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Monthly Grovel: August 2021

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August is a busy month at the Perfect Duluth Day Global Headquarters in West Duluth. Our team of cruise directors are hard at work updating the PDD Calendar with Duluth-area happenings — from concerts and community festivals to beer gardens and sauna experiences. 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.

Ripped at the Rendezvous 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 filed a report from the Rendezvous Bar in Scanlon, roughly 10 miles west of Duluth. This article appeared in the July 25, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

So, it starts with Sean the Locksmith and I barreling down the southbound lane of I-35, sober as a couple of appellate court judges. Sean is worried, and with good cause: The brakes on his newly purchased Delta 88 are suddenly … how shall I put this? … nonexistent.

The plan, and I’m not saying it’s a good one, is to sort of just not go any faster. Sean plans to take the momentum we have and ride it out, giving little nudges on the gas pedal to keep us going in an attempt to run out of speed precisely as we reach an off-ramp. Eventually, with a little practice, he actually does it, landing us in the heart of beautiful Scanlon. We immediately head to the Rendezvous Bar with its promise of wonderful, sweet booze to wet down our sizzling nerve ends.

Postcard from the Alger-Smith Sawmill

This postcard was mailed 100 years ago today — July 29, 1911. By then the Alger-Smith Sawmill in West Duluth had been dismantled following a decade-long decline in the sawmilling industry.

Anyone with a century-old garage in West Duluth likely owns scraps of the Alger-Smith mill. “There must be 100 garages in West Duluth that have been built this summer out of lumber taken during the process of dismantling,” the company’s president told the Duluth Herald in a story that appeared in the Sept. 22, 1920 edition. “Every day or two some person inquires for the lumber, and when we ask him what it is for he says, ‘A garage.’ Our lumber must have built almost all of the garages in West Duluth this summer.”

Red Flag Warning

It’s almost suspicious how often I happen to be nearby when bodies are pulled out of the water. Am I a jinx or a murderer? No, I just like being by water. And it’s pretty well documented that water is a serial killer.

I’ve already written the essay “Lake Superior Wants to Kill You,” outlining just about everything I want to share on the subject of drowning. There’s one more warning worth putting forward, however, regarding the various ways you can lose your life in the water. So please keep this in mind:

I won’t try to stop you from putting yourself in danger, and it’s unlikely anyone else will, other than maybe your mommy.

Of course, you’ll probably get some general, impersonal warnings. This essay and my other essay, for starters. There are warnings in the media constantly. And then on Minnesota Point in Duluth we have those red flags and warning signs on the beach. But that’s all you get. And it’s not enough, obviously.

Telling someone about the dangers of rip currents is like warning about the potential for pregnancy. The risk vs. reward balance is quickly weighed and then it’s time to get wet.

Duluth, Minnesota and the Lost Confederate Gold

In 1861, Minnesota Governor Alexander Ramsey was in Washington D.C. when the Confederates started the Civil War. He was in the Oval Office when Lincoln received the fateful telegram detailing the attack on Fort Sumter in South Carolina — the most serious in a string of Southern aggressions, including the seizing of Federal armories across Dixie. Heeding Lincoln’s call for troops, Ramsey walked right up to the President and said, “Mr. President, let Minnesota be the first state to commit 1,000 volunteers to answer this latest outrage from the disloyal states.”

Ramsey’s commitment created the famous fighting force known as the Minnesota First Infantry Regiment. They were the Civil War’s earliest northern enlistees, and they saved the Union at Gettysburg as every Minnesota schoolchild knows. On the third day of that pivotal battle, after Pickett’s Charge, Pvt. Marshall Sherman of St. Paul emerged with the scarred battle flag of the 28th Virginia Infantry. Virginia whines about it to this day but we’re not giving it back neener neener neener.

Monthly Grovel: July 2021

(Enter the amount of your choice.)

The PDD Calendar continues to be the faraway leader in listing Duluth-area happenings — from kayak tours and bingo nights to food markets and rodeos. 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.

Having traveled I-35, writer tips one at Black Woods

Texas-based writer Emily Gogolak drove the entirety of Interstate 35 from Laredo to Duluth for an essay in N+1 magazine.

The Nemadji Review, Vol. 10

The tenth issue of the Nemadji Review, the University of Wisconsin-Superior’s literary journal, was released in May and a new website was launched. The publication was previously available only in print, but the 2021 issue can be viewed and downloaded online as a PDF file.

Ripped at R.T. Quinlan’s Saloon 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 filed a report from R.T. Quinlan’s Saloon in Downtown Duluth. The article appeared in the June 13, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. The last paragraph refers to a poster that disappeared from Quinlan’s men’s room wall a few years later. The word on the street back then was: “someone stole it, and he is a fucker.”]

Holy Christ, the rear entrance of this basement hooch joint is lurid. It’s like a nasty Minneapolis strip club, with about four cheap multicolored bulbs attempting to light up beautiful Michigan Street. The Superior Street entrance is … well … it sort of blends into Mr. Nick’s charburger joint, so no one sees it or uses it. When you go to Quinlan’s, you gotta take that long walk down Michigan with all of its homeless teenagers and homicidal paint-huffers, just to get yourself in the mood.

Quinlan’s is the gathering place of 40-year-old men who don’t want to deal with any bullshit. They’re not looking to enjoy live music, score with chicks, get into a bar fight or be entertained in any way other than a regular conversation or a little TV. They want a direct, nonstop, one-way ticket to oblivion, and tonight as usual I’m right there with them.

Job Opening: Director of Glensheen

The University of Minnesota Duluth is seeking a new leader to provide strategic leadership in the professional administration and management of Glensheen. The director of Glensheen shall develop and implement long range and annual work plans; provide fiscal, business and facility operations management; direct the hiring, training, supervision, and motivation of staff, and student workers; demonstrate entrepreneurial initiatives in programming and business management; support fundraising efforts; oversee the site’s public relations, marketing, and outreach community development efforts.

Where in Duluth? #187

I went for a hike in a spot I’d never been before and encountered this.

Spur of the Moment Road Trip to Two Harbors

If I don’t have plans for the weekend, Friday evening looms like a desert with me standing at the edge sans camel or water or compass. And since the pandemic started, my “plans” consist of shopping for people food or dog food, so I wander the shifting sands of the weekend looking for an oasis.

This Friday when my daughter-in-law arrives to pick up my grandkids, I ask if Clara, nine, can spend the night. Her mom agrees, and Clara agrees, performing a double-fist pump while jumping up and down.

Wop Wap Wopatui Wopatusi Whatever

Back before the pandemic, when sharing germs was cool, human beings gathered around buffets of food and troughs of alcohol. It was a simpler time.

A meme in my Facebook feed a few months back featured a blurry image of someone pouring Hawaiian Punch into a cooler with chunks of fruit floating in it. In the background of the photo were various bottles of booze. I instantly recognized what was happening; someone was mixing up a wop.

But the caption on top of the image read: “This is what a WAP was back in the day …”

A wap? As in, rhymes with snap? What the hell is that? And why is it capitalized? Is it an acronym? Wild Ass Punch?

Don’t overthink it. This awful group-cocktail-in-a-bucket idea is worthy of the poorly crafted meme that celebrates it.

June of ’71: Foster homes needed in Duluth

Duluth’s 290 licensed foster homes were falling short of meeting the need 50 years ago. The June 18, 1971 Duluth Herald reported “a crucial situation,” in which “good kids” wound up in detention centers for lack of foster homes.

PDD Quiz: Notable Northland Critters

Put your knowledge of notable Duluth-area animals to the test with this week’s quiz.

The next PDD quiz will cover current events; it will be published on June 27. Submit question suggestions to Alison Moffat at [email protected] by June 23.

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