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Dividing Duluth: The Abandoned Car Test

I’ve lived in West Duluth for the vast majority of my life. The most significant exceptions are the year I lived in the Endion neighborhood near the Duluth Armory and the three-and-a-half years I lived in the Central Hillside at Washington Studios Artist Cooperative.

Though my experiences are largely seen through western Duluth eyes, I like to think of myself as a somewhat impartial observer. I bleed the maroon and gold of a Denfeld Hunter, but I have empathy for Trojans, Cakes, Hilltoppers and those funny little home-schoolers and international magnet arsty-fartsies or whatever they are. We’re all Duluthians, Americans and humans. But we’re also part of many tribes, and our neighborhoods can define us in ways we don’t often think about.

Around the time I graduated from high school, a popular pastime among my friends was to pile into a car and simply drive around with no purpose. We were young, full of enthusiasm, and generally unfamiliar with the world outside of West Duluth. Simply driving east of Lake Avenue at that time seemed like a minor adventure, and if we were creative or lucky enough we could turn it into a significant adventure. At the time, the young women of Duluth had very different hairstyles on each side of town, so there was a visible sense of exploring a new culture in just an eight-minute drive.

The Slice: Superior Street Reconstruction Phase II

In this video, City of Duluth Senior Engineer Duncan Schwensohn talks about the reconstruction of East Superior Street, including a brief mention of the basement extensions of some buildings, which run under the sidewalks.

In its series The Slice, WDSE-TV presents short “slices of life” that capture the events and experiences that bring people together and speak to what it means to live up north.

Monthly Grovel: June 2019 Edition

(Enter the amount of your choice.)

In the past year — from June 2018 through May 2019 — the PDD Calendar published 8,016 Duluth-area events. Each one was edited by a human being before the “publish” button was pushed. We intend to keep up the good work, but (believe it or not) we could do better. There are still events we are missing. And we have a few assistants standing by who jump into action when donations roll in to pay for their future carpal tunnel surgeries.

So that’s why once a month we set our dignity aside and remind readers how much we appreciate their financial support.

Duluth Trivia Deck Sampler #12

A few years ago, I bought a Duluth Trivia game at Savers. Here are some more questions.

1. Where is the Chambers Grove picnic area?
2. What is the name of the annual dog sled race that begins in Duluth?
3. What is the name of the longest fresh-water sandspit in the world?
4. How many stars are in the cluster of stars in the official seal of the city of Duluth? What do they represent?
5. Who was William T Boutwell?
6. When was Fond du Lac annexed by the city of Duluth?

Ripped at Thirsty Pagan Brewing in 2007

[Editor’s note: For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who served as Duluth’s “booze connoisseur” from 1999 to 2009. In recognition of Thirsty Pagan Brewing’s recent move from its longtime location on Broadway Street to a newly renovated home at Winter Street Depot, we dust of this drunken report from 2007, when the business was in its first year of operation after taking over Twin Ports Brewing Company. This story originally appeared in the Feb. 12, 2007 issue of the Transistor.]

Like the word “Christian,” the word “pagan” makes me vaguely uncomfortable. It’s not that I don’t want to think about the gods when I’m drinking; it’s that I don’t want to think about bearded guys in wool stocking caps who smell like a sheepdog. Unfortunately, as I walk into Thirsty Pagan Brewing, it’s difficult to think of anything else.

The TPB, located on the corner of Broadway Street and Ogden Avenue in Superior, is the brewpub formerly known as Twin Ports Brewing Co. Walking inside is a lot like walking into some stoner’s basement grow-room. The main reason for this is the hoard of thickety furbags slumping over tables and drum kits. Tonight, however, the grow-room mood is enhanced because one side of a Hamm’s beer sign on the ceiling seems to be out for repairs, leaving its exposed fluorescent rods to blaze with retina-searing intensity. While one side of the room enjoys the classic sign, naked bulbs shine down on all the shadowless, drunken truth on the other side.

Cycle lanes aren’t enough in snowy climes

Check this out. I came across this article in The Guardian written by a cycling advocate from Winnipeg. It’s a few years old now and you’re probably done with any mention of winter but it seems timely what with it being just a few days after National Bike to Work Day. 

Ice cycles: the northerly world cities leading the winter bicycle revolution

I don’t know how many of you read this Op/Ed piece in the Duluth News Tribune:

Local View: Balance needed to meet needs of bicyclists, pedestrians – AND motorists

Adult Braces

Last year, I got adult braces, which are distinct from kids’ braces in several ways. They were the tooth-colored kind, made of ceramic, so you could not call me metal mouth, just brace face. No one did, which is the first way they differ. I was 14 the first time I had braces. They did their job, but the effects had a statute of limitations.

Getting braces a second time became a priority when midlife seized me. About to turn 40, I had a classic crisis during which I asked the important questions: Who am I? Am I living my best life? And: ugh, can I get my teeth fixed?

I could, actually. My two girls had gone through orthodontic treatments one after the other, and because I was such a good customer, the orthodontist gave me a deal: the price of one person’s braces in addition to two other people’s. Paying for braces three times is another way adult braces differ from kids’.

At first, I was surprised at the pain. Tylenol couldn’t touch the deep soreness the braces caused. Advil, Aleve, margaritas, nothing helped. The pain caused me to hold my mouth half open and make weird hand-shields while talking at work. I apologized to people repeatedly during this period, asking for my grossness to be excused.

Thunder Bay loves Duluth

One thing this discounted T-shirt makes fairly clear: Duluth will not automatically reciprocate your love.

Thanks to Tomasz Majewski for finding it.

May the Fourth (Doctor) be with You on Free Comic Book Day

May Fourth was a great day for nerds around the Duluth area. Claimed by Star Wars fans with the slightest bit of imagination, only the slightest, the Fourth of May is Star Wars Day. I cringe, still, every time I hear someone say “May the Fourth be with You.” Except when William Shatner says it, because the irony I read into it is delicious.

Monthly Grovel: So many events, so little time

(Enter the amount of your choice.)

In the past year — from May 2018 through April 2019 — the PDD Calendar published 7,925 Duluth-area events. Each one was edited by a human being before the “publish” button was pushed. We intend to keep up the good work, but (believe it or not) we could do better. There are still events we are missing. And we have a few assistants standing by who jump into action when donations roll in to pay for their future carpal tunnel surgeries.

So that’s why once a month we set our dignity aside and remind readers how much we appreciate their financial support.

Duluth Broadcast Television Station Guide 2019

Changes to broadcast television channel offerings used to be rare. From 1966 to 1999, Duluth had four channels. From 1999 to 2009, there were five. In the ten years since the switch from analog to digital channels, the total has climbed to 18.

“Rule 15” by Ryan Vine

Duluth poet Ryan Vine reads “Rule 15,” from his 2018 book To Keep Him Hidden.

In its series The Slice, WDSE-TV presents short “slices of life” that capture the events and experiences that bring people together and speak to what it means to live up north.

Best Practices

— a loose companion to a previous essay about teaching

“The truth knocks on the door and you say, ‘Go away, I’m looking for the truth,’ and so it goes away. Puzzling.”
— Robert M. Pirsig, from Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry Into Values

I understand why a lot of teachers lust after “best practices.” I get why so many of us grasp at supposedly foolproof methods for making students do exactly what we want them to do. A lot of us have been taught that assigning work then rewarding or punishing students according to how they do it is the gist of teaching. (A lot of students, understandably and heartbreakingly, believe those rewards and punishments are the gist and evidence of learning.) From a certain perspective it makes sense for us to seek information about how to reward and punish as effectively as possible. It also, in some ways, makes sense for administrators to dictate practices they believe will create consistent punishments and rewards throughout a particular course, major, college unit, school, district, or state. The actual of process helping fellow human beings learn — as opposed to the process of meaningless, faux-rigorous punishing and rewarding — is a task of privilege that’s incredibly difficult to do well. I know my own version of feeling desperate for some method or approach that just works.

Mousecanceheimer’s

Tig Notaro famously did a stand-up routine in which she announced she had cancer. It was lauded as one of the most incredible moments in stand-up history, and she was extolled as a pioneer in comedy for really working the fine edge of the tragedy + time = comedy equation many comics venerate as the best method of joke construction. I’ve listened to the routine — it’s as good as it’s rumored to be. Better, maybe, because of Notaro somehow putting into the fewest possible words the absurdity of human life in an undeniable way. A laser cut around the heart, but in the shape of a fart.

In this magnificent routine, Notaro jokes that people always say that “God never gives you more than you can handle,” and then goes on to imagine the angels watching God handing down Notaro’s few months of life, questioning God’s sobriety: in just a few months, Notaro almost died from an intestinal infection, her mother died in a household accident, and then she was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer in both breasts. The space between these events was long enough for her to make the phone calls necessary to tell anyone that one of the things had just happened. It’s preposterous. And inexplicably shitty.

New York Times looks at Duluth as climate-change refuge

“As the West burns, the South swelters and the East floods, some Americans are starting to reconsider where they choose to live,” writes New York Times climate reporter Kendra Pierre-Louis in an article suggesting people might someday migrate to Duluth to escape global warming.