Is this Heaven?

Eight months or so ago I woke from my first nights stay in Duluth and slipped quietly down to the sand beach of Minnesota Point. Coffee in hand, sun gently coming up, and that now-familiar hum of the city in the background, I was excited to begin learning about my new hometown. And there in the wet sand, was etched “Is this Heaven?”

As a matter of fact I do earnestly believe in divine intervention and communication, and I took this message to me as a personal directive to find the answer to that question.

Eight months later I am still working on it. My heaven is not perfect, but it is generally a kind and gentle place. It is concerned for the weakest of inhabitants, and also for the Earth that we all share. For the most part it is clean and respectful and welcomes all.

I continue my quest to answer that question by joining the PDD community for what I believe to be some of the most important research of Duluth to date. Thanks for having me.



about 11 years ago

Mr. Ramos, your Cheerleader blog is pretty dang interesting and brings up one of my overall questions about Duluth.  Concerning the local media: do some people read the Reader and ignore the DNT?  While others use the Reader for lining the litter box and swear by the DNT?  And is Perfect Duluth Day the best place to pick up semiprecious journalistic efforts like the Cheerleader blog?

Local media means a lot to how an area is perceived by non-locals.  I have these eight months into sampling as much as I can and still wonder who really reads what.  Help.

De man

about 11 years ago

DNT has a right slant. Reader has a left slant. Transistor has all the info. Cheerleader points fingers. Zenith is left and sporadic. Hillsider is...I haven't read it in so long, I don't know. "And now, page 4."


about 11 years ago

If this were Heaven, Fitchner's never would have burned down.

Still pretty damn cool place though.

Paul Lundgren

about 11 years ago

To clarify the previous comment, Fichtner's/Home Market Sausage & Meats was in the Garrick Building at 134 W. First St. It was damaged by fire (not really "burned down") in late 2006, but prior to that it was the home of the cheapest meat-loaded sandwich in town.

As for comparing local media, ah, no comment.


about 11 years ago

The Cheerleader assigns responsibility and backs itself up with impeccable research. 

Duluthians, in general, don't read. They have enough trouble figuring out how to turn on their televisions.

I hope that Fichtner's is in heaven when I get there. Those were some darn good sandwiches. I could make enough panhandling downtown to eat them three or four times a week.

Shane Bauer

about 11 years ago

Funny - my daughter found a rock on the beach on Madeline Island that said, "Nope, sorry." That's it, no kidding. Anyway, we like it here very much.

De man

about 11 years ago

That's what I meant, Ramos.

Sun Dog

about 11 years ago

Of course the Budgeteer is totally objective and gives a hometown feel. It's what people read.

~Budge editor

(After they've checked out PDD of course.)


about 11 years ago

While I sometimes experience feelings of regurgitation upon listening to the effluvient way folks gesticulate their overpowering love of Big D, I also get a perverse sense of joy trying to understand their extreme worship of a town that to others, seems cold cruel and harsh. And indeed, this is not the place to escape such idol worship. 

 So it was curious, when, in light of my forthcoming Bhuddist phase, whilst clearing out my earthly possessions, I discovered a weird album I didn't know I had by a long lost 80's band called the Long Riders, who made this Looking for Lewis and Clark thing I was holding.  As this was already a theme dear to my heart, to my surprise, found it was actually pretty good.  But when I pulled it out of the sleeve, I discovered a handwritten note that said, "followed heart, moved here... 55787."  So I googled this,  and found it to be just West of here near Carlton.  "Why the hell would anyone follow their heart there?" I thought.  But no, it was not for me to judge.  Out of anywhere in the world though, it had to be Carlton.  Maybe she found a morning jay, and for a brief moment, everything lined up.


Barrett Chase

about 11 years ago

55787 is Tamarack, MN. Population 94.


about 11 years ago

Thanks all for contributing.  I had a feeling PDD would be helpful.  I moved here from a beautiful place where everyone wanted to visit and hang out for the weekend.  Then I moved to Duluth and have found a place that everyone wants to visit and hang out on the weekend.  But Duluth is real, it has a real economy and real diversity.

But I also showed up in time to watch the Occupy folks, live the public reaction to the Unfair campaign, and I think it particularly eventful that MPR ran their recent series about "Minnesota Nice."

There is no question of your beauty and fun.  But to live here is still proving to be a challenge. Maybe if it were easy everyone would be here and spoil the place, I can accept that.  Maybe you don't want anything in your heaven to change and put up a wall to anyone and anything new, I can understand that.

Having lived in beauty I can recognize it here, and will work very hard to find out if you will have me, as one of You.  Thanks so far.


about 11 years ago

I don't live in Duluth but still pick up the vibe and scenery each time I visit. It is a special place. Doesn't mean there aren't problems like anyplace else. I think the setting at the head of the lake is very much the reason. The history and landscape all the way up the North Shore really makes this a good place. Even with the winter I'd like to think I'd enjoy living on Park Point. Windchill and all. It has sense of place. It's not the cookie cutter typical city. It has character in its buildings. And of course it has many characters as well. Just being there is a good time. The sights and sounds. Something for everybody. Smaller town things as well as some bigger city events.

[email protected]

about 11 years ago

"But Duluth is real, it has a real economy and real diversity."

You'll find them right next to the Trader Joe's that everyone keeps talking about, just down the road from the native cultural center that celebrates the importance of native culture to this region.


about 11 years ago

So Mr. Rhetorical Guy, I assume this is some of that dry, tongue-in-cheek humor I had heard referenced eh?

Maybe there is no cultural center yet, or never will be in this social climate.  But, and this may seem weird, but it is very nice to drive down a street and not see 99.5% white people.

Call it what you will, see the problems as they exist, but a little color is a good thing.  More would be better, but too much white is just plain bland and unappealing.

And I think that Trader Joes is overrated as a barometer of cool. But you do hit on what I am finding to be one of the key items here.  All the groovy infrastructure is for naught if it does not support everyone.  

"Build it and they will come" usually works, but not if 'they' feel unwelcome or disrespected.

But PDD is one of the best conversations in town!


about 11 years ago

Ooo! Ooo! Do we have one of those stores where peoples shop at!? Are we cool yet?! We can't be cool unless people are shopping at the shops.

greg cougar conley

about 11 years ago

Yeah, a fucking Trader Joe's? That's the barometer of what makes someplace nice to live? Get a grip, y'all. Also, I didn't notice an electrically charged fence around the Duluth city limits, so I'm assuming that anyone that is not completely satisfied with living in Duluth can leave, correct? I know that there are definitely things that this city needs to work on (as in any city) but that doesn't mean that you should bitch about petty horseshit like not having a Trader Joe's and expect anyone to take your ideas about this city seriously.

about 11 years ago

Screw Trader Joe's. If you're gonna go granola, shop @ WFC. They may not be union, but at least you're keeping the money local.

[email protected]

about 11 years ago

My point in referencing Trader Joe's was not to express some lost lament for Trader Joe's.  I have no more vested interest in a Trader Joe's than I have in a native cultural center, although I admit that their prices are far, far better than Whole Foods on equivalent products.  

The point is that neither exist, anymore than Duluth has a "real" economy (tourism, education and health care do not a "real economy" make.  Perhaps you are from an even smaller town even less diverse than Duluth, but "92.7% White, 1.6% Black or African American, 2.4% Native American, 1.1% Asian, 0.0% Pacific Islander, 0.3% from other races, and 1.8% from two or more races" strikes me as the very bare minimum of diversity.  The entire Vietnamese community in Duluth could watch movies at the Zinema together at the same showing.

We live on a continuum, to be sure, so there must be places less diverse, but we have a long way to go before we are a heathfully diverse community.


about 11 years ago

I like it in Duluth.  I adopted Duluth in 2000.  I guess I didn't think to ask whether my fair city wanted me or not. I wanted to be here.  Perhaps I wasn't being polite enough at the time. 

Anyway, I envision Duluth as the counterpoint to Dante's Inferno.  If there are nine circles of Hell, it stands to reason there are nine circles to Heaven.  Anywhere next to the lake?  That's the inner sanctum for me.  I have bad day?  Nothing a little walk near the shore can't solve.  So, although I commit the sin of Lust every time I traverse Minnesota Avenue and dream the big dream of living in a house with the beach as my back yard, I also know I am just a few brief moments from breathing in heaven.  Weather, time of day, none of that matters to me. 

And I live in a little box on the hillside.  And I have a glimpse of heaven between my neighbors' houses.  Ore boats play peek-a-boo with me. And my 4th or 5th circle of heaven, in which my home is situated.  It's not perfect.  But it's good enough.  And maybe all of the women here are not strong.  Only some of the men are good-looking.  And the kids truly are not all above average.  But it gives us something to aim for. 

And so?  Duluth, the shores of Gichigami, specifically are my own private heaven.  Hope you find that the case, too.  

Is this Heaven?  Well.  At least it's not Iowa.


about 11 years ago

I will admit to being spoiled.  Having lived my life within a stones throw of one of the big lakes all my life.  This one is Superior, but you all know that. 
I did come from a smaller town that was even whiter than Duluth, so yes, Duluth is a step in the right direction for me.  Here are a some of the things I find very cool about Duluth:

You have an Art Ordinance, 1 percent of all large-budget capitol projects goes into the art fund for public display.

You have a group like Zeppa that takes chances on engaging art as a business.

You do have the coolest waterfront on the Lakes that combines new and old in a very delightful way.

You have public transportation that runs on time.

There is still a feeling of a downtown space.  Hermantown is nicely out of view.

You have not one but two ski hills inside the city limits.

And your breweries show a real sense of gentlemanly competitiveness that will guarantee a growing supply of local quality brews in the years to come.

This is a short list, maybe it is good to be reminded all around.


about 11 years ago

Thank you Barrett!  

Hell yes it was Tamarack, that was the whole point!  I wrote that at 1AM so the details were fuzzy. But Tamarak is one of my trigger words. So what in God's name is out there?  This was a mysterious note. Is Tamarak the greatest place ever?  I just met a dude lives out that way, and he sounded kind of proud of it too. Any Tamarack stories, pictures?

But in light of this post, and as a salute to sunny days here in Big D, you champions of the city and her water, you folks, who plant her gardens,  keep her clean at the edges, polish her cracks, surf and brew her waters, and love her for who she really is, deep down inside, get a big ol' Hug, Big Sexy style, from me.


about 11 years ago

My 'Heaven is on Park Point' moment came about a month ago.  Part of the splendor of this happenstance, aside from being a beautiful sunset evening, was that I was it's sole witness, while gazing toward the background of all Duluth's citizens. Alone it seemed a miracle, I could by the simple means of my legs, within minutes, behold one of nature's splendors so close to the city, yet still with a wilderness feel.
Hiking down to the point, I came upon the bedazzled sight of no less than five to seven hundred Mallards in the water.  I stood there and watched, then one of the leaders got up and flew toward the town of Superior, others followed, then another got up and his group followed, then again, until this giant flock had relocated to Wisconsin. And at the end of it, watched one lonesome feather fall away from the herd, as it floated down right past my nose, as if to say, this is really happening.

A few stragglers remained, then they too followed.   One duck flew back to stay in Minnesota.

The other night, I found coyote shit in my backyard. Or it could've been a large cat who likes to eat fur.


about 11 years ago

Scowl face was right.  You are sort of an asshole.  That being said, I would be an asshole if I were a cab driver.  I was an asshole as a waiter at a bar, and I tended to be an asshole when I was an ER nurse.

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