Random Posts

Oakhold Farmhouse Brewery “will not become a reality”

A planned brewery in Midway Township outside Duluth will apparently not come to fruition. Equipment from a disreputable manufacturer could be partially to blame, but there has been no official statement from the owners regarding what ultimately brought the project to a halt.

Bad Student

‘Cause I survived the ’80s one time already
And I don’t recall it all that fondly

— Craig Finn

The bemulleted boy in that senior portrait over there came very close to not graduating with his Rochester John Marshall high school class of 1989 mates. One semester more and the rage that had fueled his self-destructive approach to school since 1983 would have elicited an anticlimactic letter explaining why he couldn’t walk in the ceremony and what he’d have to do if he wanted a diploma.

His K-6 career had suggested potential. Then a few months into seventh grade his interest in caring or trying seemed to evaporate. He embodied adolescent apathy. He also transcended it in ways that made very little sense to himself or anyone else. One example: he so bitterly resented being placed into advanced science and English classes (for reasons he could articulate no further than, “I just want to be in the normal classes”), that he intentionally got crummy grades on assignments until people who made such decisions had no choice but to bust him down to non-advanced sections.

At least that’s how I think I remember it. I know he was pissed — furious — about school in general, and still pretty far away from having vocabulary or perspective required to process what he was feeling or why. I know he self-sabotaged, sometimes so willingly it seemed wanton, and sometimes while watching it happen and wishing he knew how to stop it. In those situations, the latter often presented as the former. I also know it’s possible he got kicked out of those advanced sections because he just wasn’t equipped to stay in them. It’s not taking shots at him to say he might just not have been smart enough in ways the classes required students to be.

PDD Quiz: Love (or Like), Duluth Style

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, this month’s quiz is feeling the love. Or maybe “love” is too strong a word; maybe “like” is more apt. At any rate, you’ll see plenty of love (and like) for Duluth in this quiz!

The next PDD quiz, reviewing this month’s local headlines, will be published on Feb. 25. E-mail question suggestions to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by Feb. 22.


It’s been about 12 years since I’ve had cable television. My only exposure to it these days is when I’m on vacation and lodging somewhere it’s offered. My wife will search the channels for some kind of garbage to watch, then she’ll fall asleep and I’ll flip the channels, eventually stopping on network television unless one of those ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries is on.

When I was a kid I loved cable television, basically for three reasons — old sitcom reruns, professional wrestling and music videos. I still kind of like those things, but certainly not enough to pay for them. I never liked them enough to pay for them.

I had access to cable television for most of the era spanning roughly 1980 to 2006. I use the word “access” because throughout that period, one thing remained constant: I never paid a cent for it. Don’t get me wrong, I never stole cable (other than trying to watch scrambled HBO). I was just fortunate enough to live with people who were willing to pay to watch television. First it was my brother, then my dad, then various roommates and finally my wife. When Netflix hooked her it was the end of cable in our house.

Considering a Crocheted Afghan: What is an Immigrant Life?

My grandmother, an immigrant from Belgium, gave me a thick, crocheted afghan in my senior year of high school. I’m fifty years old now. I still have it. This black, white and gray acrylic afghan—one among hundreds she gifted family members—holds in its hooked stitches the last breaths of the life that she wove into mine. I don’t keep it on my bed today, but my kids will have to figure out what to do with it when I die; I won’t let it go during my lifetime.

Families are big and complex. They can gift us things we don’t understand until many years after they are given. I had the great fortune of living in Omaha, Nebraska, with my grandmother during my junior and senior years. She was in her seventies, alone, and no longer able to drive because of deteriorating vision. I was a grandson who desperately needed refuge from an abusive dad. I’d lived with an aunt and uncle for the second half of my sophomore year. They had already raised three children from another aunt (a story for another time) and had three of their own kids at home. They both worked—he was a cop, she was a secretary. Even then, in the early 1980s these were not high-paying jobs.

What’s on tap at the NorShor Theatre?

No, the question here is not the figurative “what entertainment is on tap?” but rather “what is literally on tap in terms of craft beer at the NorShor?”

Historic downtown Superior building gets detailed restoration

The Empire Block opened in 1892 on Tower Avenue in the heart of downtown Superior. Newly restored apartments will be open for showing in February.

A meticulous, top-to-bottom restoration of a massive 19th Century building in downtown Superior will offer jaw-dropping views for new residents, historic charm for new businesses and a boost to city center redevelopment efforts.

Some General Instructions

“Ships sided against a canal’s side may be touched and
Patted, but sleeping animals should not be, for
They may bite, in anger and surprise.“
— Kenneth Koch

Treat others as we treat those who are dying — with tenderness and kindness — as we are all, at our own pace, dying. Avoid telling others what will happen to them after they die, especially to threaten them, because this smacks of eschatological terrorism. Both idealization and devaluation of another person can be a defense against envy, and putting someone you consider an asshole on a pedestal is doubly troublesome.

Don’t pretend that large groups of people are all the same, as simplistic opinions about others are the source of much grief. There is beauty in diversity, but danger in division, as we can be conquered when divided, and manipulated by irrational beliefs. Beware the competition among various one-and-only gods, it is also the cause of much trouble. It’s best to avoid pretending to know the will of God, and to not pass laws reflecting his taboos. It’s not good to remain in an infantile state, accepting dogma at face value, or to confuse symbolic and literal truth. Of course we are free to believe Zeus runs the show from Mount Olympus if that makes us happy, and does no harm to others.

Beargrease Cutest Puppy Contest

Much squee at the Cutest Puppy Competition at Fitgers.

Which one did you vote for?

William A. Irvin on the move?

I walked by the Irvin yesterday as workers were cutting and smashing the ice around it. Rumor has it that it will be moved soon to accommodate the new sea wall construction which will start soon.

Cabin Fever: Reconciling with -2

I’ve spent the past few weeks obsessively feeding the fire, clearing out ashes, hauling more wood in, and worrying the dogs might have cabin fever. I know they crave the chase of scents that waft over tracks in the snow. They crave the adrenaline rush during the run, the explosion of speed after paws dig into resistance, and the freedom of the wilds. Fifteen acres of land in Lakewood, just north of Duluth, awaits them, they know this. Two fenced in acres seems like a prison in comparison. But they don’t think about frozen paws and hidden sticks looming under the snowline.

I however, with extreme abnormality, do not desire my usual trek amongst the trees where I walk into peace, clarity, and the calmness that mingles between the earth and stars. My feet are solid on the hardwood floor that covers a cold cement slab over frozen ground. It’s been cold for too long. A cold not worthy of dressing in layers: wicking socks, Smartwool socks, fleece leggings … only to capture a fractional moment of meditative silence amongst the freeze.

I admit it, I’m tired. I’m tired of putting on my left glove, tucking it into the jacket cuff, then attempting to do the same to the right with a thick awkward moving gloved hand. Only to unglove when I figure out I forgot to start the zip of the jacket and can’t achieve the initial detailed alignment of zippered teeth. Try and try again, the glove inevitably will be poutingly removed, zipper aligned, and the uncoordinated procedure of glove replacement aggressively completed, again.

Poo, of the Non-Winnie Variety

I’ve really grown a lot, since turning 40. Particularly in relationship to my willingness to talk about poop.

Let me back up. (Have you noticed how, when you lead with poo, everything that follows becomes a double-entendre?) Anyway. Up until my late 30s, it was a well-known and oft-ridiculed fact that all things concerning defecation made me wildly, morbidly uncomfortable. I knew it was a natural, essential, healthy bodily function. I also realized that everyone (including me, heaven forgive me) did it. But it was so disgusting, so private and feral and ghastly, that I could not acknowledge it in anyone else’s company.

I did a lot of very silly things to avoid mutual recognition of poop situations.

I famously repaired a toilet while pregnant to avoid calling anyone else into the vestibule, lest they deduce what might have caused the trouble in the first place. For five full years, I used a restroom in a gas station next door to the building in which I worked because the bathroom at my job was right next to the lunchroom, and that was monstrous. I have had entire business trips in which my body mysteriously began apparently absorbing my waste, rather than eliminating it, until I returned home, lest I be forced to do any pooping on an airplane, or, for the love of all that remains holy, in a stall next to a client. I have left a lover’s house and driven home and back again, under the ruse of requiring medicine I did not need, take or have in my possession to avoid any implication of my defecatory habits.

Open Skating at Duluth Heritage Sports Center

Image from the Heritage Center website

For New Year’s, I never make resolutions. But I do point myself toward new things that feed me.

Ice skating.

I went to the Heritage Center for City of Duluth Open Skate.

The Heroin-Ivy Itch, Revisited

I have no heroes. I’m not mad at people who do. I’ve just always, since I was a little kid, considered the concept silly. Maybe by elementary school I’d already known too many athletes whose mistreatment of fellow human beings seems more significant than any cool thing they can do in a cute sports outfit. Maybe I really am more insightful and honest than folks who fawn over politicians. Maybe I’m not smart enough to understand why writers and artists and academics deserve worship.

Don’t misunderstand: I’ve been at least as hero-silly as I claim to have distaste for being. I sometimes clumsily try to connect with musicians and other artists whose work moves me enough to believe I get it more accurately than anyone else possibly can. I’ve sent awkward messages to folks whose ways of going about life I admire and feel connection with. I generally struggle to feel like I connect with people, and that gets pretty lonesome. Then I mostly withdraw from interactions I assume will feel superficial or frustrating or embarrassing. There are folks I really like and know fairly well and dread spending time with because of how inadequate I feel around them and how hung up I get on my self-perceived inability to be exactly who and how I want to be in their presence. Then sometimes, when it seems like a connection might be possible or present, I lumber and barge beyond reticence with great gushes of wordy emotiveness in attempts to share vulnerable parts of myself. I always regret those overtures. I’m blushing right now thinking about a few. They probably come across as really weird and maybe kind of sad to the folks who have to endure them. It might also be true that a lot of what experience tells me is true about any of that exists only inside my own head.

Duluth Trivia (January)

From the Duluth Trivia deck I found in a game at Savers.

  1. How long has Duluth had a Symphony Orchestra?
  2. The DSSO produced opera annually for 26 years. Which conductor began this tradition and in what year?
  3. Where does the “concertmaster” of the DSSO sit?
  4. What year did “Fitger’s on the Lake” open?
  5. What year did the Fitger’s Brewery close?
  6. How many years was the old brewery in continuous operation?
  7. Who was Margaret Culkin Banning?
  8. Who said that “The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in Duluth”?
  9. Where in Duluth is the important collection of Eastman Johnson paintings housed?
  10. What was the Hjemkomst?