Each month, I write a column for Transistor (http://www.transistormag.com) called CTRL+ALT+DULUTH. (Yes, it plays on the "duh-LOOT" pronunciation.) Below is the text from last week's issue:
In recent columns, I have taken a couple of unsavory swipes at Superior, Duluth's sister city to the southeast. Specifically, I all but likened the town to a Colonial Williamsburg for the 1980s and suggested that developing a terminal illness might qualify as a lucky break for someone living there.
While I delivered these jibes as casual asides, they do paint a picture grimmer than that string of bars along Hwy. 53 in Allouez. In fact, I would issue an apology right here if I thought enough Superior residents could actually read it. (See what I mean? It’s pathological, I tell you.)
Truth is, I have never had a bad night in “Supe-town.” In fact, the more time I spend there, the more I like it. It’s got all the industrial grit of Duluth’s golden years without the sanctimonious granola and tourist kitsch clogging Canal Park today.
Plus, Superior offers something that you just can’t get in Duluth: the opportunity to go roller-skating drunk.
(Yes, you’re right: This fact doesn’t necessarily refute any of the aspersions cast above, but bear with me.)
The venue: the venerable World of Wheels on Oakes Avenue. Now, before you jump in the car and high-tail it over the Bong bridge or its “high” sibling (does that ever get old?), I must stress that WOW doesn’t serve alcohol. Strictly speaking, it’s a family joint and doubtless would prefer to remain as such.
For those with certain needs and the requisite tact, however, finding a bar in Superior isn’t all that difficult. Nor is smuggling a growler onto the premises in a backpack, which is what some friends of mine and I did recently.
But a funny thing happened on the way to our eight-wheeled booze cruise: We had so much fun from the get-go that we never tapped our clandestine stash.
Sure, it helped that we had already taxied up, so to speak, but that night WOW was buzzing louder than my eyeballs. Bon Jovi jockeyed with the Scorpions and Thriller-era Michael Jackson on the sound system. Clumps of lumpy adolescents roved the roundabout like cattle while lithe hotshots raced up and down the straight-aways to scope out the action on the curves. WOW even sported the ubiquitous “Ace Skater,” whose fluid weaving and flamboyant twirling prompted the all-time roller-rink classic, “I heard that’s the owner’s son.”
As for my performance, let me just say that alcohol + 25 years between skates = lots of a$$ time on the hardwood (and two aching and useless wrists in the morning). In fact, I’d be surprised if the janitor found much to sweep from the floor that night, because I buffed that b*tch to a fine shine.
I can also report that nothing puts you back in your place like having a 10 year-old girl from the town you always slag ask you, “Is this your first time on skates?” She and her B/F/Fs skated circles around me all night, giving me pointers and miraculously avoiding my fingers as I frequently sprawled across the floor.
So the next time you find a Supe-town rip on the tip of your tongue, ask yourself whether you could say it and skate at the same time. You might think twice.