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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.

The Janus, Ghost Ship of Lake Superior

The MV Sophia F. Janus was built, launched, and christened in 1977. It was among the first of 13 “thousand-footers” to sail the inland seas: 1013 feet long, 113 feet wide, 566 feet hull depth, containing 1,300 tons of oil for its four-story engine. It could carry more than 90,000 tons of cargo, with a crew of 23 souls. The ship was an innovative mixed-use tanker-bulk hauler, with three chemical tank holds and two bulk holds. It had a 250-foot discharge boom for the self-unloading of bulk cargo at a rate of 6,000 tons per hour. The vessel holds numerous cargo records. In the superstitious lore of the sailors, however, because a dock worker was crushed during launch, the Janus was considered cursed. Even the infinite dilution of the Great Lakes could not dissolve the stain of blood.

Communication was lost with the Janus in a storm in 1982, and it appeared to have sunk without a trace after leaving Duluth. No flotsam, oil slick, or fuel spill was discovered in the area of her last known location, which was the middle of Lake Superior.

Monthly Grovel: June 2021

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So far it looks like those snappy little vaccines work and the number of events around town is climbing. The PDD Calendar continues to be the faraway leader in listing Duluth-area happenings — from beer gardens and sailboat races to book launches and ball games. 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.

Duluth reference on the Judge John Hodgman podcast

As part of Perfect Duluth Day’s long-running quest to document every reference to the city, no matter how minor, I add this entry, discovered today while catching up on the fake internet court podcast Judge John Hodgman, where pressing issues are decided by Famous Minor Television Personality John Hodgman, Certified Judge.

Guts

It started about five years ago with an ordinary stomach ache after eating late and poorly — a speedy meal en route from a client visit in Wisconsin with several coworkers. I felt like maybe I’d eaten something that disagreed with me, and thought really no more of it. Except, I kept getting sicker.

That night, I thought certainly I’d vomit, or at the very least I’d spend a not-inconsiderable portion of my evening in the bathroom. No such thing occurred, but the discomfort in my body continued. My gut felt raw and painful, as though I’d consumed many cups of coffee on an empty stomach, and my stomach filled with what I thought was gas, except it was in a really weird spot. Rather than the typical lower abdominal fluff of my lengthy experience with daily human digestion, this bloating was in my midsection, between my belly button and sternum. I felt like someone had filled me to painful expansion with air. It felt like something inside of me might tear or burst.

Over the next three weeks, it got slightly worse, and slightly better, depending on conditions I couldn’t plainly discern. I made an appointment with my general practitioner, an allopath I trust and respect. As I prepared to head to the appointment, I said to my husband, “This is crazy! I can’t believe I’ve been this sick for three weeks!” What a mouthful of macabre prescience: I would remain that sick or worse for the next two years.

Ripped at the Black Cat 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 Ashland, where he visited the Black Cat Coffeehouse, which remains in business. The article appeared in the May 30, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

So I’m in Ashland visiting my mom, and after three or four days of listening to her rant about some “potato bug infestation” while under the influence of Tequila Rose and Aunt Jenny’s George Jones records, I decide to walk around and discover all that “alternative” Ashland has to offer. Namely, “alternative” Ashland consists of that hippie college, the co-op and the Black Cat Cafe. My instincts tell me that only one of these places is going to serve up any kind of booze, so I skip the first two and jump right to the Black Cat.

The Black Cat is among the growing number of regional coffee shops that have discovered the obvious: Coffee shops that serve booze are some of the most comfortable places in the world. I’ve said this a million times, but here’s all you need to make an outstanding drinking establishment in this area: good beer, great live music, couches and dim lighting. Of course, reasonable prices help, too. The Black Cat has all of this in spades.

The First Howls of a Minnesota Wolf Pup

This four-week-old wolf pup at Voyageurs National Park shared some of its first howls a few weeks ago with one of the Voyageurs Wolf Project‘s trail cameras.

Monthly Grovel: May 2021

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Herd immunity could elude us forever, but things are feeling safer and Minnesota’s governor is letting people cautiously cluster. When you are ready to poke your head out, the PDD Calendar remains the faraway leader in listing Duluth area events. 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.

Help raise donations for the pets of CHUM

A group of citizens is raising money for the local pets who find their way to CHUM. We’re looking to provide CHUM with donations of dog and cat food, as well as cat litter, to help them out. We have multiple ways to donate: PayPal, GoFundMe, an Amazon shopping list, or just having us swing by and pick something up from you!

If you are willing to send us some cash to help provide food and litter for the cats and dogs who find their way to CHUM, please visit northlandcritters.org

Lake Inferior: The Underground Lake Beneath Lake Superior

Exploration Timeline

June 1679

I have lost the reference, but I read somewhere that when the French explorer Sir Duluth heard rumors of an underground lake beneath Lake Superior, he quipped in his native tongue, “Lac d’Enfer” (literally: “Lake of Hell”). This nomenclature was mistranslated by English-speakers, becoming anglicized as “Lake Inferior” — an insidious malapropism that replaced the original meaning.

Sept. 8, 1870

Copper-helmet diver William Bitter found an entrance to Lake Inferior. He was working by the breakwater wall for the city of Duluth, offshore of what is now the Lakewalk. A large storm had damaged the wall, and he was conducting an underwater survey at the end of a 20-foot lifeline.

Working the winch and the air pump, his support team on the wall heard Bitter cry out through the speaking tube, then noticed a whirlpool opening up. They winched Bitter out as loose boulders and timbers were sucked into it.

Your Team!

My aunt Meda died and I felt nothing. I was completely numb. Probably shell shocked, to be honest. I flew to New Jersey to be with her widow — aunt Maren — and my grandma, who lived with them at the time. I tried to help around the house, feeling nothing more than a dull ache that seemed wrong for the situation. I thought I was a sociopath, the pain not substantial enough for the tragedy.

The hurt hit me like a tidal wave when I stood in the TGI Fridays bar where Meda worked. I was helping to prepare the celebration of life when the realization set in that I would never see my fun, erratic, loving aunt again. The woman who welcomed her wife’s weird niece into her home for the summer months. The woman who loved pugs more than anything. The woman who was called “sir” at drive-throughs on multiple occasions when lowering her voice to try to sound cooler.

I cried when I heard Adele’s 21 for the first time after she died, knowing Meda had cultivated my love for the album.

Grief is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad time.

Come on Duluth, pull your socks up!

Looking at Duluth in isolation, it has shrunk by 20 percent since 1960. In real terms, Duluth netted a population loss far greater when viewed in a regional context that accounts for the modest growth rates of Fargo, Rochester and Sioux Falls cited in the article. Had Duluth kept pace with those cities since 1960, Duluth would today have a population of 300,000. A nice sized, comfortable metro city.

Why doesn’t Duluth work?

Flight 3247 to Duluth

In what must be the most trivial Duluth reference ever reported on Perfect Duluth Day, we note that season 6, episode 4 of the animated television show Archer includes a scene at a Chicago airport where the flight information display system shows a scheduled Duluth departure as “on time.”

Monthly Grovel: April 2021

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As pokes in the arm are liberally distributed and people move from six feet apart to four or five, the PDD Calendar continues to catalog local events — some in person, many online. 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.

Where in Duluth? #185

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