Jim Richardson (aka Lake Superior Aquaman) Posts

R.I.P. Burly Burlesque

Rest in peace Burly Burlesque, aka Ben Larson, one of Duluth’s best vocalists, lyricists and performers. According to the comments on the Facebook post which broke the news, he died in his sleep. He was newly a father, and a Go Fund Me has been set up to help support his family during this terrible time.

Burly and I weren’t friends but there was a time when we were friendly and familiar in the arts and music scene. I remember seeing him perform for the first time circa 2003. He comprised one-third of the band Crew Jones, and when they hopped up on stage at Pizza Lucé I was like, “Who are these weirdos?” But then they showed me and everybody. Their album Who’s Beach? dropped around then; everyone I know from those days speaks of it in reverent tones as a work of genius. A firehose of creativity, the band (Burly, Ray the Wolf, and Mic Trout) all brought their A-game. Their live performances did no less. The album became a must-have and their shows were a must-see. No one could believe these white dudes rapping about life in northern Minnesota could be so legit but there you have it. Like all of the band’s lyrics, Burly’s writing was something great; he was also a master freestyler with an outsized stage presence.

The Northland Sportsmen’s Club Wild Game Dinner

Review by Max Grace, former professor of molecular gastronomy at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.

Northland Sportsmen’s Club Wild Game Dinner
40th Annual All You Can Eat
Saturday, Sept. 28, 2023. Dinner at 6 p.m., drawing at 7.
Duluth Farmers Market, Duluth MN — as fine a farmers market as you could find in the U.S.!
$15 adult, $5 children under 10

~Silent Auction~
All proceeds to charity

Serving venison, bear, beaver, pheasant, duck, goose, salmon and other fish, along with wild rice and many other exotic dishes.

Thank you for your support!

Raffle: Ticket price $5. Tickets available from club members and at the dinner.
– 1st Prize: Henry Golden Boy brass-framed 45-70 lever action rifle
– 2nd Prize: Deep-fryer kit ($800 value)
– 3rd Prize: $200 cash
Many other prizes will be drawn at the Wild Game Dinner

The long rustic-red Farmers Market shack stood on bare dirt. A sunken glade of lower Chester Creek gurgled down below the treeline at the edge of the lot. The trees, conflicted about turning, flirted with the idea. Under a Jovian umber and orange cloudscape, I bought ticket #452 at a gate of day-glo-pink plastic web fencing.

The Lost Coast and the Ghost Choir of Mount Shasta

My one unexplained “paranormal” encounter happened on a trip to the so-called Lost Coast of Northern California. I camped there the summer of 1994 with my girlfriend Mary, in one of our relationship’s great death spasms. Near the end of this expedition, I heard the singing of a ghostly choir in the woods around Mount Shasta. It was singing Mary said she couldn’t hear.

This vacation was important to us. Austin transplants, we’d been cooped up at retail jobs in the Berkeley-Oakland sprawl for a year. We hadn’t explored the wilds of California like it really deserved. So when she caught wind of the Lost Coast, we arranged a matching week off to go find it.

We drove north from the Bay Area in her white Chrysler minivan. We were listening to a mixtape of J.J. Cale, perfect road music with his driving early drum machine sound: “They call me the breeze, I keep blowing down the road.” We also had some Jerry Garcia Band, which we’d been seeing at the Warfield during its unofficial residency. And, we were still coming to terms with Kurt Cobain’s suicide a couple months prior, three days before my 25th birthday. His widow’s album Live Through This was released within days and we were listening to that too. We couldn’t believe she recorded the line “Someday you will ache like I ache” months before he died. Now that line screamed across the radio like live anguish. So those were the vibes.

Jimi Hendrix, LSD and My Grandmother

Jimi Hendrix appeared to me in a vision while I was getting my wisdom teeth out. This was Thanksgiving break 1986, in Houston, Texas. The next day I took LSD. It was a trip full of signs and portents, heralded by Hendrix’s visitation to me at the dentist’s office. At first I thought Jimi was protecting me, but now I think he may have been trying to warn me about that acid trip.

I’d heard Hendrix on LSD the previous summer, as “Are You Experienced?” transformed my boom box. That’s the song where he says he’s experienced, and then he says “Let me prove it to you” and plays a backward guitar solo. Everybody knows that song, but on psychedelics I heard the solo, man. It did prove Jimi was experienced, just like he said he was. I trusted him, an ersatz father figure dispensing psychedelic wisdom.

Why did I get into LSD, you may ask. Well, in 1983 after our father died, my family lived with our Houston grandmother for a summer of grieving. And while we were there, my little brother Allen and I watched the William Hurt movie Altered States on cable like 5,000 times. It’s about a psychedelic scientist testing the limits of meaning and sanity. We adopted it as a roadmap for how to live.

Boner Problems

Boner problems are my least-favorite sex problem. Here is my best story about boner problems.

The story begins after my divorce, when I was stoked to start up with someone else. I did so immediately. The way these things happen, my marriage-desiccated sex life went from zero to a hundred overnight. My new girlfriend and I were pleasure-seeking missiles indulging every vice. We drank champagne, stayed up late, and screwed loudly. Until I got boner problems.

Alarmed, I began a Manhattan Project to get to the bottom of it, which became a journey through the underworld. Would you believe I finally cleared it up with a naked psychedelic mushroom trip on Amnicon Beach?

A Brief History of Boner Problems

I was in my early 30s with no history of chronic boner problems. I’d had three or four misfires over a decade-and-a-half of an otherwise bangin’ sex-life. That is standard. For instance one night in high school in Texas, I was making out with a girlfriend on the back lawn of the campus chapel, and when she tried going down on me, I was looking around thinking how exposed we were. So that was a fail, but there was no mystery and nothing to worry about. Another time with that same woman, after high school in her Austin shack, we were trying to make it in the shower as people were coming over and letting themselves in and waiting for us. Another fail. It didn’t make me feel great, but it was transitory.

Aquaman enjoying brunch ambiance at the Pizza Luce bar

 

Bloody Mary: 10/10

I Was Left for Dead at Nopeming Sanatorium in the 1918 Fire

(Excerpts from Scions of Cloquet by Jean-Michel Cloquet, 1946, out of print)

I was left for dead at Nopeming sanatorium in 1918, as the Cloquet-Duluth-Moose Lake fire combined with World War I, tuberculosis, and the influenza pandemic just hitting the northland. I’d brought my tuberculosis home with me from the filthy trenches of the Somme. There wouldn’t be an armistice for a month. Reaching Duluth, I was trucked on the dirt road to Nopeming with other infected veterans, fresh off the hospital ship. There we met citizens suffering from the homegrown TB outbreak traced to sewage in Lake Superior. That’s the Duluth I returned to. I’d barely survived overseas, evading German flamethrowers. Some of my trench-mates weren’t so lucky. Now I was barely surviving even though I was stateside, too sick to be properly shell-shocked from the omnipresent global crisis. So they tucked us away 10 miles outside of town in the forest sanatorium. Its name is Ojibwe for “in the woods.” The woods that burned.

Free Republic of Duluth Funnies, 2005

Below are artifacts from the Richardson brothers 2005 Free Republic of Duluth events. The idea was a Duluth secession into a city-state embodying Situationist ideas of art-as-life. It culminated in a community art event at Washington Studios where these were displayed. Allen and I created these in the spirit of détournement, the practice of subverting commercial art like comic strips to revolutionary ends. Our house became a collaborative artspace freakout, reflected in the fact that the lettering in the last strip was done by someone I can’t remember, it could have been anyone, some citizen of the Free Republic …

The History of Cloquet, Pierre the Pantsless Voyageur and Duluth’s Missing Vermeer

Excerpts from Scions of Cloquet by Jean-Michel Cloquet (1946, out of print)

“In 1820, when he was 17 years old, the Frenchman Pierre Cloquet boarded a packet ship in Le Havre and sailed across the Atlantic Ocean. He was trying to escape his father, like many of us try to do, perhaps all of us. He just wanted a little peace and quiet. By a certain measure, he found it in the territory eventually known as Minnesota. Pierre (or Grandpère Cloquet as my brother and I refer to him) became a legendary voyageur and fur trader 20 miles southwest of Duluth, trapping, hunting, and occasionally bear-wrestling. Over two decades of working for the American Fur Company, he built his own trading post where metal tools shipped in and beaver pelts shipped out. He gradually adopted native dress, and he married into a Black-Ojibwe family out of Michigan, sought-after guides and translators. And, right around the collapse of the beaver pelt industry in 1843, he inadvertently founded the town of Cloquet.

Duluth’s Lost Township on Chester Creek

Co-written with Allen Richardson

The Duluth Inside Duluth

In 1963, on 14th Avenue East overlooking Chester Creek, seven houses installed their own sewer rather than hook up to the city system. To do so, they took advantage of the experimentation sweeping the nation regarding public services. New forms of neighborhood government had emerged as housing associations. These seven houses applied for a federal grant as an independent municipal corporation. Technically they seceded from Duluth and became an autonomous township inside the city limits.

A democratic sub-society, the citizen-residents named the township “Duluth” by unanimous vote. After all, they felt they should not have to change the name of where they lived; in fact they were the real Duluth. Their right to name themselves was blessed by an appellate court ruling in 1968, hence “the Duluth inside Duluth.”

Beating the Heat

In Honor of Minnesota’s New Pot Situation

I published this in the Ripsaw News more than two decades ago in my strip “Crackbrained Comix.” Thank you Governor Walz and everyone who finally legalized/decriminalized pot in Minnesota, as of today.

What AI thinks “Lake Superior fish” look like

I used stablediffusionweb.com to make these, using prompts like: “Lake Superior fish,” sometimes including “angler” and phrases like “catch of the day” or “look what I caught.” Then I switched to “a meal of Lake Superior fish,” “Lake Superior fish on a plate,” and so on. You will see some “breaded fried Lake Superior lampreys.” Bon appétit!

In Memoriam: Duluth Artist Max Moen

Anyone within the sound of my voice, the artworks of Max Moen must be found and saved. I interrupted his dying days begging him to grant me a custodial role regarding his body of work. I think mostly of his collages which I greatly admire, surrealist masterpieces. I told him I’d arrange a show and self-publish a collection at my own expense, because the world must know. At the time he told me they were boxed in a car in another state, and I feared I was taxing him as he fought the cancer. I think he got that car back but I let it go; he was too busy dying and I didn’t want to be that guy. At least I impressed upon him that I considered him an artist with a capital “A.”

Sadly I have none of his work to share with you today. He had some examples on his old Facebook page but he took it all down. I remember searching his photos to copy them but he’d already deleted the lot. He did that sometimes.

Avant-Garde Women: Gertrude Stein Makes No Sense

Stylistically it is appropriate to link Gertrude Stein’s experimental 1914 book Tender Buttons: Objects, Food, Rooms to Dadaism, because the book makes no sense. It pre-dates Dada’s 1916 anarchic language-destroying sound poetry, so we can’t say the Dadaists invented nonsense. Perhaps we can say the Dadaists invented “sheer nonsense.” Stein hadn’t taken it quite that far. But Tender Buttons began her mission to explore the strange new worlds of the sense/nonsense boundary.

Else Lasker-Schüler explored that same boundary in 1913, in her language-subverting experiments that also influenced Dadaism. The Dadaists paid homage to, and expanded, Lasker-Schüler’s work: her “nonsense sound poetry in Berlin cabarets, poems that would be used a few years later by the Zurich dadaists in the Cabaret Voltaire” (Baroness Elsa by Irene Gammel, pp. 146-147). Lasker-Schüler was the only woman in the inner circle of German Expressionist poetry, a Stein-esque figure in her own right who cross-dressed and ruled the Berlin nightlife. And one of her innovations was the performance of poetry that didn’t make sense.

For that reason, both she and Stein represent a proto-Dadaist spirit, even though technically Lasker-Schüler was an Expressionist and Stein was a Modernist. All the cool kids were doing it. Stein’s writing of Tender Buttons was contemporary with Lasker-Schüler’s nonsense performances, which Stein very well may have been aware of, her hyper-senses tuned to the avant-garde. Like the birth of calculus, many artists were developing similar approaches around the same time. Nonsense was in the air.

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