Saturday Essay Posts

Ripped at Goodsports Bar & Grill 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 visited Goodsports Bar & Grill at 2827 Oakes Ave. in Superior and penned this report for the Feb. 7, 2001 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper. The former Goodsports location became home to Ace’s on 29th in 2009.]

I’ve discovered something. I was afraid to mention it over the past month because I didn’t want you sorry sheep following me around. But now that the 2000–2001 Superior Boot Hockey League season is over, I think it’s safe to let you know: Goodsports Bar & Grill rocks.

You probably don’t believe me, and you shouldn’t. Goodsports? What can be good about another sports bar with a bazillion televisions and the same old burger menu and Viking/Packer décor?

Well, let me explain: While hockey players are definitely some of the most annoying people in the world, the sport of hockey is sweet. It’s fast, it’s violent and it involves incredible skill. Best of all, there’s no marching band at halftime and no seventh-inning sing-along. Between periods, some goober drives a big tank in circles.

Making a Statement

Everyone is expected to make a statement from time to time. The obvious high-level example is when there’s a natural disaster or some kind of manmade violence and we await official remarks from the President of the United States. But it extends all the way to the dinner table, where someone might ask, “Beatrice, what do you think about copper-nickel sulfide mining?”

Some would say it’s rude to bring something like that up over supper. Beatrice might choke on the green-bean casserole in panic, fearing a faction of the family could cut ties with her if she speaks her mind.

In America we like to profess that Beatrice is just as important as Donald Trump or Joe Biden, but we are also quick to acknowledge that opinions are amplified by status and reputation.

Donald Trump has a posse. Joe Biden has a posse. It doesn’t matter if Beatrice is more intelligent, more articulate or could kickbox both of their teeth in. She is just Beatrice. They are Presidents.

Saturday Essay: Select Gems from 2020

Saturday Essay logo genericLast week we highlighted the five most-read pieces from the fifth year of Perfect Duluth Day’s “Saturday Essay” series. This week we ignore the numbers and look back at a few select essays of similar quality that might have been missed by non-compulsive followers.

In the past five years PDD has published 224 essays showcasing the work of 38 different writers, and we’re always looking to expand that roster. Anyone who has an original piece of literary excellence that seems to fit (or appropriately defy) the established format should email paul @ perfectduluthday.com to get involved.

And now, links to a few select gems from season five …

The Most Read Saturday Essays of 2020

Saturday Essay logo genericWe thought we were so artsy and sophisticated with our little essay series on Perfect Duluth Day. But we all know sensationalism sells. Which essays were the most read in 2020 according to Google Analytics? Well, the topics included a wet T-shirt contest, reckless behavior involving musical watercraft, flat-out fake news, a cult taking over a Lincoln Park church and a murderous dog. Readers, we hope you’re proud of yourselves.

PDD’s annual tradition of wrapping up each year of the “Saturday Essay” series with lazy top-five lists instead of arduously prepared compositions continues next week when the samplings will be less of a popularity contest and more about one person’s snobby opinion of what you should have been reading if you weren’t all heathens.

Into the Dad Zone: An Epic Skate in the BWCA

Like a lot of folks who love the outdoors I try as hard as possible to get my kid to love being outside as well. To create that connection is like walking the razor’s edge. You push too much and they hate it. You push too little and they get consumed by electronics, friends and all the other noise going on in their young lives.

I would say my actions fall on pushing the outdoors too much. I personally have come to the conclusion that I have one life to live and I am sure as hell going to live it as much as I can.

There is no question, I am happiest outside having an adventure. That has been one consistent theme in my life since I was a kid. That theme is a core part of my being and one aspect of my life I want to give to my child, it’s my legacy … and well, it’s all the legacy I have to give!

So when free time presents itself, outside is where I will be. If my wife is working and I have the kid for that time period, then we are going outside. It’s just a matter of how and where. Usually those two answers are dictated by weather, season and what the conditions will allow us to do. There is always something special to any time and season, if we are aware enough to recognize it.

Some of My Indie Rock Guitar Goddess She-roes

My favorite musicians are women. Who’s the coolest member of the Pixies? Kim Deal! You don’t even have to think about it for a second. And my favorite genre is indie rock. Indie is not major label, and not pop enough to score strings of giant hits. The term is frequently applied to punk-lineage garage-y guitar bands, but not exclusively.

The past few years I’ve discovered many indie chick rockers and all-female bands. Here are some highlights. This (not comprehensive!) list showcases indie women who play guitar or bass, either solo or in bands, who have been active in the past five years. Therefore many of my classic faves have been excluded — for instance a suite of 1980s and ’90s rockers. I will write about them one day, but here the focus is on contemporary artists.

My descriptions are fleshed out with links to music videos, interviews, rig rundowns, and live performances. Consider this part one of a projected series as I have more to write about, including Duluthians who will get their own essay. Here goes — some of my indie rock guitar goddess she-roes:

Ripped at the Anchor Bar 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. The Sultan of Sot documented his experience at the Anchor Bar in the Nov. 29, 2000 issue of the Ripsaw newspaper.]

At the northern edge of the United States lies the state of Wisconsin, which leads the nation in alcohol consumption. At the northern edge of Wisconsin lies the broken-down city of Superior, which features the famed Tower Avenue, a street lined with dozens upon dozens of cheap dives. And at the northern edge of Tower Avenue lies the Anchor Bar, the Queen Mother of all dives, a place that represents everything good in the world.

The Anchor Bar is the love of my life. The beer selection is extensive, the food is excellent and both are cheaper than hell. And though all appearances indicate that it is a bar for thugs, there are no thugs there; the tough women behind the bar ran them out years ago. Fortunately, they grudgingly tolerate the hooligans and drunks, such as myself, who remain. Decorated in early pigsty, the place is dark and greasy-smelling, and is populated by the kind of people who just want to drink beer and act like real humans.

Stormy or Calm

She called me after dinner. “I think I need to go to Bemidji. Something is wrong with Charlie.”

Charlie was her son, a slender, emo-goth kid, like I was when I was his age, but with a gregarious desire to be liked. Committed to social justice — as most middle schoolers seem to be, lately — Charlie was attending a language camp. The camp would end the next morning, so leaving that night was ahead of schedule.

“Swing by my place on the way there, and I will ride with you,” I told her.

She drove the first leg of the trip, down Highway 2 through Proctor into Grand Rapids, where we pulled over for gas. She called the camp to get clarification about why Charlie needed to be picked up. Was he sick? Food poisoning? Running a temperature? No. He had said some words that meant he had to leave the camp; he could not spend the night.

Trouble

Growing up in Alaska, the wild space around me was something invisible. I had no awareness that the world was something other than myself. My friends and I perambulated the wilderness with the careless disregard of youth, clambering to the peaks of 100-foot-high pine trees and swinging from the soft tops on dares.

There was a tree fort out in the woods that was 25 feet in the air — not even halfway up the tree. The way up was almost entirely crumbling chunks of boards nailed erratically into the trunk to form rungs. At the top, one had to stretch out and grab the floor of the fort and sort of clamber up over the lip of the platform. Conveniently, the platform was disintegrating, so the edge was rougher and shallower than it once had been, making it less a switchback climbing maneuver to swing to the platform than a lean of faith. I wonder if the kids who live in those houses now even know it’s there — some aeriform retreat hovering above the houses like a mossy cloud.

Sign of the Times

Democracy has been a tricky thing these days. Used to be I would occasionally post on Facebook about my candidate of choice, proudly display a sign in my yard and make a fuss about donning my sticker on Election Day. Now, it’s fair to say, “it’s complicated.”

Not that I don’t have a candidate of choice — I do. But I’ve rather ghosted off social media where I’d display my virtual heart on my cyber sleeve. These days, I pop in just enough to spin my social plate as it bobbles on the stick of my outward-facing life. After a friend was criticized for being “too happy” in pictures with his young children during these troubled times, I found myself going dark, getting insular. That’s saying something for someone who wrote a memoir. I’m not sure I could write that book today. Actually, I’m sure I couldn’t.

However, there’s been some amazing shifts in my household. While typically forward-leaning me has reclined into quietude, my less demonstrative husband has found his voice. And it’s not an electronic one. Sickened by watching the political battle waged behind screens, he decided to literally “put himself out there,” standing at a popular Duluth intersection holding a political sign. With a small parcel of like-minded friends (which only occasionally includes me), he’s there, every day, for 30 days.

The Musician as Inventor

The recent passing of Eddie Van Halen reminded me of a favorite topic: the musician as inventor. I refer to the invention of objects, techniques, and concepts. It’s invention in the service of an art form. For instance, musical instruments are invented, then shaped with further inventions which make additional modifications possible. Musicians have always been inventors. Here are some of my favorite examples.

Rock and Roll Itself

The invention of rock music, with its pedigree of blues, gospel, and so on, is these days commonly attributed to Chuck Berry in the early 1950s. Berry produced the musical mutant that would conquer the world when he combined rhythm and blues with country and western guitar licks, then packaged it with guitar solos and other showmanship. His signature duck walk may be considered a lasting invention, still in use by Angus Young of AC/DC who credits Berry for, well, everything. Berry was influenced by Sister Loretta Tharpe, whose 1944 song, “Strange Things Happening Every Day,” is sometimes considered the first rock record.

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.

Twenty Years on the Superior Hiking Trail: Ely’s Peak Loop

Paul Lundgren Saturday EssayThe laziest and slowest record in endurance-sports history has been broken. Again. By me. Again.

As documented in numerous essays, I started hiking the Superior Hiking Trail on Sept. 23, 2000 and finished the 310-mile trek from the Canadian border to Jay Cooke State Park on Nov. 5, 2015. Obviously I took a lot of breaks along the way. Then, in 2016, I hiked new parts of the trail that hadn’t been built yet, breaking the record I already held for the slowest unsustained complete traverse of the Superior Hiking Trail.

Was that an official record? Well, no organizational body really keeps track of such things. But I stand firmly in my declaration that no one who has hiked the entire Superior Hiking Trail has taken longer to do it than me.

And now I’ve taken even longer.

In the summer of 2018 a new loop trail was built at Ely’s Peak in Duluth. It was kind of late in the hiking season when I heard about it, so I planned to do it in 2019. Then I kind of forgot about it and got distracted with other things. I had also started a new quest to hike the North Country Trail through Wisconsin. I’m still barely started on that.

Anyway, this past July I drove out to the Ely’s Peak area with the intention of knocking out the new last bit of trail, but as I started walking it occurred to me that if I waited until Sept. 23 to do this loop my Superior Hiking Trail story would span a perfect 20 years. So I hiked other trials that day and saved the loop for the perfect day.

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.

North Country Trail in Wisconsin: Town of Summit

One nice thing about hiking on county roads is that if a deer fly is pestering you and you happen to walk by a freshly killed skunk, the fly will transfer to the skunk and leave you to hike in peace.

There are also fewer ticks on roads than on trails, and you are less likely to get lost. But the benefits of a trail instead of a highway are obvious and substantial. In particular: the natural beauty of the land is a bit less interfered with on a trail, there are no motorized vehicles to watch out for, and on hot days there is usually some protection from the blistering sun.

Those are the basic pros and cons as I hike through the town of Summit in my quest to follow the North Country Trail through Wisconsin. As I’ve explained in previous essays, the trail isn’t built yet in the area near the Minnesota border, with the exception of the Nemadji River Valley, so there is a road route connecting sections of the trail.

Last summer I hiked county roads W and B to Pattison State Park. So far in 2020 I’ve hiked from Pattison to the border between the towns of Summit and Gordon. All of this has happened without any overnight camping or serious day of dedicated hiking. It’s just casual car trips to walk the road in there-and-back stretches.

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