This is not January in Duluth & Prometheus Frowned.

I was expecting less of this...

and a lot more of this.

I expected survival and cold to be a fixture of every conversation I had this month, but so far, I’ve heard plenty more apologies than anything else. Aside from my first full day in Duluth, and the last couple, it’s been unseasonably warm this January. Many folks I’ve met express something like guilt about it. ‘I can’t explain what’s going on, but this sure ain’t January.’ And sometimes, to follow that up — ‘Sorry.’

Yesterday, January 11th, there was drizzle and a few wimpy flakes and plenty of those wind-snakes (when gusts of wind make powder snow slither over the bare roads). Today is windier and colder. Duluth probably isn’t satisfied yet, but maybe the city feels closer to the season of willing suffering that’s taken its time coming.

All this weather drama has me thinking about the elements and Duluth and hardship and reveling in hardship, which I’m far from understanding completely, but I think I’m making a little headway. These thoughts turned into the following piece of Greeky deaky mythological fiction, perhaps worth a read on a cold night like tonight? (This might be a good warmup.) Enjoy!

*                                 *                                 *                                 *                                 *

{Clear your mind.}

[Maybe put on some melodramatic music before you keep reading.]

{Now, keep going.}

*                                 *                                 *                                 *                                 *

Prometheus frowned.

“Where is he?”

Out in the sky, he saw a few clouds and nothing else. It was 2:45pm, exactly, and there was no sign of Eagle. He closed his eyes.

The shackles had grown a little looser over the years and his children were all living out of state, but there was something beyond the chains keeping him there. It’s not like his liver gets devoured all day, every day. And you know, he’s even begun to appreciate his conversations with Eagle a little — sure, they start their daily routine with a little thrashing, pleading and cursing, but really, Eagle isn’t half bad.

“This is getting ridiculous. I don’t think he’s ever been this late.”

He was wrong, but not by much. Life had been pretty routine since Zeus started punishing Prometheus for giving fire to mortals by binding him to a rock and having his liver eaten every day, only to have it regenerate to be eaten again. Eagle usually came promptly at noon and the meal took 45 minutes, conservatively. The liver usually began regrowing around 2pm, which left Prometheus time to work on his music and a little reading in the early evening.

“Eagle. Man, where are you?”

It was 3:25pm and annoyance began to turn into worry. He never blamed Eagle for the whole liver-eating thing. In fact, Prometheus suspected that Eagle hated Zeus just as much as he did and only took the job because it gave Eagle a steady income to feed his eaglets. We all gotta eat, right?

As he sat staring and waiting, Prometheus had a hunch that his might not be the only disturbance in the order of the perpetually punished. So, he decided to connect with his buddy Sisyphus, who avariciously attempted to outwit the gods and had been doomed to an eternity of boulder rolling. Prometheus began:

<= Prometheus’ phone’s screen

(Sisyphus wasn’t the most social guy around.)

Sisyphus’ phone’s screen =>

(What else could be expected with the eternal labor?)

<= Prometheus’ phone’s screen

(As long as they’d known each other, Sisyphus grumbled about how demanding and repetitive work was, but he’d be the first guy to put in overtime. He was funny like that.)

Sisyphus’ phone’s screen =>

Prometheus' phone's screen -- he wasn't sure about anything anymore.

(Prometheus knew Sisyphus would be upset, as his usual alibi for dodging plans and staying in was ruined. Of course, Sisyphus would want to go out and get a beer occasionally, but you can’t get a babysitter for a boulder.)

Something was going on. 3:40pm and still no Eagle. With the sun directly overhead, his liver actually began to ache — since he grew a new one every night, he never felt the need to restrain at all when drinking. I mean, how else was he going to pass those nights all alone, chained at the top of a mountain?

With nothing else to do, Prometheus picked up the horn and called a few of his eternally suffering friends, or at least friends who’re usually eternally suffering (Tartarus gets surprisingly great cell coverage). He learned the following:

-Tantalus, who’d chopped up his son and served him in a stew to the gods, finally reached the fruit branches and water that had cruelly eluded him. Going beyond simple sating and slaking, Tantalus went for all out gluttony, causing a terrible case of heartburn.

-Then there was some gossip — Demeter’s daughter Persephone and her unstable boyfriend Hades were still broken up, which meant for the first year in as long as anybody could remember, Demeter wasn’t scouring the lands distraughtly looking for her daughter and causing 6 months of inclement weather. Demeter was glad to have Persephone around the house and all, especially away from that awful Hades, but they were both beginning to work each other’s nerves a little.

-In other news: Atlas lost his grip and dropped the earth, causing some major seismic activity around the Pacific Rim. Ixion put out the tire fire and started to feel a little nippy. Actaeon was singing both parts of “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” at karaoke. The Danaids were just staring at a full pot of water. Io, unfortunately still a cow, got a bad case of the bed sores. And Cassandra’s warnings were all suddenly heeded, causing a breakup or two amongst her friends.

The temporarily unforsaken were falling apart, unsure what to do with themselves. The thing about eternal suffering is, the sufferers learn to handle it. Yes, it’s affliction, but it’s their affliction. Rituals and dependency can build themselves around almost anything.

The sun was beginning to set and Prometheus let his mind wander. Maybe he’d finally move to Mumbai and shop at the swarming markets. Or to a hillside in China where he could finally learn authentic brush painting. Or to New Zealand, where he could try to get away from everything other than the color green.

Then it happened with little fanfare or warning aside from this:

Eagle swooped down and ripped through his flesh, going to town on the liver with no apology or explanation.

Prometheus smiled and then screamed. That’s the way penance is supposed to feel.

Coda one: 

Coda two: 

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One Response to This is not January in Duluth & Prometheus Frowned.

  1. edgewood smith says:

    Hey Adam.. just curious, do you have plans on a follow up interview at KUMD? I know you talked to Majia a few weeks ago. If not, are you interested in one? I Co-Host The Local show (Wednesday 5pm). If there are no current plans I’d love to have you in next week and see what you have learned, perhaps have you pick out some local music to play as well. Anyway let me know and I’ll run it past Majia as well.

    -Edgewood Smith

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