February 20, 2003

cold brains unmoved, untouched, unglued

The temperature in Duluth has a direct effect on the weirdness of its people. When it’s all cold and grimy everyone stays indoors except for the pushy homeless that camp out on Superior Street. Duluth has to be the worst/stupidest place to be homeless. I mean, it’s fargin’ twenty below for 9 months out of the year. Sure, for those other 3 months you get to push around tourists from Minneapolis that bleed greenbacks when you poke them, but otherwise you’re screwed. Cold and screwed. Sometimes your homeless bunker gets buried by snowplows, and if you’re lucky you don’t get arrested for it.

When, after a long haitus, a warm Duluth morning finally dawns, everyone scrapes their brain out of the freezer and throws it in the kitchen sink to be thawed by dinner. Now, most people that have flashes of activity in their brainstem know well enough to not run out into traffic. Not running into traffic is one of those cultural universals that you never hear of because it’s not very interesting. No one writes home on a postcard: “Wow! These people don’t take unnecessary risks, just like we do! Please send more iodine and guns!”

Unfortunately in Duluth, darting into traffic is not only common but encouraged (usually by the crazy people on the sidewalk that shuffle back and forth, muttering to themselves). You drive down the road in white-knuckle terror, convinced that a 10 am drunk is going to burst out of every thorny hedge and wrap himself around your catalytic converter.