Mike Creger Posts

A night of films about pets

The Free Range Film Festival continues tonight in rural Wrenshall with a slate of films about pets — a pet turtle documentary, a cartoon about a wild game hunt gone wrong, and a full-length feature titled We Don’t Deserve Dogs.

Watching short films in a century-old barn provided a bit of normalcy Friday night with two filmmakers on hand taking questions from a lighter than usual audience. The venue and environs themselves, with three theaters, concessions and an explosion of wildflowers, is worth the drive just south of Wrenshall at county roads 1 and 4. A new slate of films begins at 7 p.m. Masks are encouraged for viewing inside the barn but outside seating is also available.

Rawkers win unsanctioned Homegrown slap-together kickball

Scott “Starfire” Lunt surveys the kickball field in his Homegown jumpsuit.

Ryan Nelson was barking all game from his first base post for the Friday Rawkers. In the eighth inning, he actually uttered something that had a grain of truth: “It almost feels like Homegrown.”

He and 50 other people were in synch Saturday afternoon as an unsanctioned Homegrown Music Festival Kickball Classic broke out at the field in the back of Chester Park. Those who were there will call it good, and witnessed a win by the Rawkers over the Saturday Rollers that now puts Friday ahead in the all-time series, 11 wins to 10.

Zenith News has gone dark

Another alternative publication in Duluth appears to have fallen to the wayside. Zenith News has not published an issue since April.

Jim Hall chases time after five decades on stage

Jim Hall played a Halloween party at the Duluth Owls Club last month. On Saturday, he’s playing at Sacred Heart Music Center, a celebration of his 50 years on stage in the region.

Those familiar with the music of Jim Hall over the years would be right to do a double take when they hear one of his sets these days. The already basso troubadour has kicked his voice into even lower gear, and with a growl. That’s how Hall has been fighting an alarming and mysterious change in his vocal chords earlier this year. Even his talking voice changed.

Rawkers top Rollers 4-3 to even Homegrown kickball series

The Friday Rawkers bounced back from last year’s loss to the Saturday Rollers by winning 4-3 in the 20th Homegrown Kickball Classic. The series is tied at 10-10.

The 20th Homegrown Kickball Classic had the sides of the Friday Rawkers and the Saturday Rollers right back where they were two decades ago when the competition started, tied up. Friday mustered a comeback 4-3 win over Saturday to tie the overall series at 10 games apiece. Friday had ripped off three straight wins before losing in 2018, allowing Saturday the bragging rights for a year with a one-game series lead.

Honking Tree case remains a mystery 10 years later

Left: July 2001 photo of the Honking Tree from the Two Harbors Forum website. Right: The modern remains of the Honking Tree stump between Larsmont Road and Isaacson Road southwest of Two Harbors. Photo by Mike Creger.

I asked Lake County Sheriff Carey Johnson this month if there was anything new in the now 10-year-old Honking Tree case.

“You mean the white pine murder investigation?” he said straightaway.

War is Over!

Lizzie Naganab’s Glowing Grave

The “old” cemetery off Reservation Road northwest of Cloquet.

This book sparked a search into a Cloquet mystery from 87 years ago.

I’m not sure how I acquired the book, but there it sat, on the passenger seat of my car as I drove up Reservation Road northwest of Cloquet. There are some things you wish you could unsee — because a history buff like me wants all the facts. Alas, those facts can be elusive, especially so many years from an event. This was the case with a strange little entry in Six Feet Under: A Graveyard Guide to Minnesota.

I’m not into the morbid route to history that this little guide offers. That was my mother. She had dozens of books along the lines of “Wisconsin Death Trip,” “Hollywood Book of the Dead” or “Myths and Mysteries: Strange Stories of the Dead” on her shelves. Morbidly, she died earlier this year and perhaps that is how this book floated into my stacks. She redeemed herself in recent years by ditching the stories of others and digging into her own family history, a genealogy I greatly appreciate today.

City promotion: 1939

Squirrels

There are squirrels near downtown Duluth sitting cross-legged on alleyway tree limbs, picking their teeth with plastic shards carved out of trash bins.

There are squirrels in my neighborhood, Chester Park, who sit atop my garage roof and blithely stare below. Then they climb to the peak and play patty-cake.

I am seeing distinct packs of squirrels in the city as I walk from pocket to pocket. Those downtown squirrels are nothing to mess with. I imagine them waiting to pounce on any passive east side brethren that get lost and wind up sniffing around trash bins clearly marked for toughs. Each one has a squirrel-sized hole gnawed out of it. You don’t see that in the less dense, leafier neighborhoods.

And it’s not just the squirrels in alleyways from Fourth on down to Superior Street. Crows dive-bomb. Chipmunks clatter with menace. Skunk smells waft. Pigeons cluck disapprovingly. Even the flies are stickier.

A Summer Musing

A pre-dawn thunderstorm. What a treat. Don’t get them much in Duluth. There’s a cat fight going on outside. When I arrived home late last night, the lightning bugs were dancing. The air was thick and I could smell my childhood.

Which is all very bemusing because I hold little nostalgia these days. I used to sit on bushels of it when I was younger. An example is — and I think I may have relayed this to you in passing or maybe in some strange post-apocalyptic note — the events of June 17. It passed this year and I once again failed to think of you.

We had a date for that night in 1983. June 17 is also the anniversary of the break-in at Watergate, which never registered with me until recently. I was so obsessed with my own Waterloo.

You had gone to Florida and promised we would see each other upon your return and before the early pea pack. Our farm country hometown, like Paris, is such a romantic place.

Whatever happened to Frisky the Bear?

Indianapolis Star — June 7, 1959

Anyone remember old Frisky, promoter of Duluth as the vital player in the new St. Lawrence Seaway?

Rural Duluth man kills wolf with hammer, city very happy

The above clipping is from The Times of San Mateo, Calif., Jan. 2, 1956.

My head hurts

The days after Springing Ahead are always strange. But things were even stranger back in the 1960s when Duluth led a charge to match Wisconsin on the dates to change clocks. Mass confusion in Minnesota ensued, and even St. Paul and Minneapolis were at one time an hour apart in official times.

Don’t thank him; just write

If you fling a certain line at Air Force veteran Eric Chandler, expect a pleasant smile masking irritation. He might nod in recognition. And if that’s all you got, the conversation is over.

“Thank you for your service.”

“Who are you thanking?” he asked earlier this year when talking about the growing gap of understanding of the U.S. military experience with that of civilians.

“We’re all complicit,” Chandler says with a serious tone. He could go on for hours on this topic, he says. There’s a deal made in a constitutional republic: Citizens ask for protection with a standing army and some answer the call by enlisting. But it’s not a service contract, Chandler says. “It’s not like the cable guy.”

“It should feel more invested” all around, Chandler says. “Thank you for your service” rings as hollow as any other jingoistic notion of the military’s role in American society. When people don’t know what it is you do or have done, platitudes mean nothing, he says. People are less interested in “who is in the military” over just passing along jingoistic notions of it, he says.

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