Random Posts

Seeking code info about garden sheds in Duluth

I’m building a garden shed/greenhouse … maybe. No foundation, no electricity. It might have a tiny wood stove. It might not.

I’ve been told in vague terms that as long as the floor is less than 120 square feet, the city doesn’t need to know about it.

Does anybody have any specific information, requirements or codes to reference?

Ripped at La Belle in 2000

[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. La Belle was a nightclub operating at 1014 Tower Ave. in Superior until 2013. The Sultan of Sot documented his experience there in the July 26, 2000 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

After spending two hours drinking monkey wrenches while listening to Minneapolis band Puafua and watching cartoons, I got the urge to be in a cartoon. I got the urge to go to La Belle.

Located on the classiest stretch of Superior’s distinguished Tower Avenue, La Belle is a dive specializing in cheap drinks for undiscriminating tastes. Like anyone else whose clothing wasn’t purchased using Marlboro Miles, I had never been to La Belle. But it had to happen sooner or later.

Before I could even get myself a drink, I met the quintessential group of La Belle patrons. Three or four middleweights stood huddled around a SEGA Out Run video game, attempting to drive a video car around a video racetrack. After some extensive bragging, they decided the one with the highest score would drive home.

An exotic village on the Lester River

Barbara Kiser, a former Duluthian who has lived in London since the 1980s, has published an essay that prominently references the Lester River Fish Hatchery. The article appears on Arizona State University’s Zócalo Public Square, which syndicates “ideas journalism.”

Article link: Where I Go: From Northeast London Back to Duluth

Monthly Grovel: July 2020 Edition

(Enter the amount of your choice.)

Opportunities to be outside for live music — together with other people, but spaced apart — are starting to expand. The best way to stay on top of the concert options, farmers markets, parking-lot movie screenings and similar hoopla continues to be the PDD Calendar.

Once a month we reach out with a beggarly blog post to remind everyone that human beings and not machines are at work editing and publishing calendar events on Perfect Duluth Day. So if you appreciate it, drop a few bucks in the PayPal account, yo.

Musing on a Home Office

Like many people, I’ve been working from home during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is definitely foreign to me. I am a navigator at Community Action Duluth, which is a job that requires intensive, one-on-one work with people. Skills acquired when sitting next to someone have a new level of complexity via telephone. I definitely had to hone in my listening skills to know if I was hearing my letters correctly (b, d, t, s, and f). It is much easier to relate to someone face to face. I now realize the importance of visual cues in communication, and the ways I watch and listen for understanding and clarity. Navigators are now explaining complex issues without the normal go-to tools.

Health insurance information I normally would be able to visually show and describe requires a deeper level of explanation over the phone. I check frequently if the content I am relaying is being understood as intended. Thankfully I am able to scan printable material and email it to my participants. For those participants without technical devices, I am still using the postal service. My local post office is only a half block from my home. In the future I hope to meet the individuals and families I have assisted remotely, in person. I miss the one-on-one contact.

Happy 17th birthday to us

There are free birthday cupcakes at Wussow’s drive-through from 5:10 to 6:30 p.m. (or until they are gone) tonight, June 29, in celebration of Perfect Duluth Day’s anniversary!

Ripped at JT’s Bar in 2000

[Editor’s note: Set your Gayback Machine to the last few months of the Clinton administration. For this week’s essay we’ve once again pulled out a relic from the archive of Slim Goodbuzz, who visited JT’s Bar at 1506 N. Third St. in Superior and penned this report for the June 28, 2000 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. Additional historical notes: JT’s closed in the summer of 2011 and was replaced by Shenanigan’s Bar. In late 2012 it became the Whiskey Ward, which closed in 2013. Izzy’s BBQ Lounge & Grill opened in August 2014 and remains there today.]

The first time I went to JT’s, I was young and foolish. I didn’t know it was a gay bar. “This place looks like a gay bar,” I exclaimed to the room, provoking a barrage of turned heads and strange looks. But despite embarrassing myself in public, I actually ended up having a pretty good time that night.

Then, a few weeks ago, a press release from the White House showed up at the RipSaw office reading, “I, William J. Clinton, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim June 2000 as Gay and Lesbian Pride Month. I encourage all Americans to observe this month with appropriate programs, ceremonies, and activities that celebrate our diversity and recognize the gay and lesbian Americans whose many and varied contributions have enriched our national life.” So, I decided to get drunk at JT’s. I simply could not pass up an invitation like that.

PDD Quiz: Superior’s Architectural Details

This week’s quiz is a companion to last month’s Duluth architectural details quiz. See how many Superior buildings you can identify based on their architectural features (and a few written clues)! To learn more about the buildings in this quiz, check out the Wisconsin Historical Society website, which was an invaluable resource for this quiz.

The next PDD quiz will test your knowledge of June 2020 headlines; it will be published on June 28. Submit question suggestions to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by June 24.

My Favorite Writers (5 of 5): Italo Calvino

This week: Italo Calvino.

Italo Calvino was born in Cuba in 1923 to Italian parents. He died in Italy in 1985.

J. K. Rowling

Dear J. K. Rowling,

I was so surprised to see you take such a regressive and dangerous position on the trans community in your recent tweets about the definition of “women.”

Like a lot of people, I’ve spent the past twenty or so years adoring the universe of creatures and characters you’ve created. I read your books to my son, until the day, around book four, that he was able to insist upon reading it aloud to me at bedtime. I tried to read them to my daughters, but having watched the movies during an especially virulent bout of stomach virus, wherein Dumbledore’s implacable steadfastness and McGonigal’s stern austerity were precisely what we needed as we heaved the contents of our addled bellies into buckets and ugly bowls, we couldn’t go back to the books. We’ve lived with these people you created as genuinely as if our fondness for them made them manifest: no mere line drawings or ephemeral caricatures meant to amuse and depart. We grew with them over the years, and return to them still, like visiting a distant relative’s weird and wonderful estate. I’m telling you all of this because it isn’t just the arc of each character’s story that makes them dear to us — it’s the way we’ve assimilated their stories into our own, and the ways those characters have informed our own experiences. For example, everyone in my house knows what house they’d likely be sorted into (I wish I was Gryffindor, but I’m Ravenclaw), and the ways we’d use magic, were we to develop it in the manner described in your books.

Monthly Grovel: June 2020 Edition

(Enter the amount of your choice.)

As society pushes ahead with some small in-person events mixed in with the ongoing virtual stuff, the PDD Calendar continues to report on the happenings.

Once a month we reach out with a beggarly blog post to remind everyone that human beings and not machines are at work editing and publishing calendar events on Perfect Duluth Day. So if you appreciate it, drop a few bucks in the PayPal account, yo.

When Airbags Attack

Five months before COVID-19 was labeled a pandemic, on a Saturday night back when people gathered together in public places to goof off, I drove from Duluth to Superior to attend an event called “Soup ’n’ Slides” at a place called “The Barbershop.” It might be helpful for me to explain both of the quotation-marked things.

The principal purpose of the event was for a fellow named Nik Nerburn to artistically project a bunch of 35mm slides he had found onto two screens while musicians Alan Sparhawk and Allen Killian-Moore sat nearby, collaborating to provide a live soundtrack to the slideshow. Three pots of soup simmered in the next room for anyone seeking nourishment. Put those elements together and we have “Soup ’n’ Slides.”

The event was held in an old barbershop on Belknap Avenue that was being used as a music and arts venue at the time simply because no one had been using the space to cut hair for profit. One room had about 20 folding chairs in it, assembled facing the performers who were set up against the back wall. The next room was about the same size, but acted as sort of a lobby. A considerable collection of phonograph records surrounded the small huddles of soup eaters engaged in casual discussion, so that they might at any moment flip through the assortment of albums and change the subject of conversation to the 1983 film D.C. Cab after gazing at the sneering Mr. T on the original motion picture soundtrack cover. And that’s what “The Barbershop” was all about.

My Favorite Writers (4 of 5): Stanislaw Lem

This week: Stanislaw Lem.

Lem was born in 1921 in Lwow, Poland which is now Lviv, Ukraine. He died in 2006 in Krakow, Poland.

He was a Jew who survived the Holocaust, which in Poland was bracketed by two Soviet invasions. He went on to become one of the greatest science fiction writers in the world. His best-known work (in America) is the novella “Solaris,” which became a 2002 film directed by Steven Soderbergh and starring George Clooney. Lem sold more than 40 million books worldwide.

Living History on Empty Streets

“Duluth is a bit off-center, both literally and figuratively—something most Duluthians don’t seem to mind at all. After all, this is the city whose skyway system runs partially underground, where the West End is located in the city’s geographic center, and whose annual Christmas City of the North parade is held a week before Thanksgiving. Duluth may be a little bit off-center, but part of what makes Duluth Duluth is that here, true north isn’t always where you’d expect it to be.”

— Tony Dierckins, Duluth: An Urban Biography

Sheltering in place gives a devotee to a city even more time to learn it intimately. I read Tony Dierckins’ new biography of Duluth, which fits the bill of a pre-founding-to-present history that I pined for on my blog some while back. The biography really only left me hungry for more: it clocks in at just under 170 pages and could easily have been double that length if it were to thoroughly explore structural forces and the lives of prominent figures beyond a series of mayors and those who crossed their paths. Still, it was a welcome step beyond Tony’s previous fun vignettes and collections, most of which peter out somewhere in the middle of the 20th century. Granted, Duluth’s history becomes somewhat less romantic in that stretch; the great turn-of-the-century wealth faded, the growth stalled, and the architecture wandered away from an eclectic opulence to something much more mundane. Still, the book is a reminder that this city’s history has always been one of awkward lurches, of rises and falls, and a quest for some sort of stability in the aftermath.

My Favorite Writers (3 of 5): J.G. Ballard

J.G. Ballard.

Ballard was born in 1930 to English parents living in Shanghai. He died in London in 2009.