Tony Dierckins is among Duluth’s greatest resources. Few have given so much of their time and energy to telling the story of the city. As a small publisher, perhaps few have taken as many personal risks hoping the stories of Duluth will find their audiences.
There’s a church revival going on in Lincoln Park, but it’s inspired by art, not God. My partner of nearly 25 years is one of the instigators of a self-proclaimed “cult.”
I guess you could say I drank the Kool-Aid a long time ago because I can’t say I was shocked when he announced his plans.
Life with Troy Rogers, aka Robot Rickshaw, is never dull. He builds musical robots so that he can cart them around Canal Park and the Lakewalk for pop-up performances while wearing a hazmat suit and gas mask with a teddy bear strapped to his chest.
“What have you been up to lately?” Troy’s aunt asked recently, trying to make conversation at a family event. “I’m starting a cult,” he deadpanned.
There were no follow up questions or small talk. Just a perplexed expression from the pious Catholic and an uncharacteristically quick end to the conversation as she escaped to the next room.
Here it is, Perfect Duluth Day’s annual collection of things that were stapled to telephone polls, taped to lavatory walls, pinned to bulletin boards and uploaded to websites. As usual, by no means is this a comprehensive collection of local rock posters, nor is it a carefully curated archive of the best. It’s just a bunch of them we noticed and didn’t lose in 2019.
Thank you, distinguished citizens, for conferring upon me this office of Snow-Fort City Mayor. It is no small honor to assume my half-imaginary duties in this pop-up, collaborative, city-planning art fantasy at the edge of Lake Superior. “City” is an aspirational term for this arrangement of snow walls and monuments in Duluth’s Leif Erickson Park. Snow-Fort City’s true location lies somewhere within our skulls — like all cities. My Facebook post initiating construction was shared more than a hundred times in just a few hours, and it attracted the Duluth News-Tribune and KBJR-6/CBS-3, which tells me the vision of the snow-fort city is the real object. Almost none of the post-sharers, newspaper readers, or TV viewers made it down to the actual Snow-Fort City. They are content to view it with their eyes closed, in its most pure form: the Platonic one.
It literally came to me in a vision, like the origin of so many great cities. In a way, like Duluth itself. I remember the words of George Nettleton’s wife from 1856, when her husband’s mind swam with dreams of Duluth-as-future-city: “I thought he had a pretty long head to see that there was going to be a city here sometime when there was then nothing” (Duluth: An Illustrated History of the Zenith City by Glenn N. Sandvik).
#snowfortcity day 6. Leif Erikson Park. The fort of the tree people is the most durable and impressive structure so far. Albeit unfinished, the vision and craft of its architects (principally Morgan Pirsig) is impressive.
It was a great day to build a #snowfortcity with volunteers Stephen Bockhold, Sean MacManus, and others including an unnamed mom with two kids in tow who attested she was a #peoplesfreeskate participant last winter. One of the kids she was with, who I’ve never seen before, called me “Aquaman” unprompted on camera while KBJR-6/CBS-3 was filming: hope that makes the final cut.
Day 1. Duluth’s Leif Erikson Park. Most of my time was taken up by Duluth News-Tribune reporters who showed up – oops got in the paper again. Otherwise slow going with cold powdery snow – spray bottles and water make the job easier so bring those. It’s sort of Day 2 since some folks built this formidable snow fort yesterday, and got the base of another one started. It’s sort of Day 3, since I built a proof-of-concept wall before the blizzard, but it blew down so I restarted it today. A huge help was Morgan Pirsig et al. who laid down a solid sled trail which helps define the space. It goes so fast we need to bank it by the stage now. Troy Rogers aka Robot Rickshaw showed up and we demonstrated proper wall-building technique for the media. A season-long project to turn the park into a citizen-led collective art installation and playground.