Duluth 2018 Primary Election Sample Ballot



Primary Election polls open Aug. 14 at 7 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

The last day to pre-register to vote is July 24. Voters who miss this deadline may still register at their polling place on Primary Election Day.

Duluthians can register to vote by doing one of the following:

  • Register online at mnvotes.org.
  • Fill out a Voter Registration Application on the City Clerk’s webpage and deliver it in person or by mail to the Duluth City Clerk at 330 City Hall, 411 W. First. St., Duluth MN 55802) or the St. Louis County Voter Registration Office (214 St. Louis County Courthouse, 100 N. Fifth Ave. W., Duluth MN 55802).
  • Register at the polls on Election Day or when applying for or renewing a driver’s license. Find polling places by visiting pollfinder.sos.state.mn.us

Duluthians can vote early in person at the Duluth City Clerk’s Office or by mail. Absentee applications are available in the City Clerk’s Office or online through the Secretary of State’s Office.

The City Clerk’s Office will be open the following days and times for early absentee voting:

Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Saturday, Aug. 11 – 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.
Monday, Aug. 13 – 8 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Aug. 13 is the last day to vote absentee.

For more information regarding the Primary Election visit duluthmn.gov.

The General Election will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

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Cancer battle pushes sale of iconic West Duluth store



Joel Russell stands outside Central Sales, a surplus store his family has owned for more than 30 years.

An iconic and ruggedly unique surplus store in the heart of West Duluth has been put up for sale as its longtime owner prepares to fight a serious health issue.

Central Sales owner Joel Russell said last week he plans to sell the store at 314 N. Central Ave. along with its three levels of floor-to-ceiling merchandise. The building and its parking lot were listed June 22 for $285,000, with store inventory negotiated separately.

“I just put it up for sale and we’ll see what happens,” said Russell. ”It’s tough. It’s multiple reasons. Part of it is that I have cancer. That’s a big part of it. I don’t know if I can keep running it as years come on. Right now (the cancer) is manageable but it may not always stay that way.”

Central Sales was established by Norm Kline, who used the building as storage until opening to customers in 1962. Russell said his father, Jim, a store regular, bought the business in the early 1980s.

“I started working here when I was in sixth grade,” he said. “Over the years it kept getting busier. It was a good business to go on, and when (dad) was ready to retire it worked out for me.”

Russell, a 1988 Esko High School graduate, has owned the business for 16 years.

The Central Sales building was constructed in 1914 and still has its original hardwood floors and tin ceiling.

Central Sales features a mind-boggling amount of surplus goods, used clothing, sporting goods, car parts, tools, hardware, collectibles and art work. It has become known as “the handyman’s candy land.”

Russell would like to see new owners continue sales operations but the surplus industry has seen big changes in the past 15 years.

“The places we used to get a lot of surplus from just aren’t even there anymore,” he said. “There really isn’t any small businesses going out of business because they’re all gone.”

Big box retailers like Menards and Northern Tool & Equipment and on-line giants like Amazon have also hurt small hardware stores like Central Sales.

“But I would say that the younger generation is not the kind of guys that come in and do work on their cars and buy stuff to fix things anymore,” he said. “They would rather throw it away and just buy another one.”

The 8,700-square-foot Central Sales building was constructed in 1914 and still has its tin ceilings and hardwood floors. It served as a grocery store and furniture store before becoming storage and eventually morphing into the unique retail experience it is today.

West Duluth business leaders say the commercial district around Central and Grand avenues has seen dramatic changes, especially in the past two decades. What used to be a major retail hub has shifted to a small but growing arts, entertainment and hospitality district.

Joel Russell helps a customer at Central Sales. Russell said a cancer battle is forcing him to sell his business.

“It think Beaners was a little start of that,” said AdVise Marketing consultant and Spirit Valley Days Coordinator Ivan Hohnstadt of the West Duluth Business Club. “Coffee shops can bring in the creative types, people who see things a little differently. Obviously, some of the properties were a little neglected and underutilized and people came in who saw an opportunity.”

Beaner’s Central, a coffee shop featuring live music, was established in 1999 after many small retail shops had closed and abandoned the area. The past decade has seen businesses like Zenith Bookstore, Midwest Catering, Dungeon’s End game store and the West Theater restoration project take over the block.

Olafson Genereau real estate agent Jim Aird has sold property in West Duluth for almost four decades. He said the West Duluth commercial occupancy rates have been increasing recently as a younger, more mobile and computer-friendly generation moves into the neighborhood.

“I don’t think we have a lot of empty buildings, there’s not a lot of vacancies out there,” he said. “But when Kmart pulls out, what’s going to happen? That’s a lot of square feet to fill.”

Aird said Central Sales was one of the oldest retail operations in West Duluth. He said he would miss the store if it closes.

“It’s one of those places that if you don’t know what you want, walk through and you’ll find it,” he said. “If you can’t find the part there that you need you’ll find something else that you can use. I don’t know what will go in there.”

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Music Man, on Three Levels



I sat in the balcony to watch a preview (or Sponsor Night) performance of The Music Man by the Duluth Playhouse at the Norshor Theatre. The performance was enjoyable, the text is enjoyable, if complicated for the 21st century, and as this was my first trip into the new Norshor, I have some thoughts about that.

Level 1: This performance

Actual theater critics will no doubt tell you whether this performance was awesome as theater. Here’s what I know:

I smiled, a lot. I smiled at barbershop quartets and dancing, at the absolute surreality of people breaking out into song and dance on a train, in a library. I smiled at actors given a plot that moves toward you like a slow moving train, along a fixed track. You can see it coming, you know exactly where it’s going, and you still smile, smile, smile for nearly three hours.

I love the show, I recommend everyone who wants to smile to spend time watching the Music Man.

Level 2: The text 

It’s hard to watch this without recognizing that Music Man sets tropes that I learned from animated TV …

The Monorail song borrows from this musical …

Then Simpsons-writer Conan O’Brien was clearly cribbing from this song in Music Man

Conan acknowledges this debt in interviews and in this performance:

But the borrowings are even more direct than this Simpsons reference. Even more directly, the Music Man’s song about Shipoopi was literally taken up in Family Guy.

I’m not sure what it would mean to come to The Music Man with fresh eyes.

In a small way, I wonder whether living in our current political era hurts my response, too. In one way, The Music Man is the story of an opportunist, narcissistic salesman who takes advantage of the residents of small towns. Our salesman creates anxiety, then he promises to resolve it by taking money from those small-town salt-of-the-earth types he swindles.

Those small-town residents are bristling with a kind of Iowa pride that almost makes it feel OK to see them swindled. The librarian and music teacher, who totally knows better, enables the swindler’s schemes, perhaps because she is, sometimes, vaguely disdainful of her Iowan neighbors. By omission, she lies to support the lying salesman. Her love, somehow, is supposed to redeem him.

And both she and the town somehow manage to convince themselves that his lies were what they needed. Looking forward, they believe their untutored children will somehow learn what they were never taught.

PDD is not a political space, and The Music Man is not a political play, so the political resonances I see in that way of reading the play are just in me.

Level 3:  The space

I don’t have a long history with the Norshor, but I have a history. I saw Polara play there in the 1990s, I think. This is so long ago, Polara still has a MySpace page.

This was in the time when there were movies and I think improv comedy in the mezzanine and loud music in the mainstage.

I saw Low play there in the late “aughts,” at an October show, I think, too — the seats were removed toward the front, a place to dance to get loud. I missed the Orpheum and Norshor Experience moments.

I’m just going to say it; it’s likely to be awkward. I miss my Norshor. I miss the space that was too big for a local rock show, that felt cavernous, the floor cold (was concrete exposed when the seats were removed? I can’t recall). The mezzanine bar was charming, the concessions and tickets were something you walked past as you entered the theater, because staffing a box office separate from a popcorn salesman was impossible based on those revenues.

Here is what the old Norshor felt like — it felt like what Duluth felt like to me. To me, when Duluth was a vacation space (when I lived in the Twin Cities in the 1990s) and when I first moved here in 2005. I felt like there were two ways to encounter Duluth:

  • One way to encounter Duluth was the imaginary playland written over Duluth, called Canal Park. In my heart, then and now, most of Canal Park felt like Duluth’s version of the Mall of America:  a manufactured experience, largely for Other People.
  • The other way was the way I preferred — Superior Street was, back then, the place where the town tried to make do with the hand-me-downs of the previous generation. Carlson’s Books was that legacy made visible: some of the books had clearly been on the shelves of that shop longer than I had been alive. There were high-traffic areas, where copies of High Times and pornography were watched by the shopkeep, and there were copies of Lake Superior Magazine near the front for the accidental tourist who made it all the way up from the Canal. The store was literally tens of thousands of books, but it was a few hundred square feet that generated most of the revenue. The Norshor was similar — thousands of square feet, but hundreds of square feet generated most of the revenue. Like a teen boy trying hard to wear the shirts handed down from adult male relatives, Duluth was struggling to figure out how to “wear” the buildings created by the Zenith City of millionaires a hundred a years ago.

So — has Duluth grown into that infrastructure? Fitger’s is bustling, the Norshor is reopened without adult entertainment, there is a brewery every thirty feet in this town.

Or did the illusions of Canal Park just extend from the Canal onto Superior Street, maybe all the way into the near West Side, running from the Norshor to OMC. I don’t know.

Before the performance, one of the speakers said the Norshor rivals theaters in major metropolitan cities. As I left the Norshor, I craved the Renegade, the black box innovation on folding chairs of the Zuccone. That feels like Duluth scale to me.

The Norshor will work because there are enough people who want this kind of theatrical experience. Because locals want this. Because Duluth has become a city that can sustain it.

I don’t know why, but I craved, for a moment, the city that struggled instead of the city that has finally arrived, finally “made it.”

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PDD Quiz: Buffalo Bill and Duluth



This month’s quiz looks at Buffalo Bill Cody’s relationship with Duluth. For more information on this topic, check out this Perfect Duluth Day article, this Northland Wilds article, and this The Area Woman article.

The next PDD Quiz, on July happenings, will be published on July 29. Email question suggestions to Alison Moffat at aklawite@d.umn.edu by July 26.

Question #1: Which family member did Buffalo Bill Cody visit in Duluth?

Helen Cody Wetmore, Buffalo Bill's sister, lived in Duluth.

Question #2: In 1895, Helen Cody Wetmore left her position at the Duluth Press to embark on a new venture. What was this venture?

Cody Sanatorium was built on St. Louis Bay in August 1895; it burned to the ground in November 1896.

Question #3: Hugh Wetmore, Helen Cody Wetmore’s husband, owned the People’s Press (a pro-labor newspaper later renamed the Duluth Press). Buffalo Bill Cody invested in the Duluth Press Building that still stands in which neighborhood?

The Duluth Press building is located at 1915 W. Superior St.

Question #4: In which year did Buffalo Bill Cody first visit Duluth?

Buffalo Bill arrived at Duluth's Union Depot on Jan. 22, 1894 for a six-day visit.

Question #5: How long after Buffalo Bill’s first visit to Duluth was Cody Street named in his honor?

Buffalo Bill first visited Duluth on Jan. 22, 1894; Cody Street was named in his honor on Feb. 12, 1894.

Question #6: The Cody Hotel, named in honor of Buffalo Bill Cody (but not financed by him), was located in which Duluth neighborhood?

The Cody Hotel was located at 332 N. Central Ave.

Question #7: The Cody Hotel was demolished in 1973; what now exists in its place?

The former site of the Cody Hotel is now a parking lot for the Gopher Bar and Grill.

Question #8: Helen Cody Westmore’s home, Codyview, allegedly featured Duluth’s first what?

Codyview was built in 1898 on the site of the former sanatorium.

Question #9: Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show first came to Duluth in 1896. Helen Cody Westmore bet her brother that Duluth would draw a larger crowd than which town?

North Platte (population 3,500) ultimately beat out Duluth (population 65,000) with a crowd of over 10,000 because the Union Pacific railroad offered excursion trains to North Platte from surrounding towns.

Question #10: The last Wild West Show in Duluth played on Aug. 8, 1912 at the fairgrounds: what is currently located on the site?

The site was the home of the St. Louis County Fair from 1876 to 1911.

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A Smiter Smote a Sinner While Smitten with Smiting



Smite is a funny word.

My husband Jesse and I were talking about Leviticus (the Quentin Tarantino chapter of the Bible) last night. We don’t spend much time musing about Leviticus (lest you think we are piouser than we are) but were discussing this letter from a gentleman sardonically applauding Dr. Laura’s use of Leviticus 18:22 to rebuke homosexuality. Naturally, we began inquiring into other modern applications of less referenced lines of the book.

After discussing our own Leviticus reflections (scariest band name, ever), we started re-imagining the Christian adage, “Love the sinner, hate the sin.” Jesse suggested, to comply with Leviticus, that we change it to, “Hate the sin, scorn the sinner?” We agreed this was too far from the spirit of the book. Leviticus is very specific (e.g., “How to Build an Altar in 1,347 Easy Steps”). And the truth is, it’s tough to read cubits allegorically, no matter how stoned you are.

I suggested, if we were going Full Monty, that we just go straight to “Love the sinner, hate the sin. Then smite the sinner. Usually to death.” Jesse piled on, “If a sinning sinner smites a loving sinner, that sinner should be smitten, also.”

The fuck?

“Wait, wait, wait.” I objected. “You can’t use ‘smitten’ like that. It’s probably ‘smited.’”

This seems like the right spot to give you some important information about my husband. He’s generally a very quiet, humble, quiet, introspective, quiet man. If he were to ever pen a book (say, to save a person’s life, or if that was the only way he could earn money, at all, ever again), it would be called, “Mastering Verbal Efficiency: When One Word Is Better Than Two.” (The title would be the longest sentence in the book.) It’s not that he’s shy; he’s not. Neither is he arrogant, typically. But, like all of us, there are areas of his interest that occupy his soul entirely, and fill him with such blind passion and complete immersion that he cannot be reasonable, and when pressed, he will be as irascible and ferocious as a hungover badger. Such is the case with the infinitesimal rules of language. He studied many languages, and speaks both Finnish and Swedish well. The discriminating observer might note how ironic it is for a person with such affinity for language to dislike its use so much. Well spotted, discriminating observer! That is fucked up! Where you or I might blissfully cruise past the occasional, soggy malapropism or improper verb conjugation, my husband halts all motor function while he carefully disassembles the grammatical monstrosity and reassembles it correctly, sometimes aloud, but often in the grim and machine-like recesses of his superior temporal gyrus.

So, when I objected to his use of the word “smitten,” my husband’s reaction was nearly fatal to him. His eyes twitched like a computer in bios mode, and he uttered a series of short sound bursts, which were evidently the first syllable of a series of fractious retorts: “Wuh! Buh! Fuh?” and so on, like he was a hundred haughty British men drinking port and straightening their cravats, farting righteousness into my puffy white face.

Jesse’s entire being contorted in a paroxysm of grammar, wave after wave of righteous indignation, filtered through the most enigmatic and exotic rules of language. “HUFF! HUUUUUFFFF! Participle. Future gerund, direct article! Past prefect Percy Weasley!” He said. I mean, that’s mostly what he said. Those are some of the words he said, anyway. Not in order, but it was clearly nonsense, so the exact sequence is irrelevant.

Now, because I will not be schooled on the proper use of words I use right all the fucking time, I continued, undeterred: “You can’t use ‘smitten’ like that! It’s got to be smited. Doesn’t that sound right? Smiiiited.” I drew the word out, while drawing an imaginary sword from an imaginary sheath in my yoga pants. “Smited. Feels right.”

Nothing makes a grammarian so inflamed as justifying your word choice by feel. So naturally, the gauntlet down, Jesse and I proceeded to fight-talk about the word “smite” for the next thirty minutes. Finally, my feelings about the word and his incoherent freestyle rap of esoteric grammar rules reached a draw: neither of us had more to say. We decided to defer to a third party.

Dictionary.com, while installing a shit ton of spyware, adware and voting for Republicans on my hard disk, defined the word thusly (NOTE: “thusly” is #7 on the top 25 list of words douchebags use, before “verbose,” and after mid-2000’s tabloid favorite “natch”):

verb (used with object), smote or (Obsolete) smit; smitten or smit; smiting.

I argued vociferously (#4) that the form smitten was never used in common parlance (#11) for any other reason than to describe romantic infatuation. “In fact,” I argued, while my husband continued to study the screen, “it is so saturated in romantic allusion that it’s become a word used to offer that romantic allusion to other, non-romantic scenarios, e.g., ‘The auditor was absolutely smitten with the new M-9 for exempt corporations.’ The auditor obviously was not entertaining delusions about nights rolling about in satin sheets, besmirching the integrity of the M-9s in question. He just thinks they’re super awesome, so the use of the word smitten is hyperbolic and demonstrative of the depth of his appreciation.”

“What did you say?” Jesse asked, raising his eyes from Dictionary.com.

“Fine. Use it in a sentence. In all the ways,” I responded.

Jesse quirked his eyebrows but obliged, ever willing to resoundingly, categorically win an argument.

“Sure. Let’s see. Present? Right now, I am smiting. In general, I smite. And in the future, I will be smiting at about three-thirty this afternoon, as opposed to, ‘I will smite you,’ which could happen anytime in the future.”

Since an object in motion prefers to continue talking about the grammatical correctness of obscure Old English words deployed in a modern lexicon, he continued, “The past participle is smitten. You can use that either way, actually. As an adjective, I might say, ‘I am a smitten man,’ meaning that I am a man smit by the power of romantic sensation I am experiencing. You might also use this as a passive verb in the past tense by saying, ‘He was smitten [by something].’ But I think you’d only use that one to mean something actually bonked him.”

I hate being wrong. I actually feel deeply uncomfortable when anyone is conspicuously wrong — even when I am morbidly overcharged for something (these are Red Delicious apples, not Asian Pears!) or debating actual ethics (the Bible is much less interested in homosexuality than the robes of the high priest!). It is awkward to me, on the subatomic level. All my electrons check their smartphones and my nuclei stare fastidiously at their shoelaces, praying for resolution. And I hate being wrong about words, because I love them. But I often am — particularly if the debate hinges on grammar or sentence structure. I’m almost always wrong, then. And I was certainly wrong about smitten. I smote incorrectly. I’m smiting wrong still. I am smitten with my misuse of the word, right this very moment.

I’m not usually on the “irregardless,” or “orientated,” team, believe me. But on this one, I am standing firm on my misuse until the wrong way becomes the right way. Levitican God as my witness, I’m never going to use it right. Gerund prefect participle be damned. I will smite with a nightstick, but if I get smitten, it will be by love.

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Selective Focus: Derek Montgomery



Derek Montgomery has shown us the world through his lens as a photojournalist, and he also does portraits and weddings. He’s worked for the Duluth News Tribune and Minnesota Public Radio, and he tells us how shooting news is different from shooting a bride and groom.

DM: I’m a photographer who specializes in wedding, news and sports photography. That may seem like a lot, but it’s a pretty narrow scope. Weddings is pretty obvious what that is about. I do a lot of work in northern Minnesota with Minnesota Public Radio reporters and have been a part of many stories and projects over the years. And the sports side involves working with the athletic department at the College of St. Scholastica to document their sports teams. Along with my work at CSS, I do a ton of team and individual sports work for hockey, baseball, volleyball, lacrosse and other teams, clubs and programs in Duluth. I’ve been a professional photographer for 12 years now and have been wandering around with a camera for 16 years.

Joe Mohelsky looks around floodwaters that surrounded his home Thursday afternoon on the shore of Moosehead Lake June 21, 2012 in Moose Lake, Minn. The buoys in front of Mohelsky were placed at 9pm the previous night at the edge of floodwaters and by 5a.m., the waters had reached his house and continued to rise throughout the day.
The 2012 flood was a crazy time up here. I probably worked nearly two weeks straight as MPR dispatched two additional reporters to northern Minnesota in addition to local reporter Dan Kraker as we drove all over talking to people and documenting the damage. This was in the first hours of the flood as Moosehead Lake was flooding homes near the lake. The hard part was talking to many of these homeowners who did not have flood insurance because it was either too expensive for how little they believed they might need it or who just could not buy into the National Flood Insurance program because of where they lived.

I’d best describe my style as documentary. I came to Duluth after being hired as a photojournalist at the Duluth News Tribune and left there in 2009 and started my own business later that year. I think that style is reflected in wedding work I do, certainly in the ongoing work I do for MPR while the lighting and people skills acquired while at the DNT help when working with parents, leagues and kids for the team and individual photos I do.

Wedding photography at the Glensheen Mansion
Bought waders for this shot and ventured into the creek to get this angle.

Are there differences in how you approach a wedding vs a photojournalism assignment?

A wedding requires so much more planning and time management. Not that I don’t plan or do research about what I’m photographing prior to an editorial assignment, but weddings are often in the planning phase for months and months before the big day and some weddings have events planned right down to the minute so it’s important to know what is happening, when it’s happening and then make sure you manage the timeline so that the bride, groom and wedding party gets great photos and gets to dinner on time. An editorial assignment also involves a lot of planning. You have to know the subject material of what you are photographing so you can capture visuals that communicate the story.
Additionally, with a wedding, you can shape the timeline to get the bride and groom in the best possible light for portraits. Most of the time with editorial subjects, you need to work with the time they give you and searching for best light is usually not an option. There might be amazing light outside, but if your story focuses on a peat production facility then you probably need to be shooting under the dim lights inside the production facility. You go where the subject exists while in wedding photography, the wedding photographer often has full control over where they can go.
One other big difference between wedding work and editorial work is the guidelines of what we can and cannot edit. Sometimes I can compensate for a terrible background or distracting objects in wedding photography by editing it in photoshop later. Maybe there is a really distracting sign or cigarette butts on the ground where the bride and groom are. It’s ok to remove those in photoshop for wedding work, but if I did that in my journalism work, I’d be immediately out of work. In editorial work, you have to live with things not always perfect because that is how the world is. Basically, editing in editorial work must preserve the integrity of the image’s context and content. One of my editors put it simply: don’t move pixels.

To dramatize how deep the hole is around a damaged sewer drain, three-foot tall Ryley Alexander McKeon stands inside a damaged section of 10th Avenue East and Sixth Street in Duluth, Minn. Ryley’s parents Tinita Olson and John McKeon say the damaged section of the street has been in a state of disrepair for at least the duration of the summer.
Derek Montgomery/Duluth News Tribune

Great backstory on this one. We were doing our annual pothole story at the DNT in 2008 and had put out a request to readers to send in locations of particularly horrendous potholes. The reporters compiled the information and sent me to a pothole on the corner of 10th Avenue East and Sixth Street to do a photo illustration on how deep it was. Upon arrival, I realized it was not your normal pothole. The portion of the street with the pothole had deteriorated so badly that the underlying soil washed away causing the pothole and an adjacent sewer drain to collapse. So the toaster that I was sent with to provide context about how big this pothole was wouldn’t work since the pothole was at least 20-inches deep. That’s when it popped into my head that maybe putting a kid in the pothole would better illustrate the subject. Don’t ask me about my mental processes here. There was a nearby park and as I was leaving to go down there, this kid and his parents came walking up the street. It was fate. Explained the story and asked the parents the weirdest question they would hear that day. “Can I put your kid in a pothole?” They agreed and had told me they had contacted the city about the pothole as they lived just up the road from it. So we put the kid in the pothole with the parents just off camera. There was no danger of the kid disappearing into the drain as the asphalt had completely blocked and filled in the sewer hole. The rest is history. It was not what the editors were expecting, but they ran it on the front page.
This is not how we usually document stories. Not the kid-in-a-pothole part, but we were clear that this was a photo illustration and I want to make that clear in this age of FAKE NEWS. As a photojournalist at the DNT, our staff would never instruct people what to do on an assignment. We are there to document the truth to the fullest extent possible. In this case, since it was a photo illustration, we have a little more leeway in terms of crafting the visual. To quote the Poynter Institute, a photo illustration is “a set-up photograph (usually in a studio with no digital alteration) that is illustrative in nature and is clearly out of the realm of reality.”

You offer the “Wild Booth” at events, has the interaction people have with photography or photographers changed with social media and phones?

It has. There is more pressure to post quickly. People want sneak peeks and they want to be able to access their images digitally. Wedding hashtags are more the norm these days, which is something we often include on the print designs of the Wild Booth. I also think that people can always be researching photographers now that more people are browsing Facebook and the Internet on a phone than a desktop. So you have to have a somewhat active Facebook/Instagram/online presence for people to find you and reach out.
I absolutely love what I do, but there are certainly rewards and challenges. The rewards are meeting and working with so many amazing people. I love telling stories and getting to know people so my work for MPR is among the most favorite parts of my job. So many interesting people and stories going on and it’s perfect for someone like me who could ask 900 questions. I get to work from home during the summer, which means I can throw a frisbee or play baseball with my kids during the day or take a random day off to go up the shore or to a movie with them. That is a luxury that I will never take for granted.

THIS DOG’S TONGUE. The tongue caught my eye early on during this wedding day and I had to capture an image of it at some point. Saw the kid laying next to the dog just poking the tongue with his finger so I got down on the ground, the kid looked over and the rest is history.

On the flip side, working from home with two kids and soon three kids can be a challenge when it comes to productivity. Those same kids you get to take fun places and hang out with don’t always see dad-in-front-of-a-computer as working so lots of interruptions are the norm. As a self-employed photographer, you are responsible for every aspect of your business–the picture taking, archiving, editing, social media, Quickbooks/tax work (this is actually the domain of my wife/CFO Kristin Montgomery but I know many don’t have an awesome financial-minded wife to handle things like this), driving to and from locations, meeting with clients, etc. etc. All of that together is a HUGE time commitment. So while I can randomly take a day or afternoon off, it just means all those things get piled up and as any self-employed photographer will tell you, there is always something else that needs to be done.

UMD goaltender Kenny Reiter (right) and Wade Bergman (left) watch a puck Reiter deflected sail over the head of Notre Dame’s David Gerths Thursday evening during an NCAA semifinal hockey game Friday, April 8, 2011 at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn.
Amazing energy at this game and fortunate bounce for the photographer and UMD.

I do not have any public galleries on display right now. You may have seen some of my work within MPR’s Faces of Minnesota photo exhibit, which traveled the state in 2017. The exhibit ended late last year, but there was some talk that it might return in some form so maybe keep an eye out on that. Otherwise, my website and social media accounts below are the best way to see what I’ve been up to.

My website is www.derekmontgomery.com
Instagram is instagram.com/photodrock
My Facebook page is facebook.com/derekmontgomeryphotography

I’ll be traveling to South Africa in January to document a week-in-the-life at Open Arms Home for Children. Open Arms Home for Children is a non-profit organization providing a home, education and security to children orphaned by the AIDS pandemic in South Africa. I’ve been working with the orphanage for a number of years and now have the opportunity to travel there and provide documentary work for the home as they continue to expand and help the AIDS orphans.

Wedding photography along the shore of Lake Superior with a thunderstorm across the lake over Wisconsin.
This was a 15-second exposure during one of those thunderstorms where the sky was constantly being illuminated with lightning. It was actually pretty clear in Duluth at the time and the front did not reach our location for awhile. The storm clouds you see in this photo were over portions of Wisconsin so we took advantage of the show.

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Mystery Photo #68: Aerial Transfer Bridge



There’s no doubt the subject of this mystery photo is the gondola car on Duluth’s Aerial Bridge, but what year was the photo shot?

Perfect Duluth Day’s Mark Nicklawske randomly pulled this small photo out of a shoe box filled with mostly old black-and-white pictures toward the back of the Artifacts vintage store in Iowa City. It’s likely a snapshot someone from Iowa took while visiting Duluth in the early 20th Century.

Obviously the photo is no older than March 27, 1905 — that’s when the Aerial Bridge began ferry-car service across the shipping canal.

Obviously the photo is no more recent than July 1, 1929 — that’s the day the ferry car crossed the bridge for the last time before the iconic structure was transformed to the lift bridge as we know it today.

There might be any number of clues in our mystery photo that will help date it. The two that seem to jump out the most are the automobile on the left side and what appears to be some sort of protective roof partially shown at the top of the image. Most historic photos of the bridge do not show a structure like that above the gondola car; and other photos show a different style of barrier that hangs lower.

Take that and run with it, history detectives.

Below are two old Aerial Bridge postcards. The first illustrates the gondola with no protective roof; the second shows a protective roof that is different than what is shown in our mystery photo.

The post Mystery Photo #68: Aerial Transfer Bridge appeared first on Perfect Duluth Day.

List of Bands that Have Played Head of the Lakes Fair in Superior



As the 2018 Head of the Lakes Fair gets underway, PDD presents a scattered list of bands that have played the festival in the past. Because … nostalgia.

Audio Pilot (July 14, 2018)
A Girl’s Journey (July 13, 2018)
The Most Wanted (July 12, 2018)
The Circuit Breakers (July 11, 2018)
Drop Tailgate (July 15, 2017)
A Girl’s Journey (July 14, 2017)
The Bugs (July 13, 2017)
Hell Country Truckers (Aug. 27, 2016)
Cherry Gun with Sherwin Linton and Cotton Kings (Aug. 26, 2016)
Shirts and Skins with Brody Olson Band (Aug. 25, 2016)
The Georgia Satillites with Rock-a-Billy Review (July 15, 2011)
Pure Prairie League with the Bugs (July 14, 2011)
Survivor with Crescent Moon (July 16, 2010)
Danielle Peck with Half Past 6 (July 25, 2009)
Lovin’ Spoonful with the Bugs (July 24, 2009)
Cracker (July 25, 2008)
Rodney Atkins (July 28, 2007)
Blue Oyster Cult (July 27, 2007)
Little River Band (July 29, 2006)
Jamie O’Neal (July 28, 2006)
Brenda Lee ( July 26, 2003)
Loverboy (July 27, 2002)
Blackhawk (July 26, 2002)
John Kay & Steppenwolf (July 28, 2001)
Trace Adkins (July28, 2000)
Soul Asylum (July 31, 1999)
Tracy Lawrence (July 30, 1999)
The Smithereens (Aug. 1, 1998)
Toby Keith (July 31, 1998)
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts (Aug. 15, 1987)
“Weird Al” Yankovic (Aug. 9, 1985)
Merle Haggard (August 1984)
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band (August 1984)
Booze Brothers Revue (August 1984)

Bands that have purportedly played the festival, but no one can pin a date to:

Loverboy (in addition to the 2002 show, there was maybe one pre-2000)
Jefferson Starship or Airplane (1997?)
Firehouse (1995?)
Foreigner (1993?)
Eddie Money (1992?)
REO Speedwagon (1987? 1991? 1992?)
Winger (1992?)
John Kay & Steppenwolf (in addition to 2001, there might have been a second show circa 1990)
Cheap Trick (1986?)
Mitch Ryder (1985?)
Charlie Pride (1985?)
Mickey Gilley (1980s?)
Eddie Rabbit (1980s?)
Molly Hatchett
Charlie Daniels Band
Randy Travis

If you’ve got others to add to the list, or dates, anecdotes or photos, well, that’s what the comment section is for.

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The Guy Who Sings Songs About Cities & Towns – “The Truth About Duluth”



Matt Farley of Danvers, Mass. has been producing slapped-together novelty songs under clumsy pseudonyms since roughly 2004. The emphasis is clearly on quantity over quality; his website notes he has released 19,000 songs. He purportedly made $23,000 off his music in 2013.

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