The recent post about the 1917 Ripsaw article regarding booze and filth in Superior, Wisconsin got me thinking about this quote from one of Anthony Bukoski’s short stories. I posted it here on PDD back in August of 2003, but I think enough time has passed for us to revisit it.
“The entire city of Superior, my neighborhood included, is a classroom for the study of failure. The curriculum for the Study and Analysis of Heartache comes from our citizenry’s heavy drinking. We’re Scandinavians, Slavs, and Indians of all makes and models. The curriculum is also tied to our living on the shore of the largest freshwater lake in the world. Lake Superior alters our weather for the worst, makes us ugly. Step out the door, see old newspapers blow down the streets in a lake wind, wipe dust from your eyes, go to the Palace Bar, Isle of Capri, Captain Cliff’s Night Club, Lost in the ’50s, Al’s Waterfront Tavern. Find the locals lined up for an eye-opener at eight in the morning, and that, to a sensitive former academic like me, is Hard Knocks. When you can’t find work and need to get yourself more depressed, listen in the hallway of your run-down flat for the neighbor guy to strike his wife or she him. Add gray skies. Add fog, and in winter and into late spring, throw in bitter cold, and that’s how it is in Superior, Wisconsin, at the Head of the Lakes. Every day I take a refresher course in how to be a loser.”
— Anthony Bukoski, “A Philosophy of Dust”