January 2016 Posts

This Week: MLK, Mike Mictlan, pond hockey and more

Untitled design
Here’s a bit of what you’ll find in this week’s PDD Calendar:

Martin Luther King Day is celebrated with a community breakfast and a march to the DECC, local photogs talk shop, the WorkForce Center Job Fair gets underway, the DSSO is having an After Hours event at Black Water Lounge and there’s a public meeting to talk Lake Superior Zoo and Fairmont Park.

The public is invited to find out how much their antiques are worth, TED Talk-ers are talkin’ at the Teatro, the Duluth Art Institute is holding their 2016 Membership Exhibition, there’s a mini-Homegrown going down on Friday, Mike Mictlan is rapping at the Red Herring and it’s pond hockey all weekend in Superior.

PDD Quiz: Cold enough for ya?

Lake Superior Water TemperatureNext week’s theme, as we near the 135th anniversary of J. Proctor Knott’s famous speech, will be “The Untold Delights of Duluth.” Send your suggested quiz questions (and answers) to lawrence @ perfectduluthday.com by noon on Wednesday, Jan. 20.

Video Archive: “Fly High Duluth”

It’s been ten years since Saturday Night Live aired its skit about a local band, led by Jack Daniels-guzzling Wally Hamrlik and his wife Char, who overstay their welcome while performing “Fly High Duluth,” the theme song for morning show Duluth Live. The sketch originally aired on Jan. 14, 2006, and was first posted to Perfect Duluth Day on on Jan. 16, 2006. Happy Saturday.

Sadly, there is no longer an embeddable version of the video online, but it is available on nbc.com.

One Man, One River, Many Stories

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayMike Simonson had a project planned for his retirement. That was the type of guy he was. I’d never heard him talk about retiring, and then the first time he mentions it he’s laying out a plan to produce an epic radio documentary about the St. Louis River … for fun.

I wasn’t surprised Mike had no intention of slowing down after four decades in journalism — a journey he started at the Denfeld Criterion in the mid-1970s, continued at various commercial radio stations during the 1980s, and concluded with a 24-year stint as Wisconsin Public Radio’s northwestern region correspondent at KUWS-FM in Superior. And maybe the topic of the St. Louis River shouldn’t have surprised me either. Mike lived on the river for most of his life, and routinely swam across Stryker Bay for fitness and pleasure.

Still, I was blown away by the idea. Mike had chosen documentary topics in the past that seemed broad, but by comparison were quite specific — Forever Ace: The Richard Bong Story (2012) and We Are Holding Our Own: The Sinking of the Edmund Fitzgerald (1995).

Now the St. Louis River? That’s basically the entire history of Duluth, Superior and all the communities that line the 192-mile waterway. It would take an episode to cover the geology alone. The early Anishinaabe-Ojibwe history could be a multi-part documentary by itself. The fur trade, shipping and shipbuilding, the formation of Duluth’s western neighborhoods, industries too numerous to mention, environmental degradation, cleanup efforts, revitalization, wild-rice restoration, fishing and recreation and on and on — there’s just too much story. I was in awe of the idea while flabbergasted at the notion of even Mike Simonson attempting to pull it off.

Selective Focus: Gelid

Frank Sander

Frank Sander, untitled

It is hard to not feel a bit inadequate when a friend will schlep 4 miles for groceries when it’s 15 below, and my biggest concerns are where’s my Zhivago DVD, and do I have enough cloves to stud a lemon for a hot whiskey. That said, Winter is my favorite season — not as some endurance test, but as a time to heed nature’s insistence that we “lie low to the wall until the bitter weather passes over” (John O’Donohue).

Duluth ups its caffeination with opening of Grand World Coffee

Grand World Coffee exterior

West Duluth welcomed another neighborhood coffee shop on Jan. 4. Grand World Coffee opened in the former Subway sandwich shop space at 4918 Grand Ave., next to Vision-Pro Optical.

Official Map of the City of Duluth, 1887

Official Duluth Map

From George F. Cram’s Atlas, published in 1887.

Rob Wittig and UMD Writing Studies students nominated for New Media Writing Prize

IWFW-LogoVisit “I Work for the Web” and learn about the New Media Writing Prize award nomination received by Rob Wittig and students in the Writing Studies majors and minors at UMD.

I am very proud of my students and colleagues.

Kilgour wins NewSong Contest at Lincoln Center

Rachel-Kilgour-600-2Duluth’s Rachael Kilgour was named the grand prize winner of the 2015 NewSong Contest during a music showcase and competition held Jan. 7 at Lincoln Center’s David Rubenstein Atrium in New York City. She will receive a performance slot at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival’s ASCAP Music Café in Park City, Utah, later this month; an opportunity to perform at Lincoln Center later this year; and a recording session at Echo Mountain Recording Studios in Asheville, NC, produced by Gar Ragland, NewSong Music’s executive director, for an album to be released under the NewSong Recordings label.

Kilgour also was the winner of the 2015 LEAF Newsong Contest in North Carolina and a finalist in last year’s Telluride Troubadour Competition. Noted singer-songwriter Catie Curtis is producing Kilgour’s crowd-funded album, which is set for release later this year.

Dizzo stepping down; Homegrown looking for new director

Homegrown Music Festival logoAfter the 2016 Homegrown Music Festival, Walt Dizzo will be retiring from the executive director role. The board of directors is looking for someone to take over!

If you think you might fit the bill, check out the description and application. Deadline is Feb. 15.

Poll: Best Play or Musical of 2015

Plays of 2015

Which Duluth-area theater production made your little Greek mask laugh or weep the most last year?

This poll has closed. The results were:

Renegade Theater Company’s Eastland – 44 percent
Duluth Playhouse Children’s Theatre’s Shrek – 31 percent
Duluth Playhouse’s Mary Poppins – 25 percent

Myers-Wilkins and Lincoln Park Experiences

My family and I are currently considering a home in the Myers-Wilkins / Lincoln Park / Denfeld school boundary and are looking for some first-hand experiences. We definitely do not want to open enroll. We like the idea of our daughter going to school with her neighbors and I don’t want to be driving her to and from school every day.

I have heard mixed things about Myers-Wilkins, but as of right now, we feel OK about potentially sending our daughter there (she is 1, so it’ll be a few years). Same for Denfeld, but I would love to hear some first-hand experiences.

My mom used to work at Lincoln Park Middle School about 15 or so years ago and her experience left much to be desired. I have heard recently of some people pulling their kids out of Lincoln Park (all second hand stories) because of bullying problems. We are of the mentality that if she has good parents at home, she will do fine anywhere; however, we don’t want to send her somewhere we know could cause problems during middle school, and we all know how awesome middle school is…

I am hoping to hear of some positive experiences, since I have pretty much only come across negative opinions (none of them first hand), but any and all opinions are welcome and appreciated!

Cider in Duluth?


Although off the beaten path, I enjoy Endion Station‘s cider selection.  Is there anywhere else in town with a comparable cider menu?

Video Archive: Osa and Elmo Are in Love

Video from 2005 by Starfire. Music by Elmo and Bjork.

The Plays of 2015

Before we launch PDD’s poll to determine the best play or musical of 2015, we present this list of every play or musical from the past year we could track down, with the hope that you’ll let us know in the comments if we’ve forgotten any.

Avenue Q – The Underground
Banning Around the Christmas Tree, or, The Last Noel of Don Ness – Rubber Chicken Theater
The Barber of Seville – Lyric Opera of the North
Behind the Shining Star – Duluth Playhouse Theatre for Young Audiences
The Birds – Renegade Theater Company
Blithe Spirit – St. Scholastica Theatre