I’ve been discovering blogs by Duluthians lately. Sister Scotland collects the observations of a Superior student as she studies abroad. Some observations, about the taste of haggis … well, I will never be okay with food cooked in a stomach. It feels like duplication of effort; we only need one stomach in this process. But others, they are just playful thoughts on life.
Craft-beer pioneer Dave Hoops, owner of Hoops Brewing in Duluth, shares his views on finding a niche, avoiding trends and “promoting the Minnesota brand” in the latest issue of craft-beer lifestyle magazine The Growler.
[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. Ten years ago the Sultan of Sot visited a trio of West Duluth bars and published this report for Duluth’s weekly Transistor.]
To borrow a term from the card game blackjack, I’ve decided to “double down” on my drinking today. What that means is, I’m at the Rustic Bar in West Duluth at 8 a.m. My goal is to get drunk by midday, go home and pass out, then wake up and go to the bars again. If I manage to get drunk twice, well, I’ve doubled my winnings.
On top of that, drinking while the buses are still running means there’s no need to spend valuable beer money on a taxi. In tough economic times, we all need to get thrifty, right?
For some reason it’s boiling hot inside the Rustic, which I didn’t expect on a January morning. There are four other guys at the bar, and two of them have stripped down to their T-shirts. Eventually, one of them asks the bartender why it’s so hot. She looks at the thermostat and tells us it’s set for 80 degrees.
I’ve been working on a medical humanities project. Some Duluthians are part of it, including local author Avesa Rockwell.
“As I child I could run out the backdoor and leap over tumbleweeds and sagebrush like a jackrabbit. By the time I reached tenth grade my body lost its buoyancy, and the open spaces around my house and in my mind were being leveled, fenced off, and cul-de-saced. I felt trapped by the prefabricated structures of school and its social hierarchies.”
Growing up, I disliked my name. It’s a 1970’s-era “J name” — like Jennifer, Jessica, Julie, and Jason. It was partly inspired by the Scream Queen, Jamie Lee Curtis, who starred in Halloween in 1978, the year I was born.
Since Jamie is often a boy’s name, I got Boys’ Life magazine ads and Boy Scout fliers in the mail. On the first day of 7th grade, my homeroom teacher met me with an “oh!,” and said he was surprised I was a girl. These things greatly offended younger me.
My mother chose a cute, trendy name for a critical, contrarian child. I could only see the contradictions in Jamie the name: an androgynous name for a feminine girl; a plain name that has four or more different spellings; a common name that people misread as Janice and mishear as Janie.
My middle name was no better in my opinion. It is my mother’s maiden name, a last name. I would have liked a “real” middle name like Jamie Lynn or Jamie Lee, like Ms. Curtis.
I’ve been working on a medical humanities project. Some Duluthians are part of it, including poet Zomi Bloom.
“After the endoscopy … while living in limbo, every attempt to eat led to unbearable burning and the inevitable blowing up of the balloon on my right side. I drifted in and out of waking dream‐state such that dreams became nightmares and shifted back into dreams of fantastic sweetness.”
Some winter evenings I stand on a lake’s edge under bright-black Iron Range sky wondering about walking across that ice, over the train tracks along the far shore, into those woods, and away. What if I wandered until weary, laid down under a pine tree, then breathed easy until one by one my atoms drifted off into moonlight and air? Could I become birch smoke? Would a resting black bear or hunting fox know me among everything else it inhales? Most often on those nights I just look at the outside from inside, through my mother-in-law’s living room window after everyone else has gone to bed. When the TV and lights are off I can see down her back yard and past the dock we pulled out of Colby Lake in October and will push back into it come late May or early June. Snow on lake ice glows blue-gray under black pine silhouettes. Sky glows black. Abashed by comfort and warmth, I tell myself to get dressed and ski out the eastern end of Colby into the Partridge River. Or ride fat tires across Whitewater Lake or along the Bird Lake Trail or up and down the Moose Line Road. Then I admit my lack of will. Then I stand there for a couple more minutes, trying to make sure I can remember what that outside looks and feels like so my brain can reproduce the sensation long after the last time I’ve seen it. Then I go to bed and struggle to sleep.
It’s a perfect day outside — not too hot, not too cold. He doesn’t look when he hears my voice, like he has forgotten that he can turn his head to see who’s entered the room. I’ve gotten into the habit of coming up behind his chair, placing my hand on his shoulder, and lowering my body to a half-crouch before him. I meet his eyes, and wait to watch as recognition transforms him. It’s a silly thing, but it delights me to see the love on his face grow like the sunrise, changing the angle of his shoulders as he leans forward in pleasure and relief. It’s me. He doesn’t know my name, but he knows me. I have spent a not inconsiderable amount of time wondering if my father loves me. How my father loves me. Why my father loves me. But this, this is simple: my father loves me. It is one of the few gifts this fucking miserable disease has given me. But if I’m being honest, it’s a good one.
Today I brought fresh raspberries from the neighbor’s yard. They will taste like sunshine and outside, and I know he’ll love them. I attempt to broker a handoff, but the berries are so ripe we both end up with our hands covered in juice. His motor skills are dyssynchronous and irregular, now. He can pinch and grasp, but it’s like he’s playing one of those camp games, where some other guy puts his arms through your sleeves and gestures for you; he smooshes the berry, he pinches it, he grabs my hand and pulls it to his cheek. I laugh, because it’s better if it’s funny, and it kind of is. It can be, anyway.
Happy 2019, Perfect Duluth Day readers! It’s been almost ten years since PDD began selling sidebar advertising to support the development of the content you read here, and it’s been more than seven years since the PDD Calendar was launched. Over those spans of time, two things have become abundantly clear: 1) There is a strong demand for the content on PDD. 2) Advertising revenue doesn’t come close to paying for the human resources necessary to produce it.
Last week we highlighted the five most-read pieces from the third year of Perfect Duluth Day’s “Saturday Essay” series. This week we ignore the numbers and look back at a few select essays of similar quality that might have been missed by non-compulsive followers.
In the past three years PDD has published 150 essays showcasing the work of 27 different writers; we hope to expand that roster in 2019. Anyone who has an original piece of literary excellence that seems to fit (or appropriately defy) the established format should email paul @ perfectduluthday.com to get involved.
And now, links to a few select gems from season three …
I spent Saturday at the Marcus Duluth Theater, which is on the lake [in the DECC]. For point of wry comparison, the Marcus Lakes theater is in Hermantown, near no obvious lake. My sweetheart Zomi and my friend Kate and I hoped to see Holmes and Watson.