Random Posts

The Floating Island of Fremont, Duluth’s Breakaway Township

As documented in the book Duluth: An Illustrated History: “The opening of the Duluth canal proved to have a beneficial effect which its promoters had not anticipated. Currents flowing through the channel carried away a considerable amount of rotting timber and mucky islets which had infested the harbor. In fact, one of Duluth’s original townsites — Fremont — was thus swept out into Lake Superior and lost forever.”

The Zenith City Press website confirms the account: new currents swept several floating bogs in the harbor out to sea. The largest of these islands was 1,200 feet long and 400 feet wide — larger than the largest lake vessel — and it contained the township of Fremont. It began where Rice’s Point is today, and on May 10, 1873, it passed through the canal to the open sea.

I must correct the error, often propagated, that Fremont broke up that night in rough water. The truth is, Fremont is still out there, population 299, comprised of 20 families that each own a business. I know because I have been to Fremont. I have hiked its marshes and shopped its cute, bustling downtown. I have fished off its docks. I have traded stories, dreams, and fears with Fremonters around beach campfires.

Many people have. Lake Superior is dotted with cities that Fremont has visited. I highly recommend, next time Fremont is visible on the horizon, try to get there. The Fremont music scene is a delight. And of course anyone who loves lake culture and the outdoors probably already knows about it.

Sam Ali’s “artistic interpretation” of UMD hockey highlights

The UMD Bulldogs hockey season came to an end last night with a 3-2 loss in overtime to the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Before it was over, Sam Ali had to report on the game without using ESPN footage. He figured it out.

Ripped at Le Grand Supper Club in 2001

[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. Twenty years ago he took a ride to Grand Lake Township for a night of imbibing at La Grand Supper Club. The establishment closed in 2010 and was replaced in 2016 by the Cast Iron Bar and Grill. Goodbuzz documented his experience for the March 21, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

So, Sean the locksmith shows up at my door and tells me that he’s “in the mood to drive.” How fortunate: I’m in the mood to drink. I suggest we head up the Old Miller Trunk Highway to Le Grand Supper Club and see what kind of mischief we can find.

Le Grand is a nice, big place, and tonight it’s all but empty except for a group of disgruntled pool players and about six or seven inebriated regulars at the bar. If I did my drinking on the weekends like any normal person, I might be able to see this place packed as a cover band such as Sh-boom attempts to rock the house. But weekends are made for pleasure drinking; I’m here for business drinking.

A Lament for Liquor Lyle’s

I asked my friend to describe the strangely named bar that he said was our destination for the night. He paused, frowned, and sought out the right analogy.

“Well,” he said, “It’s as if a 1950s diner met a hunting shack.”

So began my first visit to Liquor Lyle’s, an establishment just south of Hennepin Avenue’s corner with Franklin Avenue in the Wedge neighborhood of Minneapolis. A year later I moved into an apartment next door, and for my two years in the Twin Cities, Lyle’s became the hub of my social life, the one place that could summon a crowd with a simple text: “Lyle’s?”

It hosted grad-school study sessions and end-of-semester blowouts and many a nightcap after a long night on the town. A handful of young alumni turned it into a Georgetown bar when the Hoyas made the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament in 2015. Whenever one of us left the city, Lyle’s was the home to the last party, and after I went on my way, no return to Minneapolis was complete without at least one night in that dark, lovable hole. In town for a professional conference in Minneapolis some years ago, I dragged a group to the bar and blended a few of my worlds. After another day of state hockey, we would decamp there to relax, maybe lure in a few friends who weren’t into hockey to catch up with them, too. My last bar experience before the COVID-19 outbreak took me to Lyle’s after the last night of the 2020 tourney. At least I know I was one of the last people to enjoy it.

Calling Observation Hill and Central Hillside Residents

People who live in Duluth’s Observation Hill neighborhood: please take 5-10 minutes and fill out a survey for my class. I am exploring the relationships between Central Hillside and Observation Hill, and Mesaba Avenue’s affect on the two neighborhoods.

People who live in Central Hillside: same deal, different survey. It would mean a lot. Thank you!

I Don’t Want to See Another Naked Woman as Long as I Live

“All you sweet girls with all of your sweet talk, you can all go take a walk” – The Velvet Underground, “Heroin”

I am not on heroin, I’m expressing freedom from love and sex. I’m celibate as a monk from here on out. Retire my jersey, I’m out of the game. You can leave your hat on — and all the rest of it too. Quoth the bard, “Love stinks.” If you ever wonder if I want to get in your pants: I don’t.

The title of this piece is an actual quote. I heard someone say it while they were having really remarkable romantic troubles. You can switch the genders up in this essay to suit your tastes. The sentiment works any which way. I am not advocating a lifestyle. This is not an aspirational document. It’s just that I’ve been thinking: I’ve approached love like the depraved addict in “Heroin.”

Love and sex have always been indistinguishable to me. I loved everyone I ever made it with, or I wanted to love them, or I tried to love them. Whatever it takes to pick up strangers and have casual sex, I never had it. My game was serial monogamy. I was good at that for many years, traipsing from relationship to relationship. But I started living like I needed a partner to make me whole. I am not a sex addict, but I behaved like a love addict. And isn’t that what addicts are supposed to do: quit?

Frosted Flakes in Duluth

Duluth gets a quick and silly mention in the March 13 episode of Wait Wait … Don’t Tell Me!, a weekly radio show produced by WBEZ in Chicago and National Public Radio. At the tail end of the clip embedded above, the panel talks about the virtues of pizza for breakfast instead cereal and jokes that people never argue about which city has the best cereal, resulting in the crack, “You haven’t had Frosted Flakes until you’ve had Frosted Flakes in Duluth.”

PDD Quiz: Irish Twin Ports

In honor of St. Patrick’s Day, this week’s quiz will focus on Irish (and Irish-adjacent) things in the Twin Ports.

The next PDD quiz, which will review this month’s headlines, will be published on March 28. Submit question suggestions to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by March 21.

Duluth Book Releases in 2021

The Old West End
Nick Nerburn
February
Available at niknerburn.bigcartel.com

It Could be Worse: A Girlfriend’s Guide for Runners who Detest Running
Beth Probst
Feb. 1
Available at circletouradventures.com

Prax and the Hazardous Countdown
Matthew Francis
Feb. 17
Available at amazon.com

Ripped in 2001: Mary’s Place vs. Terry’s Place

[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. Twenty years ago he visited two Duluth bars — Mary’s Place and Terry’s Place. Both would later change their names. Mary’s Place became Clubhouse Sports Bar in 2005, then closed in 2014. The building at 132 N. 34th Ave. W. is now home to Stadium Pawn. Terry’s Place became Bergey’s in 2006 and remains in operation. Goodbuzz documented his experiences at Mary’s and Terry’s places for the March 7, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

“I haven’t had my sled out in a month,” complains the dude across the bar from me. “I worked 60 goddam hours this week.”

I tell him that I also worked 60 hours this week. I don’t mention that drinking is my job.

Then my new friend starts complaining about what a lousy game he just bowled. He seems cheery though. Complaining seems to make him happy; each self-deprecating remark inspiring a grin and a nod in my direction to indicate he knows that my life also sucks. All our lives suck. We’re at Mary’s Place / Stadium Lanes on Wednesday night.

Essay series by Jim Richardson

Since 2020 and the dawn of the Covid era, I have written ongoing chonky essay series about my obsessions: art, literature, music, my relationship with Lake Superior, and other stuff. I will keep this updated as new installments appear. Thank you to Perfect Duluth Day for the bandwidth.

Monthly Grovel: March 2021

(Enter the amount of your choice.)

As the masked, online and distanced events drag on, the PDD Calendar continues to catalog the options. Each month we reach out with one beggarly blog post to remind everyone that human beings and not machines are at work editing and publishing calendar events. So if you appreciate it, drop a few bucks in the PayPal account.

Dreams and Themes

Last week I had a series of interconnected dreams over three nights. I was first introduced to the idea of interconnected dreams by the book A Little Course in Dreams: A Basic Handbook of Jungian Dreamwork by Robert Bosnak. The book is pocket-sized which makes the title a self-referential joke. But the book has had an outsized influence on me. I don’t always agree with its interpretations — dream interpretation is a subjective crapshoot — but it helped.

I am blessed with the ability to easily remember and interpret many of my dreams. The revelatory insight from the book was the idea that dreams can come in clusters over many nights. I began noticing themes and symbols evolving over time. I frequently see this across spans of three or four nights. And some symbols have recurred over my entire life and continue working themselves out. As Bosnak writes, “Dreams often group themselves around specific themes that begin to unfold over time. Images go through a continual process of change, and such a process can sometimes be followed in a series of images that have presented themselves to someone as dreams. The insight that emerges when we study a series of dreams is that dream figures are in a constant state of development. Like any living organism, they come into being and decay.”

Polar Vortex

Early morning winter cold floods in through the gaps between the sheet and mattress. The cold is so powerful, so penetrating, I imagine it to be as fluid as a rushing river with the ability to seep into minute cracks and crevices. In the chaos of adjusting the comforter and pulling the pillow into my impromptu cocoon, my sleep-hat has gone AWOL. An instinctual desire to escape the cold and fortify the barrier makes me abandon any pursuit of the lost headpiece.

A new form of low temperature has erupted in Minnesota, a reverse volcano maybe. Not a temperature so high it melts rock, but one so powerfully low it could probably fracture silk. This kind of cold, the kind that cracks house rafters, and spiderwebs the smallest chip in a windshield, has blown in from the north. Weather enthusiasts call it a Polar Vortex — something about the North Pole, and cold, and pressure. But at five o’clock in the morning in northern Minnesota, those technical, and normally interesting, scientific truths can crawl into a snowbank as far as I am concerned. Whether it’s a vortex, or cyclone, or Voldemort’s Dementors unleashed, the only truth that encapsulates this moment is something I learned years ago: “cold is the absence of heat.”

Duluth area map challenges on Geoguessr

Geoguessr is a website that features variations on a rather simple game: you are shown a location through a modified version of Google Streetview. You must guess where you are by marking the location on a map. The labels and location marker normally added by Google have been removed, so you must rely on a compass and clues from the environment. The closer your guess is to the correct location, the more points you get. Each game consists of five rounds. The tops scores appear on the main page for each map, with a tie going to the player who finishes the fastest.

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!