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Thanksgiving Stories

My Thanksgiving started Wednesday, and I want to point a few things out.

After a full day of teaching only a handful of students in each class (because for a student, Thanksgiving begins on Tuesday night, I think), I met some colleagues at the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. ARAC is growing — we moved from being a three-person shop to a four-person shop with an additional vibrant, paying internship program. Wednesday’s meeting was about growing the organization’s structures as fast as we grow our programs. I hope you’ll check out our calendar of events to see what is up.

After that, my Wednesday haunt to see Darin Bergsven at Dubh Linn. I brought fellow ARAC board member Michelle Ronning with me to enjoy the smooth sounds. Michelle wanted to hear Lou Reed, and Darin made it happen. At least, a few bars, in his own style. Michelle will be displaying her jewelry at Julebyen 2014, a holiday festival in Knife River.

After that, a conversation about where to have dinner with my friends. An out-of-towner liked the idea of Canal Park Brewery. I often bristle at Canal Park eateries, especially the ones which make you pay for parking. (CPB will never get my business in the summer for this reason.) We went, and I will admit, I was surprised. Surprised badly, I am afraid — one of my friends ordered a burger, took one bite, and hated it. The server came back, asked how everything was, people nodded vaguely. He returned one more time, clearing every plate except hers (because there was still a burger with only one bite out of it). He came back one more time, asking whether we wanted dessert, still saying nothing about the uneaten burger. He didn’t ask whether she required a box. I think he knew that if he did, she would have sent it back. The entire evening was an exercise in tension — she being too miffed to complain, and the server being too afraid to actually address the issue. Ugh.

Thursday, though it was the holiday, I went out into the world. Morning coffee at Caribou. Thank you, army of young college students (some of whom have been my students), for staffing the coffee shop. I feel less creepy about someone working in the morning on the holiday if I know they are far from family. And Caribou closed by 4 — so still time for a good dinner.

After coffee, I met friends at Barker’s Island Inn for a buffet. Tasty. But better company. There are so few reasons to get together across generations, and Thanksgiving is one of them.

After that, Big Hero Six at the movie theater. I recognized more students. Thanks, guys. Nearly everyone was cheery. I make sure to thank everyone for working on the holiday. It’s never enough, I know.

Friday, Kate and I sipped frappes at Barnes and Noble for a few hours. We ran into colleagues from work, we ran into the new cafe manager, one of the finest men I know, and we ran into the community relations manager, Ann H. I would normally bristle at mentioning a big box retailer, but this big box retailer hires a full-time person to create fundraising opportunities that benefit local schools/libraries/nonprofits (including Wildwoods, which will have a book fair on Sunday, Dec. 7). They work to support local authors. They work to support local readers by hosting events/discussion groups. It’s a win-win for the store and the community. I remain committed to the idea that Barnes and Noble is lucky because they get people of incredibly high caliber who simply want to work with books and work with readers. As long as they cultivate those employees and the community, I will keep singing their praises. And sitting in their cafe using their Wi-Fi.

After that, a trip to Collector’s Connection, where we ate Chipotle burritos and talked about the cool new original art from Iron Man comics hanging on the wall.

I got home and the snow started to fall. I wrote a little poem-thought on Facebook:

When it snows like this, flakes as big as nickels or more, at once, I appreciate the company of good friends, the warmth of the whiskey, because I also think of the size of the tears these flakes would be if the weather were warmer or the friends were absent.

Earlier that day, I had made plans to see a friend and colleague. We agreed to meet at the Zeitgeist at 8:30. As I waited, I texted a few friends, kind friends. When Scott arrived, we went to the Renegade Comedy Theater. I have not been in a long time — the theater is usually packed, too packed for a temperamental introvert like me. But over the holiday, I hoped, attendance might be slighter. Special kudos to Jody Kujawa, who makes me laugh uproariously.

At the show, a beautiful young woman was brought to the front to participate in the improv show by giving suggestions to the comedians. She froze. Her first suggestion was merely the word “shit,” uttered not as a genuine suggestion but (I think) as a sign of frozen panic. By the third suggestion, she was silent. The comedians ate this up, and we laughed like crazy. But she was visibly uncomfortable.

She was sitting behind Scott and me. At the intermission, I turned around and said: “You know, you did exactly what they wanted you to do, what they needed.” She stammered to explain why she froze, she didn’t know what to say. I replied: “They don’t want someone who knows what to say. Someone who gets up there and wants to be a comedian, with them, alongside them, doesn’t play as funny. You gave them exactly what they needed.” We talked a little more, I won’t give you the transcript because I was less clever and insightful the longer I talked. But if she’s reading this, I’ll say it one more time: you were awesome, and thank you for being brave enough to run up there.

After that, a long walk home. A good holiday.

10 Comments

TimK

about 5 years ago

Canal Park Brewing Company doesn't own that lot; the city does. You can't blame the restaurant for charging you to park. Besides, is parking somehow a right? Part of owning a car is the cost to park. If it were a TV or a cow or bag of laundry, I wouldn't expect I had a free pass to put it wherever I wanted outside of my own property.

kerc

about 5 years ago

Regarding parking at Canal Park Brewing: When it first opened they used to validate parking. I think it went something like bring in your receipt and they'll take the $$ off your bill. It left a sour taste in my mouth the first time they refused to do so this summer. 

Also related to parking and a bit of a side note: Why is it cheaper to park near Endion Station than it is Canal Park Brewing? It's just a few paces farther around the lake.

TheKujawa

about 5 years ago

What a delightful read.

[email protected]

about 5 years ago

Tim, I don't even own a car except the occasional weekends when I rent one, so I am intensely aware that too much of my world subsidizes the oil consumption habits of my colleagues. When I argued with a friend that gas should be $5 a gallon -- it is not because of all the ways that my taxes subsidize the oil industry -- she replied, "but people in towns like Port Wing could not afford such a hardship." I am indifferent to subsidizing the existence of towns of 500 people in this way. Cities are "wetlands for human beings" (Norquist) -- if we concentrate human beings, we can minimize the negative environmental impacts they can have.

So, car ownership does not imply a right to park it anywhere for free. I get that.

But damn if the mediocre $13 hamburger doesn't cost $16 once I have to pay for parking. I think it's okay to factor the cost of parking into the cost of the goods when making my choice about where to eat. The $10 Vietnamese-style egg fu yung at Taste of Saigon is still just $10 if I can find a spot behind the building.

[email protected]

about 5 years ago

TheKujawa: I was sitting next to the trouble maker who suggested "the wrong gender" at Friday's performance. You took the opportunity to make Friday's comedy more than just jokes about sex and Ghostbusters and added just a nickel of social critique. For that, I love you doubly.

Endion

about 5 years ago

I didn't totally get your first few posts as I guess this place is your own personal diary, but the fact that you are sharing your out-and-about experiences about Duluth is admirable. 

That being said, there is a certain degree of snarky-ness about your posts that makes me cringe... Since you put it out there for the world to see I felt it necessary to reply.

First off, your attitude about Canal Park is hypocritical when you first say you don't go down there, but then you later talk about how you enjoy Taste of Saigon. We all hate Canal Park in the summer as it is a tourist mecca, but let me defend Canal Park Brewery as it is an excellent restaurant. Sure they charge you if you want anything extra -- including even when I got the fish and they half-filled my tartar sauce and then charged me extra when I asked for a little more - but they are good. The situation with the hamburger was too vague and if your friend is too lazy to speak up why do you take a shot at the waitstaff there?  If the burger wasn't made correctly your friend should have said something. To have it sit there and expect them to figure out your friend's issue would be impolite. What if your friend didn't feel well? Is the person who doesn't know them expected to say something? 

It was lazy, but complaining about parking was even lazier as you seem to not need a car (was your friend letting you hitch-hike a free ride?)... There are a few free parking spots in the parking lot of Canal Park Brewing. My wife and I went on Saturday afternoon and they were all open. So you want them to validate, but you don't drive a car, but you knew the lot was cheaper near Endion ... Doesn't really add up. 

Your views on gasoline and taxation are not sitting right with me from your reply. So you want us all to live in walking cities and you are upset that your tax money goes toward lowering gas prices? You want us all to ride a bike or walk to work? Do you want us to pay taxes toward things you appreciate, but you don't want to pay taxes toward things that others appreciate? I don't ever dirt-bike, but I have to pay for trail upkeep. I don't cross-country ski, but I pay for trail upkeep. We all pay for services, whether we use them all is another thing.

I didn't mean to trample on your diary here, but if you put yourself out there you should expect feedback.

BadCat!

about 5 years ago

Most businesses in Canal Park don't have their own free parking lot. I'm not sure why you would blame the business for not building a free parking lot when the area is already crowded and expensive.

Also, if they offer parking validation for the city lots, I think they're doing it at a loss (I don't believe the city reimburses them any money, so the business is just taking it out of their own profits).

ruby2sd4y

about 5 years ago

Actually, the lot at Canal Park Brewing is free. I visited there last winter with a friend and we didn't care for that city-pay lot, and the spot numbers were all snow/iced over, so you couldn't tell which one you were paying for. Twice more we attempted to go and the lot was full.

This August, I attended the 89.3 Current's Live Broadcast at Endion Station, where I met one of the bartenders from Canal Park Brewing. After stating my issue with parking there, he told me that CPB didn't want to have its patrons put out for parking, so it pays a sum to the city and patrons can use that lot for free. I went on Nov. 14 -- a Friday Night at 7:30-8 p.m. and there were some open spots. No parking dramas. I think there was even a sign about it in the lot? 

So go! Enjoy Canal Park Brewing and don't fret the parking issue.

Also, parking downtown Duluth after 5:30 p.m. is free, and it's just a short 5-minute walk across the bridge to Canal Park. A walk before and after your meal! 

When I worked downtown on Superior Street and First Avenue West, our business contract-parked at the far lot (near Endion Station) of the old Canal Park Inn under the big sign. I made that walk for 5 years in all weather. We're seasoned Duluthians, right? No excuses walking from downtown to Canal Park if need be. It won't kill the tourists either. Bundle up!

There is also the DASH -- Downtown Area Short Hop -- on the DTA for 25¢: Ride along Superior Street between Sixth Avenue West and Third Avenue East and in Canal Park during off-peak hours for a 25-cent fare. (See DTA website or mobile app for times.) So park your car somewhere downtown for free after 5:30 p.m. and hop on the (toasty) DTA!

emmadogs

about 5 years ago

Hi Rhetoricguy. I enjoyed this post immensely, as I always do when reading your goings on about town. Thank you for your generosity in sharing your days with us. Your life is about 8 million times more interesting than mine, and you inspire me to make more of an effort to enjoy our beautiful city.

[email protected]

about 5 years ago

Endion, I don't see PDD as a diary so much as a place to let people know about the cool things I like in Duluth. You'll see that everything I like, I build in a link -- every artist, every event. It's a way of saying "thank you" to the people who work tirelessly to make Duluth a fun place to live.  

As for Canal Park Brewing, my thoughts are threefold:

1. Maybe I should not post about things I don't like. I do post rarely about things that go badly, admittedly, in the hope of making it better next time.

2. Maybe you need to have been a server to know what an obvious problem it is when every other plate and silver is cleared from the table except the hamburger with one bite out of it. It was like an open sore that no one was willing to talk about. Maybe my friend should have offered that the experience was bad. On the other hand, is the duty of the affirmative part of the server or the affirmative part of the customer to ensure the best experience?

3. I don't know anything about parking at Endion -- that was someone else's comment. As I think I mentioned, I rent about twice a month on the weekends, so I do know parking problems.  

It is worth noting that parking in the winter is free. Thanks for that, Ruby2sday.

As for my opinions on gas, I think that spending my tax money on trails is different from subsidizing the activities of multi-million-dollar corporations (with economic and military force), so that people can afford to live farther and farther away from work. Sane people can disagree about this, which is why it was not part of my initial post.

Emmadogs, thank you! I mostly want people to know that cool people make cool things happen, so that other cool people can attend next time.

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