Superior mayor is pretty sure that everything is fine

Regarding the Husky Refinery explosion from a year ago and the company’s continued use of hydrogen fluoride, which could have wiped out the entire Twin Ports had the fire gotten 150 feet closer, Superior Mayor Jim Paine said, “The vast majority of people that responded are not terribly concerned with this. They feel that there’s not a significant safety risk and the fact is there’s just not.”

Speaking over a growing rumbling sound in the background, Paine said, “The refinery has a safer option available to them. They should pursue that. But, my position is also that the refinery needs to be in operation.”

Just before he was consumed in an apocalyptic fireball, Paine said, “We need to have that refinery open and operating as soon as possible, as soon as safely possible.”

Rubin turns St. Louis County into St. Rubin Country

In January, St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin hired his son Tony as an assistant county attorney without interviewing any other applicants. Rubin explained his decision by saying that there was no law against nepotism in the county.

When a reporter visited county offices to get more information, he found a custodian pushing a broom in the hall. Noticing that the man’s shirt said Rubin, the reporter asked, “Are you related to Mark?”

“Sure am,” replied the fellow, sticking out his hand. “Bill Rubin, at your service. Mark’s my cousin. I lost my last job due to my drinking, so Mark decided to help me out. That was pretty swell of him, don’t you think?”

In the legal department, the reporter was met by the receptionist. The name plate on her desk said Tawny Rubin. “Are you related to Mark?” he asked.

“He’s my uncle,” Tawny yawned. “I have trouble waking up in the morning, so Mark said I could work here. I don’t have to show up until 10 or 11. It was really nice of him.”

A guy sitting at a computer turned around. “Tawny, do you know how to turn this thing on?”

“No, sorry, Christopher. That’s my brother,” she explained to the reporter. “Mark hired him for IT.”

Entering Rubin’s office, the reporter found the county attorney in conference with Robin Rubin, county administrator, Tone Loc Rubin (finance director), Reuben Rubin (human resources director), and Antonia Rubin (county surveyor).

The reporter frowned and took out his notebook. “Isn’t this illegal?” he asked.

Mark, Reuben, Robin, Tone Loc, Antonia, Tawny, Christopher and Bill stared at the reporter, shocked. Throughout the building, a low murmur began. In unison, 200 voices intoned, “Nepotism isn’t illegal in the county.”

Rubin sandwich

A local restaurant has begun running a special on a Rubin sandwich. There are 25 other items on the menu, but you can only order the Rubin.


Hipster community floats away

When one enterprising Duluthian shoveled off an area of Lake Superior and invited people to skate, the People’s Free Skating Rink was an immediate hit, especially with the hipster community. The dark winter nights saw party after party taking place on the PFSR. Bands brought their equipment onto the ice and played music as people drank ironic PBR 16-ouncers and skated hand-in-hand beneath the twinkling firmament.

Sadly, the warmer weather of March caused the People’s Free Skating Rink to break away from the ice pack. On Wednesday night, it floated out into Lake Superior, taking half the city’s hipster population with it. The last known sighting of the PFSR came from a buoy tender near Washburn, whose crew reported it floating in a northeasterly direction. The captain said that everybody was crowded together, but still seemed to be having a good time, probably because the keg hadn’t run out yet. He speculated that when they started to eat one another, the high THC content would keep their spirits up.

 Man doesn’t know what T-shirt he’s wearing

A breakfast patron at Uncle Loui’s has no idea what T-shirt he has on even though he has received numerous comments on it.

“I just grabbed it out of the drawer this morning and threw it on. I didn’t look at it,” he said.

So far two waiters and a busboy have inquired where he got the shirt. “My girlfriend bought it for me secondhand at Saver’s,” he said. “I doubt she knows what it says, either. She chooses items solely on the basis of size and fabric quality.”

The shirt has also drawn reactions from other restaurant patrons as well, including giggles from six teenagers, high-fives from a motorcycle gang, contemptuous glares from three university students and a thumbs-up from a man who eerily resembles Michael Berryman. Two women and a man have left slips of paper with their phone numbers on the patron’s table while another woman left a Christian tract about Hell.

As of press time the patron has yet to glance down and look at the shirt, as he fears spilling his coffee in the process.


Envelope might be something important

An envelope found on the sidewalk on East Fourth Street has mysterious artwork on the outside but no contents inside, sources say.

The artwork appears to be a parody of the comic strip “Peanuts.” The main character, “Chill-ie Brown” is an undercover police officer investigating the trafficking of drugs. A theory has arisen, from the mind of the reporter writing this report, that there never was any content but the message is the envelope itself, which is a coded cry for help from a real undercover officer who is now being held captive in a basement and managed to make a paper airplane out of the envelope and toss it outside.

An attempt to turn the envelope over to the Duluth Police resulted only in a quizzical look from the receptionist.


'Survivor: Duluth’ promises to be most brutal season yet

The interminably long-running pseudo-reality television show “Survivor,” which places insufferable people in a remote location and forces them to scheme, backstab and vote each other out until the biggest douchebag remains, debuted its latest season in Duluth.

In an inexplicable twist, the contestants will be regional bands. The chosen musical genre will be folk (or, less specifically, “folky”) music.

“We chose Duluth because it’s the harshest, most remote place on the planet,” said series creator Mark Burnett. “We chose ‘folky’ bands because there’s an abundance of them already competing against each other and let’s face it, the herd could stand some culling.”

Series host Jeff Probst said, “Folkies, believe it or not, make great television. On the surface they seem so amiable and laid-back, but underneath they’re viciously catty drama queens. Meow!”

“They’re rather high-strung,” Burnett giggled.

“What?” Probst said.

“Get it? High-strung? Because they play string instruments? It’s brilliant. Let’s put that in.”

Probst sighed, picked up his phone and turned on the voice recorder. “Note to self. ‘High-strung.’”

In the first episode, One Less Guest messes with the tuning on Four Mile Portage’s instruments, Pushing Chain heckles Plucked Up String Band’s performance, and Pert Near Sandstone gets into a shoving match with Glen’s Neighbor over whose turn it is to cook dinner. Black River Revue sneaks in on Feeding Leroy while they sleep and shaves off their beards before dipping their hands in warm water.

Breanne Marie & The Front Porch Sinners form an alliance with The Roadkill Boys only to turn against them at voting time and reveal a secret alliance with The Riverside Bogstompers, who in turn betray them back in favor of Four Mile Portage. Hewitt Station, Skally Line and Fish Heads get locked in a storage closet at KUMD to see if they’ll collaborate or devour each other.

All the contestants plot to take out the favored winner, Trampled by Turtles, although no one suspects the most devious weasel of them all, Charlie Parr.

There are also random hidden rules such as, first person to mention Bob Dylan gets keelhauled courtesy of Vista Fleet. Anyone who makes a pun on the word “folk” and its similarity to a certain swear word gets their weed confiscated. First person to make a pun on “high-strung,” however, wins $20.

In one of the many inane competitions apparently dreamed up by a trained hamster at CBS, contestants must crawl through a storm sewer to Lake Superior, swim out to The Cribs and do a flip off the top to land on a passing ore boat, and on the deck assemble a 1000-piece puzzle that has no picture, all the while fingerpicking a Flatt & Scruggs tune.

The climax takes place at a bluegrass festival. Here the host will challenge the musicians to guess each other’s genre: “bluegrass,” “folk,” “folk rock,” “Americana,” “mumble rap” or “alt country.” (“Eclectic” is not an option.) This slyly provokes screaming arguments and turns the event into an orgy of destruction as banjos, fiddles, dobros, mandolins and upright basses are wielded like clubs, swords and battering rams in fits of fury.

The contestants will not find out until the end that the winner gets to be the warm-up act for former Motley Crue frontman Vince Neil’s casino tour.


Shopko becomes Rubber Ducks R Us Superstore

Wisconsin-based predatory big box chain Shopko, which did its noble part in running so many mom and pops out of business over the course of 57 years, announced in March that it was finally biting the dust. This was due to competition with meaner, nastier, bigger boxes like Walmart, because that which lives by the heartless market dies by the heartless market. Heartless internet shopping had something to do with it, too, supposedly.

WDIO reports that the Duluth Shopko location will soon be yet another giant abandoned husk in the Twin Ports along with Kmart, Sears and Younkers. At least Essentia’s Fitness and Therapy Center will soon move into Younkers, leaving its current location downtown in Miller-Dwan a cavernous void. Yeah, well, take the naked family statue with ya! 

Speaking of Walmart, they claim the city of Superior over-assessed the value of its giantmegasupercenterbox. Not only does Walmart want to pay less in taxes but it wants a mega-refund, which you (and mom and pop) will pay. Their argument is that their property value went down once they crushed nearby competitors Target and Kmart. “Americans are all about fairness,” said Walmart’s attorney, Robert Hill, with nearly a straight face. A better idea: Let’s tax the duck out of Walmart to pay for renovating the Mariner Mall.

But fear not for Duluth’s retail renaissance, because Fox 21’s Dan Hanger reports that the Duluth Shopko location will reopen April 1 as Rubber Ducks R US Superstore. The new operator is whoever makes rubber ducks. You got it, those goddamn creepy little vinyl plastic things that never seem to float quite right, whatever Lovecraftian horror that manufactures them will be moving in. You’ll walk into the store and see acres of shelves lined with the adorable little bastards. Not just the plain yellow ones either, they come in all types: dinosaur ducks, dog ducks, monkey ducks, duck ducks, celebrity ducks, rock star ducks, Donald Trump ducks (great for stuffing firecrackers in sundry duck orifices), purple ducks, green ducks, blue ducks, duck duck duck duck duck duck GOOSE! ducks. It’ll blow your ducking mind.

Meanwhile their god, the great Cthulhu of rubber ducks, is coming back to Duluth. You remember the last time it was here, waltzing in for the Tall Ships Festival in 2016 like it owned the whole damn town? Everyone rushed out and said, ooooh, it’s so big! like they’re watching a John Holmes movie. (Editors note: Axe the creepy ducking metaphor). Now it’s coming back with the Tall Ships Festival which has been renamed … wait for it … “Festival of Sail Duluth.” Who’d they consult for that name, a dumb duck? How are they using “sail,” as a noun or a verb? If it’s a noun it has to be preceded by a grammatical article, namely “the” or “a.” They could have said Festival of Sails, or Festival of Sailing, even before they decided to ludicrously tack “Duluth” at the end, but no, they had to get cute and duck around with the English language.

Well, we say, boycott the duck! Don’t go see it! But of course you will, you’ll rush down to the great lake like lemmings charging off to drown themselves, the same way y’all rush off to the astoundingly evil Walmart or to the polls to vote for Donald J. Duck. But maybe the duck will sail under the Lift Bridge, get caught on a sharp metal beam, and pop the same way it did in Hong Kong in 2013. That would be worth seeing. Although it didn’t quite “pop” in Hong Kong, it just sort of gradually deflated, and later promoter Craig Samborski claimed it was a “planned deflation.” Sure. That is what we usually claim, too. Just give us a big bang! None of of this whiny slow wheeeeeeeeeeeee of air escaping. A giant kablowie! Bite the dust, giant duck!


Klobuchar stands on intern’s back to denounce charges of staff abuse

St. Paul, MN. Responding angrily to accusations that she regularly demeans and abuses her underlings, diminutive senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) took to her intern’s back to lash out at her critics.

“It’s well known that I demand a lot from my staff,” says Klobuchar, digging her heels into a lowly intern’s spinal column. “And I find that the best way to motivate themselves to be their best is to belittle them, throw staplers at them, and launch smear campaigns when they try to find other work.”

Klobuchar bristled at what she sees as “sexist” news coverage of her campaign. “Let my non-denial make this very clear,” said the senator, inexplicably on her third term, her last opponent having mysteriously disappeared in the fall of 2018. “All senators abuse their staffers, so singling me out just because I have the second-highest turnover rate in Congress is just misogyny at work.”

Klobuchar then retreated to her office, claiming that it was time to eat salad with her comb, because that’s just normal senatorial behavior.

Duluth potholes opening portals to Hell

Duluth, MN. The Prince of Darkness took to the steps of City Hall on Saturday to condemn Duluth’s deepest potholes, some of which are deep enough to pierce the ceiling of the Netherworld.

“You’re letting all the heat out,” the Father of Lies truthfully observed. “What, were you born in a barn? No, seriously, were you born in a barn? Cuz I can’t stand those people.”

Surrounded by demons, blood-sucking snake people, and psychiatrists, Old Scratch recounted, “We had an entire Prius drop through a pothole on West 6th Street, and it landed on a guy we were in the middle of disemboweling. We can’t have that. It’s a safety hazard.”

Stressing the urgency of the situation, Mephistopheles added, “The place is about to freeze over, and I don’t think anyone wants that to happen. Well, maybe the Packers.”

Trump annoyed at being seated at little dictators’ table

New York, NY. Administration officials expressed annoyance at a recent U.N. gathering that President Trump was seated alone at the little dictators’ table, and not with his friends at the “grown-up” dictator table.
Sarah Huckabee-Sanders opined, “This shows how corrupt the entire rest of the planet has become. The president would have loved to join his friends Putin, Erdogan, and Kim at the big-dictators’ table, and instead had to sit alone, although he did appreciate not having to share his Happy Meal.”

Although the Trump administration has taken steps toward dictatorship, like using executive power to punish critics and attempting to squash investigations into his bald-face crimes, U.N. secretary general Antonio Gutteres said Trump “has not reached his goal of full dictator, although he has made progress since given the designation of ‘pompous douche.’”

The White House refused to comment on whether or not Trump correctly colored his place mat.

Teen frustrated by menthol ban turns to crack and alcohol

Timothy McConnel, a 16 year old Duluth student, picked up smoking right as the ban on menthol cigarettes in gas stations went into effect in the city of Duluth. While the teen admits getting cigarettes was a nuisance, finding ways around finding cigarettes by turning to other substances or taking advantage of the situation. “Well, for awhile it was tough to find menthols because it was a hassle to get someone to go some place that sells them. You can get toothpaste and rub it on a regular smoke but it’s not the same,” said McConnel as he sat on a park bench taking a puff of his cigarette. “Really though, it made me realize that if I’m going to go through all this hassle, I might as well spend it on the hard shit, you know what I’m saying?”

For the last several months, McConnel, says he doesn’t smoke as many cigarettes anymore, but enjoys the effects of crack cocaine much more. “Screw going to stores or finding someone to buy cigarettes, just find a crack guy and skip all that ... if you’re going to waste your time, waste your time right.”

In anticipation for the increase of the age limit in Duluth, McConnel has already developed a plan. “I already got a guy who’s 21, and we go over to Superior and while we’re over there getting menthols, we figure we’ll stock on some booze while we’re at it. We buy a bunch of cartons of menthols to make a few bucks off of people and buy more crack,” said McConnel. “I’d like to thank the City Council for hooking me up! If I had just stuck to cigarettes I wouldn’t have all this hustling and life you know?”

Since McConnel friend base has developed into an over 21 crowd he plans on running a service to provide alcohol, cigarettes and other drugs to his classmates. “When they create a need, someone’s got to fill it, right? We’re all human and we just adapt, everyday, adapting. The only person getting screwed making menthols harder to get is that poor guy working a job and has to go out of his way before work when it’s all winter out.”

Singer upset over calendar typo

Local musician Jeremy Noone is distraught that a local newspaper misspelled his name.

Noone performs under his last name only, but it appeared in the event listing with a space between the two O’s.

“It’s just one word. How could they not get that right?’ he said. “It’s almost as if they did it on purpose.”

As a result, he said, attendance was severely affected. “The only person who showed up so far got a cup of coffee to go.”

The attendee told this reporter she planned to stay and listen to the music, but changed her mind when Noone started playing a Garth Brooks song.

“Garth Brooks is an underrated artist and the world doesn’t get enough of him,” said No one.


Study: Neanderthals mated with modern humans, vacuum cleaners

St. Paul, MN. Researchers at the University of Minnesota are now confident that the ancient Neanderthals mated freely with their evolutionary cousins, the Denisovans and the modern homo sapiens, as well as with their vacuum cleaners.

“The research has long been controversial,” admits anthropologist Professor Harry Unkempt, a regular campus lecturer on biology, sexual sociology, and freaky shit. “For a long time, we didn’t have adequate Neanderthal DNA samples, until we dug them out of this ancient Eurasian vacuum-cleaner canister.”

From this, Unkempt asserts, “It’s clear that modern humans interbred with Neanderthals, who, in turn, got jiggy with the suction valve on their cave-cleaning appliances.”  

Although more research needs to be done, Unkempt is confident in proclaiming, “Neanderthals also lost a lot of spare change and apparently ate a buttload of potato chips.”

Trump rescues dying Nazi-hunting industry

Washington, DC. Although the Trump administration has made numerous failed attempts to save the coal industry, it can claim success in bringing back another profession once thought antiquated: Nazi hunting.

“Honestly, I thought I’d never have to hunt Nazis again,” admits 102-year-old Nazi hunter Brigham Inzman. “Technically, I retired in the late 1980s. Then Trump gets elected, and business is booming again.”

Despite his age, Inzman admits his job is easier now than in his seventies. “Used to be, it was a big deal when I found a Nazi. We’d have to hunt him down in Argentina or somewhere, haul his ass back to The Hague, and deal with all the press coverage. Nowadays, it’s just, ‘Oh, look, there’s another Trump rally.’”

Noting one other key difference in modern Nazi hunting, Inzman says, “Back then, at least Nazis were well dressed.”

8-year-old Captain Marvel fan informed that the “real” Captain Marvel died of cancer

Duluth, MN. Eight-year-old Captain Marvel fan Cassie Sammich got a well-timed dose of reality when local comicbook expert Gator Huckspitt informed her that her favorite heroine was actually a usurper of a dead man’s title and superpowers.

Explained Huckspitt, who has never seen a vagina in the wild, “The real Captain Marvel was a man, and he died of lung cancer in the 1982 graphic novel, The Death of Captain Marvel by Jim Starlin. You’d know this if you read comics and not just seen the movies like a poseur.”

Young Cassie did not immediately respond to this necessary mansplaining, possibly because she couldn’t refute his obvious logic and deep well of knowledge. Truly, his trenchant spouting of pop-culture minutiae more than sufficiently knocked the grade-schooler down from her uppity perch, where she had been previously been allowed to enjoy her interests without condemnation.

“Just doing my job,” Huckspitt brags, although, for the record, he is currently unemployed and living with his mom’s basement, where the couch cushions have permanent molds of his ass.

Bartender makes patron wait awkwardly before accepting payment

Duluth, MN. A bartender working at The Downtown Bar That Doesn’t Advertise With The Reader refused to pick up a clearly visible $5 bill, prompting the customer to wonder what the hell was going on.

“He looked directly at the bill before turning away,” says patron Hardy Harhar of Hermantown. “Does he think I want to start a tab? Is the drink on the house? I want to walk away, but I can’t leave my money unattended. I honestly don’t know what’s expected of me here.”

Harhar watched helplessly as the bartender washed glasses that were already clean, opened the cash register and counted one-dollar bills for no discernible reason, yakked a while with a regular, and took another order, until saying, “That’ll be $3.50,” immediately after Harhar re-pocketed the currency.

When asked if the bartender had gone to school to learn this expert move, he responded, “I have to ignore your question for a while, but I’ll graciously let you sit at the bar while you wait. What’ll you have?”

Futile society update

In 1999 the Duluth Branch of The Flat Earth Society set out on a journey to find the edge of the earth. After 20 unsuccessful years of searching, group leader Ima Doofus said, “We can’t find it. For some reason we just keep going round and round and round … Oh.”