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Lost and Found

It started to drizzle with the kind of fine mist that slicks the pavement into a mirror and seeps steadily through each layer of clothing. Almost simultaneously, the boy and I lifted up our collars, buried our shoulders to our ears, and started to walk without speaking. There was a deserted bridge in front of us. It was a massive steel thing, born of sinewy cables and bulging beams and it perched over the city reservoir. He led us on our way over it, placing himself between me and the edge as we squinted into the idea of the water below. We could hear its agitated turning, but the darkness was so swollen that we saw nothing but an inky black void.

We were so fucking lost.

The boy and I had been introduced to each other hours earlier. Our mothers talked over us with teasing voices while we both stood mutely by, shrinking into our 14-year-old selves and consenting to eye contact in short, apologetic glances as if to say, I know, I’m disappointed with me, too.

The Only Right that is too Often Exercised Alone

The most diverse workplace I have ever known was a nursing home kitchen with workers from age 18 to 82 of many races and genders.

Kitchens breed a complex affection. We saw each other every day, taking two or more meals together. I developed favorite coworkers — the washers who will plow through the dishes quickly, not the washers who realize they are paid the same no matter how many plates they wash in an hour.  We celebrated each other’s joys. The cook might bake a small cake to celebrate a staff wedding, or streamers might appear outside the dietitian’s office on her birthday. On Friday we might go drinking — it was a special challenge to pressure the people working the dinner shift on Friday and the breakfast shift on Saturday to do a “turn and burn.”

It was on one of those Fridays that my coworker Erin told us she was pregnant, that it was unplanned and unwanted, and that she didn’t know what to do. She was likely, she said, to have an abortion.

On another Friday, in my home, maybe a week or so later, I had friends over — friends from both the kitchen and from college. I was 21, I was broke, and I was teased mercilessly for serving Milwaukee’s Best beer. Erin drank three of them in an hour, which I know wouldn’t make a koala bear tipsy. Nonetheless, I was young, I was stupid, and so I said to her: “You’re drinking?” I wasn’t sure she was 21 even, but I was sure she was pregnant.

A Cool Resource: Digital Collections in Veterans Hall

I’m preparing to teach a class that integrates literature and games about Vietnam into writing, and my excellent colleague Carl introduced me to Veterans Memorial Hall

Veterans Memorial Hall is a joint program of the St. Louis County Historical Society and the United States Military service veterans of northeastern Minnesota, with a mission to gather, preserve, interpret, and promote the rich and diverse human experiences of veterans, their families, and communities through museum, archival, and educational programs

Veterans Memorial Hall has moved to the St. Louis County Heritage & Arts Center (the Depot) and is maintained by the St. Louis County Historical Society and the military service veterans from the Arrowhead region. The speakers at the original dedication ceremony promised, “Your services to the country will be remembered so long as liberty is prized and the patriotic valor is remembered.”

Veterans Memorial Hall aims to honor that statement. We have collected more than 1,500 artifacts and 6,000 veteran stories. Today, we have one of the largest collections of military items and veterans’ stories in the state of Minnesota.

Stories can be found here.  If you know more local resources about Veterans, I’d love to hear them.

Selective Focus: Karen McTavish

Duluth’s Karen McTavish has been named the Minnesota Quilter of the Year for 2017, and her work is being displayed at the DECC as part of the Minnesota Quilt Show this weekend, June 7-10. Her work can also be seen at the quilting studio she runs at 1831 E. Eighth St..

K.M.: In 1997 I came to Duluth to machine-quilt full time as my only source of income. I had no prior experience quilting so I had a lot of fear. I had no mentors and no idea what I was doing. I went to the Duluth Public Library and started my research into the medium, carrying hand quilting books out of the library six at a time. I applied for a studio at the Washington Studios Artists Cooperative to live/work and was accepted. I met a hand-quilter named Cheryl Dennison there. Cheryl was a modern quilter, my mother was an art quilter and I was this wandering idiot trying to find my style, my passion and my voice.

Decline Porn, Duluth, and Love Amid the Ruins

J.D. Vance, in a review of Janesville: An American Story in Commentary magazine:

Having grown up in a blue-collar family that has largely abandoned the Democratic Party in droves, I have an unusually high tolerance for the many profiles of Trump voters in struggling industrial towns. Lately, however, even I have grown weary of what Noah Rothman calls “decline porn.” There are only so many words in the English language, and nearly all of them seem to have been used at least three times to help the denizens of Williamsburg and Dupont understand red-state voters and dying factory towns. Enough already.

Vance penned the most orgiastic piece of decline porn in recent memory, Hillbilly Elegy — apologies for my juvenile enjoyment of this metaphor — but there has been no shortage of titles in this genre, and a survey of my past reading list will find me devouring much of it, from Robert Putnam’s Our Kids to Yuval Levin’s The Fractured Republic, from George Packer’s The Unwinding to Charles Murray’s Coming Apart to Brian Alexander’s Glass House. It need not even be American; I could carry on with examples for a while. Decline porn is a fertile ground in contemporary non-fiction, and its best works tell haunting tales of realities that anyone vaguely involved in the shaping of political or economic trends must wrestle with. They also tap into a into a lament for things lost that speaks to a certain part of the human psyche and permeates my own writing at times. Someone who knows me well can probably psychoanalyze this wistfulness easily enough, but I come back to it for reasons that are philosophical as well as personal, and I could devote a lot of words to defending it in those terms. Meditations on loss go back to Eden and the early creation myths, as Paz so masterfully explains in the last chapter of The Labyrinth of Solitude. It’s a near universal human trait.

Selective Focus: Goodiel Beads

After the Vinyl Cave record store in Superior closed, Goodiel Beads moved in. Goodiel sells beads and supplies, and hires employees with disabilities who might not be able to find employment at other businesses. The store also has space for local crafters to sell their items on a consignment basis.

G.B.: Goodiel Beads is a locally owned bead store that was opened April 2017 by a local bead worker, Jamie Goodiel, and her best friend, Matt Hill.

Cats and Dogs

My old neighbor — we’ll call her Tonya — verbally abused her pets. It was like living next door to a David Lynch biopic of Joan Crawford.

One summer, I was digging a fire pit in my back yard. It was the middle of a nice, warm day, probably in June. Suddenly, over the fence that encloses my back yard, I heard a woman’s voice talking reasonably to what sounded, inferring from what she was saying, like a small child: “Autumn, remember what we talked about? You promised to play on this side of the yard, away from Callie’s sandbox. If you don’t do what you promised, we’ll have to go inside.” Huh. I must have neighbor kids. Cool. I kept digging my fire pit. Three feet in diameter? Four? I tabulated the number of edging stones I would need. The voice from over the fence started up again. “Autumn! You stay away from Callie’s sandbox, like we talked about!” I had hardly dumped my shovelful of dirt before she started up again, this time plaintively, “Autumn! You are ruining this for both of us! I said NO!” And not even five seconds later, crazy time. Full scream. “AUTUMN! Come back here right now! I told you to stay away from that fence! I TOLD YOU TO STAY!! AWAY!! FROM!!! THE!!! F#*KING!!! FENCE!!!” She was almost roaring now, she was screaming so hard.

“AUTUMN! YOU NEVER LET ME DO ANYTHING! YOU RUIN EVERYTHING! WE CAN’T EVEN BE OUT IN THE G%$DAMMED YARD FOR FIVE G%$DAMMED MINUTES BEFORE YOU F#*K  IT ALL UP! WE’RE GOING INSIDE! INSIDE AUTUMN! ARE YOU HAPPY NOW? ARE YOU? ARE YOU HAPPY NOW???!!!???”

Duluth Foreign Trade Zone

I had no idea there was land in Duluth that was (kind of) not part of the United States.

The comic book Threadbare, collecting comics from truth-out.org, talks about Foreign Trade Zones in the garment industry. But many industries use FTZs. According to mnftz.com:

Products moving through U.S. FTZs include electronics, computers, petroleum, pharmaceuticals, food products, office equipment, sporting goods, manufacturing components and more. Manufacturers, distributors and suppliers are all candidates for FTZ Subzones.

Radiophiles and Sportphiles

Fill me in; educate me. Local FM sports station, 92.1 WWAX, a KFAN affiliate known as “The Fan,” recently sold. Before and after the sale the station’s Duluth airspace remains stale with on-air talent imaging bites that are very old. After sale, IDs are played saying the station is owned by Red Rock Radio Corporation … but it was sold. Finally, too many dead, off-air minutes or hours. What gives? I wrote to both owners when they were in charge, no responses. I like radio, I’m a dinosaur in that respect. Even dinosaurs don’t like listening to “old-time radio” imaging bites over and over and over again.

Selective Focus: Derick Cich Makeup Artistry

This week we take a look at a different form of visual art with Derick Cich, a makeup artist specializing in weddings, fashion, and commercial clients.

D.C.: I am a freelance makeup artist with a background in both skincare and painting. I’ve been involved in the visual arts my entire life (drawing, sculpting, painting) and went to school for skincare. Makeup artistry is essentially a natural blend of both of those elements for me.

Duluth Trivia Board Game

Savers is a wonderful thing. For $1.99, I picked up a Duluth Trivia board game.

Some doozies:

1. What was on the roof of the former Goldfines building on Garfield Avenue?
2. What business is located there now? (It’s still there, I think.)
3. What movie starring Patty Duke was filmed at Glensheen?
4. For many years, the Duluth Zoo had the only living specimen in the US of one animal. Name that animal.

Where in Duluth?

“Let’s head over there. There’s a spectacular view from that bench.”

(David moves to bench. Squints. Not very much view. Takes photo from bench, straight ahead.)

Where were we?

Where in Duluth?

Tribe Games at the Minnecade at GlitchCon

While at GlitchCon, a gaming convention bringing experts in video game design, educational theory, and inclusivity, I ran into one of Duluth’s video game designers. Charles McGregor runs Tribe Games, and as Charles says on his website …

I am the programmer, musician, and artist for the all of in house games. I am also the guy in charge of the social media and marketing. I have always wanted to make games and feel like I can express myself the most through this medium. I have loved games since the first time that I played them.

I want to make games that I personally would play and feel passionate about. I have been given the opportunity to work with very talented people in the past and hope that I can continue collaborating with others as well as work on my own creations.

The con was at the Soap Factory, a long-standing vacant hulk of a building used for art and alternative culture events in Minneapolis. It was cool to be 175 miles away and still see one of Duluth’s own represented.

30 Years of Comics, Sports Cards, and Games

Today is Tim Broman’s 30th anniversary at Collector’s Connection. In honor of this anniversary, a number of local small businesspeople and professionals nominated the shop for a Labovitz Award, in the “mature entrepreneur” category. I tease him so hard about the category. But really, what Tim does is more that sell things, more than run a business.