsaw never went back to press. And I've never seen Brad Nelson so happy and relaxed as he was after finally letting go--a very difficult thing to do considering the time and money he invested for a darn good cause for a pretty long time. I think we all owe Brad and Tim--and everyone who ever gave his or her time and work for the Ripsaw--a great big thanks Duluth had that publication at that time.

adam

about 8 years ago

Taxi 2000. lawl. Couldn't get enough pea-brain supporters behind another Worst Idea Ever with somebody else's money, presumably. It was a strategic blunder at the time, too, JP. I blame it all on myself for bringing a copy of The Rake to town. Though, that only lasted < 4 years.

Paul Lundgren

about 8 years ago

The main problem with the Ripsaw magazine was that it lacked timeliness. Stories and event calendar items had to be turned in a full month before the magazine hit the streets. With the weekly paper, that time frame was about four days.

adam

about 8 years ago

...And in a town where most venues barely manage to get gigs booked and promoted a week in advance, it's a recipe for disaster. Speaking of disasters, check out this email I received from the DNT upon sending in a press release for Anti-Valentines. Priceless. And thanks for the business: We have begun charging for some calendar events. Wave (Arts & Entertainment) Calendar events will still run free of charge, If you would like a longer listing (more than 10 lines), add a logo or add color we can now add those for a fee. If you would like to run in the daily planner any day of the week the charge is $15 for a 10 line listing $1.00 for each additional line. We are no longer submitting the event to the online calendar on your behalf. If you would like you event to appear online please submit it at this link http://www.duluthnewstribune.com/?event=calendarSubmitEvent If you have any questions feel free to contact Sarah Riley at 218-720-4113 [email protected] or Eric Olson at 218-720-4193 [email protected] Eric Olson Duluth News Tribune Classified Advertising Representative

Tony D.

about 8 years ago

Yeah, and what Paul said--that too. And Adam saw that and turned his observation into the Transistor with the weekly calendar at its core. And since the Transistor's content is nothing but the calendar and columnists, no editorial expenses what-so-ever. Adam, don't blame yourself for bringing a Rake to town; blame me for suggesting those many years ago that you go talk to Brad and Cord and see if they could use a hand in design, which got you into this mess in the first place. If only you could have focused in the classroom, you wouldn't be stuck in the publishing biz right now. My bad.

Calk

about 8 years ago

Can't believe the DNT is CHARGING for event listings now!?! OMG, and don't they charge for obituaries? Obits used to be free. Sheez, the times they are a'changing.

adam

about 8 years ago

Thanks for calling during the final and reminding me to show up, Tony.

Bret

about 8 years ago

I miss On The Block.

adam

about 8 years ago

Oooo, Norse Whore?!?

Tony D.

about 8 years ago

Well, Adam, it was a lot less paper work than giving you a failing grade. Wasn't the Norse Whore an HBH creation, sort of an out there, alternative history?

hbh

about 8 years ago

Actually, I stole it from the crazy woman whose name I forget who was 86'ed from the NorShor... the one who strung desiccated hotdogs on the front door of the 'Shor... the one who hated Rick Boo with a passion... what the hell was her name? At any rate, yes, the Notes from the Block was an hbh creation. An acquired taste, to be sure.

hbh

about 8 years ago

I've been reminded of her name. *Don't* say it!!! Henceforth it is She Who Shall Not Be Named. ;-)

farglebargle

about 8 years ago

She was also an amazing artist. I wonder what became of her.

hbh

about 8 years ago

Also, I should be clear: I only stole the name "The Norse Whore"... because it was awesome. She was not pleased with me for doing so, but hey, it was one of those names that deserved to be in print and spread far and wide.

Calk

about 8 years ago

How could ANYONE hate Rick Boo, I ask you? I miss the Norshor under his bartending and under Wildgoose's bartending too.

rediguana

about 8 years ago

As someone who moved to the region in 2001, and moved to Duluth in 2006, I have to say that I do miss the Ripsaw in whatever form. Toward the end it seemed to go downhill, but even the content at the bitter end was far superior to Boone's bloated and shottily-edited Reader. The only redeeming locally-relevant parts of the latter are Barb Olson's city council column and Paul Ryan (who is f'ing hilarious). As a local reporter, I try to follow in the footsteps of some of the hard-hitting, quality journalism in the Ripsaw. I appreciate Paul's positive comments about the Zenith, and I concur that it would be better coming out weekly with less "miss" and more "hit" on the in-depth journalism. That it isn't reflects a lack of 1) adequate advertising funds to expand and 2) enough skilled, committed writers willing to basically volunteer their time to do the necessary legwork. I do feel proud of some of our content (other than myself)--Gonzo Science, Uncle Barbie and Starhawk particularly. Gotta admit Paul Ryan beats any of the Zenith's satire to a bloody pulp, though.

wildgoose

about 8 years ago

Thanks Claire, that means a great deal to me, and I'm sure Rick would feel similarly. You may have just made my day. Although ... I was a terrible bartender (being a non-drinker I had no idea what I was serving, among other things.) So I can only assume that you are referring to the dedicated, talented, and passionate yet underpaid/occasionally volunteer staff that I shepherded. And they were fantastic, almost entirely self-selected, committed to beauty in all its forms, and willing to give nearly all of themselves for the dream of some crazy goose. That's one of the undertold stories of the NorShor, the many people who WORKED there and what they brought to the job. And not just for my run, for the whole last century ... sound like an idea for another post sometime, maybe closer to the theater's actually Centennial which is sometime this year, but I forget the actual season, Fall, I think.

Julian Malone

about 3 years ago

I believe the artist who coined the term, "Norse Whore" also did cartoons for the Reader. A bit late on the thread, but ah, well.

Leave a Comment

Only registered members can post a comment , Login / Register Here

Read previous post:
Minnesota Olympians

I am not a huge sports watcher. I like the Vikings, I appreciate the Twins and once in awhile I...

Close