Random Posts

Ripped on Sunday in 2000

[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 our anti-hero took a Sunday-night tour of drinking establishments in Proctor and nearby townships.]

“Oh yeah, now, Flip’s Bar, I’d stay away from that place,” this inebriated wastoid in a Motorhead T-shirt told me about three months back. “No, Flip’s is the roughest place in Proctor. It’s a real dive. You don’t wanna go there.” Naturally, after hearing this, I did want to go there. So when Sunday boredom started to get the best of me, I decided to stir things up and head to Flip’s.

There were two cars in the parking lot when I arrived, and one of them was for sale. I walked in the door to find no one there except an old guy behind the bar, who I presumed was Flip himself. I didn’t hang around to find out. Before the old dude even knew I had opened the door, I was back in my El Camino, swearing to milk this night for whatever I could get.

Monthly Grovel: October 2020

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Whether or not 2020 has already been scary enough, October is here and Halloween will soon be upon us. The PDD Calendar is already sorting out the Halloween events, so everyone will know whether their plans should involve one mask or two.

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 on Perfect Duluth Day. So if you appreciate it, drop a few bucks in the PayPal account.

Witherspoon brothers plan revival of soul food restaurant

Solomon, left, and Stephan Witherspoon plan to open a new soul food restaurant in Duluth next year. The brothers will use their father’s time-tested recipes. (Photo by Mark Nicklawske)

Inspired by their father’s long-gone West Duluth restaurant, two brothers have announced plans to open a new eatery that will feature time-tested fried chicken recipes taken directly from the family cookbook.

Stephan and Solomon Witherspoon said last week they are actively searching for a location to house a new restaurant to be named Doc Witherspoon’s Soul Food Kitchen. The Witherspoons will launch a series of fundraisers this week and plan to open their new establishment and catering business in 2021.

New podcast about “Uncovering the Truth in Minnesota”

I just found an investigative podcast based out of Duluth called “Uncovering the Truth in Minnesota.”

“Unconstrained, unbiased, and driven for the truth, follow us as we use journalism to tell the untold stories of Minnesota,” reads the description on Apple Podcasts. “Join your Co-hosts, Sarah Knieff and Izabel Johnson, for weekly episodes released on Tuesdays!”

Melted

The light changes. A cover has opened, slit of sun beaming into the darkness, a ha-ha neiner-neiner taunt transmitted from the world of wind and spit. In the quick second between dandelion shaft blinking back to onyx, a gentle violence occurs, crinkling followed by thump.

A book has been returned.

***

With that thump, the movable floor inside the Returns bin lowers almost imperceptibly; a single book isn’t that heavy, after all. But then the flap clinks, signaling another, another, another, dark to light, light to dark, typeset words in freefall. Absorbing the weight of pages and ideas, springs stretch, and the catching floor gradually sinks.

It’s designed to protect the books, this bin is. When it’s empty, the floor rests near the top, quick purchase for incoming books slithering through the slot. As Returns accumulate, the floor gradually descends, earlier Returns nesting and bolstering newcomers so no volume sustains damage from a traumatic plummet.

Postcard from Enger Memorial Tower in 1950

This postcard was mailed 70 years ago. The date on the postmark is not clear, but it looks like July 8, 1950. The signature of the sender is also not entirely clear, but it appears to be Helen Lold. The recipient is Henry Maursey of Midland, Mich.

A Day in Duluth Can be a Lifetime

My wife and I were eager to spend the afternoon alone together as we ambled through the Leif Erickson Rose Garden. Four pre-teen girls stood across the way giggling together as we concentrated on the bushes and trees aflush with blooms in the mid-July sunshine. The scent of flowers was already adrift as we approached one tree, and we drew closer. We love the smell of flowers. Often, we pick up a bouquet at the grocers on the way to the milk, bread, and eggs. On this day, we inhaled the soft scents before they were cut.

Back on the sidewalk, we turned toward the Lake and, from this higher vantage point, we saw the Aerial Life Bridge in the distance. The Lake is calm, for the most part — there are no white caps to indicate a brewing storm. An easy breeze cools our skin and clothing, even from an eighth of a mile away. A footbridge crosses well above the interstate highway. For about 45 seconds as we walk across, we hear the thrum of rubber tires against the tarmac below. Three-fourths the way across, we hear a group of teens with their two chaperones palavering behind us. Excited about an adventure on the Lakewalk, they quickly approached from behind us to the ramp in front of us that slanted from the footbridge to the lakefront. We hastened to move to one side of the bridge so the teens could run at their pace, and we could stroll at ours.

Monthly Grovel: September 2020 Edition

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It’s been nearly six months since the day the world got canceled. At this moment in time, some events are still being canceled, but more aren’t even being planned in the first place. Still, there are hundreds of events each month that are happening as safely as possible, whether they are “virtual” events online or part of the physically distanced masquerade ball the world has turned into. For better or worse, the PDD Calendar continues to report what’s happening today, tomorrow and on into infinity … or at least into 2021.

Once a month we reach out with a beggarly blog post to remind everyone that human beings and not machines are at work editing and publishing calendar events on Perfect Duluth Day. So if you appreciate it, drop a few bucks in the PayPal account.

Duluth Navy Meme

Sharkgate: The Lake Superior Bull Shark Conspiracy

I confess to creating and posting the “Lake Superior Bull Shark Encounter” video which has rocked this community, even though, as is widely known, I have no credibility. This essay offers a full accounting of the affair, which caused a four-day firestorm as the video propagated online, through the media, and into the hallowed halls of academia.  I will debunk my own video to demonstrate it is, in fact, a poorly-made fake. In addition, I will carefully document my utter and total lack of credibility. Hopefully this will be enough to assuage an alleged army of enraged Redditors devoted to my destruction, the undead army I accidentally raised when I strapped on a toy shark fin.

My confession begins with my purchase of the toy. On Aug. 8, I posted a picture of myself wearing it on my personal public Facebook page and my public “Lake Superior Aquaman” Instagram account. The text of those posts reads, “It’s unclear where these rumors of sharks in Lake Superior originate. But I will be swimming up and down the beaches until I get to the bottom of it.” It was an open joke, a lark, an entrant to a well-established Duluth tradition of joking about sharks. You see variants on local bumper stickers such as “Shark-Free” on a map of Lake Superior. Keeping Lake Superior shark-free has even become a running joke among the mayoralty.

Time in Duluth still calls me back every year

After spending almost 18 years living in Duluth, it still calls me back every year. I’ve lived a lot of places in my life and no one place is quite the same. Some places just feel more like home than any other; Duluth is the one for me. So many memories, so many still very good friends. Hope to move back someday, but for now I’m experiencing the rest of life. I’m currently living in Denver, Colo., but there just isn’t the same feeling, the same vibe and the same immersion I felt when I lived in Duluth.

Smellscape/Hellscape: The Life of the Nose in Urban Close Quarters During a Pandemic

“The concept of smellscapes suggests that, like visual impressions, smells may be spatially ordered or place-related. It is clear, however, that any conceptualization of smellscape must recognize that the perceived smellscape will be non-continuous, fragmentary in space and episodic in time, and limited by the height of our noses from the ground, where smells tend to linger.”
—Douglas Porteous, “Smellscape,”
The Smell Culture Reader, edited by Jim Drobnick

 

My neighbor’s yard is a source of olfactory joy for a short time each summer, and a source of olfactory misery for most of the rest of the year.

In early summer, when lilacs explode in this Lake Superior latitude, for a few weeks the bush just across the property boundary serves as the star of the local smellscape. I sit on the small patio I built and bathe in the glory of the perfumery. Then, all too soon, the flowers give way to small, hard green seeds, and the smell goes where all smells go, into memory.

Advice Regarding Watermelon

On an early-August day at the grocery store, you might notice a sale on watermelon and think you should buy some. That would be a mistake. A sale on watermelon means the store wants to get rid of surplus garbage fruit.

If you buy some anyway, you might get home and decide to carry a bag of your other groceries in one hand and the melon in the other while attempting to operate the door handle and greet your happy, beautiful dog jumping up at you. That would be a mistake. Your watermelon will roll out of your hand and split in half on the floor.

You might think the logical response to the splattering of your melon should be to exclaim as loud as possible the most vile words you can imagine. That would be a mistake. Although it is indeed the logical response in that moment, you should realize your spouse is one door away on an important work-related phone call.

Living Your Best Life Without Ever Leaving Your House for Any Reason

My name used to be Anna. Now it’s Mamahoney. You can call me Mama, or Honey, or Mamahoney (but not Honeymama: Honeymama was my mother’s name). Honestly, I’ll probably respond to any combination of these sobriquets because the sooner I do the faster I can get back to this Jim Butcher wizard mystery I’m reading. And I really want to get back to it because it takes place in another city, which is not anywhere in my house. In fact, not one part of this fantastic story about how a handsome, middle-aged wizard solves supernatural crimes whilst single-parenting a daughter and negotiating the perilous political landscape of the supernatural world’s equivalent of the United States Senate (if it were diverse and cared about anyone) — not one single page — takes place in my house. Amazing!

I, like many of you (or a couple of you if you’re college-aged and reading this in Texas or Florida), have not been out much in the past five months. For nigh half a year, I, my partner, and our loin fruit have confined ourselves nearly entirely to our house. Our house, in case you’re curious, is 1,000 square feet of space, with two bedrooms, one bathroom, and very nice original woodwork. It’s decorated just how we want it, and doesn’t resemble an oubliette in any way, save one — the fact that we cannot leave it. This has made us all a little barmy. And not in the cute, eccentrically quirky way, like we’ll take up painting with dark chocolate or bat guano or something. More in a Grey-Gardens-meets-Biosphere kind of way.

Monthly Grovel: August 2020 Edition

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As the pandemic drags on, the best way to stay on top of all the physically spaced apart, hand sanitizer dispensing, mask wearing concerts, markets, garden tours and similar hoopla continues to be the PDD Calendar.

Once a month we reach out with a beggarly blog post to remind everyone that human beings and not machines are at work editing and publishing calendar events on Perfect Duluth Day. So if you appreciate it, drop a few bucks in the PayPal account, yo.

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