The rags I wrote for in the beginning consisted of a weekly shopper then known as the Budgeteer Press, a sloppy every-other-week disaster of a publication then known as the Northland Reader, and a weird monthly scandal sheet called the Ripsaw that was quickly transformed into a solid alternative weekly before becoming a magazine and slowly meeting its demise.
Throughout my work in the aforementioned publications I never wrote one of those “Duluth” columns — you know, where the author waxes poetic about Lake Superior, the beauty of the urban wilderness and the charm of living in a big small town. Instead I’ve tried my best to be a weirdo, and I think I’ve succeeded.
When I started this column in 1997, Duluth didn’t generally embrace its weirdoes, which is probably what encouraged me to become one. Now Duluth relishes its weirdoes, so it seems my work here is done.
In recent years I’ve become the number-one bigmouth on the local blog Perfect Duluth Day. I still cut a rant at “the man” every now and then, but by and large I just kiss the Zenith City’s ass. I’m absolutely amazed at how many ways the place has changed for the better. It seems like every day there is some awesome thing happening that I’m missing because I’m engaged in some other awesome thing.
The best I can do to bitch is to point out that the hideous neon blue light around the Holiday Stationstore sign on I-35 in the West End is a public nuisance far greater than the synthetic potheads hanging around outside the Last Place on Earth. Everything else around here is going great by my view, which makes for boring columns.
So it’s time to announce the retirement of “The Next Level.” This is my final piece. I still have plenty of creative energy, but it just doesn’t work in a 450-word box inside a tacky little pamphlet anymore. It’s time for me to knock this off.
I wish to close with a tip of the hat to Transistor Publisher Adam Guggemos, a colleague of mine from the Ripsaw days who admirably soldiers forward, maintaining an ongoing platform for art, music and swearing. I’m proud to have been a part of it and grateful for the opportunity to not write about the lake.
Paul Lundgren is no longer a newspaper columnist, but still strives to be a nice man. You can keep up with his weirdo past and future projects on paullundgren.com.