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Duluth Book Releases in 2018

A Nice Relaxing Sea Cruise
Dale R. Botten
Page Publishing
(Jan. 18)

Web Watching: A Guide to Webs & the Spiders that Make Them
Larry Weber
Adventure Publications
(Jan. 25)

Chance Poems
Poems by Michael Kleber-Diggs, Julie Gard, Sheila Packa and Kathleen Roberts
Edited by Kathleen Roberts
Wildwood River Press
(Feb. 3)

PDD Quiz: Duluth Rocks

With Homegrown Music Festival just around the corner, we’re all aware that Duluth rawks. But how much do you know about Duluth rocks? Test your knowledge of local rocks (and rock-related things) in this week’s quiz!

The next PDD Quiz, reviewing the headlines of April 2018, will be published on April 29. Email question suggestions to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by April 26.

Bjorklund 2018 half-marathon entry up for bid

Grandmas Garry Bjorklund Half Marthon

Security Jewelers is again auctioning one of its sponsor entries to the Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon on eBay. This year the proceeds will benefit the Hills Youth & Family Services, a Duluth nonprofit that provides programming for at-risk youth and their families. The auction ends April 13 at noon.

Lottery registration for the 2018 Garry Bjorklund Half Marathon is closed. The race is at capacity with 7,500 participants. The entry cost via the lottery was $95; last year’s auctioned entry raised $205 for the Damiano Center.

Devil’s Right Hand

So then I went and bought myself a Colt 45
Called a peacemaker but I never knew why
I never knew why, I didn’t understand
Mama says the pistol is the devil’s right hand

Steve Earle

A couple-three years ago, after telling public truth about a violent bully in a way I knew would enrage him (and earn him aggressive, ill-informed fealty among people who saw me as the real bully doing the real violence), I slept with a thick, hickory ax handle within arm’s reach of my bed for more than a month. I feared violent retribution. I thought I had credible reasons. I may have been overreacting.

I don’t necessarily know how to defend myself with wooden sticks or any other weapons. The last time I got in a fight, about this time of year in 1984, Mike Aikens kicked my ass in Allendale Park, on 18th Avenue NW across from John Adams Junior High, in Rochester, MN. Feeling unsure seems antithetical to fighting well. I felt unsure during that fight. I didn’t yet — wouldn’t for many years — know how to stop pondering ambiguity and just be where I needed to be in any specific moment. I still feel unsure very often. In the interest of trying to understand as many perspectives as possible, I ponder ambiguity a lot. A lot. At least I think I do. Maybe not. I don’t know. Or maybe I do. I see it in a lot of different ways.

What’s Rick Steves’ deal with Duluth?

Does Rick Steves have a beef with Duluth? While I was doing a searching for something Duluth related, I discovered a PDD post from Nov. 22 titled  “Rick Steves offends his Duluth friends.” Which surprised me, as I had just recently noticed yet another slight from Rick Steves regarding Duluth.

Perfect Duluth Day launching two new community websites — Perfect East Duluth Day and Perfect West Duluth Day

In an effort to better serve the community, Perfect Duluth Day announced today it will convert its nearly 15-year-old website into an all-advertising format, then launch two new websites to separately serve eastern and western Duluth with neighborhood-specific features and folksy tidbits.

Imperfect Duluth Days

I realized I was a northern Minnesotan on my first return trip home during my freshman year of college at an East Coast school. My mother collected me from the Minneapolis airport, and we stopped for dinner at a restaurant in Forest Lake. The waitress came to our table, opened her mouth, and began to talk. I was immediately horrified.

The accent. It was real. The Fargo stereotype was true. I’d just spent an entire semester trying to project an image of someone who wasn’t from bumfuck nowhere. I’d patiently explained to scions of the Acela Corridor elite that no, Duluth was not a suburb of the Twin Cities, and that no, ice fishing was not a fictional pursuit, but something that real people actually did. And now, here was this polite, cheery waitress taking my order, and the poor woman had no way of knowing that the words issuing from her mouth filled me with dread.

Through trial and tribulation, I overcame my fear of the northern Minnesotan accent. Even though I’d sworn I’d never come back when I was in high school, I found my way to a home with the same sliver of a lake view I’d enjoyed as a child in Lakeside. The story of what led me from one point to another is tedious, its details ranging from the mundane to the intensely personal, and the source of far too many of my own words spilled out on blogs and in the lonely, booze-fueled journals of late adolescence. I am here, a Duluthian first and foremost among any commitments I may have to places, and ready to bore any unfortunate soul with an hours-long nuanced account of why this has come to be. I have even come to accept the accent, mostly. But there are still, admittedly, moments of doubt.

All of these moments come in the time of year that in other lands goes by the name of “spring.”

Eat Yourself Help

The biggest mistake you can make after deciding to eat yourself is to start with the hands. The hands are the easiest part of the body to eat, so they seem like a good place to begin, but that is exactly why you should save them as long as possible. Remember, once your hands are gone, those hard to bite areas become an even bigger strain.

I suggest you start with your thigh, just above the knee. Chew through both legs, severing them. This allows you to eat your calves and feet like two big, sloppy corncobs. (Should you begin choking on an Achilles tendon, remember that a self-applied Heimlich maneuver can be just as easily performed when you are rolling around on the floor with severed legs as when you are standing on your feet.)

You might find the area from your thighs up hard to reach with your mouth so it’s important that you still have your hands and arms. Don’t eat them yet! After you have chewed open your legs, you will easily be able to use your hands to scoop out heaping portions of the rest of your body.

Many people ask me, “Paul, how do I eat my own mouth?” The answer is simple. Just push it down your throat and swallow. It’s that easy.

Better Late Than Never

When my wife reads this she’s gonna kill me dead. You see, we’re not into public displays of affection. A peck on the lips at the airport is about the extent of it, and to say we’re understated would be an understatement. But I’ll tell you this straight away, as I often tell my wife: I like her more than a medium amount.

In middle-age I became a novice married man, and we found our balance on the scales of wedded bliss, with my wife being smart on the one hand, and I, on the other, able to lift heavy things. With she being cute, and I able to lift heavy things. With she having miraculous powers to actually consider the future and I, in the moment, lifting.

Fifteen years later we refer to the present as “the good old days,” and I’m still rounding the learning curve of coupledom. We continue to expand our glossary of secret terms and their acronyms, a code uncrackable by the NSA. An abrupt maneuver while driving, most often a U-turn, is known as a “Hang On Deary” or “H.O.D.” Dusk in winter is the “Blue Snow Hour.” Friends of our neighbor have become the biblical “Tribe of Dan,” and our cats have more nicknames than the Gambino family.

PDD Quiz: Wild Weather

“If you don’t like the weather in Duluth, wait five minutes.”

“The coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in Duluth.”

Even if we’ve exhausted every other topic of conversation, we always have the weather to fall back on. Weather in the Northland can be extreme, but how familiar are you with those extremes? Test your meteorological mettle with this week’s quiz!

The next PDD Quiz, reviewing March 2018 happenings, will be published on March 25. Email question suggestions to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by March 22.

Naming the Problem

In a downtown tourist shop, my daughter Claire admires a sparkly jacket. It’s gold with embellishments on the shoulders. She says she loves it, it would be perfect for some imagined scenario. “Mmm — maybe for Halloween?” I say, unthinking.

The woman at the counter, the owner, approaches us. I smile, ready to make small talk. I am caught off-guard when she says: “Most women don’t come in here to criticize the clothes. That is an expensive jacket.” It takes a few seconds for my face to fall. My realization is slow. What I said was belittling. “Halloween.”

She stares me down and wins. I realize she’s kicking me out of her shop. I don’t let on to Claire as I direct her outside.

Embarrassment and shame are the worst feelings. Our visit to this town is only half over, so I stumble through the rest of the day, the exchange with the woman obsessing me. This is so stupid, I think. She threw me out? I’m a jerk? or a snob or something? Please.

Human Fabric of Duluth tells powerful story of addiction and recovery

If you’ve not kept up with the Human Fabric of Duluth webseries of photos and stories, you missed this week’s story of inspiration.

Handrails

The house was built before the end of World War I, finished room by room by my great grandfather after a hard day’s work at Kurth Malting in Milwaukee, where I grew up.

When was a child at the kitchen table doing homework in the 1980s, the house still wasn’t finished. The porch was sinking into the earth, and every spring I climbed beneath to crank the jack that lifted the sagging southwest corner.

There were no handrails on the steep staircase from the first floor to the basement or winding alongside the stairs from the first floor to the attic. Maybe handrails were luxuries they could not afford, or maybe handrails never crossed his mind, the way that he died without ever wearing a seatbelt.

Every day his wife, my great-grandmother, fetched a can of veggies from the root cellar for dinner. Tinned vegetables did not require the cool air of the basement to stay fresh, but old habits died hard. Cans of beets and corn and beans were still stored downstairs.

Selective Focus: #perfectduluthday

This week, another selection of Instagram photos marked with #perfectduluthday.

Guns

We all know the joke, and you can fill in your own punchline: it’s harder to ________ (vote, fish legally, join Girl Scouts) than it is to get an assault rifle in the United States. It’s funny because it’s so true.

Or at least it was funny until kids — so many kids — started getting killed. It’s February, at the time of this essay, and there have been seven school shootings in 2018 so far. In total, there have been seventeen firearms incidents in schools in the same timeframe, when you include suicides on school grounds, and the accidental discharge of a weapon in school. To teachers, parents, and kids, this means that every couple of days — three times a week — there is another incident where school is interrupted by gunfire.

Teachers and administrators are running drills in their classrooms as though we were in WWII England, listening for bomb raids. So, in addition to hearing news every few days of another firearms incident in schools, kids are reminded every couple of months that someone might come into their school and kill them and all of their friends.