The Duluth Psychedelic Sermon – UPDATE with Video

Sentient Duluth awakens! Praise it!

When did I come to consciousness? Its bars and venues the wombs I gestated in, the booths and stages framed my embryogenesis. Birthing me to myself, I walk between trees. Light and water conspire mysteriously. My shadow stretches to the lake and covers it in the setting sun. Praise it!

I am bridges staring down into darkness and depth. I am mirrored streams carving the hillside like molten silver from a furnace pour, the lake a great ingot. More than anything, I am the lake. Gleaming as if the sun has transferred its powers to Lake Superior in guardianship, Lucifer abandoning hell to an angel of water. The lake is a tectonic plate of fire subducting at the shoreline, trapping the light in water like amber, a bowl of liquid light. Golden honeyed light, silver light like photographic emulsion, sepia light. Ore boats sailing the surface of white stars, red giants, blue neutron stars. Ore boats sailing out of faded, flaking photographs. The lake like Io, blinding bright, sea planet of perpetual ice cover, Jupiter blots out the sky rising over Superior. The lake a reflecting mirror like a planetary laser defense system, peering into every south-facing window on the hillside, light pouring into every home as the lake searches them with its blazing eye. Praise it!

Co-written with Allen Richardson, the Duluth Psychedelic Sermon was delivered by Jim Richardson on March 7 at the Embassy Church Bazaar. Photo credit: Cam Rose

I possess every detail of Superior and the Wisconsin shore, every fixture in the harbor, every board of the docks, every bolt of the ships’ hulls, every leaf, every tree sharply delineated in ultimate clarity, air currents focusing the light lenticularly. Up the shore a mist emerges obscuring the horizon line, dark sea meeting pale sky along a haze, like smeared chalk. The mist retreats over Wisconsin leaving fine lines and crisp shadows.

Sunset clouds like strips of burgundy filets over an orange flame, the antenna farm a giant grill. The cobalt lake quickly turns electric pink in the sunset, Wisconsin a band of violet supporting a wall of cooling flamingo, a deepening pink turning to black, the blue sky retreating over the hillside behind the white sun. Wisconsin lit up by the sunset, the shadow of the hillside growing longer, putting the lake in shadow. Wisconsin’s slight haze scatters the remaining bars of light, the land and lavender sky above appear magically illuminated across dark water like the Isle of Avalon, a fairie land of ectopic glows, crowned by the lights of distant Superior glittering in a linear array like a bank of computers. The approach of night deepens the shadows as it bulldozes the sun over the hill. The edge of the lake bejewels with a ring rim of distant orange lights on a black velvet display. Praise it!

Lake of March dramas, hosting furious whitecaps and swells marching up the shore, whipping winds, sun stabbing through partial cloud cover, slate water marbled with slurries of umber sediments, and patches of aquamarine luminosity. For a moment, the strip of snow that is a distant south shore beach gleams like polished alabaster. Ice archipelagoes blow in like shock waves or galaxies, a living map of fantasy island chains. Lacy wisps of ice float on blue water adding to the subconscious confusion of water and sky. Ice shines from Park Point like a magnesium flare, its reflection a slash, the water bleeding light. The ice on the far shore turns bloodshot as the day closes.

Whitecaps like a meteor shower. Purple cloud islands backlit by periwinkle dawn over mirror lake. The sky and the lake both gray, closed lids of a cyclopean eye. Whitecaps winking on and off, the black water like space between background stars, the lake basin containing infinities. Pointillist lake of cyan layered with whitecaps and sunspots. Slo-mo waves rolling in on radiant water like hammered pewter, intercalated with great cloud shadows like submerged whales, migrating among oversaturated patches of sunlight. Overcast late afternoon Sunday of little traffic to cover an aural landscape of active birds. Cloud cover white sky imprints upon the lake. Powder-blue Wisconsin, a faint membrane between lake and sky, slips into invisibility. Limbotown. Praise it!

Duluth a mountaintop city peeking above the clouds, floating in pearlescent fog. Cargo ships at anchor fade to starships probing cosmic nurseries. Next day it’s a bright city on a ringworld, framed in a constellation of madness and loss. The shimmering lake like the center of a galaxy … grid plane of suns receding … fishing boats trawling through starstuff like Galacticas.

Stratified sky of strawberry and cream, blueberry lake flooded with chocolate river runoff, Duluth as layer cake.

Light sprays off the water like a sheet of burnished steel, shining through lines of clouds like braided ropes. Break in the morning clouds reveals a line of light coiled on the water, a filament of gold on the dull grey-white surface. Endless lightplay on the water, like fireflies, iridescent reptile skin, fish scales. Clouds stretch laterally across the sky like god lining up coke lines. Praise it!

A wedge of light pointed at the middle of your head. I dive into the light, waves of light crashing against the rocks, light pools of evaporation, in the sunrise of steaming rock surfaces, steam sublimating to light, my tears globules of light streaking down my face, a rainbow prismatically entrapped and sealed in each one … Wisconsin in sun, Minnesota in shadow, and vice versa.

In the morning the lake glitters, the light skipping across the water. At midday the light presses on it, in evening it scatters away … the flashing sea our common inheritance. Diamonds of light we cannot possess … water scattering the sun’s rays, reflecting them like a giant disco ball, or a planetarium illustrating a chaotic starscape, spattering fluid light, ricocheting off metallic water. Duluth thriving as an autonomous city-state of the ancient world.

Lake of peach kefir in morning, single seagull soaring, circling high. Overcast sunless day with luminescent cloud layer, gusting whitecaps, water purple like a great reproductive organ, a sheen on the engorged flesh of a submerged leviathan. A colossal squid just beneath the water, its slick white body blazing with phosphorescence. Weird glows in the lake attributed to remnants of an alien artifact. Lake of soft-edged mists like a sea passage to the Western Lands. Lake and sky as theater, blue ceiling, curtain of cloud banks over south shore, showcase of textures. Few slow long whitecaps like waves rolling in from Oz, or the deep past. Malformed agates wash upon the shore from time’s imaginings with iridescent bandings, you can see the future in them. Praise it!

Duluth by Dali. The lake floats above its current location, the underbelly pierced from within by upside-down periscopes and diving waterbirds. A submarine goes too far and shlumps out the bottom, freefalling into the muck. Eerie light in the lake as the sun filters through it like a giant chip of blue-green obsidian. You can’t understand the lake without understanding the sky, they’re reflexive. Which is the sky, and which is the lake again? That sense of being the city, of the city being yours, seen at night from afar…

Praise Duluth! Praise it! Blessed be the goodness! Blessed be! The Goodness! The city is us, and we are it, and I am you! Duluth is God! Duluth! Is! Alive! Praise it! Praise it! Praise it!



about 4 years ago

"You can't understand the lake without understanding the sky." True. True.

Jacob Jacobson

about 4 years ago

I had this same type of insight after consuming a hit of Orange Acid without realizing it was a 4-way. I was at Gooseberry Falls State Park with two friends in a similar state of mind. It was late April. We had a huge bonfire going up on the bluff. We were tossing burning timber into Gitchee Gummee whilst singing along to Richie Haven's "Here Comes the Sun."  

Finally, at about 5AM, when the acid frenzy subsided, we jumped in our vehicle, an old 67 Mustang, to make our way back to Duluth. Unfortunately, the State Park Gatekeepers had locked up the entrance to Gooseberry the evening before ... at sunset. We were forced to listen to WEBC radio while coming down from a very trippy night until such time as the Keepers of the Keys to the Locks decided it was time to reopen Gooseberry. Like you can shut it down, right. Yes, it was quite a sermon that afternoon and night. Long ago, but vivid.

Helmut Flaag

about 4 years ago

Public Service Message: Folks attempting to drive out their Corona Virus fears as they are often wont to do on Seven Bridges Road are encountering a brutal slap of reality that the road block is now at the bottom. Even though there are signs warning of this arterial blockage ahead of time, it is comical to sit and watch the dumbfounded processing this brutal reality slap to their recreational driving plans for about a full minute until the cold truth sets in, and they whip their SUV into reverse frenzy and drive off in disgust. Needless to say, without getting out of their vehicles, having come this far, walking around, and listening to the birds. This being the last revolting activity they would entertain. Never mind it would probably do them good to take notes on how the birds and trees appear to be giving zero F's about your pandemic.

And so, as God is my witness if the photo I took wasn't, somebody with the license plate Da Truth rolled right up to the barrier of which we speak while I set my stop watch to see how long it took for them to process this ultimate betrayal by the civil engineers -- who we can only imagine have taken the necessary precautions to avoid an expensive road disaster while the ground is soft. Like something right out of an Escher drawing collapsing unto itself, of life imitating art, of not being able to handle Duluth, or the truth. So I beg of all you plastic baggy filled with your dog's shit abandoners, leaving your turds laying around at the trailhead for someone else to deal with, maybe go the extra mile for a change? For once in your lazy, pre diabetes lives, during these extraordinary times which require similar measures, maybe find your true grit before you dumbfuck yourselves into an early grave?

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