Random Posts

Ticket to Ride Boardgame

My instructor just made a comment about Duluth being set in “Mid Minnesota” on the Ticket to Ride board game. He’s right. Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

Acceptance Speech, Mayor of Snow-Fort City

Thank you, distinguished citizens, for conferring upon me this office of Snow-Fort City Mayor. It is no small honor to assume my half-imaginary duties in this pop-up, collaborative, city-planning art fantasy at the edge of Lake Superior. “City” is an aspirational term for this arrangement of snow walls and monuments in Duluth’s Leif Erickson Park. Snow-Fort City’s true location lies somewhere within our skulls — like all cities. My Facebook post initiating construction was shared more than a hundred times in just a few hours, and it attracted the Duluth News-Tribune and KBJR-6/CBS-3, which tells me the vision of the snow-fort city is the real object. Almost none of the post-sharers, newspaper readers, or TV viewers made it down to the actual Snow-Fort City. They are content to view it with their eyes closed, in its most pure form: the Platonic one.

It literally came to me in a vision, like the origin of so many great cities. In a way, like Duluth itself. I remember the words of George Nettleton’s wife from 1856, when her husband’s mind swam with dreams of Duluth-as-future-city: “I thought he had a pretty long head to see that there was going to be a city here sometime when there was then nothing” (Duluth: An Illustrated History of the Zenith City by Glenn N. Sandvik).

Journalism to break my heart

John Ramos changes my heart and my mind in nearly every post on the Duluth Monitor.

New Kid

I have moved a lot of times. Like, a witness-protection number of times. By the end of my freshman year of high school I had moved across the country eight times — twice in that one school year alone. I whipsawed between various small communities in Maine and Alaska, spending the preponderance of my time in Alaska.

But 1988, my sophomore year, was a real cake-taker. I lived in three different cities, and attended two separate high schools in two states. I moved from Juneau, Alaska to Kennelwick, Maine in early November. Kennelwick is not a real place, by the way — just in case I inadvertently reanimate anyone else’s decades-old trauma.

Changing schools in November is like showing up for a surprise birthday party at the same time as the birthday girl. It doesn’t matter why you’re there, or how awesome you are, you’ve arrived with such impossibly shit timing that literally no one is happy to see you. To whit: The school year was well underway and the brutality of the initial social sorting process was fading, but the blood was still drying. The cliques had already galvanized, defensively, prepared for the inevitable breakups and infighting bloodshed typical of a closed, captive society. High school is like the Thunderdome, only with less clothes made out of human skin.

Monthly Grovel: December 2019 Edition

(Enter the amount of your choice.)

In the past year — from December 2018 through November 2019 — the PDD Calendar published 8,022 Duluth-area events. Each one was edited by a human being before the “publish” button was pushed.

It’s a tremendous amount of work to keep up with all the submissions from the more than 1,000 organizations that have sent us info about their concerts, plays, book sales and lutefisk dinners. That’s why once a month we set our dignity aside and remind readers how much we appreciate their financial support.

Duluth News Tribune publishes article by white nationalist

On Nov. 25 the Duluth News Tribune published an opinion article, ostensibly about over-population, by a writer flagged by the Anti Defamation League for white nationalist comments, and for appearing on a notoriously anti-semitic website.

Hillside Grievers

This is an epilogue to a previous Saturday Essay, published in 2018.

Poppy the Mini-Rex rabbit doe never had babies. She pulled out her fur and made nests for nothing. It wasn’t her fault: the buck we tried to breed her with was past his prime. His owner called to apologize.

“I am sorry I didn’t notice that Frodo’s man-parts shriveled up. But good news: he has a son!”

Whenever I thought about calling the number on the sticky note labeled “Buck,” I remembered we had something to do in thirty days when the kits would be born. Then came winter and another summer. Now it’s too late.

In the middle months, that time people in other places call “Spring,” we adopted a puppy.

Lola showed us that the rabbits were just a warm-up. So were our own babies, for that matter. Once again, Jeremy and I took turns waking through the night and keeping track of bowel movements. Soon we found ourselves having those ridiculous, sleep-deprived “I’m doing all I can!” arguments of yore.

Freediving the Edmund Fitzgerald

It would be possible to dive to the wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald on the strength of a single breath. Even at the wreck’s depth of 530 feet, it might actually be safer to dive unsupported by scuba tanks than to scuba dive to it. This essay is intended to hypothetically explore the intersection of different types of diving, the wreck itself, and the lake in general. At a minimum, I am suggesting that the freediving possibilities of Lake Superior have not been fully explored.

My interest is provoked because I utilize some freediving breath-hold techniques in my underwater videography as Lake Superior Aquaman. I have never scuba dived, and so I think of the lake in freediving terms. I do not intend to offend the families of the deceased by invoking the Fitzgerald tragedy. However, its iconic stature as a deep wreck in Lake Superior makes it ideal for these illustrative purposes.

I am not suggesting any actual dives to the Fitzgerald. For one thing, both freediving and scuba diving present significant risks, especially beyond 100 feet deep. Also, it has been illegal to dive to the wreck since 2006, unless approved by the Canadian government in whose waters it lies. This is because of successful lobbying by the victims’ families to keep the wreck sacrosanct.

Monthly Grovel: November 2019 Edition

(Enter the amount of your choice.)

In the past year — from November 2018 through October 2019 — the PDD Calendar published 7,960 Duluth-area events. Each one was edited by a human being before the “publish” button was pushed.

It’s a tremendous amount of work to keep up with all the submissions from the more than 1,000 organizations that have sent us info about their concerts, plays, bunco tournaments and lutefisk dinners. That’s why once a month we set our dignity aside and remind readers how much we appreciate their financial support.

The Richardson Brothers Podcast: New Episode

This week: “SuperDuluth, the Living City,” a hallucinatory vision of the city awakening in a dream of light and water.

Breaking the Law

All names in this story have been changed. You know, just in case.

In my hometown of Petersburg, Alaska, there is one road that stretches from one end of town to the other, traversing but not circumnavigating the island on which my hometown is located. I think generally people tend to think of islands as little round circles of land in the ocean, which one might conceivably drive around and around forever, like a brass ball in a roulette wheel. But that’s not how things are, and islands are often shaped inconveniently, or pockmarked with gigantic mountains or bodies of water or even volcanoes, which can make logical traffic accommodations wacky. Anyway. In Petersburg, the road goes from one end of the long, arrow-shaped island to the other. This straight-line trajectory has even led locals to refer to driving toward the rural end of the island as “going out the road.” Interestingly, the city limits do not extend to the end of the road, but rather, end some several miles earlier. This means that the city police cannot legally enforce the law beyond those city limits, creating a kind of rogue, lawless wilderness on one end of the island.

This is, as you can likely imagine, terrific news for teenagers.

Halloween Banners

ZombieBanner-Call

Got a great costume this year, or been to a good Halloween party already? We want to see your creepy, comical, kooky Halloween photos. And we’d love to add them to the banner rotation — the long skinny photos at the top of the page when you view Perfect Duluth Day on a desktop computer. (There are no photo banners if you are on a smartphone.)

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.

Ripped at the Boogieman Project in 1999

[Editor’s note: Before the NorShor Theatre became a spiffed up Duluth Playhouse venue it hosted a variety of concerts and parties, such as the annual Boogieman Project at Halloween time. 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 paid a visit to the NorShor and filed the report below, originally published in the Ripsaw newspaper.]

I was completely ripped. To the north of me stood a minotaur. To the south was Ernie from Sesame Street. To the east was a person dressed in about four hundred flashing colored lights. To the west was Kool-Aid Man. No, it wasn’t a bad case of delirium tremens, it was the NorShor Theatre’s fourth annual Halloween party, otherwise known as “The Boogieman Project.”

The NorShor was all decked out for a party of massive proportions. Live bands rocked the house in the main downstairs theater while all manner of freaks and weirdos got funky on the dance floor — a space in front of the stage where the seating was long ago removed. There was a bar setup in the theater to complement the usual one in the balcony mezzanine lounge, where even more bloody surgeons and Star Wars characters drank it up and raised hell to even more live music. God, I love Halloween.

Sorry Alworth Building, you’re not special

The website of Rotary International published a story in August about reading, with “suggestions for making each book count.” Around the middle of the story is this nugget:

Recognize that not all reading pleasures can be shared. I have friends who will swear up and down that Frederick Exley’s A Fan’s Notes is the greatest sports book ever written. This, for the record, is like being the tallest office building in Duluth. Which in and of itself doesn’t make the building special.

Well, don’t worry, Alworth Building, Perfect Duluth Day thinks you’re special. All 247 feet of you.

Duluth-area “Storage Wars”

I had no idea one could try one’s luck, “Storage Wars” style, in Duluth.

Visit twinportsbid.com if you want to wonder about what sad turn someone’s life took that led them to abandon their locker.

It reminds me of the times I visited Nordic Auction and wondered at the people whose lives were being emptied into boxes for auction. What happened to them? And what will happen to my 9,000 books when I am gone?