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El Camino del Tiempo

We are migrants, one and all, on el Camino del Tiempo, where even the housebound and hunkered-down awaken each morning somewhere they were not yesterday. We’ve emerged from the mists of history and the dreamtime of an infant’s amnesia, and set forth by wildly disparate means of conveyance toward the receding horizon. Signs signal a tomorrow around the bend, but tomorrow is a ghost-town appearing only on the maps, and you can’t get there from here.

So here we are, and there we go, by bullet train or afoot across the trackless wastes, but always on el Camino. Always schlepping our blood on its way down the generations. Always the short skirts and tight pants of the baby-making dance, and the will to carry on.

I marvel at the elaborate ruses concocted to transport one’s genes down el Camino. Marvel at the termite tenacity of these roadside encampments we call cities. Marvel at the hive-life of our super-organism, striving for a meal and a place to sleep and a place to dance the baby-making dance. I shudder at the nighttime photos from space of our settlements glowing golden. Earth burning like the oil lamp it’s become. And between the cities lies the darkened land, yet to trade stars for streetlights.

Thoughts on Anchorage: Community makes self-reliance possible

In the late 1990s, before it reorganized in bankruptcy, Sun Country Airlines flew out of the Humphrey Terminal at Minneapolis/St. Paul. It ran specials on undersold planes, and I received an email alert, I think, about round-trip tickets to Alaska for $300. It seemed so far away for so little money. I was a graduate student in the College of Agriculture on the Twin Cities campus; I was making $12,000 a year. This was cheap, it was an extravagance, an adventure, a story to tell.

I boarded the plane in Bloomington and disembarked in Anchorage. (It was the first time I had been to an airport with signage instructing passengers how to check and reclaim your gun.) The bus took me downtown, and I looked for a hotel. In the years before travel websites and mobile phones, this was hard — I had to walk toward hotel signs and hope for vacancies. There were few; the flight was cheap, but the hotels were booked; I spent twice what I spent on my ticket on my hotel, at what felt like a dive for the price.

I was young and weighed less than half what I weigh now, so I started walking. I walked to Cook’s Inlet, which was muddy. “Captain Cook” was not a real person to me, and so his inlet meant little. So, too, did Mt. McKinley mean little to me — Mt. McKinley, also called Dinale or Denali or Bolshaya Gora/Большая Гора, Densmore’s Mountain. The history of its naming means more to me than the mountain. I was more interested in a business dedicated solely to pull tabs.

Ripped at the Blue Crab Bar in 2008

[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. Before OMC Smokehouse took over the building at 1909 W. Superior St., it was home to the Blue Crab Bar, which closed due to foreclosure in 2009. But in 2008 the ol’ Sultan of Sot visited the Blue Crab and published this report for Duluth’s weekly Transistor.]

There are two ways to get on my list of favorite bars: 1) Cater to a bunch of weirdo regulars who are constantly shitfaced and causing a scene, or 2) Sell 34-ounce beers for $3.50 or less. You’d think the latter would automatically produce the former, but for some reason the freak vibe has failed to catch on at the Blue Crab Bar, in spite of the cheap swill. Still, it’s one of my favorite places, and there are rare moments of crazy if you are patient enough to wait for them.

Tonight, as usual, about eight people are spread out in the room. They are mostly keeping to themselves, either staring at the TV or engaging in soft chatter. The bartender disappears on a smoke break for about 10 minutes of every hour.

New to Duluth

There’s much to love about our enchanting city — the breathtaking views, the closeness we feel as community members, the intimate connection we have with Lake Superior and its surrounding environment. Those reasons are exactly why, back in 2013, my then-fiancé and I chose to move to Duluth from Fargo, N.D. We wanted to live somewhere with an entirely different aesthetic from the Red River Valley yet be close enough to visit family and friends on weekends. The North Shore of Lake Superior was, and still is, a perfect fit.

As a newcomer, it took me an unexpectedly long time to feel bound to our community — more so than other cities I’ve lived in. Most of my initial connections were with coworkers and members of the Rotary Club of Duluth, which I joined through work. These individuals took my husband and I under their wings, providing advice and recommendations for what neighborhood to live in, what doctors to see and what companies to call for air conditioning repairs or garbage service. I trusted these men and women, and to this day, they haven’t let me down.

Giving Thanks for a Perfect Duluth Future

As we move into the holidays it seems appropriate to share our gratitude for the hundreds of Duluthians who have added their name in support of the Bag it Duluth Campaign. In so doing they are showing they care deeply about our community by working to shift a cultural mindset away from a disposal planet and disposable people toward a livable economy that works for all and future generations. And, in this time of unconscionable inequality and climate change we acknowledge that many others feel frozen, unable to act, as what feels sacred seems lost. To those, we extend our hearts.

Holiday Traditions next to Red Kettles

The Red Kettles are out, and the adorable man next to the adorable eagle is my friend.

The teddy bear on the left is Tim Broman; “Earnie” the eagle on the right is Cara Ellis. As you might guess from the fairly cheesy pun in “Earnie,” Cara is a mortgage specialist at Northern Communities Credit Union, where Tim is a customer service representative.

They are standing outside Cub Foods, where I bought some tasty sushi yesterday, inspired by the PDD post about Wasabi.

I didn’t realize that local businesses partnered with the Salvation Army in this way. I appreciate the generosity of NCCU, I shame my friend Tim for making the lady wear the costume (a gentleman would have worn the scratchy sweaty suit) and I wonder whether any other businesses and organizations partner in this way in the holidays. Post below if you will be ringing this season, please?

Goose Chase: An Interview with Duluth’s Goosinator

In 2016 the city of Duluth purchased a remote-controlled glider designed to humanely chase away geese. “The Goosinator” was acquired from an eponymous company in Denver, Colo. at a cost of about $3,000 plus shipping and handling. The city made this purchase with the express goal of ridding Bayfront Festival Park of an increasing abundance of goose feces, a consequence of the recovering Canada goose population. In large amounts, goose feces diminish the park’s appeal and utility, and can cause illness in people and pollute the lake.

Two years on, the Goosinator agreed to meet with me for an exclusive, first-ever interview.

No one in the newly-opened Dovetail Cafe & Marketplace recognizes the Duluth park maintenance worker hustling in from the cold for an interview, but he draws notice all the same. The Goosinator stands about 20 inches tall and, at almost four feet long, has to sit sideways as I help him into a chair at a table made of reclaimed birdseye maple. He wears an outsize, toothy permagrin. He’s bright orange. And he seems perfectly at ease with the sideways glances, thanking me with a wry smirk as I pass him the Cascara Tea I took the liberty of ordering him. After all, he’s used to being the focus of attention, as it’s a prerequisite for his unusual line of work.

Boys

I’m done. In a little more than a month I’m going to stop hanging out with men who mistreat women. Kind of.

Let me try to speak more precisely: after the next few weeks are up I will still be spending a lot of online and IRL time — pretty much every day — among boys and men who, most often without realizing it, expect girls’ and women’s deference, use whatever level of force is necessary to ensure it, and punish girls and women who defy those normative expectations. When I say “normative expectations” I mean that the dominant social and cultural expectation for girls and women to please boys and men is so normal that it seldom gets questioned because it rarely really even gets noticed. It just is. It’s always there, whether we’re conscious of it or not, like oxygen. It permeates. It’s definitive. It defines our culture to such an inherent degree that folks who dare to name it look crazy to everyone but each other. Folks who publicly question or defy it on the regular court repercussions along a continuum more broad and real than you might realize.

None of that stuff is going to change in a few weeks.

PDD Quiz: October 2018 in Review

Test your knowledge of local headlines with our month-in-review quiz!

The next PDD quiz, on area bakeries, will be published on Nov. 11. Please email question suggestions to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by Nov. 8.

Womaning

At first it’s impossible to understand — this thing happening to you. Imagine yourself at 12, or maybe 13 — or God help you, 19 — whenever puberty finally gored you with its long-awaited tusk. Maybe you’re the girl waiting for her breasts, standing with her shoulders back behind Tammy, the girl who got her boobs in fourth grade, praying it’s somehow contagious, and your proximity will tit you up before your Cup Noodles even fully soften. Maybe you’re the girl who thinks she’s pissed herself on the playground, only to look down and see her crotch a deep, angry red: you’ll have to be done with four-square now, because you’ll need to change into your gym clothes, or call your mom to come get you. Maybe you’re the girl who imagines the lips of other girls, who stands as close to Laurel as possible in lunch line, to smell her delicious hair, and you’re waiting to develop what all the movies and all the people say is inevitable: an exclusive taste for boys.

Maybe you held hands with Ben one time on the way home from swimming, and you were too young, and it made you feel dirty to do it, like you stole the money out of the collection bin at church, or got caught touching your privates in the unlocked bathroom by your father. You are on one side of this thing, but also on the other. You are neither and both.

It feels bad.

Halloween Banners

ZombieBanner-Call

Time to go back one year and look through your pictures on your phone. We want to see your creepy, comical, kooky Halloween photos, we’ll add them to the banner rotation – those long skinny photos at the top of the page. Keep in mind, the proportions are extremely horizontal, so not every photo works when cropped. Click here for complete submission guidelines, but the basics are: 1135 pixels wide by 197 pixels high, e-mail them to [email protected]
If you’re not able to crop and size them, send the full image and we’ll do our best to crop it into a banner. Happy Halloween, we’ll start rotating the Halloween Banners this weekend.

Selective Focus: Last glimpse of Fall

The leaves are almost all gone, here are a few final peeks for the year.

Ripped at Midget Wrestling in 2008

[Editor’s note: The NorShor Theatre operated as a strip club from 2006 to 2010, and all manner of amoral activity took place there. 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. Ten years ago he paid a visit to the NorShor to take in the rasslin’ martches.]

Lovers of the fine arts, like me, know it doesn’t get any better than strippers and midget wrestling. If you can see them both in the same building, and there’s a guy with a backpack who is graciously offering to share his hallucinogenic mushrooms with you, it’s time to chant U-S-A! U-S-A!

Yes, tonight the stars of the Micro Wrestling Federation are bringing their “MidgetPalooza 2009 World Tour” to the NorShor Experience strip club. Of course, it’s still 2008 on my calendar, but it’s probably not a mistake that the year 2009 appears on my ticket in three places. I like to think the MWF is like an auto manufacturer and releases the next year’s line of midgets early, so fans feel like they’re on the cutting edge of wrestling innovation.

Duluth featured on Supernatural again

Last night’s episode of Supernatural took place Duluth, as seen in this featured clip. The episode “Gods And Monsters” aired on the CW network.

This isn’t the first time Duluth has been featured in the long running show. The second season’s “Born Under a Bad Sign” episode had a character who was working at a Duluth bar. Several episodes have featured other Minnesota towns, such as Hibbing and Stillwater.

Selective Focus: Laura Goodman and Karen Owsley Nease

On Oct. 19 and 20, Laura Goodman’s sensuous and powerful new ballet, “Curl, Uncurl and…” will be performed as part of the Minnesota Ballet’s fall performance, The Rite of Spring and Other Dances. Basing her choreography on the wave paintings of Karen Owsley Nease, Laura explores the elemental and generative forces depicted in Karen’s artwork. Karen’s paintings will be projected as the back drop during the performance.

On Friday, Oct. 26, 6 p.m., at Joseph Nease Gallery, Laura and Karen will present an artist’s talk discussing their work during a mini-exhibition of the paintings that were included in the performance. “Elemental Forces and Other Work” is the mini-exhibition of Karen’s paintings and will be on display from Oct. 19-27.

What was the origin of your collaboration?

Karen: Over dinner last year, Laura and I were discussing our respective work as artists, particularly her experience as a professional dancer and choreographer, which led me to suggest how cool it would be to have her “interpret” my wave paintings into motion.

Laura: Growing up in Duluth, Lake Superior has been a place for reflection and awe. It has been a backdrop that I have missed when living elsewhere. I first saw Karen’s wave paintings at her show “As Above, So Below” at the University of Wisconsin, Superior in 2017. The idea of choreographing a piece based on her paintings was exciting to me, and so I worked to find a way to do that. After a few conversations and studio visits with Karen, I approached Robert Gardner at the Minnesota Ballet. With his support of the project I applied and was awarded an Arrowhead Regional Arts Council (ARAC) Career Development grant.