Since the weather’s been a touch frosty lately, I’ll indulge in a bit of Frost for a second — as January in Duluth nears its end, I have many promises to keep and even more miles to go before I sleep. That is, there’s way way too too much much to to do do.
A widget over on the right side of the blog is counting down the days to 1/31/12 and the end of January in Duluth. So soon? Yeesh. I have enough posts/stories/mini-projects in the works to bring me to the finish line, and far more that are still narrative twinkles in my eye. In no particular order, these are some I hope to finish in the next week:
Chester Bowl ski race; conversation w/ Sheila Packa; Duluth East Hockey; DAI Membership Show; backyard snow machine; an afternoon drinking at the Owl; Anna
I knew my experience wouldn’t be complete no matter how hard I tried to immerse myself, but I had no idea what incompletion would feel like. Yeesh. So, to release the pressure valve a little and give myself a chance to share a lot of thoughts/opinions/ideas without the bottleneck of elegantly expressing them, I’m plonking down some backlogged inventory — that is, the many stories I’m very worried I won’t have a chance to do.
After the jump, you can check out most of my notes on undone stories — feel free to add more in the comments too!
(And you know, if you’d like to execute any of these ideas as a special January in Duluth correspondent, or just a curious person, I’d be infinitely grateful! Of course, I know that’s like asking you to babysit/adopt my brain-children, but then again, an infinite amount of gratitude is a whole lot of gratitude.)
Here’re my notes for some hypothetical stories on Duluth, in no particular order:
All the wonderful suggestions: The flood of blog comments, Facebook recommendations, Perfect Duluth Day ideas, direct e-mails, conversational suggestions, etc. Experiences, people, places, groups. I will only be able to explore a tiny fraction of them, which is probably the hardest to swallow.
Bus Stoppers/Skywalkers: Approach strangers waiting at the Holiday Center bus stop & ask basic Duluth questions — What made you decide to live here? What do you think of the city? What would you change/keep the same? Etc. Then, directly afterwards, ask identical questions of folks in the skywalk — a chance to get opinions from very different kinds of people who are both in transit/transition.
A Day In The Skywalk: On a particularly cold day, use the skywalks to explore as much as possible without going outside. This kind of exploration might be the indoor analogue of Duluth’s outdoor-exploration-spirit. Look for architectural peculiarities, building secrets, subtle details of businesses/people, killer views of the city, etc. Despite camera and microphone, I’d walk around the entire time as if I was supposed to be there, no matter how out of place I might feel. Optional feature — ask folks on PDD and Facebook and maybe custodians for suggestions and make it into a scavenger hunt.
Collaborate w/ Creatives: Almost everybody around here seems to have some creative endeavor, so to tap local resources, I’d like to work with some home grown creatives to make collaborative pieces exploring Duluth. Photographers, designers, illustrators, painters, writers, musicians, etc. Ideas could come directly from them, directly from me, through a brainstorm, or anything in between.
The Bartering Community (Dual-uth): I’ve heard there’s a bartering network in town — fresh baked bread for home made granola; home brew for freshly roasted coffee; jewelry for woodwork. Daisy-chain my way around this network, learning about each craft/product/creation (would also be a good way to meet people). In line with a major Duluth-theme I’ve picked up — Duluthians are not just Do-It-Yourselfers, they’re Do-It-Myselfers, i.e. there’s a strong affinity to doing/making here combined with a strong independent, figure-it-out-for-myself streak. Of course, using the acronym D-I-M to describe Duluthians might sound a little perjorative, but that would only be accidental.
Backyard Chickens: Along similar lines as the bartering piece, I know there’s plenty of backyard chicken raising here. Apparently, it’s reasonably widespread. There seems to be something Duluth about backyards chickens.
Doctors Without Borders (in their hobbies): A thought I’ve had numerous times — Duluthians seem to base their identity/notion of self a lot less on their career/profession and a lot more on their passions/hobbies/extracurricular pursuits. “Part-time occupation, full-time pre-occupation.” Case in point — a wonderful Duluthian told me about the doctors she knows and their rich extra-work lives. “The surgeons are good woodworkers.” Yeah, makes sense. “A radiologist who has a grape vineyard.” Uh huh. “Gastroenterologist with a berry farm.” Totally.
Mind Reading: I asked a new acquaintance, “Do you have any creative product?” Her response, “Well, I do read minds.” Who knows if she’s a supernatural psychic or is presumptuous and very confident? In any case, it might be fun to make an audio piece about people watching while wildly speculating about people and what they’re thinking.
What are you hiding in your basement?: Oftentimes, people put what they think the world wants to see in their living rooms and family rooms while stashing their true selves in the basement. Find some ultra-interesting basement setups and pastimes.
Sans Domicile Fixe Tour: On Perfect Duluth Day, someone mentioned a half day walking tour of the homeless experience given by CHUM. A different angle than pretty much everything I’ve been doing so far.
Non-Profits, Social Welfare, Community Orgs: I’ve done a ton of work without the non-profit sector in Milwaukee and love doing that kind of work — I quickly realized that exploring this sector in Duluth is a whole can of worm/pandora’s box of content, so I consciously haven’t made an effort to enter this sphere. However, a primer on the state of Duluth would be good.
Stepping Out with Paul Lundgren: Paul seems to be one of Duluth’s head dudes. A man about town and a committed native son. Wanted something to happen with him, but haven’t figured it out yet. There’s still time.
An Interview with the Don: Met Don at a concert in Tycoons & told him we should do an interview that’s “a little different — really fun.” He told me that we couldn’t have too much fun, as “he’s a family man — and the mayor.” I laughed. Nothing’s come together yet, but I’d love to do something a little different and really fun with him.
An Evening with Barton Sutter: Cold Comfort is definitely a book beloved in Duluth — lovingly crafted, sincere, insightful, thoroughly unpretentious and honest. I really want to meet Barton Sutter and just chat with him, but he’s narrowly eluded me thus far. Actually, I have a cell phone number that may or may not be current — it’s just a matter of getting up the courage to leave him an awkward, rambling voicemail.
Ed at Carmody’s: Heard this guy’s a talker, super-knowledgable, and a wonderful character. Gotta go talk to him soon.
Interview with Maria Bamford’s Mom: How does she feel about the way Maria talks about home/family? Give her a chance to lay out her side of the story.
Where Duluthians Vacation: Try to get a feeling for what Duluthians have at home by asking them what they seek when getting out of town. Is their taste for nature satisfied in their own backyard, or are folks looking for other natural havens? What kind of culture/food/entertainment do people fly to? Staycations?
Going Up North: Along similar lines — it seems like a major part of living here is the proximity to the pristine, Taiga-laden nature “Up North.” I haven’t been able to get away, so I’d love to hear accounts of what people do up there. Boundary watering, et cetera.
Yo-Yo Stories: Stories of people moving away and back and away and back. Why leave? Why come back?
Deep Roots Stories: Stories of people who’ve never left. Why? Regrets?
Military Veterans: Find some willing military vets in Duluth and talk about their service as well as their life here.
Religion and Church: What’s up with religion in Duluth? Honestly, I haven’t had too much exposure to this, so I don’t have a clever angle.
Let’s Make A Drink Known as “The Duluth”: People like to drink here — what would a drink named “The Duluth” be? Alcohols/ratios/mixers/garnishes/ornaments?
“Free Park-ing”: Spend one day trying to hit up as many parks and park-experiences as possible. Stop motion video as a result?
Sledding Down Streets Really Late at Night: With a camera. Not enough snow yet. Or bravery.
Geology of Duluth: Get the pre-historic story of the city — lithographies, geologies, cataclysmic events, mineral narratives, etc.
Snowman Public Art: If there was snow, I would like to create some highly conceptual temporary public art — snowmen.
A Magnificent Machine: Industry is important here, so find an amazing, huge, hulking machine in town, probably in a factory, and then get a tour of it from an expert. Make an info-sonic attempting to capture its process.
Spend a night on the Lake: Finesse/force my way onto one of those massive harbor boats and see what folks on the boat think of the city as well as what their lives are like.
Storming: I’ve heard it’s wonderful to go out during a blizzard and be at the mercy of the elements. Again, haven’t had a chance to do that.
Longest Running Card Game in Town: Who’s doing it, what are they playing, just hang out with them.
Shadow a Postman: A couple, perhaps. They see the city from a very interesting, informed, and particular perspective.
Curling/Broomball: These are important, I’ve heard — I’ve watched curling and played broomball in college, but haven’t had an in-depth experience yet.
“Doing nothing” in Duluth: “What’d you do today?” “Nothing.” What does it mean to “do nothing” here? The anatomy of nothing.
Dancing In Duluth: Who’s doing it? What kind? And can I get some?
Auction House/Pawn Shop: Hang out in both and see what people are selling, get a peek at their story.
Cute Skywalkers: Make a piece/video/story exploring the particularities and peculiarities of lunchtime skywalk fitness walkers. What’s the best route? What kind of conversations go on in the little clusters of walkers? Is there any tacit competitiveness amongst them? Is there a culture or do I just want it to exist? And so on. [Note: I tried chatting up two ladies fairly early on in my time here and they were super reluctant to talk to me. Not sure if any amount of charm could counteract the power of my stranger danger.]