January in Duluth Posts

A short conversation with Doug Moen

Last year, during the January in Duluth project, I wandered into Doug Moen’s antique store with photographer Kip Praslowicz. Doug was very generous with Kip and me, two oddballs who wandered off the street to take up some of his time. And from what I’ve gathered, that seemed to be his M.O. During our short time together, he was warm, funny, honest, and so perfectly at home in his store, with his junk.

Doug and I recorded a short conversation while Kip took the photograph in a previous post. I never ended up making an audio piece from the recording, as I’d hoped, but I did make a transcription of the interview. Kip encouraged me to post it here for anybody who might be interested.

I had a dream last night

I was in a cathedral, standing in the nave. The pews were empty, the building dark. It must have been night. Without warning, a choir’s song sliced through the hushed darkness, their voices intertwining to illuminate the room – a bright, pure light. I could see their faces, one thousand beautiful children, dressed in white. I stood there motionless, enraptured by their song, their words washing over me. The tune was bracingly enigmatic, yet hauntingly familiar – they sung a single phrase over and over:

Vincent Gargiulo is horrible.

Adam Carr Send-Off


He’s been clogging up the airwaves with his “January in Duluth” posts … now it’s time to bid him farewell.

Before he flees, he has agreed to give us a presentation on what he’s been up to.

Looking for grand ideas & Dulu-tia (Duluthminutia).

(Getting to the end — thank you so much for putting up with these January in Duluth encroachments in this wonderful space.)

Last day of January and I have a few sackfuls of questions with incomplete/partial answers. With time running out, maybe you can give me a few hints on my homework? Below, I’ve boiled down a list of [A] v. [B]s, isolating dichotomies about life here in Duluth — if you have a few extra intro/outrospective minutes to kill today, I’d love to hear how you’d weigh in on any or all of these. Of course, in each matchup there’s no need to declare a clearcut winner (balance in all things), so your answers can take the form of one word or a phrase or a few thoughts or an essay if you’re exceptionally motivated.

And then he turned into a pumpkin and rolled away…

But not forever, I’m thinking.

So tomorrow is the last day of January in Duluth (and everywhere else too). I’m going to be writing a post in the morning asking some bigger picture questions I’ve been thinking about, but haven’t answered definitively. Look out for that (also, if you’ve been following and holding back, you can tell me what you really think about the project — but wait for tomorrow to do that).

For today, I have a morbid question. If you knew tomorrow were your last day on earth, and you were to spend it entirely within Duluth/immediate surrounding area, what would you do? A last day, in Duluth.

The Don and a film maker with time to kill?

The January Days are dwindling and the need to gorge on as much Duluth as possible is rising. I spent an hour with Mayor Ness today — he’s a wonderful guy. Also, I had an odd idea I might try to execute this weekend if anybody is interested.

Is anybody out there a film person? I have a very short film I’d like to make — named “100 Seconds of Solitude” — that’s reasonably simple in concept/shooting but might be a little tricky to edit. If anybody wants to spend some time this weekend on a fun project, I’ll bring the beer!

The good kind of profiling.

As part of the January in Duluth project, I’ve been working a bit with talented Duluth photographer with Kip Praslowicz, particularly with his awesome Dramatizations of Everyday Life series. Essentially, I’ve been piggybacking photos he’s done, doing an audio/narrative version of his portraits. I just finished one on Anna Affias (which I really enjoyed putting together) and did one last week on Rich Narum (not from the same series, but from the same photographer). These were the exact kinds of stories I hoped I’d be able to do in Duluth, which brings me to a question:

Anybody out there have a specific story they’d like to share? Particularly if it in some way ties into your experiences living here? (If you’ve ever had This American Life aspirations, this might be a good time to give it a shot) I’d love to do the recording and producing, and perhaps Kip might be interested in also doing a portrait. Also, if it’s not a specific story, we could just sit down and chat about your experiences here.

(Also, the clock’s ticking on January, so if this idea at all interests you, get in touch soon!)

Duluth vs. the Midwest

January in Duluth rolls on, including a piece on Rich Narum’s monthly dip in Lake Superior for over 15 years.

I have an invitation to offer — I’m looking for Wisconsinites and other Midwesterners who have relocated to Duluth to talk about their process of adjustment, assimilation, and Duluthification. I was looking to record parts of this conversation, this Saturday, at Anchor Bar in Superior. Any immigrants interested in a drink and chat?


The other day, I heard somebody refer to Duluth in passing as “the back of beyond.” Nothing official, or even a phrase restricted to Duluth for that matter, but I really liked it. What are some other official and unofficial ways you use to describe the Duluth? Little turns of phrase, short descriptions, or casual nicknames are great. As far as I’m concerned, the more personal the better.

Also, the January in Duluth project is buzzing along, including a piece of mythological short fiction that links Prometheus and the unseasonably warm weather of the first couple January weeks.

Perfect Duluth Date?

If Duluth could go on dates (the city being embodied as a person), how would you answer any or all of the following questions:

(1) If Duluth were after an eligible date prospect, where would Duluth look?

A man/woman/city is known by the company he/she/it keeps.

Finding 101 things to do in Duluth through anonymous means is not hard — of my ninety-nine problems, Google running out of suggestions isn’t one. So, the generous feedback on PDD has been wonderful (thank you so much, by the way), if not a touch overwhelming. Forget January — all these personal recommendations could fuel an entire lifetime in Duluth. For the rest of the month, I’ll continue to chase after as many Duluth experiences as I can, but on PDD I’d like to pivot my questions slightly.

January in Duluth, Coming Together

I arrived in Duluth on Sunday night and I’ll be living in town for the next 31 days, trying to learn/produce as much as possible about Duluth through a project named January in Duluth. As a central part of this, I’ve started a blog at januaryinduluth.wordpress.com where I’ll be collecting thoughts, photos, audio pieces, etc. Also, you can expect a steady string of posts/questions from me on PDD until the end of the month.

Share a Little of Your (Secret) Duluth?

January in Duluth is fast approaching (a refresher on what that project will be)! As always, twenty-four short hours at a time. During the month, I’ll be posting on PDD regularly to ask for suggestions/recommendations/answers, as this seems like the exact right place for Duluth-related ideas. In fact, I’d like to start the project with your input.

Duluth Brands

I’m from Milwaukee, and when I travel, there are usually some brands/products from my region around to remind me of home. If there are motorcycles, there’s a good chance there’s Harley. If people are drinking shabby beer, there’s probably Miller. If there are toilets, there’s probably Kohler (from Sheboygan). And of course, there are a lot of smaller ones too.

What are some Duluth brands, large/small/in between, that I could expect to find around the country/world? I’m looking for anything from the obvious to the obscure.

Homemade Duluth Music

A couple days back, when I asked for get-me-up-to-speed-on-Duluth book recommendations, I was regaled with the collected consciousness of PDDers — I’ve bought a couple to read pre-arrival and will buy more when I arrive (Book Store at Fitger’s, right?).

Next question — music by artists from Duluth. What should I listen to as I prepare? Any/all genres. Contemporary, classic, anything in between. Also, if there are lists/resources that collect this information already, please point me in those directions too. Thanks!