Fond-Du-Luth: Casino? Casi-yes!

“Excuse me. I’m from out of town and I’d really like to take a picture — is that allowed?”

“Sorry — no photography or video taping of any kind anywhere in the building. But you can smoke and there’re two bars. The main one’s upstairs. Have fun!”

Photography and vice as replacement goods. Not bad.

Yesterday, I looked for strangers to “draw Duluth” in coffee shops, and after a few bullseyes, I wanted a slightly different perspective. (How coffeeshopish is Duluth anyways?) After a soft-spoken dude standing outside of The Last Place On Earth told me he wasn’t really the drawing type, I wandered across the street.

From top to bottom: Grey Sky, American Flag, Neon

I’m new here, but I’ve heard a fair amount about the Fond-Du-Luth already, including an article I’d read earlier that day in the DNT. (An aside — while walking down Superior the night previous, I saw their “CASINO” marquee at an angle that looked like it just said “SIN.” Too easy?) Rather than rely on second-hand accounts and speculation, this little project gave me a reason to gather my own impressions.

Walking through the front doors, I just about immediately gave up the prospect of finding volunteer sketchers — everybody seemed too engrossed to bother, which makes total sense. Even the surface of the bar has built-in slot machine video screens.

I’m not a gambler, but I’ve been to enough casinos to have a frame of reference. Fond-Du-Luth isn’t like a fancy casino on the Las Vegas strip — it’s more Downtown Las Vegas, or maybe Black Hills. Artificially lit. Anonymous. A little boring? Nothing too fancy. Utilitarian.

I wanted a picture insde, which resulted in the conversation at the top of this post. The closest I could get to an interior was this shot of an exterior window:

If I could adjust some non-photographic properties of that picture, I’d probably move the ‘laughter’ and ‘fashion scarf’ sliders a bit further down and the ‘cigarette smoke’ and ‘absorption’ sliders up. Or maybe I could just crop everything out other than the fella smoking on the concrete planter. If you haven’t been in, that might give you a decent mental picture of the inside.

About a quarter of the slot machines were occupied and while walking through the avenues of machines, there were a few cases of eye contact. Otherwise, nobody seemed too interested in me. In fact, I only noticed a few peeks while I lingered in an aisle writing all the unexpectedly fascinating names/themes of slot machines in my notebook:

[A couple notes on nomenclature: the parenthetical numbers after a slot machine’s name means there were (this many consecutive machines of this name). Also, the aisle in question was on the first floor, second from the back.]

Let me close with a sign that’s kitty corner to the casino. With all the new development that’s apparent on that stretch of Superior street, this sign seems just about as tongue-in-cheek as the location of the newly opened Tycoon’s across the street from Fond-Du-Luth:

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3 Responses to Fond-Du-Luth: Casino? Casi-yes!

  1. John Ramos says:

    As you no doubt discovered, the people inside the casino are more like the guy leaning on the planter than the young, affluent, beautiful people in the ad.

  2. Pingback: Brief Etudes: A Counterpoint At Amazing Grace & A Nocturne Fantasie For Duluth Trading Company. | January In Duluth

  3. Lithis says:

    The “Duluth’s Finest Tourist Attraction” used to be for R.O. Carlson Bookstore. There was also a sign that said “Don’t Leave Duluth Without Visiting This Store”.

    PDD has more info on the bookstore and Central Sales. There is also more information on R.O. Carlson, who is the father of the owner of The Last Place on Earth.

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